Last week’s game was a tough one for me, with the Steelers losing late against the Ratbirds, on Sunday Night Football. The Steelers gave up a game-winning 92-yard touchdown drive with about two and a half minutes to go in the game.
That sure makes the old asshole sting a bit.
Luckily, I was off work on the following Monday and Tuesday, so I didn’t have to take too much shit at work.
While I was off, I saw a blurb in the paper about the ratings for the game. They were huge, nationally, but even bigger in the home markets. In Baltimore, the game earned a 45 rating and 63 share. (That means the game was on in 45% of the homes that have a TV, and in 63% of homes that were watching TV at the time.)
In Pittsburgh, however, the ratings were even bigger, with a 53 rating and 71 share. The article bemoaned the fact that Pittsburgh produced higher ratings for the game than did Baltimore. (Hah! We win the ratings war! Woo hoo!) The headline asked, “Where were Raven viewers?
Here’s the thing that they don’t understand here. These things take time. You don’t just plop a team here (all of 15 years ago) and expect immediate devotion. The Steelers have always had a decent local following, but the team didn’t become any good until 1972. So the Pittsburgh market has had almost 40 years to hone their fanatical following.
Baltimore so much wants to be like Pittsburgh… to have what Pittsburgh has, it’s palpable. That’s a lot of the reason why they hate Pittsburgh so much. The two cities have a lot of similarities, yet one is perennially successful in sports. (OK, in hockey and football. Baseball? Well, it’s been a while.)
Baltimore denigrates the Terrible Towel, because they have no such thing. Plus, they’re sick of seeing them waved in their own stadium.
They hate the team, but of course, they have to as division rivals. And the Steelers have knocked the Rats out of the playoffs on three separate occasions, including in 2 of the last 3 years.
They mock our fanaticism because they have yet to reach our level of commitment. I’ve walked around the downtown of both places and the difference can be seen immediately. In Pittsburgh, the streets are jammed with people wearing Steeler jerseys or other apparel. Yes, there are some that do in Baltimore but it’s a mere fraction of what you see in The Burgh. And you can’t walk down the street in Pittsburgh without going by a window full of Steelers merchandise for sale. Whether it’s an apparel store, or a Walgreens, it’s packed with game gear. Here? Nada. You’d barely knew there was a team here, from storefront appearances.
So if Baltimoreans want to compare themselves to Pittsburghers in terms of team loyalty and identity, they have a long way to go. They have to put in the time. There are no shortcuts.
The Mojo Boogie
The Steelers play the Bengals this afternoon and it won’t be on local TV, so I’m off to Jilly’s, my local sports bar/restaurant. The last two times I went there this season, I wore a black Steelers polo, and we won. But I noticed that both games the Steelers were at home and wore black. This time, they play in Cincy and will be wearing white. I considered wearing a white polo, but in looking back to last year, I often wore black polos while the Steelers wore white, and we won then too. So for the sake of the streak, I’m continuing with the same outfit.
Black Steelers polo with white piping, yellow-fronted hat, with the Hot Arizona Auntie-approved Steelers socks.
I’ll probably have to take some grief at the bar, but whattya gonna do? You got to take the good with the bad. No matter what anyone says, we still have the ultimate trump card:
Although the Bengals gave them a scare, the Steelers won today 24-17. It was a good day for me at the old sports bar. Met 3 new Steelers fans there, with whom I expect to watch some future games. And now during the late game, the Seahawks are giving the Ratbirds all they can handle. I'd feel better if they were scoring TDs instead of FGs, but beggars can't be choosers.