Sunday, October 30, 2016

Raiders Penalty-Filled OT Victory; Torture!

Oakland Raiders wide receiver #10 Seth Roberts runs 41-yards past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense for a touchdown during overtime in an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. The Raiders won the game 30-24. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

As a Raiders fan it was one for the ages. A game where the Raiders accrued more penalty yards (200) than the opposing quarterback did passing yards (168 ). A game where Raiders QB Derek Carr threw 40 passes for 539 yds and 4 touchdowns. No Interceptions! A game where tried and true veteran kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed two field goals that could have possibly ended the game; unheard of. It was a game of mistakes by Raiders coaching staff as offensive plays came in late and on-field personnel indecision added to the penalty bug.

The Raiders defense did an admirable job stopping the run and halting Buccaneer drives when we absolutely needed a stop, but the penalties at crucial times was painfully laughable. Khalil Mack did have one of his best games of the season with two sacks. But for the penalties, the defensive unit is improving.

It was a game where most Raiders fans watching the game thought there was no way they'd pull out the victory. And yet here I am, writing about one of the most improbable, unbelievable, zaniest road victories I've ever seen the silver and black pull off. If I was a betting man I'd had put the farm on the Buccaneers by half-time. The Raiders seemed to be moving the ball as many yards backwards as forwards thanks to all their penalties. And forget the referee conspiracies theories, these were legitimate, bug-eyed, caught-in-the-act-of-committing type charges that stuck.

Lucky for the Raiders they have a spectacular leader in Derek Carr who's definitely one of the top quarterbacks in the league. That many pass completions with zero interceptions? Unheard of in this day and age.  Amari Cooper, other than one out of character dropped pass, was money. Michael Crabtree gave the Buccaneers fits. Mychal Rivera and Donald Penn, yes offensive tackle Donald Penn, caught touchdown passes.  

And then there's #10 Seth; my boy Seth. Seth Roberts, who they say in the eight games he's caught a touchdown pass the Raiders have never lost. Who with 1:36 left in overtime caught a pass over the middle from Carr, took the sandwiching hit by two defenders, maintained his balance the way we know only Seth can do and dashed to the end zone for a 41 yard game clinching touchdown. Yes, that Seth Roberts. Pure Money!

Seth's touchdown was truly the climactic moment in a game full of thrills and agonies for us Raiders fans. You could say that seeing Seth cross the goal line was as emotionally draining as it was jubilant. Who watching could do anything more than give a hoarse battle cry growl, throw up their hands in triumph and then collapse exhausted on the spot. 

There are days when you watch your team play football and then there are days your football team plays you. Today my team played me like a drum for four-plus quarters and I loved every torturous second of it.

Just Win Baby!

Raiders 30
Buccaneers 24

"The fire that burns brightest in the Raider organization is the will to win" Al Davis

Cleveland Indians Take Charge In Chicago

With great pitching and greater hitting the Cleveland Indians silenced Chicago and their fans with a dominating 7-2 game 4 win. The Cubs needed this game to even up the series, but instead find themselves in a 3-1 World Series hole. 

It's been proven over and over again in these situations; great pitching beats great hitting. Indians ace starting pitcher Corey Kluber gave up five hits for only one run through six innings. Then pitchers Andrew Miller and Dan Otero allowed only two hits for one run to close out the Cubs and the game. 

Again, the national media appear to be favoring a team in a major broadcasting market, that is the Chicago Cubs. The announcers seemed at times almost as speechless and subdued as the Wrigley Field fans. When Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning to squash all hope of a Cubs comeback, the ensuing silence was as spooky as a black cat crossing your path on Halloween; in Chicago.  

Today the Indians have a chance to sweep the Cubs in Chicago and earn their first World Series championship since 1948. If you ask me the curses of Goats, Black Cats and Bartman are alive and well in the Windy City. Go Tribe! Just put'em out of their misery.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Raiders Win In Jacksonville; Stay In Florida For Tampa Game

The Oakland Raiders have earned their best season starting record (5-1) since 2002, the season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rained on their Super Bowl party.  After whipping up on the Jacksonville Jaguars with little effort, the team decided to stay over in Florida for the upcoming game against guess who? the Buccaneers of course. 

