The Huskies Swept The Cougs 2018!

And we’re back!  Bloody pirates boarded the good ship Seattle Sports Hell and wreaked havoc, but we had our top man on the case to clean out the riffraff.  I am eternally grateful!

There isn’t much going on between now and the start of Spring Training in a couple weeks, so posting might be a little light in the meantime.  Also, I’m super busy in my everyday life, so don’t be afraid if there aren’t timely updates for the next couple/few weeks.

Over the weekend, the Husky basketball team beat the Cougars.  The game was on ESPNU, which my cable package does not have, and it also doesn’t have a way to log on and watch over the Internet (it’s a very small cable company), so I missed this game.  But, I heard the Huskies looked great, better than they have all season!

Thybulle led the way with 18 points, 6 assists, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, and a block.  Nowell, Dickerson, and Crisp all had very efficient games.  Green hit a few threes and Nahziah Carter had 11 points off the bench.  The Cougs were limited to 25% on threes, and that was that.  The Huskies coasted to an 80-62 victory.

The Huskies currently sit third in the Pac-12 at 5-3, behind Arizona at 8-1 and USC (that win over the Trojans looking better and better by the week) at 8-2.  We head into the biggest weekend of the regular season, as the Huskies host #25-ranked ASU on Thursday and #9-ranked Arizona on Saturday.  It would be season-altering if the Huskies found a way to win both of these games (or, at least, beat Zona); if you put a win over Arizona on top of their road wins against USC and Kansas, I don’t see how the NCAA Tournament could keep us out, barring a total collapse the rest of the way.  That’s three HUGE wins on our resume; but, of course, we have to get there first.

For the record, beating Arizona feels like a huge longshot.  The Wildcats were destroyed in three straight games in the Battle 4 Atlantis, but their only other defeat this entire season was a 3-point loss on the road to Colorado back in early January.  If you’re a believer in fate, you could say the Wildcats are due for another slip up (and the odds of them losing at WSU is the longest of longshots), so here’s hoping they settle for a bunch of jump shots that clang off the rim.

It’s much more likely that the Huskies end up taking out ASU, who was perfect coming into conference play, but have lost 5 of their last 9 games against the Pac-12.  Given their non-conference schedule – with wins over Kansas and Xavier – a win against ASU is still bound to look pretty impressive in the eyes of the committee.  We have to hope, of course, that the Sun Devils – immediately after losing to the Huskies – go on a nice little winning streak the rest of the way and actually make the tournament.  But, either way, if we only beat the Sun Devils this weekend, I’ll take it.

I don’t want to say it’ll be a disaster if we lose both, but it’ll be a huge disappointment.  After these games, there really aren’t any more opportunities to make an impact on our NCAA Tournament standing.  Maybe the game at Stanford, but they’ve been a very up-and-down team this year, so probably not.

Furthermore, if we lose both games, that’s pretty much it for our margin of error.  That would drop us to 5-5 in conference play, with 8 games to go (4 against the Oregon schools, 2 at home against the Mountain schools, 2 on the road in the Bay Area).  To even have a shot at the Tourney, the Huskies would have to go at least 6-2 in those games, and probably still have to win at least 2 games in the Pac-12 Tournament.  The Huskies, as presently constructed, COULD achieve that, but given their occasional offensive woes, it doesn’t seem entirely likely.

So, win 1 of 2 and live to fight another day.  Or, win 2 of 2 and punch your ticket to the NCAA Tournament right now!  Let’s go Dawgs!!!

Seattle Mariners Promo Dates I’m Interested In 2018

The Mariners always have a good number of promos every year, and 2018 is no exception.  I know I’m probably going to miss some exciting ones, because they’ve yet to be added to the schedule, or I just plain didn’t notice them as I was scanning the page, but these are the ones that caught my eye.  There are also a bunch of “Value Games” with cheap tickets.  There’s the Fireworks Nights that I never pay much mind to, and it feels like there’s way more Bark At The Park games, which I would probably enjoy even though it sounds like it would be a pain in the ass to bring your dog to a game.  So, you know, this list is far from comprehensive, but let’s get going.

Right off the bat, I love going to Opening Day.  So, Thursday, March 29th, count me in.  I have to add to my collectible refrigerator magnet collection.

Robbie Cano gets his bobblehead on the 2nd day of the season, which seems a bit early.  I’ll probably skip this one, as I tend to only go for the really unique bobbleheads, but that’s out there for everyone else.

Ben Gamel Hat Hair night or whatever is on April 13th.  It’s a hat with long Gamel hair sticking out of the back.  I like the idea an awful lot, but my giant head means most hats of this nature don’t fit me well, so it would be wasted on me.

Star Wars Night is obviously May 4th, because we can’t have nice things as a nation.  The Han Seago bobblehead sounds VERY intriguing, so I’ll have to keep my eyes out for it.  If it looks cool, count me in.

The next day, we have 90’s Night, with a free Paxton Fanny Pack.  Again, I’m intrigued, but I still want to see what it looks like first.

Friday, May 18th is Mariners Blanket Hoodie Night, which could very well be a useful item on a possibly chilly evening.

The next night we have Felix Hernandez “Infield Grass” Bobblehead Night, which sounds right up my alley.  Is it a bobblehead of Felix spraining his foot trying to run to first base to cover a grounder?  I feel like, schedule permitting, I have to go to at least one of these two games.

On May 25th, we have a Cano/Cruz Wine Stopper?  Mmm, I dunno.

On Sunday the 27th, kids get a Mike Zunino Lunch Bag and I’m EXTREMELY JEALOUS!  It looks like a little Zunino jersey with some catcher’s gear on the front.

On Friday, June 29th, we have a Guys Night Out tank top give-away?  Umm, HELL TO THE YEAH!  SUN’S OUT GUNS OUT MOTHERFUCKERS!!!

