Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1998 Upper Deck #310

Last night I had the pleasure, for the second time in my life, of watching my city's football team win the Super Bowl. As I did back in 2001, I celebrated at my aunt and uncle's house with much of my mother's side of the family. There was wine and beer (for the third straight Ravens' postseason game, I went with Loose Cannon triple-hopped IPA, my favorite brew from Baltimore's Heavy Seas outfit), purple Jell-O shots to celebrate touchdowns by our guys, and tons of good food. Meatballs, crab soup, crab pretzels, jambalaya...we even had an ice cream cake for my uncle's 50th birthday. Some people are nervous wrecks when watching their favorite team in a high-stakes game, but I'd rather be around folks that are near and dear to me. When things are going well, it's great to add your voice to a group cheer rather than letting it bounce of the walls of your own empty living room. Every big play by the Ravens set off a round of jubilant high-fives. Even when things got surprisingly tense in the midst of San Francisco's second-half rally, I appreciated the companionship of my girlfriend and my family. I might have been pacing the house, ranting and raving, if I had stayed home. I even won $12 in our low-stakes score grid pool thanks to coach John Harbaugh's choice to take a deliberate safety to set up a game-ending free kick.

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.

1 comment:

shoeboxlegends said...

I had the same experience where that safety helped me out in my office Super Bowl squares pool, netted me a cool $200!