www.baltimoresun.com/explore/harford/opinion-talk/ph-ag-edit-fan-0118-20130117,0,5900305.story

baltimoresun.com

Aegis editorial says it's a day to wear purple, black ... and orange as fans celebrate big seasons for the Ravens and the Orioles

Editorial from The Aegis

6:26 PM EST, January 17, 2013

Advertisement

It's been a lot of years since there's been a professional sports year like this one for fans of the Baltimore teams.

It was the year Seattle Slew won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, "Star Wars" was first seen by movie theater audiences and Jimmy Carter took the oath of office to become president.

It was in 1977 that the Orioles finished the year with a respectable record of 97-64 and in second place in the American League East. The Baltimore Colts finished the NFL regular season with a record of 10-4 and fell in the playoffs.

The Orioles would go on to have more good seasons well into the 1980s, but the Colts fell into a downward spiral that would end with a ride to Indianapolis aboard Mayflower moving vans.

There were a few seasons when a Canadian Football League team with a familiar blue and white horse emblem played fairly impressively in Baltimore, but the CFL isn't the NFL and it just wasn't the same.

By the time the NFL saw fit to expand the league and allow Baltimore to have a football team, it was as though the Orioles wings had been clipped. A previous incarnation of the Cleveland Browns was shipped from Ohio to Baltimore the way the Colts had previously been packed off to Indiana, but where there had been national fan apathy at Baltimore's loss, there was a sense of indignation in the football community that Baltimore would pilfer another town's team. It shook out that Cleveland would be allowed to keep the mascot name for when a new team would end up in that city.

Baltimore fans felt slighted at being vilified, but were on the whole just glad to have football.

Within a few years, sporting salvation was at hand. While the Orioles continued to struggle, squandering what had once been the best record in Major League Baseball over a span of 25 years, the Ravens grew into sleek, aggressive birds with a reputation for having a defense that had no trouble protecting the nest.

Then came the 2000-01 season and the Ravens managed to win every time the season was on the line, right through the Super Bowl. Since then, they have finished most seasons with a respectable record, and made it to the post-season many times, including the past five seasons.

The Orioles continued to struggle. Until 2012.

When October 2012 rolled around, the Orioles were still playing. It was the first time in a generation such a thing had happened for Baltimore baseball fans. Possibly, it was the return to the old cartoon bird mascot that made the magic happen.

With the Orioles playing into autumn, there was an athletic apogee in Baltimore that hadn't been reached in many years: baseball games that still made a difference in the pennant race were being played even as football games were being contested.

The Orioles weren't able to go the distance, but the Ravens certainly picked up where Buck "Never Let 'em See You Smile" Showalter's diamond squad left off. And they're still running with the ball.

Last week, there was something of a sense that Friday would be the final Purple Friday of the season. The team had played well, but Denver, well they had the stats and the mile-high home field advantage. Today, however, is a new Purple Friday. The odds this week in favor of New England are comparable to the edge the Broncos had. As was shown last week, though, there's a reason they play the game, even if the statistics are lopsided.

This is a weekend to cheer for the home team, to wear purple, black ... and orange.

It's been a long time since there's been a year like this for fans of the Baltimore pro football and baseball teams, but it could get even better. While 1977 may have been the last year the O's and Colts both had top-shelf records, it was only seven years before that when the Orioles were World Series winners and the Colts were Super Bowl champs (technically in 1971).

Hey, it could happen.