Pryor: 'On to the next one'
Let’s start with the best news from Sunday’s Raiders-Jaguars game: Neither end zone was marred by cleat marks before Monday’s Angels-Athletics game, and the areas inside both 30-yard lines were freer of pockmarks, gouges, divots and body parts than usual. Why, A’s groundskeeper Clay Wood grimaced a little bit less than as he took the field to begin triage and repair on the grounds that so offend Raiders owner Mark Davis.
This is important, because despite the football team’s 19-9 win over Jacksonville Sunday, the Raiders will not be more important than the A’s for another month or so. Los Elefantes just put another hobnailed steel-capped boot in the exposed privates of the Texas Rangers, and will have to go on a straight nitrous-oxide diet in the next two weeks not to win the AL West.
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The Raiders, on the other hand, eked out a win over a Jacksonville team that has been spectacularly overvalued by anyone who did not list the Jags as the single most god-awful team in football. Terrelle Pryor may be more fun than a bucket of electrified eels when he runs the football, and Darren McFadden may have relocated his groove, but the gentlemen cannot be comforted by the fact that they scored one touchdown all day, and that on their first possession of the game.
Then again, we don’t wish to be harsh or unfair. We all thought the Raiders were the worst team in football, and as of this moment, they are tied for ninth, and if you use point differential as a tiebreaker, 11th.
That’s roughly 19 spots better than anyone thought them capable, so we’ll chalk it up to microscopic sample size and galactically wishful thinking.
So to draw conclusions of either future glory or pending disappointment now are wrong. Also, irrelevant. The Coliseum is where the baseball team plays, first and foremost and until further notice, which means that the most important performer was the ground itself.
Thus, as Wood raked, tamped, vacuumed, pounded, stabbed and repositioned the chunks of turf deracinated by the sprightly feet of the Raiders and leaden hooves of the Jags, he thought of all the other times he has had to do this in his career, and surely thought, “This is way better than usual.”
Of course, this was before the outfield seats were shoved back behind the outfield walls to reveal the crunchy rutted brown-ness beneath. That is always the most obvious sign that football has been perpetrated, and it will look that way no matter how long the A’s last in the postseason.
The Raiders host Washington five days before the start of the AL Division Series, and San Diego between Games 3 and 4. Then they are nowhere to be found during the AL Championship Series, and host Pittsburgh while Game 4 of the World Series is being played in the National League city.
And in case of the only real conflict, the San Diego game, the A’s get first call because they would be playing the more important game.
Which is the point here. The Raiders have many kinks to work out between now and the end of baseball season; in the immortal words of head coach Dennis (Funtime) Allen, “Overall, I thought it was sloppy. I don’t think it was up to the standard we want, and there’s a lot of things we have to continue to work on to continue to get better at and improve on.”
Like run-on sentences that include eight prepositions and end in one, to cite but one example.
But by avoiding the end zone all but the one time, and staying outside the 20s for all but 18 of the 123 plays, the Raiders did the best they could to minimize the damage they could wreak upon their very good friends and co-tenants upstairs.
And for those of you who believe in the Raiders so much that you think staying outside the red zone so much was a deliberate act, there is still the Washington game to prove their intentions. After all, Mark Davis wants to be known above all else the way his father was – as just a good neighbor and a friend to baseball.