Has your summer been kind of lackluster? Mine has as well. Thankfully, local sports, which has been severely hurting during the dog days this year, picks it up big time next month. We’re almost there. The heat is subsiding. You don’t have to look goofy in your cargo shorts much longer. Best if all, some of the most exciting things in sports are coming right to your front door in September. Here are five of them to get excited about.
The Baltimore Grand Prix
September 2nd-4th, Downtown
Labor Day weekend will see the streets of downtown turned into a bona fide IndyCar track, as the Charm City hosts the inaugural BGP. Things have already gotten environmental, political, and straight-up nasty. Whether this is a one-off or the start of an annual tradition remains to be see, but either way it’s going to be a spectacle. Now that the grandstands and safety fences are up in the inner harbor, driving around in the next couple weeks affords many excellent opportunities to fantasize about street racing, and/or being in the scene at Le Mans from Iron Man 2 where Mickey Rourke and his vague accent are flipping over race cars. I’m not anything close to a race fan, and it seems murky whether this event is “good for Baltimore,” as has been so hotly debated. Either way, I think as it draws nearer, this could pull Preakness-nearing local attention.
Maryland Opener vs. Miami Hurricanes
September 5th, Byrd Stadium, 8 p.m.
Our Monday Night Football season gets started a week early as the Terps kick off the Randy Edsall era against the Canes at Byrd Stadium. The game will be on ESPN, if you don’t want to go down and brave what will surely be a brutal 70 degree evening. Miami is actually only a 6-point favorite, and Edsall will surely want to get his tenure at College Park started off right. On the other sideline, Al Golden will begin his reign as Miami’s head coach after the Canes fired Randy Shannon at the end of last season. Last year, the Terps let a half-time lead slip away and lost 26-20. Oh, and the Terps will be sporting those new (nameless) uniforms under the lights on national TV. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “are you ready for some football?!”
Ravens Opener vs. Pittsburgh Steeelers
September 11th , M&T Bank Stadium, 1 p.m.
The exhale and jubilation of the NFL lockout ending becomes the gasp before the fierce collision of Baltimore and Pittsburgh. What an excellent way to welcome the NFL back into our lives. Opening the season against Cincinnati and Cleveland usually works in the Ravens’ favor, but this season, getting right to business against Pittsburgh is exactly what the Ravens want after being shown the door in the Divisional Championship back in January. What more is there to say about this game? The fact that it is 10 years to the day that the NFL had a very different break in operations I’m sure will only add an emotional charge to the contest.
Capitals Preseason Opener at 1st Mariner Arena
September 20th, vs. Nashville Predators, 7 p.m.
The Caps, playoff woes notwithstanding, have been on a simply meteoric rise in popularity in the last five years. This boon of support has created a newly stable fanbase in Baltimore, building off of years of peripheral support and minor league tradition. Also, we’ve tried to do our part here as well. I’m really excited about this game simply for the fact that I get to watch hockey at the “Baltimore Arena” again. That building, despite its current state, is home to countless memories of my childhood. I grew up learning and loving hockey there watching the Skipjacks and Bandits (as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Ice). I haven’t had much of a reason to go back these days, but I’m thrilled that for once in my life, the Capitals are driving up to me and not the other way around.
The Merciful End to the 2011 Orioles
September 28th, vs. Boston Red Sox, 7:05 p.m.
This team started out as a promising, youthful, exciting iteration of the Birds and have turned into a doppleganger of so many others in the last fourteen seasons. The Orioles won seven games in July. They might get to eight or nine in August if they really pitch their brains out. I can’t imagine September will be much different. This is simply not a good baseball team, and shame on them for making us think otherwise for the first eight games of the season. Pour out a swig of Boh for the Birds and let’s once again pretend that this summer didn’t happen.
Dave Gilmore lives in Baltimore, works for a sports-oriented non-profit, and writes “The Win Column” for Baltimore Sports Report. He is currently working on a novel about college football. Find him on Twitter @dave_gilmore or visit his web site at davegilmorejr.com