Seahawks Fans Don’t Appear To Be Taking The Vikings Seriously

Frankly, I don’t think ANYONE is taking the Vikings seriously.  I think people are looking at the Vikings’ record (6-5-1) and all they see is a mediocre, middle-of-the-road team.

Furthermore, they see this game is on Monday Night, they see the Seahawks are at home, they see the Seahawks have been on a tear recently (3 in a row) and over the last 10 games (7-3), and that’s the end of the analysis.  Seahawks in a laugher, and let’s move on to next week.

There’s a lot at stake in this one.  SO MUCH.  If the Seahawks win, it all but guarantees we secure a playoff spot.  Winning this one – even if we somehow drop one to the 49ers or Cardinals in the final three weeks – still puts us in tremendous position to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record.  

But, the Vikings have just as much on the line.  A win for them puts them in the driver’s seat for that top wild card spot.  From here, they host the Dolphins, go on the road to the Lions, and host the Bears; they should win 2/3 EASILY and it wouldn’t shock me to see them winning all three.  Don’t forget, if the Vikings win out, and the Bears drop one either to the Packers or 49ers, then the Vikings steal the division at 10-5-1.

To their credit, the Vikings sound as pumped up as I’ve ever heard a team coming into Seattle in a primetime game.  If you don’t think they’re coming ready to play, you’re crazy.  If you think the pisspoor crowd noise we’ve had at CenturyLink this year – and really for the last few years – will be enough to rattle them, you’ve got another thing coming.

I keep reflecting on 2017.  Kirk Cousins – on an injury-depleted Redskins team – coming into Seattle as heavy underdogs and narrowly escaping as victors.  The Seahawks were riding high and 5-2 coming into that game.  The season went into the tank from there, as including that game we finished 4-5.

These Vikings are SO MUCH BETTER than that Redskins team.  I would argue a big reason why the Vikings’ record appears so bad is because they started off the season with a lot of injuries, and they’re just now getting healthy again.

The Vikings have a ferocious defense, for starters.  Don’t expect the Seahawks to run the ball as well as they’ve been doing most weeks.  D.J. Fluker being out definitely plays into that and no one’s really talking about it, because Jordan Simmons started in one of those Rams games and did okay.  I think the Seahawks’ O-Line is going to struggle tonight.  Quite frankly, it wouldn’t shock me if they looked Tom Cable-esque.  I expect Chris Carson to be bottled up, and I expect Russell Wilson to be running for his life like we really haven’t seen since the Chicago game back in Week 2.

Our only hope is if we throw the ball a ton, but I don’t know how confident I am in that either.  I’m obviously more confident in that than I am in our running game, but not by a lot.  I think Wilson is destined for at least one turnover, maybe two.  I think we’ll be playing from behind pretty early on in this one, so he’ll have a ton of attempts when it’s all said and done.  And, since I need Wilson to absolutely crush it for one of my fantasy teams, let’s just go ahead and lock it in that he’s going to score below 20 points tonight.

Defensively for the Seahawks, I think we match up about as poorly as with anyone in the league.  The Vikings have two ELITE receivers with a capital ELITE in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs; whereas the Seahawks have a secondary that can’t tackle and doesn’t really cover all that well.  I expect Cousins to have a monster game.  Furthermore, while the Vikings don’t run the ball particularly well, the Seahawks are among the worst defenses in the league at stopping the run, so figure the Vikes get at least 150 on the ground as they move the ball at will.

Honestly, I won’t call for a Vikings blowout, but I think they’ll be up big by halftime, and it’ll take a furious Seahawks comeback in the second half to bring this game back to single digits.  Ultimately, I see a Seahawks loss – their THIRD of the season at home – and I see this thing being a lot more interesting the rest of the way.

I still think the Seahawks make the playoffs.  I still think we’ll beat the 49ers and Cardinals.  Honestly, I think our chances of beating the Chiefs are better than the Vikings!  It wouldn’t shock me in the SLIGHTEST if we scored with the Chiefs and nipped them in the end, because their defense is so bad!

But, like I’ve said before, when do the Seahawks ever make it easy on themselves?  This should be a minor blip, but it will be a blip.  Thankfully, as I believe both us and the Vikings will be wild card teams, we won’t have to play them in January.

Seattle Officially Has An Expansion Hockey Franchise

On December 4th, 2018, the NHL voted unanimously to give Seattle the league’s 32nd franchise.  In the fall of 2021, we will officially have professional hockey in this city.

Shovels are going into the ground soon (if they haven’t already), and the former Key Arena will be renovated over the next few years.  The idea behind 2021 – as opposed to the 2020 that was floated out there previously – is to ensure we’re ready to host a game from the first day of the season.  If we’d settled on 2020, there’s a very good chance delays in construction would’ve forced this team into a bad situation (where maybe they’d have to open on the road for the first month or more).  When you think about all the pitfalls there would be had we tried to rush this thing, I mean, the options are staggering!  I could envision lighting not working, the ice not being cold enough, consessions being fucked up, and on and on and on.  This way, we know everything is going to be functioning and humming like a bird.

I don’t have a lot to add that I haven’t already said before.  This is obviously tremendous news.  Seattle NEEDS a winter sport that’s more than just Husky Basketball.  No, it’s not the Supersonics – and believe me, they’d be my #1 preferred option by a longshot – but it gets our foot in the door.  It gets this arena project started FINALLY, and when it’s completed, we’ll be able to sit here and point to the NBA, “Look!  We did it!  Now give us our team back!”

Whether the NBA will listen or not is another matter, but that’s not really the point.

Plus, I like hockey.  It’s not my favorite sport; I’m not a superfan or anything.  My brother is more of a hockey fan than I’ll probably ever be, and I’ve watched games with him on TV every so often.  Without a dog in the fight, it just hasn’t captured me.  I’m similar with baseball; I would never watch the sport if I didn’t have a team in Seattle.  Frankly, I’m the same with basketball (though I wasn’t always; I used to LOVE watching non-Sonics games until they stole our team from us).  I’m excited to get into it.  I want to jump in on the ground floor with whatever this team is going to be called.  I want to write about it regularly and learn all the intricacies of the sport through the eyes of an expansion franchise.  As if I didn’t obsess about sports enough, here’s a whole new one!

