I am greatly indebted to Robert Irsay. My family moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland when I was still but a wee cuss. My football allegiance was already firmly entrenched but, because of matters of convenience, my family went to a lot of Orioles games, thus splitting my baseball following fairly evenly between the Pirates and the Orioles (since changed to the Nats when they arrived on the scene – stupid Angelos). I shudder to think that the same might have happened with football, if only Bodymore, Murderland had had a franchise at the time.

I can’t stand Baltimore. The city is a wasteland, both culturally and economically. Its residents harbor a massive inferiority complex toward Washington, mainly because they produce lesser potassium. Its sports fans are docile and they bellow “Ooooooh” during the “O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave” line in the National Anthem. It’s incredibly grating. I once went to a game at Yankees Stadium with an Orioles fan and he did it, thus eliciting enraged and bemused glares from the Yankees fans. I normally fully endorse pissing off Yankees fans, but I just had to shake my head at him in scorn.

They also wear purple camo pants to Ravens games.

I suppose this would come in handy if, say, a fire fight broke out in the middle of a Prince concert. Otherwise, few can do tacky like Baltimore. Or violent homicide. But the white people have to settle for tacky.

In the spirit of adventure, or boredom, aided by the fact that I got nice free tickets from my sister who works in Bmore, I went with my pops (a 49ers fan) to catch the Ravens-Bengals game yesterday. I’ve already established my masochistic bona fides for KSK readers by running a marathon last week. Similar forces compelled me to wear my Hines Ward jersey to M&T Bank Stadium. Entering into a hostile territory, supporting a team with plenty of fodder for trash talking (except for that recent pesky world title) seemed like a recipe for fun times.

Don’t I have beautiful strawberry blond neck hair?

Ideally, it would have been fun to get thrown out but I couldn’t see dad getting down with that. I can credit him for getting me into football, even if I didn’t end up liking his team. He claims he tried out for the 49ers at wideout when he was my age, which I usually regard with the credulity of a Cartman 9/11 conspiracy. Upon further reflection, the man is 6′ 4″ and he was my age at a time when the gritty possession white receiver wasn’t immediately dismissed. Then again, fuck that, this is the same guy who claimed he beat up his commanding officer in Vietnam, was at the performance when Lenny Bruce was arrested and chased the Kaiser dickity-six miles when he stole our word for twenty.

Anyway, exactly 30 seconds before the opening kickoff, he turns to me and says, “You really have to admire what Marvin Lewis has done with this team.” Cincinnati then proceeds to fumble the opening kickoff, leading to a Ravens score, followed by a Carson Palmer pick-six three plays afterwards. You can’t beat my father for a jinx. I fully expect on my wedding day for him to tell me that my wife and I will have a long happy life together, only to find out she’s carrying someone else’s child half an hour after the reception.

We had some choice seats about 11 rows back from the 20-yard line. And because Brian Billick is a supreme fucktard who can’t put a game away, the Ravens kept it competitive until the last two minutes.

The game was putatively notable for two reasons: it was the highest attendance ever at M&T Bank Stadium. Hot damn! I will say it is quite the nice facility, and it should be, because Maryland taxpayers had to foot the bill for the fucking thing, thank you former Gov. Paris Glendening. Also, semi-quasi-marginal-star Peter Boulware was inducted into the Ravens’ Ring of Honor, which is basically a list of people who will put their fingerprints on Ray Lewis’ murder weapons, joining such luminaries as Earnest Byner, Art Modell, Mike McCrary and the members of the Baltimore Colts. Weeeeee! You’d think they’d flesh out the list by including more of the individual Colts rather the the teams entire. The guy in the row in front of me, who looked exactly like that nebbish guy from High Fidelity, had the jersey to honor the occasion.

“Wait, wait, everybody, I need to tie my shoe”

Oh, but the shit talk. Sure, I was wearing a Steelers jersey to a game in which they weren’t playing. A sports fan faux pas? Yeah, okay, fine. They are divisional rivals, however. I was scouting! Right? Right? Alright, whatever.

But they had the late game, enabling me to watch (gasp!) both games. Maybe a half dozen Ravens fans picked up on this. “Wrong stadium,” “He’s lost,” “You’re not playing today” they cried. They made light of the Steelers record and our recent defeat to a JV Raiders team, but never in particularly clever or memorable ways. Not even one “Toothlessberger” knock. I’m disappointed Baltimore, really I am.

While I’m in the middle of going to the bathroom, some dude a few spots back in the line declaims, “Look at the Shitsburgh jersey. You got some balls wearing that here, man. If I were you, I wouldn’t keep my back turned. I wouldn’t show your back like that.” Way to issue half-hearted physical threats when you’re surrounded by like-minded people and the person you’re threatening is peeing at a urinal. You’re tough as nails, Baltimore.

Special Christmas Ape Steelers homer supplement: You may not know this, but the Steelers are an unstoppable turnover machine. The team should be introduced to the Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away” at every game this season, even at home. Having said that, that mighty Broncos defense is as watery as the piss-poor beer they make in Colorado. And Hines Ward will haunt Nick Ferguson’s dreams, but only when his fumbling at the goal line is not busy haunting mine. What happened to the Simpsons movie trailer that Fox was hyping throughout the baseball playoffs to air during the Halloween episode? All we get is a teaser for the trailer next week. Fuck you Fox. Fuck you for Joe Buck and fuck you for this. And The War at Home. Is this show still on the air because Rupert Murdoch hates America or is it for reasons far more insidious?