Seattle Sports Hell Goes On His Honeymoon!

The blog will be dark for Thanksgiving week as I will, indeed, be on my honeymoon. Now, I know what you might be thinking: who in their right mind would get married to this jaded, bitter Seattle sports fan with all of his rational and irrational sports insecurities and delusions? Well, it helps that she’s not much of a sports fan! She doesn’t get to enjoy all of the mood swings and obsessiveness of my sports mania, which frankly is probably the best for all involved.

As a result, though, I’m going to miss writing about a pretty pivotal stretch in Seattle sports. The Huskies will play two football games in that span, against a Top 10 Oregon State team, and in a potentially all-important final Apple Cup as a member of the Pac-12 conference. As I wrote about previously, this game against the Beavers – while important, as all college football games are this time of year – isn’t necessarily a Must Win. That being said, you have to win ONE of these next two, to at least guarantee a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Not to mention the fact that, as we saw in the latest playoff rankings, the Huskies don’t necessarily command the respect of the top four teams (the top four, as we all know, advance to those playoffs). If Florida State runs the table, if Alabama beats Georgia, and/or if the Ohio State/Michigan game is close, a 1-loss Husky team could find itself on the outside looking in, even if we manage to beat the Ducks a second time. So, you know, it’s tough to say. Maybe this Beavers game IS a Must Win affair. I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch it from the cruise ship we’ll be on, but I’m going to try my damnedest.

I will also miss a couple of huge Seahawks games. You could argue – though they lack the importance of either of the Husky games – that these too are Must Win. The Rams, while not likely to be playoff-bound, still are a divisional and conference opponent, which makes it important for tiebreaking purposes. Then, there’s the 49ers on Thanksgiving night; it’s always fun to play on Thanksgiving, and obviously they’re our direct rivals for the divisional crown. I’ll try to at least watch that one, but again, I can make no promises.

There will be a number of Kraken and Husky basketball games going on – two teams I’ve written nothing about in the early going of their respective seasons – during pivotal seasons for their future growth. The Kraken seem to be swirling down the toilet bowl fast and furiously, and it’s fair to wonder where they’ll be by the time I get back. Will Dave Hakstol still have a job? Seems like, the way they’re playing – after an inspirational playoff run last season – he has to be on the hottest of seats. As for Mike Hopkins, his seat has been on fire for the last few years, and this thing feels as hopeless as it’s ever been. Feels like more than anything, we’re just waiting and riding out this string of seasons until it’s less prohibitive to shit-can him and pay off the remainder of his fully-guaranteed salary. With the way this squad turns over every year, there’s really no joy or fun to be had by Washington college basketball – let alone college basketball in general – so I’m hard pressed to say I’ll be missing it, Bob.

And you just know – what with me being on vacation and away from my computer – that the Mariners are poised to make a big move or two, that will rattle this region to its core. The Mariners are always interesting to think about, especially in the offseason, but even moreso when you factor in how they underperformed in 2023.

And that’s not even mentioning how much my fantasy teams affect my day-to-day life. I’ve got some humongous matchups coming up! In one of my leagues, I started out 0-4, biding my time until my studs got healthy (Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp, Breece Hall), then I won 3 straight, before dropping the subsequent 3, putting me in a position where I pretty much have to win my last five games (and catch some breaks along the way) just to crack the playoffs. In another league, I’m in pretty good shape – having scored the second most points in the league – but I’m still only in third place at 6-4, and can ill afford to drop too many more winnable games. And, in my main league – that I write about on a weekly basis – I’ve fallen into the Consolation Bracket realm, and am in serious danger of suffering yet another lost season, with no end in sight to my quarterback woes (VERY serious woes when you consider it’s a 2-QB dynasty league).

So, yeah, my mind will still be here, at least in part. But, I’m not going on this honeymoon to try to recreate my sports life. It’s a chance to get away! A chance to be alone with the woman I love! If anything bad happens, so what?! I’m in a Caribbean paradise! But, if anything great happens with the teams I follow, it’ll be all the sweeter.

Until I get back home and am smacked in the face with stupid reality.

Have fun while I’m away. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Or, you know, do it anyway! Let me know how it goes, maybe I’ll join you.

You Know, We Don’t Really NEED Athletes To Say ANYTHING

A lot of people are wondering what sports are going to look like as we come out of this COVID-19 epidemic, and just generally in the years/decades to come.

The Match II was a popular thing that happened recently. If you don’t know what that is, it was this round of golf played by Tiger Woods against Phil Mickelson; their partners, respectively, were Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. They apparently raised a lot of money for … people who were affected by the virus, I guess. Obviously, with social distancing and all that, it was a golf match with no fans, no caddies, and a limited number of crew people around to broadcast the whole thing. To compensate for this, all four players were mic’d up and wearing earpieces, so they could chat with the announcers and any other celebs who called in and wanted to chat. It was very charming and a fun way to spend an otherwise sportsless afternoon.

