Thursdays With Raider: Fish Fries and Tartar Sauce



“Give a man a fish, and he’ll ask for fries and tartar sauce”.

-postmodern proverb

For nearly the entire basketball season, I have had this rather pessimistic mindset when it came to how this team would play.  Looking in the rear view mirror, perhaps it was the Sac State and Cal St Northridge losses early on that killed the mood.  I could write down something about how unusually optimistic people were about nearly beating Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, and the like.  But if you will forgive me for being self-deprecating, I am by nature and by the mere ebb and flow of my own personality not a very sunny and optimistic person.

The thing about being consistently glass half empty is that most people’s vision via rose colored glasses tends to grate on me.  Certainly, that siphons some of the enjoyment of life, because that person’s own happiness (and ultimately my own in this particular context) is entirely dependent upon outside circumstances.  So if any of you have had a few minutes to kill while you avoid doing work and read my thoughts in this little online feature, it’s rather obvious how I think about sports and even non-sports related topics and why I often go into sourpuss mode very quickly.  To put it another way, I was given a fish but wasn’t terribly grateful for it because I didn’t get the fries and tartar sauce.

So naturally, this recent run in the PAC-12 tournament by the Utes wasn’t quite as enjoyable for me as it was for a lot of other Ute fans.  Yes, we did get to the semifinal round and beat USC and Cal along the way, but where was that during the regular season games against them?  We aren’t exactly the first team to get a wild hair in a conference tournament, we probably won’t be the last.  Indeed, we improved based on last season, but shouldn’t there be at least some progress from winning a mere 6 games the year before?  Yes, the very close losses against Arizona and UCLA made some of you feel optimistic about the future, but I’m still of the “just win baby” school.  Or, as Mike Leach might have put it, “we lost a (expletive) game to the University of Arizona, and we could’ve won the (expletive)”.

As an aside, there is always that aspect of conference tournaments in college basketball that gets on my nerves where a team that doesn’t have a very good regular season can bail themselves out by getting on a roll in the conference tourney.  My issue with that is this: say you are the top seed in the conference and you lose to a lower seed in the opening round, a team you  already beat twice in the regular season.  Why should that team have to prove it a third time?  I know, the Utes benefitted from it, but that still doesn’t change my outlook on it.  I’ve had this question on my brain for a lot longer than last week.

But I have the sense that I’m going to be misunderstood on what my underlying cause for not being a huge fan of the Larry regime is, and at this point I don’t really care.  I was over Jim Boylen after Arizona full court pressed us out of the 2009 NCAA Tournament and truth be told, I would have been fine with Larry replacing Giacoletti.  You see, I have to work a little harder at not being so doom and gloom, so if all of you out there in radio land could just nail back the tail to my Eeyore-esque demeanor, I would appreciate it.

Hey, is it too soon to discuss the fact that Elvis Dumervil ended up a free agent because of improper use of a fax machine?  And to prove that I’m an equal opportunity rabble rouser, it’s entirely possible that if this happened to the Raiders while Al is still alive, every football fan from Fontana to Foxboro would be pointing and laughing at us.  Believe me when I tell you, that’s a horrible feeling.


Your mention of Tartar Sauce brings about a Spokane story.  When I was visiting the Lilac City to decide if I wanted to attend Gonzaga, after checking into a hotel I went and got something to eat.  I went to a bar down the street from my hotel and got a burger and fries.  When the waitress brought my food she asked if I wanted tarter sauce.  I asked back, why on earth would I want tarter sauce.  She looked at me puzzled as if to ask, why on earth wouldn’t you want tarter sauce.  If you haven’t guessed people eat fries with tarter sauce there.  Yes I find it offensive as well.

I’ve been going over my thoughts on this hoops season as I’m going to start reviewing just what happened.  But what I find remarkable is this.  Before the season there were people I thought knew things about basketball swearing we’d go .500 in the Pac-12, we were a lock for the NIT and if everything broke right, we’d be NCAA bound.  At the time I laughed at them, they told me I was an idiot and didn’t know basketball.  Now the story is we expected this to happen and that it’s clear things are awesome.

Larryism is a religion, don’t bring science into it.

I think there has been so much goofy surrounding Utah hoops that I’m not going to really believe, until we’re actually there, if that time comes.

The Dumervil thing is just one of those wow things.I don’t know what to say beyond. WOW, just WOW

So will Golden St., hang on and make the playoffs.  I ask because I’m considering taking on an NBA team for the playoffs and Golden St. always intrigues me.  Perhaps the Nuggets?  I don’t know of a better way to ease myself back into the NBA tub.

As for hockey, looks like my choice of being a Caps fans is turning out to be going not so well.

Why can’t I have nice things.

Question for you, since Dennis Erickson and the Air Express officially roll into town tomorrow, do you think he’d give me that scholarship he owes me?


Let me get to the Warriors for a moment because I think at this point it’s getting much more likely that the Dubs make the playoffs.  Friday night, the future wife and I went out and I made sure that I DVR’d the Warriors game that night against the Bulls, since the game was on NBA TV I wanted to watch it the next day after work.  I wasn’t expecting a win, since this is a team that 19 times out of 20 will lose to a team that has any sort of NBA title aspirations–so basically your Heat/Spurs/Thunder/Bulls/Celtics of the Association.

But during the second half where Chicago simply put the hammer down and blew the W’s out of the gym, the legendary and maligned Andris Biedrins sees action and eventually gets to the free throw line.  Remembering to this day how mad I was when he was drafted back in 2004 (as well as last year at Energy Solutions Arena where I witnessed Beans get moved out of the way by Derrick Favors leading to a Jazz victory over the Warriors), I mindlessly watched the first free throw attempt, which he made.  Then as I go over to the fridge to make some dinner, I see out of the corner of my eye Biedrins airball the second attempt.  Three years ago, I would have been in a bad mood for at least an hour.  Now that the Warriors are sitting in the 6th spot in the West and possibly facing a matchup with the Clippers in the first round, I can laugh about it.  Funny what throwing away part of a season to get Harrison Barnes will do.

