Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"100 Things Raiders Fans Should Know" Book Review

We interrupt our regularly scheduled moping to bring you the following review of 100 Things Raiders Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books; $14.95), a new book by Paul Gutierrez with a foreword by Jim Plunkett.

Now, the literary canon of the Oakland Raiders contains no shortage of fast-fact books showcasing the lore of the Silver & Black. What makes this one different, however, is its currency. It’s unique because it’s not all about the storied glory days. Rather, it takes you nearly right up to the present day, steering the reader through the scorched earth of Shell II, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson’s failed power grab. Heck, this book is so current that it even has chapters on Mark Davis, Terrelle Pryor and the Al Davis torch lighters.

Of course, many Raiders fans would like to forget the past 10 years, but they are now an indelible fact of our teams history, and since misery loves company, we might as well get used to it.

Sure, there is plenty of majesty and mystique detailed in this book (The Heidi Game! The Snake!), but those stories are increasingly showing their age. The freshest material is naturally the most morbid, but also entertaining in its own way. Remember when the players showed their support for Cable by chanting "Cable, Bumaye!” after he socked Randy Hanson? Remember when our offensive coordinator was hired away from his bed and breakfast operation in Idaho? Remember when…well, I won’t spoil it for you.

There’s also some fresh historical material as well. For example, did you know that Al Saunders was born in London, but grew up in Oakland and tried to sneak into a Raiders game at the old Frank Youell Field as a kid? There’s also good material on the characters who inhabit the Black Hole, as well as a recap of the Al Davis and Marcus Allen feud, not to mention a chapter on Ice Cube’s Straight Outta L.A. retrospective. Todd Marinovich, Ricky’s Sports Bar, The Ghost to The Post…It’s all in there.

In other words, while this book could be considered similar to other short-chapter, look-back titles such as Raiders Forever, The Good, Bad & The Ugly, and Stadium Stories: Oakland Raiders, it’s ultimately far more granular and sweeping in its scope, making it a unique entry into the Raiders canon.

The bottom line: 100 Things Raiders Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is a rollicking tribute to the enduring mystique, recent follies and ultimate greatness of the Oakland Raiders, making it a perfect stocking stuffer for yourself and your fellow Raiders fans.

Check it out on Amazon

Monday, October 27, 2014

Five Postgame Takes

1. Man, that was an ugly-looking football game.

2. Last year, at quarterback, we started our third-stringer and a guy who's no longer playing in the NFL; this year, we are starting our presumed quarterback of the future; last year, we had no money to spend; this year, we had $60 million; last year, we were coming off of a draft with #1 and #2 picks who barely contributed; this year, our first two picks are two of our strongest players; last year, we picked up Charles Woodson as a defensive leader; this year, we added Woodley and Tuck, two other guys with Super Bowl rings, to further set a leadership tone; and yet...we're demonstrably worse on the field? 

3. Sometimes, it just seems like the Raiders are cursed. That fumble from McFadden just had to fly right into the defender's arms, just like the Denarius Moore bounce at the end of the game in New England.

4. I like the fact that Sparano demonstrates some emotion, it's a nice break from the deadpan Dennis Allen. I don't think we'll go 0-16, but...

5. If we find ourselves at 0-10 or something like that, I wouldn't be surprised to see some in-season changes at the executive level. I have no sources, I have no insider info, just a gut feeling. 

Update: I forgot to add a haiku, back by popular demand:

It's a kick, no it's
a pick; at least we still have
a chance to win...whoops!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Browns Gameday Thread

Well, infamy is pounding on our door, we need to answer with a win against the beatable Browns. The time is now, GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Five Postgame Takes

1. Tony Sparano may be 0-2 as the Raiders head coach, but he's 2-0 against the Clown Car.

2. Still, I'm not about to buy into the Moral Victory business. We've lost two apparently winnable home games over the past two weeks, and we are now the only team in the NFL without a win. Anyone caught celebrating will be punished with writing each of the Raiders' two mottos (Just Win, Baby; Commitment to Excellence) a hundred times on the chalkboard.