I was listening to the Brock & Salk podcast after The Match II, and they interviewed one of the announcers, who talked about the experience, and it was his opinion that this could be a wave of the future, not just for golf but for all major sports. The XFL dabbled in a lot of live, on-field interviews where their sideline reporters had to run around and find players who just did something exciting to ask them about it in real-time (as opposed to after the game, which is what would happen under normal circumstances). I’ve probably talked about that before, but really, WHO IS THIS FOR?! I would argue, only people IN the media enjoy this shit.

Do you know why The Match II was such a rousing success, with respect to the live interactions between media & athletes? Because you had four of the biggest, most famous, most articulate athletes in modern sports history. Tiger and Phil and Peyton and Tom? OF COURSE they’re going to be engaging and interesting to interact with!

Do you know what the VAST MAJORITY of athletes sound like on a regular basis? Dumb as rocks. Boring as dirt. Bland cliche machines who have been programmed over their entire lives in how to “game” the media. Saying something while never really saying anything. It is, by and large, BRUTAL to listen to an athlete being interviewed, whether it’s in the moment or after they’ve had hours and hours to craft a pre-packaged response.

I mean, as you can see from Drew Brees’ recent comments – before he walked them back, of course – you can give an athlete YEARS to come up with an opinion, and he’ll still sound like he has no idea what he’s talking about!

The wave of the future, I’m sad to say, is headed in the direction of more media interactions with players, and it’s going to be to all of our detriment. I dunno, unless I’m just an old man now; that’s possible too. Maybe to keep the younger generations engaged in sports, you need to offer this horseshit to continue to grow and prosper your sport. I would guess that’s probably closer to reality, since there’s so much money involved in this enterprise, it’s not like they haven’t done TONS of market research on the topic.

The thing I can’t tell is: who’s pushing for this? Is it the leagues? Do they like it when their players put their feet in their own mouths? Is any publicity good publicity, as they say? Or, are the players pushing for this, in an attempt to grow their individual brands and introduce new market streams during and after their athletic careers? I’m sure both could be true, I suppose. But, I just keep coming back to the sports media complex trying to create a market for something where there’s really no demand for it!

Athletes saying dumb shit can generate countless clicks and views and scoops and editorials for days on end! You’ve got the dumb shit they say, you’ve got the immediate backlash, you’ve got follow-up stories from other sports people commenting on it, you’ve got talking heads voicing their VERY LOUD opinions on sports chat shows, you’ve got sports radio hosts being handed hours upon hours of content to regurgitate. Then, you’ve got the same athlete apologizing for the dumb shit they said, the immediate backlash to that, the continued follow-up stories, the ever-growing VERY LOUD opinions on sports chat shows, and another full day’s worth of sports radio fodder … until some other athlete says something else dumb and the Baby Huey that is our collective sports media consciousness proceeds to waddle over to the next outrage where he plops his ass down to obsess over the next round of nonsense.

You don’t get ANY of that without constant media/athlete interactions. And, sure, you have to wade through an endless stream of cliches and rote, banal responses. But, once you unearth that little nugget of gold, you’re on easy street for at least another week.

Now, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here. This isn’t a “Stick To Sports” rant. This is a “Stick To What You’re Good At” rant.

When LeBron James or Richard Sherman or Michael Bennett or Gregg Popovich or any number of intelligent, thoughtful people give an opinion on an issue of the day, I’m more than happy to listen. Or, even if it’s just X’s & O’s talk! Deshaun Watson gives some of the best postgame interviews about certain critical plays that happened during his games! Even Bill Belichick, when he wants to be, can be engaging and insightful on a bevy of different topics.

But, I would argue these people are the exceptions, and you REALLY have to suffer through a lot of mindlessness in the meantime. Not EVERYONE needs to make their voices heard. Sometimes, it’s okay just to shut the fuck up and let the adults have a fucking conversation. If you’ve got nothing interesting or worthwhile to say, then maybe just do us all a favor and keep quiet. You’ll save us a lot of wasted time, and you’ll potentially save yourself a lot of agony by not having to scramble to make up for some faux pas that got out in some interview you didn’t prepare for and didn’t think would come to light to a worldwide audience.

Again, I’m mostly talking to Drew Brees here, but this goes for a lot of you!

So, How Are We All Doing Without Sports?

Getting tired of watching all these scheduled re-runs they’re playing on TV yet?

I’ll admit it, I got a kick out of seeing some of the classic NCAA Tournament games last week when I was hungover, but there’s only so much enjoyment to be gleaned from something where you know the outcome. Hungover – my brain working at 1/3 capacity – it’s fine. The rest of the time, ehh …

Other than the Tourney, March is a pretty dry month for me, sportswise. I don’t follow a Sonics-less NBA, I haven’t bought into the NHL yet (pending the upcoming Seattle Whatevers, who still don’t have a team name for some reason even though they’re set to start next year), and MLB would JUST be getting underway as of last Thursday.

