The Seahawks Aren’t Great At Any One Thing

The Seahawks get a lot of credit for being competitive. If I understand the phrase right, it’s a double-edged sword. When things are going well, people point to the coaching staff and say, “Boy Pete Carroll does a great job of adapting and getting the most out of his players!” But, when things go poorly, people point to the coaching staff and say, “Boy Pete Carroll is over the hill and washed up and doesn’t understand what the game of football is morphing into!”

There was a time this year where the Seahawks were winners of 5 out of 6 games, and the one we lost (to the Bengals) you could argue we gave away. But, even still, they were the Bengals, Joe Burrow was still alive, and you can understand why even a good team would lose that game on the road. The offense felt vibrant, the defense appeared to be improving, and we all let ourselves believe that these Seahawks could compete with those 49ers for this NFC West and maybe even above and beyond.

Then, we got massacred by the Ravens. That kicked off a lull where we lost 4 out of 5 games, with the lone victory being a 3-point variety against one of the worst, most dysfunctional teams in football (the Commanders), at home no less. We won the next two games to regain control over our own playoff destiny, only to lose to the Steelers last week, to once again need a Week 18 victory plus some help.

The Seahawks are 8-8. You can’t really give this team a lot of credit for being competitive, because if we’re honest with ourselves, this team is only competitive against very flawed-to-bad teams.

There are lots of teams hovering around .500, though. Lots of flawed teams who are in contention for the playoffs. There have been plenty of flawed teams throughout the years who have made the playoffs, gotten hot, and managed to do some damage (even winning a Super Bowl here and there). It’s not always the VERY BEST teams who win it all. Sometimes, you just need to pose the right matchup problems against the right teams, to get the result you want.

The Cleveland Browns are 11-5 and locked into the playoffs. You wouldn’t consider them a front-runner; they’re on, what, their fourth quarterback? Joe Flacco off the scrap heap re-joined the league and has set the world on fire. Has Joe Flacco suddenly gotten amazing again? No way! But, he’s in the right situation, with the right team, that has some elite components (defense, running game, O-Line) that allows them to make up for any mistakes Flacco might generate.

The Dolphins are also 11-5 and locked into the playoffs. Their defense kinda stinks, but they’re so dynamic on offense that you could see them winning any game if things break right. The Chiefs are 10-6 and their receivers are hot garbage. The Eagles are 11-5 and their defense has regressed HARD. The Rams are 9-7, but they’re still well-coached and explosive enough (and veteran enough) on offense to beat anybody.

Which brings me to the Seahawks. They’re a consummate 7-seed type of team. But, unlike the Packers, Steelers, or either of the South divisions, the Seahawks don’t have any one thing they do extremely well. They just have a lot of things they’re okay at, with some VERY glaring weaknesses that hold them back.

It’s honestly pretty miserable watching the Seahawks closely. I wonder if these other fringe teams have the same type of disgruntled fans. There’s nothing you can hang your hat on, where you can say, “If THIS happens, we can pull it out.” Even in the post-L.O.B. era of Seahawks football with prime Russell Wilson at the helm, we could look at the team and say, “Well, if Russell Wilson plays out of his mind, maybe we can win three playoff games and get to the Super Bowl.” Of course, that never happened, and we now understand why it was foolish to think that way. But, at least there was a chance. Russell Wilson used to be magic, and sometimes he was all we needed to will ourselves to victories.

You can’t say that about Geno Smith. Russell Wilson could get by with a rancid offensive line. Geno Smith is like this delicate flower that needs a climate-controlled environment to flourish. I’m not talking about weather here; it’s sort of a terrible analogy. But, like, Geno needs very good O-Line play. He needs the defense to keep us in it. He can’t carry us on his back and will us to victory. Oh sure, if everything is just right, he can lead us to a late come-from-behind victory every now and then. But, you better not allow any pass rushers to get in his face! He’s not making those comebacks against the likes of the 49ers, Cowboys, or Steelers!

What’s the best thing Seattle has going for it? The easy answer is the wide receiver room, but that’s so dependant on your quarterback’s play, that I think I have to push them down a tier. I think the actual best thing Seattle has going for it is the running back room. The one-two punch of Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet is as good as it gets. Walker makes something out of nothing in a way I haven’t seen since Barry Sanders. I’m not saying he’s as good as Barry Sanders, but I’m saying the moves you see him put on people on the football field week-in and week-out are as electric and jaw-dropping as I’ve seen out of anyone since Sanders retired. Charbonnet, on the other hand, is just a solid and dynamic straight-ahead runner. Every time I see him play well, I wonder if he’s the future #1 on this team, but then Walker comes back and flashes those amazing cut-back moves, and I’m swayed in his direction. Either way, those two combined – with their tremendous blocking and pass-catching abilities – puts us at a level few teams are at in the NFL.

So, why don’t we feature it more? Why aren’t we scheming to highlight the run, rather than using it to complement a passing attack that’s … fine? Your guess is as good as mine. Seems to me, once again, we have the wrong offensive coordinator. He was brought in to try to appease a disgruntled Russell Wilson, we traded Wilson a year later, and now we’ve been trying to make it work. Sometimes, Waldron looks like one of the best OCs in football. But, too often – especially this season – he gets too one-track minded. He goes away from the run – mind-bogglingly – even though we’re in more games than we’re way behind. And less and less do we see guys schemed open. We were supposed to get the system that the Rams use to tremendous success. Lots of crossers, lots of different plays out of similar-looking personnel groupings. But, either Geno isn’t seeing them, or we’ve gone away from them. Regardless, this offense looks as dysfunctional as it was under Schotty and in the final years of Bevell.

Getting back to the receivers, I’ll tell you what this team doesn’t have; it doesn’t have Doug Baldwin, or a Doug Baldwin type. It doesn’t have that guy who can get open under any circumstance. It doesn’t have that guy you can go to on 3rd & Long, when you absolutely need a conversion to move the chains. Tyler Lockett sort of used to be that guy, but not really, and definitely not anymore. I don’t know what Lockett is nowadays, if I’m being honest. Either he’s trending towards being washed up, or we’re just not utilizing him like we should. More often than not, we’re going to D.K. when we need a big catch to move the chains. Don’t get me wrong, D.K. has been GREAT this year. But, he still has massive drops at the worst times, and you never know when he’s going to be that powderkeg that’s one bad taunt away from exploding.

The good news is: maybe Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be the next true heir apparent to Doug Baldwin. But, he’s still a rookie, he’s still developing that relationship with Geno, and while he’s much more productive now than he was at the beginning of the season, he’s not quite there yet. Hopefully in the next year or two, but that doesn’t help us out THIS season, now does it?

As far as the defense goes, write it off. There’s nothing elite about any of these position groups. Jamal Adams was shut down, having never fully recovered from his knee injury. He was getting beaten on the reg, and was less and less productive out in space near the line of scrimmage the more he played. Clearly, his body is broken, and it’s going to really suck if we’re stuck with him for another year.

As for the rest of the secondary, that was sort of our big hope, but it hasn’t come to fruition. I think the depth is there, but the top-end talent has been lacking. Which is interesting, because two of our three Pro Bowlers came from this group (Devon Witherspoon and Julian Love). Witherspoon looks as good as advertised, but he started the year banged up, and he’s ending the year banged up. When he’s been healthy out there, he’s been a game-changer. But, I’m starting to have serious doubts that we’re ever going to get a full season out of him. And I’m certainly dubious about getting a respectable second contract out of him. As for Love, he’s definitely come on late, but early this season he was a huge liability! The bar to climb over for Pro Bowl contention seems to be getting lower and lower nowadays.

You can’t deny Riq Woolen’s sophomore season has been anything but disappointing. Seems like he too is injured, but I don’t remember him ever being all that active in tackling near the line of scrimmage. That wasn’t a problem last year when he was making plays and generating turnovers; but this year, when he’s not doing that, he’s not really doing anything for you, is he? The rest of the guys – Diggs, Brown, Jackson, Burns, etc. – have all flashed some level of greatness, but have also totally disappeared for long stretches. As a result, this defense is getting increasingly shredded as the season goes along.

The linebackers have been okay against the run, but Bobby Wagner has been one of the biggest weaknesses in the passing game in the entire NFL (he’s a Pro Bowler based on reputation only). Without Jordyn Brooks, the linebacker room is totally decimated (as we saw last week against the Steelers). It’s tough when you’re as thin as you are, and you’re forced to play Wagner at or near 100% of the snaps every week. Now we have to pay Brooks whatever the market rate is for a top-end interior linebacker? What are we doing with our money here?!

I think the interior of the defensive line has been the most productive unit on this team, especially with the addition of Leonard Williams. Between him, Jarran Reed, and Dre’Mont Jones, we’re as solid as you can get. But, when Nwosu went down, the edge has been kind of a wasteland. Frank Clark has hardly played, and I think has since been cut (or is on the verge of being cut). Darrell Taylor can’t set an edge to save his life. Boye Mafe has slowed down considerably the second half of this season. Derick Hall is also struggling to play his position properly (but he’s a rookie, so he gets a pass). So, when you talk defensive line as a whole, I think you have to give them a net-negative. They get sacks at a decent clip, but I would say overall pressure numbers are sub-par, and the run defense has actually gotten worse as the season has gone along.

Defensive coordinator might be our biggest weakness, so we’ll see where that goes this offseason.

That leaves the O-Line, which is middling at best. But, Abe Lucas has been banged up all year, and we’ve had a revolving door at most of our positions from week to week. So much so that we’ve had to emphasize getting the ball out incredibly quickly if we even WANT to have a passing game. Seems like that would be the time to try to pound the rock, but again, we’re not, because of Reasons.