June 30th is the night I’ve been waiting for since, like, forever.  The second-ever Turn Ahead The Clock Night!!!  It’s the 20th anniversary of the last one, and I still think those uniforms are the coolest, I don’t care what anyone says.  If they bring those back, I’m all for it.  If they have a new spin on whatever the “future” brings, I’m all for it too.  I’m GOING to this game, and I’m buying everything I can possibly buy!

The Paxton Big Maple Bobblehead lands on Sunday, July 1st, which seems lame.  Sunday games are pretty hard for me to go to, what with my schedule and commute.  Pick one up for me?

On the 4th, there’s a Stars & Stripes Cowboy Hat give-away.  I think I’ll pass.

July 6th features the Girls Night Out tank top give-away, so probably some good people-watching/sarging on that night.

On September 28th, it’s Fan Appreciation Night, where all fans get a team poster.  Usually, by this point in the season, the M’s are out of it and I’m burned out on baseball.  But, you never know.

On September 29th, it’s Oktoberfest, which almost ALWAYS has a cool give-away.  Even if you just pick up your prize, drink your free beer, and immediately leave, it’s still worth it.

For Some Reason, Edgar Still Isn’t In The Hall Of Fame

I’m not writing this to re-hash a bunch of numbers; go on Twitter in the days and weeks leading up to the Hall of Fame announcement and you’ll be able to find all you can handle.  Edgar was great.  We all know this, so I’m not trying to sway anyone with my argument here.  I’m just writing this to bitch.  Because it’s fucking ridiculous that we’ve had 9 Hall of Fame votes and Edgar Martinez still isn’t in.

For starters, it’s stupid how this thing works.  Why are we relying on baseball writers to make this determination?  Even if most of them are beat writers, how many times would they have seen someone like Edgar?  A handful of times a year?  I swear to Christ, if he played for the Yankees or Red Sox, he would’ve been inducted YEARS ago.  There are plenty of numbers you can pull out that puts Edgar up there with the all-time greats, but unfortunately there are too many people out there who see less than 500 home runs and less than 3,000 hits, and they automatically cast him out.  Which is, obviously, patently absurd.  But, I would argue that beyond the numbers, the eye test really comes into play when you consider the resume of Edgar.

You have to see him to believe him.  His presence at the plate.  His patience.  His discipline.  His careful eye.  His ability to spray it to all fields.  And, quite frankly, his performance in the clutch.  To watch Edgar Martinez hit a baseball is to watch one of the best to ever do it from the right side of the plate, period.  And, when you factor in how the organization waited at least two years too long to bring him up to the Majors, and another two years too long to give him an everyday role, I would argue he’d be much closer to those arbitrary benchmarks of 500 homers and 3,000 hits.

Also, it’s just dumb that it takes so long for these people to make the right decision.  I guess you could argue the 10-year window helps a guy like Edgar – a guy not a lot of national people really paid much attention to – so it gives them time to hear all the passionate arguments from smart baseball people who know their asses from a hole in the ground.  It just seems to me that if a guy is a Hall of Famer in year 10, he should be a Hall of Famer in year 1.  And make no mistake, Edgar Martinez is a year 1 Hall of Famer.

From 2010-2015, Edgar hovered in the 25%-37% range, and we all wondered if it was ever going to happen.  The minority was fighting the good fight, but it wasn’t until 2016 when we started to see dividends paid.  That’s when he hit 43.4%, and there was a glimmer of hope.  Last year, he made an even bigger jump, to 58.6%, and there was reason to rejoice.  In the early voting this year, we thought he maybe had a chance to crack the 75% barrier, but he came up just short, at 70.4%.  20 votes shy of making it.

Getting up over 70% in the voting is a very good sign for 2019, from what I’m told.  I guess everyone in the last decade who’s reached this point has gotten in?  But, I dunno.  I guess I’ll believe it when I see it.  Baseball writers can be fucking cunts, man.  Old, stodgy, stuck-in-their-ways, miserable cunts.  I mean, there are still baseball writers who think the Designated Hitter doesn’t belong in the game!  Let alone in the Hall of Fame.  Relievers have a hard time, even though they’ve been a huge part of the game since I’ve been alive.  I mean, this is baseball!  This is supposedly the game you love!  The game you’ve devoted your entire professional lives to!  Well, like it or lump it, DH’s are a big part of this game, and Edgar Martinez was the motherfucking best.

Do the right thing, baseball writers.  Don’t leave it up to the Veteran’s Committee.  Edgar deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and you fucking know it!

And quit voting for stupid assholes who have no shot whatsoever, like Carlos Lee or Livan Hernandez!  A VOTE FOR NADER IS A VOTE FOR BUSH YOU TWATS!

Some Reasons To Maybe Check In On The Mariners Once In A While 2018

It absolutely sucks being a Mariners fan.  This team has either been terrible or mediocre every year since the 2003 season came to a 93-win playoffs-less end.  I haven’t had much opportunity to write about the M’s this offseason, because they haven’t done much this offseason; it’s very un-Jerry Dipoto-like, someone should check and see if he’s still alive, or if all these podcasts he’s doing are like a Wolfman Jack situation.  The last time I wrote about the Mariners, I wasn’t very happy.  That should be nothing new, of course, but specifically I wasn’t very happy because the starting rotation this year looks like complete and utter shit.  And, that’s the thing about the Mariners:  timing isn’t their strong suit.

How many years did we slog through a lineup that couldn’t hit its way out of a wet paper bag?  How many elite Felix years did we squander?  Remember when we had both Felix and Cliff Lee in their primes, together, on the very same team?  Want to feel old?  That was 46 years ago.

Anyway, this year, it’s the flipside:  the pitching stinks, but the hitting is kinda, sorta okay.  Or it isn’t, I dunno.

I’m going to try to look on the bright side here, and give you some reasons to live.  MIND YOU, don’t try to twist this into some ill-conceived belief that I think this team has something to play for.  In this division, as this team is constructed, the playoffs are not in our immediate future, so go ahead and cast those thoughts right out of your head.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, I give you some reasons to maybe check in on the Mariners once in a while 2018:

Mike Zunino is coming off of his very best season as a professional baseball player, which is VERY exciting to me.  I know it could very well be an aberration, and he could turn right back into a pumpkin this year, but I like to believe he’s really turned a corner in his career, and will be a reliable player for us for many years to come.  Probably not a superstar, but if he can keep it up and get hot at the right times, I could see him making an All Star Game or two.

