WASHINGTON – It’s put up or shut up time for Maryland Terrapins fans, and many of the state’s politicians have opted to shut up.
Major sporting events like the Terps’ appearance in this weekend’s NCAA Final Four usually bring politicians running for a chance to get media coverage, with boastful bets that put their hallmark hometown products on the line.
But few elected officials have risen to defend the Terps — a sharp departure from the betting orgy preceding the Baltimore Ravens appearance in this year’s Super Bowl.
Only Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, and a University of Maryland alumnus, had a bet on the Final Four by Friday.
Hoyer has a bet with Rep. David Price, D-N.C., on Saturday’s game with Duke. And in an exchange on the House floor Thursday, he agreed to put up a bushel of Maryland crabs against a bushel of Michigan apples from Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., should those teams meet in Monday’s championship game.
Aides to Price were confident that would not happen.
“Should Duke win the national championship, as we expect we will, Congressman Hoyer will go down on the House floor Tuesday with a Blue Devil’s sweatshirt on and give a one-minute ode to the other man’s school,” said Thomas Bates, Price’s spokesman.
Price would do the same with a Maryland sweatshirt if the Terps win it all. If neither Maryland nor Duke wins the championship, the loser of Saturday’s game will have to wear the winning team’s sweatshirt through a hearing of the Treasury subcommittee, on which Price and Hoyer both serve.
But other Maryland politicians said that they either don’t have anything riding on the game or that they might make a bet if the Terps reach Monday’s final.
Gov. Parris Glendening said he was betting on the Terrapins reaching the final, even if he has not made a wager to that effect. The former University of Maryland professor said Friday that his travel arrangements — he has plane tickets and game tickets for Monday’s championship in Minneapolis — prove that he has faith in the Terps.
But others were taking a pass on the Final Four.
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, will probably just watch the game at home, said his press secretary. Aides said Reps. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, and Benjamin Cardin, D-Baltimore, don’t have anything planned, although Cardin might place a bet if the Terps make it to the championship.
It was a different story in the weeks leading up to this year’s Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants, when lawmakers bet enough local delicacies to feed a professional football team.
Glendening bet a bushel of crabs against New York Gov. George Pataki’s bushel of Long Island littleneck clams, and Cardin bet Baltimore microbrews against cannoli, kielbasa, kimchi and other ethnic New Jersey delicacies offered by Rep. Steven Rothman, D-N.J.
Rep. Robert Ehrlich Jr., R-Timonium, wagered a couple dozen steamed crabs for the Super Bowl against six New York-style pizzas from Rep. Vito Fossella, R- N.Y.
Maryland Sens. Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, both Baltimore Democrats, offered to sing “New York, New York” on the steps of the Capitol if the Ravens lost. New York Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton promised to recite “The Raven” if the Giants lost.
Maryland’s senators collected in a big way, with Clinton and Schumer forced to recite Edgar Allan Poe’s poem in front of television cameras while Mikulski mugged and taunted them.
Neither Sarbanes nor Mikulski had a wager planned on the Final Four, aides said this week.