All told, that adds up to a team – as I said in the title – that isn’t great at any one thing. They’re okay at some things, terrible at others, and that’s what adds up to an 8-8 record heading into the final week of the season. Which is why I’ve been saying – for however many weeks now – that I do NOT want these Seahawks in the playoffs. What good does it do to get in there and get your doors blown off in the first round? We did that last year; did it do anything to make the 2023 Seahawks even remotely better? Or, did it just give us worse draft positioning, while allowing us to delude ourselves into thinking we were closer to Super Bowl contention than we actually were?

The Seahawks only make significant changes when they fail to make the playoffs. Whenever we make the playoffs, we bring our coaching staff back, keep the majority of the veterans we’re able to keep, and try to fill in around the fringes with what little resources we have left over. We’ve never really committed to a true rebuild since the 2010 season, and it’s starting to feel like all those Mariners teams from 2004-2018. Close, but no cigar.

What’s this team going to do as a 7-seed? Probably go to Dallas and lose by double digits. We already couldn’t stop them once – the week after Thanksgiving – what makes you think we can stop them now, when our talent is actually more depleted thanks to injury? We tried our best to keep up offensively – putting up 35 in a losing effort – but literally everything had to go right for that to happen, and I’m not buying that we can do that a second time.

And even IF we somehow, miraculously, beat the Cowboys in Dallas (because, at their heart, they love to choke in the playoffs), what is our reward? Playing the 1-seed 49ers after a week off (and after playing no one of consequence in Week 18). Just the worst case scenario of all scenarios; we haven’t come CLOSE to beating them for the last two years now.

So, no, I don’t want to see us in the playoffs. I don’t even want to see us winning this week! I want us 8-9. I want that LOSERS label to be firmly stamped all over this team. Pete Carroll and John Schneider aren’t going anywhere. But, maybe with a losing record, they’ll stumble into the correct coaching and personnel moves to turn this thing around before we’re all old and gray.

Can The Underdog Seahawks Turn Their Season Around?

There’s kind of a lot on the line this week. I’m the last person who LIKES being an alarmist; it’s just so fucking predictable and cliche for the hardcore football fan to be like, “WEEK 2 IS A MUST WIN GAME FOR THE SEAHAWKS OTHERWISE THE SEASON IS OVER AND WE MIGHT AS WELL ALL KILL OURSELVES!!!1”.

For the record: do NOT kill yourself if the Seahawks lose this week.

There’s a number of ways to look at this, though. Every time week 2 of the NFL season comes and goes, you get the requisite: such and such percent of teams who start 0-2 make the playoffs; that percentage falls to such and such if they start 0-3. I really only have articles from last year, but since 1970, only 9.5% of teams that started 0-2 made the playoffs. Since 1990, only 14.8% of 0-2 teams made it. Last year, Cincinnati started 0-2 and finished with a 12-4 record (the unfinished Buffalo game notwithstanding) to win their division. That’s a pretty remarkable turnaround; definitely not the norm.

There’s been 6 teams total since 1979 that have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start, for what it’s worth. So, not great.

Last year, the Seahawks started 1-2 before turning things around – oddly enough, with a 48-45 victory over the Lions in Detroit kicking things off – but I guess I’m less concerned about just making the playoffs. There’s always a 9- or 10-win team squeaking into a wild card spot. It’s very possible to start 0-2 and get there; tack on a win at home next week against Carolina and we’re in the same spot we were a year ago. But, I guess I just had higher hopes for this team. Or, you know, just fool me a bit! Make me believe the Seahawks have what it takes to contend with the 49ers! Don’t rip off the band aid in the first two weeks with an 0-2 start.

Sports seasons are most fun when you know you’re elite. 49ers fans must be thrilled right now. Eagles and Cowboys fans are feeling great. The next level of entertainment is when you THINK you’re great. Dolphins fans, Lions fans, Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Jaguars, and even lower rung teams like Packers, Browns, Ravens, Patriots, Vikings, and Giants fans can delude themselves into having high hopes. No hope for Jets fans though. Never Jets fans. And the Giants fans are only there because they’re galoots who don’t know any better.

But, we Seahawks fans don’t get to live in that fantasy. Not after last week. The best we can hope for is that the Rams are better than anyone expected, and might be a dark horse for a playoff spot. I don’t believe that’s the case. I think the Rams ARE who we thought they were, and they’re going to finish among the bottom teams in football. Which makes our 17-point loss at home all the more demoralizing.

So, that’s a lot to overcome in one week. The Seahawks are fighting for their own fans to have some semblance of confidence in this team, this season. Even if we were always meant to be in a stepping stone year in 2023, it has to actually be a step UP. It can’t look like every other year since 2015.

What does that look like? Well, the team as a whole gets off to a slow start. Not an alarmingly slow start, but an annoyingly slow start. The defense is utter shit, but the offense is just good enough (sometimes) to float around .500 for a while. Then, we go on a little mid-season run to get everyone flying high, before the offense collapses into itself and the we’re stumbling our way into the playoffs. We settle for yet another wild card spot, and we lose in the wild card round. While I’m exaggerating about the 2015 thing, it’s been a virtual reality since 2018 (there was a surprise division championship in 2020, only for us to lose to the Rams in the first round at home).

I can’t go through it again. I REALLY can’t go through it again when I know exactly what’s going to happen.

Winning in Detroit this week would go a long way in changing that perception.

For the record, I’m not even REMOTELY interested in any moral victories this week. We all know the storyline: the Seahawks are as low as a team can be. The Lions, meanwhile, finished 9-8 last year, knocking hated rivals Green Bay out of the playoffs in Week 18, and followed that up with a thrilling victory in Kansas City over the Super Bowl champs last Thursday to kick off the NFL season. They had a potentially-underrated off-season and draft, there’s both a lot of hype and anti-hype surrounding the Lions (many predicting them to win the NFC North; many also predicting them to be the team that most disappoints expectations), but one thing most people agree upon: they’re going to be fun and they’re going to score a lot of points this year. Now, with their 1-0 start, they play at home in front of a sellout crowd that’s going to be louder and more raucous than they’ve been since Barry Sanders’ heyday.

It’s a lot for the Seahawks to walk into.

The Lions are favored by 4.5 points. That line hasn’t really changed since the week began; we’ll see what happens as Sunday approaches. No one REALLY thinks the Seahawks are going to win. Odds say the Lions have a 2/3 chance of winning, which honestly feels low. The Seahawks are likely to be missing both offensive tackles. Devon Witherspoon is probably another week away from entering the starting lineup (who knows if he’ll even play at all this Sunday); Jamal Adams is probably a month away from returning to limited game action. JSN sure as shit didn’t look 100% last week, and I have no idea what’s going on with Lockett. The Seahawks just signed 41 year old Jason Peters off the scrap heap, who might HAVE to start this week, because Stone Forsythe is a joke. Meanwhile, Abe Lucas just hit the IR and we’ll see if he’s able to return this year and actually make a positive impact.

It’s a nightmare. I’m flashing on the Seahawks getting saddled with having the ball first, going 3 & Out, and the roof literally exploding off of that dome. It makes me physically ill.

I’m also flashing on Jared Goff carving up our defense with precision passes, and their running backs double-teaming us right in the pooper at a 5-yards-per-carry clip.

Maybe that all comes to fruition. Maybe these Seahawks are significantly worse than we thought. Maybe we just caught two teams at the wrong time of year, when they’re playing their absolute best. I’m not willing to completely throw out of bed the possibility that we lose by double digits once again.

But, it’s not like we haven’t been here before. There’s something fishy about a line like 4.5, after the Seahawks looked the way they looked last week, and the Lions looked the way they looked last week. Why isn’t it 6 or 7? If I was a dispassionate sports bettor, I’d be looking at the Lions like the lock of the week. I’m assuming the betting public will be on the Lions hot and heavy, if they aren’t already. What are the sharps doing, though? Where are they going to lean?

The Seahawks thrive in chaos. The Seahawks love being the underdogs. The Seahawks constantly defy expectations when you least expect it. There’s no real rational reason to pick the Seahawks to win this game. But, winning this game – dirty and ugly – is the most Seahawky thing I can think of. Especially if they go down 7-0 early in the first quarter.

There’s been nothing but bad vibes permeating throughout Seahawksland this week. Everything that could go wrong DID go wrong last week. We’re all just bracing for the 0-2 start, and the obituaries that will surely follow.

But, isn’t that what Week 2 is all about? Trying to figure out what’s real, and what’s an overreaction?

Look at fantasy. Think about all the players who stunk up the joint last week. Hell, I had a number of them on my teams! Tee “Zero Catches” Higgins, Joe Burrow, Christian Kirk, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Elijah Mitchell, the Steelers’ defense; they all did nothing or next-to-nothing last week. Meanwhile, Jordan Love, Zay Flowers, Brandon Aiyuk, Tyler Allgeier, Puka Nacua, Matthew Stafford, Jordan Addison, the Jets’ defense; they all killed it in week 1 (many of them for my bench, or on the waiver pile). Are all of those guys who stunk going to continue to suck? Of course not; I would bet on most of them turning it around this very week. Similarly, will Jordan Love play at an MVP clip, and will Flowers, Nacua, and Addison never have ANY rookie pitfalls? Of course not.

Guys have bad games. The good ones tend to bounce back the very next week. I still believe the Seahawks have a number of good guys on their team.

The question will be: is this a fundamental, deeply-rooted problem that goes beyond the individual talent level of guys like Dre’Mont Jones, D.K. Metcalf, Bobby Wagner, and Geno Smith? Is it the scheme? The coaching staff? The head coach? The general manager?

We’ll find out. For what it’s worth, I like the Seahawks to cover +4.5. I also don’t hate the notion of the Seahawks winning outright, but a 30-something percent chance – as I mentioned before – feels a little high. My fear is that the Seahawks look 1,000% better than they did last week, but they still fall short at the end. Either the Lions score late to win it, or we have the ball with two minutes to go and Geno is running for his life and getting sacked for his trouble.

