Grey Cup fever recipe is as easy as eh, B, C

November 22, 1994|By JOHN EISENBERG

You were excused until now. If you didn't want to get into cheering for Baltimore's fledgling Canadian Football League team, it was no problem. No big deal. As well as the team drew at Memorial Stadium, lots of people around town weren't really into it. The game was strange, the rules were weird and there were more important things to do, like throw darts at your official Irsay/Tagliabue/Cooke Scheming Weenie dart board.

But excuses aren't good anymore. The CFLs have beaten the Darth Winnipegs and qualified for the CFL's championship game, the Grey Cup, and we're not worth our potholes and piz- zas as a major-league town unless we get busy and work ourselves into a classic, frothing Grey Cup fever.

Yes, this does create problems. We don't have much time, just five days until kickoff, one of them being Thanksgiving. And the sights, sounds and smells of Grey Cup fever, a singularly Canadian experience (until now), are about as well-known to the people of Bawlmer as the sights, sounds and smells of a tundra in winter.

But fear not. Yours truly is here with the solution, a 12-step plan for transforming Baltimore into a city gone blotto in the traditional fashion for the Grey Cup, the CFL and a team without a name:

* 1. Throw a "typical" Grey Cup party Sunday night. According to a friend of mine in the Canadian media, who demanded that his name not be used so he would be able to continue living in his homeland, this means that you get your friends together and a) drink a ton of Moosehead, b) wear flannel shirts and c) talk about hockey during the game because you don't really care about the CFL.

* 2. To show your support for the CFLs, go without a last name this week. When calling your boss long-distance, for instance, you could say, "Hello, it's Bob Hmmmm." The damage to your career would be relatively minimal.

* 3. Become an instant expert in Grey Cup history. If you can't do that, fake it. Pretend that you knew all along that Toronto beat Sarnia in the 1933 game, 4-3, or that the final nine minutes of the 1962 game were postponed until the next day because the field was blanketed by fog. Amaze your friends with the answer to this stumper of a trivia question: What do Liz Marriott, Bib Fritz, Laddie Cassels, Dr. A. B. Wright and the infamous Sinc McEvenue have in common with the CFLs' Don Matthews? (A: They all have coached a team to victory in the Grey Cup.)

* 4. In honor of the league that facilitated the return of pro football to Baltimore, pretend to be a Canadian this week. Tell your friends that you think that the Guess Who is the greatest rock band in history and that Cito Gaston's next good idea will be his first. (The latter should be easy.) Consider spending the winter in Dunedin, Fla. Make the statement that the NHL work stoppage is far more devastating to you than the baseball strike.

* 5. To show your unyielding, do-anything support for Baltimore's team, try to get sued for copyright infringement sometime before kickoff. We could all do this at once, in a special show of togetherness, if Mayor Schmoke would agree to change the city slogan from "Baltimore: The City That Reads" to "Baltimore: You Got The Right One Baby Uh-Huh Uh-Huh." Pepsi's lawyers would file a brief in three minutes.

* 6. Try to work up a passionate dislike for Baltimore's opponents in Sunday's game, the B.C. Lions. Everyone understands that this could be difficult, considering that you can't name one player on the team other than Doug Flutie's brother. But try.

* 7. If you want to show your support for the CFLs but can't afford a T-shirt or sweat shirt, just wear one featuring any team in any sport and cover the nickname with a piece of tape. It'll be our little fashion secret, and so what if the rest of the country will think we're goofballs? Aren't we?

* 8. Work on learning the names and positions of the other Baltimore players besides Tracy Ham, Mike Pringle and Donald Igwebuike. And, hey, it's OK that you don't know. Your secret is safe with me.

* 9. To show your support for the team, call a travel agent and find out the price of flying from Baltimore to Vancouver for the game. (Warning: Don't do this without having smelling salts nearby.)

* 10. Decide whether you think the CFL's one-point play should be called a "rouge" or a "single," and find someone with whom you can get into a vein-popping argument. You're on your way to becoming a real CFL fan.

* 11. Cancel your Thanksgiving plans. We're not a genuine, bona fide Grey Cup town unless we tell everyone that we ate our turkey in October, when Canada celebrates Thanksgiving. Listen, it's just one year out of your life and a great cause. You could then use the day off to work on taping your T-shirts. (See: Step 7.) Just a suggestion.

* 12. Don't get quite as fired up as you think you need to get. The Canadian national college football championship game (yes, they actually decide it on the field) drew a larger crowd Sunday than either CFL division championship game. Neither CFL game came close to selling out. Canada's sports fans aren't exactly waiting breathlessly for Sunday, and it's their league, for crying out loud, so don't worry if you don't have time to get your face painted. With this 12-step plan on our side, we should be fine.

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