Seattle Hasn’t Had Anyone Like Kobe

I’m not here to write another puff piece about how the death of Kobe Bryant affected my life. I thought it was startling, I thought it was a bummer, it sucks not just for his family but all the other families who were involved. But, look, I wasn’t the biggest Kobe fan. I wasn’t necessarily a Kobe hater either; I’m Kobe Ambivalent.

And, as a Sonics fan who stopped following the NBA in 2008, I’ve always kinda hated the Lakers, so what did you really expect from me?

Successful people really REALLY loved Kobe, and I get that. He’s the personification of an intense desire to achieve all of your hopes and dreams. He’s a beacon to anyone looking to get ahead and make a name for themselves. I am … NOT successful. I don’t have that drive to be the best at everything I do. I have a drive to be okay at a lot of things, and sample the variety that is life.

So, you know, I can’t relate. To that part of it, anyway.

As a sports fan, I can certainly relate to the loss of a beloved player you’ve followed your entire life. A player who brought you nothing but joy for an extended period of time, and most importantly, a player who brought you that success that every fan craves for their favorite teams.

Which got me to thinking: who would be that massive loss for Seattle fans?

Ken Griffey Jr. pops immediately to mind, and as far as personal achievements are concerned, he’s certainly the best professional athlete we’ve ever had. He reached the top of his sport, he was known and admired throughout the world, and an entire generation of baseball players all wore their caps backwards and pretended to be HIM at the plate (like today’s generation, I’m sure, will all try to be the next Mike Trout).

And, yeah, while the Mariners had some good teams during his tenure, and there are a lot of positive memories of those teams, he never brought us a championship, let alone multiple championships like Kobe did.

I think, no matter how great you are, no matter how many Hall of Fame votes you get, you’re always going to get bumped up another level every time you win a title for your city, at least when it comes to the fans of that team. I’m sure, if Griffey died in a tragic accident, the city of Seattle would mourn like crazy. But, I can guarantee the world wouldn’t mourn as massively as they have for Kobe, and I think it has a lot to do with his team success on the court as much as his individual success (taking nothing away, of course, from the people who truly mourn the loss of the others in that crash; I’m talking strictly from a sports fan perspective).

When you boil it down to that, Seattle doesn’t have many candidates. Gary Payton is probably the most beloved Sonics player, but that wouldn’t have the resonance. We’re too far removed from the 1979 championship team for it to matter as much.

The closest person Seattle has to someone like Kobe is probably Russell Wilson. He has that drive to be the best, he’ll almost certainly have a long and Hall of Fame career when it’s all said and done. Now, it’s just a matter of winning a few more titles. Russell Wilson might go down as the greatest Seattle athlete of all time, even surpassing the likes of Griffey, which is fun to think about. It’s fun because we’re still smack dab in the middle of his career; we’ve got so much more time left!

Let’s just hope, you know, his off-the-field shenanigans are more of the dorky variety and not … you know what? Nevermind, let’s just leave it alone.

Will Stefon Diggs Be In The Seahawks’ Future?

I’m usually loathe to even READ blog posts talking about possible free agent or trade targets for my favorite teams, because they seem like the definition of a waste of time, so you can imagine my disdain when it comes to writing something on my very own blog. But, God dammit if it isn’t a big ol’ dead season for Seattle sports, and I’ve got this nasty hunch that the Seahawks will be a Two-Diggs team in the near future.

Have the Seahawks learned nothing when it comes to acquiring ex-Vikings wide receivers? Sure, Nate Burleson was fine, but he was the obvious short end of the spite stick when it came to losing Steve Hutchinson; but Percy Harvin was a God damn disaster, and this possible move sure as hell feels a lot like that one.

Three draft picks (including a 1st and a 3rd) along with a boatload of money (ultimately costing us the opportunity to extend Golden Tate; whether he would’ve wanted to stay here is another matter entirely, though) for a guy who ran a kickoff back for a touchdown in a Super Bowl we won by 35 points. Not exactly tremendous bang for the ol’ buck.

The cool thing about trading for a receiver who already got his big-money extension is that (in this case) after the 2020 season, you can get out from under the rest of his deal with little-to-no dead money. The Vikings take the accelerated salary cap hit as soon as they move him. That’s a good and bad thing, because obviously when you’re talking about a player like Diggs – who’s arguably a Top 10 or 15 talent at the position – the draft pick compensation in return is likely to be as substantial as what we gave up for Harvin.

I mean, unless Diggs can be a big, loud problem for the Vikings, who might be enticed to make a desperation move in the name of locker room chemistry. But, then again, is that the type of personality we’d want to bring into our environment?

And, that’s ultimately the deal with the devil you make. Diggs has repeatedly complained – both in the media and to the coaches & players on the Vikings – about not getting the ball enough. So, we’re talking about bringing that guy onto the team that throws it among the fewest times in the league? On a team that already has Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf? With a quarterback who likes to spread the ball around with the best of ’em?

Furthermore, we’re talking about a team with holes a-plenty on defense. We’re likely to make a hard push to keep Clowney, and on top of that we’ll need these resources to bolster our defensive line in other ways. From 2020-2023, Diggs is earning between $10.9 million and $11.4 million per year, plus roster/workout bonuses, plus possible incentives. That’s a significant chunk of change for a team already paying beaucoup bucks to the likes of Wilson, Wagner, and Brown. Also, not for nothing, but I was kinda hoping the Seahawks – if they’re going to trade away draft capital for superstar veterans – they’d use those resources for a prominent pass rusher.

But, hey, I get it. Russell Wilson has his heart set on a productive third receiver. Anyone who saw Malik Turner drop that perfect pass in the Green Bay game has all the argument you ever needed to bring in someone like Diggs. Can you imagine this offense with that trio of receivers, plus Chris Carson at running back?

Again, though, what’s the point if he’s going to average 4-6 catches a game? Couldn’t we put that money to better use?

I’m all for bringing in more talented targets on offense, but I’d rather not break the bank – both in salary cap and draft picks – just to take some disgruntled crybaby off of another team’s hands. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.

And, by writing this post and putting it out into the world, I hope I’ve sufficiently jinxed any legitimate talk of this coming to fruition.