0-2, here we come.

This Dumb Marshawn Lynch Story Is Dumb

When I was a kid, my mom would buy lottery tickets, and every once in a while – usually right before they announced the numbers on TV (remember when that was a thing?) – my mom would ask us what we wanted to do when we won.  And we’d perk up and get all excited, listing off all the stuff we’d buy, the places we’d see, the houses we’d live in.

And then we’d not win the lottery.  Because it’s the fucking lottery.  And we’d all be a little disappointed and return to stupid reality for the rest of the night.

It’s like that.  A little bit.  Like when you’re in high school or college and you’re sitting around with your friends making plans, talking about taking a trip somewhere or pooling your money together to open up a bar.  It’s not serious!  It’s not real!  But, you talk about it like it is, until it starts feeling real.  Then, you wake up with your hangover and it was all a dream.

It’s like that, again, a little bit.  Like sitting around worrying about what your friends are going to do after college, that FOMO feeling you have absolutely no control over.  What’s going to happen is going to happen, so what’s the point in getting all worked up over it?  Why dream about shit that’s never going to happen in a million years?  I’m not saying don’t have dreams, but only dream about something if you’re going to work to make it a reality; otherwise you’re just jerking yourself off.

This Marshawn Lynch thing is so stupid.  Will he come out of retirement?  WHO CARES?  I hate having opinions about hypotheticals!  But, we’re in the middle of March and there’s no NBA in Seattle, so I have literally nothing else to write about.  If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t write a damn thing about this ordeal until something ACTUALLY happens.

This is me, jerking myself off.  This post is my handful of cum.

I love Beastmode as much as the next guy and wish he’d never retired in the first place.  I wish he was playing for the Seahawks last year and I wish he would’ve dominated for us while Russell Wilson was hobbled.  He might not have gotten us to a Super Bowl, but he would’ve made all the difference in the world had he remained healthy for the full year.

But, he did retire, and he didn’t play a lick of football last year.  I think it’s dumb to want to come back after a layoff like that, but if that’s what he wants to do, more power to him.  If he wants to play for his hometown Raiders, all the better.  I think he’d fit in really well on that team and maybe push them over the top.  I also think the Raiders would be foolish to trade for him at the cap number he’s at now; they’d be much better off taking a flyer on him at the minimum, plus incentives.

Which is exactly why there’s zero chance the Raiders give up even a 7th round draft pick for him.  If you’re a Seahawks fan thinking otherwise, you’re deluding yourself.  The Seahawks have zero leverage in this thing.  They can’t hold Lynch hostage because they can’t afford the $9 million cap hit.  Besides, they wouldn’t hold him hostage, because he was a HUGE part of our success, and the franchise has eyes on remaining affiliated with him going forward.  I’m sure his spot in the Ring of Honor is only a formality.  Having him come back to raise the 12 flag is only a matter of time.  Hell, they might even want to retire his 24 at some point down the line.  They won’t be able to do that if they piss him off now by not letting him go to sign with Oakland.

Again, though, I go back to Lynch.  Why would he want to do this?  Why would he want to come back for the minimum?  Why would he want to put his body through the grinder and risk another serious injury?  He’s done it all!  He’s made millions, he’s got his ring, he’s got a pretty strong case for the Hall of Fame as it is, and he had the luxury of going out on top (or, at least, with the ability to play multiple seasons more).  How many running backs can say that, aside from Jim Brown and Barry Sanders?

NFL Twitter is great, because you stay current on all the latest news and you’re able to learn more about salary cap and draft prospects than you ever could just trying to sift through ESPN or SI.com.  But, I’ve read more God damned Tweets about Marshawn Lynch possibly returning over the past week than I care to, and it’s driving me fucking insane.  Let this PLEASE be the last word on this until something actually happens.

Thank you, and goodnight.

If Terrell Davis Is A Hall Of Famer, Why Not Shaun Alexander? Marshawn Lynch?

I was going to get to this earlier in the week, but work happened.  And, I didn’t want to half-ass this one.  And since there weren’t any other things I COULD half-ass, you get the 2-day gap in posts.

So, apropos of absolutely nothing whatsoever, the name Jamal Lewis popped into my brain, and I got it into my head that he had a crazy amount of rushing yards for a running back to NOT be in the NFL Hall of Fame.  As it turns out, he’s currently only 24th on the list, with 10,607 yards, and there are PLENTY of backs with 10,000+ yards who aren’t in the Hall and quite frankly don’t belong there.  As I look at Jamal’s numbers now, even though he’s one of a VERY small few to have a 2,000-yard season, it’s not a total shocker to see him not in there yet.  He does have seven 1,000 yard seasons in total, but only the one Pro Bowl/All Pro year.  I’ll let some Ravens fan make the case for Jamal Lewis; this is a Seattle-centric blog for Christ’s sake.  I’m here to talk about Shaun Alexander, and yeah, Marshawn Lynch, relative to the recently-inducted Terrell Davis.

So, when I looked at the list of the running backs with the most yards in NFL history – to check and see where Jamal Lewis stood – I went ahead and dug around to see where Terrell Davis landed.  Knowing nothing, aside from the fact that his career was relatively short compared to most running backs you consider to be Hall of Famers, I figured going in that he was sub-10,000 yards.  But, I figured he’d be in the 9,000 range.

NO!  Not even!  Try 7,607!

He’s 55th all time.  The only other Hall of Famers in his range or lower are the REAL old timers.  Like, before the Super Bowl was a thing.  Like, before the AFL and the NFL merged into a single league.

Now, for what it’s worth, I do think Terrell Davis belongs in the Hall of Fame.  But, you know, I’m more of an Eye Test guy.  When I say the name Terrell Davis, I think, “Yeah, that guy was one of the all-time greats.”  But, when you see 7,607 staring you back in the face, it’s enough to give you pause.  It gave me pause anyway!

I’ve always maintained that Shaun Alexander was and is a fringe Hall of Famer, but ultimately if you twisted my arm, I’d say probably not.  But, with 7,607 here to consider, I mean, come on!

Shaun Alexander finished with 9,453 yards (Lynch with a little less, so I’ll get to him later in the post).  If you discount his 4 games with the Redskins in the final year of his career, he spent 8 full seasons in Seattle.  Davis did what he did in 7 seasons in Denver, so the career lengths are comparable.  Alexander finished with exactly 100 rushing touchdowns and another 12 receiving TDs; Davis finished with 60 rushing and 5 receiving.  Alexander averaged 4.3 yards per attempt, Davis at 4.6, so not a HUGE difference there.  And, if you go by Approximate Value per Pro Football Reference (the higher the number the better), Alexander finished with a 79, Davis with a 78.

I mean, when you put it all down there like that, and you factor in the extra 1,846 career rushing yards and the extra 47 combined touchdowns, how is Shaun Alexander not even in the conversation and Terrell Davis is already in?

Politics aside – because I will say this:  it IS a popularity contest, no matter what you hear from anyone; if the voters don’t like you (*cough* Terrell Owens *cough*), you’re screwed – it’s kind of insane.  But, one thing we were told is that Terrell Davis’ induction is a referendum on the production he had in his Peak Years.  I think, going forward, for a lot of these players on offense – as the numbers skyrocket, as rules changes make the game more high scoring – unless you have just insane career totals, you’re going to need to build your case in your Peak Years, when you were at your very best.  How many Peak Years did you have, and how dominant were you in those years?

Terrell Davis was drafted in 1995.  He had a pretty good rookie year, but his very best years were 1996-1998.  From 1999-2001, he played in a grand total of 17 games and was out of football after that.  So, really, we’re talking about a 3-year span, but since he ended up in the top 10 in rushing in his rookie year, we’ll include that to give him a 4-year Peak.

  • In 1995, he ran for 1,117 yards and 7 TDs, good for 9th in yards and outside the top 10 in TDs.
  • In 1996, he ran for 1,538 yards and 13 TDs, good for 2nd in yards (behind Barry Sanders) and tied for 3rd in TDs with Ricky Watters, behind Curtis Martin’s 14 and Terry Allen’s 21.
  • In 1997, he ran for 1,750 yards and 15 TDs, good for 2nd in yards (behind Barry Sanders’ 2,000 yard season) and tied for 1st in TDs with Karim Abdul-Jabbar.
  • In 1998, he ran for 2,008 yards and 21 TDs, good for 1st in yards and TDs.

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl and first team All Pro three times, 1996-1998.  He won the NFL’s MVP award in 1998.  He led the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, winning the Super Bowl MVP the first time and ceding it to John Elway the second time.  He was placed on the 2nd team All-1990s team to boot.

So, that’s the resume, more or less.  How does that compare to Shaun Alexander’s Peak Years?  Well, he didn’t start as a rookie in 2000, which was understandable at the time – we still had a prime Ricky Watters giving us his all – but will likely go down as the reason why Alexander ultimately doesn’t make the Hall.  If he were to hang another 1,000 yard season on his career totals, with another 10 or so TDs, I don’t see how you could keep him out.  Regardless, I’m giving Alexander a total of 5 Peak Years, from 2001-2005.  He topped 1,000 yards each year and had no less than 14 rushing TDs in each of those years!  To wit:

  • In 2001, he ran for 1,318 yards and 14 TDs, good for 6th in yards and 1st in TDs.
  • In 2002, he ran for 1,175 yards and 16 TDs, outside the top 10 in yards, but tied for 2nd with Ricky Williams in TDs (behind Priest Holmes).
  • In 2003, he ran for 1,435 yards and 14 TDs, good for 8th in yards and tied for 3rd in TDs with Clinton Portis & the aforementioned Jamal Lewis, behind Ahman Green and Priest Holmes again.
  • In 2004, he ran for 1,696 yards and 16 TDs, good for 2nd (by ONE YARD behind Curtis Martin) in yards and 2nd in TDs behind LaDainian Tomlinson.
  • In 2005, he ran for 1,880 yards and 27 TDs, good for 1st in yards and tying a then-NFL record for TDs in a season (to be broken by LDT the very next year with 28, who holds it to this day).