I guess my point is, from a sports perspective, it still hasn’t totally sunk in yet. I’m more or less FINE without sports. NFL Free Agency is interesting enough to write about on a regular basis, whenever there’s something new to report. But, otherwise I feel okay without anything on TV!

Of course, the longer this goes, the more squirrelly I’m sure I’ll be. Let’s face it, the vast majority of NFL Free Agency moves have come already; sure, there will be names to trickle in over the next few months. But, now we’re squarely on DRAFT PREP, though the NFL Draft itself doesn’t take place until late April.

Sure, watching sports is fun and a nice escape, but it’s the daily conversation – gobbling up new information, reading all the studies from the stats nerds – that really makes it a passion. We’re obviously seeing less and less of that, because nothing’s going on to talk about, and you can really only reflect on past events for so long before it gets tedious. I love listening to old games with Dave Niehaus as much as the next guy, but you know.

Gotta pursue some other hobbies! It’s the nightmare scenario for a lot of people, but if you’ve ever been interested in something that you thought you just didn’t have the time for … well, NOW’S THE TIME!

I clearly don’t have a lot to say today, so I’ll let it go. Hang in there, everyone! We’ll get through this somehow!

So, Uhh, I Guess Sports Are Over For Now

Crazy damn times, huh?

Also, does anyone else get the feeling we’re embarking on a new, horrifying normal?

Let’s run it down here. For starters (and OBVIOUSLY most importantly), the Dragons’ season has come to an end. YOU HATE TO SEE IT YOU GUYS! Now we’ll never know if that second-half run I was predicting would’ve come to pass! Oh well, at least we’ll always have detesting Brandon Silvers.

The NBA is shut down for a while. MLB looks to be starting its regular season a little later than expected. I think NHL is on a break, as is MLS, and someone even told me that golf is out!

Of course, the big one for me is the NCAA Tournament being canceled. I go on an annual trip to Reno for the opening weekend of March Madness and it’s easily the most fun weekend of the year. My flights and rooms were reserved, my Drink Bracelet was purchased (all you can drink, all 4-day weekend long, during the college basketball action, for a total of $165), my PTO is set in place. It was all going according to plan! And then the rug was pulled out from under me.

My friends and I are coping as best we can. We’ll have some local get-together set up hopefully. But, obviously this is fucking weird.

It never made sense to postpone the NCAA Tournament to May, even with all the money at stake. There are too many college seniors and underclassmen who are declaring for the NBA Draft this summer; you think they’re going to participate in some dopey tournament this close to seeing their lifelong dreams being realized? No way! So, right there, you lose a significant portion of your talent pool, which ultimately fucks up how the teams are seeded (because if they’re seeded according to how they played WITH those future pros, then obviously they’re going to be seeded incorrectly).

Plus, you know, I probably can’t make it to Reno in May. I likely won’t have the PTO saved up, and I’ve been looking forward to this mid-March week off since the turn of the new year! I refuse to change my whole mindset and resume working!

I don’t even know how to … like function? I mean, it’s not like March is the busiest sports month for me anyway, but the NCAA Tournament is a big deal! The first two days (not counting the play-in games) are the best two days in all of sports! And yeah, it’s not like I was necessarily looking forward to the 2020 Mariners, but I did have tickets to the opening day game! That’s something that’s still fun to go to, regardless of how shitty they are!

I wouldn’t say my life is turned upside down by this news (it’d be a lot worse if we were smack dab in football season), but usually the first thing I do when I turn on my TV is find sports, and leave it there until I find something that I REALLY want to watch (usually, I settle for whatever sports I turned it to initially). It’s always great for background fodder; sports’ presence in my life is much more significant than I realized before they just went away.

And, obviously, concerns over the virus have me second guessing plans in the rest of my life. I’d like to go see a movie today after work. I said the same thing to myself last Friday, and ended up staying in and watching a movie at home instead. Now, of course, the movies being released this time of year aren’t the greatest, but that’s never really stopped me before! Maybe it’s because I’ve been working from home, and it’s super easy to continue staying at home when the working day is done (Oh Steve’s just wanna have fun!).

But, also, that little nagging concern – what if you get sick at that movie – is always there. Wasn’t enough to keep me from Reno if the NCAA Tournament was still happening, but … LOOK OVER THERE, BEHIND YOU!

*Runs serpentine away from my own failed logic*

I mean, what do we do now? Watch the fucking news? Those fucking scavengers, whipping everyone into a frenzy where they’re so paralyzed by fear that all they can do is hunker down on the couch and keep watching more news, hoping and praying that things get better before they get worse. Fuck that!

I say, put those sports-viewing energies to better use. Rent movies, watch comedy specials, read books, go get whatever creative project you’ve been meaning to do and get started on it right away! Learn how to knit, write that short story, buy Pro Tools and become the world-famous D.J. you were always meant to be!

Binge-watch Cheers!

