Sunday, March 30, 2014

Opening Day 2014

Go O's!

Some people say this was the start of Orioles Magic...

Here's what it looked like...

Well, if Chuck Thompson says it was the beginning of Orioles Magic, who am I to argue?

And with that - PLAY BALL!

Here's to a great season!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

It was 30 years ago today..., not Sgt. Pepper.  Thirty years ago today, in the dead of night amidst a late season snowstorm, the worst thing that could ever happen to a Baltimore Colts fan happened - Robert Irsay took the team, along with it's colors and history, to Indianapolis.  

Irsay acquired the Colts in 1972 after buying the then Los Angeles Rams and trading them for the Colts that same day.  The Colts were an impressive franchise back then.  The team sold out 51 straight games in the 1960s and won the Super Bowl in 1971.  During Irsay’s first year of ownership, attendance averaged at more than 60,000 fans.  But that would change.

Irsay fired the coach who had won the Super Bowl just two seasons earlier and later traded away the legendary Johnny Unitas.  Irsay’s decisions damaged the team’s reputation to the point where, in 1983, the Colts drafted John Elway—the top college draft pick then—but he refused to sign.  Instead, he said he’d rather play baseball for the Yankees.  That forced Irsay to trade Elway to the Denver Broncos, where he became one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all-time.
By the time the Colts left Baltimore, the team had six straight losing seasons. Attendance had plummeted to an average of only 42,000 fans per game.  As sportswriter Frank Deford put it, “A man who could screw up professional football in Baltimore would foul the water at Lourdes or flatten the beer at Munich.”
During this decline, Irsay repeatedly flirted with moving the team to Phoenix, Memphis, Los Angeles, Jacksonville and Indianapolis, all while emphatically denying he was going to leave. 
On March 27, 1984, the Maryland Senate voted 38 to 4 to approve legislation, which would allow Baltimore to seize the team.
Many of those who face eminent domain can’t pack up their homes and businesses and skip town.  But Irsay could.  The very next day, he called Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut and told him the Colts were moving to Indianapolis.
Upon hearing the news, Mayor Hudnut called his neighbor, who owned Mayflower Transit, to send 15 trucks, free of charge, to the Colts’ facilities in Owing Mills, Md.  Late Wednesday night, the vans pulled in.  In the midnight hours, the team gathered everything they could and loaded the trucks as quickly as possible.
Many staffers and players weren’t even informed the Colts were breaking away.  According to one employee, after the move, “everything was gone…not a piece of paper or a trash can was left.”

To avoid arousing suspicion and to evade any Maryland police, each truck tookdifferent routes out of the state.  When the sun dawned on March 29, the team was gone.  Once the trucks reached the Indiana state line, Indiana state troopers escorted the convoy to Indianapolis.
The move stunned Baltimore Colts fans.  Mayor Schaefer cried when he found out the Colts absconded.  Some fans bought “Bob Irsay Sucks” t-shirts.  Mayflower trucks were boycotted in Baltimore and vandalized.  One Maryland resident even wrote to Mayor Hudnut asking him to change the name of an Indianapolis street from “Maryland” to “Irsay:”  “We in the great state of Md., do not want your city to have our state’s name on your streets…You owe us one.”
Just hours after the team had left, Maryland’s governor signed the eminent domain bill on March 29.  The next day, with this new power, the city began condemnation proceedings against the Colts.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis was ecstatic.  On April 2, 20,000 fans, including Hudnut, Irsay and U.S. Senator (and future Vice President) Dan Quayle, attended a welcoming ceremony for the Colts at Hoosier Dome.  Ticket demand was high.  For every season ticket, the Indianapolis Colts received nearly three requests.  Hudnut later described delivering the Colts to Indianapolis as “the most exciting part” of his four terms as mayor.
A year-and-a-half after the midnight move, a federal judge dismissed the case in December 1985, ruling that Baltimore “lacks the power to condemn the Colts’ franchise… the Court concludes that the Colts were ‘gone’ on March 30, 1984.”  Crossing state lines let the team escape Baltimore’s power of eminent domain.  Tellingly, the team did not challenge the condemnation as an inappropriate “public use.”  In March 1986, Hudnut announced a settlement between the two cities.  Litigation cost $400,000 for Indianapolis and racked up half a million dollars in legal bills for Baltimore.
Even after the Colts left, Charm City’s passion for football never died.  The city hosted teams from both the short-lived United States Football League and, rather surreally, the Canadian Football League.  For a dozen years, the Baltimore Colts Marching Band continued to play on and even performed at other NFL teams’ halftimes, as shown in the ESPN documentary The Band That Wouldn’t Die.  Finally, after a dozen years of waiting, Baltimore became home once again to an NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, after Art Modell relocated the Cleveland Browns.

