The Mariners Are Stacked At Catcher

This isn’t a super-interesting topic on the Mariners landscape, but it is pretty noteworthy, especially when you consider how long we’ve struggled to fill this spot.

The Mariners have not just one, but two perfectly cromulent catchers at the Major League level, in Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens. The Mariners traded for the veteran Murphy from the Giants heading into 2019, and that year he had his best season of his career! He was so good, the M’s felt comfortable trading away Omar Narvaez for basically nothing.

Of course, Murphy injured his foot and missed the entire 2020 season, but he’s healthy and back in the fold as this team’s co-starting catcher. That’s only happening because the Mariners traded for Torrens at the deadline last year (along with Ty France and another high-level prospect) in exchange for Austin Nola. I wouldn’t say Torrens put up Nola-like numbers when he came over, but he was very capable, both offensively and defensively!

The combination of Murphy and Torrens is putting a lot of Mariners fans at ease. Most spots on the everyday roster are locked in at this point – even though Spring Training has yet to commence – but they come with lots of questions and concerns. Even with someone like Kyle Lewis – who won the American League Rookie of the Year award – you have to wonder how he will put it all together over a full season, with all the ups and downs built into it. But, I’ll tell you this much: the least of my concerns heading into 2021 will be what the Mariners are able to do at catcher.

Not to say these guys are the best in baseball. Maybe as a unit, I would say there is little-to-no drop-off between whoever the “starter” ends up being and whoever his backup is (though, I do anticipate pretty close to a 50/50 split, as long as health isn’t a factor); but I don’t think either of these guys are bound to be All Stars or anything. They’re just capable, all-around catchers who should hit enough to help out, and shouldn’t be disasterous behind the plate.

You might think, “Well, that’s not sexy!” And you’d be right! But, at this point, all I’m looking for is run-of-the-mill, missionary-style, passionless married people intercourse from the catcher spot. I don’t need a Mike Zunino who’s a great receiver, but strikes out nine million times a season; nor do I need an Omar Narvaez, who hits like crazy but is among the worst defenders in the game. I just need dudes who can do both to the point where I’m not pulling my hair out whenever I look at them. In the same way in football, the very best long-snappers are ones you never have to think about (because, with a position like that, you’re only thinking about them when they fuck up), such is the catcher in baseball. Just do your job!

On top of the fact that both Murphy and Torrens are good players, they’re also not necessarily important for our future. Murphy has two more Arbitration years remaining, while Torrens has a whopping four more years of team control. These are bridge guys to the future, who is Cal Raleigh. Raleigh in his own right is someone we could see get a cup of coffee at the Major League level in 2021 (or maybe even a whole pot of coffee, if injuries worm their way into the picture). He’s one of the highest-touted prospects in our organization, and a consensus guy who should man that position for many years to come. By 2022, it’s not out of the question that he’d break Spring Training with the Mariners, and as soon as 2023 he could be firing on all cylinders if things go according to plan. That’s exciting!

That’s the current catching spot locked down, as well as high hopes for the very near future! For the first time since Dan Wilson, this won’t have to be a source of frustration! I can’t wait to never talk about this position again!

So, What Is A Dylan Moore?

I swear I was going to get around to doing a Dylan Moore post independent of this very interesting one by Lookout Landing. Really, if I had to give an overarching title to my series of Mariners-related posts lately, it would be: Things I Find Interesting About The Mariners In 2021. And, obviously, I find Dylan Moore VERY interesting!

He was drafted in 2015 by the Texas Rangers. He bounced around a couple of other organizations before signing as a free agent with the Mariners prior to the 2019 season. He was projected to be a utility guy who is capable of backing up at many spots: both corners of the outfield (center if you’re desperate), as well as every spot around the infield except catcher (he even pitched in one game when the Mariners were getting destroyed and needed someone to eat an inning). He made his Major League debut with the M’s in 2019 and was about what you’d expect someone like him to be: a bad hitter and a capable defender (when he even struggled with his glove early in that season, he truly looked like a lost cause; thankfully for him and the organization, he at least improved on that facet of his game before the season concluded).

It made sense to hang onto Moore heading into 2020, because why not? Depth and competition being what it is, you can never have enough cheap utility guys to help you out in a pinch. But, the Mariners also brought in a few other guys who did the same exact job, because why not? Moore in 2019 did absolutely nothing to guarantee his own job security.

With his defensive issues in the rearview, Moore went to work improving on his hitting (which you can read about in that LL piece above). What resulted was nothing short of breathtaking! Smallish sample and all of that, but Moore was absolutely one of the very best players on that team! Kyle Lewis got all the publicity – for obvious reasons – but day-in and day-out, there weren’t many people you could rely on more to come through for this team (especially once we traded Austin Nola away) than Dylan Moore.

He played so well that he went from a utility guy, to a utility guy you couldn’t take out of your lineup (once again, he played every defensive spot on the field except catcher), to a bona fide starter at second base once Shed Long went down. In fact, he played so well that heading into 2021, he’s already being pencilled into the lineup as your everyday second baseman (though, I could see him playing quite a bit in left field as well, until Jarred Kelenic gets the call-up).

It’s an exciting time to be a Dylan Moore! This year can make or break his entire professional baseball career! He’s 28 years old, he will be entering his first of three Arbitration years in 2022, he’s on a young, up-and-coming team and at least for the time being, he has the potential to be a big reason for its success. The Mariners clearly have this hole at second base that needs to be filled (to say nothing of third base once Kyle Seager moves on after this year), and unless Shed Long turns it on (being demoted to a utility role going forward), there really isn’t a lot in the pipeline. The Mariners could always make a big splash next year (maybe signing a high-priced short stop as a free agent, which could theoretically move J.P. Crawford to second base, as has been indicated by many scouts to be his future), but they also might not have to. Dylan Moore has his future in his hands; if he kills it in 2021, either the Mariners can keep him as their everyday second baseman for at least the next few years, or they can flip him for a great return of Major League talent and/or future prospects.

Considering the investment to bring Moore into the organization, I couldn’t be happier with what we’re witnessing! Assuming he stays healthy and his star keeps rising, it’s all gravy at this point!

Obviously, the downside is: he could turn back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight. Or, you know, get hurt (which seems to happen quite a bit whenever I get excited about someone). As that LL post indicates, opposing pitchers could make his life miserable with off-speed stuff and render this whole fantasy moot. He was batting near the top of the lineup most of last year, and you’d think he’s destined to start out in the 2-hole this season; teams are fully aware of the Dylan Moore transformation. He will have to continue to work on his swing and make adjustments to the new tactics we all anticipate will be coming.

