Canadian press fuels 'war' of words

November 27, 1994|By Ray Frager | Ray Frager,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore's invasion of the Grey Cup is serious business in Canada, and the press up in the Great White North is banging the war drums.

Think we're exaggerating with the war reference? This goes beyond just that little dig at Baltimore CFLs coach Don Matthews, calling his smile "cheesy." Check out this passage from a front-page article by Pete McMartin in Wednesday's Vancouver Sun:

"This is not the first time a Baltimore team has met a Canadian team in a championship. They met once before. It was for the championship of North America, in a series known as The War of 1812. The best Baltimore managed -- even with the home-field advantage -- was a draw. Baltimore played a defensive game: We were on offence."

A draw? Oh, yeah, Mr. Big Shot Historian Pete McMartin, you don't even know how to spell offense. And you had to steal from Baltimore to get a name for your newspaper.

He continues:

"Those rockets' red glare were ours. We made possible their national anthem. The Americans would repay the favor 178 years later by flying our flag upside down."

So that's what this is about -- sour grapes. Don't blame us because your maple leaf is out of joint.

"Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore. Billie Holliday was born in Baltimore. Eubie Blake was born in Baltimore. Cab Calloway grew up in Baltimore. None of them stayed."

Try this on for size, McMartin: Alan Thicke is from Canada. Michael J. Fox is from Canada. Monty Hall is from Canada. They could have stayed, for all we care.

McMartin wasn't the only Vancouver Sun writer stoking the Canadian fires on Wednesday. Gary Kingston wrote:

"Oh, Canada, B.C. Lions' home and native landers are determined to stand on guard for thee on Sunday.

"Many homebrews see the Grey Cup matchup between the back bacon, Labatt and 'eh-dominated Lions and the Baltimore Americans, er CFLers, as kind of border-war last stand . . ."

So, not only can't these people spell offense, but they also refer to natives as "homebrews." And we thought the word was "hosers."

In the same article, the Lions' Donovan Wright is quoted as saying: "I'm going to be out there talking a lot of junk about the Canadians. I always speak up for the Canadians. I'm proud to be a Canadian."

And we're proud to be Americans (just ask Lee Greenwood), proud to be Marylanders. Even one of the Lions, receiver Darren Flutie, was spotted wearing an Orioles T-shirt this week. Of course, Flutie, like his brother, CFL superstar Doug, once lived in the Baltimore area, too. Baltimore makes, Canada takes.

"There's no doubt that it's not unlike the World Series [with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993]," Lions general manager Eric Tillman said. "Canadian pride is going to play a major role. I don't think there's anything wrong with respecting the tradition of the league and wanting to keep the Cup on this side of the border a while longer."

You have to wonder just how much the Canadians want to keep the Grey Cup, though. Thursday's Vancouver Province reported that store owners aren't afraid of a Grey Cup-inspired riot similar to what followed the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup finals loss to the New York Rangers (which inspired this New York headline: "Canuckleheads").

"There's not as much of a buildup as there was in the Canucks series," one merchant told the Province. "This one is like falling off a cliff rather than climbing a mountain."

2 And not everyone at that other Sun is unsympathetic. Columnist Mike Beamish wrote in Thursday's editions: "Today, Americans sit down to celebrate what came on the Mayflower. But in Baltimore they still mourn what left on the Mayflower."

After discussing the diminishing Canadian aspect of the CFL, Beamish concludes by writing: "If some of us seem nostalgic for a fading part of our sports heritage, the football fans of Baltimore, if anyone, should understand."

Sure, we understand.

Just don't try coming into our harbor again.

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