My Favorite Seattle-Based Athletes, Part 1

Ahh yes, we’re in one of those dead periods of the sports calendar (unless your team happens to be in the Super Bowl, or you’re super-jazzed by what they’re doing with the Pro Bowl nowadays); it’s a struggle to find things to write about. So, to kill some time, I thought I’d write about my favorite Seattle athletes, both college and pros.

These aren’t necessarily people who were born and/or raised in the Seattle area (although, they could be). These are people who played their respective sports – either in college or as professionals – in Seattle. We’re talking Seahawks, Mariners, Supersonics, and Huskies. For this exercise, I went through each team and picked my favorite five guys. I’ll write a little bit about each, then we’ll narrow it down to a top ten overall, then we’ll see if we’re able to rank those. I don’t expect this to be easy.

I should point out – for frame of reference – that I didn’t really start getting into sports until 1987 or 1988, with the 90’s being my heyday. I got into the Seahawks first, then the Sonics in the early 90’s, then the Mariners in 1995, and it wasn’t until I started going to UW in the fall of 1999 when I truly became a Husky fan. This isn’t a ranking of the All Time Best Seattle Athletes. These are just MY favorites. If they’re not your favorites, I don’t care. Go start your own blog; they’re not too hard to make.

Mariners

  • Felix Hernandez
  • Randy Johnson
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Ichiro
  • Alex Rodriguez

Spoiler alert: Felix and Randy are making my Top 10, so I’ll write more about them later. It feels corny as hell to have Griffey in my top five favorite Mariners, but I don’t know how you leave him off. He balled out in the outfield, making insane catches and throws, and he was one of the best home run hitters of all time. You couldn’t take your eyes off of him when he was doing whatever it was he was doing, even if it was just chuckling with teammates in the dugout. I would say over time, the bloom came off the rose with Ichiro, but those first few years, he was a force of nature. You couldn’t believe what you were seeing out of this magnetic little guy, with his cannon of an arm, and his ability to beat out seemingly-routine grounders. Eventually, he became a slap-hitting singles guy who never dove for balls and whose arm stopped being challenged by baserunners. But, for a while there, he was all we had. A common theme going forward is going to be how tough I had it trying to pick a fifth favorite. Edgar was just boringly amazing. Buhner was certainly a terrific personality. And there were plenty of quietly-excellent guys around the turn of the century. But, A-Rod was a guy who could do it all, at least as long as he wore a Mariners uniform. Power, speed, defense (at the most premium defensive spot on the team), great eye, great average. We somehow brought in a guy who could legitimately push Griffey as the best player on the team. Say what you will about his exit from Seattle, but even then, it was fun to root against him on other teams.

Seahawks

  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Kam Chancellor
  • Steve Largent
  • Russell Wilson
  • Richard Sherman

Spoiler alert: Lynch, Kam, and Largent are all making my Top 10. The Seahawks were tough in a different way, because I could’ve gone 20 deep in this preliminary list; it was difficult to limit it to just five. Cortez Kennedy, Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck, Joey Galloway, Earl Thomas, Michael Bennett, Ricky Watters, Brian Blades, Bobby Wagner, Michael Sinclair, Jacob Green, Lofa Tatupu, Walter Jones, Doug Baldwin. You could go on and on and on. But, in spite of recent schadenfreude, Russell Wilson was still a super fun quarterback to watch and root for on a weekly basis. In his prime, he would regularly pull our asses out of the fire late in games, and even late in plays as he’d avoid the pass rush in order to make some insane throw down field. Sherm ended up landing my fifth spot simply because of his personality. You could always tell what kind of shit he was talking even if he wasn’t mic’ed up on the field. If teams had the misfortune of trying to challenge him, they’d often find that plan thwarted real quick. Even later in his career – after quarterbacks by and large stopped throwing his way – it was always comforting knowing half the field was closed for business.

Supersonics

  • Shawn Kemp
  • Gary Payton
  • Detlef Schrempf
  • Sam Perkins
  • Nate McMillan

Spoiler alert: Kemp and Payton are in my Top 10. You’ll notice the top four listed here were the top four in minutes played in that amazing 1995/1996 season (and that all five were on that team in major roles). The fifth guy came down to Mac-10, Ray Allen, Dale Ellis, Hersey Hawkins, and Rashard Lewis, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Mr. Sonic. For a lot of reasons, but I’ll never forget how banged up he was in those Finals against the Bulls. Yet, he came back and played a critical role in our winning games four and five. I’ll always believe that a healthy Nate would’ve propelled us to the upset to end all upsets against those juggernaut Bulls. Detlef was a consummate pro and a perfect complement to Gary and Shawn’s theatrics. And Big Smooth – for that nickname alone – very nearly made my Top 10. Just a stud of a big man who drained threes like nobody’s business (at a time in league history where that was an extreme rarity, unlike today where it’s the norm).

