With the Ratbirds game looming this week, it’s time get some stuff out there. I already told the story about getting cheap-shotted by a couple of chicken-shit Rats fans in the stands last year. I wrote this essay in 2007, which details the reasons for my hatred for everything involving this vile team. Just about all of it is still in effect, except that there are some obvious things that no longer apply the way they did. I’ll spell them out when you get there.
How do I Hate the Ravens? Let me Count the Ways
People here are often taken aback by the ferocity and bitterness of my attack on their team when I speak my piece.
“You really hate them don’t you?”
Yes, I hate them with a white-hot fury that burns like a thousand suns.
“Why do you hate the Ravens so much?”
It’s not arbitrary; it’s personal and specific. This team is and has always been garbage, for reasons I will demonstrate below.
They used to be the Browns.
And speaking of leaving, there’s that whole pulling the team out of Cleveland and moving to Baltimore thing. In all of the cases where teams moved to another city, this was the only time the team was pulled from a city that was actually supporting it. Clevelanders packed that miserable, decrepit hellhole every season, and it held close to 80,000. The city became a ghost town as people watched the games on TV. Sure a new stadium was needed, but it could have gotten done. Hell, someone that knew his way around the business world did do it.
I rejoiced at “The Drive.” I laughed at “The Fumble.” This was different. This was the only time I ever felt sorry for Cleveland fans.
(I know Steve Bischotti now owns the Ravens and he seems to be a decent guy. But he has not put a stop to any of the pettiness I’m going to spell out next. That makes him no better than Modell, as far as I’m concerned.)
Bush-league Stadium Ploys: The Scoreboard
This is another holdover from Cleveland. Once they added a rudimentary Diamond-Vision replay system to the antiquated scoreboard in that godforsaken toilet, they only used it for the occasional plays where the Browns accomplished something. Now in a brand spanking new stadium, with 2 huge state-of-the-art scoreboards, they cover two thirds of the screen with ads and on the middle third, run replays of the occasional plays where the Ravens accomplish something.
In real stadiums, and I’ve been to quite a few, replays are run most of the time and are not dependent on the home team doing something grand. In fact, in Green Bay, they replay almost every single play. That’s the way it should be… a benefit for the people paying out the wazoo for nosebleed seats. It’s the only way they can really see anything. And I’m not even talking about controversial calls where showing a replay might help the visiting coach decide whether to challenge. But if I’m at a game and the other team pulls off a long bomb or gadget play, then dammit, I want to see what went wrong… who blew their assignment? Who missed a tackle? Or maybe I just want to behold a hell of a play. But that didn’t happen in Cleveland, and it doesn’t happen in Baltimore. They’re only interested in petty boosterism, at the expense of the people that paid dearly for their seats.
Bush-league Stadium Ploys: The Stadium Announcer
This may be the dumbest thing ever; in Cleveland, and now in Baltimore, the stadium announcer doesn’t announce who makes a tackle by the visiting team. Oh, they’re all over it when the Raven’s defense is on the field… in fact they probably do it to fill time while the tackler is pounding his chest and dancing around after a 5-yard gain. But when the other team’s defense is out there, it’s as if by acknowledging that the other team made a tackle, it’s some kind of traitorous admission. Maybe they should just go whole-hog and take the visitors’ name off the scoreboard as well. This ploy is petty, bush-league and indicative of a low-class organization.
Bush-league Stadium Ploys: The Stadium itself
I liked it at first… it was certainly an upgrade over Memorial Stadium. It was bright and shiny and had some modern amenities. But what it lacks is soul and anything resembling imagination.
Compare it with Heinz Field, which was built shortly after Ravens Stadium was built and you can see the stark contrast. And I refer to it as Raven’s Stadium because the corporate shills that bought the name have changed so many times, I refuse to keep track any more.