But, even getting to the point where he could hit a fastball with any regularity is a place I never expected we’d get to, so I don’t see why he couldn’t continue to improve and become a fully well-rounded hitter. Should that be the case, it’s yet another reason to be excited by the prospects of these 2021 Mariners.

The Seahawks Hired Shane Waldron To Be Their Offensive Coordinator

We briefly interrupt our Mariners 2021 pre-season coverage to bring you an announcement: the Seahawks did a thing!

The Brian Schottenheimer era was never dull, even if he himself was never all that exciting. I seem to remember being a bit higher on him as a hire than most Seahawks fans (there was A LOT of dread in the Pacific Northwest about him bringing this offense to new lows), as throughout his coordinating career he’d been saddled with mediocre-to-bad quarterbacks; until he met up with Russell Wilson, he’d never really had a chance to show what he could do. And what happened? In Schotty’s three years, he led three of the eight highest scoring offenses in franchise history; including two of the top three (including the number one overall in 2020).

But, obviously, things soured over the final half of this past season. I wonder if it’ll ever come out exactly what happened when he and the Seahawks parted ways. I still have a hunch that Pete Carroll gave him a My Way Or The Highway speech and Schotty took the highway on out of town. Considering Schottenheimer’s stock was as low as it gets when he was originally hired, I’d love to get a peek inside his head to see if this was some sort of power play gone awry; that either he was angling to be the Head Coach In Waiting here, or if he wanted more autonomy over the offense so he could move on to be promoted somewhere else.

Anyway, regardless, after a 12-4 division-winning season, the Seahawks were suddenly on the hunt for a new offensive coordinator. And there were rumors aplenty! Retreads and up-and-comers, and in-house candidates all across the football map. Whenever this happens, I try to stay out of the fire and look on from a distance; I don’t like doing a lot of research into candidates who aren’t likely to be hired for my team. So, I’ll admit, Shane Waldron – Passing Game Coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams since 2018 – wasn’t on my radar (then again, you could fill a book with the guys who weren’t on my radar).

What is a Passing Game Coordinator? Well, if you’re cynical like me and think it’s just a meaningless promotion in-name-only, you’re not far off! If you’re also cynical like me, it’s easy to be skeptical when we’re talking about hiring someone from the Rams. The Sean McVay Coaching Tree hasn’t exactly been full of ripe, blossoming fruit; it’s kind of been full of worms and tent caterpillars. McVay has been a hotshot ever since he went to L.A. He’s a brilliant offensive mind and his teams were pretty unstoppable for a while. Obviously, I think a lot of that has to do with him being the one calling the plays. On top of that, the Rams also have an offensive coordinator in Kevin O’Connell. That means, not only does their O.C. not call the plays, but we just hired the guy THIRD in command of that offense (who, again, also never called plays).

What we’re hoping for, I guess, is that some of the McVay Magic rubbed off on Waldron. I have my doubts about that, but we’ll see. It’s discouraging that he was already on staff coming into 2020 (as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach) when they plucked O’Connell from the scrap heap (makes you wonder how much smoke McVay was blowing up his ass in that article). There’s a lot we don’t know about his role with the Rams, but I can’t imagine he had a ton of say about the direction of the offense when he had two guys ahead of him in the pecking order to answer to.

Where I’m encouraged is with the offense he could be bringing over from the Rams. We don’t know how he’ll be at calling plays; I’m sure that will be trial by fire and there will be a big learning curve for him to overcome. But, from a scheme standpoint, I could see things getting a lot more creative, based on what the Rams have been able to do the last few years (with, mind you, an inferior quarterback with no mobility whatsoever). The Rams run the style of offense I think a lot of Seahawks fans have been clamoring for. They still run the ball quite a bit – which I know is near and dear to Pete Carroll’s heart – but they also build off of that by running tons of Play Action, and that is quite frankly what the Seahawks do best, and what they haven’t done NEARLY enough, throughout the run of Russell Wilson’s career, and in particular in 2020. The Seahawks should be running Play Action more than ANY other team in the league! It should be an obnoxiously-high percentage of our passing plays!

What I also like about what the Rams have done is they make sure to have options at all levels of the passing game. It’s not just deep balls and check-downs; they have been able to scheme receivers open at the intermediate level to a degree you just don’t see outside of Kansas City and maybe a couple of other teams. It’s something that I thought Darrell Bevell didn’t get enough credit for during his time here (with Doug Baldwin being a big part of that, knowing where to get open in various zones), and it’s something that I thought has been sorely lacking since Schottenheimer was hired.

The point is – as always – it’s far too soon to know if this is a good or bad hire. We’ll find out. Sean McVay was just some relative nobody before he took the football world by storm. I will say this, I’d rather have second- and third-wave hires from the McVay Coaching Tree than some of those first-wave guys (many of whom have already gone on to failure). Shane Waldron has had a lot of time working under McVay, so if indeed there is any magic to rub onto him, it’s more likely it would have after four seasons than it would be after one.

What ultimately blows my mind is how people started to question whether or not this was a good opportunity for someone. There are only (I would assume) 32 offensive coordinator spots in the NFL. This isn’t an easy job to earn! It’s often a stepping stone to being a head coach; if that’s your ultimate goal, I would think being ANY team’s O.C. and primary play-caller is high on your list. So, that alone cuts through most of that argument. But, when you compare the Seahawks to the rest of the NFL, look at what you have: one of the longest-tenured head coaches and general managers (lots of stability and a culture of winning already established); one of the best quarterbacks in the game; a duo of receivers that rank among the best in the league today, with lots of complementary talent around them to help make this unit hum; and it was a Top 10 scoring team as recently as this past season! Who wouldn’t want to work with this group? How many better opportunities are out there, either available right this moment, or exist PERIOD? When you look at all the dysfunctional franchises in the league, when you hear reports of all these quarterbacks potentially changing teams, when you know of all the instability built into the NFL based on everyone’s high expectations of winning at all costs, it’s asinine to me why anyone would turn this job down.

If that ultimately boils down to Pete Carroll and his meddling ways, well … then maybe we have bigger problems here than I realized.

At What Point Do The Mariners Worry About Evan White?

Let me be clear: I’m not worried about Evan White right now. He was a 24-year old rookie last year, making the jump from AA to the Majors, fresh off of a contract extension that bought out his cheap team control and arbitration years to give him a guaranteed $24 million over 6 seasons, with the possibility of being worth up to $55.5 million over 9 seasons. There was a worldwide pandemic, no fans in the stands, and he’s on a rebuilding team that’s looking to go from mediocre-at-best to elite within the next few years. He was a first round draft pick in 2017 and has been handed the keys to the first base position for the foreseeable future.