Husky Basketball

  • Isaiah Thomas
  • Jon Brockman
  • Nate Robinson
  • Brandon Roy
  • Matisse Thybulle

Spoiler alert: only IT makes my Top 10 from here. If I had to pick a second, I’d go with Brockman, who was a great all-around forward under Romar. He got better every year in a complementary role, and as a senior really picked up and led this team in ways we wouldn’t have expected from him as a freshman. Nate Rob was super flashy and fun to watch. Roy probably had the best game of all of them, but was one of those boringly-excellent players (who, unfortunately, could never stay healthy as a pro). And Thybulle really got unlocked under Mike Hopkins, in probably the only good thing he’s done as a coach of the Huskies. Honorable mention goes to Terrell Brown, for being super fun to watch game-in and game-out last year.

Husky Football

  • Marques Tuiasosopo
  • Reggie Williams
  • John Ross
  • Budda Baker
  • Michael Penix

Spoiler alert: Tui and Reggie both made my Top 10. If there was a Top 11, John Ross would be in it. Nothing more fun than my friends and I screaming JOHN ROSS at the tops of our lungs whenever he corralled a 40+ yard bomb for a touchdown. My love for Budda Baker started when he flipped from the Ducks to the Huskies. Then, he proceeded to ball out for us for three of the best teams we’ve ever had, before becoming one of the pros I most wanted the Seahawks to draft. We let him go to the Cardinals and part of me has never forgiven them for it. Consider this the kiss of death for Penix’s 2023 season, as I’ve surely jinxed him. But, he might be the best and most pro-ready quarterback I’ve ever seen in a Husky uniform. As someone who stepped in right away this past season and led us to double-digit wins – including a bowl victory over the Longhorns – it’s a remarkable feat, even if he is a transfer. Penix obviously gets extra credit for choosing to return for a second season – when he easily could’ve gone pro and been at least a Day 2 draft pick, if not a sneaky first rounder – and of course for all the Big Penix Energy jokes my friends and I get to rattle off. If he parlays this into a conference title in 2023, I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s able to sneak into my Top 10 by this time next year.

Tomorrow: my top 10.

Do I Even Bother Writing About The Dylan Moore Extension?

I guess I do, since I’m sitting here now, but I’m not super jazzed about it.

It’s three years and right around $9 million (more or less, depending on whatever incentives he reaches). Two Arb years and a free agent year were bought out. Is this the going rate for quality utility players? Is Dylan Moore even a quality player?

I dunno, man. I guess if he plays out of his mind, hypothetically he could’ve earned more in Arbitration. But, if Dylan Moore is playing a lot, that means something has gone wrong in your team building. That means whatever the platoon thing you’ve got going on in left field is a disaster. That means you’re injured along the infield and turning to your bench to fill the void. It’s not a good thing if he earns this contract. And in baseball’s inflated dollars, it doesn’t take much to earn $3 million per season.

It also kinda feels like the Mariners are really relying on Moore to be … more than just a utility player. We never really did anything with the DH spot this offseason. The intent is for that to be a rotating quasi-off day for regular position players. Well, when those starters are getting rest as a DH, someone has to fill the void out in the field. Due to his versatility, that someone is – more often than not – going to be Dylan Moore.

.224/.368/.385. That’s his slash line in 2022 over 255 plate appearances. It’s been a relatively up-and-down career for Moore since he came up for the M’s in 2019 (and, unfortunately, 2022 was one of those “up” years). In 2020, he was awesome in the COVID-shortened season. Awesome enough to be penciled in as our starting second baseman in 2021, when he absolutely cratered. I guess he’s got a good eye at the plate. He’s got slightly better power than you’d expect from a utility player. His defense is fine. He’s no Mark McLemore or anything. There’s significant diminishing returns for Dylan Moore! The more he plays, the more he’s exposed, the worse his results are.

But, I guess you could do worse. I can’t remember the last time the Mariners have had a great utility player. That’s the whole thing though, right? If they were actually great, they’d be starting for you. They wouldn’t get saddled with that “utility” tag.

It’s just discouraging going into a season knowing you’re going to have a utility player out there for the majority of games. We can’t do better than Dylan Moore? Really?

I Don’t See The Downside To Letting Geno Smith Hit Free Agency

Of course I don’t, because I don’t really want to see the Seahawks re-signing him. But, I’m resigned to the fact that he will be back, because that’s just how it works. NFL teams can’t help themselves. It’s a zero-risk league; you find what works and you beat it into the fucking ground.

For the purposes of this exercise, though, let’s pretend that I do want Geno Smith back. That I’m more than happy with a 9-8 team that barely squeaks into the playoffs. That mediocrity is my be-all, end-all in life. I was listening to Brock & Salk the other day, and I think they were torn on the matter. Someone said something about how he expects Geno to hit free agency, and Salk said if that happens, he’s as good as gone, because some team will blow the Seahawks away with an over-the-top offer.

I don’t agree with that. I mean, sure, there might be some other team willing to pay $32+ million per year to nab Geno. But, you’re making a big assumption when you opine that the Seahawks might get some sort of discount if we act fast and lock him up before free agency starts.

