Monday, January 17, 2011

Only a Game

I love football and baseball and so I root for the Ravens and the Orioles.  The Orioles, for the past dozen years, have been the team that the other teams use for batting practice, beating our locals with a sad regularity.  The Ravens have been an excellent team, have won the Super Bowl and have been to the NFL playoffs for the last three years.

So everyone in town was looking toward Saturday night's playoff game against the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers eagerly.  It was fun all the week, seeing people at work and out and about wearing purple, Ravens jerseys, dying their hair purple, and so forth. There was good-natured taunting with friends who root for the Steelers.  I even heard tell of wagering, and although I have no proof of illegal sports betting going on in Baltimore, I'll give you 6-to-5 that it occurs.

And then, accompanied by great tubs of chicken wings, schooners of cold beer, stacks of pizzas and crystal goblets of Chardonnay, they played the game. It was a fight from start to end, like the old heavyweight boxing matches they used to put on TV to sell Gillette razor blades, Ballantine beer and Ford pick-'em-up trucks.  Guys were shoving and pushing each other around, fists were flying, bruises appeared and so did penalty flags. 

And that was just in the living rooms and bars around town.  It was even worse at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, which bears the name of the family of Teresa Heinz Kerry, the estimable wife of the estimable 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.

I'm just saying.

But, as you might have read, the Steelers won the game, and you know what? I woke up on Sunday and the sun did too. Life went on somehow.

I worry about the people who littered up Facebook on Saturday night with profane denunciations of the referees, the Ravens offensive coordinator, the Ravens defensive coordinator, and everyone right on down to the guy who drives the team bus. 

It's a game, folks.  People do their best and someone is going to win and someone is going to lose and I urge each and every one of us not to take it so damned personally.  It's not a reflection on your worth as a person or our collective worth as a city if T.J. Houshmandzadeh catches a ball or not.

We can be proud of our city and our team and be man and woman enough to tell our Steeler-lovin' friends that their guys played well too and we'll see them again twice next year.

Baseball starts in a month!

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