Urban: World Series Live Playoff Blog, Game 2


Urban: World Series Live Playoff Blog, Game 2

Oct. 28, 2010

UPDATED: 6:51 P.M.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Born in this fine city, raised in its suburbs and now making my living here, I take a lot of pride in it. Right now, though, Im a little concerned about our national reputation.Not because of whatever Josh Hamilton might think he smells wafting in from the bleachers.Not because of the down-on-their-luck folk aggressively working corners not far from the ballpark before World Series games, pestering out-of-towners not for spare change but cold, hard greenbacks.Not even because of the disrespect we seem to get from anyone East of the Mississippi. You know they think were baseball buffoons, right?
No, Im concerned about the way the outside world might start viewing us because of the Fist-Pump Cam. It needs to stop. Like, immediately.San Francisco is ripping off Jersey Shore???? No. Sorry. I know that the fans seem to like it and get into it, and the lyrics are all-Giants, all the time.Just again. San Francisco, Jersey Shore.UPDATED: 6:18 P.M.A day after the pitchers duel that everyone expected went the other way, devolving into an 18-run assault on expert analysis, Matt Cain and C.J. Wilson are flipping the script in their own way in Game 2 of the World Series at AT&T Park.Both guys throw hard and arent afraid to work high in the zone, and that led to some pretty prevalent overnight opinions.Given the way the Giants banged the ball around Wednesday, it was safe to assume they might have a shot at feasting on someone like Wilson, who isnt exactly know for Maddux-like command.And given the Rangers reputation for using their power to punish anyone who dares challenge them repeatedly with fastballs, it was safe to assume there was at least the potential for a decent night against Cain.Uh, no. At least not thus far, through 4 12 innings. Both guys are commanding the zone beautifully, keeping the ball down for the most part, and keeping anything but zeroes from going up on the scoreboard. The pace is swift. The pitches are crisp. The defenses are sharp.Its the pitchers duel we didnt get from Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee.UPDATED: 4:30 P.M.As if the rest of the country needed another reason to be envious.Now these people, many preparing for a bitterly cold winter of drippingsqueegees for the windshield and calluses from shovels, have to sufferthe sight that is Baseball Heaven, Nor Cal Style, Non-Ticket-HolderCategory.Thats what McCovey Cove has become. Its a party, to be sure, but notjust on the water. Its a scene and a half on the walkway the doublesas an homage to both whats inside (plaques, statues, 10-cent views ofthe field, etc.), and outside (revelers not quite bold enough to hitthe water but more than bold enough to guard some sort of sentry aboveit.I spent a good 45 minutes before the game today before Game 2 of theWorld Series between the Giants and Rangers, checking it all out,camera in hand, and came away smiling at the fortune bestowed uponGiants fans. You cant tell me any other fans have this. A calm-water cove filledwith every assortment of sailor, from the blue-blazer-wearing old guyon the yacht channeling Ted Knight in Caddyshack to the hardy soulswho plunked down a days wages to struggle mightily, joyously in maidenkayak voyages.Its a blissful lot, and understandably so. Youre close enough to feelit, yet far enough away -- and with more than enough to occupy amomentarily troubled mind -- to minimize the sting should things goawry inside.Tickets to this thing are tough. The Cove is free if you choose to staydry, and it costs but a pittance, relative to scalpers prices, to getright down in there.In other words, its an officially sanctioned Place To Be.And theres still time to catch the late innings of Game 2 from the most unique perspective in the big leagues. Dont miss the boat.

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs


Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

OAKLAND – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night:

1. Back from the brink

The Raiders are still under .500. They face an uphill climb getting back into playoff consideration following a crippling four-game losing streak.

Still. 3-4 is a whole heck of a lot better than the alternative.

“Yeah, 2-5 did not sound good,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That made our stomach hurt. We wanted to come out here and get a big win. This is a big win. For our team, especially with the adversity we’ve gone through.”

The Raiders looked lost during their downturn, when a loaded offense averaged 13.1 points per game. They fell to 14th in the AFC and last in their division. Perceived strengths proved suspect. Everything was called into question.

If the Raiders were drowning, Thursday was that point in the movie where the hero reappears taking a huge, dramatic breath.

The Raiders are alive again, especially in beating the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. There’s work ahead to make it more than a really fun night, but Thursday proved their survival instincts are still keen.

“It felt good,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “I wish it would have happened a few weeks ago. We wouldn’t be sitting here like that. You all would have been talking like ‘OK, we’re on a run.' I’m glad to get things going.

“I told them today I was going to go out there and let it rip. I told some other guys to go out there and let it rip. This offense was trying to be too perfect. We had high hopes going into the season when we started, then we hit adversity. We couldn’t find a way to get out of there fast enough. Now we’re getting out of this, but we have to keep it going. One thing we have been doing is we’ve been working as hard as we do every week. It’s starting to pay off.”

2. Dormant volcano erupts

The Raiders offense was horrible four straight games. The season’s first two games proved what a loaded unit can do when functioning well, but those efforts got lost in a wash of bad play.

An MVP-caliber quarterback’s play was openly questioned for the first time. So was a bright young coordinator taking shrapnel for the team’s misgivings. Averaging 13 points per game will make a fan base an angry mob. The offense grossly underperformed, but raw talent didn’t diminish.