Give Me Back XLIX

I don’t generally spend a lot of time responding to other blog posts I find on the Internet, but this one from Field Gulls was too good to pass up. It’s a great idea: which of the Seahawks’ two Super Bowl defeats would you rather have back?

It’s so good, because there are terrific arguments for both cases. I don’t know how to choose! It’s like you’ve got three kids: one of them has a genius-level IQ, calls you on the reg, is always being complimented by friends and strangers alike, and generally is just a joy to be around (Super Bowl XLVIII); then there are the two shitbirds. One of them has a drinking problem, is constantly borrowing money from you and never paying it back, and has 6 kids with 5 different women (Super Bowl XL); the other has ruined literally every single holiday by fighting with the relatives, has a racist and homophobic long-term, off-and-on boyfriend with a mullet and a vast collection of confederate flags, and she makes her living bilking old people out of their social security with a variety of telephone and e-mail scams (Super Bowl XLIX).

Just thinking about either of those two games makes me sick to my stomach. WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?!

My gut instinct is to take Super Bowl XL and turn that into a Seahawks victory. That game almost broke me, and not just because I managed to consume upwards of 18 Miller High Life’s (Lives?) throughout the day before passing out ass up and pajama pants down on the floor near my bedroom in West Seattle.

Yes, I said near my bedroom.

Everything about that game was FUCKING ANNOYING. Re-living it in that blog post back in 2014 was a waking nightmare. How do I count the ways? Steelers fans and the Pittsburgh Steelers in general. Ben Roethlisberger is somehow a 2-time Super Bowl Champion. Jerome Bettis. Hines Ward. The God-damned refs. Just, fucking kill me.

That game doesn’t have a ton in common with Super Bowl XLIX, but the one overriding theme between the two Seahawks Super Bowl defeats are all the self-imposed mistakes we committed. While the latter had the one big one at the end, the former had many throughout.

But, ultimately, I don’t know how good that 2005 Seahawks team was. Our offense was fine, but the defense was suspect. I’d like to know how that game would’ve turned had our secondary been healthy (and not starting a bunch of guys right off the street), but regardless I think that was a pretty mediocre defense, all things considered. With the offense prone to blunder after blunder, it was all too much to overcome.

As I sit with the question a little longer and give it some genuine thought, the loss to New England in XLIX was far more galling.

We were obviously coming off of our only world championship in franchise history, and we accomplished the seemingly-impossible: getting back to the big game while avoiding any sort of Super Bowl Hangover. The 2014 Seahawks were stacked, bringing back pretty much everyone from the year before, all in the primes of their careers.

Of course, those Patriots were great too, but the Seahawks were the superior team in this one. This was supposed to be the start of our big dynasty. Now, obviously, we’ll never know how different the subsequent few seasons would’ve been had the Seahawks prevailed at the end of XLIX, but back-to-back titles is so rare that we’d be talking about that era of Seahawks football much more highly than we do now (which is more of an air of What Could’ve Been). Instead, those Seahawks harken back to the Bears of the mid-80s, as a team that should’ve won a lot more than they ultimately did.

Fortunately, as long as Russell Wilson is around, if we ever do manage to get back to the Super Bowl, that Seahawks team will be lumped in with the L.O.B. era, just as the Patriots teams of this past decade are lumped in with those of the previous decade, thanks to Tom Brady’s participation. But, that’s neither here nor there.

The Seahawks gagging away XLIX – combined with the Falcons gagging away their huge lead – really turned the tide of sentiment in the Patriots’ favor. If you JUST gave the Seahawks the victory in this alternate universe, there’s an argument to be made that the Seahawks (and NOT the Patriots) would’ve been the Team of the 2010’s, in spite of the fact that the Pats still made it to more Super Bowls. The reason is: we’d both have the same number of titles, but they never beat us head to head, which is the ultimate decider.

Seahawks fans will always remember this team’s appearances in the big game, and we’ll always have that victory to hang our hats on. We can go back and re-watch the game over and over again if we want! Many teams have never even APPEARED in a Super Bowl, let alone won it! You think the Vikings or Bills fans wouldn’t trade places with us this instant?

But, I’m looking big picture here. If the Seahawks won Super Bowl XL and XLVIII, that’s a nice story. It boosts Mike Holmgren’s stature as a Hall of Fame head coach, and it makes us 2-1 in those games. But, those appearances are too far apart to have any lasting impact. On the flipside, winning XLVIII and XLIX – on top of what those teams were able to do in that 5-6 year stretch, particularly on defense, from 2012-2016 or so – that’s getting to legendary status.

Instead, as I mentioned above, there’s a lot of regret. Ultimately, we’re talking about upwards of anywhere from 5-8 hall of famers on those teams (Sherman, Wagner, Wilson, Thomas, and Chancellor for sure); with that collection of talent, how did we NOT win more championships? It also has a troubling effect on Pete Carroll’s chances to make the Hall of Fame. Two Super Bowl titles seem to be the bar you have to get over to make it a foregone conclusion. At this point, how many more chances will he get?

So, yeah, give me XLIX. If for no other reason than we can all stop re-watching that fucking pass at the goalline every fucking year for the rest of our fucking lives.

The Super Bowl Is Happening This Sunday

It’s actually pretty rare when we run across a Super Bowl matchup that I’m interested in. This one on Sunday will be the 54th such game in NFL history; the 39th such game since I was born, and probably the 32nd since I became a fan of football. Of those 32, three have involved the Seahawks (which means I was VERY interested); the rest of the games have been spotty at best.

Last year, for instance, was a no-win situation for me. I can’t root for the Rams, because they’re in the same division as the Seahawks. But, how could I possibly root for New England after they’ve won literally every Super Bowl that’s ever taken place?!

This year, I think we’re in for a treat. The 49ers are involved, which gives me a reason to root for the AFC squad. The Chiefs haven’t been in the game in 50 years and are otherwise inoffensive to my delicate sensibilities, so here we go! Saddle up! I get to be a Chiefs fan for an afternoon!