The Bucs are playing decent football, but might find the high scoring Raiders offense just too much magic to deal with.  The Raiders staying over in Florida for this game is a smart move that comes at just the right time.  That ugly home loss against Kansas City should be a distant memory when the Raiders return for their Sunday Night game against division rival Denver in Oakland on Nov. 6th. I expect to see a more mature and cohesive silver and black squad when they return home; a better team.

I keep hearing the players and coaches saying they just wanna keep getting better each week. I see that as the team not reaching their full potential yet. That can be a good thing or not so good. Can this coaching staff bring out the best in these players? Can the players play the schemes they're being coached to play? Can the team play a full game of dominant football that leaves no doubt in our minds that they've gotten better?  I'd really like to see some consistency from them in all aspects of the game. The defense has clearly gotten better, but against tougher opponents I don't know if their good enough yet.

One Raiders fan pointed out to me this weekend that what's missing is a big, fat nose tackle to give the Raiders defensive line more push and power, which will also help free up Khalil Mack. He said it's not happening this year and the Raiders will have to just outscore opponents in order to win. Sounds about right based on what we've seen this season so far.  

But you gotta give this Oakland Raiders team credit for they're consistency in winning. They're 5-2 with a chance to come home 6-2 and possibly play for sole possession of first place in the division. They didn't get it done for first place against Kansas City in that last stinking home game. Let's see if they can put together a nice two-game winning streak that'll prove the "keep getting better" motto isn't just media fluff. 

After seeing what the Broncos did to the Houston Texans this past Monday Night, I'm convinced that the Raiders must get better before they go up against the Broncos. If not, it can be another divisional disappointment and possibly lead to doubts in the minds of our young players. Winning sacks all doubts; Just Win Baby! Just Win.

Final Score
Raiders 33
Jaguars 16

Cubs Trying To Breach Contract With The Devil

Don't Get It Twisted Chicago; I Said 2 Every Other Century!
Just Who Da Hell Do You Think You Are, Cleveland?

Indians In 1901 Signed Deal For 2 Championships Per Century

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cubs Baseball vs College Football

How the heck do people not into sports get their weekend high? I hope it's legal. As for me, wow what a thrilling Saturday night of sports. 

The frick'in Chicago Cubs are in the World Series, after dominating Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in a decisive game 6 that wasn't even close. It's only been 71 years since they went to the Big Shew! I know (2)Ohio State and Penn State are playing a competitive football game, but it's been the (16)Oklahoma vs Texas Tech. game that's had me locked in most of the evening. 

When I first tuned in and saw the Texas Tech. quarterback #5, eluding rushers and slinging the football for miraculous completions, I thought Golden State Warriors MVP point guard Stephen Curry had returned to college and suited up in pads, helmet and cleats. 

Who is this kid? As of the end of the third quarter he's approaching 600 yards passing. 600 frick'in yards! He and his good-hands receivers have kept the underdog Texas Tech squad in the game. Every time the Oklahoma Sooners score against the porous Texas Tech. defense, the #5 curry look-alike returns and just finds a way to match touchdown for touchdown. His last was an end around option he smartly kept and ran in for a 20 or so yard touchdown. The kid is definitely a gamer with lots of heart and a never-say-die attitude. 

Oklahoma just scored again to make it 55-45 Sooners with 9:00 minutes left in the game. Just got the word, Penn State BEAT Ohio State 24-21. That is a shocker

Congratulations Chicago Cubs on your historic National League Pennant win. Good luck against the American League champion Cleveland Indians. 

Passing Stats:  52 completions on 88 attempts for 734 yards, 5TD

Texas Tech. quarterback and baseball season pitcher, #5 Patrick Mahomes II, baby face assassin junior, has just thrown another long touchdown pass for the Red Raiders to make the score closer; 59-52. He now has 655 yards passing with 4 touchdowns. And get this; opposing quarterback #6 Baker Mayfield has passed for 524 yards with 7 touchdowns. Just so happens that Mayfield quarterbacked the Texas Tech. team in 2013 before transferring to Oklahoma for the following season. 