30 years on, Baltimore better without Colts

March, 28, 2014

[+] EnlargeRobert Irsay
AP Photo/Bill SmithRumors swirled about the Colts moving in early 1984. Here, then-owner Robert Irsay had a heated exchange with reporters, denying a rumor he'd made a deal to move the team to Phoenix.
It had been rumored for weeks in March 1984 that Irsay was going to move the Colts. No one believed him. Many thought Irsay's erratic behavior and odd demands would keep the Colts in Baltimore. 

That perception changed when The Baltimore Evening Sun reporter Ken Murray received a call at 7 p.m. from a man who saw a Mayflower van heading toward the Colts' complex. Murray called Colts coach Frank Kush, who acknowledged the team was in the process of moving. 

"It was a surreal scene," said Murray, the first reporter to arrive on the scene. "I remember feeling a numbness, not from the cold, but from the realization it was actually happening. I was standing in on history, watching the physical dismantling of one of the NFL's greatest franchises. A handful of people had gathered, as much in curiosity as anything else. It was solemn and funeral-like." 

Steve LaPlanche, who hasn't missed a professional football game in Baltimore since 1956, drove out to the Colts' complex that night when he received word of the move and watched men load 15,000 pounds of Colts items in 15 Mayflower vans. The Colts were in a rush to get out of town because the Maryland Senate had just passed a bill saying the state had the right to seize the Colts under eminent domain. 

"They always reminded me of thieves in the night," said LaPlanche, who stayed there the entire night. "They were literally throwing things in vans." 

For 12 years, Baltimore didn't have an NFL team. The city, though, found a new team to support. 

"Fans here generally rooted for whichever team played the Colts on any given Sunday," Murray said. "The emotion was almost tangible. There was also real anger directed at the league and its owners, because they had allowed Bob Irsay to get away with his dastardly deed. Those owners didn't appear to have any remorse about it, either." 

Keeping the Baltimore Colts memory alive 

When children walk through the Sports Legends museum, some ask why there is an Indianapolis Colts exhibit. 

"We explain the whole situation to them," said Ziemann, who is also the deputy director of the museum, "and the last thing you see is the back end of a Mayflower moving van." 

There are some young football fans who don't know the Baltimore Colts ever existed or that one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history threw passes here. Memorial Stadium, once known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum," has been demolished and replaced with senior housing. 

This is what happens when the Colts have been gone for 30 years, which is as long as they played in Baltimore (1953-1983). Even Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco was born 10 months after the Colts moved. 

"We’re essentially losing a generation of Colts fans," Moag said. "There are residents in their 30s and 40s, and all they know is the Ravens." 

The Baltimore Colts' living history is deteriorating, too. Hall of Fame players such as Unitas, Art Donovan and Jim Parker have all passed away after being fixtures in the community. 

When the former Baltimore Colts players met once a month, it used to be a gathering of 25 guys. Time has taken a toll on their fraternity. 

"Now, unfortunately, through death of some of our brothers, we're down to three to five who come to a meeting," said Bruce Laird, a safety for the Colts from 1972 to 1981. 

So many years have passed that there is even a Unitas living in Indianapolis. The granddaughter of the Golden Arm was hired by Andretti Sports Marketing, and the relocation didn't initially go over well with the family. 

"I was dumbfounded," said John Unitas Jr., the son of the great quarterback. "I told her, 'Oh my God, they took the Colts, they took your grandfather’s records, and now they’re taking his granddaughter.' " 

Don't worry Baltimore, she's not a fan of the Indianapolis Colts. 

Moving forward with the Ravens 

Baltimore tried to get an NFL team through expansion in 1995, but the league put franchises in Carolina and Jacksonville. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue suggested Baltimore use its money to build a museum or a plant instead. 

If the city wanted football again, it was going to have to do exactly what Indianapolis did with the Colts. In 1996, Art Modell relocated the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, leaving the name and history behind. On March 29, 1996 -- exactly 12 years after the Colts moved -- Baltimore's new football team was officially named Ravens. 

Wary of the feelings that Modell had just "Irsayed" Cleveland, the Ravens embraced the Baltimore Colts. A Unitas statue was built outside M&T Bank Stadium. Former Colts players Tom Matte and Stan White have been part of the radio broadcast team. Popular Colts running back Lenny Moore is a frequent visitor to Ravens practices. The team also adopted the Baltimore Colts marching band. 

