Back in 1999 when the Ravens hired Brian Billick, the team hoped that the former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator would bring a winning attitude to the 3-year-old franchise. The Ravens organization had yet to achieve a winning record or even sniff a .500 record up to that point.
The team finished the ’99 campaign with an 8-8 record but more importantly, the season ended with a promise for an even better season to start the new millennium.
The 2000 season proved to be one for the ages for the Ravens and their fans. The team navigated turbulent waters set in motion by a struggling offense. They were also burdened by the Ray Lewis murder trial and the ugly and unfair aftermath.
Billick guided his team brilliantly that season right on through to Super Bowl XXXV and the ultimate hoisting of the Lombardi Trophy. It will forever be his crowning achievement.
And no matter what happens from this point forward, there will never be a season as exhilarating as that 2000 season for Ravens fans. NEVER!
We all hoped the Ravens could make it to the playoffs in 2000. Some might even say that was our expectation. But even Billick showed trepidation during the campaign, forbidding his team to even utter the “P” word – Playoffs.
But with each win, expectations expanded. First the playoff berth; then hosting the Wild Card game; the road victories in Tennessee and Oakland; and finally Super Bowl XXXV.
There’s a thrill that accompanies exceeded expectations. And in 2000 the Ravens blew the roof off theirs and our loftiest aspirations. The thrill of victory was unparalleled here in The Land of Pleasant Living.
Each new unchartered frontier helped to galvanize the city of Baltimore. And now with the Baltimore Orioles, history could be repeating itself.
When the 2012 season started, not even the most optimistic Orioles fan could have expected what we are witnessing from Buck Showalter’s squad. Many (myself included) predicted 100 losses.
After the All-Star break we expected the bullpen to fade and with it the hopes for a .500 record. Then the team broke through 81 wins and the playoffs were within reach; and then the AL East Divisional Title.
The O’s as we all know fell short of the AL East crown but they did earn a Wild Card playoff berth (like the Ravens in 2000) and a shot at the New York Yankees. Today, tied at one apiece, the Orioles head into the Bronx to try and take a 2-1 lead over New York in the ALDS.
What happens from hereon in is anyone’s guess. But like Billick back in 2000, Showalter is pressing all of the right buttons. And his tightly woven team, just like that Ravens team, believe that they can advance.
One pitch at a time.
Each is a milestone, each a win of some kind.
Like it was in 2000, the journey has been a wild ride for the teams and their fans. And the Orioles like the Ravens, have captured the hearts and minds of Baltimore, something that most would label unthinkable back in April.
Once again, despite our differences and resentment towards an unpopular owner, we are galvanized by an overachieving team.
Festivus Maximus goes orange.
BUCKLE up and enjoy the ride Baltimore.
You never know when we’ll get here again.