If you love offensive football, and who doesn't, this is the game of the day. There go the offensive sparks flying again. another Sooners big play touchdown. Damn there's nothing like football; nothing like it!

Lest we forget to acknowledge Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon with 251 rushing yards for 2 touchdowns and a highlight reel one-handed catch and run for a touchdown. There's those sparks again, touchdown Texas Tech., 66-59. College Football..........Crazy!

Final Score
Oklahoma 66
Texas Tech 59

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Raiders Regress In Rainy Loss

A proverb about a battle during which the loss of a nail in a horseshoe leads to the loss of a horse, which leads to the loss of the rider, which leads to the loss of the battle, which in turn leads to the loss of a whole kingdom.

The Kansas City Chiefs out-played, out-coached and out-pointed the Oakland Raiders at the Coliseum today. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. Other than an impressive opening drive for a touchdown, setup by a kickoff returned to the 50 yd-line, the the Raiders looked as dreary and miserable as the wet weather that soaked everything in sight.

It was an ugly loss for the now 4-2 Raiders, who blew a huge opportunity to take over first place in the AFC West and at the same time distance themselves from the Chiefs. Instead, they're back to being tied for division lead with the Denver Broncos and have made the now 3-2 Chiefs appear to be the team with the most upside in the division.

It was obvious to everyone watching that not only was Raiders QB Derek Carr having a bad day, but the coaches were stuck in the mud with their play-calling and non-adjustments. After the Raiders opening drive score the Chiefs defense made adjustments and just like that they were forcing the Raiders out of their rhythm. 

The Raiders offense would not put together another dominant drive for the rest of the day. Instead, it was the Chiefs offense that kicked in and executed a short pass/running game that had the Raiders off balance and on their heels throughout the game. Credit Chiefs coach Andy Reid & Co. for studying their opponent well and exploiting a predictable Raiders game plan. Plenty of Chiefs redirection on offense and planned positioning on defense. For a team suffering from injuries they were productive.

"A man's got to know his limitations"
Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan

This was week 6 of the NFL and by now teams cannot use the "getting comfortable with one another" excuse. Today the Raiders defense struggled as bad as they did earlier in the season, maybe even more. Add to that the offensive struggles and you start thinking that maybe we've seen the best that this Raiders squad has to offer in 2016. If saying goodbye to those warm, sunny, summer day games means goodbye to that once powerhouse Raiders offense that's carried them to 4-2, then what we're saying hello to is another very embarrassing and disappointing season.

But I ain't saying goodbye to greatness just yet. I believe our offensive and defensive coordinators need to admit they're at a loss for how to position our players in a way they can execute plays with consistency. Today it seemed like they came armed with knives to a gun fight. That tells me there's a problem with planning and preparation. I can't blame the players, they're all looking game and showing that they have NFL caliber skills as they try desperately to carry out the coaches' game plan. But if that game plan appears inflexible and predictable to the opponent, guess what? time for a change in game plans and/or coaches.

You're 4-2 right now going into week seven Raiders. Your early season success, partly due to your never quit fighting spirit, has positioned you nicely in the division and conference. There's 10 games left in the regular season. Play like you've played to this point and perhaps with a lot of luck you'll end at 9-7 or 10-6. Fix what's not working, improve your plan and play and there's a good chance 12-4 is your reward. 

12-4 all but guarantees playoffs. But more importantly, 12-4 guarantees no more games like today. It guarantees you've overcome what ailed you today, rising above such illness to become deserving of AFC elite team status. It's gonna take reminding yourselves, your teammates and your coaches what works best for you to be great as a team. Then all the parts need to execute consistently without fear of fault or failure. 