The Chiefs are favored by 1 point. I would assume there’s plenty of action on both sides, but my guess is that a lot of the fairweather fans are putting their money on Mahomes & Co. If I were in Vegas, that’s certainly where I’d go, and I’m as fairweather as they get! When my dad and brother gather around the television set with me on Sunday, we’re going to make a lot of little bets – on the game and various props – and I’ve already made my intentions known that I want to root for the Chiefs, so that’s where I’m putting my money.

But, is it the smart thing to do?

I mean, isn’t this the exact opposite argument we were all making when the Seahawks were going up against the Denver Broncos and their all-time great offense? When push comes to shove, an elite defense will almost always trump an elite offense (especially when they have 2 weeks to prepare), so you have to figure the smart money is on the 49ers!

I feel like I’m heading into a situation where I might as well just set my money on fire. And, yeah, I know, we’re talking about maybe $5 on the game, and a lot of little $1 bets on other shit; I’m not going to lose the Taylor Family Farm on this thing (especially since I’ll be betting with other Taylors, so really, there’s no way to lose our stranglehold on this thing). But, it’s the thought of watching a coronation of the 49ers for 4+ hours that just sickens me to my very core. Kittle can suck it, Jimmy G can suck it, their bald defensive coordinator can suck it, Richard Sherman can suck it. They can ALLLLLLLL suck it as far as I’m concerned! That fullback whose name I absolutely refuse to learn how to spell … you get the idea.

Deebo Samuel is cool, though. Really, anyone named Deebo (the name of my future first born) is all right in my book.

Wait a minute. Deebo Samuel was born in January of 1996. The movie Friday came out in April of 1995. (*counts on fingers*) THAT’S NINE MONTHS LATER!

Oh, wait a minute, Deebo is just a nickname. Yeah, that makes more sense. Still, Deebo Rockwell Taylor has a pretty good ring to it.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, how can the Chiefs beat the 49ers?

Well, it’s gotta be on Mahomes. He needs to keep up this run of excellence he’s been on since the playoffs started. Which leads me to some of my favorite prop bets.

  • The over/under is 54.5; give me the over.
  • Will Mahomes throw an INT; I say yes.
  • Will either team score in the first 6:30; I say yes.
  • Will either team score in the final 3:30 of regulation; I say yes.
  • What will happen first, a 49ers score or punt; I say score.
  • What will happen first, a Chiefs score or punt; I say punt.
  • Total yardage of all TDs in the game, over/under 102.5; I say over.
  • Points by both teams in the highest-scoring quarter, over/under 21; I say over.
  • Will the opening kickoff be a touchback? Yes.
  • First offensive play; Run.
  • First team to score; 49ers.
  • First team to 10 points; 49ers.
  • First team to 20 points; Chiefs.
  • Will the team who scores first win the game? No.
  • What will happen first: sack or TD? Sack.
  • Total sacks by both teams: Over 5.5.
  • First team to punt: Chiefs.
  • Will there be a scoreless quarter? No.
  • Largest lead, over/under 16.5 points; Under.
  • Will the game ever be tied again after 0-0? Yes.
  • Will either team score 3 unanswered times? Yes.
  • Longest TD, over/under 44.5 yards; Over.
  • Shortest TD, over/under 1.5 yards; Over.
  • Longest FG, over/under 47.5 yards; Under.
  • Shortest FG, over/under 26.5 yards; Over.
  • Which team will score the longest FG? 49ers.
  • Total number of players with a passing attempt, over/under 2.5; Over.
  • Will the game end on a QB kneeldown? Yes.
  • Will the last team to score win the game? Yes.

If the game goes the way I want it to go; the 49ers will get off to a hot start, and the Chiefs will roar back like they’ve done the last two weeks. They can’t make the total points high enough, I think this game goes WAY over 54.5 for the game. Ultimately, I think the Chiefs score last to take the lead, and their defense finds a way to shut the 49ers down with enough time for Mahomes to kneeldown to run out the clock.

The worst-case scenario is the 49ers dominate throughout – because the Chiefs have a mediocre defense – and Mahomes is harassed all day with numerous sacks and turnovers. Even in this situation, the game could still go over 54.5, but it would be a blowout and no one will enjoy themselves, because the commercials are always overrated, the musical performances stink, and everyone’s going to spend their time re-watching the new Christopher Nolan trailer that will surely be released at some point during the game.

Some Thoughts On The Astros’ Cheating Scandal

I’d like to point out, for starters, that I hated the Astros before it was cool to hate the Astros. So, I feel like I’m a LITTLE bit more with it than the rest of the Johnny Come Lately’s. I’ve been on record for years now saying that – while MLB was probably correct to re-align the leagues to 15 teams apiece – they never should’ve moved Houston when there were less-established teams (Colorado and Arizona, for instance) who would’ve been a MUCH better fit in the A.L. West.

I’m happy to be blunt about my next point: the Astros are fucking cheaters, and deserve a punishment even more drastic than what they’ve received. That having been said, count me in the camp that firmly believes they weren’t the only ones cheating in this manner. Of course, Major League Baseball has been overwhelmed with cheating since the dawn of the game itself, from the Black Sox to doctoring baseballs to rampant use of illicit pharmaceutical substances to bat corking to run-of-the-mill sign-stealing to this electronic nonsense to whatever else has been going on that we don’t even know about. If it’s not one thing, it’s a million others, and nothing would surprise me at this point.

It’s the culture of baseball itself that should be on trial here, from the bogus “unwritten rules” to the overwhelming practice of players internally protecting the widespread act of cheating; whereas the NFL has always been about protecting the shield at all costs, baseball players prefer instead to wallow in corruption. The NFL, of course, has problems of its own that it should reflect upon; I don’t know what’s more destructive in the long run. All I know is that the game of baseball is a fucking joke, and it’s impossible to take any of it seriously when “credibility” has never been its pursuit.

You don’t reach the heights of major professional sports without a fierce dedication to a competitive spirit, and as such the people involved will always look for a hidden edge to defeat their opponents; that’s just to be expected. But, the enthusiasm to go outside the lines of fairness and legality has always set the game apart. Any professional athlete, coach, manager, and owner in any sport would be more than willing to cheat in the name of winning (see: the New England Patriots, for instance); what sets baseball apart from the other sports is its upper management’s – from the commissioner on down – willingness and desire to continually look the other way when they know its teams and players are cheating, only taking punitive action after everyone has accepted whatever hot-button form of cheating has been accepted as commonplace and The New Norm. When the Patriots get caught breaking the rules, they get punished; the NFL doesn’t wait around for 9 or 10 teams to follow suit, only to THEN act accordingly when the public finds out about it.

