2 times the disappointment, 2 times the hate, 2 times the blood alcohol content
The following post was written by my youngest brother Jared. He is a high school junior who plays soccer and tennis and aspires to be a professional comedic writer.
On Sunday, December 29, or Week 17 as most male Americans know it as, I had the pleasure of attending (thanks to the Spearman family) my first ever Baltimore Ravens game. And what a first game to go to – against the Steelers! the Ravens arch rival (hated just like those Yankees!). Okay, it was week 17, when most teams seasons had been decided for better or worse, sure neither starting Quarterback or Running Back were playing, yeah Ray Lewis – the face of the Ravens – was limited to doing his dancing in a cast and heavy jacket on the sidelines, fine the Ravens had lost 8 ½ * straight, whatever if the Steelers were going to the playoffs, and alright it was 38 degrees and raining, but I was excited to go. Honestly, in my excitement I didn’t even realize 4 of 6 of those things until I heard the guys in my section having a P + M session about the Ravens disappointing season before kickoff.
I met my ticket (and also friend I guess, but today I was more interested in the ticket), the youngest Spearman and entered the stadium. Pretending the stadium is a perfect circle, after walking 270 degrees, or ¾ of the way around the stadium (I guess young Mr. Spearman was disoriented by his excitement to attend a game with a soon to be legendary Baltimore sports fan), we got to our seats – 30 rows up in the end zone directly along the Steelers sideline. This was looking to be more Excellent even than Bill and Ted’s Adventure.
Now, if you recall from my first blog post about the Orioles game that I attended, you may remember that I tried wearing a Yankees hat and ended up ‘alone and friendless’ (The Good Shepherd), finding it difficult not to cheer for my hometown Baltimore Orioles, yet confused about the Yankees hat and rooting against my favorite player, Alex Rodriguez. Well, this time I wore my black and orange O’s hat that I was sure to get for my birthday, with a Ravens jersey (though under my jacket admittedly), made sure my lax flow (lacrosse hair to the non Baltimoron) was at a maximum, and as a finishing touch jumped in a tub of alcohol so people would see (and smell) me and know, “Yeah, he’s from Baltimore.”
Immediately my home team faith paid off with a fumbled kick off return by the Steelers, resulting in a Ravens rarity — a touch down. And then I got that intangible feeling one rarely gets at a major sporting event, but when you feel it, it’s like winning the Super Bowl. It is chanting overrated after beating J.J. Reddick and Duke. It is calling Charlie “Wild Thing” Sheen from the bullpen to get those last outs to win the pennant. It’s watching Average Joes take down White Goodman and the too-cool-for-school Globo-Gym purple cobras. It’s an art I think we’ll just call The Upset. When you’re team has let you down all season, and you wake up on game-days glad not because you can watch your team play, but because you know it is one day closer to the new season with a fresh 0 in the loss column. But when your team, against all odds and predictions, pulls out that thing Al Michaels so elegantly called a “Miracle,” it blots out all those losses and makes the season mean something (well, at least for the rest of the week).
So the Ravens just scored and we were going to ‘celebrate good times’ like it was a Blast game. And I got something that I desperately wanted since I attended that Orioles game – a High Five from some stranger next to me. At this game it was Mr. Budweiser Breath to my left (I actually had to time my exhaling with his because the wind was blowing his pure alcoholic breath straight to my nose, so to avoid getting a massive headache as soon as I saw his breath appear, thanks to the cold, I would blow out and disperse the stench around the rest of the stadium). I did not know this man, I still don’t know him, but at that game we were brothers, joined to beat Big Ben, Willie Parker, and Troy Polamalu. Well, at least beat whoever their backups were. The High Five itself wasn’t the best I’ve had, I came in a bit too eager and caught him before he had time to react, but really none of the fans in the stadium had expected to have much to cheer about (except the several thousand Steelers fans who decided to come).
The game moves on. The rain pours down. My legs begin to feel the coldest they’ve been since sitting on the Varsity Soccer bench in early November. A Matt Stover field goal, then a Cory Ross touch down run puts the Ravens up 17 – 0. Halftime approached with a lot of anti – Brian Billick sentiment for called 3 timeouts with 40 seconds left. However, going into halftime with a 20 – 7 lead over the Steelers at least kept the fans in the stadium despite the rain and cold, which, 3 weeks ago, along with a 23 point deficit, had sent most Ravens fans back home after a mere quarter of play. By the third quarter I begin to feel a little like Audrey from Christmas vacation, numb from the waist down, but a Troy Smith touch down pass gets me up and cheering. After this, the game slows down and it looks like the Ravens will cruise into their first win in 10 weeks. At the start of the 4th quarter, my party left, numb, tight, and a little bit raw where my knees scraped my jeans as I walked, but overall happy after my first experience at a pro-football game, and I felt I had made my peace and earned my spot back in with the Baltimorons, where what counts isn’t the result on the board, but knowing you did everything possible to let the other team know that they SUCK.