Myles Gaskin Is Returning For His Senior Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Huskies Head Into Their BYE Week With More Questions Than Answers

Mostly on the offensive side of the ball.  Primarily with the quarterback position.

Thanks to playing in Hawaii to kick off the season, the Huskies were blessed with four non-conference games.  Thanks to those four teams being terrible, the Huskies were blessed with four victories.  It had appeared, going into last Saturday’s Stanford game, that the Huskies were finally starting to gel.  The running game was pretty solid.  The defense was rounding into shape after a shaky first couple of games.  And while the passing game had yet to really flourish, if we just played our game and limited turnovers, we had as good a chance as any to beat Stanford on our home field.

So, what did we learn from our first defeat of the season?  Well, we learned that the Huskies have joined the likes of Oregon State, Utah, and Colorado among the winless in conference games.  That’s … less than ideal, even if it’s only the one game.  We learned that Stanford is EXACTLY who we thought they were.  A great defense, a pretty good offensive line, and a quarterback who doesn’t do much more than manage the game with his legs.  Kevin Hogan tied for the team lead in rushing attempts, going 14 for 53 yards and a TD; but he only threw 17/26 for 178 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.

Normally, that’s a pretty pedestrian day from a quarterback playing for an upper echelon program.  But, on Saturday, he out-played Cyler Miles like nobody’s business.

Cyler Miles just isn’t very good.  If Kevin Hogan is a Game Manager, Cyler Miles is a Game Towel Boy.  Yeah, he limits turnovers, but big fucking deal if we can’t move the ball down the field!

The offensive line is getting a lot of flak in this whole thing – and I’m not going to be the one to vociferously defend them – but look at it this way:  if the quarterback is no threat to either challenge the defense deep or make good on his long passing attempts, how would you arrange your players if you’re the defensive coordinator going up against the Huskies?  Wouldn’t you load the box and play man coverage on the receivers to take away the run and the little bubble screens we like to throw?  Wouldn’t you put wave after wave of blitzing pressure on Cyler Miles until he’s able to prove that he can handle it and make you pay?

With Keith Price and some of our receivers who have moved on, the Huskies had a deep threat to keep defenses honest.  That’s why our run game was so effective, with essentially the same exact sub-par offensive line performance.  Yes, Bishop Sankey and Chris Polk were both elite college runners, but there’s no saying that Lavon Coleman can’t also be an elite runner.  He just needs a chance.  And, he won’t get that chance if defenses are overloading the box.

But, here’s the thing:  what do we do?  Quite frankly, this BYE week couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the Huskies.  They can use this extra week of practice time one of two ways:  either groom Lindquist or Williams as your starter the rest of the way, or take advantage of the extra practice by refining Miles’ awareness and handling of the offense.  Figure out which areas he can improve upon and work on helping him improve, while at the same time tweak the offense to fit his skillset.  And, for the love of God, encourage him to pull the ball back on some of these zone reads and take advantage of the defense’s over-pursuit!

And, so help me, if you don’t figure out how to get John Ross a minimum of 10 touches on offense per game, I don’t know what else to do with you.  You’ve got an elite-level NFL talent at your fingertips, USE HIM!  Don’t try to force the ball to Mickens.  It’s absolutely unconscionable that Mickens has 29 offensive touches while Ross only has 12 (I don’t care if Ross missed an entire game with injury).  There’s no excuse for this offense to be this bad, regardless of who is at quarterback.

On the flipside, the defense is pretty great and it’s only getting better.  Granted, we’ve yet to play an elite offense at the FBS level, but I’ve been REALLY impressed with how suffocating we can be at times.  Timing can sure be a bitch when it comes to college football.  We’ve got all this amazing defensive talent that’s going to leave after this season, and we can’t take advantage of it because we don’t have a quarterback who knows what he’s doing.  It’s one thing to look good against the dregs of the conference, but if we’re going to stink against Stanford and Oregon and the like, then we’re no better than we’ve been the last four years.

I’m going to hold off on criticizing the coaching staff too much in this early going.  After all, we don’t really have a full allotment of Coach Pete’s personnel.  For instance, I wonder if he would’ve gone after ANY of the quarterbacks we have on our roster right now (at least the ones that aren’t redshirting).  But, I will say that fake punt was an unmitigated disaster.  Here’s a tip:  if you’re going to fake punt by direct-snapping to Shaq Thompson, then make Shaq Thompson a member of your regular punting unit.  So, you know, his presence doesn’t IMMEDIATELY tip off that it’s going to be a fake.  That’s pretty much bluffing 101 right there:  don’t tip your hand.

If I’m revising my outlook on this team, I’ll tell you this much:  the game on October 11th against Cal is a Must Win.  For starters, the Bears are not very good.  But, it’s a road game, so you can never be too confident.  Following that, we go to Oregon, then come back home for Arizona State (both pretty good teams).  Losing at Cal could see us embark on a 4-game losing streak to fall to 4-4 and desperately needing to scrape together two more wins just to be bowl eligible.

When you start the season 4-0, bowl eligibility should NEVER be a concern.  From head to toe, the Huskies are the better team when compared to the Cal Bears.  If we don’t beat them, then there’s a legit chance that we could theoretically lose any and all the rest of the games on our schedule (okay, probably not Colorado, but now that I said that, just watch what happens on November 1st).

It’s Official: Bishop Sankey To Turn Pro

It’s funny, when I first heard about Bishop Sankey, it was because he defected from his committment to go to Wazzu, specifically to come to the University of Washington.  I didn’t hold a lot of high expectations.  I mean, if he was nearly a Cougar, how good could he possibly be?

Sankey had limited carries in 2011, as Chris Polk was still handling the bulk of the mail.  I didn’t think I’d see another runner like Polk for YEARS, maybe even decades.  I certainly didn’t think I’d see another runner like Polk the very next season!

You could argue that Sankey’s 2012 season was better than ANY season Polk ever delivered (and Polk finished his career as one of the very best Husky running backs of all time).  Sankey had 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns (5.0 yards per carry), to go along with 33 receptions for 249 yards.  In his first full season as the lead Husky running back, Sankey proved he was someone very special.

