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Archive for October, 2012

Missed oportunities

Tuesday night, after the A’s had won the second of the three games they needed to take the AL West title, I said to myself, “I really should take a day off work and go to the game tomorrow. It’s a day game after all and it has the potential to be one of the greatest games in A’s history.”

I vividly remembered 10 years ago making a similar decision for games 19 and 20 of the 20 game win streak. On a “I really want to be there” whim, I got my wife in the car and drove down there. It was great stuff! Frankly, it was the most memorable sporting event I ever went to.

I haven’t been at any of the great Cal Bears wins of my life (’82 Big Game, 2003 USC game), although I’ve been to some pretty electric wins too (2002 Big Game, 2006 Oregon, 2007 Oregon). But those great games Cal games I was at, are a tier below the truly iconic and electric ones, the ones that only come a few times in a lifetime. The ’82 Big Game was that sort of game. Game 20 was that sort of game. And yes, yesterday’s A’s game was that sort of game.

And since I was there for game 20, so I know EXACTLY what I missed.

But 10 years ago it was just me and my wife. We didn’t have 4 kids. And as I’ve found out, it’s not just taking care of the kids that limits one’s options, it’s also the commitments you make to support the kids. On Wednesday afternoon I was teaching two classes at Church, one for each of the two eldest kids. So it wasn’t even just about finding someone to watch the kids, it was about a commitment I made to the Church to teach those classes.

There was just no way I could go to the game.

Fast-forward to 4:15 PM, I’m driving into the parking lot at Church to prep for the 4:30 class and the director of the Faith Formation department is out in the parking lot putting up a sign:

“Classes Cancelled due to power outage”

It turns out that the construction crew that is adding some more classrooms to the campus accidentally put a backhoe through the power lines. Oops!

Thus it turns out I could have gone, had I anticipated the accident (which happened mid-afternoon). ARG!?!

Of course, I wouldn’t trade my children for the freedom to go to a game like that. Just as I’m grateful for the sacrifice my parents and their parents before them made so that I could live my life, I’m more than willing to make those sacrifices for my children. The window of idylic, youthful freedom is a great time, but it only lasts so long. I’m grateful that during that time, I was able to go to an iconic game like Game 20. Not long after that, it was time to put aside such things and take on the mantle of parenthood, with it’s great joys, and it’s responsibilities. I’m a better man for it.

But I’m still disappointed I didn’t get to go yesterday. πŸ™‚

Can someone be both a A’s and Giants fan? Cal AND Stanford!?!

Peter Hartlaub of the SF Chronicle is a Giants fan, but went to the A’s game yesterday and considers himself a fan of both (yet primarily a Giants fan). He wrote an article about it:

The rules of regional sports are much more flexible to me.

My favorite teams are the Giants, 49ers and Cal. When their interests don’t intersect β€” which is about 95 percent of the time β€” I also want good things to happen to the A’s, Raiders and Stanford.

Frankly, I’m mostly with him for the pro Teams. I’m an A’s fan first, but I don’t dislike the Giants and will root for them when it doesn’t affect the A’s. Same with the 49’ers, when they’re not playing the Raiders.

But obviously it’s VERY different when it comes to Stanford. Only time I don’t root for the Pac-12 to win the Rose Bowl? When Stanford is in it. Only team I don’t root for to beat USC? Stanford.

So I asked myself, what is it that makes Stanford different? A few possibilities:

  • I’m a biggest fan of the Bears, thus the other team is less desirable: Perhaps this is a factor. My next team would be the A’s and it is the Giants who would be 2nd on my dislike list, if i had to rank them. But it’s so wholly different this doesn’t account for it.
  • Other Bears fans feel strongly, more so than the A’s or Raiders fans: Eh, not sure about this one. Raiders fans generally hate the 49’ers. A’s fans are not as bad. Nevertheless there might be a factor here.
  • They’re in the same league: Now this one makes a lot of sense. A’s and Giant’s are really competition for each other until the World Series (only happened once). Same for the Raiders and 49’ers (never happened). But Cal and Stanford play a meaningful game every year AND the other games we play affect each other too. This one seems like it makes a big difference.
  • College is different than pro: This makes a bit of sense too. One of the things I like about going to Cal football games is the sense of ownership is MUCH higher than the pro teams. Too many pro teams have left too many towns for pro-fans to not have just a tid-bit of distance from their favorite team. Pro teams are a business and fans are just part of the bottom line. Not so with college sports. Cal football isn’t going to relocate. The goal of the team is to build up the University. One that many of the fans went to. The level of commitment is unparalleled. Thus by corollary, fans of the other teams are further away and more adversarial.

Those last two reasons seem most accurate to me. What do you guys think?