There was, in short, A LOT on his plate in 2020. And, other than his defense – which was superb enough to garner him the first of probably many Gold Glove Awards – a lot went wrong. He had a slash line of .176/.252/.346. His strikeout rate was through the roof, his swing-and-miss rate skyrocketed compared to his minor league norms, and he got off to a REALLY bad start; so those terrible numbers are a result of him sort of turning things on a little bit towards the end of the truncated season (emphasis on “a little bit”).

Many fans are concerned, because the Mariners are planning on giving him a LONG leash, for obvious reasons: his contract, the fact that he’s a high draft pick, the fact that he’s so elite at defense, the fact that we’re still not projected to legitimately contend for championships for at least another few years. This doesn’t have the feel of rushing someone along like it did with so many guys prior (Mike Zunino most notably), because he’s not on a team that’s expected to do anything, other than incrementally improve year by year. Rather, he’s being given the experience he needs – in a low-pressure environment, relative to expectations (obviously, it’s high-pressure in the sense that it’s the MAJOR LEAGUES and therefore the dream of everyone who’s ever picked up a baseball bat as a child) – as this organization continues to grow through its rebuild. He’s not the Franchise Savior; White has always been projected as a solid complementary piece to a potentially-great team. If everything pans out with the rest of the rebuild, you’d be happy with White bringing you his usual brand of defense, and batting 7th in the order every night. Best case scenario still only has White maybe batting in the 2-hole (if he gets his strikeouts under control and starts walking and hitting for power more).

Even though the plan seems sound, you never know if it’s a case of too much too soon. White needs to hit to make it in the Majors, that’s the bottom line. He doesn’t need to be a guy who hits .300, or who bashes 35+ home runs; with his defense, you can excuse some mediocre or streaky hitting. BUT, he can’t be a sub-.200 guy who strikes out 200 times; that’s never going to fly.

I won’t say 2021 is a Make Or Break year for White, like it might be for someone like Haniger or obviously Kikuchi; I will say that it would be nice to see some improvement. If it’s more of the same – or God forbid worse – then I think that’s a very ominous trend, and you’d have to start wondering if he will last through his contract. At the very least, we would seriously alter our expectations. A prolonged slump to start his Major League career can very well be his reality, since he brings so much with his glove; it’s nearly impossible to sit him (made all the more apparent by the fact that we have no other first basemen of note in the pipeline behind him). It’s White Or Bust, for at LEAST the next two seasons!

The Mariners can make it easier on him by other guys producing in the lineup. If we can hide White towards the bottom of the order, then I think it’s okay to keep a struggling hitter who is otherwise a value add in the field. But, if everyone else underperforms, that’s only going to magnify White’s presence, since he is considered a piece of this team’s future.

I know we’re all rooting for him to succeed; it’s always a bonus whenever you can draft and develop your own talent and turn them into viable everyday players. An Evan White who pans out means we have one less hole to fill on this roster going forward; a roster full of more question marks than definite answers. And since expectations for him have been tempered from the beginning – he was never projected to be a huge power bat in the middle of the lineup, for instance – the bar he needs to cross isn’t unreasonable at all. Be a .250 hitter. Get on base at a .350 clip. Hit 20 homers and 30 doubles a year. And be a regular finalist for the Gold Glove at first base. That isn’t too much to ask, I don’t think. Anything beyond that is gravy.

It would be nice if he could clear this benchmark starting in 2021, but if he doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world. However, if he isn’t at that level for 2022 and beyond … then I think it could be time to worry.

What Do The Mariners Do If Mitch Haniger Is Great Again?

It can be easy to overlook the fact that Mitch Haniger is still on the Seattle Mariners. The guy last played in a baseball game on June 6, 2019. That’s when he formally went down with what has been described as an oblique injury (there was also something about a ruptured testicle that I seem to have blocked out of my memory, as those words – put together – tend to make me black out). These injuries are notoriously difficult to play sports with, and apparently quite difficult to overcome. In Haniger’s case, it required multiple surgeries, missing the rest of 2019 and all of 2020 (in spite of the fact that 2020’s season started late and only lasted 60 games).

Added to the “easy to overlook” factor in all of this is the excitement over our Rookie of the Year, Kyle Lewis, as well as hotshot prospects Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic (who are both poised to ascend to the Major Leagues either this season or next). You don’t even have to squint to envision an outfield of K-Lew, J-Rod, and J-Kel(?) in some order; if everything goes according to plan, that IS the future for the Mariners’ organization.

And yet, there’s real potential for a “motherfuckers act like they forgot about Dre Mitch” situation here. As recently as 2018, Haniger was an All Star. He had a 6.2 WAR, with 26 homers and an OPS of .859. That was only his age 27 season; not only was he the “future” of the Mariners, he was the present and the FACE of the organization (especially with King Felix on his way out the following year). He’s 30 years old now, he’s completely healthy and recovered from all the medical shit, and apparently he is fucking jacked!

Obviously, the Mariners have him written down in pen as the Opening Day right fielder for 2021. If he returns to his 2018 level of production, he will easily be this team’s best player. He’s also in his second year of arbitration, with one more season of team control left.

So, what will happen with Mitch Haniger?

Well, there are options. We can let his deal play out, thank him for his time, and move on. In this scenario, that either means the Mariners are confident in the outfield I outlined above, or it means Haniger doesn’t return to his previous level of greatness (because of lack of production, or because he suffers another injury). If Haniger does manage to recapture that old magic, I don’t think this scenario is very likely, because how are you going to find opportunities for all three of those other outfielders to showcase their talents, when Haniger has a stranglehold on right field? And also, why would you let Haniger walk if he’s back to being great again?

Well, that leads me to another option: Mitch Haniger becomes this team’s regular DH. This also doesn’t seem very likely, because he’s too athletic to squander his talents just being a hitter. But, if he’s one of those injury-prone guys who can’t stay off the Injured List, that might ultimately be his destiny. Now, to get around the roster crunch, the Mariners could always rotate the outfielders, so everyone is getting a DH day throughout the week; that’s something I think they’ll do regardless, to try to keep everyone fresh. So, I’ll throw this idea on the Maybe Pile.

Another option is: the Mariners sign Haniger to an early extension. For this to become a reality, he would almost certainly have to get through 2021 completely unscathed from injury. That’s a tall order for literally any baseball player, but for someone as unlucky as him, it’s probably an impossibility. Nevertheless, if he’s once again a 6-WAR player, the M’s could always extend him – effectively buying out his 2022 arbitration year to get something of a discount – and then figure out the outfield crunch later. I’ll be honest, this is probably the least likely scenario of the bunch.