“The Modells came in and said, ‘We’re not here to erase your history; we’re here to add to it,’ ” Ziemann said. 

The Ravens now have a history of their own after completing their 17th season in Baltimore. Jonathan Ogden recently became the first player drafted by the Ravens to reach the Hall of Fame, and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are expected to join him. The Ravens have reached the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, including three AFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl victory. 

It's a new tradition of success for a new generation of fans. The average age for Ravens personal seat license owners is 53, which means many Ravens fans were in their early 20s when the Colts left. 

"We’ve got one of youngest demographics in the league for a reason," Bisciotti said. "The Ravens came in and a lot of 60-year-olds were not prepared to support us. Well, they’re pushing 80 now. I think we won over half of them because of winning and half of them are dead." 

Some believe the hatred for the horseshoe diminished when Irsay died in 1997. Others believe closure occurred when the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000. 

The true test that Baltimore was over the Colts came during the 2012 playoffs. This game wasn't about the Ravens beating Indianapolis for the first time in the postseason. It will be remembered as the final home game for Ray Lewis, the best player in Ravens history. 

The Ravens went on to hoist their second Lombardi Trophy that season, giving Baltimore another chance to celebrate making history and not commiserate about it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weekly Poop 3/26/14

Roost #44 Poop
  • Dates to Remember:
  • Friday – WCS Meeting @ …
  • April 5 - 4th Annual Fund Raising Dance Benefiting Roost Activities & Local Charities, 7-11 PM, Featuring the Band TRANZFUSION.  Ocean City Elks Lodge Hall -137th St. Bayside.  $ 25 pp incl. Beer, Wine, Soda, Snacks & Cash Bar with Door prizes & Money Wheel.  Tickets will be available at all Roost Meetings & also by contacting: Ron Apperson 302-436-4790 or Mary Kendall 302-934-7210.;  UPDATE: Current ticket status is 155 paid + 6 promised but unpaid; for a total of 161 (down from 165 last year). There are still 21 seats available spread among the current 15 tables in groups of 2,4,7 & 8.  We can sell 14 more tickets to reach a sellout of 175. There will be at least 15 door prizes with a total value of over $300 ! The Clarion donated a free 2 nite stay that has a value of $208 - $338 depending on what month it is used. We may auction this off after the door prizes with a starting bid of ONLY $10 ! Looking forward to a fun filled, profitable evening that is a good value for the money. Don't forget, you can bring your own additional snacks if you want. Those Roost members who have never attended the dance might want to try it this year!  Thanks, Ron
  • April 10 - Entertainment Committee Meeting at the Original Greene Turtle, 12 pm.
  • May 30 - Ravens Roost #44 17th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament @ Ocean Pines Golf & Country Club.  Registration forms can be had here.  We are expecting another sell out, so be sure to sign up early - don’t get shut out as some did last year.
  • May 29 thru June 1 - The Council of Ravens Roosts Annual Convention.  From Jo Ann: The Council of Baltimore Ravens Roosts Convention begins Thursday, May 29, and ends Sunday, June 1, at the Castle in the Sand Motel.  The theme this year is “Celebrating 50 Years of Fan-Tastic Baltimore Football.   The cost this year is $60 per registrant.  A registration form is available here.
Commemorative shirts are also available:  hoodies (mens sizes only) in gray or purple; mens t-shirts and tanks, and women’s t-shirts and tanks, available in white, gray or purple.  Prices range from $11.00 for t-shirts and tanks to $20 for the hoodies.  Larger sizes (2, 3, 4, & 5 XL) are an additional $2 or more.  
I haven’t received a schedule of events yet, but in years past there were team events that any registered participant could enter, such as horseshoes, volleyball, tug-of-war, a scavenger hunt, bingo, miniature golf, and karaoke.  Please think about organizing a team to show off our talent.  Specific information and sign-up sheets will be available at the April meeting, so talk to your Roost friends and come up with a team to participate.
All of the registration forms must be submitted to me by the April 10 meeting.  Make checks payable to Ravens Roost 44, and give to me at the meeting, or mail to 126 Pine Tree Rd., Ocean City, MD 21842.  Please remember:  Everyone who attends must be registered.  There is no “sharing” of food and beverage.
I encourage our new members, as well as the members who have been in the Roost for a while, to attend the Convention.  It is a great way to spend some time with our own Roost members and to meet fans from other Roosts.  And, it’s always a lot of fun.
Any questions, please call me at 410-251-4360 or e-mail me at  Folks, we only have 13 members signed up so far.  Please consider spending the weekend at the Castle - it’s not only loads of fun and camaraderie but also supports the Council.
  • Dues are due.  From Jo Ann: Dues are past due - if you haven’t paid by now you are in arrears.  Mail them to me at:  Jo Ann Elder, 126 Pine Tree Rd., Ocean City, MD 21842. If you have any questions, please e-mail me at:, or call me at 410-250-5124. Thanks.