And then he came back for 2013 and totally shattered everyone’s expectations.

You’re looking at the new single-season leader for a Husky running back.  1,870 yards and a whopping 20 touchdowns (5.7 yards per carry), to go along with 28 receptions for 304 yards and 1 receiving touchdown.  For the record, the last single-season rushing leader was Corey Dillon with 1,695 yards in 1996. 

Sankey averaged over 140 yards per game this year!  All but two of his games saw Sankey rush for over 90 yards (and one of those was against Idaho State where he ran for 77 yards on only 4 carries).  In his career, he’s had 16 games with 100+ rushing yards and 4 games with 200+ rushing yards.  His career day was against Cal this season, where he ran for 241 yards on 27 carries.

With ASJ (where rumors were running rampant that his financial situation was going to force him into entering the draft), I was 100% sure that he would not be coming back for the 2014 season.  With Sankey, I was still pretty confident that he’d leave, but I’ve been surprised before.  Still, when you consider the running back position and the pounding they take on a game-in, game-out basis, now is the time.  Sankey carried the ball a total of 616 times in the last two years (with an additional 61 touches through the air).  He was far-and-away the best player on this offense and almost to a fault we relied on him way too much.  It was necessary, of course, because we wouldn’t have been nearly as good without him.  I’m just glad he survived and looks to be in pretty good shape going into the 2014 draft.

They’re projecting him to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick.  That’s impressive considering NFL teams aren’t selecting running backs NEARLY as high (or as frequently) as they’ve done in decades past.  There are no injury concerns that I’m aware of, so there is no reason for him to fall like Polk did.  I think he’s going to be an elite running back in the league for many years to come.

Honestly, I think a team like Baltimore should look HARD at bringing him in and replacing Ray Rice.  I think he could step in TOMORROW and be a better running back than Rice.  Sankey has the running chops, obviously, but he’s also a quality pass-catcher and an elite blocker.  He should be an every-down back; I just hope he finds a quality organization (outside of the NFC).  Other teams who might want to take a look at him would be the Giants, 49ers (Gore isn’t getting any younger), Miami, and maybe even Houston (if they let Tate go in free agency and get rid of Foster’s oppressive contract).  As much as I’d like to see him in a Seahawks uniform, he doesn’t make a lot of sense.  We JUST drafted Christine Michael last year in the second round and he looks like he’ll be a game-changer in his own right, just as soon as he’s given a chance to produce.

I’m happy for Sankey.  He’s done everything we could have possibly asked of him in a Husky uniform; now it’s time for him to become a star in the National Football League.  I’m also not too concerned about the Huskies’ situation going forward either. 

I REALLY hope Deontae Cooper gets a shot to be our #1 back.  He was able to stay healthy throughout 2013 and put on a clinic in that Oregon State game.  It looks like his jets are back, giving him the burst to be a big play machine for us next year. 

We’ve also got Callier, who I still see as more of a change-of-pace back.  He also kept himself healthy in 2013, but looked a step slower than he did pre-injury.  One would hope that Callier will be back to full speed next year.

Finally, Dwayne Washington, in spite of some fumble problems earlier in the season, is another option with some quicks.  He, as well, worked some magic in that fateful Oregon State game, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a chance to show what he can do.

We’re loaded, is what I’m trying to say.  Barring injury, running back (and the running game in general, with Cyler Miles at the helm) will be the strongest part of our team in 2014.  Coach Pete has the dedication to the run that we, as Husky fans, have come to rely upon.  This isn’t a time to mourn the loss of Sankey.  It’s time to celebrate all that he’s done for the program and wish him well in his next life.  We’ll be fine.  And clearly, so will he.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 14

You always read about how everyone loves fantasy football, how it makes the game more exciting, how it has turned the NFL into far-and-away a more popular sport than it ever was … but you never read about how fantasy football is a horseshit institution full of heartbreak and agony!

Every year, I ask myself, “Why do I do this?”  And yet every year, there I am, suckling at the teet of Yahoo’s free fantasy football game.  I’m not here to piss and moan about Yahoo – I’d be writing this even if the old stalwart Sandbox.com was still around.

Unless you somehow lucked into far-and-away the best team in your league, there’s nothing but frustration going on!  You obsess about setting your lineup.  You obsess over who’s out there on waivers.  You obsess on Sunday morning, trolling Twitter for the latest injury updates.  Then, you forget to check the fucking WEATHER, and you come to realize Torrey Smith is out there playing in a blizzard and you were THIS CLOSE to picking up Marcel Reece at the last minute, but you didn’t want to be That Guy who tinkers with his lineup at the last minute in a week where you need to win to make the playoffs!

Then, you sit there all day on Sunday and you’re just miserable.  You’re dead inside because your fantasy team is sucking dick that day and it totally takes you out of the moment of the game you’re watching right now.  The game you’re watching not necessarily because you have a rooting interest in any of the players (although, indeed, I’m paying the price for having Colin Kaepernick on my team going up against the Seahawks defense), but because you have a rooting interest in the TEAM.  Oh, the Seahawks are losing?  Fuck that, I’d trade a million Seahawks losses if it meant I could win my Fantasy Championship!

And then you realize how crazy that sounds.  Then, you try to brush it all aside and keep your eyes on the bigger picture.  Your team – your flesh and blood team that you’ve been following since you were five years old – is in the middle of its very best season ever.  And you’re sitting here worried about fucking fantasy football?

That’s when you start to sympathize with some of these old fucks out there.  Who keep saying that fantasy football is ruining the game.  Of course, they don’t say that much anymore, because they’ve been drowned under a sea of Everyone Else who loves the fucking game and is involved in not just one, but multiple fucking fantasy teams.  I’ve been guilty of that.  All of it.  Mocking the elderly.  Having multiple fantasy teams (though, thankfully, I’m now down to just the main one, and even then I’m looking for some sort of clean exit strategy).

