To care or not to care, that is the question

November 28, 1998|By John Eisenberg

A conversation between the head and the heart about tomorrow's game between the Ravens and Colts at Camden Yards:

Head: "I'm sorry. I wish I could view this as some great grudge match, but I can't. I'm just not that excited."

Heart: "Are you kidding? Do you have a pulse? The Colts coming back to play in Baltimore? This is Armageddon."

Head: "Aw, you're just living in the past. It's like Artie Donovan said, the Colts left town a long time ago. And besides, how can you be outraged when we've done the same thing to Cleveland && that the Colts did to us?"

Heart: "Don't you see? If the Colts hadn't left, we never would have had to do that to Cleveland. The Colts are responsible for everything we had to go through to get a team back. Kissing Bill Bidwill's ugly, little feet. Getting ripped off in the expansion derby. And taking another city's team. I blame the Colts for all that heartache and horror. And besides "

Head: "What?"

Heart: "The dirty dogs left in the middle of the night, like an adulterer in a cheap romance novel. Have some pride, man. The Colts scorned this city more than anyone ever has. Now you can let them know how much you appreciated it."

Head: "Maybe I'd be more excited if both teams weren't so bad. But they're 6-16 combined. It's last place in the AFC East against next-to-last in the AFC Central. That's something to get excited about? It's pathetic that that's the biggest game of the year here. It's a Losers Bowl. The way I see it, both teams should leave town."

Heart: "True, the records don't help. But it's nice to have a game to get excited about at the end of such a disappointing season. It's not like any of the rest of the Ravens' games will do that. And anyway, this isn't about records or standings or Cleveland or anything other than the Colts having driven a stake into a city's heart."

Head: "How dramatic."

Heart: "It's true. A lot of fans are going to boo the Colts tomorrow, and some are going to cry when they boo because it hurts. But either way, they're going to feel it deep inside."

Head: "And a Ravens win will heal all those wounds?"

Heart: "Of course not. But it would give some satisfaction to the people who invested their deepest emotions in the Colts for all those years and ended up getting spurned in return. If all those Sundays without a team frustrated you, here's a chance to vent some of those frustrations on the right target."

Head: "The right target? [Colts quarterback] Peyton Manning was 8 years old when the Colts left. [Colts owner] Robert Irsay has passed away. There isn't a 'right target' anymore. Too much time has passed. The world is different now. Five NFL teams have moved since the Colts left. Six, if you count the Patriots."

Heart: "What does that have to do with this?"

Head: "Only everything. It was the end of the Colts' great tradition in Baltimore that disturbed you. But tradition doesn't count for squat anymore. Charlotte and Nashville have teams and Los Angeles doesn't. Money beats tradition every time now. That's the world we live in, for better or worse. And you'd better get used to it."

Heart: "I understand all that. But I also understand that the fans lose when money beats tradition. And for all the fans here who 'lost' when Indianapolis' money sucked the Colts out of town, here's a chance to vent some anger. What's the harm in that?"

Head: "There's no harm, but it's just so pointless, not to mention a tad hypocritical. And there are so many other, better things to vent about. You want to know what upsets me? That [Ravens owner] Art Modell doesn't intend to hire a general manager, which is what he needs more than another coach. And that the Orioles are throwing their money around without any apparent plan. That's what gets me. Things that will matter for years around here. Not an irrelevant football game between two losing teams that no one will remember next year."

Heart: "You think no one will remember the day the Colts came back to Baltimore? What planet are you from? Sports fans have to put up with a lot these days. Ridiculous ticket prices. Police-blotter heroes. Strikes. Lockouts. Clueless owners. Permanent seat licenses. Five-dollar beers. All the fans do is take, take, take their medicine. They never get to strike back. They never get their revenge. Well, here's a chance. The Colts are back in Baltimore. It's a day for revenge."

Head: "OK, go ahead and enjoy your little, symbolic victory if the Ravens win. But don't think it's going to change anything. Ticket prices are still going to go up. Clueless owners aren't going to get any smarter. And the Colts still aren't going to come back."

Heart: "Come back? Who wants that? I'd like the Baltimore-era memorabilia at the Hall of Fame to reflect the Colts' years here. But I don't want the team. The heck with them. They jilted us. They put the biggest of all hurts on us. I'm glad they're back for a day. But I hope their players eat a grass buffet for four quarters."

Head: "I'd hate to see you when something really important comes along."

Heart: "You don't get it. You never will. There are a lot of games against a lot of teams every year, but this one is personal. This is like the settlement at the end of a wicked divorce, only with tackling allowed. Hey, if you don't think it's important, it's your loss."

Pub Date: 11/28/98

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