Champions play with a cocky, confident character about them. Their championship pedigree is forged in the struggle with self to be great. Knowledge of their "greatness of self" gives them that cocky, confident character that champions come to play with. Look no further than the character of great Raiders teams past; Snake, Alzado, Ghost, Assassin, Marcus, Lester, Guy. All legendary players who individually were very very good, but together forged seasons of greatness.

So do what you gotta do Raiders to capture that Swagger of greatness; then trust each other to get this pirate ship streamlined and on to the promised land.  I see the greatness in you all just wanting to surface and shine. I need you to see it and believe that you can bring that greatness from the depths of your beings and have it demonstrated in your planning, preparation and play for game days to come. 

It starts with head coach Jack Del Rio. Coach, you've got some skilled war horses in that Oakland organization. Men who'll fight on as strong, for as long as you'll lead them. Their team greatness begins with you coach. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail properly placed. Guide them with the calculations of a Copernicus, knowing that the universe is ever shifting, ever changing, ever expanding. Be the change that you wish to see in them. Be great!
10/16/2016  Oakland Coliseum                                                             Photo By Raiderlegend

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

After watching the San Francisco Giants blow yet another save, and blow a chance to meet the Cubs in a deciding game 5 NLDS match-up, I'm more humbled than angry.  I never expected the Giants to make it to the playoffs after their historic collapse in the second half of the season. Once they miraculously made it in, I along with the rest of the orange and black clad fans, threw caution to the wind and jumped on board the Giants gravy train to the championship.

It was so easy to forget the Giants weaknesses that attributed to their losing a record number of games after the all-star break and barely making the playoffs. No weakness was more apparent in game 4 than the lack of a quality closing pitcher. The name Santiago Casilla has become like a bad omen around the Giants and no mention of him has been made during these playoffs. 

We should have known from game 3, after Sergio Romo blew the save and the game was rescued by a kid named JOE (Panik) in the bottom of the 13th inning, that our closing pitching couldn't hold up to playoff hitters. Talk about the "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" syndrome. We fans had simply let the playoff moment and wild card game magic impair our knowledge of this Giants teams' biggest weakness; closeout pitching

No need to go into game 4 closing pitcher analysis here. Suffice it to say that the Chicago Cubs simply took full advantage of a Giants weakness (closeout pitching) that reared its ugly head in the playoffs and begged to be whacked. Bruce Bochy must've known that the Cubs had seen behind the orange curtain and were licking their chops at every strike zone pitch thrown them in the 9th inning. By the time the fifth Giants pitcher of the inning was brought in (Hunter Strickland) the Cubs had tied the game 5-5.  

We and the Cubs all knew what to expect from Strickland; a hard fastball pitch with little movement.  Wham! a single up the middle. Another Cubs run on the board and a 6-5 lead that would stand. The Giants would see their even-numbered years of winning championships come to an abrupt end as it will be the Chicago Cubs moving on to the NLCS.

It's a hard pill to swallow as a Giants fan. Especially after pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat so many times these past playoff years. But, agony is what makes victory so darn sweet. I believe it's not the end of an era for the SF Giants but a new beginning. With all the young players that proved their mettle this season, the older veterans and fans can rest assured that the club is in good hands. Whether or not Bruce Bochy is considering relinquishing his command is something to keep an eye on.  It's been a magical six year ride and we Giants fans are thankful for all the memories.

Congrats Chicago Cubs! Now go make some Cubbie history and win it all. Tinker to Evers to Chance

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

SF Giants Unbelievable BELIEVEN

#12 Joe Panik

Down 2-0 in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs, the Giants tortured their home fans through 13 innings (5hrs) before #12 Joe Panik sent everyone home with a smashing hit off the wall that brought in the run for a walk-off win.

Trailing the Cubs 3-0 from a rare Madison Bumgarner homer given up to starting pitcher Jake Arrieta in the second inning, the Giants refused to concede the series to the Cubs so easily. Bumgarner settled in for five innings and the Giants battled back to finally take the lead in the bottom of the eigth with a Conor Gillaspie three run triple.  Gillaspie's hit off the impenetrable Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman was simply gargantuan. Chapman threw a 102mph fastball that Conor blasted into "triples alley" just over the outreached glove of the Cubs center fielder. It has already become one of those Giants baseball lore moments of October that seem to come every even year in the MLB playoffs.

