In Baltimore, Number 52 Is For the Big Boys
Whether it be on the man set out to doom opposing offensive players with crushing blows or a guy sent out to the pitchers' mound to close out a ball game, one thing is for certain: The number 52 has its image implanted in Baltimore sports fans' minds.
These two men, linebacker Ray Lewis of the Ravens and closer George Sherrill of the Orioles, have striking similarities. Though they play two separate sports, their mindsets and value to their respective teams is immense, and the fans have accepted both as key roles on each squad.
Taken in the 1996 NFL Draft, Ray Lewis was described as small.
Does anyone wish to stand up and say that now?
This 10-time pro bowler and future hall-of-famer has done his share during his time in a Ravens' uniform, recording 1,637 tackles, 33.5 sacks, 28 INTs, two defensive TDs, and a safety. He has been regarded as one of the most feared linebackers of all time, being named in the same sentence as the mighty Lawrence Taylor.
His ability to command a defense has been praised for years now, with many fans and analysts alike placing the title of "General" on him. Under his leadership, the Ravens’'defense has finished with the best in all of football since their historic Super Bowl victory in 2000.
Sherrill can be described in the same sense.
Though having never been regarded as small, Sherrill has done only one thing this season for the Birds: Close out ballgames.
His 20 saves in 2009 ranks him fifth in the American League, putting him in the elite class of closers for the season. He falls just short of Jonathan Papelbon, Brian Fuentes, Joe Nathan, and Mariano Rivera (All were All-Stars, I might add.).
Many believe "Flat Breezy" (as many fans call him) to be trade bait as the deadline approaches; however, one offer from the Marlins has already been rejected, and it appears as though Sherrill will be remaining in an O's uniform throughout the season.
To compare, though he may not have the historical impact of Lewis, Sherrill does bring one main component to the table. He brings someone to trust when the game is on the line. Like Lewis, the O's closer is called upon late in the contest to shut down the opposing offense as his team rides his shoulders to victory.
That, my friends, is their greatest comparison.
So whether or not you think it, the number 52 has made its mark on Baltimore sports as of late.
For now, we all hope these two names can bring the Birds of Charm City back to a world championship.
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