In a way, Fantasy Football IS ruining the game.  It’s taking away from what’s REALLY important, and that’s illegal sports gambling!  Who gives a fuck about whether Jordy Nelson scored a touchdown when the miracle Vikings/Ravens game is about to cover the Over inside the final two minutes of the game???

And who gives a fuck about your fantasy team making the fantasy playoffs when your real team is still dialed into the #1 seed?

Once you’re able to let that sink in, you start to realize it’s not so bad.  I’ve still got the consolation bracket, which in my league means you’re fighting for the #1 pick in next year’s draft.  I’ve got a number of quality choices for keepers on my team, so I’m not scrambling.  All in all, I’m set up quite well for next year!

Then, you take a look at the message boards and your asshole friends are there to remind you of your futility.  Don’t get sucked in!  Turn off the web browser, go back to your Christmas specials.  Take a deep breath and relax.  There are more important things going on.  Like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers eating shit.  Like Gonzaga basketball is NEVER winning a national championship.  Like the San Francisco 49ers are still WELL behind the Seahawks for the NFC West and are still in a dogfight to even make the playoffs!

Did that about cover it, you chickenfuckers?  Until next year then, when I somehow get sucked back into this fucking farce.  God, I hate Fantasy Football.

On to the rankings.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (11-2) – 14-2 just doesn’t have the same ring as 15-1.
  2. Denver Broncos (11-2) – Russell Wilson is not the MVP.  He was never going to be the MVP.  Peyton Manning is, was, and always will be the MVP.

The Rest:

  1. New Orleans Saints (10-3) – The Saints now have control in the NFC South, but they still have to go back to Carolina in two weeks.
  2. New England Patriots (10-3) – A win is a win, even though they really should have lost to the Browns.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) – Andy Reid’s team defeats his old hated rivals in the Redskins.  The Chiefs defeat their old hated rival Mike Shanahan!
  4. Carolina Panthers (9-4) – The Panthers take a pretty big dive after losing to the Saints, which is what happens when you get blown out the way they did.
  5. San Francisco 49ers (9-4) – It’ll be interesting to see what this team is able to do on offense against a not-top-three NFL defense.
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) – I’ve waited all year for Shady McCoy to go down with an injury.  Now that I’m out of the fantasy playoffs, I guess I can go fuck myself.  Way to go on that TD run, Chris Polk!
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) – They look good now, but Dalton still has another 3-INT game or two left in him before the year is done.
  8. Indianapolis Colts (8-5) – Shit happens when you party naked.
  9. Detroit Lions (7-6) – They were moving the ball pretty well in that driving snow; I don’t know what to tell you.
  10. Arizona Cardinals (8-5) – I have to admit, this is leaps and bounds better than I would have thought they’d be at this point this year.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (7-6) – That was a helluva finish to that football game against the Vikings.  Couldn’t have thrown a few more dozen balls Torrey Smith’s way, though?
  12. Chicago Bears (7-6) – Is there some way we can get it so both Chicago AND Dallas make the playoffs?  Those defenses are my wet dream.
  13. Dallas Cowboys (7-6) – I mean, who didn’t see this coming?  The Bears’ defense can’t stop the run to save its life, so why even TRY to have a dedicated running game (even though, when you did run, it worked out as splendidly as it could).
  14. Miami Dolphins (7-6) – I don’t care anymore.
  15. St. Louis Rams (5-8) – It’s just impossible to get a quality read on this team!
  16. San Diego Chargers (6-7) – If for nothing else than the moderate weather, I would give everything I own to be living in San Diego right about now.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) – And now, my friend, you die.
  18. Green Bay Packers (6-6-1) – Who is going to step up to win this thing?  You can’t even GIVE this NFC North title away!
  19. New York Giants (5-8) – I can’t wait for the Seahawks to take out all of their aggression on this soft pudding-pop of a football team.  We’ve had a knack over the years of forcing Hall of Fame-ish head coaches into retirement; is this where Tom Coughlin calls it quits?
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) – I don’t remember who you played this weekend, but you got the win, so good for you.
  21. New York Jets (6-7) – The AFC Everybody:  where this Jets team still has a decent chance to make the playoffs!
  22. Atlanta Falcons (3-10) – I don’t know how you let Matt Flynn beat you, but there you go.
  23. Buffalo Bills (4-9) – EJ Manuel, you go right to the top of my shit list.
  24. Cleveland Browns (4-9) – That’s a bummer, man.  You had the Patriots and you let ’em off the hook.
  25. Tennessee Titans (5-8) – Rumors abound that the Titans will clean house after this season.  The players reward those rumors with a good first quarter or so and then totally fall off the cliff.
  26. Oakland Raiders (4-9) – I’m sorry, what’s that?
  27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) – Your 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars!
  28. Washington Redskins (3-10) – FIRE THEM!  FIRE THEM ALL!!!
  29. Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1) – Adrian Peterson getting injured, that’s all you need.
  30. Houston Texans (2-11) – I can’t remember a time where the Jags weren’t the worst team in football.  I guess that’s reason-enough to get your head coach fired.

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.

The Last Five Years In Seattle Sports

2008 was the lowest point in Seattle sports.  It was our Absolute Zero.  Rock Bottom.  The total nadir of sports humanity!

It was the primary inspiration for the title of this website.  Take an already-crappy sports city, with practically no history of real success whatsoever, then rain down a million boulders while giving fans only a tiny umbrella to protect themselves.

We did NOT deserve this …

Well, we just finished the 2012 sports year with the 2012/2013 Husky basketball season coming to its conclusion.  As such, I have taken it upon myself to take a look back.  Five years ago, it was 2008; we were just getting started with the worst year ever.  How have things changed with our primary Seattle sports teams?

