Embrace Your Inner Guthrie, You Oklahoma City Barons

By New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Al Aumuller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Woody Guthrie. The embodiment of struggle, heartache, brokeness, strength, vigor, and pain have never been more prevalent in the soul of one man. Born in 1912 into dirt poor surroundings in Oklahoma, Woody lived a life that few envy, but nearly all recognize. A naturally gifted musician, Guthrie would go on to be known as the Dust Bowl Troubador. A man with which the commonality of politics and "right behavior" were off putting. Instead he championed the soul of the America that he loved that was found in the hard working people there within. He didn't care about social graces. He didn't mind ruffling feathers. He was a commoner that cherished every moment in life no matter how difficult or overbearing it became. He was the guy that named his weapon with its purpose by always inscribing This Machine Kills Fascists upon his heavily played guitar. This Land Is Your Land was written solely out of a contentious spirit for God Bless America, because the America Woody lived in was anything but God blessed. In laymen terms, Woody is a legendary voice with a legendary message.

If you've never listened to Woody Guthrie don't miss the opportunity to do so by passing him off as a folksy old-timer. He was the rare breed that spoke boisterously through his music, but quietly led by example. An Oklahoman through and through, he never backed down to his commitments to simply force people to think about what life should be. How the common good effects us all. And how we are to champions of those in need.

The other day I heard Woody Guthrie's Blowin' Down The Road which chronicles the journey of a man, well, walking down a road less traveled in search of something positive. His feet hurt. He's tired. But yet he soldiers on because the journey is worth it based on the promise of what's ahead. I immediately saw a parallel, albeit a metaphorical one, to that of life on the farm. Long bus trips, hurting bodies, smallish salaries, painstaking schedules - but why? Because the end result is worth the effort.

I could blather about Woody Guthrie for days. I can't help but find him fascinating. His life, his artistry, his brutality, his meekness - it all somehow makes sense. I believe it makes sense because the the Guthrie spirit is still alive in Oklahoma today. Oh it might be hard to find at times -- buried away in the most rosy of dispositions or in the fine walls of its capital -- but it's there.

For years, writers have drawn metaphorical ties between pro sports and works of artistry. Whether it's referring to a baseball card as the Mona Lisa or a teams demise being drawn as a falling down the rabbit hole experience, the intersection of culture and sports will always be tied together. Grantland, Bleacher Report, SBNation, AOL Fanhouse have all championed this endeavor (some doing it very well...others doing it extremely poor) in recent years, and have gained loyal followings along the way. Books have been written about the ever blurring lines between sports and cultural shifts, and they sell well. Why do you think President Obama visits various sporting events? He might be a White Sox fan, but more than anything, he knows folks are watching. He, along with his staff, also knows that it softens the world's view of him, and perhaps sways voting Americans to believe in what he's selling as the Leader of the Free World (whatever that means these days).

Here at Copper and Blue, this site is known for creatively speaking with a fans voice for Oil Country. One, that at times, might seem dispiriting, but in the end is a voice. Sometimes a voice of reason. Sometimes a voice of insanity. But it's a voice nonetheless. And this is what makes this particular site so great to read. The voices, even when occasionally off key, always hit the crescendo in full harmony. It's a beautiful thing really. Having the freedom to express passion unencumbered by what others think. Never stale, but always fresh. And so as this site adds a postseason footnote for a few weeks, I (along with good buddy Eric Rodgers) hope to bring a unique voice -- perhaps in the Woody Guthrie vein -- to the faithful readers of C&B.

As the Barons of Oklahoma City go full force into the Calder Cup Playoffs I thought it was time to put a unique spin on the game ramblings by attaching a Woody Guthrie song to each and every one of them. It's inspiring really; to read the words written by an Oklahoman poet years ago, applying them to our lives today, and soldiering on much as Woody might have done. And less we forget, Guthrie was an entertainer first. Although politically charged at times, Woody is responsible for some of the most child-friendly songs you will ever come across. More than the Raffi of his day, his tong-in-cheek vibe is what endured so many people to him. He spoke in words consistent with the people he spoke to. And if there were ever a time for a minor league hockey team that is all about entertainment to embrace every aspect of the Woody Guthrie spirit -- hard working, exuberant, steady, smart, fun, flavorful -- NOW is the time.

With the metaphorical line now drawn between Woody Guthrie and the Oklahoma City Barons (a sentence I thought I'd never write), let's look at the Calder Cup first round for the minor league affiliate.

NOTE: The Calder Cup first round is a best-of-five series. The league made this decision to quicken the first round in hopes of A) shortening the postseason and B) resolve conflicting NHL schedules (which it still will). Here's the AHL official word on the matter:

The format for the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs was also approved by the Board of Governors. Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth.

The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.

You may be asking yourself, "The best team in the Western Conference opens play on the road?". Indeed. The higher seeded team has the luxury of choosing to start on the road versus at home. However, the Barons had a conflict of interest in the Cox Center with an insurance conference taking place in the city, and thus are forced to open the first round on the road.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series "E" (best-of-5)

1-Oklahoma City Barons vs. 8-Houston Aeros

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 19 – Oklahoma City at Houston, 8:05
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 20 – Oklahoma City at Houston, 8:35
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 22 – Houston at Oklahoma City, 8:00
*Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 24 – Houston at Oklahoma City, 8:00
*Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 25 – Houston at Oklahoma City, 8:00

Later today, check out our game-day thread for Game #1 in Houston. You'll be able to listen via SportsJuice or online at iheartradio.com (search for 96.1 KXXY). You can purchase the Calder playoff games at www.ahllive.com.

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