In closing, I don’t know what I’m gonna write about on here, but I figure I’ll start getting antsy at some point. Get ready for some strange, loopy shit! Seattle Sports Hell might just turn itself into an Aerosmith Fan Blog for all I know! Steve In An Elevator!

I dunno, we’re just spitballin’ here. I’ll do better.

The Dragons Blew It Against The Roughnecks To Fall To Last Place In The West

We’re halfway through the regular season and the Dragons sit at the bottom of the XFL (with the Vipers) with a 1-4 record. BUT, never fear, because I still contend there’s time to climb back into the playoffs! It’s gonna take a big winning streak, but I feel one coming!

To recap last Saturday’s loss in Houston, the Dragons blew a 14-0 lead in the first half (it was tied at 14 at the break), then subsequently blew a 23-14 lead midway through the third quarter, ultimately falling 32-23. The Dragons DID cover the spread (I think it was 11.5 points) and the over hit pretty easily (so, I feel like if sports gambling were legal, I would’ve won), but that does nothing for the Dragons’ playoff chances.

The offense was pretty out-of-sync all day, and most of the scoring was precipitated by turnovers generated by the defense. Two interceptions and a fumble recovery put the Dragons in VERY good position to take advantage offensively, but when it came time for B.J. Daniels and the crew to move the ball the length of the field, they just couldn’t do it.

The offensive line was pretty bad in this one. I’ve made it a point to not really get too down on these guys; after all, we don’t have enough good linemen in the NFL, why would I expect them to be anything in the XFL? But, it was particularly glaring in this one. I’d also argue that the play-calling was VERY suspect; the Dragons are what they are because Jim Zorn is the one in charge of everything, you’ll never change my mind. If we actually had our offensive coordinator (who never showed up, due to some family emergency I guess?) or, you know, HIRED a proper offensive coordinator to call plays in his stead, things might be a lot different. As it is, I cringe every time the Dragons fail on first down, because I know a 2nd & 10 run is coming (it makes the inevitable 3rd & 9 all the more frustrating).

Bottom line: with B.J. Daniels at the helm, you need to take better advantage of his running ability. He ran it 10 times for 30 yards in this one, but aside from the two goalline touchdowns, they were predominantly scrambles after the passing play broke down. I want to see more zone-read! There were countless times where he could’ve easily pulled the ball and taken off for significant yardage! I mean, this isn’t Russell Wilson here; what are you saving it for? Let’s put him to work and start winning some football games!

The defense, as usual, no notes. They have an uncanny knack for generating turnovers, which SHOULD be huge in a league like this! I will say there were a number of breakdowns in the secondary – a few deep passes down the sideline, and a bunch of guys wide open in the middle of the field – but I’m attributing that to injuries until someone tells me otherwise.

Okay, so one minor note.

Let’s get to the XFL Power Rankings:

  1. Houston Roughnecks: 5-0
  2. St. Louis BattleHawks: 3-2
  3. New York Guardians: 3-2
  4. D.C. Defenders: 3-2
  5. Dallas Renegades: 2-3
  6. Los Angeles Wildcats: 2-3
  7. Seattle Dragons: 1-4
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers: 1-4

The Guardians are rising up the ranks with a bullet! I still don’t know if they’re actually good or not (to be honest, I haven’t watched a minute of their games), but a 2-game winning streak deserves something!

D.C. got off the schneid with a win at home over the BattleHawks; the Defenders are now 3-0 at home and 0-2 on the road, by my figures. They had to replace their highly-regarded quarterback to do it, which is interesting to say the least.

So, here’s the deal (I think I talked about this last week, but I’m rehashing it here, sue me): Houston is a lock for one of the two playoff spots in the West. That leaves Seattle, Dallas, and L.A. The Renegades are the team we have to worry about the most, because we only get one more crack at them the rest of the way. Ideally, we’d like the Renegades to lose as much as possible.

We get TWO shots at the Wildcats, including this upcoming Sunday at CenturyLink Field. So, if ever there was a must-win game, you’re looking at it. If the Dragons lose on Sunday, let’s all write off the season and become BattleHawks fans. I feel a little bad for St. Louis (losing the Rams and all); if Seattle can’t win it all, I’d like to see them get some love.

Maybe by Sunday, the Dragons will have installed a better package of plays that takes advantage of Daniels’ skillset!

I’m Glad That Tony Romo Is Staying With CBS

I feel like the best-case scenario for the vast majority of sports announcers & color commentators is for me to not know who the fuck you are. If I don’t know your name, that means you’re fine. You bring to the game what I expect to be brought, without annoying me or otherwise getting in the way.

And, I would say the vast majority of these people – across all sports, at least from a national perspective (there’s just no getting into the weeds on the broadcast crews working for individual teams; those people are generally nuts) – are just that: they’re fine. Nondescript. Workmanlike.

Then, there are the outliers, and they land on both sides: there are the truly abysmal, and there are the truly great. These are the guys whose names you know, for one reason or the other.

