It’s early August. For the last several years at this time I get this gripping feeling in the pit of my stomach because the fate of my favorite sports teams (and the ones I hate) come into focus.
Take the Baltimore Orioles, my hometown baseball team. They are now into their regular August swoon, having lost something like 15 of their last 20. They haven’t been relevant in over a decade, and hardly at all for the last 25 years. What is worse, the New York Yankees, a team I and most followers of the Orioles detest, appear to have once again bought themselves a great baseball team. They have a huge lead in the division. I’ve taken to wearing a Dodger hat recently.
Then there is the Washington Redskins. I was spoiled in the 8os and early 90s when they were winning championships. But now they are at best mediocre. Unlike the Yankees, they spend the money but can’t seem to put together the best team it can buy. The only solace I have is that the hated Dallas Cowboys, though constantly hyped, have not done any better. The season opens in September and I have this sinking feeling that I am in for another year of disappointment. The Redskins have forced me to adopt other more successful teams, like the Baltimore Ravens (formerly Cleveland Browns) and Carolina Panthers.
I have the same anguish when I think of the University of Maryland, my alma mater. They had some early success in sports this decade, but all that did was get my hopes up. They actually played Florida in the Orange Bowl in 2002, even though they were crushed. But they have declined ever since. The best I can hope for now is the Prune Bowl. Then there is the Terrapin basketball team. They won a national championship in 2002, yet they now tend to function in the role of spoiler for the likes of North Carolina and Duke. Unfortunately, my graduate schools don’t field major sports teams which I could root for instead.
I suppose I could adopt the local sports heroes here in Europe, but I can’t seem to get interested in Formula 1 or ice hockey. It’s going to be a long year.