As long as they’re healthy, guys like Cano, Cruz, and Seager are always worth watching.  Sometimes they run into horrendous cold streaks, but when they get going, they’re pretty fun.

I’ll be curious to see how Jean Segura looks, fresh off of his mid-season contract extension last year.  He finished the season pretty cold from a power perspective, but he still hit .300 and played some solid defense.

Of course, the biggest story as we head into Spring Training (and on into the regular season) is how Dee Gordon is going to look as this team’s starting centerfielder, making the conversion from middle infielder.  I’ll be as interested in his hitting ability as I am in his defensive ability, since so many times you see a drastic reduction in offense when a player makes a Major League position switch.

I’ll be curious to see if Mitch Haniger blossoms this year, after an injury-plagued 2017.  He has all the tools to be a great one, now he’s gotta stay healthy and put it all together.

I was surprised to see Ben Gamel featured pretty prominently in the 2018 promotional give-aways, as those were announced very early on in the off-season.  That was a big indicator that he was going to remain on the Mariners, and not traded for pitching help like a lot of us thought.  I’m torn, because this team absolutely NEEDS pitching help, but I don’t think Gamel alone gets us the quality starter we need, in which case I’m glad he’s staying.  He made a huge leap in 2017, and I’ll be curious to see if he can continue that upward trajectory.

Guillermo Heredia figures to platoon with Gamel in one of the corner outfield spots (or give Dee Gordon an occasional day off), and he too made a nice jump in his production in 2017.  He’s always fun to watch, and seemingly does something amazing almost every time he’s out there, either in the field, at the plate, or on the basepaths.

While the pitching as a whole is pretty suspect, the bullpen has the potential to be pretty awesome.  It’s going to have to be, if this team wants to be a winner.  It’ll require no less than being one of the three best bullpens in all of baseball for this team to simply contend for a Wild Card spot, so there’s your glimmer of hope if you were looking for one.

  • Can Edwin Diaz continue to stay healthy and dominate?
  • After a shaky September, will the Good Nick Vincent return?
  • Will David Phelps be healthy and return to form?
  • Will newcomer Juan Nicasio be our 8th inning lockdown reliever?
  • Will lefties Pazos & Scrabble continue to be reliable?
  • Will we get anything out of Tony Zych or Dan Altavilla?

Finally, I’ll be interested in how this team is managed.  There’s talk of a 6-man rotation.  There’s talk of an extended bullpen.  There’s talk of really limiting the number of innings per start – even more than we’ve already done, out of necessity, thus far in Servais’ Mariners career, because our starting pitching has been so mediocre – and having the bullpen do all the heavy lifting.  What will that translate to?  Seems to me, at the very least, we’re in for more of the same when it comes to shuttling guys to and from Tacoma on the daily.  But, going into the season, with the bullpen knowing it’s going to carry more of the load, how will they respond?

I think the game of baseball is really on the brink of a revolution.  Starters are pitching fewer innings than ever before, and that number might continue to fall.  How will that affect roster construction?  Will the game adapt and finally increase roster size?  Will there be 6-man rotations?  Or, perhaps 3- or 4-man rotations (pitching 3-4 innings per start), with extra long relievers in the bullpen?  The way guys are getting injured every year, this might be the way to limit those arm injuries and keep guys fresher throughout the season.  Essentially, treat the pitching staff like you do in the World Series, all year long.

Everything is on the table.  I don’t expect it to be to that extreme, of course, but it’ll be interesting to look at the trends the Mariners start to implement.  If they can somehow “hide” their rotation by limiting its importance on the game, maybe they can get something going.  Or, maybe they’ll tire out their bullpen and flame out after a couple months.

The 2018 Seattle Mariners:  come for the toasted grasshoppers, stay for the trainwreck!

Husky Basketball Salvages A Split On The Road Against The Mountain Schools

To me, I’m not seeing a whole lot of difference between Utah and Colorado from a talent perspective.  The Utes like the long ball a little more than the Buffaloes, and are a little less guard-heavy, but other than that, these two teams are pretty close.  Yet, against Utah, the Huskies lost by 8, and against Colorado, the Huskies won by 10.

The Huskies, with their zone, and their aggressive style of defense when it comes to steals and blocks, are able to mitigate a lot of talent disparities in Pac-12 play.  When they’re on, they can beat any team; when they’re off, they can lose to any team.  Now, obviously when you compare them to Gonzaga, or some of the other elite schools, the Huskies don’t have the talent to hang for very long.  But, against the Pac-12 so far, it’s fine.  The Huskies are probably in the upper half of the middle of the road.

But, offensively, the Huskies have a real problem.  As has been noted by anyone who has eyeballs, the Huskies tend to go silent on the offensive end for long stretches of game.  Against Utah, it was pretty much the entire first half, as the Utes ran out to a 35-24 halftime lead.  The Huskies were able to make a little bit of a run in the second half – getting as close as 64-60 with 2 minutes to go in the game – but ultimately didn’t have enough in the tank to close it out.

The Huskies shot just under 40% for the game, which is pretty normal for them, but they were a truly abysmal 2 of 18 from the 3-point line.  David Crisp was a mind-boggling 0 for 7, and Thybulle & Nowell combined to go 0 for 5.  Personally, I’d love it if Crisp just stopped shooting threes altogether, because he’s fucking terrible at it.  I mean, you KNOW he practices it all the fucking time, because it’s what he loves to do more than anything else on Earth!  How he can do that and still be so awful is one of those unsolvable mysteries I’ll never understand.  You can’t even call him streaky anymore, because Crisp is just on one season-long bad streak of jump-shooting.

