From Ron C. Judd, Seattle Times:
Baltimore: It'd probably be a decent place to live if it weren't for the people. Trust me: The past couple days have given us ample opportunity to get to know a hundred or so Baltimorons -- all residents of the city described by Baltimore Sun writer Kate Shatzkin as "a childhood sweetheart" of a city.
Well, she got the age part right.
Many dozens of Baltimore's sweetheart ambassadors phoned us this week to take minor exception to a column in Wednesday's Times -- and the same day's Baltimore Sun -- about the perceived "charms" of Charm City, where the Mariners are gasping away on playoff life support.
I get the feeling most of them didn't like our little visitors' guide. Seems the truth hurts.
All I did was point out that, win or lose in the Division Series, Oriole fans lose. Reasoning: No matter the outcome, O's fans will still live in Baltimore, the Chalk Outline Capital of North America. I also noted several interesting truisms about their fine city: Edgar Allan Poe was so inspired by the environs that he married his 12-year-old cousin and then drank himself to death; the Doppler weather radar uses red to indicate showers of scattered automatic weapons fire; locals worship Cal Ripken, who has played 2,479 games in a row -- just hard enough to never get hurt. Etc.
All of this is indisputable, of course, and was offered in the spirit of friendly community rivalry. (This "our city's better" shtick is common fare for playoff series and is considered something of a media ritual in truly big cities, where the average resident's world view doesn't end at the tail end of a ballpark frank.) But the response from the greater Chesapuke Bay/Mayberry region was educational experience. Lesson No. 1: The average Baltimoron thinks "satire" is the birthstone for March.
"Charm City" either just didn't get it or just couldn't handle it. Radio talk show hosts foamed at the mouth. A local TV station even saw fit to report on the unprovoked attack from the West. Then lots of people put their greasy, stubby digits to work -- and our voice-mail system to the test.
The level of discourse began -- and pretty much ended -- like this: "Hey, %$?!! We're gonna kick your team's &$# !
"Whaddya think of that, #*&$?"
Very illuminating. Who knew Beavis had a brother?
Next caller: Plays five minutes of a recording of an Orioles theme song, sung by someone who sounds like Jose Feliciano with a Mason jar over his head, to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Kokomo." We are not making this up.
Next dozen callers: Unintelligible grunts and clicks. Sounds suspiciously like audio outtakes from the war-party scene in "Battle for the Planet of the Apes."
The next two dozen after that: "Hey, Jerk Judd. The score is 9-3. What are you gonna do now?"
Well, nothing. I hate to see a hundred good rants go to waste. But the truth is that, being a fan only of professional sports where stuff actually happens, I don't like baseball enough to lose any sleep -- let alone skip a scheduled oil change -- over a Division Series.
All in all, though, it was nice to hear from all those fine folks. Unfortunately, my special Salivation Software was engaged -- it automatically removes all voice messages preceded by the sound of heavy breathing, dragging knuckles or the splash of drool on the receiver -- so I missed the details.
Still, it's the lack of thought that counts. Gracias, Baltimore. Unintelligible though it was, we appreciate your feedback.
But not nearly as much as your long-distance carriers do.
Other bumps in the road to the Championship Series:
Possible Reasons the Big Unit Can't Beat Baltimore: Having a bad-hair decade. Exhausted from dominating entire rest of baseball past three seasons.
Primary Differences Between Oral Surgery and Consecutive 9-3 Playoff Losses: Novocain. Free parking.
We Wouldn't Want to Suggest He Got Booed off the Mound or Anything: But when Bobby Ayala trotted to the clubhouse after coughing up six runs in Game 2, the radar gun clocked him at 83 mph.
Huh?: "The pressure falls back on them." -- University of Bizarro World sociology professor Alex Rodriguez, immediately after Baltimore outscored the M's 18-6 in two games at the Kingdome.
No Matter What Happens This Weekend, Remember, It Could Be Worse: We could be getting skunked by the Yankees.
Pub Date: 10/05/97