Ten years and counting and—who knows?—maybe a winning season in three years. The streak is on, and we are not talking about Cal Ripken. Another fourth-place finish in the best division in baseball has taken the cynics to a new level of grief and hostility. A local radio station held its second annual ‘Free the Birds’ protest, which called for the selling of the team. In case you were wondering, the Orioles' won/lost record was 69–93.
Oh, the insanity! Ravens fans and fantasy football juggernauts could have never predicted the demise of the 2007 Baltimore Ravens. This was a great team a year ago, finishing 13–3 and making it to the playoffs. Everything fell apart on the field this year, including bad coaching. Ravens faithful believe that the ’07 campaign was just a fluke, and anticipate a rebound in ’08, due to the outstanding performance of the front office in years past.
John Itati of Kenya completed the 26.2 mile course and won the 7th annual Baltimore Marathon in 2:16:24. His second place competitor Josphat Nideti of Santa Fe, New Mexico, finished four minutes behind the winner at 2:20:01. Mesfin Hailu of Ethiopia finished third with a time of 2:26:13. Victory in the women’s division netted honors for Gladys Asiba of Royersford, Pennsylvania, when she finished the marathon in 2:36:27. Anastasiya Padalinskaya of New York, New York, finished second with a time of 2:37:21. Rima Dubovik of the Ukraine was third, completing the course in 2:38:43. Dubovik won the Baltimore Marathon the previous year in 2:25:45. Tyler Byers of Sterling, Virginia, won in the Wheelchair division in 1:54:20. Grant Berthiaume of Tucson finished second in 2:13:11, and David Swope of New Windsor, Maryland, was third in 2:21:26.
#6—ARMY V. NAVY
The Navy Midshipmen increased its three-game lead against the Army Black Knights in Baltimore during the 108th annual showdown between the military academies. Navy won the Commander in Chief’s Trophy for the 52nd time in the rivalry's history. Navy leads the series with 49 defeats and seven ties.
#5—JOHNS HOPKINS LACROSSE WINS TITLE
Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays defeated the Duke Blue Devils 12–11. Hopkins captured its ninth National Collegiate Athletic Association title in its school history.
George Edward “Skip” Prosser passed away when he collapsed in his office after jogging. The medical examiner said he died from an apparent sudden massive heart attack. Coach Prosser's coaching career spanned 30 years, including eight years at Loyola College in Baltimore. He was only 56 years old, and was survived by his wife Nancy and two adult sons. (On a personal note: early in his career at Loyola in 1993–94, Coach Prosser appeared regularly on this writer's radio sports show and gave great insight to the world of basketball at Loyola and around the state.) This is Loyola athletic department's second loss in recent years. In 2003, women’s lacrosse coach Diane Geppi-Aikens died of cancer.
In the year 2007, many former Orioles players and front office personnel passed away. Jerold Hoffberger, the former Orioles owner who won five American League pennants and two World Series titles in the 1960’s and 1970’s, died at the age of 80. Hank Bauer, former Orioles manager, who in four games swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1966 World Series, died at the age of 84. Steve Barber, former Orioles pitcher who won 20 games for the O’s in 1963 and was a member of the 1966 World Series team, died at the age of 68. William ‘Wild Bill’ Hagy, the former Orioles fan who was legendary in section 34 of the old Memorial Stadium for his famous crowd-pleasing chant "O-R-I-O-L-E-S!," died at the age of 68.
#2 KIMMY MEISSNER
Kimmy Meissner, the Bel Air, Maryland, 18-year-old, captured multiple titles in ’07. She delighted ice enthusiasts by taking ‘Gold’ in the US Figure Skating Championship and the Four Continents Championship. Kimmy finished fourth in the World Figure Skating Championship; she won that event in 2006.
#1 CAL RIPKEN, JR.
Cooperstown, New York, was invaded by 75,000 Calvin Edwin Ripken, Jr. fans who witnessed his induction into baseball’s most hallowed shrine. Ripken’s induction into The National Baseball Hall of Fame earmarks a stellar career that encompassed multiple awards, including breaking Lou Gehrig’s steak of 2,130 consecutive games. His 19 straight All-Star games, Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and Gold Gloves awards stirred baseball writers to cast 537 of the allotted 545 votes for Ripken's induction.
Let’s hope 2008 is a more interesting year for area sports teams.
Meanwhile—Happy New Year!