Frankly, I don’t see any reason why Geno Smith would want to avoid the open market. This is his first – and maybe ONLY – chance to make some real money in this league. His value has never been higher, and it will probably never BE higher than it is right this moment. He has every right to hold out for the absolute highest offer, whatever that may be. Unless …

Conversely, yeah, if you’re the Seahawks – and you want Geno to return – you have to be nervous about a bidding war starting up among the quarterback-needy teams in the league. There are PLENTY of organizations out there who would love to have his services. Geno would be a vast improvement for so many teams! And, as they always say, it only takes one to become enamored with him. Unless …

What if there isn’t the market everyone expects for Geno? Well then, it would be in Geno’s best interests to sign now and avoid the catastrophe that is the league lowballing him all offseason. Conversely, maybe the Seahawks would be wise to wait and see. Maybe instead of approaching that Franchise Tag figure, we’re free to sign him for considerably less.

Why don’t we take this opportunity to look around the league: who are the teams that need a quarterback, and who are the veteran quarterbacks available?

New York Jets – That’s a good team built to win right now, only missing a quarterback. I think they very much present a potential landing spot for a veteran. Would they want to bring Geno back after he failed so miserably with them the first time? I’m dubious.

Baltimore Ravens – It looks like they might move on from Lamar Jackson. But, they have 2022 Pro Bowler Tyler Huntley they could always turn to.

Houston Texans – They have the second overall pick and almost certainly will draft someone.

Indianapolis Colts – They have the fourth overall pick and almost certainly will draft someone.

Las Vegas Raiders – They’ve abandoned Derek Carr and could cut him with relatively little in the way of dead money; they could also try to trade him, though I don’t know what that market looks like. They have the seventh overall pick, but I could see them going either way (veteran vs. rookie).

Washington Commanders – They don’t strike me as a team that can be happy with the guys they’ve got. Like the Jets, they seem close to contention right now, just needing to shore up the quarterback spot. I’d bank on a veteran going their way.

New York Giants – They only need someone if they opt to let Danny Dimes walk. If that’s the case, I’d say they go with a veteran.

The Entire NFC South – The Falcons have the eighth overall pick and a third round quarterback from a year ago. I could see them going either way, but if I were them, I’d just draft another guy and have the two young guns duke it out. The Bucs are losing Tom Brady and don’t appear to have anyone in reserve; they seem to be a likely landing spot for a vet. The Saints would be idiotic to run it back with Andy Dalton, and Jameis Winston apparently isn’t any better otherwise he would’ve been in there when their season was at stake. I could also see them going for a vet. As for the Panthers, I think it’s full rebuild time; they have the ninth pick this year, go get a rookie.

Seattle Seahawks – duh.

Besides the Seahawks, there’s eleven teams. Two, for sure, will go with rookies. Maybe up to four. On the market, we figure to have the aforementioned Geno Smith, Derek Carr, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, Jimmy Garoppolo, maybe Aaron Rodgers (if the Packers opt to trade him and go with Jordan Love), Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Cooper Rush, Gardner Minshew, and Matt Ryan. If I’m the Seahawks, I don’t know if I’m enamored with any of those guys. If I’m the rest of the league, though, maybe Geno Smith isn’t looking too bad?

I guess we’ll see. As someone who is against paying $32+ million for Geno Smith, I’m in favor of letting him test the waters. Let him get that somewhere else. Because there’s always the chance that the rest of the NFL sees his 2022 season as something of a fluke. Or, at the very least, a product of a very specific environment, that isn’t likely to be replicated just anywhere.

Ultimately, the question I have for myself is: is there a number I would like to have Geno come back to the Seahawks at? Maybe $20-$25 million. That doesn’t seem super realistic, but I could see myself being comfortable with that sort of deal, over two or three years.

Will Russell Wilson Be A Hall Of Famer?

It feels insane to even ask this. Even one year ago, I would’ve told you, “Absolutely, 100%!” But, after that 2022 season, it’s probably a fair question. I mean, shit, people are going to debate Eli Manning’s worthiness up until (and probably even after) he gets in, and the dude won two Super Bowls and is in the top ten of all time passing yardage leaders; you don’t think people are going to debate someone as polarizing as Russell Wilson?

If Russell Wilson was having this career 30 years ago, it’d be a no-brainer. He’d already be a lock to get into the Hall of Fame. But, times have clearly changed. Guys are passing for more and more yards; it’s easier than ever to be an NFL quarterback! I no longer think it’s a simple matter of hanging around for a long time and passing for a ton of yards. I think you need titles, plural. I think you need an MVP or two. I think you need to make a significant impact upon the NFL, ideally with playoff appearances and victories.

Let’s take Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan, for instance. Both have thrown for over 60,000 yards; only 8 players have ever done so (Aaron Rodgers will be the 9th, if he plays again next year). There’s even a legitimate question about those two guys, though! Ryan has one Super Bowl appearance (that he famously lost), and Rivers doesn’t even have that. Ryan probably has a little bit of an edge, given that he was the Rookie of the Year and later an MVP, but he’s also only cracked the Pro Bowl four times in his career, and has had plenty of infuriating and underwhelming seasons to his credit.

Wilson, right now, sits at 21 in total passing yards with 40,583. Even if he just repeats his abysmal 2022 season, he’ll get to around 18th in 2023. He’s only 34 years old and has every intention of playing until he’s 40 or beyond. Presumably, even it if means bouncing from team to team, taking whatever chances to start that he can get. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t get to at least 50,000 yards passing, and if he does find a way to start for another six years, that probably gets him over the hump of 60,000. But, again, will that – and one title – be enough?