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners came off of a surprising 2007 campaign that saw them appearing to turn a corner.  Beltre, Ibanez, and Ichiro led the offense.  We hoped that a possible resurrection of Richie Sexson would bring about a further boost.  Two young guns up the middle – Lopez & Betancourt – were proof positive that what we were doing in our farm system wasn’t a complete joke.  Felix was coming into his own.  Losing Weaver & Horacio Ramirez was addition by subtraction.  You figured, with another quality starter, and another bat or two, and we’d be in business!

Well, we know what happened with 2008.  The Erik Bedard trade was a total and complete disaster (though, it went a long way towards the Orioles making their surprising playoff run in 2012).  The Mariners opted to let Jose Guillen walk and replaced him with the corpse of Brad Wilkerson.  Richie Sexson became a local pariah.  And, oh yeah, the other big pitching piece – Carlos Silva – was signed to the single-worst contract in recorded history.  You tack on little things – like J.J. Putz going from the greatest reliever in baseball in 2007, to an injured pile of crap in 2008 – and it all boils down to this team losing 101 games.  The first team with a payroll over $100 million to lose over 100 games.  Everyone was fired; it was brutal.

Enter Jackie Z, who could seemingly do no wrong at first.  He replaced Sexson with Russell Branyan – big upgrade.  He traded Putz for Franklin Gutierrez, who had an amazing season both in the field and at the plate.  We also ended up with Jason Vargas in that Putz deal, who came in and earned his way into the starting rotation.  He brought in Ken Griffey Jr., who wasn’t a total disaster as a DH.  In short, there was an immediate turnaround thanks to God knows what.  Good vibrations?  Luck?  I dunno.  But, this team improved 24 games over 2008 and contended well into the summer.  Everyone thought we’d struck gold!

Then, like some kind of sick fucking plague, every move Jackie Z made to help bolster the 2010 team turned to shit.  Chone Figgins was signed to a 4-year deal and immediately was the worst player in baseball.  Branyan was allowed to walk in favor of Casey Kotchman; Kotchman was terrible and Branyan was brought back in a panic-deal mid-season, because we had the most punch-less lineup in all of baseball history.  Silva was traded for Milton Bradley – which was a move of pure GENIUS until it turned out trading one cancer for another still leaves you on your deathbed.  Griffey was brought back, because HEY!, he hit 19 home runs the year before and it’s not like players suddenly lose all of their ability to swing a bat all at once or anything.

Mind you, just about everything Jackie Z did in anticipation of the 2010 season was believed to be the right thing.  Except for Griffey, but really, if we didn’t make the playoffs that season, it wasn’t going to be exclusively the fault of our elderly DH.  And, to a lesser extent, the Brandon League for Brandon Morrow trade was a bit questionable.  I mean, who trades a bona fide Major League starting prospect for an 8th inning reliever type? Nevertheless, this was a bold move looking to shore up our bullpen.

The cherry on top was the Cliff Lee trade.  We gave a bunch of Bavasi draft rejects to the Phillies for Cliff Lee in his final season.  At best, he’d be the starting pitcher to put us over the top.  At worst, we’d be a losing team and trade him at the deadline to the highest bidder for the best crop of prospects.

Like everything else that happened in 2010, even THIS ended up backfiring.  Cliff Lee came with a built-in contingency plan!  And he was traded for Justin Smoak – a disappointment to date – Blake Beavan – a less-than-adequate starting pitcher – and what has turned into a season’s worth of Michael Morse, a season’s worth of John Jaso, and a season’s worth of Josh Lueke.  There’s still time to turn around our fortunes, but unless Smoak figures out a miracle cure to his sucking ways, this has bust written all over it.

So, what happens when every single offseason (and in-season) move you make backfires?  You lose another 101 games, your franchise icon retires mid-season, your manager gets fired, and your GM is lucky to still have a job.

2010 was a wake-up call, both for fans and for the organization.  The last two times the Mariners had winning records – 2007 and 2009 – they immediately went out the very next offseason and tried to Win Now.  All the moves they made in hopes to Win Now were total disasters, so they had to come up with a new plan.  Either you keep riding this rollercoaster, firing your manager and/or GM every two seasons, or you start over from scratch.

Even though Jackie Z managed to bungle every Major League move known to man, he had still built up the minor leagues a fair amount.  With another high draft pick in his pocket, he put his head down and went to work.

The 2011 season was essentially given over to the kids.  Our major offseason moves included bringing in Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust, Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan, and handing over the starting rotation to guys like Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, and Blake Beavan.  In addition, Ackley, Seager, and Carp all got their feet wet; Peguero was given an inordinate amount of playing time for what he was actually bringing to the table.  Others, like Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Saunders, and Halman all got varying amounts of playing time.  2011 was Try-Out central in Seattle.  Throw a bunch of spaghetti noodles into a pot of boiling water, take them out and see which ones would stick to the wall.

2012 took it a step further.  The big free agent pick-ups consisted of Millwood, Iwakuma, and a backup shortstop in Kawasaki.  We traded away Pineda – our best pitching prospect – to bring in Jesus Montero, because we absolutely could not live with the same old offense we’d had the past two seasons.

What did 2011 and 2012 accomplish?  Moderate gains in the win/loss column (+6 wins in 2011, +8 wins in 2012), moderate gains in our offensive production, and a whole lot of salary coming off the books.  The Silva/Bradley money, the Ichiro money, the Olivo money, another season’s worth of the Figgins money.

Now, it’s 2013.  The Mariners brought in some big bats via trade – Morse & Morales for Jaso & Vargas respectively – and some veteran bats via free agency – Ibanez and Bay.  They re-signed Iwakuma (when they realized he’s actually a quality starter), brought in Joe Saunders (who will probably be terrible), and have given the back-end of the rotation over to youth (Maurer and Beavan).  The crown jewel of the 2012/2013 offseason was re-signing Felix through 2019.  That’s huge.  The Mariners may never make the post-season while he’s with us, but God damn it, if they do WATCH OUT.

There is reason for optimism five years after bottoming out in 2008, but we’re still in a Show Me stage.  I’ll believe it when I see it, and all that.  2013 is critical, because if they don’t show some significant improvement, I think a lot of people will be out on their asses again and we’ll be looking at ANOTHER rebuild.

