Much to my surprise, Eileen suggested yesterday that we watch the Redskins v. Ravens exhibition preseason game on TV. She developed a Raven-fan interest when she was at Hopkins three autumns ago and was imbued with Baltimore Ravens enthusiasts all around her. I of course see plenty of that when I go to my office in Towson and back when I was in Upper Marlboro where one lawyer had her door filled with Ravens posters and stickers.
For someone who enjoys sports, I watch less than average numbers of pro football games. I like games where something major is at stake and all my loyalties in pro football have more or less faded. I abandoned the Giants years ago when they went bad for ages--following their brilliant choice of not hiring either of their two top assistants, Vince Lombardi or Tom Landry, as head coach. I loved the Raiders for their attitudes right through John Madden's time coaching them. And back when the local eleven was in contention, I was even caught up in the furor. Heck, my staff at the Court of Appeals asked to come in wearing Redskins regalia the day of the Super Bowl victory parade and of course, I agreed--and wore my own.
But for years the local eleven has been synonymous with moronic management and the Raiders had passed their time even when Al Davis was still alive. I've been drawn over the years to the Ravens because they had great defense with the touch of outlawry that the Raiders had. I've been lucky enough to attend games both in Oakland and Baltimore to see how fervent their fan bases are.
So last night I realized that as these were preseason games, they would have local commentators. The Redskins are carried by the local NBC outlet, with Joe Theisman as the play-by-play man and the Ravens were on a Baltimore ABC station I picked up on cable. I only recall that the ageless Stan White was the color man. We switched back and forth and it was like hearing two different games.
They would go nuts when their team made a good play and more or less ignore anything done by the opposing club. If an opposing player went down, it hardly merited mention. It all reminded me of the old days of local baseball announcers on radio especially--known as homers. Some great ones, like Vin Scully, still calling the Dodgers for the last century or so, remain real pros and don't give off the aura of home-team favoritism to any major degree.
But then there are true homers like the late Bob Prince of Pittsburgh. I'll always recall driving into Pittsburgh and trying to find KDKA, the famous station there that still carries the Pirates. Suddenly, I heard those tones blaring out of the car radio: "All right, our team is up." And that was Bob. Like Howard Cosell, he had started out as a lawyer. Once Howard had him on his short-lived show covering the world, Speaking of Everything, and in response to Howard's challenge that Bob was a homer, Bob just responded that he was no different from Howard's backing his team.
He meant the Mets and Howard went nuts: "Don't call them my team! I have totally disagreed with everything that team has done for the past blankety-blank years etc etc." But there were lots of announcers like Bob Prince. Johnny Most of the Celtics comes to mind. It was fun hearing that old home-time religion if only for a preseason game. Most homers get old really fast but for one night, it was a trip back into a different pre-ESPN sports world.