We’ll have to take into consideration what the league looks like by the time Wilson hangs ’em up. Mahomes will be skyrocketing up the passing yardage rankings, as will Burrow, Allen, Herbert, and maybe even Lawrence. He almost certainly will have played an entire career without so much as an MVP vote, let alone an MVP award. And, with the way he’s playing as he ages, I’m finding it harder and harder to believe he’s got another ring in him. The longer that goes on, the more people are going to recognize that 2013 Seahawks team for what it was: the genius of Pete Carroll and John Schneider, and the dominance of Marshawn Lynch and the L.O.B. It’s already swinging back in that direction after years of trying to shoehorn Wilson in there as the catalyst (of which I bought in as much as anyone).

And then there’s the Popularity Contest part of the Hall of Fame voting. You need a media person to plead your case to the committee. Is he well liked by the media? Given his boring, robotic quotes in literally every single interview, I’m guessing not. Is he liked at all? If Kyle Brandt’s not-even-hot take is at all representative of the greater American football media, it wouldn’t shock me if Wilson doesn’t have someone champing at the bit to vouch for him. Jake Heaps isn’t even on the radio anymore, for crying out loud!

I’ll admit, I’m really torn. There’s part of me that wants to see Russell Wilson succeed again, but I think in general I’m going to have a hard time rooting for him in a Broncos uniform. I think a lot of that has to do with me just not liking that particular team. I also have very little love for the Walmart family just based on their business practices alone. But, there’s also that need for the Seahawks to be correct in their decision-making. If Russell Wilson bounces back and leads the Broncos to the Super Bowl, that makes them look better than us. But, if he bounces back with his next team, then we’re an organization removed from this trade, and I can start to see myself rooting for a Wilson comeback (unless he returns to the NFC West to play for one of our rivals, then fuck him).

If I just take the last couple years out of it and stick to the good ol’ days, there are a TON of fond memories. All I would have to do is search Russell Wilson Seahawks Highlights on YouTube and there’d be countless compilation videos of him doing amazing, wonderful, magical things. You look at the Seahawks’ records in those seasons, you look at his records on the stat sheet, it all boils down to the best quarterback this organization has ever had.

When Russell Wilson retires, I’m sure we’ll get right back there. But, you can’t disregard what’s gone down the last two years. His vocal discontent in the media. His talking about a trade demand, followed by the next offseason actually following through on that demand. The way he made things miserable for this organization in his final season here. The way every contract he signed hamstrung this team in ways Tom Brady’s never has. Our worst nightmare – once it became clear Wilson was a star in this league – was him turning into a Me First diva. That’s exactly what happened, and it made the Seahawks actively worse as a result.

It’s not totally unforgivable, but it’s going to take some time to get over. You learn a lot about what kind of guy someone is the longer he stays around with the same team. I think we wanted to desperately to believe Russell Wilson was infallible, that we couldn’t see he was actually the cancer in this organization all along.

But, getting back to the original question, I would say right now, he is not a hall of famer. If he doesn’t win another title, he probably needs another 10-15 thousand more yards. And, even if he does manage to win one more, I’m guessing it’ll be more about the team around him than what he’s able to do slinging the ball. If that’s the case, I think he’s Eli 2.0, and it might take him a while to get over the hump.

Then again, he got his ultimate wish of having Sean Payton becoming his head coach, so I definitely won’t rule out a crazy Russell Wilson Second Act!

Can The Mariners Overtake The Astros In 2023?

As we get closer to the start of Spring Training – which commences in a couple weeks – it’s looking less and less likely that the Mariners will make a big, impactful move to improve this year’s team. Although, to be fair, the Winker/Suarez deal came down in mid-March last year, so it’s not impossible for something huge to come down the pike. Nevertheless, we can only render judgments on things as we know them today.

And today, we have a team that added Teoscar Hernandez, Kolten Wong, Trevor Gott, and A.J. Pollock; they lost Mitch Haniger (Giants), Kyle Lewis (Diamondbacks), Jesse Winker (Brewers), Abraham Toro (Brewers), Adam Frazier (Orioles), Carlos Santana (Pirates), and Erik Swanson (Blue Jays), among others. Feels like a wash to me. We’re REALLY banking a lot of our hopes and dreams on Hernandez and Wong coming to Seattle and continuing their relatively high-quality play. I get why we made these moves – Haniger is an injury waiting to happen, Winker and Toro were busts here, Frazier and Santana might be over the hill – but I can see a world where Winker bounces back when fully healthy, and where Haniger manages to keep his body right and not succumb to some more atrocious injury luck.

The justification for not spending a lot in free agency, or taking a lot of money on in trades, is due to our extending Julio Rodriguez and Luis Castillo in the middle of last year. Somehow, those two get lumped into our Hot Stove tally sheet by the Mariners, mostly to play down the complaints that the M’s are fucking tightwads, but that’s neither here nor there. They are who they are.

