Olympian Michael Phelps journey started in Baltimore and now has covered five Olympics, winning 28 Olympic medals and 23 gold medals. He is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Michael Phelps is the walking, talking embodiment of Olympic greatness. And, in his post-Rio life, the embodiment of Baltimore sports fandom.
In a Facebook Live chat Monday for Sports Illustrated, Phelps held court for more than 20 minutes on whether he is really retired, how old baby Boomer is, what life is like after the Olympics, where he keeps his medals, whether he is really retired, his #Phelpsface, his favorite Future song, and so many other queries about retired life and the degree to which he is retired.
Even as he laid out his plans for his new life away from Baltimore, he wanted viewers to know that the Ravens rule and the Steelers drool. Oh, and that he plays lacrosse.
-- Phelps plays lacrosse? Well, sure. He is from Baltimore, and apparently played long-stick midfielder growing up. "I played a bunch of sports growing up. I played lacrosse, baseball, soccer and I swam. So [swimming] was the sport I was the best at.
"I love playing lacrosse. I acutally just bought lacrosse sticks because I honestly just wanted to throw a lacrosse ball. So I told Nicole I was going to teach her how to throw a lacrosse ball." They might be the only two people in Scottsdale, Ariz., with a lacrosse stick.
-- Phelps is keeping tabs on the American League East. "I am a die-hard Baltimore fan, so obviously I'm always rooting for the teams. It's crazy that we could have three teams from the division making the playoffs. I'm hoping the O's are one of them. We've got a couple of games left. It'd be sick to be able to get into the playoffs again, and I will definitely, definitely be there supporting those guys."
It wasn't clear whether he meant there for the playoffs, or there later this regular season, or both. Either way, the Orioles need to answer the Katie Ledecky-Bryce Harper gold-medal partnership with their own demonstration of athletic might. Phelps has won 23 gold medals. The Orioles have 25 men on their roster. That's one designated gold-medal holder for every player on the team if you ignore Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez.
-- Is Joe Flacco elite? "I have to give Joe love. I'm a huge Ravens guy." Inconclusive.
-- Facebook Live commenters were weirdly interested in the rooting interests of Boomer, who is 16 weeks old and probably thinks sports are mushy peas or blankets or something babies love. "Will Boomer be a Trojan like his mommy?" (Fiancee Nicole Johnson graduated from Southern Calfornia.)
No. "Boomer's going to Michigan. Go Blue." (Phelps trained at Michigan and attended classes after the 2004 Olympics.)
Will Boomer like the Pittsburgh Steelers? "Boomer will not end up liking the Steelers. That's not going to happen. Sorry. There's no way I will let that happen." Sorry, Leah Smith. You will not be babysitting for the Phelps family anytime soon.
-- Other notable remarks: He likes turtles, but not specifically the kind that play in College Park. He doesn't think his fiancee is a mermaid. And he wants you to see his cute baby.