Then, a couple days later, it was more of the same in the early going against Colorado, as poor shooting allowed the Buffs to jump out to a 7-0 lead, and later an 18-9 lead before the Husky Timeout Heard ‘Round The World.  There was around 8 minutes left in the first half, and from that point the Huskies went on a 27-9 run to get to halftime with a 9-point lead.  The improved shooting continued in the second half, and the Huskies pulled out a crucial win.

It was huge to avoid a 3-game losing streak, it helped leapfrog us back into 4th place in the conference, and it was yet another road victory to throw onto the pile.  We’re among the last four out on ESPN’s Bracketology, which is very impressive for this team.

The Huskies shot a whopping 50% from 3-point against the Buffs (8 of 19) and killed ’em on the boards.  Crisp kept it to 1 for 3, which is fine, but Thybulle, Nowell, and Dominic Green all crushed it (3/5, 2/5 and 2/5 respectively).  The Huskies need those guys to keep up the quality shooting to be a Tourney team, so keep those fingers crossed.

14-6 overall, 4-3 in conference, with 11 more games to go.  That’s one game against the Cougs (this Sunday), two more against the Mountain schools at home, and a whopping 4 games against the pretty mediocre Oregon schools.  Ideally, the Huskies will find a way to win 6/7 of those games, but that’s me being greedy.  If we take down 4/7 conservatively, that puts us at 18-9 (8-6) with 4 important games left over (two at home against the Arizona schools; two on the road in the Bay Area).  Win 2/4 of those (with one of the two coming against the Cardinal or Wildcats, that puts us at 20-11 (10-8) with impressive wins over at least two Tourney schools (maybe 3 if USC makes it; maybe more if some of those non-conference mid-major schools play well).  20-11 would put the Huskies firmly on the bubble, with the Pac-12 Tournament to go.  They’d definitely have to win their first game, and probably have to win 2 games to assure themselves a seat at the Dance.

Can’t let up against the Cougs this weekend.  Maybe more important than anything else is winning the games you’re supposed to win.  Padding out that record and getting into the top 3 or 4 in the conference regular season would be my preferred option.

Have I Overreacted To All The Coaching Change On The Seahawks?

If you haven’t seen it yet, go ahead and take a gander at what I wrote yesterday.  A lot of doom and gloom and whatnot.  Anyway, I got a GREAT comment from someone named Justin that I thought I’d respond to.  I’m not here to be a Hot Taek factory, and I really hate it when recency bias creeps into my arguments and gets me to overreact to something that’s not really that big of a deal, so I thought I’d take a step back and consider Justin’s argument.

I do stand behind the crux of my argument yesterday, in that it’s never a great sign when a head coach makes wholesale coordinator changes, and you could argue that the Seahawks fired three coordinators, considering Tom Cable’s influence over the offense.  We’re in a period of transition with the Seahawks, there’s no doubt about it.  Some of the stars of those championship teams are aging out, or injuring themselves out, and will need to be replaced.  While it’s not impossible for this team to hit rock bottom in 2018, it’s just as possible that they find the right pieces to fill in and get this team back to the playoffs.  We could be looking at one 9-7 blip on the radar, and nothing would make me happier.

I like a lot of what Justin has to say.  I agree that Russell Wilson is in the Top 5 for me among quarterbacks in this league.  And we all know he has another level to his game; we’ve seen it during the second half of 2015.  He obviously can’t do it alone, though, and is going to need some help from his O-Line and running game.  But, that’s obvious to anyone.  Even Tom Brady looks pretty fucking mediocre in those rare instances where the Patriots have a struggling O-Line; the difference is they seem to know how to push the right buttons and right the ship before too long.

I also agree that we probably have a Top 15/Top 10 defense as it is.  That part of it is never going to get TOO bad, because Pete Carroll is too good of a defensive mind.  My biggest concern is that the injury bug tends to be random, and the Seahawks were pretty well battered in 2016, then followed that up by arguably being MORE battered in 2017.  That, to me, shows signs of age.  And, considering the core on this defense is so deep and has been together for so long, that’s A LOT of holes that need filling, not to mention a lot of depth that needs replenishing around that core.

It’s too early to know what that’s going to look like.  We don’t know, for instance, if Avril or Kam will make miraculous recoveries and try to play again.  Forgetting the cap situation for a moment, assuming we get those guys back, they’re still one awkward hit away from being done for good.  Then, there’s Michael Bennett, who ALWAYS seems to be slowed by one nagging thing or another.  A foot, a quad, a pec, an ankle.  I still say he’s someone who needs to be on the field way less than he is to remain effective.  There’s more snaps you have to replace.  Earl Thomas made a nice recovery in 2017, as I assume Richard Sherman will in 2018, but again:  guys getting older.  Guys more susceptible to these debilitating injuries.  And, I haven’t mentioned guys like Bobby Wagner or K.J. Wright, because they’re almost always pretty healthy.  But, before he went down, Sherm had never missed a game, and I don’t know if Earl missed much time either.  It just takes one hit, or one bad step and then a bunch of others that eventually wear you down until whatever’s ailing you just SNAPS.

So, let’s take a step back and look on the bright side:  who do we have on defense that we like?  That we can count on in major roles going forward?

Frank Clark, obviously, heads that list for me, and feels like a guy this team should prioritize with a big extension.  Dion Jordan is another guy I’ll be happy to see return, and in a meatier role than he had in 2017.  Should he prove to be effective, he’s a guy I wouldn’t mind seeing around semi-long term.  Naz Jones really flashed as a rookie.  He looks like a guy who could play every down and be an effective interior rusher (I just hope he’s not another of these injury-prone guys, what with him missing the last few weeks of the regular season).  Jarran Reed is another impressive interior lineman who feels more like a Brandon Mebane type (which is NOT a bad thing) and is someone I hope to have around for a long time.  So, that’s four guys, not counting Bennett (who I still think will probably be back in 2018).  I don’t expect Sheldon Richardson back, and who the fuck knows about Malik McDowell, but either way, the D-Line could use some work.  And some better injury luck.

