Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moment of Tears For Fallen Teammate Jose Fernandez

Dee Gordon, teammate of fatal boating accident victim Jose Fernandez, honored him the only way a baseball player could; at the plate he mimicked the hitting stance of the fallen Fernandez then proceeded to hit one out of the ballpark, his first home run of the season.

There were cheers and tears as Gordon rounded the bases then gave a heartfelt chest pump while looking to the heavens teary-eyed, before falling into the arms of teammates, emotionally drained yet spiritually blessed. 

It was a moment right out of an award winning baseball movie script, only there were no producers, directors or actors on an artificially lighted stage. There was only the ballpark, the moment and Dee Gordon. And that, for us fans who love the game and the ball players who play it, was more than enough. Actually, it was legendary!

The Florida Marlins players were all wearing #16 Jerseys in honor of Jose Fernandez. It will be the first Marlins jersey ever to be retired. 

May the family of Jose Fernandez find some comfort in knowing that the world of baseball is mourning and sending out prayers for them.

1 9 9 2  -  2 0 1 6
Florida Marlins 
#16 Jose Fernandez

Monday, September 26, 2016

Arnold Palmer Passes

The World of Golf Weeps

Defense Responds In Ugly Raiders Win

Raiders didn't visit Tennessee this weekend to be in a beauty contest

It wasn't pretty, but the Oakland Raiders squeaked out a road win in hot and humid Tennessee over the weekend. This time it was the offense that looked less than stellar as they put up 17pts in the first half, but were shut out in the second.  Penalties cost them a sweet touchdown pass down the middle to one of the tight ends.  On the plus side, on a day the offense struggled they were still able to move the ball and put points on the board. Carr & Co. kept the pressure on the Titans defense and if not for a few dropped passes and penalties, the game could have been a blow-out.

As for the previously under-performing Defense, How Bout Dem Raiders!  

#29 David Amerson snatches away Titans pass for an interception

The defense, especially the linebackers and D'backs, played the way we expected them to play; tough and tight. They knocked down passes, had two interceptions and a fumble recovery while showing trust and confidence in one another.  Head Coach Jack Del Rio deserves credit for pressuring the defensive coaching staff into making on field personnel changes, as well as better scheming. The blitz is back in Oaktown.

One noticeable trait about yesterday's Raiders defense is that they weren't getting fooled or pulled out of position by offensive schemes. They played like they knew what was coming and had prepared to the fullest.  

Guys were hustling around out there in the heat with enthusiasm and confidence. You could see that the defense wanted to make a rebuttal statement after being tagged the worse defensive unit in the league; their rebuttal statement came across loud and clear as the Raiders defense buckled down and stopped the Titans in the final minute of the game to secure the win.

Again, it wasn't pretty, but it shows the fight and commitment of this Raiders team.  The silver and black are a team that the other 31 NFL teams have taken notice of. They're earning respect for their ability to play anybody, anywhere, for a full four quarters and overtime periods if needed. One tag that'll never stick to this Oakland Raiders team is quit; Coach Jack just won't allow it and neither will the players. This is not one of those Raiders teams that's playing for a paycheck. There's much more at stake than dollars. There's the pride that comes with putting in the work to do something great.  The reward is in not only winning, but the respect all that hard work earns you. We're about to see something great come out of these Raiders. Don't sleep on them and miss out.

Congrats #11 Sebastian Janikowski on kicking himself into the record books yesterday with his 53rd career field goal of 50 or more yards. He's the longest tenured player on the team and hopefully will stay productive enough to be a part of the glory we expect from this Raiders team.  How about winning a title for old man Sea Bass fellas.  

Final Score
Raiders 17
Titans 10

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ball Bounces Falcons Way In Raiders Loss

On the first true day of Indian Summer in the Bay, the Oakland Raiders defense wilted away as the Atlanta Falcons passed at will against them.  It's official, the Raiders pass defense just simply can't get off the field when it matters most or least. CB David Amerson, with a game changing endzone interception, can't do it all.

QB Matt Ryan drove his team up and down the coliseum grass, through baseball dirt and all, with receivers creating space and catching everything.  Two batted passes by the Raiders defense had Falcons luck written all over them. One deflection was caught and run in for a Falcons touchdown, while the other was deflected and caught to convert a crucial Falcons first down.

Today the Raiders simply had what old timers call Buzzard's Luck; "can't kill nothing and nothing's dying." 

On 3rd and 2yds with 7:18 left in the game, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr scrambled and found Amari Cooper for a nice sideline catch and 50+ yard run for a touchdown that, with the point after attempt, would tie the game. Then the Buzzard's Luck kicked in as the referees circled the yellow flag and gathered for the pickings. The Raiders receiver had gone out of bounds and was the first one to touch the ball. Granted he was probably pushed out by the Falcons defender, but the rule doesn't address the how or why, only the who and where. The play ends up being a loss of down penalty and the touchdown erased. 