Husky Football

The Huskies ended their 2007 season with a 4-9 record.  Their 2007 schedule was deemed by many to be the toughest schedule in the nation.  Tyrone Willingham was coming off of his third consecutive losing season (going 2-9 in 2005 and 5-7 in 2006), and many believed he should have been fired then and there.  I was one of those simple-minded folks who said we should give him ONE more chance.  Jake Locker had a full season under his belt, why not give Willingham an opportunity to turn things around with the guy he brought in as his quarterback?

Well, we kicked off 2008 by being trounced in Oregon (who would go on to finish 10-3).  Then, we lost by a single point at home to BYU (thanks to the infamous penalty flag thrown on Locker as he ran in for the would-be game-tying touchdown and tossed the ball over his shoulder … thank you Pac-10 referees for being so damn competent) on a missed extra point at the end of the game.  Then, we lost at home to Oklahoma (who would go on to lose to Florida in the BCS National Championship Game).

THEN, we lost our quarterback, our best player, and really our only GOOD player, in the Stanford game.  After that, with the likes of Ronnie Fouch at the helm, we proceeded to lose all the rest of our games (including a pathetic heartbreaker of an Apple Cup, 16-13 in overtime).

0-12.  Doesn’t get any worse than that.  Can only go up from there, right?

Willingham:  gone.  Sarkisian:  in.

The 2009 Huskies improved by 5 games.  There was a signature win at home over the then-#3 USC Trojans, 16-13 on a last-minute field goal.  There was a signature near-win the first game of the season at home against LSU.  Jake Locker took huge strides in his development as a passer.  Everything looked great for the future.

The 2010 Huskies weren’t all that much more improved than the 2009 team, but they managed to win six regular season games (winning out after starting 3-6, thanks to a soft schedule to finish things) and earned a bowl game against Nebraska.  Of course, they got killed by Nebraska, IN Husky Stadium, earlier that season.  But, in the rematch, this Husky team was totally reborn and they took it to the Cornhuskers, stifling them 19-7.

That led to somewhat higher expectations for 2011, but how high could we possibly make them?  Let’s face it, we’d lost our best player and were breaking in a new quarterback.  Our defense was still on the fritz, and we were still in a very tough conference with Oregon, Stanford, and USC.  Not to mention we had to go to Nebraska, where we most certainly got our shit kicked in.

2011 was a disappointment because there was no Signature Win.  In 2009 and 2010, we had victories over USC and Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.  In 2011, we barely squeaked by Eastern Washington in the first game.  We were absolutely terrorized by the aforementioned heavy hitters (losing the games to USC, Oregon, Stanford, and Nebraska by a combined 190-93).  In spite of losing ALL the games were were technically “supposed” to lose, we were still in line for a 1-game improvement over 2010.  That officially died when A. we went into Oregon State and lost (they ended the season with 3 wins) and B. we faced RGIII and the Baylor Bears and gave up 67 points on 777 yards of offense in losing by 11.

Back-to-back 7-6 seasons left a bitter taste in our mouths.  After storming the field against the Cornhuskers, we bent over and grabbed our ankles against the Bears.  2012 would SURELY be different, though.  We had a full season with Keith Price, he had surpassed our wildest expectations by throwing for over 3,000 yards with 33 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.  How could 2012 NOT be a huge improvement?  On top of all that, we didn’t wait that extra season to see if Nick Holt could turn things around on defense.  We went out, brought in some heavy hitters at recruiting and defensive coaching, and nabbed some top prospects in the process.

Well, there was improvement.  The 2012 Huskies DID manage some signature wins against the likes of Stanford and Oregon State (both in the top 10 at the time we beat them), but they also fell completely flat against the likes of #3 LSU, #2 Oregon, and #11 USC.  In spite of yet another 3-game losing streak in the middle of the season, these Huskies were looking at possibly winning 8 or 9 games when all was said and done!

They were 7-4 (riding a 4-game winning streak) going into the Apple Cup in Pullman.  They had an 18-point lead going into the final quarter … so of COURSE they ended up blowing the game in overtime.  This ultimately led to the Huskies facing Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl and ending up – once again – 7-6.

In short, the Huskies went from 0-12 in 2008, to 5-7 in 2009, to 7-6 in 2010, 2011, and 2012.  No 7-6 record is created equal, obviously, but at the end of the day people don’t remember how you got there.  They just see where you were and shake their heads.

Keith Price showed all the promise in the world in 2011.  But, he lost all his major weapons (Kearse and Aguilar at receiver, Chris Polk at running back) and couldn’t recover in 2012.  In the Baylor bowl game, Price accounted for 7 touchdowns on offense and looked like the best quarterback on the field – even better than the Heisman Trophy winner and ultimate #2 overall draft pick.  However, in the Apple Cup and again in the Boise State bowl game, Price ended both with interceptions.  He was going into the 2013 season fighting for his job, but from all accounts he’s got it locked up after Spring Ball.  Nevertheless, I have to imagine he’s on a short leash.  We can’t suffer the kind of downgrade in production again.

At this point in Sark’s tenure, he’s got all his own guys now.  2013 is the year we’re expected to win and win consistently.  The non-conference schedule is relatively easy, and the conference schedule isn’t too bad either.  We’ve got veterans in all the right places, we’ve got some serious talent on defense for the first time since he got here, and Price has had a chance to gel with his offensive weapons.  2013 isn’t a Rose Bowl or Bust, but it’s close.  The Huskies have to at least be in the conversation.

I’m not gonna lie to you, beating the Ducks for the first time in eons would go a long way towards cementing Sark’s status as a legend ’round these parts.

Husky Basketball

The 2007/2008 Huskies were a definite low-point in the Romar era.  They finished the regular season 16-16, losing in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, and received the #1 seed in the College Basketball Invitational.  You know, that post-season tournament for the teams not even good enough for the N.I.T.

We lost.  To Valparaiso.

