When the so-called national "experts" picked the Pittsburgh Steelers to beat the Baltimore Ravens yesterday, you could give them a pass as they are objective in their decision-making and seem to have no allegiance to one team or the other, although everybody has their favorites. On the other hand, when there are local writers whose primary job is to cover the home team and they pick against the Ravens when the tough games come up on the schedule, you just have to shake your head and wonder what they are seeing and where their loyalty lies.
They will defend their profession to their last words, saying they have to be neutral in their writing and being a professional does not include showing anything remotely related to actually being a fan of the team they are covering. However, I am calling them out on this one, and not just after yesterday's 35-7 thrashing of the Steelers by MY Ravens!
The local sports writers that I could find pre-game predictions from included the Baltimore Sunpaper's Mike Preston, Edward Lee, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Peter Schmuck, Kevin Cowherd and Jeff Zrebiec. Of these guys, Schmuck, Cowheard and Zrebeic picked the Ravens and the others the Steelers. Joe Platania of PressBox Online took the Steelers and even local sports-talk's best host, Jerry Coleman, felt the Ravens wouldn't win yesterday.
While these guys probably (hopefully) privately rooted for the home team to win, their lack of confidence in what the team did in the shortened off-season as well as the progress made in Training Camp showed how even the ones with the most access to the team and information could be so wrong in what they see and report on.
On a national level, a majority of analysts agree with those Ravens naysayers. At ESPN, Mike Golic, Merrill Hoge, Ron Jaworski and Chris Mortenson liked the Steelers yesterday. Over in the NFL Network, Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp and Kurt Warner concurred that Pittsburgh would prevail. Same with CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco and Clark Judge.
While I can understand and accept the national writers non-believing stances, I just am unable to accept that a local writer cannot be a fan of the team, see them on the field, speak to them in the locker room and not see that the Ravens were not only the better team coming into this game, but were the better team in 2010 as well. Only the Ravens own inability to protect a lead did them in twice last year and while they ended up losing those last two meetings, they knew what they needed to do and the odds of that happening again were very slim in my mind, and obviously correct.
If by some small chance any of these writers read this, I am aware that as a well-known local sports media personality once said to me, "don't throw them under the bus" and "if you want to be one of us, be more like us," I will continue to be ostracized by many as "just a blogger" (although they all seem to blog on their websites as well).
Get on board, local guys, drink the purple kool-aid and try to actually be a fan of the team you cover. No one will lose any respect for you. Trust me.