I question the calling of the next play. On 4th and 2yds the Raiders ran undersized rookie running back Jalen Richard up the middle. That short yardage play calls for a big experienced back like Latavius or Osawale, veterans. Of course they didn't get the first down and the Falcons took over on downs where they'd march right down the field and score; 35-21, Ballgame!

The Raiders offense again would show they're poise and commitment by marching quickly down field and scoring, but this shootout did not find time on the Raiders side. With 1:49 left on the game clock, the silver helmeted defensive unit couldn't stop a 3rd and 3yds Matt Ryan short pass conversion that all but ended the game. Raiders got the ball back with 0:02 seconds left. Buzzard's Luck, where nothing was dying but the Raiders chances for victory.

It all adds up to a home opener defeat for the Raiders. But for a few timely penalties against the Falcons, this game might of been much uglier for the Raiders.  The offense showed some fight down the stretch and the run defense was mostly stout, but that pass defense can't cover a college team much less put continuous pressure on a quarterback.

Is it coaching? game planning? Do they need more time to jell? Or was everyone, including myself, just flat out fooled by how dominating the defense looked on paper before the start of the season.  As it stands, the Raiders are still a couple years from being great.

The Falcons are a good team with a good, experienced quarterback, but I wouldn't crown them great. I wouldn't be surprised to see a shakeup in the Raiders defensive coaching staff before the bye week if opponents keep slinging the ball over and through Raiders defenders like the men wearing silver helmets are zombies in a mall. Dammit, learn how to close on a receiver and or just knock his frickin block off after the catch. Intimidate! Make them afraid to catch a pass when silver helmets are lurking about. Be a Raider for chrissakes.

Final Score
Falcons 35
Raiders 28

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Raiders Win Shootout In New Orleans

#30 Jalen Richard runs 75 yards up the middle to pay dirt!

The Oakland Raiders went to New Orleans in NFL week 1 and came away with a win. Drew Brees and the Saints made it as difficult a win as ever as they put up points almost at will. But the Silver & Black also have offensive weapons in QB Derek Carr and company. They also have a young un-drafted gem in #30, running back Jalen Richard, who's 75-yard rushing touchdown with 8:26 left in the game tied it up 27-27. To me that was the spark that re-ignited the Raiders confidence in themselves and their game plan. 

There were so many big plays throughout the afternoon for both teams; a 98-yard passing touchdown by the Saints, a Seth Roberts twisting touchdown for the Raiders, a Derek Carr first down flying act

But no play was as big as the one called by Raiders coach Jack Del Rio for the go ahead score. 

After the Seth Roberts touchdown catch, coach Del Rio opted to go for two points and the lead instead of tie it with a field goal. A fade pass from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree was the call. Another fade pass in New Orleans haunted Crabtree. As a 49er, he couldn't get to a fade pass from QB Kaepernick in the waning minutes of Super Bowl XLII. The Baltimore Ravens took home the Lombardi Trophy and Crabtree the nightmares. Not today. Though Crabtree's winning fade catch in this game only gave the Raiders a win in week 1 of the regular season, it was as huge for him as it was for the Raiders organization. The Raiders hadn't won a week 1 game since 2011. The bar has now been set for the rest of the season; No Quit!

I agree with those that believe it was the right call; gutsy as heck, but the right call. Because you don't play for overtime with a hot, gun slinging quarterback like Drew Brews who spent all day slicing up your secondary. Brees threw for over 400-yards with 4 touchdowns and was, in the infamous words of the late, great sportscaster Stuart Scott, "as cool as the other side of the pillow" in the pocket. He made doubters of the experts who predicted a dominating Raiders defense this season. 

The Raiders will definitely need to clean up their act on defense if they want to contend for a championship. The pass defense was very shaky and having to replace cornerback Sean Smith, your $40 million dollar free agent acquisition, because he just couldn't hang with receivers was a telling sign. It says as much about the skills of Smith though as it does about the Raiders coaches and their will to win; Gutsy!

We Raider fans will chew hardy on this hard fought win. "We Believe" is back in the bay and this time they're dressing in Silver & Black.

Thanks to Ricky's Sports Bar in San Leandro, I was able to enjoy this win swarmed with love and brotherhood from Raider Nation. My voice is as hoarse as if I'd attended a Raiders game at the coliseum. But I'll take it as long as the Raiders just win baby!

Win, Lose or Tie

Final Score
Raiders 35
Saints 34

Quote of the Day:
Coach Del Rio on going for 2 pts.; "good thing espn isn't coaching the Raiders!"

Saturday, September 10, 2016

ABC News Anchor - Serenity Prayer

Elizabeth Vargas Long Battle With Alcoholism

ABC News did an excellent job last night in reporting on Alcoholism, Anxiety and how one of their own fought and continues to fight addiction to alcohol.  

