It reminds me of a lazy June afternoon during the Ken Macha era in Oakland, shortly after it was announced that one of the players the A’s had recently acquired despite a lengthy injury history had been placed on the disabled list.
“Guys who get hurt a lot — even the great players — are easy to get because they’re cheap,” he told me, still fuming over his lack of input prior to the signing of the player in question. “And why do you think they’re so cheap? THEY GET HURT A LOT! It shouldn’t even be called an injury history. It should be called an injury indicator.”
That same player ended up on the DL four more times during his two years with the A’s, and Macha seethed with each trip.
All of which brings us to the Raiders, who have done very little to earn the benefit of the doubt from even the most optimistic and forgiving fan. Well, times they are a-changin’, and based on the flurry of free-agency action that’s very recently come out of the offices in Alameda, they’re a-changin’ for the better for the first time since ... hell, who has that long of a memory?
That the guys they’ve been bringing in are talented is almost beside the point. If you’re in the NFL, you’re talented. But talent and winning are far from synonymous. If they were, Mike Vick wouldn’t be slumming for a gig right now. He’d be polishing his Super Bowl rings.
You know what is synonymous with winning? Forgive me English teachers and anti-redundancy advocates of the world, but winning is synonymous with winning. Just as losing is synonymous with losing.
The running total on the Raiders’ free-agent signings thus far: six Super Bowl rings. If you don’t think that’s going to impact what’s clearly a losing culture, you’ve been watching way too much Duck Dynasty and your brain has turned to possum stew.
Look, this isn’t to say that the Raiders of recent vintage have been loaded with nothing but losers. Charles Woodson, for instance, is a widely respected winner and always will be. Other recent Raiders have had success elsewhere, too. And it wouldn’t be totally unfair to say that based on what we’ve seen from Dennis Allen, all those Super Bowl rings aren’t worth anything more than they’d fetch at Sotheby’s.
Yet the fact remains: winners win. Or at least they tend to win. Especially when you get a bunch of them together and empower them with the opportunity to lead a renaissance.
There’s a slogan you often hear at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, spoken by the vets to the rookies: “If you want what we have, go where we go, and do what we do.” It’s basically winners talking to losers, and you know what? If the losers truly listen, they become winners soon enough.
Not the greatest analogy in history, but at least the Raiders finally seem to be bouncing back from their bottom.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon on The Game (95.7 FM).