The option I’m most curious about is: the Mariners could trade Haniger. I highly doubt he will be traded during the season, but if he is, he would have to get off to an amazingly hot start. Right now, Mitch Haniger has almost no trade value. He’s only earning a little over $3 million, but for teams who don’t have access to his medicals – and who haven’t seen him play since 2019 – if you’re trading for Haniger, you’re trading for his potential. Is this recovery legit? Can he return to his 2018 production level? Teams don’t like to give up quality players or prospects for question marks; they want to know they’re getting someone who will help right away. In that case, it doesn’t make sense for the Mariners to trade him until he’s built up most of his previous value. He’ll never be as valuable as he was after the 2018 season – because at that time he had two more years of club control – but if he plays like an All Star in 2021, with another option year at a relatively reasonable price for 2022, that COULD be worth something to another team if we decide to trade him next offseason.

The only downside is, with one more year after this season on his contract, that’s still not enough value to get a top flight prospect. You’re probably only trading him to a team that’s already great and is near the luxury tax threshold (who also happens to need an outfielder). So, even this option isn’t the greatest for the Mariners; I wouldn’t go into any Haniger trade scenario very optimistic that we’re going to fleece some dimwitted general manager like we did in the Cano deal.

If I’m being realistic, my prediction is that Haniger returns this year and is just okay. I don’t necessarily believe he’ll suffer another devastating injury, but I could see him getting worn down by various bruises and strains, as all players must endure. I think the combination of the long gap in between playing the game of baseball, his tendency to press (to want to be great so badly that he tries to do too much at the plate), and some good old fashioned bad luck with BABIP will render his numbers relatively mediocre. I don’t believe even his best-case scenario will see him return to those 2018 heights; even if he’s good, though, I don’t think that will be enough to make him much of a trade candidate.

In that case, the Mariners might have their hand forced heading into the 2022 season. They might decide to trade him just to get SOME value out of him. Either that, or let him start the season in Seattle, in hopes that he’ll get off to a hot start and allow the organization to deal him at the deadline, to be some other contender’s rental for a few months.

I know we’re delving into a lot of hypotheticals here, but let’s say he’s just okay in 2021 and remains in Seattle in 2022; what happens if he IS great to start that season, but the Mariners themselves are also great and contending for the playoffs? Do we then let it ride with Haniger and see where he can lead us?

That’s kind of what I’m hoping for, among all the possibilities. I like Haniger! Shit, I bought his jersey after the 2018 season for Christ’s sake! I thought that was a safe choice, of someone who I believed would be a major part of this organization for many years to come. While I’m obviously seduced by an outfield of Lewis, Rodriguez, and Kelenic, I do hope there’s room for Haniger to stick around for another handful of seasons, because I believe he’s a real asset when he’s healthy.

But, that’s the key, isn’t it? That’s everything with him! I don’t know if he has what it takes to stay on the field consistently, and ultimately it’ll be his downfall with the Mariners’ organization if he’s not here beyond 2022.

Does The Pac-12 Know What It’s Doing?

I legitimately want to know! This is an important question that will likely be answered in the coming months.

Ding-Dong the motherfucking witch is dead! Well, not dead, but Larry Scott will no longer be the commissioner of the Pac-12 as of June of this year. I don’t know if he was fired or if he’s resigning, and frankly I don’t give a shit. He was fucking terrible at his job, the Pac-12 has become a joke under his stewardship, and the fact of the matter is: he should have been shit-canned AGES ago!

Which gets to the heart of my question: why WASN’T he shit-canned ages ago? He works for the university presidents that comprise the schools in the Pac-12 conference. They are fully aware of the disaster that he has overseen during his tenure. They know all too well that fans of these schools – particularly football fans, as football is the biggest sports moneymaker in college athletics – have been disgruntled since practically the beginning.

It started off promising enough. Within months of becoming commissioner, Larry Scott was working on expanding the conference. There were serious rumblings that the Pac-12 might attract some of the best schools from the Big 12 – including the University of Texas and maybe even the Oklahoma schools – and creating a super conference of 16 teams. That ultimately fell apart, which should have been the first sign that Larry Scott is terrible at his job. I’m sure Texas wanted more than he was willing to give to them, and Larry Scott just HAS to play hardball when more finesse is usually the smarter play.

If Texas wants a bigger slice of the pie, you give Texas a bigger slice of the pie. Why? Because they’re worth it! They’re a nationally-prominent program the likes of which the rest of the Pac-12 schools COMBINED couldn’t hope to reach! You know why else you do what Texas asks? Because that opens up your conference to have an official footprint INSIDE the state of Texas! Where so many of the very best football players come from! They obviously don’t ALL become Longhorns; it would’ve been so much easier for the rest of the Pac-12 to benefit from having Texas in house, because we would get their castoffs (as opposed to them going to the Big 10 or SEC or ACC). Instead, if our recruiters are good enough, we might get dribs and drabs of players from Texas to come out west, but it’s A LOT more difficult than it has to be.

In the end, the Pac-12 had to settle for two additional teams. Our consolation prizes were Utah and Colorado; nobody’s powerhouses. What a joke.

But that’s what our conference has become. We started a network, and alienated DirecTV – one of the biggest distributors of cable channels – reducing our national footprint DRASTICALLY. The fact that the network has been on air since 2012 and we’ve NEVER had it on DirecTV is a travesty!

Among the big Power Five conferences, the Pac-12 is at the bottom when it comes to revenues. We’re already at a disadvantage geographically, and it appears that Larry Scott has never given two shits about improving things. As a result, the games haven’t been televised nationally at the same rate as other conferences back east, which means the high school players aren’t seeing us, which makes it more difficult to recruit (with more and more of the very best players from the west coast moving east for their college careers), which leads to the Pac-12 having more mediocre teams, which leads to fewer berths in the College Football Playoffs (still only two teams have made the final four since it started in the 2014 season), which further reduces our revenues (because schools who make the playoffs get more money), which keeps perpetuating the downward spiral. We can’t even get more than a couple teams ranked in the Top 25 anymore! And if they are, they’re almost certainly starting the season outside of the Top 10, which makes it exceedingly difficult to get into the Top 4 you need to be in for the playoffs.

Why have I been clamoring for college football to change the rules – to make it so every Power Five conference champion makes it into the playoffs? Because that’s the ONLY WAY we’re going to get a team in there!

Thanks, in large part, to Larry Scott.