Before you walk up to Erickson and ask him for some kind of scholarship, I must remind you of the story of a BYU fan who was so in love with his team that he begged and pleaded with the Internet to get him a job working for the football program.  While I don’t think that the two are as similar as I am making them out to be, it would be quite a conversation to overhear.

You: “Hey coach, remember that one time at the Cowboy Joe Club fundraiser when you said I could have a scholarship?”

Dennis: “Hoped that beer was cold, kid”.

Yesterday on Twitter, I commented on how so many Ute fans have this inexplicable hatred for Gonzaga.  But I think I pinned down the reason why.  Quoting one of my own tweets:

"I can understand why, though. Utah, back in the 90s, was “Gonzaga” before Gonzaga was “Gonzaga”"

Since you are the expert on both programs, I present this to you.  I think what made Gonzaga’s run over the years easier to distinguish is the fact that they became college basketball’s token Cinderella.  Now, certainly they aren’t now since they come here as a number one seed, but unless you want to include the Utes Sweet 16 appearance in 1991 as a Cinderella, more often than not, the Utes weren’t quite the underdog that Gonzaga was when they nearly went to the Final 4 back in 1999.

I ran across this article over at Grantland about how hockey fans are often a miserable bunch of people.  But fortunately it isn’t just you with your choice of the current incarnation of the Caps.  You could be my team, which this article reminds you of this:

“Because you’ve never forgiven them for causing you to know what color ‘teal’ is.”


Part of the Gonzaga hatred is over Ray Giacolletti.  As you may or may not know Mark Few and Chris Hill were very good friends.  When Rick departed Few was the first call Hill made.  Few politely declined and when Hill asked for recommendations, Few recommended Giac, who at the time had just take Eastern to their only NCAA tournament birth.

Now why this pisses off Ute fans I don’t know.  Because Hill essentially calls every other coach in the country.  Trent Johnson nearly took the job till Monty called and said he was leaving for the Warriors and the Stanford job could be his.  But no one else would take it.  We hate few because Ray Giacolletti was offered the Utah job after Majerus and he accepted it.  BTW, Giac’s treatment at the hands of our boosters some big name boosters was embarrasingly horrible.  That period was a black eye but not for the reasons people think.

The other part of the Gonzaga thing is exactly what your tweet said, we miss the lime light, the mentions on ESPN.  It’s why we’re trying so hard to convince ourselves that Larry is the guy.  We want it back so bad it hurts.

Finally, here is something to start putting your pennies away for.  The Super Bowl for the 2014 NFL season which takes place in Feb. 2015 is in Phoenix.  Since seeing a Super Bowl even a non-Bronco Super Bowl is on my Bucket List, and I assume yours.  The chance may not get better.


If you all don’t mind the correction in mid-stream, I would like to point out that Gonzaga’s famous Elite Eight run back in 1999 was head coached by Dan Monson, so if you all choose to attack either of our points that way, there you go.

Before you plan for Super Bowl XLIX, I would throw in the fact that the very next year will be Super Bowl L.  Bear in mind here that my dream for many years is for the Raiders to be good enough to get to that Super Bowl and win that game.  This was, of course, back when Tagliabue was still commissioner and Al was still alive, but to add fuel to this, there is a very likely possibility that said Super Bowl will be held at the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara.  Nothing would thrill me more than to finally win another Super Bowl title in their new stadium.

I will wrap my portion of this week up to get your thoughts on your other alma mater.  What do you say I organize this in bullet point form:

–Looking at the other teams in the Gonzaga half of the region, I would presume that they can and should beat everyone that comes their way through the Sweet 16.  Maybe a team like Wisconsin or the Marshall Henderson express worries you?

–Ohio State strikes me as a team in that region that might be what keeps them out of a Final Four spot.

–Here and there in this series of tubes, New Mexico is a trendy pick to make it to the Final Four, which is still hysterical to me.  I know, the Lobos had a very good year by just about anybody’s standards, but as an old Wyoming fan friend of mine used to tell me, the only way they could ever get to a Final Four is if they held the entire NCAA tournament at the Pit.

But at least we will always have Chris Hines.


Now I held the publication of this so we could see what indeed happened with Goznaga and New Mexico.  And I’m glad I did.

First New Mexico.  Really New Mexico?  I have two questions.

One has the intelligence level between two fan bases ever been larger than the New Mexico-Harvard game?

Two has a fan base ever been more arrogant about their basketball program for having done so very little?  I mean New Mexico has never been to a Sweet 16.  Mark Few who people call an underachiever, has been to four of them.  Plus UNM just gave Alford a 10 year deal.  The whole thing is amazing really.

As for the Zags, I know there is a lot of Zag hate out there.  But I will say I’ve seen them play like that before and bounce back nicely, so I’m only mildly concerned.  Second, if we’re looking past Wichita St., remember that Gonzaga worked Kansas St. already and I would expect to beat Wisconsin.  Although Marshall Henderson going wild would be something to see.

As for Gonzaga v Ohio St.  While there would be no shame in losing to Ohio St., don’t forget Gonzaga took Ohio St. to the wire one year ago, and that without Canadian Jesus Kelly Olynyk.  So knock on wood if the Zags get there, I don’t hate their shot.

As for a Super Bowl, mostly we should make a pledge, to attend one, together.  I think that would be cool.