A PLEDGE TO ALLEGIANCE: THE STATE OF THE FAN

Part I — The Oakland Shuffle

After my brief hiatus, it’s seems to be somewhat of a slow period in day to day sports.  So I decided to focus on fandom for a bit.  Most notably the rivalry between teams from Northern and Southern California.  Today provides an in-depth examination of the Oakland..…Wait L.A…..nope I meant Oakland Raiders.  Unfortunately, if you are living in the Bay Area we are blacking out this post, as no Raider television has ever actually been locally broadcast.

Last week I watched as the Sharks locked up the 7th seed in the playoffs by beating the LA Kings twice in the final games of the season.  The games were marred with fights, cheap shots, and the play of the year, where Ryan Clowe deflects the puck, FROM THE BENCH!  Ryan Clowe you are a hero.  Watching the game brought back all kinds of memories of my NorCal roots and the feeling towards our SoCal neighbors, most notably in the art of sport.  In reality, the rivalry of north and south actually seems to extend further to all aspects of life:  The lifestyle, fashion, music, sports, even politics.  Just watch Chinatown, L.A. stole our water!  OUR WATER!!!  Channeling NorCal speak, “That was Hella weaksauce.” Before I perpetuate the battle and begin my story, we’ll take a moment and look at the two sides in terms of sports.

Giants/Dodgers, 49ers/LA Rams, Raiders/Chargers, Warriors/Lakers, even Earthquakes/Galaxy gets a little heated.  Growing up watching the Sharks scrap in the Tank with the LA Kings was one of my favorite events of the year as “Beat LA” was a rallying cry for 2 solid hours.  Last year a man was almost beaten to death after a Giants Dodgers game, that the Dodgers WON.  Suffice to say, the two regions do not care much for one another.  So I wanted to explore this underlying sentiment by looking at the supposed pride of the East Bay:  Your Oakland Raiders and their flip-flop relocation between the two rival regions of California.

My choice of topics may have been sparked by the Raiders recently suing Nation’s Hamburgers, one of my all-time favorite burger joints.  We all know The RollingTide is always un-biased, accurate, and true.  So never one to shy away from controversy, I’m going out on a limb with this one as many of my friends remain die hard members of the Raider Nation.

It is absolutely incomprehensible how any rational person can remain an Oakland Raiders fan.  It’s inexcusable, intolerable, downright insanity.  It’s lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous!

But before you torch me, allow me to explain in terms of an allegorical tale regarding a friend of mine from NorCal named Alameda.

Our protagonist Alameda found the love of his life in Jennifer White Baby, or as she liked to tell everyone -Just Win Baby.  The two had a wonderful relationship and flourished in the 70’s and early 80’s.  Over time though, Alameda found J.W.B.’s eyes wandering and a sense of distrust developed.  This culminated one day when Alameda came home to find an empty house with nothing but a note that stated:

“Alameda, it’s been great, but remember your sworn enemy Compton?  I’m actually in love with him, moving in with him, and we’ve been cheating on you for the last year.  Even though an injunction was filed prohibiting my move and was denied by a 22-0 vote by our friends and family, I’ve decided to sue and will be moving anyway.  Additionally, I took your dog and the toilet is clogged.  I hate you.  — J.W. Baby”

Alameda was devastated, distraught, and lost.  With the love of his life gone the future was bleak at best.  His only saving grace was his roommate Atleticos and their beautiful backyard view of the Berkeley Hills.  Over the years Atleticos actually developed into a phenomenal friend, particularly during the late 1980s. One day Alameda came home and found another letter from an acquaintance named Francisco:

“Alameda, I know we aren’t exactly friends.  I know we have somewhat of a rivalry and that we don’t particularly like each other.  I just want you to know I too share some bad blood with Compton and some of his friends down south.  I also know that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  You’re welcome anytime to this side of the Bay, just bring Caesar salad and wine, we don’t do dogs and beer.  – Francisco”

Alameda, while conflicted, realized that he didn’t have to love, even like, Francisco.  However, they shared a common mutual bond of ill will towards their neighbors.  I mean even the U.S. and UK needed the Soviets.  So the two sides began to co-exist.  Although in 1989 Alameda made the mistake of introducing Atleticos to Francisco and the world exploded for a few minutes.  Some people just don’t get along.

One night around 1994 Alameda received a drunken text from J.W.B. wondering how he was doing, if he ever thought of her, and seeing if she could stop by.  Atleticos didn’t seem to mind and Francisco was too ingrained in illegal gambling, so they set up a meet.  After a long conversation the two decided to give it another shot.  Only problem was J.W.B. had some demands.  First, Alameda would need to remodel his entire house, and most notably, build a huge wall in the backyard essentially blocking all views of their beloved Berkeley Hills.  J.W.B. would pay $10/month in rent, while all food and maintenance would be paid for by Alameda.  Furthermore, Alameda would actually finance the entire move from Compton’s home.  All additional expenses would be financed exclusively by Alameda and his friends and family.  It was a ridiculous contract by any and all standards.  Yet both sides agreed to terms and the world forever changed.

Unfortunately, the only true victim was Atleticos who became another example of collateral damage.  Having been somewhat forced into the remodel over time he came to realize their new home was now ridiculously large, the worst on the block, and empty all the time.  He tried to move out on several occasions, but could never find a place to live.  In a cruel twist of fate, Francisco actually blocked a potential move for Atleticos to a start of the art house, built by his friend Jose.  Francisco felt it was much too close to his pad and that it would cramp his style.  So while Francisco flourished, Alameda and Co. were in utter disarray for years and no one was even remotely happy.  At least Atleticos had a magical run for a short period of time, a movie was made, but even that had a somewhat sad ending.  For Alameda it was like Les Misérables, only without any signs of retribution or transcendance.  It was just plain miserables.  The End.  Roll credits.

Lets re-cap:  Girlfriend leaves boyfriend for sworn enemy.  Girlfriend realizes new boyfriend isn’t what he’s cracked up to be, decides to move back in with old boyfriend while citing ridiculous demands.   Boyfriend caves and pretty much plays dead.  After a forced remodeling, roommate realizes house is the worst in the nation and while scraping by, can’t leave because there is nowhere to go.  Boyfriend and roommate begin to hate each other and most of all J.W.B.  Everyone loses, and over time all become virtually irrelevant.  Sound about right?

Ladies and gentleman, your Oakland Raiders.  Screw ’em, Sue ’em, Dine and Dash.

So I put it to you – In this scenario, could you in good conscience actually let this transpire?  Can you honestely tell me that if Art Modell had tried to move the Baltimore Ravens back to Cleveland, they would have welcomed him with open arms?  The Baltimore Colts evacuated team offices in the middle of the night to avoid an eminent domain seizure proposed by the state of Maryland.  You think Baltimore fans would take a ‘We’re here if you need us, take as much time as you need’ mentality?  Would Oakland, with some of the most loyal and ferocious fans, allow a team to return from their regional enemy?  The answer:  YES.  And we’re going to do it all while wearing Darth Vader masks and sitting in a section that personifies our team and outlook on the future:  The Black Hole.

Gotta love them Raiders.  Just Win Baby.

Roll Tide.

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