I’m not as up in arms as a lot of fans are. For the most part, I think the Mariners are building the right way. I’m already on record as saying I hate these big-money deals for outside free agents (the Robinson Cano conundrum). And I understand the farm system took a hit in the rankings – thanks to guys graduating to the Majors, and other guys getting traded away in the Castillo deal – so there’s not a ton of value left to jettison. It’s smart to not completely gut our minors just to bring in one more guy, especially if we’re not necessarily One More Guy away from winning a World Series. What I take issue with is the fact that there were mid-tier free agents out there who we could’ve signed to mid-level free agent deals – knowing we needed at least one more outfielder, as well as someone to rotate at DH – and we opted for A.J. Pollock. I think that’s going to burn us; I hope I’m wrong.

At some point, we have to move forward with the team we’ve been given. Which brings us to the question at hand: can the Mariners overtake the Astros in 2023?

This question assumes, of course, that the Mariners and Astros are the two best teams in the A.L. West, and by “overtaking the Astros”, it means the Mariners will win the division. For the sake of argument, then, let’s just further assume there’s no huge surprise team among the Angels, Rangers, or Athletics (who I would expect to finish in that order at the bottom of the division, though there’s always the chance the Rangers make a leap).

I’ll start with this: I haven’t kept great tabs on the Astros’ wheelings and dealings this offseason. I’m just taking it for granted they’re going to be at least as good as they were in 2022. Meaning: they’re probably good enough to win over 100 games. Last year, the Astros won 106 games, and were 16 games better than the Mariners. So, that’s the gap I’m talking about. Can we make up 16 games on them?

Well, for one thing, since we only play them 13 times – down from the usual 19 – there are fewer opportunities to gain ground in head-to-head play. But, as we’ve seen pretty much since the Astros joined the American League, that actually means there are fewer opportunities for them to beat our brains in. In my mind, that can only be a good thing for the M’s.

There are two, MAYBE three major things that I’m pointing to as reasons for optimism. The big two being: Luis Castillo and Julio Rodriguez. As much as I loathe including them as part of our overall spending this offseason, I do think there’s a legitimate argument to be made in favor of the Mariners picking up some wins in 2023.

Recall we traded for Castillo on July 30th last year; this year, we get him for the full season! (I should point out that this post also has to assume that everyone I write about stays healthy all year, or at least the vast majority of the games, for all teams involved; of course, the M’s could overtake the Astros if their top five guys all go down with ACL tears). Castillo was a 1 WAR player for the Mariners over the final two months; he counted 3.1 WAR for the Reds. What difference will he make at the top of our rotation every 5-6 days (depending how deep of a rotation we opt to go with to start out) for a full six months? I think that’s pretty significant.

Also recall that Julio Rodriguez was effectively worthless in the month of April last year, as he was getting his footing at the Major League level. Now he’s an All Star who should play at a very high level from Day 1. Having that experience last year can only boost him that much more in year two (let’s hope there’s no Sophomore Slump!). You can also say something similar about Cal Raleigh; he was officially demoted to Tacoma for a short spell before injury thrust him back to Seattle, where he FINALLY turned it around. I’m a little more concerned about his effectiveness this year; he’s still pretty boom or bust at the plate. But, let’s just say he SHOULD be as good as he was in the second half last year, and if we get that for a full season, it’ll be a nice lift for this offense in the months of April and May.

Finally, as a little bonus, I’ll just quickly add that the training wheels are officially off of Logan Gilbert, and the experience he’s had through two seasons will hopefully propel him towards one of those upper rotation slots. If he’s not a second ace on this team, I would expect him to be at least an effective #2. His career trajectory to date has been remarkable, and there’s still room for him to get better. We’re just getting into George Kirby’s second season, where it’s expected the training wheels are very much still on (considering he pitched a lot more as a rookie than the team expected going into last year). But, his ceiling looks to be even higher than Gilbert’s, so as long as these guys don’t have any major setbacks, you’re talking about one of the best rotations in all of baseball, starting on Day 1.

Is that enough? The bullpen will have to continue being lights out. The offense will have to continue being timely with their hitting and cluster luck. If everything goes according to plan, and we don’t run into a bunch of guys having career-worst seasons, I think there’s an okay chance. Maybe a 66.67% chance the Astros win the division, with a 33.33% chance the Mariners prevail. That’s not amazing, but considering it’s usually a 99.99% chance the Astros dominate, I’ll take it.

The Kraken Enter The All Star Break In First Place

It’s been night and day, this year compared to last. The Seattle Kraken finished their inaugural season 27-49-6; it’s now only the end of January and they’re already 29-15-5. It’s a remarkable turnaround that has the Kraken in first place in the Pacific Division with 63 points, just one more than Vegas and L.A.

How did we get here? Well, don’t talk to me about goaltending until I’ve had my morning coffee.

The fact of the matter is, the offense has been tremendous. Last year, the Kraken scored 216 goals all season, good for fourth-worst in the NHL. Pair that with 285 goals against – ninth-worst in the NHL – and you get a recipe for a team in the bottom three in the league. With 33 games remaining this season, the Kraken have already scored 177 goals, good for fifth-most in the league. Our goals against are middle-of-the-pack, but even that is a drastic improvement.