But Sergio Romo had trouble closing out the in the top of the ninth, giving up a two run homer to tie the game 5-5. The two teams fought like heavy weight boxers in the late rounds landing jabs, hooks and uppercuts to their opponents chin but seeing their bloody and bruised opponent still standing at the end of the round. 

Then came the bottom of the 13th inning where a Brandon Crawford double acted as a body blow that brought down the guard of the stalking Chicago Cubs ever so slightly. Up comes Giants second baseman Joe Panik to the plate. Smokin' Joe, who'd go 3 for 4 on the night, saw an openning and landed a whopping shot that smacked the center-right field wall dropping the Cubs and sending home Crawford for the Giants winning run. It was a beautiful thing. 

Kind of reminds me of those old Don Cheadle commercials about all that can happen in 5 seconds of sports and the phrase "Average Joe"; "they took the name joe, and made it 'JOE'"

Today brings another round of history making moments as the two teams meet again in San Francisco, less than 24hrs after JOE dropped the Cubs. I'm sure both ball clubs are dog tired and feeling the bruises of last night's brawl, but their hearts ache for the future prize of a league championship. And so they must keep fighting, because that's what champions do; fight until there's only one man standing.   

Go Giants!

Final Score
Cubs 5
Giants 6

Monday, October 10, 2016

Raiders Earn Share of AFC West Lead

It was another Raiders game for the ages as the team battled gallantly for their first home win of the season. The Raiders beat division rival San Diego Chargers 34-31, and Raider Nation celebrated like kids at a circus.

It was a game full of exciting plays for both teams. The game also had its share of miscues, none bigger than the Chargers FG holder mishandling the snap in the final minutes of the game that would of tied it up and most likely sent the game to overtime.

These Oakland Raiders no doubt know how to finish a game. With the win they're now 4-1 and share the division lead with the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

Despite the at times struggling defense and running game (minus Latavius Murray), I saw individual Raiders step up and make plays throughout the day. Carr Crabtree Cooper & Company, Richard, Washington & Olawale, McGee Riley & Joseph, Janikowski & King. 

The O-Line and D-Line had their hands full as they plugged in and adjusted for injured players. When the Raiders D-line begins to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, that's when the rest of the defense will become shutdown. Coaching/Play calling was decent. Utilizing the short pass to running backs out of the backfield was huge early in the game.But I still see too much conservative play calling at crucial times.

Another NFL gameday, another opponent bringing their 'A' game, and another electrifying Raiders win.  Again, not all of it was pretty, but we're in it for the wins and not the compliments. Next up another division rival comes to the Coliseum to test the will & endurance of the Raiders.
News Flash Kansas City Chiefs; the autumn wind is once again a swaggering Raider, pillaging just for fun. Come and get some!

Final Score
Chargers 31
Raiders 34

Friday, October 07, 2016

Giants Win; Mets Play Violin

And this is how I knew the San Francisco Giants were gonna beat the New York Mets. For as beautiful sounding the instrument that is the violin can be, its sound can give something of a defeated, crying surrender to certain sporting events. Kind of like a pleading to the sports gods for mercy.

The New York Mets, hosting the NL Wild Card Game, gave world renown violinist/conductor Itzhak Perlman the honor of performing the national anthem for the start of the game. Obviously, Itzhak is a Mets fan, though born in Palestine/Israel. Dressed in full Mets gear, the violinist began a solo rendition of the battle field anthem and immediately it seemed to me that the Giants would break the hearts of every Mets player and fan on this night.  Itzhak was merely "playing out the string"to delay what the baseball gods had already proclaimed inevitable; a SF Giants victory.

Come'on Mets, you put a musician out there from the tribe of one of the most suffering peoples of all times to play an instrument that is associated with foretelling the coming of doom & disaster, and you're shocked you lost?  Sorry Mets, but you sealed your wild card fate the moment Itzhak put chin to instrument and began stroking on the heartstrings of the baseball gods until they wept with guilt. For they already knew what had been prophesied for this sports event.