And here’s the other thing.  Yeah, it’s at Seattle Center, and not at the SoDo spot – which is unquestionably a better location for a new arena – but at this point what do I care?  I don’t live in South Lake Union anymore, so I don’t have to deal with the nonsense of extra traffic and parking hassles.  I can WALK there from my office anytime I want!  You could put this thing in the Space Needle for all I care, as long as it gets built and I get to have some real, actual hope for the NBA returning someday.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Playoffs Round 1

Spoiler alert:  I backed into the playoffs.

That’s right, I lost yet again to Korky Butchek, albeit narrowly, 154.40 to 149.45.  I had good games out of my QB’s (Wentz & Winston) as well as Elliott and Woods; but Tyreek Hill did nothing, Greg Olsen got hurt and is out for the rest of the season, and my Chicago defense royally shit the bed.  My opponent, meanwhile, got nothing out of his QB’s (Stafford & Goff) and had a paltry game out of Mark Ingram.  But, Antonio Brown killed it, the Seahawks defense dominated, and Zach Ertz did just enough to counter-balance my Philly quarterback going on Monday Night to fend me off.

Luckily, the guy I was fighting for that 6th and final playoff spot who had the same record as me also lost.  That game was pretty well decided before we even got to the Sunday Night game, so I had that going for me.

So, I’m 5-8.  I’m 3rd in total points scored, and 2nd in most points scored against.  It is what it is.  The bottom line is I got into the playoffs, and it all starts over from here.

If I had won, I would’ve jumped up to the 5th seed, playing the 4-seed in the first round.  We’ll see what happens this week, but that’s yet another thing I can bitch about if things don’t go my way.  Also, if I’d won, I would’ve knocked Korky Butchek out of the 2-seed (top two seeds get a first round BYE).  Instead, I’m the 6th seed, playing the team I would’ve bumped up to #2 had I won. He’s obviously not pleased with me.

That team:  Crazy N8’s Prostates.  That’s right, a third contest with the team that so far has beaten me twice by a combined 7 points.  He’s the team who won my way into the playoffs by beating my closest rival for the 6th seed, so obviously I’m pretty happy with this fella!  He’s already lost Alex Smith for the year, and now he’s down Colt McCoy as well.  I don’t know who he’ll play as his second QB this week, but he’s got options (albeit, not great ones).

First, here’s my lineup:

  • QB1 – Jameis Winston vs. NO
  • QB2 – Derek Carr vs. PIT
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. BAL
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ SEA
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. PHI
  • RB2 – Chris Carson vs. MIN
  • TE – Jimmy Graham vs. ATL
  • FLEX – Robert Woods @ CHI
  • K – Matt Bryant @ GB
  • DEF – New York @ WAS

My bench is:  Wentz, Peterson, Boyd, Adams, Chicago, Bell (IR).

I put in a claim for the Steelers’ backup running back, but of course I didn’t get it.  What’s worse, the ninnies with the highest waiver priority didn’t claim him either.  Which means Crazy N8’s Prostates – who suffered the devastating loss of James Conner – now gets to slide his backup right into his lineup and not skip a beat.  Great.

I did end up nabbing Jimmy Graham as my tight end.  I don’t feel super confident about that – because I’m a Seahawks fan, and I’ve seen what he brings to the table – but at this point I have to go for upside.  Jordan Reed with Mark Sanchez throwing to him isn’t exciting.  Austin Hooper is, like, Atlanta’s 4th or 5th option offensively.  And the rest is downhill from there.  All told, Graham should hopefully be okay.

And, I tried to stick to Chicago each and every week as my defense, hoping that maybe they’ll get just enough sacks or something to help me out and get me SOME points.  But, I’ve been burned against the better offenses.  I put them in against New England and I’m pretty sure that’s why I lost that week.  It seems like, if they’re not scoring touchdowns, they’re not doing anything for me; now, it speaks volumes that they’ve scored as many TDs as they have this year, but I just can’t throw them out there against the Rams.  I WANTED the Chargers – who host Cincinnati this week – but some guy who didn’t even need them used his high waiver priority on them over that Steelers’ backup running back, so I’m putting the blame (if I lose) squarely on that guy!  I don’t love the Giants’ defense, but I hate Washington’s offense, so I’m hoping for a miracle.  Any time you stream a defense that’s on the road, you’re just asking for trouble.

As far as matchups go for my guys, these are about as bad as they get.  The Cowboys and Saints both have terrific defenses.  Meanwhile, the Steelers aren’t great.  Considering the tear the Cowboys are on, I’ve got to go with the higher-upside plays over my keeper in Wentz.  It’s more likely Winston and Carr will be involved in shootouts; whereas the Eagles/Cowboys game is likely to be a grind-it-out affair.

Things don’t get better for my team from there.  Baltimore’s defense is one of the best in the league, the Vikings have to go to Seattle on Monday Night, and I could see the Bears shutting down Robert Woods.  I need to hope for crazy miracles up and down my roster or I’m toast.

Mariners Fire Sale! Everything Must Go!

I’ve had sort of mixed emotions about the first two big deals on this list (that I linked to, if you want to read about my feelings).  I think they were definitely necessary moves the Mariners needed to make, to shake things up and boost our farm system, but ultimately I wonder if we got enough back in return.  A starting catcher (who’s also a defensive wizard) for a centerfielder who probably won’t be here for more than a year or two before we get tired of yet another slap-hitting singles artist FEELS like pennies on the dollar.  Then, giving up a potential Ace starting pitcher for a mixed bag of minor league talent – again, while bolstering our terrible minor league teams – FEELS like yet more pennies on the dollar.  Now, of course, both of those guys (all three, if you want to include Heredia) come with their own risks.  Paxton and his injury issues, and Zunino with his woeful hitting issues, could submarine their respective new teams.  Or, they could figure it out/catch a little luck, and be superstars we gave up on too soon.

Before we get to the next slate of deals, I’ll talk about the minor moves the M’s made.  For starters, it seems odd that we’d dump Herrmann when we were already looking to trade Zunino, and the fact that the Astros made a play on him is doubly concerning.  In the end, probably no big thing, and he’s probably not a guy you’d want to guarantee a 40-man roster spot at this point in his career, so whatever.