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl three times (2003-2005), made first team All Pro one time, in 2005.  He won the NFL’s MVP award in 2005.  He led the Seahawks to just one Super Bowl appearance in the 2005 season (he likely would’ve been the Super Bowl MVP had the refs not screwed us over, but that’s neither here nor there).  And, he was placed on the 2nd team All-2000s team.

I guess, what you have to ask yourself is, what do you take more stock in?  Shaun Alexander had a longer Peak, and arguably a better one.  I mean, those touchdown totals are INSANE for a 5-year run!  Terrell Davis didn’t set or tie any single-season marks!  So, do you rank that higher, or do you rank Davis’ Super Bowl success higher?

You gotta admit, it’s a helluva story.  Terrell Davis helps the long-suffering John Elway get his only two Super Bowl titles as he rides off into the sunset.  While Shaun Alexander led an okay Seahawks reign in the mid-2000s, that only got to the lone Super Bowl, and lost it in frustrating fashion.

You might sit here and argue that Shaun Alexander had a couple of Hall of Famers in Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson to run behind, but Terrell Davis had a very good O-Line in his own right.  On top of that, let’s face it, the zone blocking scheme Denver was running back then was relatively new, and the NFL hadn’t really adapted to defending it.  Which is why you saw so many Denver running backs in those days plucked from the bottom of the draft and making huge impacts.  I’d put all of that as a wash, or even a little in Davis’ favor.

Where I think Shaun Alexander might have some trouble is that he spent most of his career in LDT’s shadow.  Sure, there were good running backs playing when Terrell Davis had his reign, but I don’t think there were as many as when Shaun Alexander was doing his thing.  The running back position as a whole really exploded in the early-to-mid 2000s.  I mean, shit, with Davis’ induction, now we’re talking about Priest Fucking Holmes having an argument to be included!  The guy only had 3 good years and was injured the rest of the time for fuck’s sake!

It’s a shame, too, because Shaun Alexander came up in the era where Fantasy Football really exploded.  If that has any effect whatsoever, then you have to remember that Shaun Alexander was ALWAYS a top 2 pick in any fantasy draft, with LDT.  The game of football, at its purest, is about scoring touchdowns and preventing the other team from scoring touchdowns.  There weren’t many running backs in the history of the league who had a nose for scoring touchdowns the way Shaun Alexander did.  In fact, looking at the leaderboard, Alexander is tied for 7th with Marshall Faulk for his 100 touchdowns.  He only falls to 13th in combined rushing & receiving TDs as well.  Davis is 48th & 120th respectively.

I dunno!  Maybe I’m a homer.  Or, maybe I’m a fucking purist and Shaun Alexander deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame!

Now, regarding Marshawn Lynch, I think he has an even-tougher road to hoe than Alexander in a lot of ways.  He has 6 seasons where he surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, his first two with Buffalo and his first four full years with Seattle.  He racked up a career total of 9,112 yards (37th all time) and 74 rushing touchdowns (24th all time), with another 9 receiving TDs.  I won’t discount his first two years in Buffalo, but I’d have to say his Peak Years were the first four full ones with Seattle, so let’s run them down now:

  • In 2011, he ran for 1,204 yards and 12 TDs, good for 7th in yards and tied for 3rd in TDs with AP and Ray Rice, behind Cam Newton and Shady McCoy.
  • In 2012, he ran for 1,590 yards and 11 TDs, good for 3rd in yards and tied for 5th in TDs with Doug Martin and Trent Richardson.
  • In 2013, he ran for 1,257 yards and 12 TDs, good for 6th in yards and tied for 1st in TDs with Jamaal Charles.
  • In 2014, he ran for 1,306 yards and 13 TDs, good for 4th in yards and tied for 1st in TDs with DeMarco Murray.

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl five times (2008, 2011-2014) and the first team All Pro once, in 2012.  No MVPs, but he led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning one, and should have won them both.  He was also stripped of a Super Bowl MVP award opportunity by not being handed the ball at the 1-yard line against the Patriots, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, obviously, the numbers aren’t really there for Lynch, compared to Alexander.  But, as I said before, it’s always so much more than just numbers.  Now, I’m not sure Beastmode is going to win many popularity contests, with the way he shunned the media in his later years – particularly in those two Super Bowl seasons – but I also feel like time will heal those wounds somewhat.  I guess it just depends on how many Hall of Fame voters were also those media people who were all bent out of shape about his antics.  I could see that going either way, but it’s hard to see that as a deal-breaker.

What’s very much in Beastmode’s favor is the fact that he was a motherfucking BEAST!  He had, without question, the greatest run in the history of the NFL, PERIOD!  And, if you search for a reel of highlights, I mean, he’s amazing.  For me, he’s on a short-list with guys like Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Jim Brown and maybe that’s it, of guys I just love to watch run with the football.  Guys who could do ANYTHING with the football!  With that mystique behind him?  Compared to Shaun Alexander, who has this reputation for being a bit soft (which I don’t think is totally fair, but it’s out there), I dunno.  I think that pulls Marshawn Lynch up even with Alexander, when you factor in total numbers plus the popularity contest element.

Then, take a look at playoff numbers.  Because I think this is obviously where Terrell Davis got over the hump, with the two Super Bowls and all that.  Davis is 6th all time in playoff yards with 1,140.  Each of the top 7 guys on this list (and 8 of the top 9) are in the Hall of Fame.  Ready for a shocker?  Marshawn Lynch is 8th on this list (and hence the only one of the top 9 not in the Hall) with 937 yards.  That, I think, is going to be a huge feather in his cap, if and when Lynch ever gets his day in the sun.

So, where do you look next?  I’ll tell you:  the era.  Shaun Alexander played in the last era of the great running backs.  Once he hung ’em up, and teams started realizing you could find quality running backs later in the draft, and pair them in these shared backfields teams have gone to, to mitigate injury risk and running back paydays, you just don’t see as many workhorses as you used to.  In that sense, Marshawn Lynch has a leg up, because he was a rare breed in that regard.  A workhorse and right up there at the top for his 4-year Peak run with Adrian Peterson and that’s about it.

At this point, once we start passing by the Hall of Famers in the first decade of the 2000s and get into the 2010s, you have to shift your expectations for what a Hall of Fame running back looks like.  You can’t just STOP putting running backs in the Hall of Fame, because their numbers aren’t like the video game numbers of the 1990s and early 2000s!

So, I could see a legitimate situation where Shaun Alexander never gets in (which would be a crime) and Marshawn Lynch does get in (which would be well-deserved).

I just hope the media guy who advocates for those two puts up a good fight, because I now think both are VERY deserving, especially if Terrell Davis is already in there.

Seahawks Look Like Their Old Selves In Beating The Lions

Well, that was something, huh?

That game was about as Seahawky as it gets.  No score in the first quarter, a slow build through the next two quarters, still a one-score game in the fourth quarter, until the Seahawks pour it on and win by 20, 26-6.

Just when I thought the offensive line would never be able to get its collective shit together, they put up their single best game of the 2016 season.  Quite frankly, this is what we’ve been waiting for all year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Well, except for maybe in this next game against Atlanta.  Or the game after that, should we be so fortunate as to somehow get past the Falcons.  Or, you know, the Super Bowl.  But, considering this game was do-or-die in itself, I guess I’ll take it.

It turns out I put too much ado into the Lions for the nothing we saw in that game.  The Matthew Stafford finger injury on his throwing hand proved to be one of the primary reasons why they never got anything going.  His throws were off target all day, and the ones that weren’t were dropped by his collective of what has to be the most maddening receivers in the NFL.  Pile on top of that the fact that they had to start two rookies in place of injured offensive line starters, and the fact that they haven’t had a running game since Barry Sanders retired, and I suppose I was worried about them for nothing.

I came into this post thinking we just saw Thomas Rawls’ career-best game, but I forgot he had some really dynamic performances in his rookie season before the injury.  Nevertheless, this was easily his best game of the 2016 season, and also the best-ever rushing performance by a Seahawks player in the playoffs, surpassing Marshawn Lynch’s game against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.  It was a nice reminder that Thomas Rawls has elite talent, but he just can’t stay healthy.

As a quick aside, it’ll be interesting to see what the Seahawks do with the running game for 2017.  This is probably a subject for another time, but between Rawls and Prosise, you’ve got two very different types of backs, with two glaring similarities:  they’re game-changers, and they can’t stay on the field.  It seemed like a no-brainer that the Seahawks would look to the draft – and maybe very high in the draft – to bolster that position, but with the very clear step forward in his progress, I wonder if Alex Collins’ power running puts some of that to bed.  For the Seahawks, you probably can’t have enough game-changing talent at the position, so they might very well make a first rounder or a second rounder their next running back project regardless.  But, I do wonder …

While I think the co-players of the game have to be Rawls and the O-Line (particularly Glowinski and Britt, who were called out all night during the telecast for their improved play), the guy everyone’s talking about is Paul Richardson.  What a coming out party!  He’s had big plays before, but they’ve been few and far between.  In this game, he had 3 catches for 48 yards, but each one seemed to be more difficult than the last!  Jumping over, around, and through defenders; getting interfered with on at least two of them (with the third going uncalled); you’d have to say most receivers need two arms to play the position, but I’m beginning to wonder about P-Rich.  What some are calling the Catch of the Year will go down as at least the most entertaining catch of the year.  4th and goal, Wilson lobbed it to the corner of the endzone but left it mighty short, causing P-Rich to adjust, causing the defender to interfere with him, which led to P-Rich inadvertently(?) grabbing the defender’s facemask and twisting it (uncalled), while he corralled the ball with his left hand for the game’s first touchdown.  Outstanding!  I don’t know if it’ll show up on any Year-End highlight reels by the NFL – considering it showed in equal measures one man’s athleticism and the league’s major problem with officiating – but it’ll go down as one of the most impressive catches by a Seahawk in the history of the franchise for sure!

