The election is finally over, and just in time for Festivus (the NFL playoffs), Sun readers have come up with the best possible nickname for the soon-to-be-legendary defense of the Baltimore Ravens.
The "Formstone Curtain."
Sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the famed "Steel Curtain" defense in the 1970s. But this year's Ravens have eclipsed even that unit's best efforts. Unless the New York Jets score a whopping 42 points in today's final game, the Ravens will allow the fewest points ever in a 16-game NFL season.
What's the only building material stronger than steel? Any Baltimore homeowner will tell you it's Formstone, that miraculous faux-rock cladding slapped onto brick rowhouses all over the city in the 1950s and '60s as an impenetrable defense against age and soot.
You want strong? Heck, sometimes Formstone is stronger than the houses beneath it.
And what could look more gritty and working-class -- more Baltimore -- than a wall of Formstone rowhouses? It's a perfect image for the Ravens defensive line of Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett. Baby, you run up against this row of houses and you ain't goin' nowhere.
The winning nickname comes from Ted Getzel, a man who has a way with nicknames. The longtime owner of the late Mencken's Cultured Pearl Cafe is the man who coined the name SoWeBo for his southwest Baltimore neighborhood. Getzel managed to fax in a last-minute submission to the "Ravens Nickname Search" we announced two weeks ago.
"I was looking for something that was as quintessentially Baltimore as steel is quintessentially Pittsburgh," says Getzel. "Formstone is so tough and impermeable and strong and down-to-earth. It's the essence of Baltimore."
In the interest of full disclosure, we should tell you that Getzel's suggestion did not win the popular vote. In fact, it received only one vote -- his -- of the more than 100 ballots cast.
But our nickname judges decided to follow the recent example of the U.S. Supreme Court. In its rulings that decided the presidential election, it didn't seem overly concerned about which candidate won the most votes.
Besides, as in the presidential election, our balloting produced a virtual tie: The nicknames "Nevermore," "Purple Reign" and "Purple Haze" each logged nine votes.
In fact, our nickname search drew a lot of purple prose. There were more than 70 unique and imaginative variations inspired by the purple-and-black colors of the Ravens uniforms (e.g. "The Grape Wall of Baltimore," the "Purple Package," even the "Purple Cha Cha's," whatever those might be ).
While we appreciate that Ravens' fans have embraced the color purple, their excess of creativity threw the election into crisis.
Instead of performing a recount, which we didn't have time for, given an arbitrary self-imposed Dec. 20 deadline, we decided to halt the counting and certify Getzel as the winner.
For one thing, "Formstone Curtain" had a nice ring to it. For another, we thought that closure was more important than weeks of uncertainty that could only do more damage to the stock market, and thus to our 401k plans.
But for those of you who remain attached to this whole "democracy" thing, here are some of the other top vote-getters:
n "Birds of Prey" received 6 votes.
n "Purple Plague," "Purple Rage," "Purple Peril," "Purple Poison" and "Raven Maniacs" each received 3.
n "Bruise Brothers," "Purple Flock," "Purple Pain" and "Star-Spangled Bangers" each received 2.
'Boo,' quoth the readers
Names suggested by The Sun that were inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, the Baltimore-buried author of "The Raven," were rejected by most voters.
The lone exception was the "Nevermore" defense, which tied for first in the popular vote.
It comes, of course, from the line in the poem when the narrator asks, "When will the Jets score again? 'Quoth the Ravens, Nevermore!' " (One reader suggested abbreviating this nickname further to the more shoutable "No Mo!" defense, which might make a lusty chant from the stands.)
Voter Joseph L. Johnson of Towson berated us for some of our other potential nicknames, such as the "Sepulchral Terrors" (from a Poe story) or "Harm City." "The Poe connections were lame and the Baltimore connections were merely demeaning," Johnson wrote.
He went on to offer six suggestions of his own, including "National Defense," "Baltimore Blockade" and "Tsunami," before ending with an attempt to make us forget that he'd just insulted us: "P.S., thanks, it was fun putting it together!"
We, of course, disqualified his ballot as so much hanging chad.
Fred Sirotkin of Columbia liked the "Nevermore" defense so much he wrote a poem about it based upon "The Raven." It begins:
"Once upon a midgame dreary, while opponents' offense weary
Pondered how to advance their minions and produce a winning score
While I watched their players dashing, suddenly there came a bashing
As if someone rudely gashing, gashing holes in plays afore
' 'Tis the visitors,' I muttered, 'strewn across the gaming floor