Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And now...


Oilers? Who are the Oilers? What I'm talking about is Edmonton Cracker Cats Independent Northern League Baseball!

In two short months, May 25th at 7:05 pm to be exact, long after this horrendous NHL season is over, the Cracker Cats (a rig-pig name short for Fluid Catalytic Cracking) will be taking on their hated feline rival, the Gary SouthShore Railcats in what should be a bitch of a scrap! Hisss!

I'm not sure if the Cracks have a soot-covered mascot, but I hear the Nachos at Telus Field are delicious! And what about those affordable hot dogs? Yum! Ha ha! And... I, uh...

[sounds of tears hitting a keyboard, as a blogger silently weeps]

...okay, I um... Sorry. The last time I cried over hockey was when the Flyers won Game 6 in the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals (since then it's been a matter of maturely channeling all of my hockey emotions into a kind of "festive hate").

It's just hard not to feel like we're standing at the skull-turreted gates of another dark age for the franchise. Last night, the Oilers turned in a distinctly 1993 performance in symbolically vintage silks, bridging the time gap to the last time the Oilers didn't have Ryan Smyth.

For all of you punks born in the 1980s, born after Thriller, born after Ghostbusters, the mid-1990s really sucked to be an Oil fan. I remember sitting in a Sherwood Park barbershop getting an ill-advised mushroom cut, reading the Journal, somehow hoping that recent Jets acquisition Boris Mironov would somehow turn around the team's hopeless fortunes (after the Oil rattled off an impressive 11-straight losses at the start of the season). I was really grasping at straws, people. As a young Edmontonian, drinking the pure liquid glory from the chalice of the 1980s, losing didn't come as easily as it might for those loser Vancouverites or Winnipeggers.

Now that we suck, it's time to tough it out: for better or worse, this team is the millstone around your neck. See, the thing is: you don't really get to pick your team so much as they pick you (just be glad you weren't a hockey fan born in Chicago). EIG may be coasting on faded glory, the team may end up sucking big time, and you may vow never spend another dime on this team, but in the corner of your eye, long after you thought you were done with the team, the game will be on TV at some Boston Pizza, and despite yourself, you'll still cheer for the team like a total sucker.

We are all total suckers.


Black Dog said...

I used to be a Chicago fan and let me tell you - this is nothing! Seriously.

Mushroom cut - heh.

Next year and maybe the one following are going to be long ones though - lots of kids.

Could be worse - I watched the Leafs lose to the Rochester Americans last night. The boos rained down on Mccabe, who is a relevant figure in all this - giving longterm big money deals to players in their 30s is not generally a good idea. I miss Smytty a lot - he's the reason I became an Oiler fan - but in three or four years we may be glad we don't have 5.5 M bucks tied up in him.

Not a popular viewpoint I know. And I love the guy.

But it may be true.

Black Dog said...

And Mike W. not sure if you have checked out my other blog but there is a place called Vollo that I posted about - if you like beer (and who doesn't) its quite the joint. Good food too.

I killed some of the pain there last night.

SgtD said...

Oh yeah - as a born and raised (and currently living) in Chicago I can safely say that what has happened here since 1993 has been an absolute 11 on the disaster scale.

But I completely understand our Oiler-nation is feeling right now - I was stunned when I read the news Smyth was traded. He has been the face of that franchise since the day he started. A truly heartbreaking loss.

But it is also funny in a way how everyone (and I mean a lot of blogs) feel that the situation in Chicago is worse than any star players being traded! :)

Anonymous said...

Honest to god, maybe it is time to start watching the Edmonton Jai-Alai-ers more closely.

LittleFury said...

Now that we suck, it's time to tough it out: for better or worse, this team is the millstone around your neck. See, the thing is: you don't really get to pick your team so much as they pick you...

See, maybe it's because I came late to the Oilers' party (I'm old enough to have seen the glory years first hand, but didn't really get on board until the '90s), but I just don't get this "fan as abuse victim" mentality. Why should we treat the game any different from any other product? If your favourite TV show suddenly starts to suck, would you have any qualms about not tuning in each week? Would you continue to dine at a shitty restaurant because the food used to be good, or 'cause you had a good first date there? Why retain an emotional investment in something that is not delivering a decent return?
The Edmonton Oilers are a business offering and entertainment product. If that product is not to our satisfaction, the only smart thing to do is to stop buying it.