I should probably point out at some point that this is obviously a matter of opinion. My opinion is going to differ from yours, and that’s okay. I’m not trying to change your mind; you don’t have to feel like you need to change mine. I’m not making an argument here and presenting facts to try to say that one guy is the best …

(for what it’s worth, that argument has been over for a while now; Gus Johnson is the best sports broadcaster and it’s not even close. FIGHT ME YOU GOONS!)

I’m just saying that I like Tony Romo as a color guy for the NFL. I think he’s entertaining, I like that he’s energetic and excited about what’s going on, I think he brings a lot of insight you don’t get from a lot of other guys in his position, and I’m generally intrigued by his working relationship with Jim Nantz (who I also greatly admire). Are they really friends? Do they even speak a single word to one another when the mics aren’t on? I can’t tell and it’s driving me crazy!

There were rumors that ESPN was looking to poach Romo away, which would’ve been a complete disaster. If it’s to be a roving analyst on their various shows (Sportscenter and whatnot), that sucks because I never watch those shows. If it was to be in the booth for Monday Night Football, that’s just as bad! MNF is a wasteland! The matchups are usually terrible, there’s no way to flex them out, and by Monday I’m usually footballed-out unless the Seahawks are involved.

In fact, I don’t watch Monday OR Thursday Night Football unless the Seahawks are playing; I have to go to bed early for work, so it just isn’t convenient for me (plus, nothing ever seems to go right for my fantasy football team on these nights, so I’d rather avoid it altogether if that’s all right with you). I’ll watch the Sunday Night game sometimes, depending on the matchup (and for the record, Michaels and Collinsworth are my favorite duo working today).

But, I ALWAYS watch the Sunday morning and afternoon games, regardless of who’s playing or how bad the matchup is. And, since the Seahawks are usually on FOX, whatever ends up on CBS either needs to be compelling football, or the announcers need to keep my interest somehow. Tony Romo does that for me.

It’s not football season anymore, so my mind is a little rusty. But, I like Nantz & Romo and Buck & Aikman about the same; they’re all great and the #1 teams for their respective networks for a reason. Beyond them and the NBC guys, I’d say everyone else is fine.

I thought it was funny on the Brock & Salk podcast this week, Salk talking about how he liked Phil Simms and Booger McFarland, because I’m sorry, but I’m out. I think Simms is great on the pre-game/halftime panel, but I don’t need 3 hours of Simms every week. That “Better in Small Doses” theme extends to someone like Bill Walton, who could probably hang ’em up at any point now and I’d be okay with it. No one’s ever going to top Tim McCarver, though, for just the dumbest, most annoying announcer of my entire life.

Anyway, I just thought I’d show my appreciation for not having my Sundays ruined for the next decade (maybe that’s overkill, but they would’ve definitely taken some sort of a hit). Long Live Tony Romo At CBS!

We Were About To Riot Until B.J. Daniels Finally Took Over For The Dragons

Too little, too late to beat the BattleHawks – as the Dragons lost 23-16 – but it was a furious and (finally!) entertaining comeback in the second half to pull it to just the one score (and cover the 11.5-point spread!).

God, I can’t wait to bet on the XFL in a couple weeks …

The Dragons’ first half offense was a fucking trainwreck of epic proportions. And yet, we were somehow only down 11-3 early in the second quarter thanks to some pretty stout bend-don’t-break defense. Until the BattleHawks ripped off a 7-minute, 78-yard touchdown drive to make it 17-3 at half.

That’s when Jim Zorn finally did what I didn’t think he had the guts to do: bench Brandon Silvers’ incompetent ass! 4 for 10 for 27 yards; 4 punts in 5 possessions (the lone field goal drive started at the St. Louis 45-yard line), so not exactly an inspiring performance.

B.J. Daniels came in and immediately looked 1,000% better. The Dragons’ first drive ended in a punt (thanks to a clear drop by Keenan Reynolds), but after that the offense was humming along nicely.

A Dragons TD made it 17-10. After giving up a field goal, the Dragons pulled to 20-16 (there was some confusion about why Zorn chose to go for three after the score; I’m STILL not convinced he knows basic math, but God bless him, he’s doing his best out there … without an offensive coordinator, no less!).

That bend-don’t-break defense gave up another field goal to make it 23-16, which left the Dragons with a primo opportunity to take the lead. Unfortunately, another promising-looking drive this time ended up with an interception down the middle of the field. There was still nearly four minutes left in the game, but the defense for the life of ’em couldn’t stop the BattleHawks, who ran out the rest of the game in pretty impressive fashion.

At this point, there’s just no damned excuse for Silvers to be back in the starting lineup next week. I’ve been saying all along: the XFL needs to dedicate itself to RUNNING QUARTERBACKS! Oh, by the way, you’re telling me Houston’s quarterback is the MVP frontrunner … and he just so happens to be exactly the type of quarterback I’m talking about?

LET B.J. COOK!!!

Dammit anyways.

