Kelly on infield dirt: 'It feels like Hell'

September 11, 2012, 12:15 am
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OAKLAND -- Carson Palmer called it a "sweet" spin move, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.Coming up short of the goal line in the Raiders' exhibition against Detroit, Palmer hit the dirt with a thud in the left corner near the north end zone at Coliseum. And when he came up, he had nasty scratches along his rib cage and hip.The strawberries, though, were anything but sweet.At this time of year in Oakland, when baseball and football seasons overlap, it's an occupational hazard as the baseball infield dirt is still down. And with the A's threatening to advance to the postseason, the Raiders, who are guaranteed to play at least their first two regular season games on the dirt, would have a third game if the A's go deep in their playoffs.The wince from Palmer as he unveiled the injuries spoke volumes, but defensive tackle Tommy Kelly put a voice to the feeling."Feels like Hell," he said with a shrug. "Really, it's an uncomfortable feeling but you know, it's necessary. There's not too much you can do about it; you've just got to accept it. But I mean, it ain't fun at all."With the Miami Marlins getting their own baseball stadium this year, leaving Sun Life Stadium in their rearview mirror and the Dolphins having their football-specific facility back to themselves after sharing it since 1993, the Coliseum is the only baseball-football facility remaining. And the national television cameras will capture it all Monday night as the Raiders open the season against San Diego."I guess it adds to the authenticity," Kelly said with a laugh. "It's an old-school stadium, so it gives it that feel but trust me, we'll be happy when that dirt is gone."If the A's win the American League West and play host to a Game 7 in the ALCS, there would be a conflict on Oct. 21 as that is also the day the Raiders are scheduled to play host to Jacksonville."The dirt, man, it's one of those things you can't prepare for. It don't really hurt until you hit it, so you don't really think about it when you're playing. Sometimes you get up with a couple of scrapes, you look at it, and then you just go on to the next play."You definitely lose some footing a little bit in there. But the good thing about it is, they've got to run in it too, so it evens out."A few years ago, former left tackle Barry Sims told me about certain plays where he'd have one foot on grass, the other on dirt, as he lined up for the snap. Not the most comforting of situations.Rookie coach Dennis Allen remembered dealing with the dirt in an exhibition game when he was with New Orleans."You've got to take that into account," he said of the dirt. "Its no different than they talk about in baseball, understanding how the balls going to carom off the wall and being able to play those things. Its the same thing out there on the dirt."We know that were going to have to play on it, and not everybody plays on it. So, we want to try to use it to our advantage."