So, how does that happen? Well, it’s very much a team effort, as we have zero players in the top 50 in points, and only one player in the top 50 in goals scored – Jared McCann – who is tied for 24th with 23 goals. That shows up in the +/- rankings, where we have six players in the top 50: Adam Larsson (3rd at +30), Vince Dunn (5th at +26), Brandon Tanev (12th at +23), Morgan Geekie (25th at +18), Yanni Gourde and Ryan Donato (34th at +17). Predictably, we had zero players in the top 50 in any of these categories last year.

In spite of only having one goal scorer in the top 50, we have eight players in double-digits, with another three guys right there with 9 goals. I don’t know a lot about hockey yet, but that feels pretty ideal. You don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket, do you? Seems harder for other teams to focus on shutting down any one guy.

If there was that guy, it would probably be our lone All Star, Matty Beniers, in only his second professional season, at the age of 20. He’s certainly lived up to the hype of his status as a #2 overall draft pick. But, you can see he’s still got a lot of room to grow, which is what’s really exciting about all of this.

At some point, you have to talk about the goalies, so let’s get into it.

Philipp Grubauer has effectively lost his starting job to Martin Jones, but I couldn’t tell you if either are worth a damn. Jones is 23rd in the league in goals against (2.82), Grubauer is 31st (3.03). Not a humongous difference, but a difference nonetheless. Their respective save percentages are even shoddier when compared to the rest of the NHL; Grubauer is tied for 37th at .897 and Jones is 41st at .896. But, if you’re an Ends Justifies The Means kind of fan, Jones is tied for second in the NHL in wins with 23! So … maybe he’s good luck? It sure as shit seemed like Grubauer was beaten up with some pretty bad luck in his starts last year; but he also did himself no favors, never bothering to lift this team up on his shoulders, in spite of his considerable contract.

To his credit, Jones has looked a lot better in January, with 2.36 goals against per game, and a .916 save percentage (including 2 of his 3 shutouts this season). He’s a veteran in his 10th season in the NHL, with his best days seemingly long behind him. His heyday was with San Jose, leading them to the finals one year. But, it’s been tough times since then. He signed with the Kraken prior to this season on a 1-year, $2 million deal. Turned out to be a wise move on his part, as there was clearly an opportunity here to supplant an under-performing starter.

What’s been particularly remarkable is how good the Kraken have been on the road, with a 16-5-2 record, including a recent 7-0 road trip through Canada and the East Coast. The team was shaky to start the season (a 3-4-2 start), and had a significant rough patch in December (winners of only 4 out of 12 games), but I would attribute a lot of those more-recent struggles to injuries on the team. Hockey is a physical, violent sport. You’re going to be down a few players every once in a while.

All in all, though, this is a recipe for very strong team-building. It’s a shame the local market hasn’t caught up, as I’m hearing the ratings are pretty abysmal. Is it a byproduct of everyone jumping off the bandwagon after that terrible first season? Is it natural growing pains of trying to introduce this sport into a market that had gone a century without it? I would say things could be helped a lot if there was one singular television network that aired the games. I know Root Sports is “the home for Kraken hockey” or whatever, but they don’t air all the games like they do with the Mariners (speaking of which, the Kraken’s games are often shunted elsewhere when those two teams go head-to-head in the same timeslot). Sometimes games are on ESPN or ESPN 2 or ESPN+, and sometimes games just aren’t on and we all get the fucking finger. I don’t know what it’s like to listen to hockey on the radio, but it doesn’t seem particularly thrilling.

While it’s strong team-building, I don’t know what this will mean for our playoff run this year (assuming we keep this up). I recall playoff hockey being very dependant upon defense and preventing goals, and I just don’t know how equipped this particular Kraken team is at that part of the game. We’ll see; maybe there’s a magical playoff run in our future. But, I’m guessing it’ll be more of a Just Happy To Be There sort of thing. An essential building block for better things to come in the future, but maybe not the dream end we’re all hoping for.

Why Jarred Kelenic Being Penciled In As A Starter Is Potentially A Good Thing

We as fans like to think we know everything. We’re entitled pricks! It’s fine; we pay their fucking salaries, the least they can do is put up with our bullshit.

Anyway, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and acknowledge that teams generally know more than we do. Or, at the very least, they HAVE knowledge that we don’t. At the beginning of the year, the Seahawks started multiple rookie cornerbacks over veterans who had looked pretty good the previous season. We thought they were crazy, but lo and behold, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant had pretty solid-to-elite rookie years!

The Mariners know good and well where they are set and where they struggled a year ago. They know what their holes are. At this point in the offseason, they’ve swapped out Teoscar Hernandez for Mitch Haniger in right field. They shed Jesse Winker from left and gave Kyle Lewis a fresh start with another organization who can better afford to keep him on their 40-man. What they didn’t do is … ANYTHING to fill the void in left field, to say nothing of what’s going to happen with the DH spot. We’ve got Dylan Moore, we’ve got Sam Haggerty, and we brought in a right-handed platoon bat in A.J. Pollock for the 25% of the time we face left-handed starters.

Meaning that unless another big deal is coming down the pike in the next month, we’re looking at a healthy dose of Jarred Kelenic.