Not going to arbitration on either Erasmo or Nick Vincent is probably a net gain.  I’m on the record as not having a whole lot of belief in Erasmo.  I think, for what he brings, he shouldn’t cost you very much in salary, so if he gets that elsewhere, more power to him.  And, while I like Vincent as much as the next guy, he was due a significant raise, and given his age and his declining abilities in 2018, that’s money poorly spent for the direction this team is going in.  I’m okay without either of them going forward, as I particularly think Vincent’s best days are behind him, and he’s going to get WAY too much money from another team.

The M’s offered Elias arbitration, and I think that’s cool, but I would’ve been cool if we didn’t as well.  I don’t think he’s in the longterm plans, but you do need to fill out a 25-man roster.  As a reliever/swing starter, there’s some value there.  He was good in 2018, and it’s just as likely he’ll be terrible in 2019, in which case that helps us on our quest to get a higher draft pick.

Finally, Casey Lawrence asked for his release so he can go pitch overseas.  I wish him the best, but again, no great loss.  He was mostly AAA fodder with occasional underwhelming call-ups.

***

Okay, now to the big deals!  Let’s start with the appetizer.

There was all this talk about the above-referenced blockbuster deal with the Mets, but before we were finished obsessing over that one, Jerry Dipoto snuck in a sneaky-good deal with the White Sox.  Alex Colome was another guy with some value who was not in our longterm plans.  He’s still got closing ability, he did pretty okay in 2018, so that value was probably not going up considerably.  Better to strike now rather than at midseason, when he could suck (or get injured) in the first half and see his value drop to zero.

On top of that, we get a starting-calibre catcher in return!  Omar “Don’t Call Me Navarez” Narvaez is a bat-first, lefty-hitting catcher who can take a walk and hit for a decent average.  He lacks Zunino’s power, but he’s improved in that area over the last year.  Where he stinks, unfortunately, is every aspect of his defense, as he rates as one of the very worst in the league.  Pitch-framing, throwing out runners, blocking pitches in the dirt, you name it, he sucks at it.  So, that’s going to be a drastic change of pace.  He’s essentially the Anti-Zunino, so if you REALLY hated Zunino, you’re REALLY gonna love this guy.

We’ll see if he can pick it up defensively, but I feel like that’s something you either have or you don’t, and you don’t really develop it if you lack it in the first place.  I hope I’m wrong, but I feel like he’s NOT the Catcher of the Future, not unless we find more pitchers who are able to miss more bats (without diving balls between and betwixt his legs).

Regardless, if you can get a starting catcher with multiple years of team control for a reliever on the final year of his contract, that’s a deal you make 10 times out of 10.

So, that solves the Zunino-sized hole at our catcher spot.

***

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s dig into the main course:  the Mets deal.

Robinson Cano has 5 years and $120 million left on his deal.  He’s old, but he’s still pretty effective; if I had to guess I’d say he has at least 2-3 more years left playing at his current level of productivity.  There’s always the chance that he’ll start his decline sooner rather than later – particularly on defense – but he’s too naturally talented to be a total black hole at the plate.  That having been said, as his legs go, it’ll end up being either singles, homers, or strikeouts, so unless he beefs up his homer totals, I can’t see him hitting a significant number of doubles from here on out.  With Nelson Cruz seemingly out of the picture, it looked like Cano was a natural to start to transition to his eventual destination as this team’s primary DH.  But, the M’s obviously had other plans.

So, what changed in a year?  Obviously, the PED suspension.  I’m trying to get a handle on if it’s a concern of a second suspension (and a yearlong ban), or if it’s just his attitude/personality and how it might clash with the new/younger direction this team is looking to make.  He’s obviously a big character on this team, and commands a lot of respect wherever he goes, and maybe the Mariners just want the players to learn from a different voice.  I mean, Cano is an All Star, so you can obviously learn a ton from a guy who built himself up from nothing.  But, there are the usual concerns about his hussle and his passion for the game.  I dunno.  I don’t know if we’ll ever get the real dirt about why the Mariners wanted out from under this deal.  I would assume the concern lies in the fact that he probably NEEDS the PEDs to keep up with his usual All Star level, and without them, his decline will start earlier.

With the $24 million per year contract, we obviously were never going to trade him by himself.  Unfortunately, the only real carrot we could dangle to get him out of here was our all-world closer Edwin Diaz.

I’ve been on record from the very beginning as saying this team should deal Diaz, and if I had it my way, we would’ve traded JUST him to the highest bidder, and gotten a REAL prospect windfall in return.  Honestly, I don’t believe he has it in him to stay at that level for very long.  I think with the way he throws the ball, he’s destined to sustain a serious arm injury, maybe even as soon as 2019.  It wouldn’t shock me in the SLIGHTEST to see him tear something and be out for a year.  I think, regardless of whether he injures his arm or not, he’s destined to lose velo on his fastball sooner rather than later – certainly well before he’s set to hit free agency – and with that I think his value as a closer will plummet.  This is, without question, Edwin Diaz at the peak of his value, and we were never going to have a better opportunity to replenish our minor leagues.

If it were up to me, and the Mariners are just hellbent on ridding this culture of Robinson Cano, then I would’ve just cut him and paid him his remaining salary, while trading Diaz for the highest bounty possible.  But, obviously, it’s not my money, so that’s easy for me to say.

That scenario just isn’t realistic.  I don’t see the harm in forcing him to exclusively DH (while maybe spot starting at second in an emergency), and riding out the remaining years of his contract.  Was he really so poisonous to this culture?  Would his presence alone have set us back so much?

Now, obviously, there’s the fringe benefit of making the Mariners worse by getting rid of him now.  Like I said, Cano can still play, and I bet he’ll be pretty solid for the Mets in 2019.  If our goal is to bottom out, then obviously you don’t want a guy in your lineup doing POSITIVE things like hitting for a high average, lots of extra-base hits, and lots of RBI.  So, that’s something.

In return, we take on some high-priced/low-performing contracts from the Mets.  Jay Bruce is set to earn $26 million over the next two years.  He’s a corner outfielder and I can’t imagine his defense is worth a damn.  Maybe he starts in left; maybe he platoons with Gamel (though, they both bat lefty, so that seems unlikely); maybe the M’s find a way to flip him to another team!  He was okay in 2017, but really had a bad 2018.  He does have some pop in his bat, and he’ll be 32 next year, so maybe we run him out as the DH?  Feels like the best way to preserve his legs and keep him away from anything related to defense.