The actual best receiver on the field was Doug Baldwin, though.  He pulled in a NASTY 42-yard catch near the sideline, which was one of his 11 receptions for 104 yards.  He was so good, he even caught a touchdown that was going to Jermaine Kearse near the end of the fourth quarter!  While I’ll always lament the team choosing Harvin over Tate, if that move means we were eventually able to make Doug Baldwin our #1 receiver, I’ll gladly take it, because he’s the best over ALL of those guys!

Defensively, it was another fantastic group effort.  Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles (again).  I don’t think Richard Sherman was targeted all game.  DeShawn Shead was real damn sticky all day.  Cliff Avril ended up with 2 sacks against his former team; Michael Bennett had 1.  We held them to 49 rushing yards on 15 carries, and we held Stafford to 205 yards passing.  And, even though he didn’t appear to show up on the stat sheet, I’d like to call out Frank Clark for being a force to be reckoned with along the line.  He’s not quite there yet, but he’s growing into one of the best pass rushers on this team, and I don’t think it’s crazy to say that he just might be this team’s very best as soon as next season.  Year 3 for Frank Clark:  WATCH OUT!

In the end, it amounts to the Seahawks moving on, to a matchup with the Falcons next Saturday.  And we get to obsess about the Seahawks for another week, which is always fun!

Marshawn Lynch Retired (and there was also a Super Bowl thingy)

One way or another, we all went into this offseason at least 98% certain that Marshawn Lynch had played his last game in a Seahawks uniform.  So, in that sense, what happened on Sunday isn’t really all that shocking.  Nevertheless, leave it to Beastmode to still manage to surprise us, both with his timing and execution.

✌

It really is more bittersweet than anything.  We all knew the day would come, and we all figured it would come sooner rather than later.  But, I wouldn’t have been upset at all to see him give it one more year.  Even though it probably would’ve done a number on our cap, and there’s a decent chance it would’ve smacked of a guy playing one year too long.  But, you know, sometimes it feels okay to just be a dumb fan who’d like to watch his favorite football player give it one more go.

I’m not upset, or even disappointed.  I totally get it.  The guy has done everything there is to do in the NFL.  He was selected in the first round of the draft.  He got to play in both conferences, on both ends of the country.  He had six 1,000-yard seasons.  He played for five playoff teams, two Super Bowl teams, and won it all once.  He racked up over 9,000 yards rushing, another almost-2,000 yards receiving, and a combined 83 touchdowns.  He even threw for a touchdown in his rookie season!  You trivia buffs will want to remember the name Robert Royal, tight end for the Bills for three years, as he was on the receiving end of Lynch’s only pass completion in the NFL.

Marshawn Lynch retires 36th all time in NFL history in total rushing yards (regular season), with 9,112.  The best comp is one we’ve heard a million times, Earl Campbell, who is a Hall of Famer and shows up 34th all time with 9,407 yards.  Except for a few old timers, the magic number to get as a running back is 12,000.  Everyone except Frank Gore, Edgerrin James, and LaDainian Tomlinson who has over 12,000 yards has made it; Gore, obviously, is still playing, LDT hasn’t been eligible until next year (I believe), and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before James makes it in (he’s nobody’s first-ballot guy, but he certainly belongs).  There are a whole mess of retired guys in that next tier – above Lynch, but below Edge – who have yet to make it in the Hall, and likely will NEVER make it in the hall (including guys like Shaun Alexander, Clinton Portis, Ricky Williams, Eddie George, Tiki Barber, Thomas Jones, Jamal Lewis, Ricky Watters, Warrick Dunn, Corey Dillon, and Fred Taylor).  But, early consensus appears to give Lynch a real shot.

Obviously, time will tell as to how this thing shakes out among Hall of Fame voters.  Lynch is a very polarizing figure among the media.  Some people hate him for his shenanigans the last few years (his not talking, then his bizarre Media Day appearances), while others couldn’t care less.  I would hope that voters would focus more on his on-field play, but even then, if you factor in the numbers, you have to ask why a guy like Lynch deserves to be in the Hall, while a media-favorite like Eddie George has repeatedly gotten the shaft.  There are ways to play the numbers in favor of both guys (total yardage vs. per-carry average, for starters), but if you strictly look at the numbers, there are a lot of overlooked guys Lynch would have to leapfrog over to make it into the Hall (good thing he’ll have Mike Sando in his corner).

I think Lynch belongs in the Hall of Fame, but I’m decidedly biased.  He actually reminds me A LOT of Edgar Martinez’s case to be a Hall of Famer.  Someone who, on the surface, doesn’t quite have the numbers compared to some of these other guys (Lynch and total yards; Martinez and total hits/homers/RBIs), but once you dig a little deeper, it seems so obvious why they should be honored.  For starters, just listen to how other players talk about them.  Go around the league and talk to guys who pitched from 1992-2003 and ask them who were the toughest batters to get out; just see how highly ranked Edgar falls among the people who know best.  Similarly, go around the league and talk to guys who played defense from 2007-2015 and ask them who the toughest running backs were to bring down; you won’t find many – if any – ranked ahead of Beastmode.  There are raw stats, and there’s The Way He Played The Game.  Edgar played a clean game in an era full of rampant cheating with steroids and whatnot.  Lynch played like a battering ram in an era where speed and elusiveness ruled the day.  They don’t make running backs like Lynch anymore.  I feel like that ultimately deserves more credit, compared to guys who are quick to go to the ground or run out of bounds.

There’s also the factor of shortened careers.  Edgar’s career was shortened in the sense that he should have been promoted to the Major Leagues WAY before the Mariners finally did so.  He could’ve had an extra 2-3 years added onto the beginning of his career, which likely would’ve given him the raw numbers to be in the Hall already.  With Lynch, you could argue he still has another 2-3 years left in his legs.  Even with the way he plays the game, he was only really seriously injured one time, in 2015, when that abdomen injury required surgery to expedite his return for the playoffs.  I don’t think anyone would’ve been shocked if the Seahawks released him from his contract this year, followed by him signing with the Raiders or 49ers or something, to play an extra couple years and get over that 10,000-yard hump.  But, you know, he would’ve been on the downside of his career, and by the end it probably wouldn’t have looked too pretty.  This way, Lynch goes out on his own terms, with his body still mostly intact.

We may never know the extent of what the game took away from Lynch, but I have a theory that the hits you take in your 30s do more long-lasting damage than the hits you take in your 20s.  I feel like if more of these guys who played too long gave it up the way Lynch and Barry Sanders and Jim Brown and others who went out while still in their primes did, we wouldn’t see nearly as many sad-sack cases of former players really struggling just to function.  Obviously, you can argue that the NFL shielded a lot of this from the players over the decades, but some of it has to be common sense.  You’re getting repeatedly hit, over and over again.  You suffer injuries and multiple surgeries, you’re probably going to have some issues later in life.  The warrior mentality is one thing, but playing through injury or overstaying your welcome isn’t doing anyone any good.  I have the utmost respect for guys who give it up in their primes, just as I have the utmost respect for players who take themselves out of the game when they’re too injured to actually help their teams.  Being a “warrior” is ultimately being a selfish asshole.  It’s why people soured on the legacy of Brett Favre – and to be perfectly honest, why I’ll sour hard on Peyton Manning if he tries to play even one more game.

The coolest thing about Beastmode’s “announcement” is that it happened during the Super Bowl.  Buttholes will try to spin it that Lynch was trying to outshine the Super Bowl, and make the day all about him, but those people are fucking dipshits.  For starters, literally nothing will ever overshadow the Super Bowl.  Isis could have literally descended onto the White House and jizzed all over it, and the Super Bowl would STILL be the number one story in America.  So, there was no way Lynch’s tweet would’ve gotten the attention it probably deserved, outside of the Seattle area.  He went out his way, which is 1) not talking about it to the media/not making a big to-do about a retirement tour or something; and 2) playing it so low key that most of the NFL fans outside of Seattle probably STILL don’t know that Lynch is retiring.

It’s a bummer that it’s all over.  To be perfectly honest, I like that he is retiring as a Seahawk, but he’s so fun to watch I wouldn’t even care if he played for another team (even the God damn 49ers).  I’d still cheer him on.  It’s going to be weird not having him back there next year, taking handoffs from Russell Wilson.  But, I’m glad he’s going out the way he wants to go out, relatively healthy and wealthy and wise and whatnot.  We may not get to watch him truck guys anymore, but there’s a seemingly endless number of clips online we can go back and watch until we’re blue in the face.

Beastmode, there was no one like you, and there’s no way to replace you.  I’m sure this isn’t the last I’ll have to say on the matter.

The Seahawks Face The Lions On Monday Night

With no Seahawks game on Sunday, I’m free to obsess about my fantasy football team, who’s already in a deep, dark hole thanks to Steve Smith getting injured in last night’s slugfest between the Ravens and Steelers.  In an effort to distract myself from what will surely be the first loss of many for Catalina Wine Mixer, I’ll try to focus on the real, important game on Monday night.

The Lions come to town!  Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, the return of Golden Tate, a criminally underused running game, a Suh-less defense.  It should actually be a pretty entertaining contest, even though the oddsmakers are predicting a Seahawks blowout.

What we’ve got going for us is that their offensive line is also a total and complete mess, hence why they struggle rushing the ball even though they’ve got an exciting rookie runner in Ameer Abdullah.  The Seahawks SHOULD have little trouble keeping their ground attack at bay once again, while at the same time generating significant pressure on their quarterback.  The fact that this is being played in Seattle only bolsters that argument.