I find that very intriguing. I just got done telling you how the Mariners know good and well where they struggled a year ago, and one of the most prominent struggle spots was, indeed, Kelenic. So, why would a team that just broke through into the playoffs for the first time in two decades – a team with even higher expectations for 2023 – go into a season essentially guaranteeing a guy like Kelenic the opportunity to start in left? Make no mistake, Moore and Haggerty are insurance policies. But, Kelenic will be given every opportunity to succeed, because he has the highest upside of anyone on this team not named Julio Rodriguez.

On the one hand, this move could blow up in their faces. Kelenic could start this season like he’s started every season in the bigs, sucking HARD at the plate. He could go up and down to and from Tacoma a few times. He could play himself right out of the organization with his value the lowest it’s ever been.

But, I don’t think they believe that’s what’s going to happen. Granted, what organization in its right mind would start a guy they expect to fail? He would have to make significant strides in his development to be the kind of player we need in left. We’ve had ample opportunities to address this void, both in trades and free agents. We have enough prospects to make that spot at least league average; there were deals that could’ve been made. Instead, the Mariners seem content to roll with Kelenic. And that in and of itself gives me hope.

If it backfires, I guess there’s still the trade deadline. But, that’s a pretty huge blunder. So, let’s hope what they’re saying is on point: Kelenic is still VERY young, and there’s plenty of time for him to reach his full potential.

Kill Me, I’m A Seahawks Fan Who Likes This Year’s 49ers

I feel like I need a lot of qualifiers here, or else I’m bound to be strung up and flogged for war crimes.

I don’t remember ever feeling this way before. Maybe in the Joe Montana heyday with Jerry Rice and John Taylor and Roger Craig, but even then it’s not like I ever remember rooting for them in Super Bowls. I was always all about their opponents in those games (mostly because they always destroyed whenever they got that far, at least as long as I’ve been a football fan).

I could safely say I hated them under Jim Harbaugh, as they were our direct rivals and biggest challenger to our throne for a period of time. And even after he went away, and as the Seahawks grew to be more and more mediocre, there was no love lost. We also kind of owned them in this stretch, so it was always fun to knock them around two times a year.

But, I gotta say, they’re winning me over in this 2022 season. I think it started with the ascension of Brock Purdy. It’s not him, necessarily, but the idea of him. A 7th round rookie quarterback – someone we could’ve seen coming, given his career in college, and probably should’ve taken a flier on instead of TWO 7th round wide receivers – making the minimum, stepping into an already-elite roster, and not just keeping the ship afloat, but looking fairly good in the process. I don’t know if he’ll ever be elite, I don’t even know if he’s someone you necessarily want to entrust with a second contract. But, he’s a guy who knows your system, can run your system, and it’s that system – not necessarily the player – that’s what matters most.

Now, you’re out from under the Jimmy G quagmire, you can let Trey Lance recover at his leisure, and even though you’re paying him wages of a high first round draft pick, the two guys combined aren’t making an oppressive amount of money. So, you can continue to pay the rest of the stars on your team at least for the next 2-3 years. Maybe Lance was never the guy, in which case you dodged a bullet by him getting injured. Or, maybe he comes back healthy and plays well in the future – if, for instance, Purdy gets hurt next year. Lance isn’t a burden by any means; this is an ideal scenario!

And, after Purdy’s contract runs out, you can just bring in the next rookie and keep the train rolling by building around him and catering to your offensive scheme.

This is exactly what I want the Seahawks to do. Having a team like the 49ers – an opponent in your very own division – is the best way for this coaching staff to see the light. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a high first round draft pick, and it certainly doesn’t have to be Geno Smith making $30+ million. It can be a diamond in the rough you’ve scouted to death and stolen from the rest of the league in the middle-to-later rounds.

But, it’s more than Brock Purdy. It’s that fucking defense! It’s a brutal, punishing defensive line. It’s having a Predator and a Wolverine at linebacker, stalking their prey and absolutely demolishing them. It’s having some solid talent in the secondary and being just good enough to let your front seven do what they do best: kill the quarterback.

I’ve said it over and over again: I love the Seahawks best when they have a great defense. That goes for the Huskies as well. I’m all about a dominant defense and would take that over a dominant offense 10 times out of 10.

Then, when you factor in the weapons the 49ers have on offense. A Swiss Army Knife in the backfield in CMC (two, if you consider how they incorporate their fullback), two dominant and unique wide receivers, a top 3 tight end when he’s healthy. And, put it all together with a competent offensive line; I mean, I couldn’t cherry-pick a team I’d rather have here in Seattle. They’re it!

Here’s the deal, though. Unless I have money on them, I don’t think I can actually bring myself to root for them. But, unlike in years past, I won’t be upset if they prevail. Hell, if it’s the 49ers and Chiefs in the Super Bowl, I might go out of my way to make bets on the 49ers! Who wants to see Patrick Mahomes year after year after year?! He’s becoming the next Tom Brady and it’s starting to get old.

My top pick to win it all is Cincinnati. But, I gotta say, my second choice is the 49ers. That’s more shocking than you’ll ever know.

Give Me (The Seahawks) Your Future First Round Picks!

I’ve lamented the Seahawks’ pick from the Broncos dropping from 3 to 5 long enough. It’s time to join the real world. We have the 5th pick; it is what it is.

