So spoiled us fans of the Baltimore Ravens are we. We boast, cheer, rave and rant, all depending on what just happened versus what we believe should be happening. Not for a moment do we pause during this roller-coaster ride and reflect on how lucky we are to be in this predicament in the first place. While I'm sure some of you will say you are always aware and thankful of this, are you? Are you really?
With the conference championship games set for next week, the Ravens are now slotted to select 26th in what would be scheduled to be the 2011 NFL Draft in April, were a new Collective Bargaining Agreement come to fruition. That means 25 of the 32 teams in the league did not fare as well as the Ravens did in the 2010 season. You know where this is going, don't you? All 25 of those teams would gladly love to be on that roller-coaster ride with us Baltimore Ravens fans, instead of sitting home watching us melt down on national TV for what could arguably be three years in a row, if you consider the previous two year's exits from the post season. Only the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts made the playoffs the past three years and both disappeared off of the post season radar screen prior to the Ravens this year.
Should it be enough for the local fans that we play meaningful games in December each year when the next door neighboring Baltimore Orioles would be thankful to play meaningful baseball games in June of each season? Could you imagine, much less remain a Ravens fan if you had to endure thirteen straight horrible losing seasons and be out of the playoff picture say, by October of each NFL season?
Would it be easier on the digestive system if the Ravens went 9-7 as overachievers but just missed out on the playoffs, sparing us the heartache of losing once our expectations rose? Perhaps we could handle our premature exit from the playoffs with more grace had we been on the receiving end of some serious butt-kicking, proving we were lucky to get a taste of the extra playing time, but obviously didn't really belong in the same arenas as the contenders.
Sorry, but that all doesn't just sit well enough for me, as while we might be considered spoiled for our recent streak of success making the post season four of the past five years, coming this close and still getting bounced when it seemed we were on the brink of something really special just sits in my craw and gnaws away at my insides like a hungry parasite.
Yeah, I'd have to admit I would rather make the playoffs and lose before I thought our time was due, than to play the final regular season game and then watch with pigskin envy as the other twelve teams kick off the second weekend in January still alive. But those types of psychologically-acceptable behaviors do not apply here in Baltimore anymore. We've had the taste of success too long to now be willing to just smile and appreciate we were invited to the dance but have to stand along the wall and watch the ugly dude dance with the girl we've had our eyes on all year.
No, the bar is raised and I want it all and so do most of the people I know who are reading this, as you can just taste the scent of it, because we all tasted it one time a decade ago, and know how damn good it is. So if our frustration and disappointment seem to go over the line of blurring that this is just a game and not reality, then excuse me for dreaming, because I will never stop believing that we are just as entitled and worthy of reaching that pinnacle as the four other teams still alive out there, much less the 27 others sitting on the sidelines along with us.
You can call it spoiled or entitled if you want. I'll call it pride, confidence and disappointment all rolled into one. No apologies. Never.