What we’ve also got going for us is that their defense isn’t anything special.  So, in short, what I’m telling you is that this is pretty much every single Detroit Lions team we’ve ever seen since Barry Sanders retired.  Haloti Ngata is a big ol’ widebody and might pose some challenges to our running game.  But, he’s a significant step down from Ndamukong Suh in every way there is to be a defensive tackle, so I’m not too worried.  My worry MAY increase if Marshawn Lynch is sidelined again, but I liked what I saw from Rawls last week.  And, of course, the real question is whether our O-Line is improved enough to handle even a mediocre defense that the Lions may throw at us.  Don’t be shocked if, yet again, our offense starts slowly and frustrates for most of the first half.

Let me put it this way:  if I’m in a sportsbook while this game is going on, I’d put a large wager on the Seahawks being down at halftime (or, at the very least, not covering the halftime spread), parlayed with the Under.  Then, at half, hit up the sportsbook to bet the Seahawks to cover and the game to just crack the Over.  It’s a risky bet, but if I’ve seen any Seahawks games the last few years, I think it’s a winning one.

From everyone I’ve read, this game (more than most) should hinge on turnovers.  Matthew Stafford is a slob with the football, throwing interceptions like he’s dropping a plate full of spaghetti & meatballs on my God damned brand new carpet!  On the flip, the Seahawks have 0 interceptions and only 4 recovered fumbles in the first three games.  I wouldn’t worry about our defense in the creating-turnovers regard (the Bears were playing offensive football like old people fuck, and the Packers are the Packers and Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get picked off at home), but I think it’s also a little misguided to just expect the Seahawks to pick off Stafford 2-3 times in this game.

You know what you get with a game in Seattle.  You know you have to be extra extra EXTRA careful with the football, or you’re going to get steamrolled.  You also know that you’re most likely not going to connect on anything deep (especially when you can’t get Michael Bennett to jump offsides due to all the crowd noise).  So, as we’ve seen with almost everyone who’s played against us, expect a lot of shorter throws to open receivers.  Expect Stafford to complete a high percentage of those throws, leading to a lot of 2nd/3rd & shorts.  If we get any picks, then either Matthew Stafford is a complete moron (which, you know, don’t rule it out), or more likely the ball was probably tipped up into the air.

Either way, turnovers or no turnovers, this is still a dangerous Lions offense.  Yes, they’re 0-3, but they had to go all the way out to San Diego in week 1, then they had to go on the road to Minnesota in week 2, and they had to face the Broncos at home last week.  The Chargers are like the Lions in a lot of ways, with the Lions blowing a huge lead in the second half thanks to some shoddy defense.  The Vikings are probably better than we all expected, and they’ve got an up & coming defense that should carry them pretty far this year (at least in the hunt for a Wild Card).  And, the Broncos have one of the best defenses in football.  It’s going to take an A-Game out of our defense to match what the Broncos were able to do last week.

I’ll be really interested to see how the Seahawks look in this one.  So far, we’ve looked like crap for the first two weeks (albeit, on the road, and without a full defense), then we played probably the worst football team in the league last week at home.  This will be a good test to see where we are.  Are we closer to the teams who botched it on the road?  Or, are we closer to the dominant force we saw who shut out the Bears?  This game could go a long way towards shedding some light on how good this team really is.  If we blow it at home and fall to 1-3, we are in SEVERE trouble.  But, if we win – even in a close, ugly game – I’ll feel a lot more comfortable about our chances going forward.

As it stands, I’m pretty confident the Seahawks will prevail.  I’m sensing that this will be one of those standout Russell Wilson performances we tend to see so much in primetime games.  I wouldn’t even be shocked if we see a 300-yard passing/100-yard rushing day out of our quarterback, with the wealth spread out generously among Graham, Baldwin, Kearse, and Lockett.

The Nonsense Surrounding Super Bowl XLIX

I don’t like calling them “distractions”, because I don’t really think the players give two shits about all the crap people talk about in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.  They may be in awe of the whole experience of just playing in the big game, but all this other stuff?  It’s not going to affect how they prepare, how they practice, and ultimately how they play the game.  Once we hit kickoff on Sunday, all of this will be immediately forgotten.  As it should.

Of course, the biggest, most inescapable story of these last two weeks has been the circus surrounding the New England Patriots and their under-inflated footballs.  I’ve been kind of passively following along with this bemused indifference, but I’m sure if I was a Pats fan I’d be outraged.  You’re telling me that instead of celebrating our great season, everything is going to be boiled down to some bullshit that ultimately didn’t even matter?

Well, you know what?  I’m sorry, but that’s too damn bad.  Because for starters, people STILL won’t let go of the whole Seadderall Seahawks thing, even though like half of those suspensions were for marijuana anyway, and aside from all of that, adderall has about as much impact on a football game as under-inflated balls.  So suck it, Patriots fans.  Eat a dick.  Also, your hands aren’t clean in the whole suspension for banned substances issue.  Just be glad no one gives a shit about Aaron Hernandez anymore, because I’m pretty sure murdering multiple people out-weighs a simple brain stimulant.

Am I as tired of the issue with the footballs as everyone else?  Of course.  But, it speaks to a larger issue, and that’s how the Patriots are pathological cheaters.  And what’s more:  they’re obviously TERRIBLE at it!  I know there probably aren’t a ton of ways you can cheat in this day and age, what with there being cameras everywhere, and with everyone capable of going on Twitter to rat out virtually anyone doing anything.  But, you’d think with Belichick being this so-called “genius”, he’d figure out a way to cover his tracks better.

Obviously, them spying on the Jets is the bigger of the two scandals, but this thing with the footballs constitutes a trend.  They absolutely deserved to be raked over the coals, even if it had no effect whatsoever in their crushing the Colts last week.  Don’t forget, we’re talking about a team whose only focus is the legacy of their head coach and quarterback.  Sure, they care about winning the championship, but they care for the wrong reasons.  The Seahawks want to win for themselves and their teammates.  The Patriots want to win so they can feel validated.  So the franchise can be considered the most elite.  They’re focused on nothing but the history books, while the Seahawks are living in the now.  That’s not nothing.

The second-biggest story of Super Bowl week is the story that WE’RE all sick and tired of hearing about:  Marshawn Lynch.  Specifically:  Marshawn Lynch Not Speaking To Reporters and Marshawn Lynch Grabbing His Nuts.

Oh, Pats fans are tired of talking about balls?  Join the club.

It’s weird to hate something as much as I hate the NFL, while at the same time love an entity within the NFL as much as I do the Seahawks.  Will the NFL’s bullshit policies stop me from watching the game of football?  Of course not.  Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop bitching about them endlessly for being hypocrites, evil fuckers, and all around punk bitches.

You know what I want to see?  I want to see the Seahawks – in the waning moments of a triumphant victory this Sunday – collectively gather together and in unison grab their crotches.  You want to penalize us?  You want to fine us?  Fuck you, NFL!  If you’re going to do it to Marshawn, you’re going to do it to everyone!  The whole post-Super Bowl celebration, nothing but crotch grabs.  Count me in.

As far as the whole not talking to the media thing, I’m pretty much over my initial outrage.  Lynch has found a way to circumvent the NFL’s draconian rules, he gets to keep his money, these twisted old fools in the national media get to stick it where the sun don’t shine, and maybe we can all finally get over it and move on.  I mean, seriously, who cares?

One thing that causes me a little more concern are these reports of Marshawn Lynch retiring after the season.  I tend to believe that he WON’T retire, because that just sounds crazy to me.  But, then again, it sounded crazy to me when Barry Sanders retired.  It sounded crazy to me when Ricky Watters couldn’t get a deal anywhere once his contract with the Seahawks ended.  And, it was crazy when Robert Smith of the Vikings had the greatest season of his career and then CALLED it a career.

Look, I’m like 85% confident that Lynch won’t retire.  But, that needle keeps getting pushed a little more towards 50/50 with every new report that comes out.  I mean, it DOES kinda make sense.  The NFL keeps on with their bullshit rules and their bullshit crackdown … I mean seriously, with all the off-the-field trouble the NFL has had to deal with this year, from beating women to beating children to drunken driving to drug and alcohol suspensions, and THIS is their main focus?  Preventing Lynch from grabbing his junk while at the same time forcing him to interact with the media?  THIS is your big stand?

The NFL is pathetic.  And, if they’re not careful, they’re going to push one of the greatest running backs in the game today right out of the league.

The more I watch Lynch and the more I see what he means to this team, the more convinced I am that we’re fucked the day he walks away from us.  Think of how great we have it now, and think of how great we had it with Shaun Alexander.  Now, think of how awful we were with Julius Jones & Co.  Don’t take Beastmode for granted, because believe me, it can be A LOT worse.

A little more under the radar have been some interview comments in recent days.  I’m, like, 100% convinced the media looks for perceived slights against an opponent more than the players of either team.  It’s like everyone says:  if you need bulletin board material at this point in the season, then you don’t deserve to be there in the first place.  But, you gotta write about something, and the Super Bowl is the biggest event of the year.

Something that caught my eye was Jeremy Lane saying something to the effect of, “Gronk isn’t very good.”  Granted, it’s just another comment in a long line of brash, cocky musings from this team, but I dunno.  While I won’t condemn him, I’m more of the school of Let Your Play Do Your Talking.  More than anything, I just don’t like hearing our third-best cornerback calling out probably the very best tight end in the league.  I don’t NEED that!  I don’t want to look back on a game we’ve lost because Gronk exploded for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns.  I have all the confidence in the world that our defense will figure it out and keep his production to a dull roar, but you never know.  I never thought Antonio Gates would have the kind of day he had earlier this season, for instance.