Love me some Wagz and Wright; they’re both squarely in their primes.  But, would it kill this team to draft a couple of talented, athletic backups who might one day take their places?  Or, competently fill in for when those guys get nicked up?  I mean, we’re always one Wagner injury away from the biggest fucking drop-off on the entire team outside of quarterback!

In the secondary, I – along with most everyone – liked what I saw from Shaq Griffin.  He still has room to improve, and I hope he makes that leap.  With Earl and Sherm back in the fold in 2018, and Coleman being a solid slot guy, there’s even more to like.  But, how do you replace someone like Kam?  And, who’s gonna be your third outside corner?  Are ANY of the other rookies we drafted in the secondary in 2017 going to pan out besides Griffin?  I think it’s a BAD sign that guys like Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson hardly ever played last year.  I hope they look good behind the scenes, because I have a feeling we’re going to need at least one of them to pan out in the near future.

So yeah, there’s talent defensively.  There’s plenty of talent to be a Top 15 defense as it stands right now.  And, of course, the team will make moves this offseason to bolster that side of the ball.  A Pete Carroll team would NEVER neglect the defense.  But, is this team good enough to overcome just a Top 15 or a Top 10 defense?  Or, does it need a Top 2 defense to really do something?

And, I guess that’s my whole point in all of this.  With all its faults, the 2017 Seahawks were still SO CLOSE to making the playoffs.  And it would’ve been fun, and we would’ve had a rabid ramp-up to that game against the Rams (or whoever would’ve been the 3-seed in this alternate universe).  And who knows?  Maybe we shock the world just like we’ve done so many times in the Wild Card round of the playoffs!

But, I’m not interested in just making the playoffs.  I don’t think there’s a way in Hell that the Seahawks of 2017 – with all the injuries and everything else they had to deal with by season’s end – were in a position to make a serious championship run.  Odds are, if it’s Rams in the Wild Card round, then Eagles in the Divisional round, then Vikings in the Championship game … I mean, look at those defenses!  Those are far and away the three best defenses in the NFC this year (with the Saints probably coming in 4th).  You’re telling me this team, with this O-Line, and this lack of a running game, could’ve made it through all three?  I think the chance of that is 0.00%.

Maybe I’m being greedy.  As a long-suffering Seahawks fan through the years, maybe I SHOULD just be happy with a playoff appearance.  But, after 2013, all of that changed.  With Russell Wilson in the fold, I want to see MULTIPLE championships!  At least one more, ideally two more.  Anything beyond that would be beyond my wildest dreams, but you get the idea.  Great, amazing, franchise-altering quarterbacks don’t come around everyday unless you’re the Green Bay Packers, apparently.  To squander someone like Russell would be a travesty.  Beyond that, I can’t bear to imagine a world where his final play in a Super Bowl is that fucking interception at the goalline.  He NEEDS to be redeemed!

And no, this team probably WON’T collapse in the near future, not as long as Wilson is healthy.  He’s in his prime, and we’ve seen PLENTY of mediocre teams with elite quarterbacks who carry them to consistent 7-9/8-8/9-7 seasons.  Aside from 2015/2016, that’s pretty much the M.O. of the San Diego Chargers under Philip Rivers!  Not to mention a lot of those post-Super Bowl Saints teams.  And a lot of those Lions teams under Matthew Stafford.  On and on and on.  But, to be honest, those types of teams are my worst nightmare.  Not to say I envy the Browns or something, but I would RATHER bottom out for a year or two, bring in a bunch of highly-drafted college players, and turn things around.  The Seahawks will probably never get to be that bad, though, so I think it’s a very real concern that we have a bunch of 8-8 type seasons in the years ahead.

How do we avoid that?  Well, ideally, we need to figure out what the Saints did in their draft room last year, because God Damn!  Justin points out that we should have faith in the combo of Pete and John.  I have the utmost respect for those guys, and I agree they’re the best head coach and GM in franchise history (and maybe in the history of all of Seattle sports).  But, I also think it’s valid to wonder if they’re not coasting on the achievements of their drafts and free agent acquisitions from 2010-2012.  I mean, that’s one of the best turnaround jobs in all of professional sports, what they were able to do in that 3-year span.  And, for the most part, I like that they take chances and they swing for the fences on guys with rare and unique talents.

But, the mounting mistakes from 2013 onward is pretty glaring.  Bringing in Harvin, which led to losing out on Tate.  That whole fucking 2013 draft which has only netted you a backup tight end in Luke Willson (and no, they don’t get credit for Spencer Ware, because he was let go and has done all of his damage with the Chiefs).  Then, there’s the Jimmy Graham deal, and the whole fucking 2014 draft.  Paul Richardson has given us exactly 1 fully healthy season before turning into an expensive free agent.  Justin Britt gave us a couple of mediocre seasons as right tackle and left guard before finding his place at center.  Cassius Marsh and some of the guys below him were non-factors on defense and mostly just good special teamers.  Then again with the 2015 draft.  Clark and Lockett were hits, but Glowinski was a bust, and everyone else is gone.  Now, take a look at the 2016 draft:  the best player is arguably Alex fucking Collins, yet ANOTHER late-round running back this team threw away!  Ifedi has been miserable, Reed has been a run-stuffing defensive tackle, Vannett looks like nothing more than a 3rd or 2nd tight end at best, Prosise is a living, breathing ankle sprain, and the rest of those guys are backups, training camp fodder, or out of the game entirely.  That brings us to the 2017 draft, where it looks like maybe they got their mojo back with guys like Griffin, Jones, Carson, and hopefully Pocic, but also features your top selection in McDowell who might never play a single down in the league.  Then, when you compound it with some of the other deals, giving Joeckel so much money, giving Lacy ANY money, consistently trading away high draft picks for veterans.  My confidence with this line of decision-making hasn’t totally plummeted, but I’ll say this:  2018 is going to go a LONG way toward either restoring my faith, or leading me to construct a noose and hang myself.

I mean, shit, what happened to their prowess in picking guys on the third day of the draft???