In 2008/2009, we brought in Isaiah Thomas and he was a firecracker right from the start.  We enjoyed Brockman’s senior season, and we rode that wave to a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a Round of 32 loss to 5-seed Purdue by two points.  More or less, it was a successful season, but once again it ended prematurely.

In 2009/2010, we had another senior leader taking to the forefront.  This time, it was Q-Pon, who averaged 19 and 7 per game in leading us to a Pac-10 Tournament victory, an 11-seed in the tournament, and upset wins over #6 Marquette (where he hit the clutch game winner) and #3 New Mexico.

Once again, though, the Romar-era Huskies couldn’t get past the Sweet 16.  This time, we lost to West Virginia, thanks to them totally having the length advantage on us.

In 2010/2011, we had our version of a Big 3 with Thomas, MBA, and Holiday.  The last two were seniors and Thomas was playing in what would be his final season.  We rode this squad to another Pac-10 Tournament victory (you all remember COLD BLOODED don’t you?).  This resulted in a 7-seed – our third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance – and a victory over 10-seed Georgia before losing in the Round of 32 to 2-seeded North Carolina (by only 3 points, but still).

The 2011/2012 season saw the emergence of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.  Both were young, extremely talented, and irritatingly inconsistent.  Ross would disappear for minutes at a time.  Wroten had no jump shot whatsoever, so he had to fight for every single basket in the paint.  This team ended up winning the Pac-12 outright, but since the Pac-12 sucked dick that season, and since the Huskies lost in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, AND since they had no quality wins over ranked non-conference opponents, the Huskies were denied a fourth consecutive NCAA invite.  Instead, they locked down the #1-overall N.I.T. seeding and ran with it to the Final Four in New York City.  It ended with a loss to Minnesota, who would end up losing to eventual-champion Stanford the very next game.

The less said about the 2012/2013 season, the better.  Wroten and Ross both bolted for the NBA, and absolutely no one came in to replace them.  That’s what happens when you’re a good-not-great recruiter in a good-not-great university for basketball:  sometimes you DON’T bring in a player of quality and you suffer as a result.

Gaddy, Wilcox, Suggs, and N’Diaye were left to pick up the pieces.  This team was pretty solid on defense, but ultimately inept on offense, and now at least three of those guys are gone (with Wilcox having a difficult decision to make regarding his final year of eligibility).  The 2012/2013 Huskies didn’t beat a single ranked team, only beat three teams who ended up going to the NCAAs (Saint Louis, California, and Colorado), and wound up being a 6-seed in the N.I.T., where the subsequently got their shit kicked in at BYU.

What’s in store for 2013/2014?  Well, a solid incoming class with one McDonalds All American at point guard in Nigel Williams-Goss.  If Wilcox comes back, that gives us a veteran scoring presence (for the record, he’s a fool if he leaves; his past season was absolutely dreadful and injury-plagued).  If we can get anything from our young forwards, you could look at a team that surprises a lot of people.  Or, you could be looking at a third-straight N.I.T. bid.  If it’s the latter, I’m not so sure I’d be confident about my job security if I was Romar.

Seattle Supersonics

I won’t go into excruciating detail on this end.  We all know what the last five years have been like for the Sonics.  They went 20-62 in their final season in Seattle (after drafting Kevin Durant and bringing in one of the finest GMs in the game from the San Antonio organization).  They were given away by the city of Seattle, they struggled again the following season, and then they went to the playoffs four straight seasons (losing most recently in the Finals to the beloved Miami Heat).

Now, we’ve got an ownership group and an arena deal in place, and we’re fighting like crazy to steal the Kings from Sacramento.  If all goes according to plan, we will have pro basketball back in Seattle for the 2013/2014 season.  If it doesn’t, then this part of next year’s “Five Years” post is going to be REAL fucking depressing.

Seattle Seahawks

I’m saving the best for last because I can.  Because, honestly, it’s all a little too much and I can hardly believe it myself.  There is cautious optimism for the Mariners and their young core to turn things around.  There’s more confident optimism that the Husky football team will turn some heads this fall.  There’s hope that the Husky basketball team can somehow gel with their new incoming players and make an improbable Tourney run.  There’s delusions that the NBA will be back in Seattle this time next year.

But, that’s nothing.  There is outright SWAGGER for the Seattle Seahawks.  How did we get HERE?

In 2008, we went 4-12.  We had dicked around with Mike Holmgren, we signed on his replacement – Jim Mora Jr. – to be his defensive backs coach, and all the major veterans took a huge dump.  This was coming off of a 2007 season where the Seahawks once again won the division.  But, Shaun Alexander was released at the end, losing out to another injury.  So, Tim Ruskell opted to reload via free agency.  Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett were brought in to liven up the running game, but no dice.  Hasselbeck missed a bunch of games, Walter Jones tried surgery but wasn’t the same and was forced to retire at season’s end … it was just a mess.

In 2009, there was something of a fresh start expected with Mora.  T.J. Houshmandzadeh was brought in on a huge free agent deal, Aaron Curry was signed as our can’t-lose first round draft pick … in short, we were one of the oldest and least-talented teams in the NFL.  When all was said and done, these Seahawks improved by only 1 game and both Mora and Ruskell were fired.

2010 was the REAL fresh start.  Pete Carroll and John Schneider tag-teamed this roster from head to toe.  They traded for Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, and Charlie Whitehurst (hey, they can’t all be winners).  They got rid of Housh (taking a healthy bath in the cap hit) and later Deion Branch.  They brought in a rejuvinated Mike Williams who led the team in receiving.  They drafted Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor.  They made hundreds upon hundreds of free agent moves, giving tryouts to anyone and everyone who they thought might be an upgrade.  They got significantly younger, and thanks to a piss-poor division, ended up making the playoffs with a 7-9 record.

Understand, this wasn’t a legitimate playoff team.  Yes, after two years in the wilderness, they found their way back to civilization, but it was totally phony!  The fact that we beat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field is a travesty of common decency (though, it did provide us with the greatest NFL play ever, Beastmode’s Touchdown Scamper).  Our “Cinderella” run ended the following week in Chicago, and you had to wonder how long it would be before the Seahawks made the playoffs again.

