Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) sits on the ground after an injury to his left lower leg in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
It has been difficult and frustrating to be a Baltimore sports fan over the past two years. For both the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens, the injuries have seemed to pile up at unprecedented levels, especially for the Ravens this year.
Fans follow a team in detail to see what players are going to be the prime contributors toward hoped-for playoff and championship possibilities. And when those players with great talents go down one after another, it takes away from the enthusiasm in following and watching a favorite team.
It can be argued that this is where the casual fan and the hard-core fan part ways. The casual fan will lose interest if several of the star players are unable to perform, whereas the deeply-involved fan will find renewed interest in seeing what sorts of moves can be made to gain replacement players, or if a younger player will seize an opportunity of an open door.
But after repeated instances of players suffering serious injuries, one wearies of the continual rehearsing of “next man up” mantras. Several years of anticipation of a core group of players contributing to a team’s success within a defined window of opportunity is lost when key components are unable to be a part of it.
For a fan, it is as if you are constantly being dealt the card that says, “Do not pass go; do not collect $200.” It is very frustrating. Again, this is especially true of the Ravens. With so many injuries, along with a 2-6 record, 2016 is becoming the featured part of conversations … and not about January playoffs.
Seeing Steve Smith go out with an Achilles injury truly adds insult to injury … or is it injury to insult to injury?
The wide receiver situation is especially frustrating. Top draft choice Breshad Perriman didn’t make it past July 30th when he went down with a knee injury. It is a PCL that has even been scoped by the renowned Dr. James Andrews. Now there’s a guy with busy career! And regarding receivers, local product Michael Campanaro is out for the season as well.
Ravens fans looked forward with great interest to see how Joe Flacco and a new offense would feature Smith, Perriman and Campanaro. The names Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Chris Givens and Jeremy Ross just don’t grab the imagination quite the same.
A fan has to be very motivated to figure out who the replacements are going to be for the rest of this year. It’s actually easier to begin thinking about 2016. Could Smith now change his retirement plans and come back? Will Perriman and Campanaro put these injuries behind them and become high level playmakers next year?
But the receivers are just the beginning of the problems for the Ravens. Terrell Suggs also tore his Achilles in the opener and is out for the season, also with some question as to if the 33-year-old will be back in 2016. Matt Elam and Will Davis have been out. Defensive end Brent Urban is hoping to return, and this after spending all of 2014 on injured reserve.
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An exciting player from his 2014 rookie season was Lorenzo Taliaferro. But he has not played since the fourth game of this season, and he has merely a total of 76 yards of offense on 13 rushes and five receptions.
And then there is the injury, recovery, injury, recovery, injury, recovery of Dennis Pitta. You have to love and root for a guy like this. He is the Nolan Reimold of the Ravens. Hopefully he can soon have a full year of play, just as Reimold did for the Orioles this recently completed season.
The Baltimore Orioles have not had quite the same accumulation of injuries as have the Ravens, but they have suffered through enough to frustrate fans and to wonder what might have been had they not occurred. This would be especially true in 2014. It is amazing now to look back and realize that the Orioles won 96 games with Matt Wieters missing all but 27 games, and with Manny Machado only playing half of a season — after a knee injury and surgery, before needing the same thing on the other knee. And with the pending free agency of Wieters and Chris Davis, the window for winning for the Orioles was 2014 and 2015.
Other Orioles injuries have happened more in the minor leagues, especially to several top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey and Brandon Kline. Orioles-related outlets and writers were all abuzz yesterday, and why? Because Bundy successfully threw seven pitches and got three outs in the Arizona Fall League!
Yes, injuries are part of the game … either game. But it is a terribly frustrating part of the game that takes away from the beauty of sport, especially at these times when they seem to pile up. Buck Showalter would say, “You gotta keep going because nobody is going to feel sorry for you.” And Adam Jones would say, “Just gotta keep grinding man, keep grinding.” But it is frustrating for sure.