Here’s my XFL Power Rankings as we head into Week 5:

  1. Houston Roughnecks, 4-0
  2. St. Louis BattleHawks, 3-1
  3. Dallas Renegades, 2-2
  4. D.C. Defenders, 2-2
  5. New York Guardians, 2-2
  6. Los Angeles Wildcats, 1-3
  7. Seattle Dragons, 1-3
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers, 1-3

Houston is running away with this league, which is unfortunate timing because this week the Dragons head there. If B.J. Daniels is starting, I give us a fighting chance. If it’s back to Silvers, they can’t make the spread high enough, give me the Roughnecks all day.

St. Louis looks strong all across the board and they more than deserve to move up in the rankings. The Defenders, on the other hand, just lost to the erstwhile-winless Vipers, so bump them down (the Defenders are 2-0 at home, 0-2 on the road, for what that’s worth). The Renegades leapfrog the Defenders for playing Houston pretty tough last week. The Dragons move down closer to the absolute cellar because I’m still moderately afraid I haven’t seen the last of Silvers (it’s FUN having a terrible Seattle sports whipping boy again!). Tampa got the surprise shutout of the Defenders, but I still need to see more.

After this week, the schedule gets a lot easier for the Dragons. So, I don’t want to say all hope is lost just yet, but we’ll need to rip off a significant winning streak to get into the playoffs.

The downside is: it’s the top two teams per division who make the playoffs, and the Dragons share a division with the Roughnecks. Granted, we get two cracks at them (but that’s also a bad thing, if they go undefeated).

The plus side is: we also get two cracks at the Wildcats, who don’t look amazing. If we beat up on the teams we need to beat up on, then it’s just a matter of leapfrogging the Renegades. At that point, it’s just a playoff game against (probably) the best team in the league.

No big whup.

The Dragons Fell Apart In The Second Half, Lost To The Renegades

As expected, with another week to rest his injured ankle, Brandon Silvers played better against Dallas than he did against Tampa. Also as expected, he still wasn’t all that great, and the Dragons blew an opportunity to improve to 2-1, in a 24-12 defeat.

Silvers threw for 204 yards on 62% passing, but there was yet another baffling interception, and he looked as incompetent as they get in the second half, as the Dragons were shut out for the final two quarters. Multiple people have said – on broadcasts and such – that Silvers has a “strong arm”, but I think that’s just a thing people say about you if you play the quarterback position. Saying Silvers has a strong arm is a lie, and therefore a totally meaningless phrase, because there has been zero evidence of that in the three games I’ve seen him play. On at least two different occasions in this game alone, he had guys WIDE OPEN for big gains, and if he had the arm strength to throw those balls on a line, the Dragons would’ve scored considerably more than what they managed. And that’s not even factoring in the two failed two-point conversions. It looked like we ran the same play both times, and it looked like he threw it to the same spot on the field, both with the same result: the ball getting there late and batted away by the defender.

Maybe since Silvers seems to THINK he has a strong arm, everyone just goes along with it because they want the XFL to succeed (and the only way to do that is if the quarterback play isn’t totally inept). I mean, every time he tries to load up for a deep ball, it looks like he REALLY has to jump-skip into it and give it all he’s got. There’s nothing smooth or fluid about him at all. He does nothing well, and a lot of things poorly, and I fucking KNEW we’d be here sooner or later. Jim Zorn, WHAT ARE WE DOING?! You’ve got a readymade leader and gamer in B.J. Daniels at your disposal, who – if nothing else – should be able to scare enough defenders with his legs to move the ball. Even if he isn’t the most accurate passer, I mean, what have you seen from Silvers that leads you to believe accuracy is anything he even remotely possesses? I would expect Daniels to probably struggle early in games, but come alive in the fourth quarter once he’s properly warmed up and in the flow of the game. And, at this point, I think that’s going to be significant if you want to see the Dragons actually win games (and vastly more important if you want to see the Dragons play exciting, fun, watchable football games).

What I’m most disappointed in, after three games, is how the Dragons are totally incapable of relying on their running game. Hard to blame defenses from loading the box and daring Silvers to beat them deep. But, too many times you see the Dragons’ running backs get totally stuffed on first or second down, putting them in a spot where they NEED competent quarterback play, and they’re just not getting it done. The offensive line is what it is – I don’t think there’s anything that can be done about that (this was always going to be a situation where the defensive lines – throughout the league – were vastly superior to their counterparts, given how few pro-style offenses you see in college) – but the Dragons’ running backs look TOO small, and TOO slow. I don’t mind small if you’re speedy, but these are all guys who look like they peaked in high school and never really grew into their adult bodies.

As for the Dragons’ defense, once again, no notes. Great job! They were tuckered out in the second half as things got away from this team, but that’s mostly thanks to the offense repeatedly shitting the G.D. bed. This unit is still generating turnovers at a fantastic clip, and playing the consummate bend/don’t break type of style we’re accustomed to around these parts (with another GREAT goalline stand to prevent a TD).

