That big whining sound you just heard. It came from the city of Baltimore.
Yes, the denizens of the Inner Harbor are simply flabbergasted that their local darlings were felled by the New England patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship game and will now be sitting at home eating nachos and chicken wings instead of playing in the Super Bowl.
For the uninitiated, the Patriots beat the Ravens 23-20 in the AFC title game and will now play another local squad, the New York Giants, in the Super Bowl in Indianapolis on Feb. 5. The Giants reached the big dance by virtue of a thrilling 20-17 overtime win against a top-notch San Francisco 49ers team.
So congratulations to the Giants fans for a great win. Yes, there are a lot of Giant fans in the area even though this is Patriots country. Hey, this is Connecticut, right? And the last time I checked Connecticut was one of the six New England states, correct? And the name of the team is the New England Patriots, isn’t it? Hence, this is Patriots country. Case closed.
But I digress. My topic is the hoots and howls that emanated from the Maryland shore and could be heard all the way up in my living room in Black Rock. And I heard them constantly the day after the game on ESPN and the other sports stations that dominate my remote control and radio dial.
Sure, I know I’m a journalist and I should be paying attention to the news of the day, and I do. But before I pick up the New York Times and the Hartford Courant, before I check the obituaries in the Connecticut Post, and before I check out Lennie Grimaldi’s “Only in Bridgeport” blog or click on NPR or WICC, I’m checking out the sports stations.
I’m a sports junkie as well as a sports writer. I fervently believe the late Chief Justice Warren Burger, who said, “I read the sports pages before I read anything else in the newspapers because I would rather read about men’s triumphs than their failures.”
As we sit here today, failure with a capital “F” means the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens had a chance to tie the game and send the contest into overtime, but kicker Billy Cundiff shanked the kick wide left and that was all she wrote for the Crabmen.
And that’s when it started. The whining, the weeping and the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Baltimoreans were pointing fingers at Cundiff, scapegoating the kicker when in actuality it was mass confusion on the Baltimore sidelines that was the real culprit in the matter. The Raven fans blamed the refs who made a correct call on an incomplete pass on the play before Cundiff’s imitation of Scott Norwood.
On that play, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco passed to wide receiver Lee Evans in the end zone. Evans had a good shot at the ball, but before he could gain possession and keep his feet in bounds the ball was knocked away. The ruling on the field was an incomplete pass. And why shouldn’t it be? That’s exactly what it was.
Not according to Ravens fans, who view the world through purple colored glasses. This belief was epitomized by Mel Kiper, Jr. on ESPN’s Mike (Greenberg) and Mike (Golic) in the Morning show on ESPN.
Goaded by Greenberg and Golic, Kiper, who is best known as a widely respected college football and draft expert but was appearing on the show as a broken-hearted Baltimore Ravens fan, made a fool of himself with his boo hooing. Greenberg tried to commiserate with Kiper, but only succeeded in further embarrassing Kiper and himself.
Kiper kept reiterating that the Ravens had completely outplayed the Patriots. Really? Look at the scoreboard draft guru. Hey, Mel stop by Inner Harbor, grab some crabs and a stein of beer and chill out.
The truth of the matter is that although the game was indeed exciting, both teams played like they didn’t want to win. The amount of gaffes committed by both teams, players and coaches alike, made one think you were watching a Pop Warner game.
But the Patriots won in the end and, as Sergeant Friday used to say, “Just the facts.”
And speaking of facts, it’s already starting in Giants country. The other day I heard New York’s own Michael Kay, who is best known for puckering up his lips whenever Derek Jeter walks in the room, say, “There’s no question the Giants are a better team than the Patriots.”
Hey, Mikey. The Patriots are 15-3. The Giants are 12-7. New England has the better record. The Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl. Case closed.