Anthony Swarzak is on the hook for $8 million in 2019; he’s a veteran reliever who also had a good 2017, then bottomed out in 2018.

If we just talk about money, that’s $21 million for Bruce & Swarzak in 2019, and $13 for Bruce in 2020; that totals $34 million out of Cano’s remaining $120 million.  On top of that, the M’s chipped in an extra $20 million, meaning we ended up saving a total of $66 million going forward (not counting the remaining guys in the deal).  That’s not an insignificant number, especially when you hope that by the time 2021 rolls around, this team will be in a position to contend again.  That’s just the time when Cano should start to suck and Diaz should be recovering from a shoulder surgery!

As for the prospects, your guess is as good as mine.  Kelenic was the 6th overall selection in the 2018 draft.  He’s an 18-year old outfielder with all the tools; he just needs to develop them.  He would be the prize of this deal.  Again, if you can trade a reliever for a starting-calibre outfielder, you make that trade 10 times out of 10.  The question is:  do you trust this organization to develop him the right way?

Dunn is a 19th overall draft pick from 2016 and was the Mets’ highest pitching prospect.  He was in AA last year, so he appears to be on the right track.

Bautista is a reliever who can apparently throw 100 miles per hour.  Obviously, he has command problems, but we have a couple years to work out those kinks before hopefully he’ll stick in our Major League bullpen (or get flipped for still more prospects, if the ol’ rebuild hasn’t gone according to plan).

For what the Mariners were trying to do – acquire top-flight prospects while shedding some money and ridding the clubhouse of a possible cancer – this is probably as good as it gets.  If the outfielder pans out, it’s a terrific deal.  If he doesn’t, and the starter converts to relief, and the reliever flames out, then this could’ve busted SUPER HARD.

***

And, for dessert, I bring you the Jean Segura deal.

This one … REALLY makes me mad.  For starters, we traded for him prior to 2017 in what was at the time a CLEAR victory for the Mariners.  For Taijuan Walker (who doesn’t look like he’ll come close to being the ace we thought he could be), we got an All Star short stop and an All Star outfielder in the primes of their careers.  He started off strong in 2017, so we signed him MID-SEASON to a 5-year extension when we could’ve easily let him play it out through 2018 and seen what we had in him.

But, we liked him enough, so fine, 5-year extension.  He was officially part of our future.  And they didn’t realize until halfway through 2018 that he’s a headcase???  That he’s kind of soft and kind of a clubhouse cancer and we’re now bound and determined to do whatever it takes to be rid of him?

Look, I get the spirit of the rebuild, I really do!  But, this is an All Star player – particularly with the bat – on a very REASONABLE contract; he should be worth more than this!

Segura is due $14.25 million per year for the next 4 years.  In that time, he’ll almost certainly be worth that figure, if not be an outright bargain.  But, whatever, we save that money and we ostensibly get worse at the short stop position in 2019 (again, so we can tank and get that higher draft pick).  Then, there’s Juan Nicasio’s $9 million for 2019.  He, of course, sucked a fat one in 2018, but that could obviously flip entirely the very next year, because that’s how it is with relievers; randomness abounds!  Nevertheless, that’s a lot for an 8th inning reliever who may or may not be finished.  James Pazos has a nothing salary, which is most galling, because he’s both young and good!  Why couldn’t HE fetch a pretty penny on the open market?  Why the need to throw him into the mix?

Particularly when Carlos Santana is coming our way?!  He’s a first baseman (or a DH, depending on what else we do with that first base spot) who’s owed a combined $35 million over the next two years ($500,000 of that is a buyout for 2021, because you figure there’s no way in hell this team is going to pay a 35 year old first baseman another $17.5 million when they don’t have to).  Santana – like all these other useless veterans we’re getting back in these deals – was great in 2017 and stunk in 2018.  So, NOT GREAT, JERRY!

The prize in this deal, I guess, is J.P. Crawford, who will be a 24-year old glove-first/no-bat short stop in 2019.  If we can develop the bat into something halfway decent, then maybe that’s an upgrade in the end.  But, that’s obviously no guarantee.

And, that’s it.  A new short stop and a savings of another $31 million.  On the plus side, all these massive contracts expire after 2019 or 2020, so RIGHT ON TRACK FOR 2021 YOU GUYS!

As always, it’s hard to judge anything until you see the rest of the offseason moves.  But, you figure the biggest deals have been made (unless the team goes full boar and unloads Haniger for another bevy of prospects), and now it’s time for the rest of the roster moves to fill in around these guys.  But, on a surface level, it’s hard to get too excited, when so many variables are in play.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Against The 49ers

Super fun win on Sunday at CenturyLink, as the Seahawks and 49ers were the first teams in NFL history to combine for a 43-16 score.  The Seahawks were favored by double-digits and this was one of those kinds of games where far too often you see us play down to the level of our competition and eke out an ugly win by 3 points, followed by everyone talking about how it doesn’t matter how pretty it was as long as a win is a win is a win is a blah blah blah.  Not this time.  After some predictable early-game struggles, we eventually went up 20-0 and didn’t look back.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Twelve Games

Russell Wilson, one more time.  11/17 for only 185 yards, but a whopping 4 TDs against 0 INTs.  Check out this season through three quarters:  2,716 yards (on pace for around 3,621), 8.33 yards per attempt (a career high by a fraction of a yard), 29 TDs (already his third-most in a season), 5 INTs, and a 115.5 passer rating (which would easily be a career high if he can keep it up).  There’s raw passing numbers, and there’s efficiency, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a guy who’s more efficient, either this season or over the course of a career.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

You can’t do what he’s doing without the offensive line playing the way they’ve been playing.  We’ve always said, “If Russell Wilson ever had time in the pocket, he’d be among the best in the game,” and this year is living proof.  There were a few too many penalties for my liking (some legit, some REALLY ticky-tack), but otherwise Wilson had a clean pocket most of the day, and when he was heavily pressured (like on that one ugly sack near the 49ers goalline), I would argue the receivers or running backs let him down by missing assignments.

The proof is also in the pudding in the run game.  A week after Carolina brought us down to Earth a little bit, we had a quietly explosive game against a pretty solid 49ers run defense:  168 yards on 29 carries (5.8 per attempt) and a TD.  Carson led the way with 69 (nice), but Penny had 65 of his own (including a nifty 20-yard TD scamper) on nearly half the attempts.