Credit where it’s due, getting back to Silvers: his two TD passes were pretty great, especially that first one to Austin Proehl with, like, three guys in his face. It was perfectly timed, perfectly thrown, and I think that’s what this team was expecting MORE of when they named Silvers their starter. But, he’s not playing this way nearly enough. The vast majority of the time, he’s playing timid, he’s chucking the ball straight into the turf, and those check-down passes seem to be his first, second, and third reads.

That was a game the Dragons should’ve won. This is a defense that – while it won’t carry us – is a viable squad that can keep us in every game. But, we need SOMETHING consistent out of the offense, and we’re simply not getting it, based almost exclusively on shoddy quarterback play.

In looking around the XFL, a lot of shake-ups around the league! Here’s your Seattle Sports Hell XFL Power Rankings as we head into Week 4!

  1. Houston Roughnecks, 3-0
  2. D.C. Defenders, 2-1
  3. St. Louis BattleHawks, 2-1
  4. Dallas Renegades, 2-1
  5. Los Angeles Wildcats, 1-2
  6. Seattle Dragons, 1-2
  7. New York Guardians, 1-2
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers, 0-3

The Roughnecks are 3-0 and their offense has looked GREAT for three straight weeks. Trouble is, their defense appears to really stink. But, as the only team that has reliably put up points in every game thus far, that’s a huge leg-up over the rest of the league. If they can get their defense to settle down even a little bit, they might run away with it (at the very least, I expect them to play in the championship game). If nothing else, bet the OVER in every Houston game and watch your winnings pile up!

D.C. lost their first game, getting drubbed by the Wildcats in L.A. I’m going to chalk this one up to a bad game by the Defenders and not worry about it. They had to go all the way across the country, and the Wildcats have proven to have at least a semi-competent offense, so it’s not totally shocking.

St. Louis is 2-1, with their only defeat a narrow loss in Houston. They’ve played tough and found ways to prevail in the clutch. This week, they absolutely dismantled the Guardians at home, and they look like one of the three challengers for the XFL championship. A lot of football yet to go, but don’t sleep on the BattleHawks.

Dallas, L.A., and Seattle all seem to be in that next tier down. I wouldn’t rule out the Renegades totally, but I also wasn’t super impressed with them (in spite of having Landry Jones as their QB). Jones looks over-paid and OVER-RATED (he also looks like he doesn’t come close to giving a shit, that this is an easy paycheck on his way back to being a backup in the NFL; the cheesiest job where you never really have to play). I’ll be curious to see if L.A. can parlay this victory into a nice little streak.

The Dragons, of course, look like they’re trending down to that bottom tier with the Guardians and Vipers, who look totally inept (New York & Seattle both have just one win each, over the winless Vipers, so that explains that). I’d expect the Dragons will stay down in the bottom two or three as long as Silvers keeps being Silvers.

Is Being A Fair-Weather Fan A Bad Thing?

I think it was on this week’s Brock & Salk podcast where they were talking about the XFL in Seattle, and whether the awesome turnout for the game last week is meaningful or not. Were they there because they’re hardcore football fans who can’t get enough? Or, were they there because it’s a new shiny thing, and if the Dragons start losing a bunch of games, the novelty will wear off and we’ll see dismal attendance numbers?

Which got me to thinking: who in their right mind would go watch the Dragons in person if they were fucking terrible?

But, you always see people at games, regardless of how bad the team is! Even when the Mariners were losing 90+ games last year, you’d still see people in the stands on a 40-degree rainy Tuesday night in May. I think those people would tell you: it’s not about how good or bad they are, it’s about supporting the team. Which I find difficult to understand. Like, we owe them for all the good times we used to have? We honestly don’t owe them anything! We pay for the stadia, we pay for tickets, we pay for concessions, we pay for souvenirs, we pay for the cable that pays for the channel that they broadcast on (if they broadcast on cable; sometimes the team even owns the channel – Mariners – and it’s like we’re paying them directly again!). I think the least they can do is put out a compelling product to watch and spend our money on.

To which someone might argue: if we don’t support the team financially, they might decide to relocate the club. Which, yeah, owners are fuckheads. But, I would counter that it’s easier said than done. Building leases go for decades and they’re hard to get out of (though, as the Sonics proved, not impossible). Besides that, teams always find a way to make money one way or another. Obviously, the best way to make money is to win, but you can cut corners and make creative advertising deals and all sorts of things.

The point is: don’t feel bad about the bottom line of sports teams. You support them your way, and I’ll support them my way.

Which way that is, obviously, depends on the sport. I’ll watch every Seahawks game, no matter how terrible they are, because there’s only 16 per regular season (for now). But, for the Mariners, it’s going to be pretty infrequent in 2020, for instance. First, I need to have the ability (I can’t be asleep, getting ready for the next work day). Second, I need to have nothing else better to do (which, usually … no I don’t have much else better to do). Third, ideally there will be an urgent reason to watch (like if a highly-touted prospect is making his debut, or if there looks to be a fun matchup lined up). That’s really just to watch the game from the opening pitch. Usually, my go-to is to watch something else, follow along with the action on Twitter, and turn it to the game when it looks like the game is getting good.

