Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers: Hate Is a Strong Word, But It Must Be Said

Alan Zlotorzynski@@zlotsportsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 10, 2011

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 26:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is sacked by Jarret Johnson #95 and Bart Scott #57 of the Baltimore Ravens at M & T Bank Stadium November 26, 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

There's no denying what Saturday represents in the Steel City or Charm City: This year's bragging rights. The Ravens and Steelers will meet for the third time this year and in postseason history.

Sadly, the Steelers have won all three playoff games. This year will be different, Steelers fans, and I'm firing the first shot across that ugly yellow bridge.

It's another chapter in the long and storied rivalry not just between the Ravens and Steelers but also the two cities that hate each other for no other reason because they are exactly alike.

There is a genuine hatred for each team's sports franchises and unfortunately even a hatred for the people who love them as well. There is respect and a lot of it, but if sports has taught us anything, hatred doesn't mean a lack of respect.

My mother, God rest her soul, always said hate was a bad word and should never be used when referring to another person. So I will keep it general and let the Terrible Towel-carrying diehards figure out how much love we have for them.

I promise it's the same they have for us.

They should know we do respect them, but that's as far as it goes. Sorry Mom, but when the Steelers, Penguins and even the sorry Pirates come to mind, I can't think of anything other than hatred.

It's a shame really and probably stems from some long deep need for attention, or it could just be the six Super Bowls, three Stanley Cups and two World Series victories over the Orioles. So there ya go, "Stiller" fans, jealousy plays a role too.

I hate Sister Sledge and the whole "We are family" thing. I hate black and gold, Willie Stargell, Terry Bradshaw and Mario Lemieux.

It's all carried over into the modern era. Ben Roethlisberger and Sidney Crosby are not on my list of potential "Fat Heads" for the basement wall. In fact I wanted Big Ben to get suspended for the year and would love to personally hand Crosby a tissue.

It's just that way it is, and any diehard Ravens and Steelers fan knows they feel the same way. Do you think Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and Alex Ovechkin jersey sell well in the city where the first suspension bridge was built.

Funny thing is, as I said Pittsburgh and Baltimore, just aren't all that different, and neither are the people. Did you happen to catch my last name? Know any Polish people in Pittsburgh?

Both cities that sit on the water, rose to economic prominence through the industrial age, almost died with its decline. Each utilized the waterfront to revitalize downtown, adding tourism as a measure of replacement for the loss of industrial income.  

Part of the revival in both city's rebuilding process was the building of two new stadiums in each city. The Ravens, Orioles, Steelers and Pirates all moved into new stadiums during this rebuilding period.

Pittsburgh and Baltimore have a storied and historic football past, both well documented. The Steelers of the '70s and the Baltimore Colts of the '50s, '60s and '70s have contributed numerous Hall of Fame players and both organizations had a big hand in making the NFL what it has become today.

Today’s version of the Steelers and Ravens are almost identical in their build. Both were built on stout defenses that feature All-Pro linebackers and all-world safeties. Both now have a quarterback from a small school who has come into the league and surprised everyone with their play. 

This rivalry runs deep, soul cutting deep. It's always been more than just Ravens-Steelers. Baseball played a major role in building this hatred that exists, yes, hatred. The Pirates handed the Orioles two of their three World Series losses.

In 1971, Roberto Clemente led the Pirates back from a 2-0 deficit to win in seven games. In 1979, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and the rest of the "We Are Family" gang overcame a 3-1 deficit. Pittsburgh won the last two games in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium and finished the O's in seven games again.

Deeper yet is the involvement of another city and another sport. Baltimore has never had an NHL team, so the Washington Capitals have been claimed by many in the area as the team of choice. The scars from that choice run deep.

Don't think for one minute that the 30,000 Capitals fans who attended this year's Winter Classic were all from Washington. Trust me they weren't.

Baltimore did have a minor league hockey team for many years, The Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League. We served as the top affiliate for you guessed it, the Pittsburgh Penguins and then, that's right, the Washington Capitals.

Both cities even have distinct ways of speaking with hard dialects about their teams. "How 'bout dem O's hon" and "Yins watch the Stiller’s daday" are commonly heard around town during their respective seasons. 

Each city even has its own distinct flavor for beer. Nattie Boh in Baltimore and Iron City in Pittsburgh. Both beers, if consumed in large quantities, will make you wish you didn't the next day.

Growing up in "Ballmer," I know what a rivalry is thanks to Pittsburgh.

Making this rivalry even more heated is the fact that many from Pittsburgh migrated to Baltimore during the industrial downturn. Looking on the web, there are still six Steelers fan club bars in Maryland.

Saturday's matchup with the Steelers is no different than any other. It's life or death for me, and many in Baltimore and Pittsburgh as well.

Please, Ravens, win this game, and here's one fan who says you get a pass for whatever would happen the following week in the AFC Championship game, just as long as I can say at least we beat Pittsburgh one more time this season.


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