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Shirts and Skins

What Gives

By Eddie Matz | Posted 2/26/2003

It's Mardi Gras time. That's right--March 4 marks this year's installment of Fat Tuesday, and that can only mean two things. First, March Madness is right around the corner. Second, it's time for one last hurrah, because the following day is Ash Wednesday, which signifies the beginning of Lent. For those of you who don't know (like lil' ol' Jewish me until recently), Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Easter during which time many Christians give up a part of their daily routine to remind them of the sacrifice made by Jesus.

Coming up with something new and different to sacrifice year after year can't be an easy task. Not to worry though. The Shirts & Skins Research Department conducted an extensive survey of 3,642 mythical metro-area homes in hopes of discovering what Baltimore sports fans are giving up for Lent in 2003. Here's what we came up with:

  • Twenty-one percent of Baltimore sports fans will give up trying to figure out how Maryland coach Gary Williams uses his time-outs. In last week's 75-70 loss at Duke, Maryland's Ryan Randle scores inside with 3:17 left, cutting the Blue Devils' lead to 68-66. Before Duke has a chance to inbound the ball, Williams calls a time-out, at which point we're all thinking, "OK, I wouldn't have called one there, but I can see his reasoning. He probably wants to set up some full-court pressure and create a steal to tie the game. Besides, he's only used two time-outs so far, so he's got three left." But no--instead, we return from the commercial break to see . . . no press. Even worse, the Terps retreat passively into a zone defense. Zone? Are you kidding me? Here's a Duke team that boasts one of the best pure shooters in the country in freshman J.J. Redick (not to mention dangerous long-range guns Chris Duhon, Daniel Ewing, and Dahntay Jones), and the Terps are zoning, basically daring them to shoot. Nice use of a time-out, Coach. Over the next couple minutes, he burns his remaining two time-outs, leaving him unable to stop the clock when Maryland regains possession with 11 seconds left, down 73-70, and a chance to tie the game. The result? An improvised and chaotic three-point heave by a double-teamed Steve Blake that never had a chance.
  • Eighteen percent of Baltimore sports fans vow to give up fantasizing that the Orioles will land a healthy A-list free agent. Not just this year--but ever. Deivi Cruz, Omar Daal, B.J. Surhoff, Jeff Reboulet, and John Valentin. That's what sits in the Orioles produce basket as famished fans have had to endure yet another painfully fruitless winter of dashed expectations. No Pudge. No Godzilla. No Floyd. No Jose Cruz. No fun.
  • Fourteen percent of Baltimore sports fans plan to give up movies. Not coincidentally, 14 percent of Baltimore sports fans witnessed the feature-film debut of former Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa in Spike Lee's The 25th Hour.
  • Twelve percent of Baltimore sports fans insist they'll give up trying to understand why the Orioles' AAA team resides in Ottawa. Nothing eases a minor-leaguer's transition to the big leagues quite like having to arrive at the airport two hours early for an international flight, then go through customs, and then travel 522 miles to another country to be in uniform for that night's game. As if the O's farm system didn't already have enough problems.
  • Ten percent of Baltimore sports fans will give up home video games because they don't want to ruin their chances of playing Division I college football.
  • Nine percent of Baltimore sports fans won't give up anything, but they will give in--to their hunger, as they finally bust open their special edition Cal Ripken Jr. Wheaties box simply because the car is still snowed in and there's nothing else to eat in the pantry.
  • Seven percent of Baltimore sports fans say they'll give up eating Twinkies, Tastykakes, and Berger cookies because they honestly believe that Ravens coach Brian Billick might call at any moment and offer them a contract to be the team's quarterback next year.
  • Five percent of Baltimore sports fans will give up smoking because they want to live longer. (Just in case the Orioles ever win another pennant.)
  • Three percent of Baltimore sports fans will give up caring about the NBA regular season now that the league has decided to make even the first round of the postseason the best four out of seven, bringing the total number of playoff games scheduled for this year to 16,912.
  • One percent of Baltimore sports fans will give up. That's it--they'll just give up.

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