The fact that we resign ourselves to the bondage of fandom gives the owners power over us. They know that we've been conditioned to eat shit and ask for seconds (something about this Smyth deal has put me a in a scatological frame of mind), so there's nothing stopping them from serving it to us. Ultimately, the consumer has to take some responsibility for the way things are. Sadly, the fans won't use what little leverage they have to affect change because they are too brainwashed by the sentiment expressed above and by the ownership's cynical exploitation of that emotional bond (see: Messier night). I am about as confident in the fans responding to what appears to be yet another rebuild with the withdrawal of their support as I am in Lowe using the Smyth dosh to grab someone of the FA market this summer. That is: not at all.

mike w said...

>Why should we treat the game any different from any other product?

I don't think we do, for the most part. Fans stayed away by the thousands when the team was lead by Shayne Corson.

But then, the difference between hockey and TV shows or a bad restaurant is that it's all tangled up with this little thing called "civic pride," which kind of makes people a little wacky (wearing puckhats, hugging strangers, etc).

But I agree littlefury, I'd rather leave Gretzky and Messier in a scrapbook back where they belong.

LittleFury said...

I don't think we do, for the most part. Fans stayed away by the thousands when the team was lead by Shayne Corson.

Maybe they will. But I bet they don't, at least not for a while. I'd say it will take at least two straight non-playoff seasons to have any impact on attendance. Expectations in this town have been so lowered by years of mediocrity that fans will stick with a team as long as it has a better than outside shot at a post season berth. If anything, last year's Cup run probably made things worse by giving fans reason to hope that another 8th place finish will yield an SCF berth.

I take your point on the irrationality of the fan condition (which really is less about civic pride per se than it is some hunger for the collective experience), but I still think people need to examine their own motives and choices, especially at a time like this when the object of that affection seems perfectly willing to exploit that bond (which only runs one way).

That said: I will take two straight losing seasons like a man if it means landing Iginla in July '08. That would be comedy.

Anonymous said...

I'm as pissed as the next Oil fan. But if there is any remote chance of peeking out from this cloud of pessimism it's the following quote from a post on another board:

"Who knows what will happen.......I remember flames fans being ticked for trading Joe Nieuwendyk to Dallas for some young kid named Iginla.

All I can do is hope that one of the players we got can turn out to be our Iginla"

Coluch said...

A comment from facebook
"The OIL will save about $1 million by not having Smytty on the roster for the rest of the season. If they bring him back in July for a 2-3 year deal, that saved money will more than pay for the extra $250k/year that he wanted...."

On the flip side, does this look like the face of a guy that thinks he's coming back?

Chris said...

I supose the only silver lining is that Robbie Shremp and Robert Neilson combined for 6 points in the AHL on the same line. Maybe Shremp really only needed a skilled line mate to connect with, and somehow they both wind up being great players in some sort of symbiotic Sedin like tandem where Rob Squared is greater than any singular Rob.

Maybe we can also see what Boris Miranov is up too these days...we could use a defenseman.

Anonymous said...

Check out this new oilers blog.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on if this is all a grande scheme by Lowe to get Smyth back in the summer?

Here's something to think about from TSN:


Darren Dreger
2/28/2007 8:02:58 PM

"I had a rival NHL general manger tell me earlier in the day, in conversation with Kevin Lowe in Naples Florida as part of the general managers meeting, that the Ryan Smyth camp was offered a four-year deal at $5.5 million per year and that was declined so it came down to money.

I'm told that better than a dozen teams were asked about Smyth on trade deadline day, including the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers came late mid-day on deadline day and said ''O.K., we've got a first round draft pick and two top prospects. Can you do better?'' Toronto said ''Not for a rental.'


Still think he's not coming back?

- Bob

Coluch said...


Just because he's a rental, doesn't mean he isn't going to get plenty of offers on July 1, and from teams that have much more money to spare than the Oil.

Still think he's coming back? Gretzky ans Messier both cried their hearts out when they were traded too. One thing's almost certain... Ryan Smyth will eventually play for the Rangers.

Julian said...

Thank god he didn't end up with the toronto fucking maple leafs.

The Isles at least have a storied history of trading away their prospects who later become stars.