In short, because this one ballooned WAY out of control, yesterday’s post is probably a bit of an overreaction, with an asterisk of We’ll See.  This thing has been trending downward for three years, so we just have to hope that the new blood is able to come in and turn things around.  If they can’t, or if injuries continue to kill us, or if guys don’t develop into stars for whatever reason, or if the front office keeps kicking the can down the road with some of these contracts and draft pick trades, then I’ve been on record for a while now saying this could be another Seattle Mariners situation:  a lot of high-priced veterans getting this team to at or around .500, but ultimately treading water for a bunch of years in a row.

This Is The Beginning Of The End For The Seahawks As We Know Them

When you reach the top, it’s great.  You’re winning lots of games, you’re winning Super Bowls, teams are copying your scheme and signing away your players and hiring your assistant coaches and front office staff.  Between that and the salary cap, the league does everything it can to chip away at your success, until you’re a hollow husk of your former self.

Then, on the way down, you stop winning Super Bowls, you don’t win as many games as you used to, the league is not only littered with copycats, but teams who’ve figured out your scheme, and nobody really wants to sign away your rejects or hire your assistants anymore.  After a long run of success, at the first sign of stagnation, what do you do?  Deflect blame and start firing assistants.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as ugly as it sounds.  It’s not like Pete Carroll is out on a soapbox trashing guys like Darrell Bevell, Tom Cable, or Kris Richard, but a message is sent without saying anything at all.  These guys were problems for us.  If we want to get good again, we need to replace THESE guys with THOSE guys.

And, unless you’re Mike Tomlin or Marvin Lewis (guys who never get fired, no matter what apparently), you pretty much only get to do that once.  Some coaches will take their time replacing coordinators.  One bad year, pick which unit was the worst and fire its coordinator.  Still didn’t work?  Fire the other one.  Dragging that out can sometimes help a head coach cling for dear life to his job.  But, cleaning house all at once?  That’s a bold move.

A bold move, I would argue, of a man who doesn’t figure to be here much longer.

The last ditch effort of a head coach trying to save his job is to bring in “his guys”.  Get back to basics.  And, if he has to go down with the ship, at least he went down his way.  I don’t think Pete Carroll was in any danger of getting fired this season.  I think this team could totally crater in 2018 as well and he’d probably still get a crack at turning it around in 2019.  So, I wouldn’t say this is a hot seat situation – like it usually is – so much as a guy either nearing retirement, or simply nearing the end of his run in Seattle.

Pete Carroll was with USC for 9 seasons.  He’ll be entering his 9th season with the Seahawks later this year.  I’m not trying to say there’s some significance with the number 9 or anything, but 9 years in any one spot is a long time in the coaching world.  Pete’s been in the business since the early 70’s, and his stint at USC (and now Seattle) was the longest BY FAR of any of his stops.  You have to wonder if he’s getting antsy.

You also have to wonder if he’s seeing the writing on the wall.  He saw it at USC, and left at the perfect time.  With the Seahawks, what do we have to look forward to if the players we bring in from the 2016-2018 NFL Drafts don’t develop into elite Pro Bowlers?  We’ve got a quarterback, a wide receiver, a few pieces on defense, and a lot of question marks.  That makes it sound worse than it actually is – there are plenty of fine players on the team right now – but obviously there wasn’t enough in 2017 to get this team into the playoffs!  When you’re susceptible to a kicker costing you your season, then you absolutely don’t have enough talent to be a championship contender.  And, if you’re not a championship contender, then what’s the point?

I think that’s what Pete has to be thinking.  He’s 66 years old, by far the oldest head coach in the league.  I know he’s young at heart and whatnot, but even if he coaches until he’s 72 or 73 years old (and that’s being pretty generous, I think), what does that leave him time for?  Is that enough time to turn this Seahawks franchise around?  Maybe, but again it’s going to be really hard to do if we’re coming at it as a 9-7 team.  If we string a bunch of these years together, that’s not going to help us rebuild!  It’s just enough to keep us spinning our tires in that 8-8 grind!  Better to bottom out for a year or two, then bounce back with a bunch of high draft picks (assuming, of course, that you hit on them).

Or, if we’re talking about the last 5-6 years of his head coaching career, maybe are we talking about Pete Carroll going to some OTHER downtrodden franchise and turning THEM around?  I feel like that task is much more likely to come to fruition (assuming, of course, they figure out the quarterback conundrum).

To put it another way, does Pete Carroll want to be known (from an NFL perspective) as the best head coach in Seahawks history?  Or, does he want to be known as a head coach who was able to turn around multiple franchises, and bring two different organizations to the Super Bowl?  And, what’s more likely to get him into the Hall of Fame one day?

Part of this is me questioning whether Pete Carroll wants to finish his career here, which I have serious doubts about.  But, the other part of it is me losing a little bit of confidence in these guys as talent evaluators and teachers of the game.  This team needs a serious infusion of talent to counter-balance this team’s aging core and terrible luck with injuries.  Because I don’t think the coaches they’ve brought in are capable enough of transforming the players we have now into superstars.  And if this team keeps trending downward, as it’s been since 2015, we could be looking at some fairly lean times ahead.

At which point, it wouldn’t shock me to see Pete Carroll bolt for another opportunity.  Nor would it shock me to see Paul Allen come in and blow everything up again.  I hope I’m wrong, but I’m heading into the 2018 season without much confidence.

The Seahawks Also Fired Kris Richard, Hired 3 New Guys

I wanted to wait until things were a little more official before talking about the influx of new coaches on the Seattle Seahawks, as you never know when a deal is gonna go sideways at the last minute.

As we all know, the Seahawks fired Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable last week.  Now, we have their replacements, as well as the news that Kris Richard was also canned.

Brian Schottenheimer, son of Marty Schottenheimer, will take over for Bevell as the offensive coordinator.  He’s been coaching in the league since 1997, first becoming a coordinator back in 2006 with the Jets.  He was there for 6 years, then with Jeff Fisher’s Rams for 3 years, then he went to college and was the coordinator at Georgia for a season before returning to the NFL with the Colts as a quarterbacks coach the last two years.  In that time, he’s had some good seasons and some bad seasons, though by and large he’s been saddled with some pretty mediocre-to-terrible quarterbacks; suffice it to say, Russell Wilson will be the best one he’s ever coached.