Defensively, I mean, Bobby Wagner should probably be the MVP of this one:  12 tackles, 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 2 passes defended, 1 simultaneous forced fumble/fumble recovery, and a 98-yard interception returned for a touchdown (the longest in franchise history … LOB WHO MOTHERFUCKERS???).  Best Middle Linebacker In Football Hands Down No Questions Asked Thank U Next.

Elsewhere, Justin Coleman had a monster game with 10 tackles and half a sack.  Austin Calitro was all over the place in the stead of K.J. Wright.  Poona Ford was a load in the middle.  Frank Clark was in Nick Mullens’ pocket all day.  For a unit that ended up giving up 452 yards of offense (mostly in garbage time), that was a helluva game.  I mean, largely due to their ineptitude, the 49ers ran 74 plays to Seattle’s 49, so the Seahawks’ defense had to contend with a modest time imbalance.  A lot of heart on that side of the ball to hold them to just 16 points.

Getting back to the offense, kudos to Jaron Brown for his 2 TDs.  Tyler Lockett had a 52-yard score and a massive kickoff return to start the third quarter (which immediately preceeded Penny’s touchdown).  And Doug Baldwin even got in on the action with a 1-yard score.  Fantastic all-around day by these guys.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

The youth is really starting to stand out, and it’s a good sign of things to come.  The Seahawks should have plenty of money to spread around this offseason, and they’ll have a lot of fun decisions to make.  Frank Clark needs to be extended; that has to be Priority #1.  I would argue Jarran Reed is Priority #2.  I think the aforementioned Calitro could be a great fit to slide into K.J.’s role alongside Wagner.  I do ultimately think the Seahawks will look at the secondary in this year’s draft, but it’s nice to see Thompson and Hill making strides as the season has progressed.  We talk all the time about Griffin and Flowers – and rightly so – but it’s nice to see the depth in this secondary start to approach prior glories.  It’ll never be as good as it was, but to come close is something special.

On the flipside, how smart was that decision to extend Lockett when we did?  Between him, getting Doug healthy again next year, with David Moore and Jaron Brown rounding out the group, we’re set at wide receiver.  We’re also set at running back with Carson as the lead dog and the emergence of Penny as a change-of-pace threat to break it at any time.  That speed and explosiveness is what we expected all along from the first rounder, so it’s nice to see it finally showing up in games.

There’s a lot of quality youth on this team.  If we can just keep the offensive line intact, 2019 could really be something special, assuming we can fill in some of the holes with free agency.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

Obviously not a great day by the kicker.  Gladly, it didn’t come close to affecting the outcome; let’s just hope this is a random anomaly and he got all his bad kicks out in a laugher.

Ultimately, it looks like Carson’s finger injury won’t matter too much (though, you hate to see a guy prone to fumbling injure any part of his hands).  But, the hamstring injury to Fluker seems like a crusher.  He could be out for a few games, the rest of the regular season, or put on IR and lost entirely.  You hate to see something so serious happen towards the end of a game that’s been largely decided, so let’s hope for the best.

The Huskies Won The Pac-12, Set To Play Ohio State In The Rose Bowl

What a Pac-12 Championship Game!  Thrills!  Chills!  Spills!  A 10-3 barnburner that I hoped would never end!

I’m only sort of kidding.  I wouldn’t want a game like that to be the only football game I ever watched for the rest of my life, but it’s nice to have a little variety once in a while.  I feel like you see these back-and-forth, high-scoring affairs all the time, but you hardly ever see a real, true defensive battle to the death!

The Huskies were able to move the ball pretty well at times, but a few things were readily apparent from the get-go.  For starters, Coach Pete has zero confidence in his field goal kicker outside of the 20-yard line.  I mean, that’s as much as I’ve ever seen a coach go for it on 4th down, outside of some lunatic who just goes for it every single time!

Also, it was clear Browning was going to throw his patented early interception.  Somehow, the first two were thrown right at defenders who just dropped them, before the actual interception bounced off of Ty Jones’ chest and leg.  I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like he’s gotta get it out of his system before he can go out there and finish the game.  It’s not like he was TERRIBLE in this one, but Utah’s not gonna make it easy on anyone.

I thought some of the play-calling was REALLY suspect, after a nearly-flawless Apple Cup.  I mean, if you know you’re going to go for it on 4th down on Utah’s side of the field, then why not run it on 3rd & 6 to see if you can get it to a point where you can then run it on 4th & short?  Don’t tell me the offensive coordinator wasn’t aware, because that had to have been in the gameplan going in:  we’re not letting our kicker screw us!  The running game wasn’t anything spectacular – Utah held us to 119 yards on 40 carries – but it was pretty dependable that we were going to get SOMETHING on most every carry.  That’s better than trying to rely on Browning to do the job against a stout front like that.

Ultimately, with the game tied 3-3 late into the 3rd quarter, there were two possible outcomes:  we were either going to blow it, or our defense was going to have to put points on the board.  I had zero trust in the Husky offense coming from behind in this one, and with the way Utah was moving the ball for much of the 3rd quarter, the tide was starting to swell against us.

I really thought I was going to have bought plane tickets to Pasadena for nothing!

Thank God for Byron Murphy!  When he picked off that first one, I literally shouted, “YOU HAVE TO SCORE!”  Had he been tackled even inside the Utah 10-yard line, I have no doubt in my mind we would’ve mucked it up somehow.  As soon as he crossed the goalline – and as soon as it was confirmed there were no flags on the play – I can’t begin to tell you the amount of relief that washed over me.  Up 10-3, with a quarter left to play, this game felt much more in control.

Another pick by Murphy, and one by Jordan Miller on the very next drive, helped seal that deal.  Did I think there was a little missed PI call on that final Utah play?  Oh sure, but I always expect the worst!  I don’t think that necessarily cost them the game; I still think we would’ve prevented them from scoring a touchdown.

That was just a MONSTER defensive performance, from the players on up to the coaches.

And so here we are, going back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2000 season!  This feels good.  More than that, it feels RIGHT!

