In Ravens-Redskins grudge match, it's difficult to find many winners

THE BALTIMORE SUN

THINGS HAVE calmed down at the sprawling Schmuck estate, where a war of wills raged for months over which NFL team was better - the Ravens or the Washington Redskins.

I went with the Ravens.

The kid went with the Redskins.

Turns out, we were both wrong.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. The Ravens had a winning record and were in the playoff hunt right down to the last week. They were clearly a better team than the Redskins, who had a 6-10 record and were only in the playoff hunt until Week 16 in the fabulous NFC.

Guess you've never talked to a 20-year-old who knows everything, except how to pay for car insurance. Turns out the Redskins were in something called a transition year, with a new coach (who, by the way, is almost old enough to appear naked in a commercial for cold medication) and an owner who values patience and stability so much he's giving Joe Gibbs until, I think, May to get to the 2006 Super Bowl.

They supposedly are on the upswing, while the Ravens squandered one of their peak years by going nowhere with a team that had eight Pro Bowlers on its active roster and more management brainpower than Microsoft.

Stay with me here. The Redskins are bound for glory because Gibbs finally figured out that Mark Brunell (who, by the way, is old enough to appear naked in commercials for Celebrex) is not the answer at quarterback and young Patrick Ramsey finally will get a chance to run the offense from the get-go.

There is one small problem, of course. Ramsey isn't that good, and the Redskins are still owned by Dan Snyder.

I've been told by a number of readers that it's bush league to make disparaging comments about young Dan's diminutive stature, so I'm going to clean up my act - right after he rides home a couple of winners at Laurel.

(Apparently, Thursday is stream-of-consciousness day on the Kickoff page, so bear with me.)

The Ravens, meanwhile, are in the middle of a serious brain-drain. Offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh was informed by the club last week that he had decided to resign, and offensive line coach Jim Colletto left to pursue other opportunities (such as not getting fired).

The team is looking at former University of Washington coach Rick Neuheisel to be either the coordinator or the quarterbacks coach, but Ozzie Newsome had better move fast if he wants to get him here in time to run the NCAA basketball pool at the Ravens' practice facility.

Can't argue with the fact that several cornerstone players are drifting past their prime, but I still think the Ravens have a chance to be a much-improved team next season - though the window for this group to win another Super Bowl is closing fast.

Though I responded sarcastically yesterday to the news that the Orioles had signed pitcher James Baldwin ("What, the author?"), that doesn't mean that I think it was a bad move.

The Orioles caught lightning in a bottle with Rodrigo Lopez a couple of years ago, and it could happen again. Baldwin was a very good pitcher when he was younger and healthier, so what have they got to lose?

The author was pretty good, too, by the way.

Now that it appears free agent Carl Pavano never had any intention of signing with the Orioles when he visited Baltimore in December, pitching coach Ray Miller wants to make him pay.

"I'll tell you why we've got to beat that Pavano," Miller said. "He made me shave in December. I had a nice beard going. I shaved [for a meeting with Pavano], and he goes somewhere else. The heck with him."

News item: Playboy Playmate Carmella DeCesare went on trial Tuesday in Cleveland on a misdemeanor assault charge. DeCesare is the girlfriend of Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia, and she allegedly kicked his former girlfriend during an altercation in a local nightclub last summer.

My take: If she gets sentenced to house arrest, I'll be happy to supply the house.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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