And, quite frankly, thanks to the schools themselves – and their presidents – who have let this happen. Not only did they hire a buffoon (who thought it would be a good idea to have our central offices in the San Francisco area, where rents are fucking ridiculous, and which has been of zero benefit to the conference whatsoever), but they stuck by him for over a decade!

So, why should we trust the Pac-12 schools to get it right this time? Why should we expect the next guy to be any better? To prioritize football over fucking women’s tennis or whatever the fuck. You want to be a conference that makes money? Make football your #1! Nobody gives a shit that the Pac-12 calls themselves the “Conference of Champions” when we’re MOSTLY the champions of sports that generate no revenue (but, in fact, rely exclusively on the revenue of football for their very existence).

It’s academic, elitist bullshit is what it is. You’re the Pac-12, you’re not the fucking Ivy League, in spite of the inclusion of ol’ Harvard Of The West down there. You want to be the Ivy League? Then you don’t get to be included among the Power Five sports conferences; that’s the bottom line. Drop down to an inferior level of college athletics where you belong, because if you’re not going to take football seriously, then you have no business being where you are now.

I know this is supposed to be a time to celebrate – because really, no one could be worse than Larry Scott – but I’m reserving any further huzzahs until I see the new person and have a chance to find out if they’re able to fix what the previous caretaker bungled. There is a HUGE mess to clean up! I really, really, REALLY hope the new person is up to the task.

It’s Now Or Never For Yusei Kikuchi & The Mariners

It’s hard to say Yusei Kikuchi hasn’t been a disappointment. Now, obviously, I believe we all had too-high expectations for him in coming over from Japan as a 28 year old; I think a lot of people unfairly thought he would light the American League on fire from Day One. This is a guy who had a lot of success in Japan, and while I won’t sit here and denigrate the talent level they have over there, we’re still talking about a significant leap when it comes to MLB. On top of being in a foreign country, speaking or learning a new language, the culture shock, losing his father, and the weight of expectations of a contract that would pay him $43 million over his first three seasons, it’s more than enough to hamper one’s transition.

But, he’s 8-15 with a 5.39 ERA over two seasons. If you squint, you can see marginal improvement in a plague-shortened 2020 season over 2019, but from a results standpoint, it’s hard to make that argument.

Clearly he wants to be great. It’s been reported that he over-tinkered with his delivery in his first season, and the organization tried to tamp that down last year to moderate success. But, regardless, we have yet to see him perform at a level anywhere close to earning the money he’s making.

And now here we are, in 2021. He’s set to earn $15 million. He has two seasons under his belt. It’s time for him to put it all together.

Kikuchi’s contract is unique. The Mariners have the option – at the end of this season – of locking him in for another 4 years and $66 million (an average of $16.5 million per). That’s a bargain if he becomes a quality starter; but it’s obviously a vast over-pay if he continues pitching the way he has to date. On the flipside, Kikuchi has a player option – again, at the end of this season – of locking in a $13 million guaranteed 2022 season. Presumably, if the Mariners aren’t interested in the 4-year extension, that means Kikuchi’s 2021 will have been pretty bad; should that be the case, it’s a safe bet that Kikuchi would want an opportunity to turn things around next year.

The ideal scenario for the Mariners is: Kikuchi kicks ass in 2021. He figures it all out, and makes good on all the work he’s put into his Major League career. We get a quality #2 or #3 starter out of the deal for the next four years and everyone is happy. But, the more he slips up – even if he continues to show glimpses of progress – the more difficult it’s going to be for the Mariners to justify that extension, especially when we’ve got a crop of starting pitchers in the minors who will soon be ready to advance to the highest level.

This is why sports can be so intriguing, though. Seasons like this. If I had to guess, I’d predict more of the same for Kikuchi. Either that or an injury that severely affects his performance and availability. BUT, it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that Kikuchi performs well. It’s definitely one of the storylines I’m most looking forward to as we ramp up into baseball season.

So much has to go right for the Mariners to get to a championship level. Kikuchi is just one small piece. But, he’s not an insignificant one. We’ve seen in recent years the Mariners have success with developing their pitchers. Marco Gonzales is obviously the best example, but we’ve squeezed quality seasons out of Wade LeBlanc, Justus Sheffield, Mike Leake, and we even turned James Paxton into an ace-like performer when he’s healthy. There’s no reason why we couldn’t make Yusei Kikuchi one of our next success stories.

I’m hoping for the best. I think he – and the Mariners – deserve it.

Let’s Be Patient, Mariners Fans

Look, I’m right there with you. I’ve been there with you the entire time (and by “entire time” I mean I jumped on the bandwagon in the late summer of 1995 like a lot of other people in the Pacific Northwest who weren’t necessarily baseball fans until there was a professional team around here actually worth watching). I’ve ENDURED losing season after losing season, mediocre season after mediocre season, and those handful of seasons where we came oh so close to breaking the playoff drought.

I started this fucking BLOG in large part due to the Mariners and their ineptitude! I needed an outlet for my rage, the M’s were my vessel, and Richie Sexson in 2008 was my inspiration. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t furious with this organization; even in 2001 – in the midst of a 116-win season – I was pissing and moaning about all the moves the M’s didn’t make mid-season to push us over the hump!

I can’t say I’m the biggest Mariners fan, nor would I want to. I haven’t been around since the beginning. I have no idea what this team looked like in the 80’s, other than various blooper clips that have seeped into my subconscious over the years. But these last 20 years have FELT like a fucking lifetime in and of itself.

I. FEEL. YOUR. PAIN.

And, obviously, I have no skin in the game. I’m not paid by the Mariners. I’m not in the practice of writing puff pieces defending this team. Do I sometimes let my annoying homer side get the best of me, succumbing to rare bouts of optimism when things are going or looking good? Sure, who doesn’t? Why be a fan if there wasn’t some small sliver of hope that our team will one day win it all before our bones have turned to ash? The thing is, we have no choice but to talk ourselves into the next plan of action working! It’s not like we have any say in matters of personnel. Sometimes flukey shit happens. Sometimes the stars align.

Sports fandom is, like, 90% belief, 5% crushing disappointment, and 5% watching the games.

So, believe me when I say this: I don’t come to this argument lightly. But, it’s clearly in all of our best interests to be patient, let the rebuild play itself out, and let’s just see what happens.

I’m not saying you have to trust in Jerry Dipoto & Co. Remain skeptical! Why wouldn’t you? What have they done to earn your trust?