Then, there was that thing with Brandon Browner calling for his teammates to attack Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas because they’ve got a couple bum wings.  For starters, stop it.  Just STOP.  He’s good friends with these guys.  He’s also – not for nothing – not the most eloquent speaker in the world.  I don’t think he literally wants people to hurt his friends.  But, yeah, do you go after those guys a little bit more, knowing they have this weakness about them?  Of course!  If you were a Pats fan, you’d be outraged if they DIDN’T attack these guys!

Finally, out of the hullabaloo that was Media Day yesterday, we got a nice little bit of reciprocity from LeGarrette Blount, who said something to the effect of the Seahawks’ defense isn’t immortal.  They can be beaten.  There we go.  If that’s not on par with what Jeremy Lane said, I don’t know what is.  I happen to agree with the sentiment, mostly.  CAN the Seahawks be beaten?  Of course.  We’re not out there shutting teams out every week; you CAN score on us.  But, it’s tough to know what he really meant by it.  We can be beat?  Yeah, four teams beat us this year alone.  But, what’s the context?

Does Blount think they can run up 30 points on us?  That seems a bit far-fetched.  Over 25?  It’s possible, but not too likely.  In the low 20s seems a bit more in range.  But, I’ll tell you this much:  if the Patriots beat the Seahawks, it will have more to do with how their defense shuts down our offense than their offense being overly dominant.

The difference between what Lane said and what Blount said should be pretty clear.  Lane attacked one guy.  And, Gronk is Gronk, I don’t think it’s going to phase him.  It might lead to Brady targeting him more, to make a point.  But, it’s not going to make Gronk run faster or catch better.  See, but Blount talked about our entire defense.  You don’t think he’s going to have guys barking in his face every time he’s stopped for a 2-yard gain?  And, pity the moments where we stuff him in the backfield; he’ll never hear the end of it.

Anyway, that’s all I can stomach.  We’re in the home stretch now.  Two more days of build up, then we can all get rowdy as fuck on Saturday in anticipation of the big day on Sunday.  Soak it all in.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 17

Man, what a ride!  Here we are, it’s the end of the regular season, and the bottom 20 teams have been chopped off, not to play another meaningful down until next September.  20 different fanbases at various points of unrest, mourning a season’s premature end.  And that number is going to increase by the week.  Two by two by two.  Until finally, when the clock stops ticking at the end of the Super Bowl, when there’s but one team standing.  One fanbase remaining, left to celebrate while everyone else looks on with equal parts jealousy and resentment.

We’ve been there.  Every year of our existence, we as Seahawks fans have done just that.  Watched.  Watched as others celebrated.  The Seahawks have been among the very worst and the very best, but we haven’t been THE best.  At one point or another, every season has ended; there are 32 teams in the league and 31 losers.  For 37 years, we’ve been losers.  It’s time to end that streak.  Now is the time.  Not “someday”, not “in the future”, now.

It’s a little obscene the way it all goes down.  You play 16 games in 17 weeks just to get to this point.  Then, you play 2-3 games to get to the Super Bowl.  And then it’s just one game.  One game to define your whole season!  At least in other pro sports, you get a series!  Or multiple series!  In football, if you have one bad game, you’re fucked.  One bad series, one bad play, that could be all it takes.

It makes you wonder, how many times does the true “best team” actually win it all?  For that matter, how many times is the “best team” the team with the best win/loss record?  There are stats that will break everything down, but ultimately can they be trusted?  You can use numbers to make almost any argument you want to make.  Which numbers hold more weight?  It’s as subjective as this here Power Rankings list, if you want to be honest.  Besides, in the end, no one gives a shit about the numbers.  It’s all about the team that wins the game on the field.

I’m not sitting here trying to disparage stat-heads.  By many accounts, if we chose the best team by the numbers, the Seattle Seahawks would be your world champs in 2013.  But, where’s the fun in that?  No, I’m not making fun of something I don’t understand; I’m just trying to wrap my head around the inconceivable.  All of this.  All the time we’ve spent with this team, through the last few decades and through the last few months, it all boils down to what’s going to happen in the next five weeks.

It starts this weekend.  What happens in the Wild Card weekend affects us pretty obviously:  it determines who the Seahawks play next week.  You can break that down even further:  some controversial play in one of the games might decide its outcome; and the butterfly effect takes hold.

The Seahawks can mitigate a lot of the chance involved on this journey by simply playing their best.  The Seahawks, playing their absolute best, are better than every other team playing its best.  But, there are so many other factors out there trying to prevent us from being our best, it’s useless to try to keep track.

All we can do is hope.  Hope our best guys get (and stay) healthy.  Hope more lucky bounces go our way than against us.  Hope we’re blessed with favorable matchups.  We’ve already taken one of the giant steps:  we’ve got a first-round BYE and home field advantage throughout.  But, those two things alone won’t win us through to the Super Bowl.  Our fans won’t be able to yell us through to the Super Bowl.  Cold and wet northwest weather won’t freeze us through to the Super Bowl.  Our players have to go out there, survive the opponents, survive the refs, and survive the luck element.

It’s up to the Seattle Seahawks.  We, as fans, are completely powerless.  All we can do (aside from yelling and screaming from the stands), is hope.  We’re in the best possible position, with the best possible home field advantage.  Now, we’ve got three more games.

Please, for the love of God, don’t fuck this up, Seahawks.

On to the rankings.

***

The Best:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (13-3) – We’re a flawed Super Bowl contender, but then again, who isn’t?
  2. Denver Broncos (13-3) – Peyton Manning certainly seems to be a man on a mission this year.  Moreso than in years past.

The Second-Best:

  1. Carolina Panthers (12-4) – That’s how you TCB at home against an inferior opponent to lock up the first-round BYE.  Let the opposing team’s center hike the ball to no one as they’re driving for the game-winning score.
  2. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) – Since I now fear only Peyton Manning, and all the great defenses, San Francisco gets a little Power Rankings Bump.
  3. New England Patriots (12-4) – It’s a nice story, and a helluva coaching job by Belichick, but this train is going to derail before the Super Bowl.  Mark my words.
  4. New Orleans Saints (11-5) – I want you, Saints!  You probably scare me the LEAST!  Your defense will be a nice little boost for our offense, which could use the shot in the arm.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – I feel like the Colts will be favored over the Chiefs – who they recently beat, on the road – but I still don’t like the Colts to win that game.  Call me crazy!
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) – They benched all those guys and still played a helluva game.  You gotta like that if you’re a Chiefs fan.

The Rest:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) – OK, so it’s the Eagles I fear the least, but the odds are pretty much 0% that we face the Eagles in the playoffs; there’s no way in HELL they make it to the NFC title game.
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) – San Diego at Cincinnati could be the best game of the week, or the ugliest.  Depends on which Philip Rivers and which Andy Dalton we see.  Consider this one a complete toss-up.
  3. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) – Here’s the world’s smallest violin just for the Cardinals not making the playoffs.
  4. Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) – I was gonna call you out for not going for two points, but you won, so I guess the ends justifies the means?  No?  It doesn’t?  Your coach is going to fuck up something crucial in the playoffs?  OK, got it.
  5. San Diego Chargers (9-7) – I never thought you had it in you.  And you very nearly didn’t, thanks to the KC kicker missing a chip-shot.
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – Steelers!  You almost made me the smartest man in the room!  If I’m remembering correctly, I picked you to make it into the playoffs before the season started.  It’s too bad, because there’s nothing I would have rooted harder for than a rematch of Super Bowl XL.
  7. Baltimore Ravens (8-8) – Anyone else relieved that we don’t have to see the Ravens in the playoffs?  Not because I’m afraid they’d make the Super Bowl.  Just because I’m sick of watching their brand of boring football.
  8. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Cut Jay Cutler.
  9. Miami Dolphins (8-8) – I wish I could go back in time and skull-fuck all the morons who thought the Dolphins would make the playoffs.
  10. St. Louis Rams (7-9) – Part of me hopes the Rams trade their #2 overall draft spot for more draft picks.  But, that’s the same part of me that wants their sinking ship to go down with Sam Bradford.
  11. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – You mean, it’s NOT just Tony Romo who throws late-game picks?  What is this world coming to?
  12. New York Giants (7-9) – Watch out for those Giants in 2014 … if they can figure out a way to get younger in a hurry on the defensive side of the ball.
  13. New York Jets (8-8) – Steelers fans have to LOVE the Jets for their effort the last two weeks.  It didn’t work out, but you’ve got some love from the steel workers of America.
  14. Detroit Lions (7-9) – Way to bend over and take the second half of the season up the ass.
  15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) – Holy crap, they fired the coach.  Finally!
  16. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – So long, Tony Gonzalez.
  17. Buffalo Bills (6-10) – Whatever.
  18. Cleveland Browns (4-12) – You fire your coach after one year?  What, is his name Jim Mora or something?
  19. Tennessee Titans (7-9) – I got nothing.
  20. Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1) – Did Leslie Frazier deserve to be fired?  I would argue not!  Yes, they were bad, but that’s due to roster construction.  Fire the GM!  Frazier turned almost this exact team into a playoff team in 2012; now he’s unfit, one year later?  I don’t get it.  On a related note, isn’t it depressing when a bad team’s only good player is a running back?  At best, all he can do is get you IN the playoffs, but he can’t help you advance unless he has the proper pieces around him.  (See:  Barry Sanders).  I really feel for Adrian Peterson.  If it’s any consolation, it’s only a matter of time before the Seahawks trade for him (since, apparently, that’s where we get all of our players now).
  21. Oakland Raiders (4-12) – Yup.
  22. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars! (actually, that’s YOUR St. Louis Rams player who verbally abused the ref in Sunday’s game, but I couldn’t find a good one for the Jags this week)
  23. Washington Redskins (3-13) – Is there more of a no-brainer than firing Shanahan?  On an unrelated note, is there any way to get Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones together, managing one team?  Some men (me) just want to watch the world burn.
  24. Houston Texans (2-14) – Take that trip to Disneyland, Texans, you’ve earned it.

