Ravens return to prime time, but `Prime Time' sideshow is pre-empted

October 05, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

THE WORD came down 90 minutes before the Ravens lined up for last night's opening kickoff.

No Deion.

They might as well have told me to go home and watch Everybody Loves Raymond. I would have gotten a better parking space and my wife only charges me $3 for nachos, so it would have been a win-win, but I was already at M&T Bank Stadium and it was only the third Monday Night Football game the Ravens have played in Baltimore.

Monday night is supposed to be special. Ex-Raven Tony Siragusa was telling me that before the game, right before the Ravens announced Deion Sanders had been declared inactive.

"If Deion was ever going to make a comeback from his injury, this would be the time," The Goose was saying. "What is his injury anyway, a hangnail?"

It's a hamstring and it left me hamstrung, since I came out to write about Deion and all the interceptions he was going to get against Trent Green and the suddenly desperate Kansas City Chiefs. I was banking on a big punt return, too - this time without the 15-yard helmet removal penalty.

"I was looking forward to seeing the guy play," Siragusa said.

Yeah, you and me and all the people wearing ABC blazers. What is prime time without "Prime Time"?

In the era of enhanced security, you can't turn around without somebody frisking you, so my advice is to try and enjoy the experience. I liked last night's pat-down so much that I went back outside and came through the media entrance a second time.

Some of my colleagues don't appreciate having to submit to such an indignity, but it really comes down to how you look at it. Hey, at 49, I've reached the point where just about any physical contact is appreciated.

Went out to the Madden Cruiser before last night's game, but I was disappointed to find it empty. No John Madden. No driver. No Madden groupies. Just a big yellow bus with Outback printed on the side. That, combined with no Deion, made the evening a total Page 2 bust.

I would have settled for a Turducken.

Props to Sun columnist Mike Preston and former Colt Bruce Laird, who each predicted that someone would break out a gadget play for the national TV audience.

Sure enough, Ravens coach Brian Billick called a flea flicker in the second quarter, and Kyle Boller took a toss back from Jamal Lewis and threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Randy Hymes - the longest scoring pass by the Ravens this year.

Great stat from Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. If you took away all of Barry Bonds' hits this year - every one of them - his on-base percentage still would've been .391 just with all the times he was walked and hit by pitches. That would rank second only to Melvin Mora among Orioles who played regularly this year.

This isn't going to shock anyone, but it comes from a pretty high-ranking source in the Orioles' front office. The free-agent hitter at the top of the team's wish list is outfielder Magglio Ordonez, though the Orioles will have to ascertain that he is healthy after he underwent knee surgery and missed much of the 2004 season.

The bigger question is who will be the savior of the pitching staff. No one can say with any certainty, because of the variety of starters available and the variables that affect the ability to sign them, but the Orioles wouldn't mind signing the guy who played at the University of Maryland: 14-game winner Eric Milton.

The Orioles' organization received a huge morale boost after Sunday's final game of the regular season, when it started to sink in that Marty Cordova's contract had really expired.

Local media note: I've been very impressed with new WBFF sports anchor Amber Theoharis, who was hired when Bruce Cunningham's former caddie, Brent Harris, left for Comcast SportsNet.

No offense to Harris, but that's got to be the best trade in Baltimore since Robinson/Pappas.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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