But, now is not time to jump the gun. In spite of the improvement we saw in a weird 2020 season, in spite of MLB increasing the number of playoff teams, in spite of all the glowing reports about our farm system: this team isn’t ready. It may “contend” in 2021 – in the same way that almost all American League teams will contend, if indeed 8 out of 15 teams continue to make it into the postseason – but this isn’t a legitimate championship squad just yet.

And, frankly, I know we’re all looking at 2022 as the goal for finally making the playoffs, but maybe we should be pumping the brakes on that too. You never know with young players how long it’s going to take for them to finally pop. It came out over the last week that the Mariners have five players ranked in the Top 100 Prospects per Baseball America, including two in the top five (Julio Rodriguez, 3; Jarred Kelenic, 4). Will all five of those guys pan out? Hell, will both of J-Rod and Kelenic pan out? I will believe it when I see it.

But, the important thing to remember is: you can’t see it if they’re not out there playing for you. You can’t go out there and sign an outfielder or two when you’ve already got Kyle Lewis (2020 Rookie of the Year) and Mitch Haniger (back from injury in 2021 and looking buffer than ever), on top of two prospects in the minor league top five!

Do you want to go out and sign a starting pitcher or two, to help fill out your rotation? Why would you do that when you have Logan Gilbert (35) and Emerson Hancock (57) in your farm system? Gilbert is ready to jump to the Major Leagues THIS season! Hancock is still a couple years away, but that’s about when you’d expect this team to start contending for real. There are also countless pitching prospects outside of the top 100 (remember, the Mariners have been going HARD in the draft on pitching the last few years); I’m not saying all of these guys will pan out, but one or two might! That’s on top of Justus Sheffield, who took a major step forward in his development in 2020, and Justin Dunn, who is just getting started and nevertheless showed real improvement in his first full season.

All of these guys are young and inexperienced. You want to see what you have, so you know who to keep and who to later flip for other players who can come in here and help this team win at the Major League level.

It doesn’t hurt the Mariners one bit to be regarded as having one of the very best farm systems in all of baseball. Only a small handful of teams have as many as five players in Baseball America’s Top 100, and the M’s are one of them! That reputation is only going to be an asset going forward when the guys we know are rockstars are at the Major League level and producing in a major way. Other teams will see that and wonder who else we’re hiding in the basement of this organization. You didn’t hear it from me, but it rubs the lotion on its skin.

In a way, I do see the other side of the argument. There’s nothing stopping the Mariners from signing a bigtime free agent now, because if the young core is as good as advertised, that free agent will still be around when the Mariners are good again. But, you’re making a lot of assumptions there. Are you signing a guy that will block one of that young core (specifically a position player)? Well, that’s a non-starter for me. There is time later for that, if whatever position of need can’t be filled internally. Are you talking about bringing in a stud starting pitcher? Well, those guys get hurt all the time! Bringing in a great guy for 2021 doesn’t do us any good if the team around him is still young and mediocre. And, if he’s hurt in 2022 or 2023 when this team IS good, then again, that does nothing for us. Also, are any of the free agents out there worth a damn? Are there any true Ace starters on the market? There doesn’t appear to be, to me anyway. On top of injury concerns, there’s aging and regression to worry about (when, again, there will be a whole new crop of free agents in 2022 and again in 2023).

And, if you’re talking about trading guys from our farm system to bring in a younger superstar, again that’s a non-starter for me. Because you know who teams are going to ask for in return? Your very best prospects. Those guys in the Baseball America Top 100. I want to see those guys HERE! And just because other teams are able to trade Not Their Best Prospects to get guys like Blake Snell, doesn’t mean the Mariners would also make that happen to their benefit. The Padres had been building their farm system for years in the lead-up to the Snell deal! The M’s don’t have nearly that sparkling of a reputation as drafters and developers. The Padres also, not for nothing, have a proven young core that made a run in the playoffs in 2020; they were more ready to make that kind of a deal. The Mariners have done jack shit for 20 years; they are not ready.

So, let’s hold our horses here. The only other argument I can make is this: even if the M’s splurged on free agents, and sold their farm for other Major League-ready players, there’s still a great chance that we wouldn’t see this team even make the playoffs. The Mariners have been half-assing rebuilds for the last 20 years; panicking now to try to break a drought would be more of the same. For what? So maybe they can get a wild card spot?

If you’re a Mariners fan, that should not be your priority. We’ve had it too hard for too long. The amount of karma we’ve built up in our suffering should be ENORMOUS. We are due for not just a playoff team, but a real, honest-to-goodness World Series champion! And, there’s no way we’re going to get there by throwing good money after aging free agents, and mortgaging our farm system for unwanted cast-offs from other teams.

We’re only going to reach the promised land by developing our own young talent, promoting them when they’re ready, and wishing on a star that they all hit big at the same time. This is the model. Once those guys are ready, THEN you start throwing money at free agents to complete the puzzle. Once you recognize where the minimal amount of holes are on your roster – because the vast majority of those holes have been filled in-house – then it’s so much easier to get over the final hump.

For now, kick your feet up, sit back, and enjoy the process. I know the 76ers turned “the process” into a four-letter word, but you know, sometimes it goes the other way too. To paraphrase the great Fred Durst, you gotta have faith.

Russell Wilson Has No One To Blame But Himself

The post-mortem never ends! After such an interesting football season, there’s no way to limit the discourse to just a week’s worth of posts, so here we are, bleeding into Week Two.

As has been discussed previously, when the Seahawks opened the season with a pass-heavy offensive attack, it was shocking to say the least. Let Russ Cook went from a back-alley, grassroots Internet plea, to our weekly reality! No one could’ve seen it coming; since when do teams ever listen to their fans when it comes to scheme? Literally never. Not one single time in the history of recorded sports (probably; I have no idea, actually).

Of course, not for nothing, but “Let Russ Cook” and all its culinary derivatives quickly became an overused cliche, followed by a detestful reminder of bygone days never to be seen again.

Even if we had let ourselves dream big – that maybe one day Pete Carroll would see the light and turn the keys to the offense over to our quarterback – those ideals were quickly dashed when we ultimately came to the realization that if Wilson ever shit the bed, Carroll would be all too happy to take the power back and assert his dominance.

We had five good weeks. Five weeks of living the dream. Six weeks, if you include the happiness hangover of the Seahawks’ BYE. But, then came the Arizona game.

