Only Maryland governor Parris Glendening didn't seem to get it. "It was fun," he shouted amid all the somber faces around him. He thought the occasion was about politics and not about broken hearts. He's not from Baltimore, of course, or he would have known better. There were even whispers that he must be a—gasp!—Washington Redskins fan, as if that explained his insensitivity.
In Baltimore they're having to learn to love again. (For much of the year it has been more like a first date. A little necking, maybe, nothing more.) Once, the Colts owned the town. They sold out every game, while the Orioles had empty seats during the World Series. Now the Orioles draw 3.6 million a year. Turn on sports talk radio, and if the announcer says, "Let's talk Ravens," the next 15 calls are on whether the Orioles should have kept Todd Zeile.
The Ravens are lovable, though, in the way that the 1962 New York Mets were. They lose consistently, but they lose with style. They're coached by lovable Ted Marchibroda, who coached here the last time the Colts were any good. The stadium, though packed, is not as noisy as when it was called the world's largest outdoor insane asylum. It's impolitic even to say "insane asylum" anymore. Times have changed, despite the Baltimore Colts band.
Season highlights, in case you weren't paying attention.
Sept. 1: Ravens win opener, which might have been the big news of the day if Baltimore hadn't decided to outlaw tailgating at stadium parking lots. Riot narrowly averted.
Sept. 15: Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde throws three interceptions. Guarantees he'll never have a day like that again. Promises to see what he can do about tailgating situation.
Oct. 13: Ravens lose 26-21 at Indianapolis to hated Colts.
Nov. 3: Ravens start a four-game losing streak. Cop in parking lot says, "I'm supposed to be writing tailgating tickets. Damn, lost my pen."
Nov. 24: Ravens coaches, five of them, trapped in elevator for most of third quarter. Maintenance crew spends much of that time working on wrong elevator. While coaches are trapped, Ravens outscore Jacksonville Jaguars 6-0. Upon coaches' release, Jags outscore Ravens 18-3.
Dec. 1: Ravens beat Steelers in rain, breaking seven-game franchise losing streak to Pittsburgh. Testaverde has sixth three-touchdown game of season. Headed for Pro Bowl? Vinny? Yep.