Before you get all up in arms, I'm going to just say I mean "bad" in the Michael Jackson sense. Well, mostly. Let me explain.
The Dallas Braden incident with Alex Rodriguez (I'm suddenly re-thinking the Alexander name for my son) was that it was a pure microcosm of Oakland and the mentality of the A's fanbase. It's us against the world, like it or not. And those arrogant sports fans, whether it's from Boston or New York or even Chicago, have always looked down their noses at Oakland A's fans. This despite the fact that the Athletics franchise is the third winningest in all of baseball.
I know, not all those championships came in Oakland and the franchise has certainly been through its laughable years - like the whole Kansas City period. Even now, the team we root for still has the look of a nomad with Lewis Wolff standing over at the side of the road with a long stick and a bandana full of belongings tied on the end, hoping to hitch a ride south down the 880 Freeway. So forgive us and Dallas Braden, he of Stockton fame, if we're a little bit touchy if someone decides to let their dog crap on our front lawn and decide to leave it there. Because that's pretty much the equivalent of what Rodriguez did when he trotted straight across the mound.
Don't get me wrong, I don't blame the Yankee third baseman. It's pretty easy to dump on Oakland in general right now. Hell the baseball team that plays in the city can't seem to find a way to stay there anymore. The Raiders get more hilarious each and every year. And while the Warriors flirted with success a short time ago, they're back to being the Warriors. Even the A's, the team with the most storied championship pedigree in Oakland, has been down on their luck in recent years. So Alex the Insult Comic Dog (sorry, I'm going to see Conan O'Brien Saturday night and I'm excited about it) decides that the East Bay is the perfect place for him to poop on and then insult Braden himself with a shot at his "tiny" career win total.
And Alex don't give me that same old disingenuous "I don't know that was a rule" bull. There's a reason I've always vehemently disliked athletes like Alex Rodriguez and Curt Schilling and Tiger Woods. They like to come off as these nice guys, regular guys with great images. But you know that right underneath that surface is a big bag of dicks just waiting for the right time to surface. OK so maybe Schilling didn't hide it as much. But we've seen what happens with those guys who try and portray that perfect nice guy image. They wind up in sex rehab. Or testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Because that's the thing. None of us are perfect, so why fight so hard to keep up that beautiful facade? I love Lance Armstrong because while he's done a ton of good things in his career, there's always been that inner a-hole just right there out in the open. He doesn't pretend to be someone he isn't. To be blunt, he embraces the inner asshole.
But I'm getting off track here. The fact remains is that if you knew anything about Oakland, Alex, you would know that this town is tough while also maintaining that healthy chip on its shoulder from being across the Bay from San Francisco. It's why A's fans hate the Giants and most Giants fans kind of actually like the A's...even just a little bit. Hell, the reason SB Nation exists is because I was one of those Oakland fans frustrated by the repeated slights of my team. So prancing your formerly juiced up body across our pitchers mound is just one more person kicking mud in Oakland's eye. Then you act all smug about it. I really didn't pay you much attention before, but I'm pretty inspired to dislike you now.
A lot of people have written that Braden went a little overboard when he got the dugout. But I don't blame him. It's somewhat similar to coming into the A's clubhouse, using Braden's toothbrush and deodorant and saying, "What, was I not supposed to do that?" Go ahead and keep disrespecting. Go ahead and trample on our mound. Just don't be surprised when Dallas plants one in your ear during the next series, even if it is an 85-mph heater. Because you can only pound on someone (or someplace) for so long until they finally bite back.
And let me just say this in closing, as UncleLeo already said it, Dallas, I love you. So much more today than yesterday. There is just something beautiful about someone representing your team who has that essence of the city coursing through their veins. Like Rodriguez is perfectly emblematic of New York. Vapid. Shallow. Overrated. Braden is pure Oakland. Insecure. Proud. And won't take crap from anyone.