That was one we should have won, but lost. That was one we had ample opportunities to win, and failed at every turn. To that point, Russell Wilson had thrown 19 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions, and had zero games with multiple turnovers. Against Arizona, it was a 3/3 split. The first interception was that infamous one thrown at the Arizona goalline, that Budda Baker returned for 90 yards until D.K. Metcalf made him his prey. We like to gloss over that one because of how fast Metcalf ran, and because the defense ultimately held the Cardinals to 0 points, turning it over on downs. BUT, the ultimate takeaway (as it were) is that the Seahawks missed out on 7 points on that drive, in a game they lost by 3 in overtime. The second interception was another poor decision, lobbed from the Arizona 30 yard line. Considering our field goal kicker was perfect this year, it’s safe to say that’s another 3 points we were deprived of. And, finally, in overtime, we had the ball with under two minutes to go. That’s a situation where Russell Wilson is supposed to earn his money! You’re a franchise quarterback, so you MUST go out there and win the game in that scenario. We got to midfield and Wilson sealed his fate with his final INT of the game.

The thing is, it’s not like Wilson was on a short leash. This wasn’t a One Strike & You’re Out deal. Wilson came back and threw 4 more TDs against an injury-ravaged 49ers team the very next week.

Then came the Bills game. Two more interceptions, including a failed 4th & 1 play at the Buffalo 5 yard line. Not only didn’t we trust our offense to run the ball for a yard (to be fair, Travis Homer failed in that charge on 3rd & 1 the play prior), but Wilson ultimately couldn’t get the job done with his arm OR his legs. Wilson went on to take a miserable sack with a lost fumble to start the second half (when we were already down by 14) and then threw a desperation INT in the fourth quarter to salt the game away.

To compound matters, the very next week at the Rams, Wilson had arguably his worst game of the season: 0 TDs, 2 INTs. Poor decisionmaking all around in this one. We never had a chance. That effectively made it the requisite Three Strikes & Your Out scenario we’d all been dreading (with that Giants loss a fourth strike to put yet another nail in the coffin of the Let Russ Cook movement).

There were countless instances of Wilson trying to throw the ball into tight windows when he would’ve been better served to check down, run with it, or throw the ball away. There were SO MANY times he held the ball WAY too long, resulting in a sack. As I’ve said repeatedly, he’s not the speedster he once was; he’s not scrambling his way out of these jams like he used to. I don’t know how much of that is on him, vs. how much of that is on the offensive plays that were being called (the plays designed by the fired Brian Schottenheimer), but clearly the coaching staff believes the OC was at fault, and I’m inclined to agree.

What’s more likely: a quarterback on a Hall of Fame track, suddenly turning into the second coming of Matt Schaub? Or, that quarterback trying to make due as best as he could with poorly-designed plays and an offensive coordinator too inept to adjust to the way opposing defenses adjusted to him in the first place? Tack on, admittedly, Wilson trying to do too much (under so much pressure to win, on top of self-imposed pressure to stay in the MVP race), and that’s a recipe for what we saw in the second half of this season, culminating with one of the very worst playoff losses in Seahawks history.

So, maybe Wilson DOES have someone else to blame but himself. But, I’m still under the impression that he would have preferred the Seahawks retain Brian Schottenheimer; Schotty would’ve given Wilson the best opportunity to continue cooking, as it were. I still keep coming back to that Cardinals game. At that point, defenses hadn’t really figured us out yet. And so many of his errors in that one were COMPLETELY unforced! Even if we had gone on to lose to the Bills and Rams, as well as one of our final seven games (a la the Giants), if we’d just swept the Cardinals like we were supposed to, we would’ve been 13-3, the #1 seed in the NFC, and we would have hosted our first playoff game this past weekend (instead of, again, out of the playoffs entirely thanks to last week’s upset). I’m assuming that the Packers or Saints would have taken care of business against the Rams, and we would have faced Tom Brady and the Bucs for the right to go up against the winner of the Packers/Saints in the NFC Championship Game. A game that also would’ve been played in Seattle (had we prevailed against Tampa in this alternate universe).

Instead, we’re sitting at home watching all the action. Russell Wilson STILL won’t have an MVP award in his trophy case. And next year he’s going to have to figure it out with a new man calling plays for this offense. A man, by all accounts, who will push for Pete Carroll’s run-heavy approach. Possibly meaning that Wilson will NEVER get his MVP award, so long as he’s on the Seahawks and Carroll is the one in charge.

So, yeah, ultimately it’s on Wilson. Had he made better decisions – even with the crappy plays that were called – we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Seahawks Death Week: Why It Will Never Get Any Better

Leave it to me to always look on the bright side. Here’s where I get to REALLY wallow in my football depression. Won’t you indulge me?

You know what never works? Trying to recreate old glories. Politicians talk about taking us back to the good ol’ days of the 1950’s, when a single-income middle class family could thrive; sorry to break it to you, but those days are never coming back. Paunchy men in their 40’s and 50’s going through mid-life crises might buy flashy sports cars and pop Cialis like they’re Tic Tacs in hopes of reclaiming a youth lost to the drudgery of parenthood and a loveless marriage; sorry to break it to you, but women in their 20’s almost certainly don’t want to fuck you.

The Seahawks are in an interesting position for an NFL franchise, that you rarely get to see. From a head-coaching standpoint, the Seahawks are the fifth-most stable franchise. Pete Carroll was hired in 2010; only four coaches have held their positions longer. There aren’t great numbers at our disposal, but the average tenure for an NFL head coach seems to be less than four years. Even Doug Pederson – who led the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl title over a heavily-favored New England Patriots team in 2017 – was let go after five years on the job. That’s nuts! The pressure to win and win immediately has never been higher (even though the league is more profitable than it’s ever been, and seemingly will continue to be so regardless of whether your team is good or not). So, it’s pretty rare to see someone in Pete Carroll’s position: someone who won it all relatively early, and is still firmly entrenched many years later.

Carroll is also still as determined as ever to get this team back to the Super Bowl, and appears to be going about it the same way as those politicians and middle aged men: by trying to recreate the glory days of the 2012-2015 Seattle Seahawks.

Even at that time, the NFL was clearly in the midst of an offensive revolution. Pass first, pass often, pass to win games. Worry about the defense next (but, obviously, don’t put too many resources into it), and worry about the running game not-at-all. The very best teams have more-or-less won it all with this model (while hitting the lottery on injury luck and drafting plenty of young, cheap defensive stars who pop at the right time). The Seahawks of that era zagged when the rest of the league zigged; we emphasized the run game, we spent the majority of our salary cap dollars on defense, we slowed games down, and managed to prevail late in games more often than not.