Mike Solari, former Seahawks offensive line coach from 2008-2009, will take over for Cable as the offensive line coach (there will be no assistant head coach or whatever on this staff, it would seem).  Solari has been coaching since the 70s, in the NFL starting in 1987, and has been coaching offensive lines practically the whole time.  He was most recently with the Giants the last two years (certainly not a running juggernaut), was with the Packers for a season in 2015, and spent 5 years with the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh.  He too has had some good seasons and some bad seasons.  I remember being really jacked up the first time the Seahawks signed him, but he caught on just as all of our O-Line talent was falling apart, and we never really recovered in that 2-year span.  He’ll have his work cut out for him this time too.

Ken Norton Jr., former Seahawks linebackers coach from 2010-2014, will take over for Richard as the defensive coordinator.  He was most recently the coordinator for the Raiders the last 3 seasons.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but it seemed like they underachieved pretty hard, particularly the last two years.  That’s a defense with a lot of talent, but maybe not as much as I think.  I dunno.  The Raiders, obviously, cleaned house this offseason, handing over the keys to the franchise to Jon Gruden, who’s brought in a pretty impressive staff under him.  It’ll be interesting to see if they can bounce back after a disappointing 2017.  Norton, meanwhile, was poised to be an assistant for the 49ers, until the Seahawks offered him the coordinator job.  I don’t know if he’s necessarily a step up from Kris Richard, but I also don’t know if he’s a step down either.

As a Seahawks fan, it’s hard to get too excited about any of these moves.  They’re all retreads, and they’re all pretty boilerplate.  When you look around the league, and you see what certain guys are doing with their creative schemes, you’d hope the Seahawks would want to be on that cutting edge.  At the very least, you’d like to see these coaches having some sustained success at what they do; but each one of these guys were spotty at best.

Which begs the question:  knowing what I know now, would I do it over again?  Would I still want to replace Bevell, Cable, and Richard?  And I have to say yes, because again, it was time for a new voice, a new set of eyes, and a new mindset.

I also have to say that the most important ingredient in all of this is Pete Carroll.  From what I’m reading – and I tend to agree – this is Pete taking over control of his team, and if the end is somewhere on the horizon (2 years, 3 years, 5 years?), he’s going to go out on his own terms, doing what he does best:  running the football and playing smashmouth defense.

It also means you know who to blame if all of this goes south, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m sure Ken Norton Jr. is a fine teacher and motivator, but he’s going to be running Carroll’s scheme to the letter.  Richard was more or less also doing that, but Richard would also probably benefit from coaching under someone besides Carroll for the first time in his career.  The point is, Carroll has always had his hands all over the defense, so nothing is going to change there.  I would expect things to look pretty much the same as they have since Dan Quinn left.

As for Solari, I honestly don’t know what he’ll be able to do that Tom Cable couldn’t do better.  It’s no surprise that Cable was on the market for all of a couple of days.  I’m pretty sure they both run essentially the same zone blocking scheme, only Solari has done it consistently worse, without any sort of knack for improving pass protection either.  He feels like a poor man’s Cable in every respect.  But, with the way the staff was organized, I doubt Cable would’ve accepted a reduced role here – to JUST coach the O-Line, and not be the “run game coordinator” or whatever – and I doubt we could’ve gotten a respectable offensive coordinator to come in, knowing that Cable had just as much, if not more power, in the offense.  This might be the one case where change for the sake of change backfires, but Solari probably isn’t the VERY worst, so let’s hope the drop-off isn’t too severe.

The most interesting hire – and the one under the largest microscope, among fans – is Brian Schottenheimer.  I know as far as head coaches are concerned, his dad is on my short list of the ones I respect the most (and I do believe he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, in spite of his lack of success in the playoffs), so the hope is there’s some of Marty’s magic in Brian.  I guess we’ll see.  He’s largely an unknown precisely because he hasn’t had as good of a quarterback as Wilson in his coordinating career.  He was a quarterbacks coach for Drew Brees in San Diego, and apparently did him a world of good, so there’s been a lot of talk about him bringing Wilson’s game to another level.  That’s less interesting to me, because I don’t know if there’s another level to Wilson’s game, necessarily.  He’s also considerably more experienced than Brees was at that point in his career, so it’s not like Schottenheimer would be bringing along some wide-eyed rookie.  Wilson is an established veteran and Pro Bowler, with 2 trips to the Super Bowl under his belt and 1 championship; what is Schottenheimer going to tell him that Bevell couldn’t?  Throw from the pocket more!  Throw on time!  Yeah, we get it, this has been harped upon since day 1.

Word on the street is, Schottenheimer (boy, am I going to get tired of writing that long-ass name out) likes to run the football.  So, again, this has Pete’s influence all over it.  Getting back to old school football.  Of course, it would help if we had a talented running back – who can also stay healthy for more than 6 games – to hand the rock off to, but that’s neither here nor there.  We’re not going to get anything flashy out of Schottenheimer; this isn’t Sean McVay.  This is the Seahawks trying to reclaim former glories.

On the one hand:  sad.  We kill the Mariners for constantly living in the past, but I’m supposed to get all lubed up over the Seahawks returning to their 2013 form?  Besides, can we even put that genie back in the lamp?

Which leads me to the other hand:  good.  My main concern is Russell Wilson in all of this.  He’s been in the league for 6 years now, and has done everything you could ask of a franchise quarterback.  You have to wonder:  is he going to accept a slightly reduced role, if it means this offense has greater success?  Ego is a powerful thing.  You obviously have to have a lot of ego to play quarterback in the NFL, but when you get to the level Wilson’s reached in his career, that ego tends to expand to galaxy-sized proportions.  The biggest question that I’ll have, as we head into the 2018 season, is:  will Russell Wilson put his money where his mouth is?  Is he REALLY all about winning?  Or, is it only about winning when he’s the lone star on the team?