We don’t know how this is going to play out, but it’ll probably be a lot different than how it looks now. Right now, it appears there are two stud defensive linemen who tower above all the rest of the prospects: Jalen Carter and Will Anderson. I’m living under the assumption that, at 5, we won’t be able to draft either of those guys. Unless there’s someone else out there I haven’t heard about who’s ready to shock the world, that drops us a tier before we get to make a selection.

The only way we’re getting one of those guys is if quarterback-needy teams jump ahead of us. Right now, the order is Chicago (doesn’t need a QB), Houston (does), Arizona (doesn’t), and Indy (does). Chicago could trade down with either Houston or Indy and get a bounty, while still getting one of the top two defenders in the draft. Arizona probably SHOULD trade back – considering they only have five picks total this year – so we’ll see. There’s maybe an outside chance – if, indeed, there are three or more elite-level quarterbacks coming out of this draft – that the Seahawks could stick at 5 and get the defender of their dreams.

But, I’m not ready to get my hopes up. So, for the sake of argument, I was really enthralled with this idea. I would – IN A HEARTBEAT – trade back with the Carolina Panthers to get their 9th pick, 93rd pick, and a 2024 first rounder. Breaking in a rookie quarterback and a brand new coaching staff? Sign me up! I bet the Panthers will stink even worse next year!

Do you know how much fun I’ve had rooting against the Broncos every week in 2022? I want that all the time! My number one objective is the Seahawks winning. But, having a second high-level objective – as a fan – is a total joy.

The fact of the matter is, I would trade back with anyone in the top nine this year, if it meant getting another first rounder next year. I would do this every single year if we could!

The question of whether or not the Seahawks would be unwilling to play this kind of long game – considering the raised expectations for 2023 – is legitimate. But, we already have (to my understanding) ten picks in the 2023 draft (in spite of what the rest of the Internet says, Bob Condotta tweeted out recently that we do, in fact, have a seventh rounder). There’s only so many rookies we could possibly play in any given year, on top of the 2022 class that’s already taking up a good portion of our playable roster. I’d rather have an extra guy in 2024 at the top of the draft looking to bust through onto our starting ranks, even if it means we take a slight step back in the first round this year. A Top 10 pick should still be pretty damn good, even if he’s not necessarily a Top 5 guy.

So yeah, count me in. This year, next year, to infinity and beyond.

Jason Myers Has Always Been The Placekicker. I Should Know, Sir. I’ve Always Been Here

Ready for another four years of up and down field goal kicking?!

Kicking is a fundamental part of the game. Everyone shits on it, but you look at the scoring leaders year-in and year-out and it’s nothing but kickers. They took up the top 22 spots in 2022, before Austin Ekeler and his 18 touchdowns squeaked in there. Who was at the very top of the list? Jason Myers, one point ahead of Justin Tucker.

And it’s funny you should see those two names together like that, because they’re also (now) the top two highest-paid kickers in the league. Tucker is at the top of that particular list, and then there’s Myers and his 4 years, $21.1 million.

I’m always extremely dubious about kickers. Maybe that’s because the Seahawks – by and large – have been blessed throughout my lifetime with good kicking games. Norm Johnson, John Kasay, Josh Brown, Olindo Mare, Steven Hauschka, and now Jason Myers. That’s 31 years of Seahawks football in just those six guys. So, I probably take this part of the game for granted. But, when it’s bad, it’s REALLY bad. It’s Blair Walsh losing all confidence in his leg. It’s Brett Maher missing four extra points in a game. It’s teams losing games and churning through the scrap heap over and over again until they get it right.

Did the Seahawks get it right? It would seem so. He previously signed at a fairly high level – 4 years, $15.45 million – and not only earned the entire contract, but an extension and a raise to boot. But, how much do you trust Jason Myers? On even years, I trust him a lot; but those odd years are where he randomly struggles. In reality, if my life depended on it, the only kicker I’d trust is, in fact, Justin Tucker. But, even he missed six field goals last season, five from 50+. Then again, while Myers was a perfect 6 for 6 from 50+, Tucker actually made more than Myers even attempted (9 of 14). So, it’s apples and oranges.

I don’t hate the deal. Even though the Seahawks have mostly been good at finding kickers, it’s still one of the more challenging positions to get right. I’d put it on par with finding a quality quarterback. Look at how everyone fell all over themselves (myself included) when Evan McPherson entered the league in 2021. He was phenomenal! Then, in 2022, he took a huge step back, and now it’s fair to wonder if he’s just as up and down as everyone else.

That’s where kickers and quarterbacks differ. If you have a great quarterback, usually they continue being great year-after-year. Even the best kickers can have random shit luck they have to work through. And, unlike quarterbacks, if you have one or two bad games, you could find your ass on the streets.

Jason Myers has the added challenge of playing half his games in Seattle (and one game a year on that trainwreck of an Arizona field). It’s a different game entirely for those cold weather, outdoor kickers. If you can make it in Seattle – with the rain and the marine layer – you can make it anywhere!

It’s nice not to have this part of the game to worry about. Of course, every time he lines up to kick, we’ll ALWAYS worry (until we see it go through the uprights). But, this is an important offseason for the Seahawks, so not screwing around with the kicker is to our advantage.