For the last half-decade or so, the Seahawks have been living a total identity crisis. I think it’s safe to say it all started with the trade for Jimmy Graham, a soft-as-cotton-candy tight end who never met a block he didn’t olé like a matador. For a while there, our talent at running back plummeted just as our neglect along the offensive line ruined us. We’ve since managed to claw our way back to respectability since 2017, but that’s come at the expense of a defense that’s slowly declined as piece-by-piece the stars of old have moved on to other teams or life outside of football.

It’s been a neverending game of Whac-A-Mole. Pay Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Duane Brown, and so on … watch as our secondary erodes and the pass rush falters. Trade for Jadeveon Clowney, Jamal Adams, and Carlos Dunlap … marvel at the shrinking violet offensive line and an interior defensive line that can’t stop the run when it matters most. It’s always fucking SOMETHING with this team. We can’t seem to ever put it all back together again.

And yet, this is what Pete Carroll is trying to accomplish. It starts with firing Brian Schottenheimer (just as soon as I figure out how to spell his name without checking with Google first). Schotty, obviously, has eyes to be a head coach like his dad one day. You don’t get head coaching jobs by helming a run-first, middle-of-the-road offense. You do it by scoring lots of points with flashy plays through the air. Unfortunately for him, that’s really not his strong suit. Defenses figured him out and he was incapable of adjusting; Schotty should probably NEVER be a head coach. Or, who knows, maybe that’s what he was always meant to be, and he should NEVER be an offensive coordinator! The problem is, you can’t get to that next level until you master your current position, and it doesn’t look like that’ll ever be in the cards for him.

I won’t shed a tear for the loss of Schotty, but that also doesn’t mean I’m super stoked by who’s going to come in. Pete Carroll wants a guy who’s going to run the offense his way. Emphasis on the word “run”. Knowing the climate of the NFL, hiring someone who has higher aspirations for his coaching career is going to be tricky; he’s going to have to do his job well with one hand tied behind his back (so to speak). He’s going to have to lead this team to Super Bowl success while calling an offense that doesn’t necessarily light it up among the league’s very best. It’s hard to get noticed that way, when there are so many viable head coaching candidates throughout the pro and college ranks.

What’s clear is that the Seahawks will never succeed when different factions are trying to pull the team in opposing directions. We can’t forget the Russell Wilson in the room. He obviously wants to be recognized as one of the best quarterbacks in football. Yes, he wants to win, but he also wants accolades. He wants MVPs. When he hangs ’em up, he wants to be among the greatest to ever play the position. I don’t know what part he played in Schotty being fired, but from where I’m sitting, it seems like they were on the same page. Both wanted to throw the ball more this year, and Pete Carroll was the one who had to let them do it. So, I would imagine Wilson isn’t too keen on the loss of Schotty, and the prospects of going back to a run-first attack.

Will Wilson want to stick around for the next offensive coordinator? One who’s just a puppet for Pete Carroll? Or, will he opt to demand a trade to a team that will utilize him the way he feels he should be utilized? I guess we’ll see.

The biggest flaw I see in this notion of trying to revert back to what the Seahawks were doing in those glory years is financial in nature. Those teams were taking advantage of having a Pro Bowl quarterback on a cheap rookie deal, so they were free to spend money elsewhere. With Wilson making money near the top of the market, there’s obviously a lot less money to go around (saying nothing of the reduction in the salary cap we’re looking at for next season and maybe beyond).

Then, there’s the matter of there not being as many stars on this roster as there were back then. We drafted tremendously from 2010-2012! We haven’t come close to hitting on that many guys since then. You could argue that 8 of the top 10 players from the Super Bowl winning squad were on rookie deals. How many guys – heading into 2021 – in our top 10 will be on similar contracts? I’m thinking two, maybe three. And, other than D.K. Metcalf, I would say that none of them are of the Pro Bowl/All Pro calibre of the guys from our heyday.

The vast majority of our best players are on second, third, or fourth contracts. That shit adds up! We need more of these guys on rookie deals to pop in a major way, but are incapable of developing them timely enough. And, with a lack of high draft picks (or draft picks period), that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.

So, what are we banking on, then? We’re saddled in an NFC West that figures to continue being the class of the NFL for many years to come; ideally things would revert to them all being terrible, allowing us to cakewalk to division titles and high seeds in the conference standings. We’re banking on a return of the significant injury luck we had in the early going. And we’re banking on some mythological version of Russell Wilson that pulls our asses out of the fire every time it’s the fourth quarter and we’re losing by double digits.

That NFC Championship Game against the Packers was a once-in-a-generation event! It can’t be a fucking strategy that we hang our hats on every year in the playoffs!

I don’t know what to tell you. If you’re happy just making the playoffs every year, more power to you. If you derive enjoyment from watching a Hall of Fame quarterback who only wins one Super Bowl in his career, then I’m happy for you. It seems like a very Seattle type of mindset, so you’re certainly in the right place when it comes to settling.

Settling doesn’t come easy to me, though. The problem is, I’m loyal to a fault, and the Seahawks are the team I’ve chosen to follow. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect better! But, I’m also able to see this team for what it is. The confluence of things that would have to happen for this team – as it’s currently constructed, from the top down – to win another Super Bowl is so remote and far-fetched that it’s hardly even worth talking about, because it’s almost certainly never going to happen.

The 2020 Seahawks were an interesting case study for me. I don’t remember a team so schizophrenic in all the time I’ve been following the league. An elite offense went in the tank; an all-time poor defense turned itself around into something pretty darn good. Yet, with the power of hindsight, it’s clear that the schedule – as it was sequenced for us – did no one any favors. This team looked as good as any, and as likely to make it to the Super Bowl as any. We had talent at all levels, a stable coaching staff, and enough health throughout that this should be a team that’s preparing to play this weekend (not one still searching for answers).

It’s weird to say a 12-4 team is a fraud, but the Seahawks both took advantage of the schedule and were bamboozled by it. We played all of four games against opponents who made the playoffs, and went 2-2 in those games. One of those teams was a division winner with a losing record, so I kind of want to throw that one out. We were 1-3 against truly great teams (including playoffs) and all three of those losses were games we weren’t even that competitive in! And remember, this was a Seahawks team that – at least from the eye test – was the best one we’ve seen around here since 2015.

That’s pretty damning. And it’s why I’ve lost all confidence that things will ever get any better than this. Sure, we’ll continue to make the playoffs. We might even make it to the Divisional Round again if faced with the right first round matchup. But, this isn’t a team that’s going to get back to playing for championships anytime soon. Not as long as we’re doing everything in our power to try to turn back the clock to 2012 again.

Pete Carroll would have better luck buying a Maserati and firing up the ol’ Ashley Madison account. At least that way he might be the one doing some of the fucking, instead of constantly being the one getting fucked.