Final Score
Giants 3
Mets 0

note: Fri. Oct. 7, 2016  NLDS Game 1 -  Giants vs Cubs  6:00PM PST

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Win A Date With Da Cubs

Wed.   Oct. 5, 2016   Citi Field    Queens, NY    8:00PM EST

The stakes are mighty high. Only one team will advance to face the Cubs in Chicago on Friday. In a one game playoff anything can happen. A game can turn on one play or misplay. It truly becomes a game of inches and milliseconds. Usually, its the team exhibiting the most patience and poise who comes out victorious. But there's more unusual than usual in this here match-up. 

The Mets are the orange haired stepchild of a Giants team who bolted from New York in 1958 for the golden gate of the west. Their blue and orange uniform colors are a combination of the two teams that left NY for the West that year; the Giants and Dodgers. The Mets are still looked down on by many as the little brother to the mighty New York Yankees organization. Regardless, they've managed to build a winning history of their own with some great players since entering the league in 1962. Who can forget the Amazin' Mets of 1969? 

This Mets team also just happen to be the 2015 defending National League champions, and as the saying goes; "if you wanna be the champ you have to beat the champ." The Giants are the NL Champs from the previous 2014 season, and may I add the last NL World Champion.

Other than just going out and playing their butts off like there's no tomorrow, because really if you lose there is "No Tomorrow," no special formula exists for winning a one game playoff. It's just two teams stepping up to the plate and giving everything they've got.

Its East Coast versus West Coast. Tony Bennett versus Frank Sinatra. Sourdough versus Nathans Hotdog. Golden Gate versus Brooklyn Bridge. Fog versus Smog. It's the Giants versus the Mets in the 2016 National League Wild Card Game. Where else would you wanna be other than watching this one.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

SF Giants Sweep Dodgers To Secure Wild Card

Congratulations Giants! I Was Wrong. 

The San Francisco Giants somehow eked their way into an MLB playoff round. Granted, it's a short round of one wild card game that could turn their Orange October into a deflated Halloween pumpkin quicker than you can sing take-me-out-to-the ball-game. But with this being an even year they have a shot.

That shot came courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who came into the Giants ballpark this weekend and got out-dueled 19 runs to 4 in a three game sweep. Giants pitchers Bumgarner, Blach and Moore held the bums in check with 7, 8 & 8 innings of playoff ready pitching to go along with 5 hits among the three.

The Giants look to be ready to take on the Mets in New York on Wednesday. They've earned a shot at another championship parade down Market street, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. One game at a time. New York, get ready; here come Bochy and the boys from the Bay with one heck of an October pedigree. And they're hungering for a huge bite out of the Big Apple.  

In the infamous words of that hilarious presidential nominee who promises to give us everything except his tax returns; It's Gonna Be Great!

Raiders Go To 3-1 With Win In Baltimore

Yes they did! The Oakland Raiders went into Baltimore and got it done against a tough Ravens  Defense and an inspired Joe Flacco led offense.  Oakland is now 3-1 as they come back to Kalifornia for two games against division rivals.

This week's win was impressive on many levels. The defense seems to have learned how to play together, finding their strengths, and the offense, led by a poised quarterback in Derek Carr, continues to put on a show. Carr to Crabtree led to three electrifying touchdowns. Michael Crabtree is a frick'in Beast!

My Oakland Raiders have found the formula that not only keeps them in tough games, but puts them in position to finish off formidable opponents. The Ravens were game, but the Raiders were committed to finding a way to win.

It's a beautiful thing to see, watching your team continue taking steps each week toward improving and competing.  The Oakland Raiders have begun living up to all the off-season expectations that pinned them playoff contenders.  There's still three-quarters of the regular season left to play. I expect to see more improvement and greatness out of this Raiders squad; they've definitely got the winning formula tucked away in their pocket.

Just Win Baby!

Final Score
Raiders 28
Ravens 27