A look at the least important things in life

The Week That Was

In defense of Al Davis, I deny nothing.

Al was (probably) a scoundrel and (almost certainly) sent Pete Rozelle to an early grave, although Mr. Rozelle was 70 when he died. As interviews with the man showed, he knew he’d screwed up the Raiders these last few years; searching for interviews that made him look like a raving lunatic was unsuccessful, but just search YouTube for some memorable Al Davis press conferences. Mentioning Al to a Raiders fan typically invoked the nervous, pinched expression of one who’d recently smelled a particularly noxious fart.

But he was OUR Owner. Capital O. The man was larger than life, even if he spent the past decade turning into a sea monster. Just Win Baby, the Silver and Black Attack, the Badasses…made in Al’s image. I always imagined him profiled on a coin, like Lincoln on the penny, only it would say, “In Al We Trust”.

So yeah, I was sad when the old man passed away last weekend. He was three days older than dirt, so it’s not like he owed much time. Al was so old he was one of the first to really utilize minority players, building a dynasty at a time when many worried the league would be “too black”. Al saw other owners, coaches and GM’s avoiding minorities; he went the other way. That has nothing to do with innovation and everything to do with being a human being.

Just like when George Steinbrenner died, the twinge of sadness I felt had less to do with what they contributed (and both men built legacies that will live long after them) and more to do with outsized personality. Things were just more fun with Al around. You never knew what shenanigans he would get up to next, like firing Lane Kiffin with the aid of an overhead projector or drafting a kicker in the first round; might I add, while both those moves were widely criticized at the time they seem to have worked out okay in the long run.

So hat’s off to Al for creating the Raiders, shaping them in his image and winning. While it would’ve been sweet if the Silver and Black hadn’t completely sucked for the better (worse?) part of a decade, I can feel a change coming. Operation “Win One for the Reaper” is now in effect.

Some other things I thought this week…

When Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are at first base together any time during the Cards-Brewers series, I always wonder what they discuss. I bet it goes something like this:

Prince: New York?

Albert: Nah. Yanks would probably put me at catcher or something and I don’t want the Mets problems. Anaheim?

Prince: I’m a fat guy, so hot locations are out for me. Toronto?

Albert: Maybe, but I’m not wild about all this exchange rate nonsense. Cubs?

Both Players burst into fits of laughter.

Prince (giggling, wiping tears from his eyes): Man, that one gets me everytime.

On the Tube: A TV season that started out with much promise is wallowing in despair. While I’ve maintained interest in my only holdover shows (Sons of Anarchy and Family Guy, although the latter better step up after the play-offs), the wife has already lost interest in the new “Charlie’s Angels” and is bordering on calling up “Whitney” as a mid-season replacement. Thankfully, she’s still got “The X Factor” and “Survivor” to torture me with. Allow me an extended rant on “The X Factor”, which I’ve unfortunately been catching snippets of in between video games:

Simon Cowell has more money than Jesus, so if he wants to waste his millions with a subpar “American Idol” knock-off, that’s fine. I’m cool with the fact that pretty much every time he’s shown, some sychophant is sucking up and agreeing to everything he says; if I was paying everybody’s bills, your damn right that’s how it would shake out with me.

But these other judges…where is their dignity? If the goal of the show is competition and winning, which will serve to make individual judges look better, how come everybody says, “You’re exactly right, Simon!” on everything? If I were him, I’d start making the contestants and judges do crazier and crazier things (Sing holding a raw fish under their chins, take everyone to sing in the middle of Manhattan standing on their heads, etc.) until someone snapped.

Merry Go Round the NCAA: So word is the Big East, in shambles, is still trying to pick up the pieces and be a major football conference. Yay for them.

First of all, know your place in the pecking order Big East. You never were a big-time college football conference. You got to be considered one because of Miami and Virginia Tech…and they left. So shut up, bring in some schools that suck or are mediocre at football but bring good basketball (Memphis and Temple spring immediately to mind) and give up your place in the pecking order so that a real football team can play a big bowl. I’m sorry, but the top six SEC teams are better than whichever group of schlubs wind up being your conference ‘champion’ this year.

And for geniuses wondering why the SEC isn’t going after more prolific teams than Missouri for the 14th spot, it’s very simple: Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are blocking anything coming from Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech or Clemson. North Carolina isn’t leaving Duke in the ACC; that rivalry is too lucrative for both. Virginia and Virginia Tech are staying in the same conference because that’s what the state wants (rumor is, anyway). West Virginia isn’t wanted because of poor academics, which makes sense until you remember this is the same conference currently housing Alabama, Arkansas and LSU. And Texas just laughed out loud for me even mentioning them.

That leaves (conceivably) Mizzou, NC State and Maryland. NC State sucks; Maryland has been apathetic athletically since Gary Williams left and Mizzou brings the SEC to a better market (St. Louis over the Baltimore/D.C. area, where basketball is king). So there. Everybody shut up.

At the Theatre (or Theater): Go see Moneyball, for God’s Sake. It’s a good movie, even if your wife (or girlfriend, or the “escort” that goes places with you) doesn’t care about sports. Past that, “The Ides of March” is sending us all into full-fledged Gosling overload. “50/50” seems like a movie where Seth Rogen is gonna try to cry and honestly, I’m not ready for that. “The Big Year” would be interesting if this were 1998, Steve Martin was still funny and people weren’t tired of Owen Wilson and Jack Black. So slim pickings at the multiplex for this week.

What’s that? The “Footloose” remake? Well, here’s the thing: it doesn’t count. Nobody gives a crap about remakes. Why anyone wants to see a classic like “Footloose” remade is beyond me. I hope Kevin Bacon is pissed off right now.


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