Notes from the Sy'd-line: Night of the Eagle dread

Guest fan commentator Sy Saulinas gives his views on Eagles' fans and their exemplary behavior during meaningless pre-season games in the first of an occasional commentary titled 'Notes from the Sy'd-line'.

Earlier this year, a friend asked me if I wanted to catch an Orioles game. Noticing that the next home series was against the Yankees, my response was no. I had no desire to be an island of orange in an ocean of dark blue shirts with  'J e t e r' on the back. I had no desire to mingle with throngs of local front running, backward-Yankee-cap-wearing posers shouting "Let' go Yankees!!!" and "Orioles suck!" I would, however, be more than happy catch a game in the next series versus the Indians.

Just as a Steeler fan avoids personal hygiene, I now avoid Yankees and Red Sox games.

I have no problem standing up for my team with my fellow fans. It's just that during these games there are so few of my fellow fans standing with me. It's like what happened to William Wallace in "Braveheart" At the height of a battle that they were about to win, the Scottish lords betrayed him leaving him in the middle of a battlefield without support.

Like Wallace, after a while I start asking myself, what the hell am I fighting for? It's simply demoralizing.

This type of apprehension leads me to dread this weekend's pre-season game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. Not that I am comparing the Camden Yards crowds to the denizens of our Purple Valhalla that is M&T Bank Stadium. We are among the best and should be very proud of the way we defend 'Our House'.

Of course, during the first few years of the franchise, we had our moments of shame. But now, even Steelers games have fewer heathen infesting our stands than in many other non-rival venues. (Watching the Steelers/Cowboys game last year, I couldn't help but notice how America's Team's home stadium had more yellow towel waving dorks than folks with cowboy hats.)

This is a pre-season game however, and, as is typical, will not be well attended. Those of you who don't attend "exhibition" games certainly have your legitimate reasons. Maybe you hate pre-season games in general. Maybe this is how you protest being forced into buying pre-season games at the regular price. Or maybe it's the omnipresence of those godforsaken flying bugs that on hot summer evenings, run constant and relentless sorties on the hapless upper deck crowd.

Whatever your reasoning is, the by-product of your truancy is that more tickets are available for Eagles fans to snag. So…here we go again…am I now going to be an island of purple in a T.O. jersey ocean?

The very nature of "Eagle Fan" him/herself exacerbates the matter. They seem to range from simply obnoxious to mean spirited and confrontational. They have no concept of logic and seem to do what they do with an almost zombie-like randomness that would fit perfectly in a George Romero flick.

I went to a pre-season game at the Vet once. Not two minutes after we sat down, a slightly inebriated gentleman walked up to our isle and preceded, in a very matter-of-fact way, to moon us.

The year after that was the famous cancelled game which I did not attend but heard stories of Eagles fans trying to flip cars and rock Ravens buses all because a pre-season game got canceled.

Then there was this incident after a loss to the Phillies at Camden Yards. As we were leaving, a mindless troll wearing a red batting helmet with a "P" in the middle started chanting: "One and done!"

What the hell does that mean? It's the first game in a three game interleague series!!

I made the big mistake of pointing out the statement's lack of logic to the mindless troll, which, of course, just stoked him into chanting more.

Most fan collectives have their myths and/or horror stories that are, for the most part, exaggeration. Philadelphia sports fans may be the exception to that rule. We have all seen incidents on TV like when they cheered Michael Irvin being hurt and possibly paralyzed. The kicker of my Vet mooning experience was when their security came to escort him out.  He was flabbergasted. "Why are you kicking me out? What did I do? All I did was bare my [bottom] in the direction of some Ravens fans? What's wrong with that?"

So I guess I should prepare myself for lot of crap. Ok…but this is what kills me the most: It's a pre-season game.  That means it doesn't count!! Who runs smack at a game that is designed to see if our guys who won't make the team are better than their guys who won't make the team? Where is the logic in that?

But...something as incomprehensible as logic won't stop the invading army of mindless zombie-trolls from running their mindless zombie-troll mouths or trying to shove their mindless zombie-troll #81 jerseys in our faces.

I don't like confrontation, but I am prepared to defend my honor if necessary even though it is a pre-season game which means it doesn't count!!!

My buddy sent this reply to my Oriole email:

I don't blame you for not wanting to attend the Yankees game, should have seen me at the Phillies game... The Philly fans were doing the TO bird and chanting "TO TO"…I think three Philly fans were ejected. Mark my words, there will be more fights at the Ravens vs. Eagles exhibition then ever seen at any Steelers game...guaranteed. These fans look for trouble.

"…These fans look for trouble…" Great! Just what I wanted to experience at a GAME THAT DOESN'T COUNT! I just hope that &%#* Owens does get traded to the Falcons or, if we are lucky, gets kicked off the team again. At least that will be one category of smack I'll be able to avoid.

Either way, it will be a long, hot, bug-filled, mindless-zombie-troll-filled, meaningless night. A night filled with "smack gratis smackus". A night filled…with dread.

"Sy Saulynas is an Information Systems instructor at a local college and a long-time member of Ravens Nest 1 where he runs rampant, forcing football pools and pickems on the unsuspecting membership. He hails from Bel Air via Catonsville and has a lifelong devotion to all Baltimore sports teams with an almost spiritual zeal for Baltimore NFL football."


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