D.C.-Baltimore Rivalry: Ridiculous
Dan Steinberg is on vacation. Despite his massive photo above, this was not written by him. It was written by Neal Shaffer, editor of The Loss Column, which is not technically about D.C. sports but is close enough. Dan will theoretically be back tomorrow. Anyhow, TLC writes below, and please provide extra comments to make him feel at home.
Pain Does Not Exist in This Dojo...Does It?
At the risk of alienating some of my Baltimore compatriots, it's time to go on the record: the notion of a DC - Baltimore rivalry is ridiculous.
To me, DC is a place where, once, a young man could go see a band like the Make-Up in some random American Legion hall, having arrived there by means of a rail-based public transportation system that actually blankets the city. It remains the land of Marion Barry, Gilbert Arenas, Alex Ovechkin, Easterns Automotive Group, and license plates that stop just short of advocating open insurrection. What's to hate?
I see DC as part of the family, the same way I see Annapolis and Frederick and Ocean City. There are more things uniting us than keeping us apart. In fact, I'm going one better: Baltimore sports fans could learn a few things from our burgundy-and-gold loving neighbors.
I was at FedEx field last year when the Giants rolled in for the last game of the season. The Skins had a total of five wins and had already endured one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. And yet everywhere I turned I saw passion. Raw, unbridled support for the team despite there being absolutely no reason for it. Indeed, some of that passion bordered on lunacy. It's true there was a sizeable contingent of Giants fans on hand, but they were a long way away from a majority.
I realize this is a case of comparing apples and oranges, maybe even apples and giraffes. But as an outsider looking in, the zeal with which Redskins fans support their team - in spite of the record and in spite of a questionable ownership situation - can't help but inspire a tinge of jealousy.
There was a time, back in the waning years of the Memorial Stadium era, when the Orioles aroused that kind of passion. I was barely old enough to understand it, but I felt it.
Sports fans ought to go out of their way to find reasons to support their team. They ought to rationalize and make excuses - that's part of the fun. Yet when it comes to the Orioles, a whole lot of folks take the exact opposite approach. They go out of their way to find reasons to not go to the park, to not wear their colors, to not show pride in the black-and-orange. It's sad.
I've heard it all before about Peter Angelos. About how the team treats the fans, about "Baltimore" on the road jerseys, about how you can't compare football to baseball for so many reasons. And it's all true. Every damn bit of it.
Yet none of it matters, because if support for the team you love comes with an asterisk then it's not support at all. And all you're doing is hurting yourself in the long run. If there's one thing certain in sports it's that the bad teams will eventually be good and the good ones will eventually be bad. If you bail during the lean years then you're not going to know - really know - how good it feels when they finally turn it around.
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