I wanted to compare baseball to the WWE, but the difference there is that wrestling is scripted and – more importantly – entertaining. Baseball is just crooked, masquerading as credible, so I don’t see how anyone can have faith in its legitimacy.

Lots of people want to compare these sign-stealing shenanigans to the Steroids Epidemic of the 1990’s. I think this is far worse. I would MUCH rather face someone on the juice than someone who literally knows what pitch I’m about to throw. I would argue steroids are a necessary evil based on the antiquated format of the game itself. 162 games a year, plus Spring Training, plus the post-season, is just too many fucking games. How can you possibly expect these people to survive an entire season of this kind of daily grind without getting injured? Besides that, there just isn’t enough of an offseason for most of these guys to recuperate! Even if you do make it through an entire season, you’re most likely dealing with some sort of injury that will require a significant chunk of your offseason to recover from; how are you then supposed to build up your body following that rehab period in time for the next year?

People who tried to defend the Astros for living in the 21st century, and taking advantage of the technology available to us, are missing the point. They also have the technology to bug an opposing play-caller’s microphone in the NFL; would you celebrate a football team for knowing its opponent’s play call before every snap? Or, would you think that’s a shitty thing to do, and against the spirit of the game?

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe it’s foolish of me to expect a fair game. But, if you don’t level the playing field and rid the game of this crap, where does it end?

Compared to the other sports, I’ve never been the biggest baseball fan in the world, and I attribute that 100% to the Mariners being the worst-run organization in all of professional athletics. If the shoe was on the other foot, and it was the Mariners destroying everyone and cheating to do it, I’m sure I’d have many different feelings. But, if my team is too inept to put a winning product on the field, it’s SURELY not smart enough to find a way to cheat to get an edge. Nevertheless, I’ve never felt it easier to give up on the game of baseball completely. As I mentioned above, these people will just find a brand new way to flout the rules until there’s another massive scandal that rocks the game to its foundations. So, why should I care? Why should I watch the games on television? Why should I follow the day-to-day minutiae? Even if I had any faith whatsoever in this current Mariners rebuild, why should I bother putting in the effort when I can ignore Major League Baseball completely, other than the small handful of games I attend in any given season? I usually just go to games with friends anyway, so it’s more of a reason to get together and hang out than it is to appreciate the game itself.

Maybe if they got their shit together and instituted real change, but again I ask: why should I trust anything that Major League Baseball does to try to make the game more honest? They’ve lied and cheated for well over a century now, the culture of the game is utterly bankrupt. This is the real shame of it all. When people talk about “what’s wrong with baseball” they focus on the pace and length of the individual games, when they should really be focusing on the character of the sport.

In the short term, all this talk of buzzers and 21st century technology has me thinking (for what it’s worth, I understand no one has actually copped to using buzzers, and hiding a conspiracy that vast would be nearly impossible on this scale – then again, never underestimate the sport’s eagerness to protect its most vile individuals – but I’ll choose to continue to believe the Astros, and probably others, were buzzing one another the upcoming pitches until the day I die): why do we still have hand signals in baseball at all? We have smart watches now, for Christ’s sake! Have the catcher push a button from a device he can store in his pocket that relays to the pitcher what pitch they want thrown; that way the runner standing on second base can focus on, you know, playing the game, as opposed to whatever combination of fingers are being flashed between the catcher’s legs.

In the big picture, though, this is a difficult scandal for me to reconcile. For the longest time, I used to say, “I’m not a baseball fan, I’m a Mariners fan.” Then, during the darkness of the last decade, I adjusted that sentiment to, “I’m not a Mariners fan, I’m a King Felix fan.” And now I have to wonder, was his career in Seattle cut short – and rendered completely asunder – because teams (plural) like the Astros knew what he was throwing? It’s hard not to notice that the effectiveness of his devastating change up lost a lot of its luster right around the time period when this scandal was in its infancy. How did the majority of Major League hitters go from helplessly whiffing at his change ups in the dirt, to all of a sudden laying off of them completely, even though they arrived at nearly the same speed as his fastball, looking nearly identical until they fell off the map? Just a coincidence, or were the Astros and their deciples not the only ones taking part in all of this sign-stealing horseshit?

I think this was a league-wide scourge, and everyone chose to just look the other way. The logic at that point is, “Since everyone is doing it, is it really cheating?” I’ll answer that for you: yes. Yes, it is cheating, and the people who SHOULD give a damn about that clearly do not.

There’s the old cliche about such-and-such being “as American as baseball and apple pie”, but that’s a phrase that needs to be put to bed forever. You know what’s inherently American? Graft, corruption, and a total lacking of scruples. Such is baseball.

If I were running the marketing campaign for Apple Pie, I’d want to distance myself from those other two entities as quickly as humanly possible!

There Isn’t Enough Time To Save This Husky Basketball Season

With our loss to the last-place Utes last night – another total meltdown late in the game, fuelled (with a fucking Hefty bag full of gasoline) by Jaden McDaniels’ total fucking shitshow of a performance as he fouled out in spectacular fashion – the Huskies now find themselves in last place in the Pac-12, seven games into our conference season.

Here are the facts: we could win the rest of our regular season games, and there still wouldn’t be an At Large bid in our future. Of course, that’s a ridiculous statement, because what have you seen from this team this year that would lead you to believe we could win more than ONE game in a row in conference play?

The Huskies started the season 1-0 with a win over Baylor, and it’s been all downhill from there.

Even though I wrote it earlier in the week, my last Husky Basketball post pretty much explains to a T how the Huskies lost to the Utes last night. Same shit, different day, as it were. I can’t remember the last time my expectations coming into a season were SO MASSIVELY power-fucked by reality.