3. Case in point, from the Trib: "The 0-6 start is the worst for a Raiders team since 1962, a year before Al Davis joined the organization."

4. Needs on defense: where do we start? Needs on offense: #1 running back; #1 receiver; #1 tight end; improved line. That's all.

5. Back, by popular demand, the Raider Take Raiders Haiku:

Victories, moral
but not real, winless, and
so with the first pick...

Cardinals Gameday Thread

Time to give Carson a rude welcome back to Oakland. Go Raiders!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Five Postgame Takes

1. Three cheers to "the Sparano effect." For at least one week, burying the football on the Dennis Allen era seemed to put some pep in the Raiders' step. Brick hands and defensive breakdowns remain an issue, but at least there was some competitive energy yesterday.

2. Five dropped passes...in the first half.

3. Is it just me, or does it seem like once or twice per year, Darren McFadden just turns it on and runs like a mad beast, seemingly out of nowhere? 

4. How about Derek Carr? He looked decisive and in command for most of the day. He seems to have "it." And if that's the case, we're in new territory at the quarterback position.

5. The notion that this is some sort of moral victory doesn't fly. The Raiders are now 0-5. Don't celebrate too hard just because we finally looked like a football team. That is a pathetically low bar. After three years, another full draft and $60 million to spend in the offseason, Reggie McKenzie's roster should be routinely competitive. That should be the base default expectation, not something to get giddy about.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chargers Gameday Thread

Well that was an awesome start to the Tony Sparano era. One minute down, 59 to go!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The "New" Raiders Narrative

Remember the national media narrative on the Raiders after Al Davis passed away and his son gave the football reins to new general manager Reggie McKenzie?

Let me remind you. The narrative was all about chasing the ghost of Al Davis out of the organization. Remember the Sports Illustrated piece, the one about how Reggie was modernizing the Raiders, upgrading the practice field, building a true scouting department and getting rid of the overhead projectors? Finally, what everyone was asking for (including myself) had happened: The owner had hired a general manager, let the general manager hire a coach, and got out of the way so that they could get to work.

Well, lo and behold, we suddenly have a brand new narrative, and it's this: Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie aren't really to blame for this mess, and they're still (or in DA's case, were) being held back by the ghost of Al Davis. 

The new narrative has been on full display this week, and I heard it loud and clear on ESPN's Football Today podcast this afternoon.

I would like them all to answer this question: How did the Raiders get even worse this year after three offseasons, two full drafts and $60 million to spend in free agency this year? No one wants to ponder that question, because it doesn't fit the new narrative.

I was pretty critical of Mr. Davis toward the end, but this is getting ridiculous. Al Davis Derangement Syndrome is back, and the national media are afflicted.

Yes, Al Davis left this team in a bind, no one disputes that. No, reasonable Raiders fans didn't expect a Super Bowl champion in Reggie and DA's third year. Yes, we knew it would take time. But no freaking way did anyone expect the Raiders to still be worst team in the NFL after three years, riding a 10-game losing streak, and getting their asses handed to them virtually every week.

Part of the new narrative is that elite coaches and players will continue to avoid coming to Oakland, further lengthening this slow-motion death spiral--and that this is also Al Davis's fault. 

No, it's not his fault. The fault lies at the feet of the men, Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen, who in three years have failed to create any sort of winning culture or shown any sort of consistent competency. And Mark Davis hasn't been running the draft, running free agency or running the locker room, so he can only be so culpable.

And if it's true that the Raiders can't attract an elite coach or player, wouldn't that suggest that it's time for a new general manager? If not the general manager, then who else is most responsible for failing to make the Raiders somewhat attractive? Al Davis passed away three years ago this week, and don't you dare tell me that he is the one still keeping elite players and coaches away from the Raiders.

The bottom line is that the new narrative is the same as the old narrative, except that the protagonist left us 1,090 days ago. 

The national media need to stop mailing it in with the pretzel logic and start applying a little more due diligence to the story of the Oakland Raiders.