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It’s the Sunday before Christmas.  I’ve made all my major purchases and even a stocking stuffer or two.  My parents have signed up to watch the kids for the afternoon, and my wife and I are headed to the last home game of the year for the Baltimore Ravens.  Just to make the game a little more interesting than normal, the Ravens are playing the Cleveland Browns. 

For the uninitiated, the Browns were the team that Baltimore convinced to move to Baltimore.  While I empathize with the people of the city of Cleveland since Bob Irsay did the same thing with the Baltimore Colts in 1984, I don’t believe that their anger should be the same since they were able to get an expansion team.  Baltimore was blocked several times by the scourge of the earth (and rival to Ebenezer Scrooge), Jack Kent Cooke.  Jack Kent Cooke was the owner of the Washington Redskins.  He never had a sellout game until the Colts moved to Indianapolis.  In addition, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue continued the cold shoulder treatment after Jack had gone to some other place not on this earth (Baltimore football fans hate Tagliabue first and Jack Kent Cooke second, although it should probably be reversed).  Anyhow, when the Browns moved, the new Baltimore team chose not to keep the name and gave it to Cleveland.  Part of the deal when the old Baltimore Colts left Baltimore was that Baltimore could get the Colts name back if they got a new franchise within 10 years.  However, given the scoop on the two *$%& listed above, you know that didn’t happen.

Well, it turns out that the Browns and Ravens are playing for the rights to the playoffs.  No one in B’more would have predicted that the Ravens would even contend this year given the major salary cap problems they had.  A youthful team, plagued by injuries, somehow had managed to achieve a 7-7 record.  A win against Cleveland would put them in the driver's seat for a playoff spot.

The stadium was the most crowded that I had seen for any home game this year.  Scattered around the Ravens’ purple and black were smatterings of orange and brown, the colors of the Browns.  I knew the game was going to get interesting when three guys with orange and brown were thrown out of my section less than five minutes after the game started.  Escorted by a few of the men in blue, they saluted the crowd with the single digit representing their IQ score.  Fans everywhere were taking advantage of the holiday spirit by imbibing spirits and the events unfolding were monumental.

Seated in front of me was a guy wearing a construction hard hat.  Mounted to the hard hat was a male doll.  The male doll had a Santa cap, a Ravens sweatshirt and red pants.  Underneath the rear posterior of the doll was a sign:  “Cleveland, kiss my…” with an arrow pointing upward.  Whenever the Ravens made a good play, this fan would squeeze a bulb and compressed air would move a device that pulled down the pants of the doll, exposing its derriere.  The fans loved it.  This particular guy was drinking bottled water; or so I thought.  After I made a comment about his hat, the guy offered me some water.  I said, “no thanks, I have a coke.”  He said, “I bet it ain’t as good as my water.”  Quickly, I said, “what’s in the water?”  He said, “it’s Beefeater’s and tonic!”  I said, “reminds me of my fraternity days in college.”

Before I could take a swig , the fan to my right who had overheard the conversation made a move and traded the guy his flask for the “bottled water”.  The flask contained Jack Daniels.   Black and neat.  Just like Bond drinks it.  The Beefeater’s guy took a swig and handed it back in return for his “water”.  The fan to my right continued to drink from the Jack Black flask and his wife drank from another.  His wife’s another story.

The Jack fan showed up at the game without his wife.  They’ve been season ticket holders since the beginning.  What I couldn’t understand was how.  The PSL’s (personal seat licenses) that we were forced to buy in order to entice the new owner to Baltimore were $3,000 per seat for 50 yard line seats (remember, I’m a finance guy and we buy high and sell low or something similar to that).  Well, I’ve got my 12 seats (4,4,4) and right next to me is the Jack fan and his wife.  The Jack fan drives a dump truck.  His wife is a stripper.  Even though their gross income is probably substantially less than mine, I’m guessing that their after tax income isn’t.  Anyway, Jack’s wife strolls into the game a few minutes after it starts, dressed in a white full length fur coat.  It looked like ermine, but I’m not an expert.  She has flame red hair, painted lips to match, and an ability to move every curve the right way.  She saunters up to her seat, trading barbs with members of the crowd who have undoubtedly been to her place of employment during the past 30 days.  Whatever she’s drinking from her flask is unknown.  What is known, is that she was getting bombed.  Shortly after halftime, she stands up and starts waving on the hordes of people in the stands behind us.  Next thing I know, she’s got the ermine coat open and is cupping her shirt under her breasts.  Next thing after that, my wife mutters, “she’s flashing the crowd”.  Sure enough, the stripper has pulled up her sweater and the puppies are swaying in the breeze before a few thousand people.  Her husband pulls the sweater down and pulls her down.  He’s not happy.  She passes out.  My buddy who goes to the games with me comes back from the bathroom.  I tell him the story.  Now he’s not happy because he missed the flash of the flesh.  Oh well, maybe next year.

Anyway, the game is close with the Ravens leading 13-7 at the half.  With two minutes left, the Ravens are leading by the same score.  The Browns, led by a better quarterback than the Ravens possess, score to go up 14-13 and win the game.  So much for deflated hopes.

Thinking about the game, I think there’s a way to make a movie, maybe even a sitcom about this.  We could get plenty of material from fans attending all games everywhere.  Meanwhile, I’m one up on my buddy because I saw the flash of the flesh.  Reporting from Baltimore where at least one NFL team is about to end its season, I am….

Wino Wally
December 25, 2002

P.S.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!




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