The only hope I can possibly cling to is the fact that we still have the Pac-12 Tournament. And, here’s the thing, the Huskies have only been TRULY blown out in one game this year, against Tennessee on a neutral floor. Particularly in conference play, we’ve hung tough, either rallying hard at the end, or totally gagging these games away. But, we’re talking about losses by 2, 6, 3, 3, and 1 point(s) respectively. We’re TALENTED enough to play with anyone, we just can’t put it all together, and we can’t get a clutch bucket at the end of games when we need them the most.

Now, the odds are as stacked against us as can be, but it doesn’t mean things can’t change. It’s a safe assumption that we won’t be in a Top 4 seed in the conference tourney, so that means all we need to do is win 4 games in 4 days. It doesn’t really even matter at this point where we’re seeded, because we have the capability to beat all of these teams; we’ve just got to get hot at the right time.

So, I’m not going to worry about trying to bolster our resume or any of that nonsense. Throw that shit out of the window. Just stay healthy, try to figure out how to hit a shot in the final seconds of a game, and get as hot as can be from March 11th through the 14th. Bingo, bango, bongo.

Should The Seahawks Go All In On Clowney?

The Seahawks are in the Top 10 teams with the most money available to spend in free agency in 2020. We’re also coming off of a semi-deep playoff run, with a franchise quarterback and a front office set-up that’s the envy of most in the league. Paired with a whole mess of draft picks, you’d be hard-pressed to find many teams in a better position to improve from 2019 to 2020. Could this be the year we go back to the Super Bowl?

A lot of that will depend on what happens in free agency. As I wrote about HERE and HERE, there are a lot of players whose contracts are up. The most important of them are along the offensive and defensive lines. So, while the Seahawks have a lot of money to play around with, they’ll have to use a significant portion of it if they’d like to keep some of the better players around. The biggest money guys on offense are Ifedi and Fant; I don’t know if we can afford to lose them both, as that would put us in a situation where we might have to (or want to) replace 4 of our 5 O-Linemen. The Seahawks likely won’t keep both Ifedi and Fant, but keeping just one around will require a significant chunk of change.

Defensively, the big money guys are Jarran Reed and Jadeveon Clowney. The Seahawks very well MIGHT want to keep both of these guys, which would take most of the rest of our available salary cap resources. Considering how poor the Seahawks’ defensive line was in 2019, and that performance largely included both of those guys playing significant snaps when healthy & active, is it smart to give these two a lot of money?

I’m mostly focused on Clowney in this instance. I think if we want to extend Reed long term, we’d be entitled to something of a discount considering his suspension and his lackluster performance in the games following his suspension. Either a 1-year prove-it deal, or a multi-year deal at a lower average than we anticipated following his 10.5-sack 2018.

Clowney, on the other hand, will be looking for top-of-the-market defensive player money. Anywhere from $20-$25 million per year on average. Even with the pro-rated signing bonus, that won’t make for a necessarily cheap first year cap hit.

So, I pose the question: pay Clowney what he’s looking for, or not?

Paying Clowney would put the Seahawks with three players making money at or near the top of their respective markets, including Russell Wilson at the most expensive position in football (the other is obviously Bobby Wagner).

It’s hard to answer this question without knowing the full plan. Are the Seahawks going to pump a bunch of dollars back into the O-Line? I think they absolutely should, as I’m not ready for the likes of Pocic, Haynes, and Jones to take over full time (I also wouldn’t mind an upgrade over Fluker, if I’m being honest). Are they going to make a splashy trade or signing for a wide receiver or tight end that will set us back in the cap? I hope and pray that they don’t; we should be able to get by with who we have, and let Russell Wilson take on the burden of making those around him better.

I would obviously love to have Clowney back, as I do believe he’s one of the five or ten best overall defensive ends in football. I base this not on his sack numbers, but his overall presence on the field, the pressure he’s able to generate on his own, and what he’s able to do in slowing down the opponent’s run game. Also, not for nothing, but the Seahawks don’t have anyone else remotely CLOSE to what Clowney can do on a football field in how he can wreck games; and I don’t believe there’s anyone in the free agent market that can approach his level of production either.

But, as I said before, the Seahawks need a lot of help along the D-Line. If it comes down to signing Clowney, or signing 2-3 mid-level defensive linemen, I think I’d rather have the volume of players. 3 competent linemen who are able to do a little bit of everything is preferable to 1 outstanding lineman and 2 duds who can’t do anything.

The problem, as I see it, is the fact that most every team in football can say the exact same thing. Lots of teams need defensive line help; lots of teams have money to spend on free agents.

Everyone always points to the Seahawks signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett before the 2013 season as the gold standard, as if those types of players grow on trees. The Seahawks were in a unique position that year to take advantage of market inefficiencies; that’s a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of factors that we pretty much lucked into. Most every other season, you run into what we have this year: older veterans on the cusp of falling off a cliff, or younger guys who have yet to prove they can do the job for a full season.

The X-factor in this whole thing is whatever potential trade market is out there. Who are the players entering the final year of their rookie deals? The players who get Franchise Tagged and aren’t particularly happy about it? We won’t know the answer to that for another few weeks, but could the Seahawks find themselves in another Clowney situation in 2020? I wouldn’t throw that option out of bed.

I think my biggest worry is Clowney’s durability. He’s suffered a bevy of injuries throughout his college and pro career. Giving that kind of money to one man puts a lot of risk on your plate; if he doesn’t live up to the contract – because of injuries, declining ability, or a lack of want-to – then you’ve effectively screwed yourself in the short and long term. If signing Clowney means we can’t afford to put the type of players around him to make this whole thing better than it was in 2019, then not only do we need him active for the full 16-game season, but we need him absolutely destroying fools on an every-game basis if we want to reach our objectives:

  • Winning the NFC West
  • Getting a first-round BYE
  • Making the Super Bowl

That’s all I care about. I want the Seahawks to do whatever gets us back to the mountain top. If that includes Clowney, then I hope it includes enough complementary pieces around him to enhance his abilities, and I certainly hope it includes the right guys to keep Russell Wilson upright and contending for MVPs.