Heinz Field has The Great Hall, which is an entire concourse with Steelers memorabilia, the 6 Super Bowl trophies with interactive displays, multiple murals, and a “Walk of Fame” where they have locker exhibits from Hall of Fame Steelers. They have 2 live bands playing before the game, one in the Great Hall, and one on the 2nd level.
Access to all of this is free, with your ticket. There are many different food places where you can get fish sandwiches, foot-long dogs, burgers, nachos, pizza and the rest of the usual stadium fare. They also have the legendary Primanti Brothers, featuring the classic burger/fries/slaw on Italian bread sandwich.
The Raven’s Stadium has squat. In the concourse, you’ll find nothing but food and merchandise stands, meant to maximize their reach into your pockets. It’s dark, sterile and as inviting as a low-rent strip mall. No bands, no homage to Ravens past, (or even the old Colts), nothing to do at all, really. I’m bored just writing about it. The only idea that showed any kind of promise never got out of the discussion stage: a giant Raven with glowing red eyes that looked out over the freeway, then rotated to look over the field on game day. Naturally, it cost too much money. Instead, they have the league’s lamest marching band, full of people that haven’t yet given up their glorious Band Camp days.
And don’t get me started on their “fight song,” which John Modell claims he wrote in about a half hour. After hearing it once, I believed him, although I’m sure the reported time includes a 15-minute bathroom break. This song would be more appropriate for a senior citizen’s home than a modern stadium. I figure that since the owner’s son wrote it, the team was obligated to use it, much in the same manner as one posts their child’s indescribable art on the refrigerator door. (But at least the parent doesn’t inflict it on 65,000 people.)
And just to show how completely bankrupt they are for ideas, tomorrow night they're handing out Ravens Rally Towels. When in doubt, steal from the Steelers, I guess. The Ghost of Myron Cope should thump them for the audacity, if not lack of imagination.
Again, it started in Cleveland, who always seemed to have more punks on the roster than the league average and were perennial leaders in chest thumping. Two of their defensive backs, Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon, took to barking at their opponents, probably because it made them sound smarter. Then the “Dawg Pound” was established when this brand of canine communication was inevitably adopted by the fans, although there’s no word on whether they also sniffed each other’s butts.
The punk tradition continued with the move to Baltimore, where until the Bengals came into their own last year, the Ravens led the league in criminal activity:
· Ray Lewis: accessory to murder, disposed of evidence, misled the police investigators, and pled guilty of obstruction of justice.
· Jamal Lewis: maintained his innocence right up until he pled guilty and admitted his part in setting up a drug deal.
· Corey Fuller: ran an illegal high-stakes poker game at his house, which got busted in on by gunmen.
· BJ Sams: pulled over twice for DUI in less than two years.
None of this really matters to the Ravens, so they stay until they’ve outlived their usefulness. There’s a lot of lip service about finding players of character, but that’s all it is. When the chips are down, the Ravens can be counted on to take the easy way out rather than stand up for what’s right. Don’t believe me? I have two words: Bam Morris.
This was a guy that if the Steelers had won Super Bowl XXX, would have been a strong candidate for MVP. The Cowboys had no answer for him. The following summer, he was caught with 4 kilos of pot and a gram of coke. The Steelers cut him immediately. You don’t fool around with stuff like that and continue to play for the Rooneys. You might have thought he’d be done in the NFL, but no. The Ravens signed him. ‘Nuff said.
(I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the Steelers have also been bitten by the Player Stupidity Bug since I originally wrote this… James Harrison smacking his baby-mama when when she gave him grief about taking their son to be baptized, Santonio Holmes getting busted for having a couple of blunts in the car, Jeff Reed beating up a paper towel dispenser and threatening a cop… Still, that’s kind of small potatoes kind of stuff.)
The Ravens go to great lengths to showcase their punk-in-chief, Ray Lewis, whose grand celebrations of self demonstrate everything that’s wrong with professional sports.
he is the epitome of ego run wild. Even his stats are questionable. Remember, “tackles” are stats that are awarded by coaches. I remember seeing games where you barely heard his name called, but then looking in the next day’s paper, he’s credited with 11 tackles. Apparently running up late and falling on the pile counts as a tackle, as does being anywhere behind the line of scrimmage when the quarterback is sacked. If Ray has so much as a gas attack, he’s credited with half a sack.
