Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ravens made me don a bag!

On Thursday I traveled to San Diego with my wife and a couple of friends to enjoy the many things the area offers and of course to take in the Ravens v. Chargers contest.

The long weekend was amazingly entertaining. We visited several local spots, took a ton of great pictures, visited with some family and friends, engaged in many side-splitting humorous moments, enjoyed some great cuisine and on and on.

Throughout the long weekend, things happened that we hopefuls took as omens – signs of things to come when the two teams put the ball in the air. The sunsets had hints of purple; a lady arrived in our hotel lobby carrying purple roses; the gift shop had purple hoodies with San Diego embroidered across the chest.

In retrospect maybe I just had my doubts given how ineffective the Ravens have been on the road (now 3-4) and I conveniently interpreted the “signs” in a positive way.

But they sure did seem to be everywhere.

And so were Ravens fans.

I was very proud of how well represented Baltimore was. The tailgate lots were filled with purple as fans proudly sported their colors. The parties outside the stadium were off the hook high voltage (Chargers pun intended) and the expectations soared as fans discussed the possibility of hosting an AFC Championship Game at M&T Bank Stadium.

Everyone thought that Sunday night would be a night to remember.

And it was but for all the wrong reasons.

We sat behind the Ravens bench, lower level 6, around the 45 yard line. I watched the team on the sideline and there was very little positive energy, only frustration. Cary Williams was pulled from the game and there seemed to be some jawing between him and Chuck Pagano. Williams sulked on the end of the bench while I did pretty much the same from my seat.

It was obvious to me that the Ravens had no answer for the Chargers – they were so well prepared for the Ravens in all phases of the game and when they took a 17-7 lead late in the second quarter, you could just sense that the Ravens had no chance.

What a buzz kill!

You know one of the risks you run when you visit another team’s stadium as a fan is a loss and when it happens and you are wearing your colors, it’s an invitation for ridicule.

“Thanks for visiting and leaving your money behind.”

“Ray Lewis is an old man.”

“Suggs looks like he was out too late last night.”

“Your quarterback sucks!”

Reality began to sift in and I went into decompression mode. Suddenly my team and yours went from the driver’s seat to road kill; from the No. 1 seed to wild card status. It then seemed possible that the Ravens could sweep their division and still lose it.

I wonder how often that happens.

We had plans for a big post-game celebration. My cousin who is a native of San Diego County visited us in the Gaslamp District for dinner. I was hardly the best of company. I tried to put a positive spin on things but I couldn’t really find one. Our team was just spanked in all phases of the game.

Descriptions like “frauds” and “posers” parted my lips angrily and rather easily.

A great meal at Lou & Mickey’s tempered my mood a tad, followed by my little numbing go-to after dinner drink – Black Sambuca. Almost fittingly, my cousin, a Chargers fan who clearly seeing my agony was a much more gracious winner than I ever could have been, had a White Sambuca.

The metaphor didn’t escape me – the good guys and the bad; the winners and losers.

As we paid our check to leave, our waitress came out with a bag for a friend’s leftovers. But I had other plans for that bag.

After punching out a few holes in it so that I could see without walking into a wall or worse, an errant Billy Cundiff kick, I walked down Fifth Avenue wearing it over my head, complemented by my Ray Lewis jersey. Ravens fans that passed by gave me consolation punch shakes and hugs. A couple posed for pictures. Another said, “My God did we sh*t the bed or what?”

Those fans, the bag and the laughter surrounding it all from my wife, cousin and friends helped me to move on (and now with perfect knowledge so have the 49ers). I even wore my colors out of the hotel Monday morning and on to the plane. It’s water under the bridge and time to move on.

Maybe the loss was a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it helps to temper and make more realistic our expectations. It’s hard to put a lot of stock in a team as inconsistent as ours.

I’ll try and remind myself of that because my devotion to this team coupled with their Jekyll and Hyde ways is enough to make a Fruit Loop out of me.

My wife already thinks I’m half way there.


Jerry B said...

Following our "beat down" of the Steelers in week one, Mike Tomlin mounted the podium and took responsibility for it! Don't expect that from Harbaugh, who is extolling the virtues of the OL as well as Ray Lewis' performance Sunday night. Either he closed his eyes during the game or he is delusional! The fact is, the Ravens were dominated in every phase of football, including coaching and their "franchise" QB, so called, looked confused and lost most of the night while absorbing 7 sacks! Granted, the game appers to be too fast at times for Flacco (this is NOT Delaware!), but I'm not giving up on him until he has a chance with another OC! I still remember how Drew Brees was given up for "dead" until resurrecting his career under Sean Payton in New Orleans! Every other QB in the league confers with coaches on the sidelines and reviews photos of defenses, but not ours! Anyway, KC exposed some flaws in the Pack, brother Jim gave John a huge Christmas present last night and I continue to believe the Ravens are as talented as any team in the league, except for....coaching! Once the playoffs begin, it's.....open season!