Ever notice how much of Big Game Week (BGW) enthusiasm, or lack thereof, is dictated by kal?
I mean, in those rarest of rare years when the Naked Guy's Alma Mater has something resembling a football team – like when Bruce Snyder was being frog-marched out of Berkeley – the local (Bay Area) press would inevitably begin this week hyperventilating on Monday and achieve total apoplexy by Saturday morning.
Radio sports-talk call-in phones would light up with jabbering bear-o-philes slobbering into their handsets (pre car-phone era).
Guffawing, guzzling gaggles of blue-oxford-cotton-button-down kal people would actually show up at the traditional blazer-and-rep-tie gigs in the City. According to the kal folks, this was sure to "be a great game, cuz you never know what's gonna happen in the Big Game," blah, blah, blecchh.
But let Oskie's stock-price thump along the bottom like an overweight lure cast from some skow off of Point Richmond and those same aging cheerleaders inevitably turn off, tune-out and drop in to visit their kal brethren and re-affirm their decision to blow off the game because "it really doesn't matter this year." No one's going. The wives have pre-holiday volunteer stuff happening in Orinda or Lafayette or Piedmont.
It's always about them.
This disgusting, downcast, defeatist posture is particularly conspicuous during those years when their team sucks and it's a Palo Alto venue, to boot. In other words, every other year. Kal people hate Stanford Stadium under the best of circumstances, i.e., an Indian-Summer November afternoon with a bowl bid in the balance and a beatable Cardinal in their cross-hairs (see "Gilby ‘93"). Admittedly, an occurrence having roughly the same frequency as the Comet Kohoutek
This season they detest the old girl – our venerable stadium, that is. Show these lames (1) an iffy weather forecast, (2) Tom Holmoe scratching his head on the sidelines like he's trying to figure out the ticket machine for the BART train he just missed, and/or (3) their frat-league intramural-ready team staring down the barrel at a buff, bowl-bound Stanford, and what do you get? Kal Kouch Potatoes flip-switching between KGO-TV and Antique Roadshow repeats, that's what. Bet on it: there'll be plenty of good kal sections available on Saturday.
Do they deserve a rich rivalry with Stanford? Do they even deserve football?
Of course, there is an Rx for this repugnant affliction. But it would have to begin with wholesale changes in the way kal approaches what it fraudulently represents today as a football program. Yeah, right. You might as well expect the Taliban to gift-wrap Bin Laden and send him next-day air to Don Rumsfeld.
This, I submit, is not good for Big Game Week for multiple reasons. Kal-as-annual-patsy devalues a Stanford win and reaffirms what most of us have known for years: in the Bay Area, tenor of Big Game Week is largely determined by the way kal has played during the prior two months. Big Game fever? More like hay fever this year despite the natural storyline: really good Stanford team with exciting players strive to retain the Ax that Holmoe's already figuratively received. Or something like that. So we're stuck with these suggested media talking points this week:
- Who's kal's new koach?
- Can Steve "Sly and the Family" Gladstone bring back that Andy Smith Wonder Team Spirit?
- Can he bring back early Gilby spirit?
- How about Gilby's Gin?
- Is Gilby's Gin still on the market?
- Was that really Oskie panhandling and foraging around parked cars in Yosemite the other day?
So, yes, it's a struggle to stay "Fiestive" this week. But I'm gonna give it hell trying.