The 2011 Seahawks were hamstrung by the NFL Lockout.  They fired their offensive coordinator and hired Darrell Bevell from Minnesota.  Which meant, if they stood any chance of competing in ANY games that season, they’d have to bring some people in who knew Bevell’s system.  This meant Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.  They let Hasselbeck go with a cordial goodbye and handed the keys to the team over to Tarvar (without so much as a second look at Whitehurst, who was as bad as we all remember him being and then some).

Tarvar proved tough, but ultimately inept when the game was on the line.  Those 2011 Seahawks also finished the regular season 7-9 and weren’t given the benefit of a lousy NFC West to “earn” a home playoff game.

With a full offseason going into 2012, the Seahawks needed to make a change.  They’d drafted well, bringing in guys like Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright.  But, they needed a signal-caller with some zazz!  So, they signed Matt Flynn to a three-year deal, and they went out and drafted Russell Wilson in the third round.

People say if Wilson was just 2-3 inches taller, he would’ve been a Top 10 pick.  But, he’s not, so now he’s ours.

Wilson earned his opportunity to have an Open Competition in Training Camp.  This led to him wowing us in the Pre-Season, which ultimately led to him winning the job and running with it.  The 2012 Seahawks took it easy with him for the first few weeks, but once they knew he could handle himself, they opened things up.  This resulted in the Seahawks being the best team in football over the second half of the season.  Still, their early-season slip-ups meant that the 49ers won the division, relegating us to the fifth seed in the NFC.

We went into Washington and somehow came away with a victory.  Then, we went into Atlanta, gave them a 20-point lead, and somehow led in the game with 30 seconds to go.  That was choked away, but the message was sent.  It wasn’t, “Wait Until Next Year,” the way most fanbases say it, more resigned to their current fate as losers, sorely, bitterly hoping that things will turn around for them in short order.

No, this is, “Just you WAIT until next year, chickenfuckers!”  Because the 2013 Seahawks are a runaway train that has Super Bowl or Bust written all over them!

In five years, the Seahawks have gone from one of the oldest and worst teams in the NFL to one of the youngest and best teams.  In five years, the Seahawks have gone from bottom-feeders to would-be kings.  We fans are cashing in our 401Ks in anticipation of buying Super Bowl tickets in 2014.  It’s never been so clear and so positive in the city of Seattle.  They can single-handedly reverse the fortunes of this desolate sports city.  All they need to do is win.

What’s more, they’re spreading around the positivity.  People are stoked on the Mariners WAY more than they should be thanks to the good will generated by the Seahawks.  Sports fans have something to look forward to and spirits are bright.  This is carrying over to the other sports in hopes that the good vibes will roll on.

We’ll see.  If the Seahawks win it all, the Mariners contend for a playoff spot, the Huskies make a run at the Rose Bowl, the basketball Huskies make a run at the NCAA Tournament, and the Sonics return to Seattle, we could be talking about the greatest 5-year turnaround any sports city has ever seen.  Fingers crossed.

The Huskies Probably Won’t Be Good Again Until Next Year

I’m not exactly giving up on this 2012 Husky football team, but I do more than have my doubts.

I never went into this year expecting the Huskies to win the Pac-12 and go to the Rose Bowl.  Essentially treading water and going to one of the bowls we’ve been to the last two years – Alamo or Holiday – would have been just fine with me.  But, even that is now looking more and more like a stretch and we’d be fortunate to just make one of the bottom bowls.  Kraft Fight Hunger, or whatever the hell the dregs of the Pac-12 adequates are pegged to go to.

It would be nice to believe otherwise.  It would be nice to have the kind of confidence in this team that fans of USC or Stanford or Orgeon get to enjoy.  But, frankly, this just doesn’t look like a good team this year.

A lot of it has to do with injuries, I will readily admit that.  I know the team and the coaches won’t use that as an excuse, but just wait until the end of the season when the Dawgs finish with more defeats than victories, you’ll hear a different tune.  Yeah, of course, a guy goes down and the next in line has to step up.  But, at some point, the guys you’re asking to step up just won’t be up to the task against teams who AREN’T starting third and fourth stringers.  It’s not something I’m condemning the Huskies for; they just got bit this year.  It happens.  Injuries always happen and sometimes the injuries pile up more than others.  It’s not fair, but that’s life.

Another thing I don’t think people are really talking about is:  all the offensive talent we lost in the offseason.  Chris Polk was the best running back in the conference.  He’s now a third or fourth stringer for the Philadelphia Eagles.  Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar were our two leading receivers; they’re both mucking about on the waiver wire or practice squads.  Kearse especially was our main big-play threat.  Aguilar was a seminal force on third down when we really needed to move the chains. 

Who is here replacing these guys?  Well, it was supposed to be Jesse Callier, but he was injured in Game 1 and is lost for the season.  Now, it’s Bishop Sankey, who was a WSU recruit who renegged and opted to sign with UW.  Is it a bad sign that we stole a guy from WSU rather than from Oregon or USC?  I’ll say this:  it’s not the BEST sign.  Thus far, Sankey looks like a guy who belongs on Portland State, not a guy who belongs in the Pac-12.  After him?  A couple guys who have yet to play a down in college before this season?  Yeah, this running game is screwed.

On the wide receiver side of things, we still have Kasen Williams and we still have Austin Seferian-Jenkins.  ASJ is a big, bruising tight end with good hands.  He’s definitely a quality threat in the passing game.  Kasen Williams is athletic as all get-out.  But, he doesn’t necessarily have the speed of Kearse and he doesn’t get open quite as well as Aguilar.  He still might turn out to be a stud, but right now he is playing like a number 2 who is being shoe-horned into the role of a number 1.  After that, it’s nothing but injured would-be stars and freshmen and Kevin Smith.  In other words, no one has really stood out as a go-to guy, and that’s troublesome.  Maybe they just need this year to establish themselves.  Unfortunately, that’s likely to mean they won’t really break out until NEXT season.

