So I’m sitting in the car in a small bank parking lot, and there’s a pick-up truck the size of a PT boat parked beside me to the right. And please, bear with me here before I get to telling you whatever it was I was going to tell you. This has been gnawing at me for years.

Anyway, as I’m attempting to leave the parking lot, I inch back in reverse, trying to see around the PT-109 so I don’t get rear-ended. Meanwhile, there is a regular-sized car right behind me in line at the drive-thru window, forcing me to exercise the precision of a diamond cutter to make an 18-point turn so I can get out of the parking lot without touching the car in line or Lt. Kennedy’s truck docked beside my small car.

Now the car being in line at the drive-thru is fine, except it’s the third car in line and there are no cars in the other two drive-thru lines ... OK, one of the lines is for an automated teller, so make that one other line.

Still, why is it people are willing to wait in line two, three cars deep, rather than get into a line that is open? Do they believe that just because they are alongside the actual building they are going to get jiffier service? Do they believe their money is going to disappear once they put it in the tube?

I’ve never understood this. And it bothers me.

Anyway, so I’m sitting in the bank parking lot and I’m listening to The Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio 1230 (and between that and FOX Sports 1450, we’re pretty cool beans here in Cumberland), and Cowherd is talking about the sports fans around the country he feels sorry for.

Well, he feels sorry for Baltimore fans, because, basically, he said there just wasn’t much hope these days in being a Baltimore sports fan. He said if not for Michael Phelps, Baltimore sports fans wouldn’t have anything to cheer about from June until September, so you can fill in the blanks (P*t*r A*g*l*s) as to whom this guy was targeting.

Then, whoever the other guy in the studio with Cowherd was said, “They have great crabs there.”

Yeah, pally, darn skippy they have great crabs there. And don’t get me wrong, I like this guy’s show, but I love Baltimore, so I thought he was being a little harsh. But then during the break I heard a plug for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball and they played a clip of Jon Miller calling a home run. God, what a great voice. What a great broadcaster. Listening to Orioles games was so much fun in those days when we had Miller every night.

Then I got to thinking ... Hell, I feel sorry for me, too.

Sure, the entire Michael Phelps adventure has been wonderful, and a great boost for sports fans in Baltimore and the folks here in Allegany County who grew up in Westernport and Luke with Phelps’ parents, Debbie and Fred. And when you look around to see the new direction the Ravens are taking, you feel the eagerness for football season to start; and for that matter, Andy MacPhail has the Orioles pointed in the right direction. Still, Baltimore fans have been taking it on the chin for more than a decade, save the Ravens’ Super Bowl title in 2000, and it’s still likely to be a couple of few years before their teams can really consider themselves contenders again.

But let me tell you how bad things are really going to get for the Baltimore sports fan. Yes, that’s right, how bad things are going to get for the Baltimore sports fan, and it’s going to happen Tuesday night.

The Orioles, who really do seem to be making an effort to re-connect with their fans, along with the Maryland State Lottery, are going to honor the 50-millionth fan to pass through the gates at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, making Camden Yards the fastest ballpark ever (17 seasons) to host 50 million fans.

First prize for the “designated” 50 millionth fan at Camden Yards will be $50,000 and Orioles season tickets for five years. Second prize, as Dale Dickerhoff might say, is $50,000 and Orioles season tickets for 10 years.

No, just kidding. There is no second prize.

So, according to the O’s, they are just over 50,000 short of reaching 50 million. Considering Camden Yards has a seating capacity of 48,290, it will be impossible for the 50-millionth fan to come through on Monday, provided, of course, the 50,000-plus figure is accurate. Thus, it would appear to be a cinch that somebody is walking down Eutaw Street Tuesday night with 50,000 clams and season tickets for five years, but here’s where it gets ugly: On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the Orioles play host to the ... Red Sox.

Je-eeez, E-dith, don’t be giving no $50,000 check to no Red Sox fan, dingbat!

Oh, yeah. You know it’s going to happen, unless, of course, the Orioles “designate” not to stop a terribly-dressed, loud, obnoxious Back Bay bafoon wearing a Big Papi shirt as he’s coming through the turnstile at the big number 50,000,000. Our lips to God’s ears.

Hate to admit it, but the odds are probably real good it will be a Red Sox fan, given the masses with which they pollute Camden Yards whenever the Sawx come to town. And, you know what? While they certainly aren’t welcome, I doubt the Orioles have ever sent any money back to Sawx fans to stay away.

But the 50 millionth fan in the history of Camden Yards a Red Sox fan? And he’s going to get a check for $50,000 on or near the site of the bar owned by Babe Ruth’s dad in the early 20th century?

Talk about your curses of the Bambino. After all, it was the old International League Baltimore Orioles who beat the Red Sox to the punch in selling Babe Ruth when they sold him to the Red Sox!

Still, even if this unfortunate thing should occur, don’t feel too sorry for the Baltimore sports fan. Michael Phelps, after all, lives in Baltimore.

Even better, Brian Billick does not.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him

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