One of the common themes with the Ravens is how they don’t get any respect, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever heard them give any, either. For the longest time, no team ever beat the Ravens. Oh, they beat themselves plenty of times, according to their post-game sound bytes, and had the refs take the game from them. But they’ve never actually been beaten. It disgusts me.
As a counterpoint, here’s what came from the Steelers after they lost to the Cards a few weeks back: (again, this was 2007)
“This loss is on me."
-Ben Roethlisberger, 9/30/07
"Mike Tomlin said after his first loss as a head coach that he probably should have considered inserting different gunners into the game for the second punt because the regular ones were tired. Sepulveda said he should have kicked the ball out of bounds."
Scott Brown, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 10/1/07
"We will never use injuries as an excuse. The Arizona Cardinals outperformed us."
-Mike Tomlin, 9/30/07
That’s respect, and that’s accountability, which are things I’m only just beginning to hear out of the Ravens camp.
Has there ever been a bigger crybaby in coaching than Brian Billick?
The perpetual victim… if he’s not crying about the ref, it’s the schedule, or how the league hates them. The schedule beef is an annual event any more… Too many away games in a row, the bye is too early, not enough national games… This year (2007) it was too many strong teams 2nd half of the year. What, you want to keep facing the 8 cream puffs you faced in the 1st half? You went 13-3 last year… you’re going to have a tough schedule.
Then there’s the whole about being a condescending, self-important egomaniac although I will admit that he’s less insufferable than he used to be. Not that the change has anything to do attaining some kind of personal growth. It had more to do, I believe, with getting publicly dressed down by the new owner, before the 2006 season. It couldn’t have happened to a bigger douche bag. I loathe the day the Lombardi Trophy was defiled from having been won by the Ravens and Brian Billick.
Obviously, Billick is no longer the coach, having been replaced by John Harbaugh. I have nothing bad to say about Harbaugh. He seems to be a no-nonsense, stand-up guy. Unfortunately he has not yet been able to rein in his team’s penchant for undisciplined play or cries of victimhood. We’ll see.)
Namely, I hate the fans that attend the games*. (This is asterisked because I refer only to home games. The number of Ravens fans that show up at away games is so low that it is statistically negligible.) I’ve never been in a stadium with a lower collective football IQ. They’re only just now getting the hang of making noise on 3rd down without prompting from the PA announcer. And taking their cue from the team, they never stop talking smack. Even after they lose, on the way out of the stadium they’re still yappin’. Typical conversation:
“You guys suck.!!”
“Uh, didn’t your guys just get their ass kicked?”
“Yet they just beat your team…”
“Idiot says you suck...”
“um… you suck?”
And on it goes…
(I cut some material here about Tony “The Hutt” Siragusa’s suggestion to fight Steeler fans in the restrooms, that I already self-plagiarized for my prior Ravens post, as well as my thoughts on the idiots in the stands.)
Honorable Mention: Purple Uniforms
Hey, Prince called… he wants his wardrobe back.
I find it funny that when they want to go all badass, they wear all black. It doesn’t make them look bad; it makes them look like the Falcons and Saints. Only 2 teams get to look cool wearing black: the Steelers and the Raiders. And I’m only including the Raiders because I’m afraid one of those psychotic Black-Hole fans may show up and kill me in my sleep.
All I have to say on this is, “Real men don’t wear purple.”
So in conclusion, I hate the Ravens because of their shady background, their morally bankrupt and incompetent ownership, their bush-league stadium ploys, their egocentric and alibi-addicted players, their know-it-all former coach, idiot fans and ugly uniforms. Please let me know if I left anything out.
Now can we please do the league a favor and go out and beat these guys?