Season Preview by Rex Blocker: Oakland Outlaws

There aren’t many worst-to-first stories in the four major US sports. The 1991 World Series featured two, as both the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves had losing records in 1990. The 2000 New England Patriots went 5-11 and won the Super Bowl the following year. The 2007-2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics were just percentage points away from the worst record in the leaguein ’06-’07.

Now to that list we can add the 2013 Oakland Outlaws. Coming into last season they were on a five-game intraleague losing streak, and just 5-7 overall since the start of 2011. But last year they ran the table against the other BAD teams, including two closely-fought bouts against the ShEvil Dead, and won their first ever league championship. In the last of our season previews, I spoke with #505 Dorato, #7 Murderyn Monroe, and #8 Fatal Dreidel to ask how they did it, and how they hope to defend the title.

Oakland Outlaws Season Preview
2013 Record: 4-0 League Champions
All-time League Record: 11-10
Key Roster Losses: Dolly Deathrow Pardon, Minnie Peril, Bonnie Doom
Key Roster Additions: Pain GaLaura, Imelda Snarkos, Val Hella, Amber Dextrous

Long-time fans of the league will know that Oakland were in a three-year rebuilding period. Asked how it all jelled last year, and how they made such a huge leap from winless to undefeated, Fatal replied, “Every season is different than the one that comes before it. New people come in, veterans move on. We had a period of rebuilding a couple of years ago, but we’ve been building up since then, we have a pretty large group of people at this point who’ve been playing together for a long time.” Dorato chimed in, “Things just started to come to fruition last season.”

Other than the retirement of a few long-time Outlaws, and the loss of #013 Thrasher for the March 1st bout, the team is largely intact and ready to defend. The experience brought by the retirees will be missed, but as Murderyn says, “when you have a team that’s been playing together for so long, our bench is deep, so while our hearts miss them, the roster doesn’t suffer.” To that roster they’ve added Sonoma County transfer #13 Pain GaLaura, and draftees #63 Imelda Snarkos, #28 Amber Dextrous, and #40 Val Hella.

From their deep bench, you can look for a jammer rotation of……who? Tough to say. These Outlaws play it close to the vest, their secrets are closely guarded. “People are out for blood out there!” Dorato defended herself with a laugh. “You have to understand!” So that jammer rotation…? “Say you’ll see the same jammers as last year…” she said. Murderyn added a layer of clarity: “[We’ll be] strategically matched with our opponents…” They were equally non-committal when asked about their most defensive pack. “By design, the idea is – and this is how we practice, too – anyone on the bench,” said Dorato. “That’s how it should be, and I think our team is actually pretty close to being able to do that.”

In short, the Outlaws know what they want to do, and they won’t let the game change their plans. “When we’re playing, we’re playing our game,” said Dorato. “We very rarely are going to make last-minute decisions based on the other team or the other jammer. This is what we do, this is what we’re good at and we’re just gonna do it”

Murderyn and Dorato will alternate wearing the captain’s C, though there isn’t really any one on-track leader for the team. “I would say that that ties into our strength of playing together, said Fatal. “It’s not one person that we turn to. Everyone is empowered to use their position and knowledge to speak to what they see and then we work together based on that.”

They were a lot more forthcoming when discussing the team’s strength. “We like each other,” said Dorato. “We’re a really level-headed team, so we play together but we also play really smart and calm,” a sentiment echoed by Fatal. Murderyn took a more holistic approach, saying, “we tend to do a good job of bringing out the best in one other, and I don’t think that every sports team can say that when they take the track, the floor, the whatever together. So that’s a luxury.” She offered similar perspective when asked if the Outlaws had a weakness. “We’re human,” she said. “We’re people with
lives, and demands, and sometimes compartmentalizing.”

About the Oakland team culture, don’t let the Outlaw name, the menacing black, the bandana masks during team intros fool you. “We’re nice,” said Fatal, almost defensively but with a chuckle. They spend a lot of time together off-track, too, skating the new Bay Bridge, holding dance parties, going to Christmas Tree Lane in Alameda. That togetherness is maintained by the team’s Fun Coordinator, #48 Bricktator, who Fatal says is “basically never in a bad mood, always up for anything.” This permeates through the team. “People have been to each other’s weddings,” says Murderyn. “People
have been there when babies are born.” Dorato summed up how close-knit they are. “It’s very familial, we’ve discovered that we come for each other, we’re very inclusive and good to each other.”

But it’s not all fun and games. The champs are working hard to hold onto the title. “We have a lot of other goals that are designed to help get us to that overarching goal,” says Fatal, “like clean play, fitness outside of skating…all those things would be successes because they’re team goals.”

While their most anticipated bout is their first one, this weekend, against the Richmond Wrecking Belles, “all of them are going to be…” Murderyn paused, and sighed, “…a fight.” She added,” I think this will be the tastiest one.” Winning Saturday by no means suggests smooth sailing for the Outlaws, though. “I wouldn’t put any one team past another in this league,” Dorato concluded. “They’re all just
too good.”