This is an insane run the Huskies have been on.  Two years ago, in the Peach Bowl against Alabama.  Last year, in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State.  Now, the Rose Bowl against Ohio State.  All three are premiere bowl games against three premiere college football programs.  Against Bama, we took an early lead, but were pretty well over-matched going forward.  Against Penn State, we were overwhelmed from the jump and made a valiant effort to bring it back to a 1-score game, but ultimately it never felt like we were in EITHER of those games.

Now, we’ve got the Buckeyes.  A 12-1 team some had pegged for the College Football Playoffs.  I’m sure I’ll have some sort of preview in the days leading up to the game, but I just want to start off the bowl season by saying this:  we’ve been in big games before.  This team has played some HUGE schools.  The spotlight, the national stage, should NOT be too much for this group.  You could argue against Bama, we weren’t ready.  You could argue we were still a little raw – particularly on defense – last year in the Fiesta Bowl.  But, this is a game that can be won by the Huskies.  Ohio State has some impressive-looking wins on paper, but I would argue the Big 10 is wildly overrated.  I would argue the Buckeyes themselves are wildly overrated.  Yes, they have talent, but their defense isn’t anything special.  And, if the Husky defense plays like they did against Utah, we should have no trouble slowing their offensive attack.  I would argue we match up better against Ohio State than we do the Utes!

If I’m right, it’s going to be one Happy New Year, as I celebrate at the Rose Bowl with my friends.

It’s Time To Believe In The Seahawks Again

Considering where I thought this team was headed at the beginning of the season, I couldn’t imagine a better scenario for the Seahawks than this.  6-5, the worst of our schedule behind us, in the driver’s seat for a wild card spot.  This week, we get the hapless 49ers at home; they should be push-overs.

This game would’ve been a lot more interesting before the 49ers were relegated to their third string quarterback.  You take the good with the bad though.  The good is we get what should be a walk-over victory; the bad is that what was once a Sunday Night game has reverted back to Sunday Afternoon.

It’s fine.  I mean, it would’ve been cool – coming off our dramatic victory in Carolina – to have the national eyes upon us.  But, we’ve got a Monday Night game in a couple weeks that should hopefully take care of that.

I don’t know a ton about the 49ers, but I know they stink.  Their defense has Richard Sherman … and that’s about it.  For what it’s worth – since this has been a topic of endless discussion this week – even if I was going to the game, and even if there was ample opportunity (with him being shown on the jumbotron or something), I wouldn’t bother booing Sherm.  I get all the reasons why people might, it’s just not for me.  Do I agree with how he handled things in his last couple years here?  Not really, but I don’t hold it against him either.  He gave everything he had to this team, and even when he was disgruntled, he still played his ass off on the field.  All that off-field stuff doesn’t matter to me if you prove it game-in and game-out.  As much as I find Jim Moore entertaining on the radio, I get how he could get under your skin in a press conference setting.

Sherm never forced his way off the team (though he may have wanted to leave a year or two earlier); he was all set to play out his contract, and it was the Seahawks who decided to move on.  Whether or not I agree with their decision is irrelevant.  While things have worked out for this team, can you imagine this defense with Richard Sherman on it?  Of course, by the same token, I guess we wouldn’t have Tre Flowers as involved in things.  Plus, I don’t even know at this point where the money we saved on Sherm went to with this team, but forget about it!  The point is, Sherm was loyal to this team until this team wasn’t loyal to him.  And when they cut him loose, he tried to find a division rival to stick it to us.  The 49ers were a team on the come-up, so of course that was a logical choice!

If it were me, I would’ve played it the exact same way.

Furthermore, I mean, how mad can you be at the guy who’s wasting away on a 2-9 squad?  Aside from him, the rest of that defense is GARBAGE.  Believe me, I’ve seen it.  It’s like if a Husky transferred to Wazzu.  My reaction is, “Aww, that’s sweet.  Have fun in mediocrity!”  But, to boo the man?  That’s like kicking him when he’s down.

Now, if he had joined the Rams, and was set to play in a Super Bowl without us, I might be singing a different tune.  But, here we are.

Anyway, getting back to the Niners, like I said, they’re bad.  Nick Mullens is their QB and he threw me off the scent by being good against the Raiders in his first start, but since then he’s been as you would expect, even laying a total egg against the Bucs of all teams!  I can’t imagine he has his best game in the rowdy confines of CenturyLink Field.

The rest of the 49ers are pretty banged up across the board.  George Kittle is a stud, so he’s a guy to watch out for.  Their rushing situation is a little underrated; when healthy, Matt Breida is pretty solid.  But, in the end, I don’t think this team has what it takes to contend.  It would be a HUGE upset if they came in here and won.

I expect the Seahawks to do their thing.  Running on the 49ers shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, and as long as Wilson doesn’t try to take advantage of Sherm’s side too often, we shouldn’t have any trouble moving the ball.  I would expect something in the range of 33-13, as we all look ahead to the mighty showdown the following Monday.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 13

I’m a man on the brink of destruction.

I took another one on the chin this week, losing to Space Forcin’ 178.53 to 170.70.  I had an opportunity, but I froze, and it bit me in the ass.  If I’d picked up Chase Daniel and dropped Derek Carr, that would’ve been the difference.  Space Forcin’ had Daniel going on Thursday, so of course he blew up for 25 points.  There were any number of other issues – JuJu Smith-Schuster scoring on a 90+ yard touchdown against the inept Denver Broncos secondary, Philip Rivers being unstoppable; or on my team getting another crap game from Wentz, AP and Greg Olsen – but the bottom line is if I couldn’t beat a team with Mahomes on BYE and with Kamara getting under 12 points, then I just don’t deserve to win.

So, this is it.  The final week of the regular season.  I’m 5-7, in 6th place.  Still 3rd in points scored; still 2nd in points against.  This year is a clusterfuck of epic proportions.  The team ahead of me is 6-6; I can only pass him if I win and he loses (because I’m way ahead of him in points).  The team behind me is also 5-7.  If I lose and he wins, I’m out of the playoffs.  If he loses, I’m in the playoffs regardless (because, again, I’m way ahead of him in points).

I don’t deserve any of this.  But, I also deserve every single bit of this.  Because I play this stupid fucking game by choice; no one’s putting a gun to my head!  I could quit any time.  And yet I continue to put myself through this.  I’m miserable all day Sunday as I obsessively check score updates; I’m miserable all day Monday as I sweat out yet another close game.  I’m miserable Tuesday through Saturday because I’m in this fucking position of having one of the three best teams in the league while on the outside-looking-in.  I need a miracle and the guy I need to win next week just lost Alex Smith and Jack Doyle.