Ravens Poop
  • Good daily dose of Ravens news notes and nuggets here. It’s getting to the point where I can hardly stand ESPN, but I do go Jamison Hensley’s Blog here to stay up to date with all of the AFC North news.
  • All the best Orioles news notes and nuggets at Britt's Bird Watch here.

Local Poop
  • Saturday - Kisses for Colby 5K, Ocean Pines Recreation Center.  Colby is a four-year-old girl from Ocean City who has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) since she was diagnosed in January 2013. An extremely feisty and fearless little girl, she has earned the nickname “Warrior Princess” for the amazing stamina and fight she has demonstrated through her continued treatment at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. ALL is the most common and treatable type of cancer in children, although it progresses rapidly and must be identified and treated early.
Colby’s family and friends are joining together in the “Kisses for Colby 5K” to raise money for The Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer research. Their relentless efforts are focused on making life better for hundreds of thousands of patients and their families battling leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Please join Colby’s family and friends Saturday, March 29th for a fun morning to raise money for LLS and to help win the fight against this horrible disease that is taking the lives of children and adults.
  • Saturday - America’s Coolest Party - Downtown Berlin will be the coolest place to be on Saturday, March 29th, when the Town of Berlin will shut down Main Street from 1-6 p.m. for the sole purpose of celebrating its victory as America’s Coolest Small Town!  

“It’s time to thank and recognize everyone who chose to “Vote Berlin” during the contest,” said Mayor Gee Williams.  “If you love Berlin this celebration will be a full day of fun for all ages and friends, family members and of course all of our residents and visitors. “We have a lot to be proud of and much to celebrate,” added Mayor Williams.

Berlin is known for its various events such as Spring Celebration, May Day Play Day and The Peach Festival and Fiddler’s Convention to name a few, but this party is going to be like non-other, with lots of food, fun, local artists, students from Worcester County public and private schools, give-a-ways, souvenirs, several top-40 bands and Berlin musician and merchant Steve Frene, who will perform his instant hit song, “Cool Berlin. The event begins at 1 p.m. with a parade on Main Street exclusively featuring Berlin Youth from a variety of organizations.

Berlin beat out 14 other small towns in online voting since January.  Nearly 138,000 votes were cast and Berlin received more that 28 percent of the total with 39,000 votes. Budget Travel characterized Berlin as the “runaway favorite.”  Budget Travel Magazine noted Berlin is good for beach lovers, hikers, bird watchers and history lovers alike.

For this special day of celebration additional free parking areas will be available, as there is no metered parking at any time in the Town of Berlin.  Hoopers Crab House has generously agreed to transport event attendees with its shuttle bus to and from marked temporary satellite parking locations within the town.  

As part of the coolest celebration, the Berlin Fire Company will host its First Annual “Cornhole Tournament” at the fire house grounds on North Main Street. Beginning at 11:30 a.m. participants can try and set a new “world record” by attempting the longest cornhole hand-thrown (bean bag) shot, ever.  Attempts will be $5 for three shots, officials will be on site and the contest and this promises to be a popular fund raiser for the Berlin Fire Company.  Beer and other refreshments will also be available during the contest at the fire house.

In downtown Berlin, non-glass open containers will be permitted from 1-6 p.m. in a clearly marked designated area.  No beverages of any kind may be brought into the celebration area.  The Berlin Chamber of Commerce will have a beer garden set up on Jefferson Street featuring craft brews from Berlin’s Burley Oak Brewery. Also, “Berlin Coolest Small Town” apparel and other memorabilia will also be available for purchase.

Mayor Williams added, “Aside from the fact that this is a once in a lifetime event, Berlin’s America’s Coolest Party is sure to go down as one of the region’s most enjoyable celebrations and be remembered as a town classic. Everyone is invited to join the celebration, after all it is our residents and guests who make Berlin so cool.”

Funny Poop
  • How do you get a Steelers fan off your porch? Pay him for the pizza.



Baltimore Ravens, let’s go
And put that ball across the line
So fly with talons spread wide
Go in and strike with Ravens pride
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Ravens dark wings take flight
Dive in and show them your might
For Baltimore and Maryland
You will fly on to victory