The Mariners Head Into 2020 Following The Quietest Hot Stove Period In Recent Memory

Look, I’m not BASHING them for this. If you’re going to commit to a rebuild, then commit to the damn rebuild and stop half-assing it like you’ve been doing for the last 20 years! I’m just saying, these are the biggest Mariners moves of the offseason:

  • No Arbitration for Domingo Santana (who is still a free agent as of this writing)
  • Traded Omar Narvaez to the Brewers for minor league pitcher Adam Hill and a draft pick in 2020
  • Extended Evan White 6 years & $24 million
  • Signed Kendall Graveman 1 year, $1.5 million (with option for 2021)
  • Selected Yohan Ramirez in the Rule 5 Draft

Those are the BIGGEST moves, mind you. There are a bevy of smaller moves, involving relievers and utility players and whatnot. But, the sexy is right there. If this Mariners offseason was a porno, it would be a picture of two people in giant puffy winter coats, pants, and mittens holding hands.

It’s weird, is what I’m getting at. It’s weird for the Mariners – I can’t remember the last time nothing even moderately interesting happened for an entire offseason – and it’s especially weird for Jerry Dipoto, who seemingly has never seen a trade offer he didn’t immediately agree to.

It’s also a little refreshing, if I’m being honest. After last year’s 68-win campaign – where I had thoroughly checked out by mid May – the last thing I wanted to do was spend Football Season thinking about the Mariners. It’s almost like a self-imposed time out; they couldn’t do anything else except sit there and think about what they’d done.

For what it’s worth, I don’t disagree with any of the moves they’ve made. It sounds like they tried to shop Santana, but found no takers. I find it odd that NOBODY wants a 20/20 guy; it’s even more strange that he’s still on the market this close to Spring Training. But, Santana never really made defense a priority. He was one of the worst defensive outfielders in all of baseball! So, I’d rather let him walk than over-pay for someone who’s probably best suited to be a DH (we’ve already got one of those, his name is Daniel Vogelbach).

I also like trading high on Omar Narvaez. I don’t think his value was ever going to go up from what he did in 2019; unfortunately (again) defense plays a role in limiting his ceiling. The draft pick (in the late 60’s or early 70’s) is probably the most valuable piece in return. But, it also opens up what could’ve been a logjam at catcher, allowing some of our higher-upside prospects a chance to compete for playing time.

The Evan White deal is by far the most noteworthy thing the Mariners did since the season ended. It’s pretty rare by MLB standards, and it’s (I think) a first for the Mariners: extending a player long-term who has yet to surpass the AA level of the minors. He gets $22 million for six years, with a $2 million buyout after that. There are also three more relatively team-friendly option years after that, with buyouts built into each one of those as well. All told, it could amount to $55.5 million over 9 years which is definitely the best-case scenario. You WANT to see Evan White get the full value of his deal, because it means his play on the field almost certainly exceeded expectations.

I love the idea. Considering the economics of Major League Baseball, it’s a relatively low risk with the potential for a very high reward. By all accounts, White’s defense is ready for the Major Leagues right now; if things break right he could win many multiple Gold Gloves at first base. The downside, of course, is that it’s first base (not necessarily the most glamorous of defensive positions on the field).

What we don’t know is how his bat will play. Again, he’s yet to get above AA. He’ll be 24 years old in April. There’s almost certainly going to be growing pains over (probably) the first three years of this deal. He’ll get every opportunity to win the job out of Spring Training (which is the correct move), so fingers crossed he isn’t a total disaster at the plate.

My concern, long-term, is what is Evan White? He doesn’t strike me as a guy who will ever have much home run power. Can he hit enough doubles – and hit for a high-enough average overall – to be worth keeping around for the next decade? Or, will it all be walks and defense with this guy? I’m not saying that’s necessarily the worst thing in the world, but if you’re committing to someone with these types of guarantees, you’d like to get a great return on investment. All of that faith needs to be rewarded, otherwise this rebuild could sink in a hurry.

As for Graveman and Ramirez and all the other little moves, I’m taking a wait-and-see approach. I’ll get into this more the closer we get to the regular season – and I’m sure I’ll belabor the point all year long – but I have zero expectations for the 2020 Mariners from a win/loss perspective. Again, much like 2019, I’d love for this team to show improvement from the prospects, while losing a ton of games and getting another Top 10 draft pick (preferably by blowing late leads with another shaky bullpen).

The most important thing will be those prospects making strides towards being everyday Major Leaguers, and even more crucially, All Stars. You can’t win championships without superstars (plural, more than one). So, let’s take a ride on the Development Train! Choo choo!

Feel. The. Damn. Excitement.

Husky Basketball Is Going Down The Shitter

On New Year’s Eve, I wrote about how the Huskies were in great shape heading into conference play. Then, six games and a Quade Green suspension (for lack of a better word) later, here we are, 2-4 in Pac-12 play, coming off of our best remaining chance for a real signature victory.

The Baylor game feels like a million years ago.

Earlier, I was harping on offensive rebounds, and they’re still a problem, but not as glaring as before. It’s just a lot of little things. Slow starts, an inability to get the ball to Isaiah Stewart in the post, an inability to shoot from behind the arc, turnovers, poor free throw shooting, lack of a true point guard.

The loss at home to Oregon on Saturday was a bitter pill. Of course, ANY loss to Oregon is a bitter pill, but this one really hurt our chances of making the NCAA Tournament. A win there, and it’s not hard to imagine that – combined with a victory over Baylor (still their only loss of the season, as they’ve risen to #1 in the AP Poll) – would’ve been enough for a .500 Husky team to sneak into an 11 or 10 seed. But, now we REALLY need to rip off a lot of wins the rest of the way, as well as make a good showing in the Pac-12 Tourney.

The loss to the Ducks is even worse considering how much we dominated that game, up as many as 16 points with under 14 minutes to play.

One big issue the Huskies need to rectify in a hurry is figuring out our rotation. We pulled Marcus Tsohonis’ red shirt with the Quade Green fiasco, as it doesn’t look like Elijah Hardy is ready to take on a starter’s load. Tsohonis looked great against the Beavers, and that continued through the first half against the Ducks. But, there was some sloppy ball-handling down the stretch, as well as his BRUTAL 0 for 4 at the free throw line that ultimately cost us any chance at winning that one.