As for my team, I lost Andy Dalton for the year, so that’s fun.  Thankfully, I wasn’t planning on playing him ever.  Jameis Winston is now my Ride Or Die #2 QB, so I’ll live and die with a potential 4-INT game hanging over my head.  Before Monday Night’s game, I dropped Dalton for Derrick Henry, but I never expected to hang onto him long.  Indeed, I was able to flip him for Philly’s Josh Adams.  It’s Week 13, I’m not gonna make a waiver claim and NOT play him immediately!  So, he slots in for Carson.  I do think Carson will play well against the 49ers – and watch this be the game he scores 3 TDs – but I think Adams is going to be more reliable, more explosive, and more of a workhorse over Seattle’s committee.  Plus, this way, if Carson stinks, I don’t have to sit there being miserable the entire afternoon.

No more BYE weeks to kick me around, so here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. WAS
  • QB2 – Jameis Winston vs. CAR
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ OAK
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ NE
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. NO
  • RB2 – Josh Adams vs. WAS
  • TE – Greg Olsen @ TB
  • FLEX – Robert Woods @ DET
  • K – Matt Bryant vs. BAL
  • DEF – Chicago @ NYG

My bench is:  Carr, Peterson, Boyd, Carson, Brown, Bell (IR).

This week I’m going up against Korky Butchek again.  He’s the #2 team in the league, in record and in points.  I’m not posting his lineup because I don’t give a fuck anymore.  I’m not obsessing over this thing like I’ve been doing.  My lineups are set in all my leagues, I’ll check before game times to make sure there are no injury/inactive surprises.  But, once 10am on Sunday rolls around, I’m not opening up Yahoo again until Tuesday morning.  I don’t want to know who my opponent has going this week, because I don’t want to feel that pang of misery every time I see one of his guys scores a touchdown.  I just want to watch football and try to enjoy myself.  If I make the playoffs, great.  If I don’t, then whatever, I’ll try to rip shit up in the Consolation Bracket.

I should be favored in all those games – barring more injuries – because I’m far and away better than the bottom 4 teams.  So, watch me lose in the first week.

Every year I tinker with the thought of quitting fantasy football.  That urge is going to be tough to beat after this season if I’m eliminated from the playoffs.  I mean, how is this fun?  What makes this a worthwhile endeavor?  These are the questions I’ll be asking myself in the weeks ahead.

All Things Considered, This Season Couldn’t Have Started Worse For Husky Basketball

The Huskies are 5-2 after a tougher-than-it-had-to-be victory over Eastern Washington last night.  I’m still pretty sure I haven’t seen a minute of this team play this season, but let’s get real.  These are the same guys we’ve seen for 4 years.  They’ve progressed a nominal amount.  So, in that sense, it’s like I’ve seen EVERY game.

Now, part of why I haven’t seen the Huskies play this season has to do with the Pac-12 conference and our inept commissioner, Larry Scott, who is this disease that just won’t go away.  The exposure-level for this conference is non-existent.  These games against some relatively good schools are being televised NOT on the Pac-12 Network – because no one HAS the fucking Pac-12 Network – but rather the SEC Network (at Auburn) or the Big 10 Network (Minnesota).  It’s 2018 and I live in Tacoma, Washington.  I shouldn’t have to listen to the radio in 2018 to know what my basketball team is doing, because I don’t subscribe to the most elite sports cable package in existence!  These games should be on NORMAL cable sports networks, and they’re not, and that’s a failing that goes right to the top.

Also, I mean, what’s with these 8pm starts?  Are you fucking kidding me?  Who on the East Coast is going to be able to stay up until an 11pm start time to watch our product?  We have ZERO national presence in a day and age where sports are more popular than ever and they’re more in demand than ever!  If ESPN wants to shunt us off to the middle of the night, then maybe we don’t do a deal with ESPN anymore.  Maybe we jump to FOX or maybe we take our product to Amazon, and we get some reasonable fucking start times for these games!

But, I digress.  Our worthless commissioner isn’t the only reason why this season is going down the shitter.  The conference itself is in the worst shape I’ve ever seen it in.  Oregon is the only team in the Top 25.  ASU and UCLA are receiving votes, but come on.  I read somewhere that the Pac-12 has the worst record against Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 teams among all the power conferences, and it’s not even close!  Time’s running out in the non-conference season, and there’s no reason for that to get any better over the next month.  We’re going to head into conference play – where we always cannibalize ourselves into oblivion – as the consensus worst power conference in basketball and when it comes to Tournament time, we’d be LUCKY to get 3 teams in.  Odds are, it’ll be 2.  Non-power conferences are going to start lapping us!

How is it that an entire 12-team conference can be so bad at bringing in basketball talent?  And how can we be so bad at developing the talent we do have?!

The longer this goes on, the more ingrained in the rest of the nation this perception (reality) is going to be.  We’re ALREADY an afterthought in any national college basketball column, at what point are we ignored entirely?  At what point do we become the Sun Belt Conference?

So, we’ve got that going for us.  Then, there’s our actual record.  2 losses against the only 2 quality opponents we’ve faced this season.  Auburn’s a top 10 team, and the game was played down there, so that’s understandable.  But, losing that game to Minnesota on a last second shot – where we essentially threw the game away on a Jaylen Nowell turnover with an opportunity to extend our lead and at least push it into overtime – is a crisis-level event.

Looking forward, the odds of going to Gonzaga and beating the #1 team in the nation is 0.00%.  Even if that game wasn’t starting at 8pm, there’s no fucking way in hell I’d watch that massacre!  That puts us at 0-3 against the big teams.  All that’s left is a neutral-floor game against a highly-ranked Virginia Tech team.  Where is that “neutral-floor”?  Atlantic City.  2,836 miles away from Seattle, and only 446 miles from Blacksburg, VA.  You tell me, who’s more likely to win that one?

Ultimately, it’s probably going to come down to whether or not the Huskies can win the Pac-12 Tournament.  Given the state of the conference, I like our chances as much as anyone.  It would help if we could get into the Top 4 and have a BYE for that first round.  But, I mean, I’ve watched this team.  I’ve watched it for four years.  It’s the same team that can’t shoot, that goes LOOOOONG stretches without scoring, and while it has some nice defensive pieces, it still gets into foul trouble at the drop of a hat.  I would NEVER trust this team to win 3 consecutive conference games with our season on the line!