Mariners Complete First Sweep Of The Season

I decided to get my sports nerd on this weekend.  It all started on Saturday morning.  I was coming off of a night of comedy at the Moore Theater (Sub Pop’s 30th anniversary treated us to the likes of Marc Maron, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Jon Benjamin, Jon Glaser, Kyle Dunnigan, and Kurt Braunohler.  Somehow, I escaped the night unscathed by hangover, which left me most of the day Saturday to fuck around (before going to the Sub Pop music fest in Georgetown that night, featuring Mudhoney & Built To Spill).

On a lark, I started following DJ’s Sportscards on Facebook and noted they had a 25% off sale in celebration of their 25th anniversary.  As a child, I collected massive amounts of football cards.  Starting in 1988 and running through 1990 (with a little spillover into 1991), I was treated to a pack or two of football cards every week (as I had pretty nasty allergies and had to go in for allergy shots 1-2 times a week).  1988 Topps (of which I now have a complete set), 1989 Pro Set, Topps, and Score (of which I have a smattering), and 1990 Pro Set (of which I now have a complete set, which is pretty massive and required a lot of help from eBay).  My furor for buying packs of cards started to wane in 1991 (my tenth year of existence) in favor of buying individual cards of my most favorite players (which would cost more money, but were much more satisfying to display).

Over time, I gave up on football cards altogether in an effort to amass the biggest collection of rock n’ roll compact discs you’ve ever seen (at one point, I was signed up for Columbia House’s CD club under three different family names, to buy the minimum and quit, before starting all over again).  Nowadays, I keep my sports memorabilia to a minimum.  Part of that has to do with the fact that there haven’t been too many Seattle sports stars of late that I’ve wanted to openly display my affection for.  Part of that has to do with me not having a whole lot of disposable income (until recently).

But, with the knowledge of Felix’s long-term extension, and with guys like Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and Richard Sherman on the Seahawks, I can feel the bug starting to burrow itself into the part of my brain that’s willing to throw money around in large clumps.

So, with nothing else to do on Saturday, I went to DJ’s Sportscards and bought a box of 2012 Topps football cards (specifically 2012 Topps Magic).  24 packs per box, 8 cards per pack, with a guarantee of 3 autographs per box.  Truth be told, these are some pretty cool-looking cards, with lots of different types of random inserts (and, for some reason, identical cards that are 2/3 the size of a normal card).  I was hoping to get a rookie Russell Wilson, but no dice.  I did get two different RGIII rookies, two different Luke Kuechly rookies, two different Doug Martin rookies, two different LaMichael James rookies, a Kirk Cousins rookie and a Stevan Ridley rookie.  And, for some local flavor, I got a Jermaine Kearse rookie, a Sidney Rice, a Robert Turbin rookie, a Chris Polk rookie (for some reason, even though he hardly played last season), a Golden Tate, and a Bobby Wagner rookie.  The signed cards were less than impressive:  Quinton Coples, Ryan Broyles, and Montario Hardesty.  Also, randomly, this set includes some old timers, so I have the likes of Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, and Barry Sanders.  One box gets me nowhere NEAR the complete set, but I like them enough to at least make a second attempt at a box (which is pretty pricey at over $100, so suffice it to say this won’t be a weekly endeavor).

Which leads me into Sunday, where I woke up once again sans hangover.  At around 10am, with a 1:10pm first pitch, I decided to head over to the Mariners game.  I left my apartment at 11, walked to the Link tunnel downtown, and was inside Safeco by noon-ish.  I bought a ticket at the box office and it was like the lady could read my mind!  I told her I wanted an outfield seat.  She said she could get me in the third row in the lower right field, but if I wanted to sit back a ways, I wouldn’t be surrounded by so many people.  I told her that sounds delightful, let’s try to get me on an aisle.  So, I sat in the first seat in the last row in section 108 and pretty much had the row to myself for the first couple innings before people started filling in around me.

The Mariners featured a dream line-up for me (which goes to show you how uninteresting my dreams are):

  1. Brad Miller (SS)
  2. Nick Franklin (2B)
  3. Raul Ibanez (LF)
  4. Kendrys Morales (DH)
  5. Kyle Seager (3B)
  6. Justin Smoak (1B)
  7. Michael Saunders (RF)
  8. Mike Zunino (C)
  9. Dustin Ackley (CF)

Sundays are so often squandered with giving guys days off (or “rest” even though, come on, it’s baseball, you can’t play every day?) and playing your bench.  I can’t stand it!  But, we were treated to a day without Jason Bay, without Henry Blanco, without Brendan Ryan, and without Endy Chavez.  Who could ask for anything more?

On the line, we had a bunch of compelling stories.  First and foremost, would the Mariners extend their team-record string of games with a home run to 22?  Answer:  yes, thanks to Michael Saunders’ two-run bomb in the second inning to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead.

Also on the line:  would guys like Miller, Franklin, Seager, and Smoak continue their hot-hitting ways?  Answer:  yeah, sort of.  Miller went 1-4 with a run scored to bring his slash line to .246/.324/.393.  It’s not the best line you’ve ever seen, but after a semi-slow start, it’s exciting to see what this kid is capable of.  Franklin went 0-1 with three walks in his first three plate appearances, to bring his slash line to .268/.337/.451.  He’s a little on-base machine and it looks like he’s going to be putting up high-quality at-bats and making life miserable for opposing pitchers for years to come.  Seager went 1-3 with a run scored and a walk, to bring his team-leading line to .293/.359/.488.  This guy is going to be a perennial All Star VERY soon.  And, finally, Smoak went 2-3 with a walk, a double, and a run scored to bring his line to a very-respectable .272/.372/.431.  Those are four guys who represent a core foundation for this team.  When was the last time we could say we had four hitters we could count on?

Shit, fuck that, because there’s also Ibanez and Morales to consider.  SIX!  Six guys we can count on in our line-up!  Unreal.

The third storyline:  what about our struggling youngsters?  Saunders, Zunino, and Ackley.  Well, like I said above, Saunders had that 2-run homer in his 1-3 day.  He’s currently batting .225, but it feels like any time now he’s going to go on a hot streak and bring that up to the .260-.270 range.  Zunino, I would argue, is looking better every day.  He had a hit and a sac-fly to bring in a run (in a text-book manufactured run-scoring situation in the fourth inning, with a single, a walk, and a Saunders sac-fly preceeding Zunino’s RBI).  Also, Zunino’s strong throwing arm makes me quiver with sexual excitement, so there’s that.  Ackley, unfortunately, has not brought his success in Tacoma with him to the Majors.  He went 0-4 and is still batting .205.  His at-bats don’t look QUITE as hopeless as before he was sent down, but he’s not getting any kind of results either.

The final storyline going into this game was Hisashi Iwakuma.  Coming into this game, he was riding a string of five consecutive sub-par starts:

  • 5 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts in Oakland
  • 7 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 homers, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts vs. Oakland
  • 8 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs, 2 homers, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts vs. Chicago Cubs
  • 6 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs, 2 homers, 1 walks, 2 strikeouts in Texas
  • 3 innings, 8 hits, 6 runs, 3 homers, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts vs. Boston

All told, that’s five starts, a little less than 6 innings per, with 6 and a half hits per, 4 and a half runs per, less than 4 strikeouts per, and a whopping 10 total homers.  Not good numbers for any starting pitcher, but ESPECIALLY not good for a guy going into his first All Star Game.  You’ve got people talking about how he didn’t deserve the honor (even though he had the American League’s leading ERA when he was picked) and you even have people talking about trading him at this year’s deadline to see what we can salvage from him.  For the record, I don’t think we should trade him.  I think he had a cold streak as all pitchers do.  Still, it was important for him to come out and be on top of his game.

And, to his credit, he was very strong against the Angels.  7 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 1 homer, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.  The homer was a solo shot by Mark Trumbo, but for the most part he was able to keep them off-balance and spread the hits out.  After a shaky 6th inning where he gave up 2 runs to bring the game to within a run, I thought Wedge was playing with fire by keeping him in there.  At that point, batters 1-8 had all seen him three times (with #9 hitter Erick Aybar already having gone 2-2).  Yes, his pitch count was low (in the 80s), but with the top of the lineup (featuring best player in the game Mike Trout in the 2-hole) coming up in the 7th, I didn’t like our chances.  But, again to his credit, Iwakuma went out there and shut ’em down in order (punctuating it with a strikeout of Trout).

Which brought up a bonus storyline:  how would the bullpen fare?  To be sure, the bullpen has struggled to say the least this season.  Not this time, however, as Furbush nailed down the 8th inning hold and Tom Wilhelmsen (still in a sort of time-share with the closing duties) locked up his 19th save of the season.  I like Wilhelmsen (well, really, I like all these guys, more or less), so I hope he’s able to turn it back on and start dominating again.  Of note was his complete lack of any strikeouts today.  His strikeout rate is pretty pisspoor, so that’s gonna have to change.

Nevertheless, the Mariners won 4-3.  It’s the first sweep of the season, and their first 3-game winning streak since the beginning of May (there is no 4-game winning streak).  They go into the All Star break 9 games under .500 and still in fourth place in the AL West, but they also go into the All Star break on an 8-5 streak.  We’re not talking about the Mariners in contention or even scratching their way back into contention.  Right now, we’re just talking about some exciting baseball.  With the kids starting to improve by the day, relying less and less on the veterans to win ballgames.  And, we’re talking about the team trying to save the jobs of Eric Wedge and Jackie Z.  The second half should be VERY interesting (that is, until the Seahawks start to take over the city like a rampaging Cloverfield).

All in all, a great weekend for geeking out on sports, comedy, and music.  To put a capper on it, they introduced the All Star Game jerseys.  They’re blue and pretty cool looking, so when I got home after the game I bought a Felix jersey.  It should be here in a week or two, and I plan to wear the hell out of it.