There are 162 regular season games. If they’re losing nearly 2/3 of them, that’s a lot of disappointment to suffer in a 6-month span! I can’t, in good conscience, put myself through that.

With Husky Basketball, now, WOOF. My family and I watched the game last Saturday on mute on our little TV while the boxing match was going on the big TV, but otherwise I can’t even be bothered. It’s been the same fucking story since conference play started: play well, hang in there, then fuck it all up in the last five minutes. Why would I pay to go see that live when I’ve seen that fucking show a million times already?

See, we’re told it’s bad to be a fair-weather fan, but you know what I like? Fair weather! You want to go sit out in the rain for three hours getting dumped on, shivering and huddling together for warmth? I want to go out in the sunshine! Little bit of cloud cover, nice cool breeze, the birds are chirping. 70 degrees (and honestly, that might even be too warm). Fair Weather Steven, that’s what all my friends always call me! I have zero other untoward nicknames.

I think these hardcore fans like to feel better about themselves, so they denigrate us fair-weather fans as if it’s a bad thing to have other interests. I mean, shit, I have a whole blog devoted to the Seattle sports scene – so I’d say I’m fanlier than most – but go fuck yourself if you think I’m paying to go to a game to watch a bunch of losers … unless it’s with my friends, a few tallboys of Coors Banquet, and in the sole exercise of mocking those losers we’re there to watch.

If you’re taking it much more seriously than that, then congratulations, you’re the king of the fans. Here’s your crown, it’s made of bobblehead dolls and t-shirts fresh from the cannon.

Of course, I say that, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood screaming in Husky Stadium while another team is just ramming it down our fucking throats. That’s the thing about sports fandom, it makes no sense. There’s no rhyme or reason. I can belittle the Dragons, the Mariners, and even the Husky basketball team; but when it comes to Husky football, I’m entirely fucking humorless. The fact that I went to ANY game in 2008, let alone multiple games, should confirm that I’m – if nothing else – king of the hypocrites.

My crown is made of empty Mike’s Hard Lemonade bottles and torn up Amazon boxes.

The Seattle Dragons Get Their First Victory In Seattle Dragons History

The Seattle Dragons hosted the Tampa Bay Vipers and came away with a 17-9 victory.

It was ugly for the entire first half, and most of the game, but the Dragons were able to make some plays in the third quarter to put it away. Brandon Silvers is still a mixed bag, to put it nicely. He gave up his second pick-six in consecutive games, while only completing 39% of his passes for all of 91 yards, 68 of which came when Keenan Reynolds broke free down the middle of the field for a touchdown to pull the contest to 9-6.

The defense, however, was pretty stout throughout. We had four sacks and three picks, including one with the Vipers backed up near their own goalline for an easy defensive TD. That and the 2-point conversion put us up for good at 14-9, with a late field goal to add insult to injury.

The Seattle crowd was predictably into it, pushing attendance to nearly 30,000. It’s cool to see some of that crossover with Seahawks fans, and the XFL’s faith in this market being rewarded accordingly.

You could argue the weather was crappy, and thus the reason for most of our offensive miscues. But, Silvers has to be better, plain and simple, or else we need to put B.J. Daniels in charge. I mean, the more Silvers sucks, the more the fans are going to call for a change!

On the Tampa side of things, I’d seriously consider going with their own backup quarterback, who looked way more mobile. Running quarterbacks should be eating this league for breakfast; if I were in charge of a team I wouldn’t even consider a guy unless he had wheels to escape the pocket and run for large chunks of yardage down field.

Like last week, I didn’t watch much of the other action around the league, but I’ll say this much: the Defenders look like the clear frontrunners on both sides of the ball. If sports betting were legal, I would’ve put whatever equity we’ve got left on the Taylor Family Farm on them to win it all. Feels like a no-brainer.

As a quick aside, here’s the Seattle Sports Hell Official XFL Power Rankings:

  1. D.C. Defenders
  2. Houston Roughnecks
  3. St. Louis Battlehawks
  4. Dallas Renegades
  5. Seattle Dragons
  6. New York Guardians
  7. Los Angeles Wildcats
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers

I don’t know how playoff seeding is gonna work, but if it’s possible, give me D.C. vs. Houston in the finals. I think everyone in the 3-6 range are pretty even. L.A. and Tampa look pretty bad so far (admittedly after only 2 games).

I can’t wait to get to Reno next month and put all my money on this league. Without knowing the line of the Renegades/Wildcats matchup, it looks like maybe 3/4 games went under again, for the second week in a row. I’m sure the oddsmakers will have it sorted out by next month, but it’s definitely something to watch.