The fact of the matter is, this team just isn’t getting any better.  It is what it is.  When we shoot well – like we did, for the most part, last night against the Eagles – we’ll most likely win.  When we don’t, and we’re stuck playing a close game down to the final possession, we just don’t have the talent to win in crunch time.

We’re in our second season post-Romar, but being stuck with all of his guys makes it feel like nothing’s changed.  I can’t wait until we’re able to cycle through these duds and see what Coach Hopkins can do with his own players.

The Seahawks Are Ready To Ramp Up For The Playoffs

That was just a terrific football game on Sunday, from start to finish!  The Seahawks got the ball first (of course) and went 3 & Out (of course).  The Panthers proceeded to drive all the way down to inside the Seattle 10 yard line, and this one looked like it was gonna go sideways in a hurry.  But, an unexpected wrinkle:  we held them to 4th & 2 and prevented them from converting!  It was as close as could be, and we certainly benefitted from what appeared to be a favorable spot, but all in all we held when we needed to, and this game took on a different feeling.

Not right away, of course.  We punted on our very next possession, then Wilson missed an open touchdown to Doug Baldwin, but early in the second quarter it was 3-3 and based on the way the game was played to that point, it felt like we should’ve been down by two scores.

I’ll say this about the Panthers:  their offense with Norv Turner at the helm was and is absolutely phenomenal.  Cam Newton is as good as he’s ever been, Christian McCaffrey is the ultimate offensive weapon, and they’ve got enough young talent at receiver to be even more potent when they get a little more experience and learn to gel.  This thing – barring any health issues – could be a juggernaut in 2019.

I mean, 125 yards on 17 rushes for McCaffrey, plus another 112 yards on a whopping 11 receptions!  The Seahawks’ pass rush isn’t any great shakes as it is, but when Newton is holding the ball for a millisecond and getting it into McCaffrey’s hands with a ton of open yards in front of him on seemingly every play, it was truly a genius-level game-plan by the Panthers.  The Seahawks’ defense, by its nature, is always going to allow the checkdown, so defaulting to the checkdown as your primary route – before whoever is supposed to come cover the running back out in the flat has time to get there – is absolutely the correct play call 9 times out of 10.  Quite honestly, I wondered if the Seahawks were ever going to shadow McCaffrey; the answer to that question was:  NOPE!

I don’t know how the Seahawks prevailed, except I do know, and his name is Russell Motherfucking Wilson.

Sorry to write almost 400 words before I get to my abandoned premise for these recap posts, but …

What I’m Geeked Out About After Eleven Games

It’s Russell Wilson!  The guy is phenomenal!  Sure, he missed that early TD to Baldwin, but he finished 22/31 for 339 and 2 TDs against 0 INTs!  The Panthers were taking away the run, loading up the box with practically the entire defense.  And, when they weren’t holding our running backs to a 2.7 yards per carry average on 28 attempts, they were blitzing the hell out of my boy!  The Panthers got to him for a couple sacks, but he made them pay for their disrespect so many more times.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Tyler Lockett, dare I say it, is the best receiver on this team!  5 for 107 and a TD.  I know Doug Baldwin has been hurt all year, and that’s hampering his numbers quite a bit, but Lockett has really stepped up this year, and John Schneider is a very smart man for signing him to that extension when he did.  Perfect timing, perfect value, and I’m glad Lockett is going to be a Seahawk for many years to come.

Also, Doug Baldwin, who has had a knee issue dating back to Training Camp, came down with a groin pull earlier last week in practice.  He was by no means a lock to play in this one, but he gutted it out and came up pretty big.

Can’t leave out David Moore, who caught the game-tying 35-yard touchdown on 4th & 3 late in the game.  Dude is a stud, no doubt about it.

Defensively, Bobby Wagner is the straw that stirs the drink.  11 more tackles for the best middle linebacker in the game.  You want to throw Luke Kuechly in my face?  Yeah, he’s pretty good too, but look at what he’s got around him and compare it to the string and duct tape job the Seahawks are pulling on defense.  Without Bobby, the Seahawks would EASILY be giving up 30+ points every game; it takes every ounce of his blood, sweat, and tears to keep this unit afloat until we sign some re-inforcements this upcoming offseason.

Tre Flowers didn’t have the best game, but he made a game-saving tackle on the Panthers’ final drive to hold them to a 52-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide-right.  More importantly, it saved the Seahawks almost two full minutes to drive down (with plenty of time to spare – so much time that we had to kneel twice to run down all the clock – thanks to our master quarterback) and kick the game-winner.  That tackle alone might’ve been the play of the game.

The Seahawks gave up 27 points in this one, but they held early and they held again late.  In a 3-point victory for the Seahawks, the Panthers left at least 6 points on the field because they couldn’t convert when it mattered most.

Also, it was cool to see Naz Jones make a play, when he’s been in the doghouse for most of the year.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

I thought Frank Clark had a rare dud of a performance, in an otherwise amazing season.  He looked like he was chasing sacks (and his future millions) more than he was interested in containing Newton and limiting big chunk plays.  Now, to be fair – as I mentioned before – the Panthers schemed to get the ball out of Newton’s hands most of the day.  But, there were a few times Newton was able to scramble, and Frank just ran himself right out of the play.

The secondary, again, gave up a disturbing number of big plays that I’m going to hope is just growing pains for this unit as it eventually figures it out.  Again, an elite QB and all, but not something we’re used to seeing as Seahawks fans the last half-dozen years.

Also, shit man, you know McCaffrey is their best offensive player … maybe try to account for him on – I dunno – half of their plays at least?  How many GAPING holes did he run through unharmed?  Again, I’ll register my complaint that Poona Ford was a healthy scratch, as this is another one where run defense should’ve been our ultimate focus.

Maybe the run defense is just bad.  Where’s Tony McDaniel when you need him?

This team needs K.J. Wright in the worst way.  Let him get back to 100% – we have time, with some cupcakes coming up on the schedule – but if this team is going to get to the playoffs, and maybe even make some noise when they get there, we’re going to need Wright and Wagner leading the way together.