He was not alone in the blame.

It’s hard to watch Jaden McDaniels right now, because he looks absolutely dreadful. He might go on to greatness in the NBA – he might even turn things around this season in a likely one-and-done college career – but he’s fucking awful and has been this team’s biggest disappointment (yes, even bigger than a 5-star point guard ruled academically ineligible for a quarter). He’s a mediocre 3-point shooter; he shoots WAY too many long 2-pointers. He thinks he’s a better passer and ball-handler than he actually is; he turns it over way too much. In general, he seems like a bad decision-maker and has a bad overall attitude (if he’s not getting baited into making angry, reactionary fouls, then he just looks like a sulking, pissy baby). I think it’s clear he has zero interest in the game of college basketball and is counting down the days until he can go pro and forget all of this ever happened. Of course, as this is happening, his stock is clearly falling, because what has he brought to the table? How has he progressed since his high school days? I’m sure he’ll still get picked in the first round based on potential, but he could’ve gone in the Top 10 or Top 5 if he decided to actually give a shit.

Most of all, the Huskies just don’t have anyone who can create late in games when we absolutely need a bucket. The last ten minutes of regulation against Oregon were the most excruciating moments of my life, and I’ve had a catheter tube ripped from my pee-hole! The book is out on Washington: double or triple-team Isaiah Stewart and force literally anyone else (mostly Hameir Wright and his 28.6% field goal percentage) to try to beat you. If the Huskies go cold from long range, there’s no one who can dribble drive and create in the paint. There’s no Jaylen Nowell or Isaiah Thomas; hell, I’d settle for Game Overton at this point!

That play-maker was supposed to be McDaniels, but clearly he’s got his own thing going and that’s cool. It’s weird that the Huskies played their best, most complete game of the season against Oregon State last Thursday (a 64-56 victory that only got THAT close in garbage time) when McDaniels was out with an ankle injury.

I wonder if the biggest problem for this team isn’t the fact that we have TOO MANY good players. There just aren’t enough minutes – or enough shots – to go around. It feels like Naz Carter has gotten lost in the shuffle a little bit when he’s this team’s only quality upper classman. Also, I feel like this would be the perfect team for someone like RaeQuan Battle – who got serious minutes against the Beavers and scored 11 points, though he did struggle against the Ducks – to be a role player off the bench that brings a little spark. But, for defensive purposes, you’ve gotta give Wright and Bey significant minutes, you’re not going to sit Carter or Stewart, and every team needs a point guard. With McDaniels as the wild card (apparently), there are some solid role players who are totally buried this year. Nate Roberts should be playing more! Sam Timmins isn’t anything special, but he deserves more than garbage-time minutes!

Oddly enough, the Huskies might actually be better next year. It sounds crazy, when you know we’ll lose Stewart – who is the best player in the Pac-12 and one of the best players in the nation – but with everyone else we’re bringing back, plus a year’s experience, maybe we were a year too early on projecting great things for the Huskies.

It’s tough to be consistent when you’re playing so many Freshmen and Sophomores. We knew that all along. But, I was hoping by mid-January, this thing would’ve clicked, and we’d gel into a true contender. Instead, we’re gonna be scrambling just to make the N.I.T.

I never thought I’d actually finding myself looking forward to baseball season, but here we are.

Seahawks Death Week: We’ve Got Holes To Fill On Offense

Yesterday, we got into it with what the Seahawks should do on defense. In case you couldn’t tell, these last two posts were supposed to be one, but as usual I got a little wordy, so here we are. Maybe someday I’ll do a Kill Bill-style re-imagining and smash these two posts into one big one. Probably not, but you never know.

Here are the offensive free agents-to-be, in some particular order:

Offense

  • Germain Ifedi (RT)
  • Joey Hunt (C)
  • Mike Iupati (G)
  • George Fant (T/TE)
  • Jacob Hollister (TE)
  • Luke Willson (TE)
  • David Moore (WR)
  • Jaron Brown (WR)
  • Geno Smith (QB)
  • C.J. Prosise (RB)

That’s a lotta O-Line. Today’s edition is going to be a little different than yesterday’s, as I’m gonna talk about one of our potential cuts right at the top.

The Seahawks have a HUGE decision to make at the center spot. Not a lot of people are talking about it right now, but soon it’s going to be everywhere. Justin Britt – who has been a reliable starter for the last few years – will be heading into the final year of his deal. He’s set to count approximately $11.4 million against the salary cap. He’s also coming off of an ACL injury that ended his season and required surgery.

Joey Hunt – a 6th rounder from 2016 – filled in and did pretty well. He’s obviously undersized, and usually once a game he’d get knocked back on his ass in embarrassing fashion, but other than that I thought he was fine. Also, given his own salary, there was great value there, as I don’t feel like we dropped off much at all compared to Britt. Obviously, starting so many games this season, Hunt is set for a raise, but I have to imagine it’s still less than what Britt is currently earning, meaning this is an opportunity for the team to save some money in the long term. If we cut Britt, he only counts about $2.9 million against the cap, which is about $8.5 million in savings for 2020.

I think the Seahawks should cut Britt, extend Hunt (maybe in the $4-5 million per year range), and draft another center to study under him. Now, Hunt is a restricted free agent, meaning we can slap a 1st round tender (a little over $4.5 million), a 2nd round tender (a little over $3 million), or an original round tender (a little over $2 million) to keep him for another season. That’s also an option. An original round tender seems like a waste, as I could easily see another team willing to sign him long term and give us a 6th rounder. Even a 2nd round tender feels like cheaping out; I’d look to slap a 1st round tender on him and play chicken with the rest of the league; I can’t imagine anyone giving up a 1st round pick for Hunt, and if so, then god bless ’em. And, who knows, if the guy we draft ends up being a stud, then maybe we let Hunt walk after 2020 and go with the draft pick going forward.

Either way, I’d like to have seen Justin Britt make his last start in a Seahawks uniform in 2019.

