BALTIMORE — I would like to think they all are still with us, that they have transferred their loyalties fully and completely from the Colts to the Ravens, that they are not only still an easy drive away from the Fell’s Point Diner, but that they all have ducats for this afternoon’s game.
I want to believe that Eddie and Shrevie and Modell and Boogie and Fenwick will all be at M&T Stadium today, to watch another installment of Baltimore vs. New York, to be there when the Ravens try to put their season back on the rails, while the Giants do the same.
I want to believe Billy and Barbara wound up getting together, and staying together, and that their kid — who would be 52 now — will join them at the game, too. And maybe afterward, they can all find an extra-large table at the diner, have a couple plates of fries and gravy, shoot the breeze about Sinatra and Mathis.
And you know something?
It doesn’t matter that none of them are real, that all of them are the product of the beautiful mind belonging to Barry Levinson, that in reality their stories and their lives are contained to the 110 minutes of “Diner,” from the first shot of Modell walking into the Christmas-night dance to the closing credits, Modell (one more time) cracking wise about evolution: “People don’t come from swamps. They come … they come from Europe.”
The very best movies, the very best TV shows, we really do treat the characters as if they’re real people, people we want to know, people we want to be friends with. If you loved “Friday Night Lights,” you wanted to be the couple who regularly eats out at Applebee’s with Coach and Mrs. Coach. If you like “Parenthood,” you want to hang out with the Bravermans all across the Bay Area.
And if “Diner” is for you what it is for me — the one movie I would bring with me to the proverbial desert island, more than “The Godfather,” more than “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” more than “Hoosiers” — you want to believe the guys had their hearts broken when the Mayflower vans took the Colts away almost 30 years ago, that they had a nice reunion in Tampa back in January 2001 when the Ravens knocked off the Giants — the first time a Baltimore team beat the Giants in a title game since Dec. 27, 1959, at Memorial Stadium, one of the central events contained in the movie (even though they mostly talk around it).
You would like to think if Eddie and Elyse had sons, they would have administered a Colts quiz to their future brides (and if someone had blurted out “Alan Ameche,” they would have been as generous grading the test as their old man was), that maybe they would have borrowed some questions from the original, maybe asked (as Levinson did) our old fried Ernie Accorsi to turn in a few updated questions on Bubba Smith and Bert Jones and Trent Dilfer.
“I had never heard of Barry Levinson before when some of his people contacted me,” Accorsi told me on the eve of that 2001 Super Bowl. “I thought it was for some B movie. I gave them about 15, 20 questions. I was Eddie; there wasn’t a thing I didn’t know about Colts history.”
It’s Hollywood, after all. It’s make-believe. So today, when another Baltimore team faces another New York team in another critical December game, I want them all to be there. I want Boogie to cover the spread. I want Shrevie to gripe to Beth that she never asks what’s on the flip side — and I want the grandchildren to ask, as one, “What’s a flip side?”
And when it’s over, win or lose, I want Boogie to say, one more time, one of the greatest lines ever, the one after diner-fly Bagel laughs and says, “Always a dreamer, eh, Boog?”
“If you don’t have good dreams,” Boogie says, “You got nightmares.”
When I get the replay up to tonight’s Terp talk please listen to the segment on John Mackey as I interviewed #41 Tom Matte. Tom speaks of the great career of #88 and how his end was so sad. You might change your opinion of the players position inn the lockout. A passionate plea from Tom Matte to the players and the NFL in general for help to all those former NFLers with health problems and little support.
I guess until the day they put me into the ground, I will never forget that fateful moment when the Irsay family–(Bob and Jimmy) ripped the heart out of so many Baltimoreans. I give Jimmy no pass and never will. I was on my way home from work when I heard the rumors were true. My first thought was to start a blockade but as I drove by the facility there were no onlookers. How can this happen I thought? It is still very emotional for me to talk about. I still occasionally call the Ravens, the Colts. They are entwined into my memory and I will never forgive, forget or let go.