Let’s go Oakland!

My first team was not the Cal Bears but the Oakland A’s. Having been born and raised in Oakland, I am both a Raiders fan (although that was temporarily crushed in the 80’s) and an A’s fan. With the Raiders out of town when I came of age and the A’s doing quite well, it was the A’s who first caught my attention as a budding sports fan.

Over the years, my primary team has become the Cal Bears, but the A’s have always held a special place in my heart.

That’s why I take great joy in seeing them in the playoffs again. AGAIN it’s with a rag-tag group of players who were never supposed to amount to anything. AGAIN they did it with a strong 2nd half of the season.

Let’s hope, now that the playoffs are upon us, I don’t have to use any of the “AGAIN”s that are needed during playoff season… unless the year is 1989.

And yes, I’d LOVE to see another Bay Bridge series.

But first, I want to see two more wins to take the division from Texas. Or at least one so they’ve got a better shot at having the wild-card game at home.

More on my thoughts: Is Tedford REALLY ‘mailing it in’?

We got a link over here this morning from CGB, specifically in regards to my comments that I’m starting to lack sympathy for Tedford, feeling like he might not be trying any more. Because it is a fairly inflammatory statement, I want to clarify a few things:

My lead in was “I’m not so sure I feel sorry for Tedford” and it was in my post titled ‘Off the rails’, so I definitely want to be clear that I’m unsure exactly what I think and it was what was on my mind at the time, in a time of frustration. I announced a couple months ago that this blog was going to be less careful in justifying everything I think and more just a brain dump of what’s on my mind.

Now that it is Monday morning, I must say, it’s both still on my mind and perhaps too harsh. This is one of the positions I’m considering. It may be true, it may not be. Definitely Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning I was leaning more towards that position than I am now.

At the same time, I think it is at least a defensible speculation, based on the following evidence:

  • Interview demeanor. Watch the various post game interviews and look at his demeanor. I’m not seeing a guy who is particularly frustrated or upset. He seems downright non-nonchalant to me. Remember that I have interviewed him in person myself, so I have some insight into what he looks like when he’s upset. To be clear, I’m not talking about his words. I very much understand Tedford not wanting to over-react with what he says. That won’t help his team. He purposely hides as much as he can so as to protect the team and get a competitive advantage. But I know from personal experience that he’s also not particularly good at hiding his emotions, and I’m not seeing it here. Maybe he’s just gotten much better at hiding his emotions?
  • Lack of sideline conflict. During the S. Utah game and the USC game, we saw some emotions boiling over on the sideline from Tedford. I haven’t watched the TV footage of the ASU game but from the stands Tedford looked awful calm Saturday.
  • Overly conservative decision making. This is one that is difficult to judge. Tedford has always been conservative and one shouldn’t be too surprised when he stays that way. But something in me says it is even more conservative than before. Or at a minimum he doesn’t seem to be recognizing that the time for over-conservative decisions is quickly reaching an end if he wants to keep his job.
  • Lack of changes to the team. This is everything from personnel changes like including Bigelow, different options on the offensive line and seeing more youth getting playing time generally, to changes to the play-calls and scheme adjustments. I don’t expect to see a massive overhaul of the team in week 5, but I expect to see SOMETHING… and I’m seeing nothing.
  • Lack of fire in the team. The team I saw play Saturday looked uninspired. They didn’t seem very motivated. That reflects the coaching staffs attitude, at least to some degree. There were moments when the team seemed to play with passion, but overall, it was a very uninspired performance.

Could all of those be explained away? Yes. It’s possible Tedford is (foolishly, but whole-heartedly) focusing on the team being calm. He could be more worried that the team will implode due to over-emotion, not lack of emotion, and so he’s trying very hard to keep an even keel. I disagree with that approach, but as I said in my original post, I care more about effort in whether I like a guy than I do ability. It could be that Tedford just doesn’t have that ‘it’ factor when it comes to team chemistry. I’ve accused him of that before and when I feel that’s the case I feel sorry for him, not upset with him.

But deep down inside, that’s not what my gut is telling me. The vague and difficult to read factors say to me I’m looking at a coach that may just be playing out his hand instead of digging deep to find something new.

And to be clear: I don’t think he’s not trying at all. I have no doubt he shows up every day to do his job. But so do I, and I don’t make $2.5M. For that sort of money I expect exceptional levels of commitment, particularly when things are going poorly.

To complete the ‘compliment sandwich’, Tedford has plenty of time to proof me wrong, I haven’t written him off yet. I will gladly recant these thoughts if I see any of the above things changing or am given any reason to think he’s trying his hardest. I have a long history of liking Tedford and don’t like that his is what I’m thinking.

I very much WANT to be wrong about this.