The next big decision revolves around Ifedi. We all know Ifedi. He’s a 4-year starter who was absolutely the whipping boy of an entire fanbase for his first two years in the league. He took a big step forward in 2018, and continued that work on into 2019. Now, of course, he’s not perfect. He gets penalized a lot, he gives up a good amount of pressure, but you can’t deny he’s made progress. Plus, he’s durable, and most importantly: the NFL simply has a shortage of reliable offensive linemen, so the demand for him on the open market is sure to be high. The Seahawks were already unwilling to give him a 5th-year option (which was a little over $10 million), so you can take that one of two ways: either they were taking a wait-and-see approach, or they just don’t think he’s worth that money on a short-term basis.

The Seahawks COULD use some of the savings by letting Britt go to extend Ifedi. Extending him another 4 years or so would allow the team to spread the signing bonus around, which would help us in the short term (likely resulting in a cap hit less than $10 million in the first year, allowing us to wait for the league-wide salary cap figures to continue to grow, as they have every year since the current CBA was put into place).

Or, the Seahawks could let Ifedi walk, but that comes with great risk, as I don’t believe they have his replacement on our roster just yet. Which brings us to George Fant. He obviously is looking to get a starting job somewhere, and I can’t imagine he’d be willing to stay here unless there are built-in assurances that he’s set to replace Duane Brown when he retires. But, that would still likely require a significant financial investment in a guy who figures to be a hot commodity around the league. Fant has lots of experience, including starting experience at the all-important left tackle position. The way around that quandry is to give Fant the right tackle job right away, then slide him over to the left side when Brown’s contract expires, and hopefully have developed the right tackle of the future in the interim.

The other option is to let Fant and Ifedi walk, and select a right tackle HIGH in this year’s draft. But, that comes with it pretty much the same thing we dealt with in Ifedi’s first two seasons here: lots and lots of growing pains.

If I had to make a decision now, I’d lean towards keeping one of either Ifedi or Fant. Preferably Fant – if the salaries are similar – but if he’s going to break the bank somewhere for a super high deal, then settle for Ifedi and try to develop your next left tackle of the future. I REALLY don’t want to lose them both, but I’d understand if the money is too prohibitive.

As for Iupati, I think we could retain him on the cheap if we needed to. That would allow us to continue bringing Jamarco Jones along slowly, and allowing him to be our backup guard on both sides of the center.

***

Let’s talk about tight ends and receivers now.

Will Dissly should be back for the start of 2020, but he’s pretty much all we got. I would LOVE for the Seahawks to extend Hollister, though he’s a restricted free agent, so I think we could get away with a 2nd round tender on him (it would be pointless to put an original round tender on him, as he went undrafted, and I feel like he’s built up enough value in his time here to be worth more than nothing). If someone signs Hollister and is willing to give us a 2nd round pick, then GREAT! More ammo for the upcoming draft.

As for Luke Willson, I think it’s worth it to bring him back on a minimum deal. I also think the team should invest in another blocking tight end in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, as we obviously need the depth with Dissly’s injury issues.

I think we should let Jaron Brown walk. He was an okay veteran, but he’s not worth the money. I could see us slapping an original round tender on David Moore, as a little over $2 million isn’t going to break the bank, and quite frankly I’d welcome the 7th rounder if another team signed him.

With Lockett and Metcalf, our top two receiver spots are locked up. The Seahawks obviously kept John Ursua on the roster all year (and traded back into the seventh round of the 2019 draft) for a reason. He was a healthy scratch for all but a small handful of games, but this team sees potential in him as a #3 receiver. I think that starts to take hold in 2020. If he puts in the work this offseason, I could see him making a huge impact in training camp and pre-season, and then sliding right into a regular role on this team.

If David Moore comes back, that’s your top 4 receiver spots right there, leaving us maybe one more for a veteran-minimum guy, or another young gun out on the scrap heap. The Seahawks are fine at receiver; I don’t see a huge need to spend a lot of money here.

***

As for the rest, it’s time to let C.J. Prosise go away and spread his wings. He’s officially spent significant time every season of his NFL career injured. With Carson, Penny, and Homer all returning, there’s no point in bringing Prosise back. Draft another running back if you have to. Or, hell, bring back Turbin or Lynch! Just not Prosise; I can’t take it anymore.

And, yeah, if you want, bring Geno Smith back. I have no problem with that. He should be cheap and hopefully never play, so it’s no skin off my nose. Or, draft a quarterback in the later rounds; who cares?

***

Other than Britt, the only possible cut I see on the offense is Ed Dickson, which should go without saying. He’s played in 10 games (including playoffs) in his two full years here in Seattle. He’s set to count nearly $4 million against the cap; we’d save approximately $3 million by cutting him. It’s a no-brainer.

As for possible early extensions, the only real candidate is Chris Carson, but I would caution strongly against it. 2020 is the final year of his deal and he’s earning less than $1 million. He’s also proven to be injury prone, as well as fumble prone, so I would not pour a ton of money into him. If he’s looking for money in the $5-10 million range, let him seek it elsewhere. If he holds out of training camp and the pre-season in 2020, let him. DRAFT ANOTHER RUNNING BACK. A big one, in the Carson/Lynch mold. Don’t tie your future to Carson, it won’t end well!

***

All in all, I like what the Seahawks have going on offense. I don’t think they really need to shake it up all that much in the skill position area. Little tweaks here and there, plus some depth through the draft should be fine.

The Seahawks have around $68.5 million in cap space, minus around $10 million or so for incidentals (dead money, practice squad, draft picks, IR, incentives, etc.). I feel like most of that needs to go towards the defensive line, with a good chunk set aside for our offensive line (to either keep what we’ve got together, or find quality replacements in free agency). The worst thing we can do is put a bunch of money into bringing in new receivers and running backs; let Russell Wilson carry that burden. Worry more about the lines.

I know I can sound like I’m down on the Seahawks, but it’s not like we’re the Browns or Lions or Dolphins. We’re not a team in total peril. But, we still need to make a lot of moves and hit on those moves if we want to be a legitimate championship contender, and not a wild card team just happy to be playing on the road in the Divisional Round. The only thing more frustrating than that is being 8-8 every year, and quite frankly I don’t think we’re too far off from that either.

Wasting Russell Wilson’s prime should be a crime punishable by death. Let’s hope we get this thing figured out, because it’s not like the NFC West is getting any easier.