Production was hot lava, bubbling underneath the surface. It erupted on Thursday night, with the previously cautious Raiders offense opened up and consistently took yards in chunks.

In doing so, a lost offense may have found an identity, a fallback: The Raiders can flat out sling it.

Quarterback Derek Carr was throwing darts all over the field, completing 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 8.0 yards per pass play and, at times, threw people open or allowed receivers to make a play in tight coverage.

Pass catchers certainly did that. Amari Cooper had 11 catches for 210 and two scores. Tight end Jared Cook had six receptions for 107 yards. Michael Crabtree only had 24 yards, but snagged the game-deciding touchdown.

It felt and looked like the Raiders offense everyone expected each week, finally back on track. That was clear after Carr threw Amari Cooper a touchdown pass the first two drives.

“We struggled to do a lot of things over the last month,” Carr said. “To start fast, again I think that gives life to a team. That’s a sense of hope, which we always have and belief and those kind of things, but to start fast, it always just gives your team a little boost at the beginning that you have to have.”

In previous weeks, the Raiders were wound too tight. They strived for perfection and failed to attain anything close. They just let loose, and went for it. An offense with no TNT blew up, to the tune of six explosive plays.

“We got so many weapons, we got so many explosive athletes on our offense but just in these last four games that we loss we were just so out of whack,” running back Jalen Richard said. “It was little stuff here and there, technical, maybe a missed assignment here and there. Guys were doing their thing, guys were playing hard. We believed the whole game even when we got down a little bit. We pulled through and got the win.”

3. Return of the 2016 Raiders

Last season’s Raiders owned the fourth quarter. They generated seven come-from-behind victories last season thanks to offensive magic and timely defense.

That’s how they erased a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Kansas City. They never wavered, even in tough times. The defense provided opportunity. With two minutes remaining, the offense got it done.

Derek Carr orchestrated an 11-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Crabtree on the second straight untimed down brought on by defensive penalty.

That moment produced great emotion. It should’ve after completing one of the wildest comebacks in franchise history. The drive itself, however, was clinical.

The Raiders believed they would score. They expected it.

"There was no panic, or anxiety or anything like that,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “We were going to get the job done. There was never, ever any doubt.”

That’s exactly what last year’s Raiders did. On the regular. They couldn’t respond well to adversity in recent games. They found their magic on Thursday night.

Mark your calendars right now for Raiders-Chiefs 2.0 in December


Mark your calendars right now for Raiders-Chiefs 2.0 in December

In case you were asking, and you shouldn’t have been because this game deserves to be savored a bit longer, it’s December 10.
That’s when the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders play each other again, in case Thursday night wasn’t good enough for you.

You philistines.

And while there are some folks who won’t be happy (those who like the Chiefs or bet the Chiefs), there won’t be a more magnificently bizarre game this NFL season – because these two teams are exactly that.
The Chiefs, who two weeks ago were the best team in football as voted on by the instant punditocracy, made enough mistakes in the last two minutes of Thursday’s 31-30 defeat to lose 47-10.
And the Raiders did the same, capped off by Marshawn Lynch’s gloriously Oaklandish reaction to fellow citizen Marcus Peters’ late hit on Derek Carr – namely, “I got your rules and your respect for officials right here!”
But in the end – the glorious, bizarre, untimed end – the Raiders saved themselves from pre-Halloween doom, the Chiefs reverted to the team you can never fully trust, and the rest of the NFL can only shake its collective neckless head in wonderment at the power of the old American Football League.
Because that, ultimately, is what this was – a game out of time. This was a throwback game, all the way back to the mid- to late-60s, when the Raiders and Chiefs hated each other not out of historical duty but out of genuine solar-generated animosity. When they both played as though their cars were being looted in the parking lot, and when 750-yard combined passing nights were actually not that unusual. They were hell-bent then, and Thursday showed that they still have that bent in their DNA even now.
This was that era, played out in a way that old Raider and Chiefs fans can tell their grandchildren, “Now you’re sitting there scratching your head and all, but I’m telling you that used to happen all the time. You think Marcus Peters was bad? Google Ben Davidson on Len Dawson, little Tad.”
And it ended the only way it could for the good of the rivalry – with Oakland winning, and in the most staggeringly improbable way.
Not because the Raiders are more noble human beings or a superior life form from a time long ago, but because that December 10 game needs to mean something. The Raiders needed to win Thursday because losing meant their playoff hopes would be deservedly dead, and their remaining nine games would be reduced to competitive afterthoughts, and the year would be reduced to wondering why what should have been never came close to happening.
And the Chiefs needed to lose because running away with a division this difficult just seems wrong. There is nothing that says Kansas City isn’t better than Denver, or Oakland or the Fightin’ StubHubs, but it shouldn’t be this easy. The Patriots may have eaten the AFC East and spit the bones into a dumpster long ago, but the AFC West clung harder to its AFL roots than the East ever did.
And Thursday was the evidence required to show that, at least for the Chiefs and Raiders, the old days can be recreated with a keen eye for the most malevolent details and the most bizarre turns of fortune.
Call it nostalgia on crank – seemingly the only thing we have left that can bond the generations in these otherwise mean-spirited days.