Monday, February 4, 2013
Cal Ripken, Jr., 1998 Upper Deck #310
The Orioles have notably gone 30 years since their last World Series win. Even the comparatively-short 12-year gap between Ravens' championships seemed significant when watching scores of notable players (Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Bart Scott, Jarret Johnson) pass through Charm City without winning a ring. As I've spent my adult life watching my two primary rooting interests ride different tracks, I've thought about how difficult it is to ride the right combination of talent and good fortune to a title. As demoralizing as it was to see the O's stumble around the basement for 14 years, there was a different sort of agony in witnessing several very good Ravens teams sacrifice so much energy and physical well-being only to fall just short time and again. I've got a different appreciation for this Super Bowl than the first one. The Ravens were only in their fifth season when they captured that initial Lombardi Trophy, and it was the first time that they had even been to the playoffs. It wouldn't always be that easy. I wasn't even completely jaded by the Orioles yet. Even with three straight sub-.500 seasons, they'd still been contenders in half of my eight seasons of fandom to that point. The playoff pushes of 1996 and 1997 were still fresh in my mind.
A popular sports cliche says that "Flags Fly Forever". It's a good thing that they do, because they're harder to get than you'd think. I'll see you at the parade tomorrow morning.