Buck up, Baltimore Orioles fans. Sure, your team just dropped a 30-3 nail-biter to the Texas Rangers, the worst trashing in more than a century. But that's no reason to sulk. Not when sports blowouts -- good 'ol fashioned head-to-the-woodshed, LT versus Joe Theisimann's knee-style demolitions -- have a charm all their own, a potpourri of unsung charms:
Free At Last: Close games demand constant attention, leave you on the edge of your seat, make you afraid to change the channel during another round of annoying network promos. But spankings? They're liberating. Grab a beer, surf the Web, start some laundry, talk -- egads! -- to your spouse. You won't miss a thing. Besides, most sportswriters can't be bothered to watch a game in its entirety. Why should you be any different?
You Might Learn Something: Tight contests suffocate the broadcast booth. The announcer gives you down and distance; the color commentator uses the telestrator to point out that a nice pass was, in fact, a nice pass, perhaps by drawing a few squiggles around the ball. There's no time for anything else.
One-sided beatings, by contrast, invite blather. Entertaining, educational, Walton-esque rambling. Out come the media guides, the random factoids, the absurd anecdotes, every last bottle of musty statistical whiskey, let loose from Al Capone's vault. Michael Jordan majored in geography. Now you know.
Trash Can Be Treasure: Garbage time means clearing the bench, sending in the scrubs, making sure that shell-shocked starters don't add injury to insult by getting hurt while down 30. And this, in turn, means two things:
a.) You get to see wildly-entertaining trash time All-Stars such as former NBA'er Ced Ceballos, who never met a shot he didn't want to propose to on the roof of the Empire State Building;
b.) You get to see raw young talents before they become stars, like Ben Wallace during his stint with the Washington Wizards. If nothing else, you'll end up a better fantasy owner.
Less Hassle, More Sleep: Bolt in the third quarter of a bad game, and you'll beat traffic; stay 'til the bitter end, and it's 45 minutes of gridlock.
And that's just to clear the parking lot. At home, a crappy game equals lights out and restful slumber -- much like watching "Monday Night Football" on the start time-friendly West Coast, only without Cali's surfeit of culture and intellectual stimulation. (Sorry, Golden Staters, but Ryan Seacrest and the Golden Globes don't count).
The Scoreboard Doesn't Lie: Close games can be dishonest, mask deficiencies, give otherwise mediocre teams an inflated sense of self-worth. We were this close -- so let's go out and make a bunch of cap-killing, future-mortgaging, young-for-old personnel moves that will put us over the hump. Oops. (See Redskins, Washington, almost every season).
Blowouts make things plain. Better still, they're easier to get over: The psychological distancing takes place at the end of the third quarter, and not for the next 20 years after John Elway slings a five-yard touchdown pass to Mark Jackson.
Besides, O's backers, look at the bright side: In a steroid-soaked baseball era, you can be pretty confident that your club's pitching staff is completely free of performance-enhancing substances.
Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Patrick here.