The sun came up on Sunday morning. It was entirely inappropriate. The day turned out to be unseasonably warm. The oddity of it was fitting, the happiness of it not. Across the region, men and women of faith spoke to their flocks, preaching love, forgiveness and probably a lot of perspective. A lot of perspective. We’re guessing the message was a tough sell. At least on this particular day. To paraphrase Earnest Lawrence Thayer, there are places where there is laughter, shouting children, bands playing and all that joyful crap, but not here, not in Mudville-imore. Did you not notice? The Ravens struck out. And they struck out big.
Please spare us your sermonizing about how this was only a game. Baltimore knows real loss and this isn’t that. Nobody died. Nobody suffered, not really. This was a sports loss. That’s a different kind of anguish. So why does it hurt so much? Because, for weeks now the Baltimore Ravens looked like a lock for the Super Bowl, the young quarterback a future Hall-of-Famer. They were on a roll, setting records, besting good teams and bad, on the road and at home. Drawing adulation from across the country. They were the top seed, the big dog. It was redemption time after a horrifying year.
This one hurts. It really does. Yet somehow, there’s probably someone telling you that everything will be fine. Maybe it’s a family member or friend or some chatty announcer on the TV. They are saying things like “the Ravens had a great year and we should be thankful” and “it was just a bad day” or, the worst of all, “wait until next year.” Here’s the only appropriate response to such perky, glass-half-full individuals: In the words of the immortal CeeLo Green, forget you.
Baltimore, it’s OK to take a moment. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little blue. Are you curled up in the fetal position in bed clutching your Lamar Jackson jersey? Too far. You probably need professional help. The rest of us know we will eventually feel better. We know it’s wrong to be a bit snappish, a bit peeved, a bit sorry for ourselves. Just give us a little space (we’re looking at you, Washington, D.C., and your stupid championship baseball, hockey and women’s basketball teams). We need time.
Here’s the thing. This is a bad narrative. The highly-favored team brought low by the upstart? You don’t cast Baltimore as Goliath, the city has David written all over it. President Donald Trump ridiculed Charm City this summer, absolutely savaged it and its beloved congressman. Rep. Elijah Cummings then passed away. Anyone who knows anything about movies knows this was supposed to be the George Gipp plot, the moment of redemption. Instead, there’s a hearty congratulations to the Tennessee Titans posted on Twitter by the Prevaricator-in-chief: “Big WIN last night!” Odd, how he couldn’t offer similar kudos for the winning football team from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s neck of the woods.
Baltimore knows sports pain. There was that dark day in 1984 when the Colts left town for Indianapolis. Before then, there was the entire year of 1969 when Baltimore’s Orioles, Colts and Bullets all suffered playoff losses to New York’s Mets, Jets and Knicks. The Colts and Orioles were both heavily favored going into the Super Bowl and World Series that season. The city had suffered riots in 1968. We deserved those championships, dammit. It was not to be.
Finally, there’s the last bit, this extra twist of the knife. After a tough football season, there’s usually comfort in looking forward to Major League pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training just one month from now. But when you are from Baltimore and the Orioles are, well, the Orioles, even that is denied you. Maybe, in retrospect, it was a mistake naming a professional football team after a macabre Edgar Allan Poe poem about a man’s slow descent into madness. Or maybe we should just blame Drake, the rapper who wished Lamar Jackson a happy birthday last week and extended his sports curse to Charm City. Forget you, too, Drake. We hope you feel as miserable as we do.