Don’t get me wrong, I would have this same question for almost every single successful quarterback in the league.  There gets to be a point in a young quarterback’s career where he becomes bigger than the team, and it’s not until he’s logged a decade or so when he comes to realize that in the end, all that matters is winning.  What I want to know is, can we somehow accelerate that line of thinking for Wilson, get him to come back down to Earth a little bit, and run a more conservative-style offense that helps out our defense and gets this team back on track?

The other word on the street is, Schottenheimer is pretty salty.  So, here’s hoping he can infuse a little more discipline into this offense, again particularly with Wilson.  He needs a coach, not a buddy, and I don’t get the sense that Bevell was much of an authoritarian.  This should also help teammate relations when it comes to their quarterback resentment.  But, you know, we’ll see.

No one really knows how these coaches are going to be, or how the players are going to respond.  So, it’s hard to get too uptight about any of it.  Save that energy for when the games start.

Myles Gaskin Is Returning For His Senior Season

2018 was always going to be an interesting season for the Huskies.  Jake Browning’s senior year, lots of talent sticking around on defense, Pettis leaving for the draft (meaning the wide receiver group was totally up for grabs), and Lavon Coleman graduating.  When you were under the assumption – as I was – that Myles Gaskin was going to leave for the NFL after his Junior year, that meant the running back room was up for grabs too.  Salvon Ahmed, obviously, had the inside track after his solid Freshman year in 2017, but we were destined to see a lot of new faces back there, until we landed on a 2-man or 3-man regular rotation.

Instead, Gaskin is back!  He’s back as the team’s unquestioned starter, he’s set to break just about every single rushing record in Washington football history, and it gives us Husky fans one less thing to worry about when it comes to this offense in 2018.

Obviously, with Coleman gone, Ahmed’s role is set to increase, and you figure the next-best back will get some of those old Ahmed touches from 2017 (assuming Ahmed doesn’t convert to receiver or something).  The Huskies have been recruiting some highly ranked running backs under Coach Pete, so I’ll still be interested to see the new crop start to get their looks.

I would also think Gaskin’s usage doesn’t change much.  He’s not going to suddenly become a workhorse.  He’ll still lead the way, but I wouldn’t expect the team to ride him to death.

It’s interesting, though, because it looked like he did everything he could do in college.  Under normal circumstances, he would’ve been gone in a heartbeat.  But, this year, there’s a glut of running backs coming out of college, and apparently he was given a 4th round grade by people who study this stuff.  Which, if you’ve heard about pre-draft grades, you know how those can vary (just see Chris Polk’s fall).  4th round is probably a best-case scenario this year, with a very real possibility that it’s more like a 5th or 6th round reality.

There’s the risk though.  You risk coming out early and disappearing in the draft, or you risk playing another season, getting injured, regressing a little bit, but maybe coming out in a draft with fewer quality running backs.  I dunno.  If you love college and are committed to getting your degree, then I think that’s a real factor as well.  Hell, I LOVED college, I never would’ve left if it was monetarily feasible.

So, good news for Husky fans, though a little bit of a bummer for Gaskin.  Here’s hoping he just blows everyone away in 2018 and gets his draft stock to soar!

Husky Basketball Split A Weekend Home Series Against The Bay Area Schools

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see a second of the Thursday night game against the California Golden Bears, because 8pm starts are a thing for the Pac-12, and with my schedule being what it is, I’m in bed by that time.

The Huskies did their thing, though, in beating Cal 66-56.  Cal was held to just under 36% shooting from beyond the arc, and missed more free throws than they hit to seal the deal.  The Huskies were pretty sloppy in their own right, but did just enough down the stretch, led by Jaylen Nowell’s 20 points and 5 boards.  Thybulle filled up the stat sheet as usual, Crisp hit a couple huge shots and didn’t force things offensively, and the Dawgs got double-digit scoring out of Dickerson and Nahziah Carter to round things out.

I was able to catch the Stanford game on Saturday night, which unfortunately never really went the Huskies’ way.  We found ourselves down 21-12 midway through the first half before a Husky run made it just a 2-point deficit at halftime.  Then, after trading some leads early in the second half, the Cardinal went on another run to go up 13 a little past the midway point.  The Huskies would go on another run to get to within 2 points at the under-4 time out, but we ultimately couldn’t sustain it and Stanford ended up winning by 9.

This was a tough one.  Stanford was 9-8 heading into this game, but only had 1 conference loss, and played a seriously difficult non-conference scheduled.  In other words, this team is MUCH better than their overall record, and I expect them to be a Tournament team (barring injury) come March.  The Huskies were able to keep them in check from the 3-point line, for the most part.  But, they just KILLED us on the boards, grabbing 48 to our 28 (and 14 on the offensive glass to our 3).  The Huskies did their damnedest, winning the turnover battle 18-10, out-blocking them by a whopping 12-3 margin, and beating them 10-4 in steals.  Ultimately, though, this game came down to poor Husky shooting.  5/22 from long distance, 37.5% overall, and only 17/26 from the charity stripe.  With foul trouble being pretty equal on both sides, the shooting thing was ultimately too big to overcome.

I think it’s encouraging that the Huskies can hang with a team like Stanford.  We play them again in late February, and it wouldn’t shock me if we somehow prevailed.

It’s unfortunate to drop a home game, but remember how far this team has come since last season.  It’s also important to note that the Huskies have been just as good on the road as they’ve been at home, and their style of play can work regardless of location.  This is fundamentally important, especially when you consider this team wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament, and ALL of those games are away from your home arena.

The Huskies look to limit this to a 1-game losing streak as they head to the Mountain schools this week.  Utah doesn’t appear to be particularly strong this year, and Colorado appears to be better than anyone expected.  I wouldn’t expect either of those things to matter, as it wouldn’t shock me if the Huskies won both games, lost both games, or split them either direction.