This Weekend's Best Bets: Father-Son Oakland Raider Weed Smoking Scalpers Edition
At this point, when it comes to my weekly picks, I've been abandoned by all my family and friends and I'm basically rubbing two sticks together in the middle of the woods.
I have no answers, and if last week was the week you finally decided to go opposite of my picks because it was "the right thing to do" (inarguable, mathematically), then my only counter is "What the hell took you so long?"
excuse reason I can come up with is that I've been traveling the first five weekends of the NFL season and maybe I was a little distracted. Lamest reason ever, but I'm grasping for straws at this point.
Well, good news, kids! This weekend, I'm staying at home! So maybe, just maybe, I pull off a miracle and go 4-2 on my picks.
In the meantime, before I unveil this week's dance card of prognostication sadness, I have to share some loose ends from last weekend's trip to the Bay Area for the Texans-49ers game:
1. First, just a general observation on the Texans' 2013 schedule. If you're a fan who likes to road trip with the team (and by all indications, that is a group that is growing like crazy), I don't know that the schedule for a particular season could lay out much better than this one. It's due in large part to this being a season where not only do the Texans cross over with both the AFC West and the NFC West (next time it happens, 2025), but they happen to catch roadies to the best cities in each of those divisions. San Diego and San Francisco are two of the top five cities to visit in the entire country, for any reason. Add in football, and it's a lock. I think approximately 92.3 percent of the reason I love those cities so much is that the weather is so nice that you don't feel any self-loathing in drinking all day long, because you're able to do it outside. Being outdoors increases the acceptableness of an activity tenfold. This is a fact. So...DRINK!
2. For a handful of reasons (flight schedules, San Francisco hotels being like five billion dollars a night), we flew into and home-based out of Oakland. Not a big deal as mass transit and an underratedly easy highway system (especially for California) make the Bay Area very navigable, and getting across the Bay ten miles to San Fran was a piece of cake. One observation on Oakland -- as gorgeous and upbeat as San Francisco is, Oakland is every bit as heinous and depressing as people tell you. The one thing that amazed me about Oakland is that you couldn't go 50 yards without seeing a building or a sign or a parked car without graffiti sprayed all over it. The entire city is painted up with curse words and gang signs of every imaginable size and font. Basically, Oakland is the Aaron Hernandez of American cities. (San Fran had its share of ink as well, but it was more Birdman Andersen than Aaron Hernandez -- more colorful, more upbeat, more lovable.)
3. Following up my Oakland observation with an Oakland story:
So the Texans are trailing the 49ers 31-3 early in the third quarter, and quite frankly, it didn't even feel that close. Normally, it'd be pretty depressing to travel so far to see your team get destroyed so swiftly, but San Fran is a great city and "bucket list" and what not. Also, because of a quirk in the NFL's schedule last weekend, because of the Oakland A's and playoff baseball sharing the Coliseum with the Raiders, the Raiders-Chargers game had to be moved to an 8:30 p.m. local time kickoff in Oakland, which meant that if you were really ambitious (and you were in the Bay Area), you could potentially catch two live NFL games in one evening, since the Niners and Texans kicked off at 5:30 p.m. local time.
Since the opportunity to do that might not ever happen again in league history (two games on the same day, maybe, but the same night?), and since the Texans were getting destroyed, me and my girlfriend Amy had to give it a shot. So we hopped on the BART train, which happened to dump us off back in Oakland right across the street from the Coliseum.
The game was in the middle of the first quarter when we arrived on the premises, and obviously we didn't have tickets. Appropriately enough, after inquiring with several winos and semi-retired gang members about tickets, we settled upon a shrewdly negotiated deal with an Earl Boykins lookalike who was sharing a joint with his father (100 percent true story, and some quality parenting) -- two tickets on the fifty yard line for $23 apiece. I even got them to throw in a stipulation allowing me and Amy to follow them all the way into the stadium so I could breathe in their secondhand smoke. So two tickets on the fifty for an NFL game and a contact high for $46. Suck on that, Daryl Morey!
4. Whatever hyperbole you hear about a Raiders game being the most frightening place on earth, it's an understatement. Especially at night. The stadium is in a hideous part of town, every single person there is dressed in black and/or painted up, and the cops/security people are essentially glorified spectators, relegated to laughing at all the chicanery and crime going on in the stadium because it's so overwhelming. We saw a security guard smile and high-five a guy who toked up a joint. And this happened in the lower sections, like the expensive seats.
In short, it was awesome.