Elizabeth Vargas, an award winning network anchor, not only talks about her alcoholism but shows footage of herself on live television battling with anxiety and trying so desperately to keep the wolves of alcoholism at bay. Elizabeth takes viewers down her road to rock bottom and back. Her's is a story we've all likely heard before, except with Elizabeth there's nowhere to hide as the camera is on her everyday at work. She shows one of her interviews of a celebrity sharing her battle with alcoholism while Elizabeth the interviewer must ask the tough questions then sit in denial of her own battle with the disease.

Elizabeth has written a book about her battle with alcoholism titled "Between Breaths: A Memoir of  Panic & Addiction."

Alcoholism is a disease. Abuse of alcohol causes chemical changes in the brain that ultimately lead a person to abnormal choices and actions. Those choices and actions can lead to hospitalization and/or death.

Yes, a person's personality will change over time due to alcohol. They've been "hijacked" by the disease. The disease uses denial to hide it's victim from the help and support that is within reach. Shame, humiliation and fear of the consequences keep an alcoholic in hiding, unable to reach out for the support that family and friends or even strangers can give. 

Alcoholics Anonymous

Elizabeth shares her story in hopes of helping others beat back the shame and denial of alcoholism. She wants those suffering from the disease to know that there's hope. Elizabeth knows where alcoholism leads and she lives her days now for her children and herself, in the open without hiding with faith in God and trust in the mindfulness of a day at a time can save a life; it's saving hers.

Listen or read Elizabeth Vargas story and if you see similarities in her story and yours, today is the day to take back your control, remove the veil and seek help. 

Cell Phone Apps available:

The thoughts and advice in this post are those solely of the blogger Raiderlegend and should not be attributed to Elizabeth Vargas or any organization mentioned.

Friday, September 09, 2016

San Francisco Giants 2016 Baseball Torture?

Yes Giants Fans, it's a different type of 'torture' this season.  The Giants coasted to a regular season best MLB record before the all-star break.  Ever since the break they've been the worse team in the majors. They can't hit when needed, pitch when needed nor defend when needed. The miracle working manager seems out of options and ideas. Losing teams are finding ways to beat them and winning teams seem to almost toy with them before sweeping or taking a series, two games to one. Road wins have become a rarity and home field advantage has turned into hopes of not getting embarrassed.

In short, the San Francisco Giants, though today still in the playoff race, are not your champion Giants of past even years of this decade. For all who think they'll turn it around and make a run for a fourth world series win in seven years I got news for you; that dog done got old and gimpy and just won't hunt.

What I find interesting is that many aren't talking about the competition level for the Giants in the first half of the season versus the second.  It seemed like they were feasting on the dregs of the league before the all star break.  Then after the break, when it came to facing the pitching and hitting of the big boys with winning records the Giants looked completely exposed.  

Sure there were injuries that hurt them. The Hunter Pence hamstring injury in June and the Joe Panik recurring back injury in July were huge blows to the heart of the offense and defense. All of a sudden double plays weren't a given, nor were moving guys around the bases with clutch hitting. It seemed the injuries took away more than just clutch players, it took chunks out of the teams' winning heart and soul.

It's September and the Giants have survived the dog days of summer thanks to their early season winning record against lesser opponents.  But now they're in the home stretch of the season and looking up at the Dodgers in the NL West division. You'd think they'd have turned up the juice and started lighting up the wins column as did those other Giants teams of recent even numbered years. 

Well folks, I've got a sad pill that we must all swallow in the coming weeks.  The Giants of today are not making it to the playoffs. They're a heartless, soulless team, without a prayer of turning this once promising season around. Losing games you should win, or close games over and over take a huge toll on a teams' belief in themselves. Hearts do get broken. I believe that the last Santiago Casilla blown save earlier this week was a gut punch that simply sucked away any air remaining in the drowning teams' lungs.  Oh they'll continue to gasp and claw away like a man stuck in quicksand, but with no signs of help on the way the end is inevitable.  Ever heard what it's like to actually go to your death in quicksand?

I think the classic French poet/novelist Victor Hugo describes it best in his short story "Caught in the Quicksand":
"The sand rises; the sand reaches his shoulders; the sand reaches his neck; the face alone is visible now. The mouth cries, the sand fills it - silence. The eyes still gaze - the sand shuts them; night. Now the forehead decreases, a little hair flutters above the sand, a hand comes to the surface of the beach, moves and, shakes, disappears. It is the earth-drowning man."

So now we brutally watch as the toll of losing playoff ground with each lost battle brings reality to the doorstep of our beloved Giants. Maybe, just this once, when the Giants are eliminated from the 2016 playoff race, the AT&T Park public announcer system will play Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco.".  We Giants fans love the song so because only Tony could sing about what it means to come home to San Francisco (win or lose).

My love waits there, in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me

Read more: Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco Lyrics | MetroLyrics