And that’s my whole point in this thing.  These Huskies are still REALLY young.  And Keith Price can’t do it all by himself; he’s not Jake Locker for crying out loud.  This defense is going to spend all season getting used to its new scheme and its new coaching staff, so it’s not going to become dominant overnight.  Tack on injuries to players who – even without these medical red shirts – would have been major players on this team for the next 1-2 seasons, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a college football team sitting at home during bowl season.

The mark of an improving college football team isn’t just winning the games you’re “supposed to win”, but it’s winning a game here and there against teams that are clearly better than you.  If the Huskies are able to shock everyone and come away with a win next Thursday against Stanford, I will eat my words and take all of this back.  But, I just don’t think it’s possible.  Not only that, but I don’t think winning in Oregon the following week is possible, I don’t think winning at home against USC the week after that is possible, and the way things are going, I don’t think winning at Arizona the week after THAT is possible.  Hell, we might go the entire month of October without a victory if Oregon State can manage to do what they did against Wisconsin!

Coming off of two consecutive bowl games – and decent-to-good bowl games at that – 2012 has Let Down written all over it.  Looking pisspoor against San Diego State and looking completely inept in LSU has me more than convinced.  I mean, shit, even Idaho went down there and managed two 2nd quarter touchdowns!  You’re telling me the Vandals can do that, but the Huskies are only lucky to score a field goal after a fumbled kickoff?

That’s a bad sign.  But, fret not, because I think the talent is here for the 2013 Huskies to be something special.  At least, something more special than we’ve seen lately.

Huskies Beat Seemingly Tough San Diego State

I don’t know the Aztecs from Adam, but I know what I saw today from yesterday’s game (DVR), and what I saw was a stout, tough team.

For the first quarter, the Husky offense looked like the best offense in the nation.  With every blitz the Aztecs dialed up, the Huskies had a perfect counter to keep moving the ball and moving the chains.  The Husky defense got a turnover (a gift, really) on the first Aztec drive, then proceeded to jump out to a 14-0 lead.

Then, I dunno.  Things started to unravel a little bit.  Coming out of the second quarter, the Aztecs were awarded a gimme of a touchdown due to the Huskies not paying attention on defense.  And, the Husky offense continued to move the ball, but couldn’t punch it in.

I kept expecting the Dawgs to pull away, and they very nearly did.  A worrisome fumble by Sankey prevented us from going up two scores.  Fortunately, what we all hope is a more opportunistic defense took care of that with a fumble returned for a TD.

I will grant that this defense did look better than it did for most of last year.  I don’t think the Aztecs are going to be breaking any records on offense, but I still liked what we were doing out there.  We got after the quarterback with MUCH more regularity than in seasons past.  Josh Shirley is going to be a fucking BEAST this year (thank you very much, UCLA).  Desmond Trufant had a solid game as he heads into his senior season.  And, watch out for Sean Parker; he was all over the field yesterday!  That having been said, we will need to be MUCH better against the run if we don’t want to be embarrassed next week (and in weeks to come).

On offense, it looks to be a two-man show.  The Huskies are making a concerted effort to showcase as much as possible Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams.  Do you blame them?  These two are far and away better than most athletes on the football field whenever they step out there.  It would be nice to have a dependable third option, especially when we go into LSU next week, because the last thing I want to depend on is this running game.

Analysts seem to love the depth of talent on the Huskies, but I’m telling you right now, this running game isn’t what it used to be.  It’s going to be a liability.  Don’t sleep on the impact of losing Chris Polk.  Seeing Callier get knocked out of the game with a knee injury like that is pretty much my worst nightmare, because I don’t think Sankey is a bigtime running back ready to handle the load in the Pac-12.

Keith Price looked good.  We’ll need to tighten up along the O-Line though.  He needs to stop getting hit in those knees; took a big shot yesterday, but finished the game fine.

I hate the kicking game.  These freshmen need to grow up fast.  The punter was all over the place.  And the field goal kicker shanked two long attempts to the left (one was nullified by penalty).  If the Huskies face a lot of close games this season, having an inexperienced kicker might be the difference between making a bowl or not.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you; we will lose at least one game this season because our kicker failed us.  Let’s just hope it’s not a game we need to get into the post-season.

Chris Polk Fell To The 8th Round In The NFL Draft

Of course, there is no 8th round in the NFL Draft … you get the idea.

What can I say?  It’s a damn shame.  I don’t think we’ll ever know EXACTLY what the reason was for his not getting drafted.  Yeah, it was “injury concerns”, but what specifically?  We’re getting conflicting reports left and right; was it his hip?  Was it his knee?  Was it his shoulder?  Or was it some amalgam of everything?

Because it sure as shit wasn’t his numbers, his productivity, his skillset coming out of the University of Washington.  With the way he plays, and the numbers he put up, and his ability to catch the ball and break tackles and block for the quarterback, you’re talking about one of the best running backs in this entire draft class.

Here’s what rubs me the wrong way:  the kid played in ALL games from 2009 through 2011.  Doesn’t that kind of toughness count for something?  Even if he WAS playing hurt, just look at what he was able to do!  With that offensive line, and that defense allowing other teams to run up the score.  We committed our team to the run and Chris Polk rewarded us handsomely.  AND, if you look at his game logs, you’ll see that Polk had some of his very best performances towards the end of each season (when you would figure, if he did have degenerative conditions, they would have hindered his late-season performances).

With that kind of dedication, and that kind of tenacity, you’re telling me none of the teams were willing to even spend a 7th round draft pick on this kid?  That’s INSANE!  I don’t care if his shoulder is hanging by a loose tendon, is there nothing to be said for rewarding an elite college career with having his name called on the stage of the Radio City Music Hall?

21 running backs were drafted by 19 different teams.  You’re telling me ALL of those running backs are better than Chris Polk?  Chris Polk isn’t even worth the RISK?

How many guys after the 5th round stick on an NFL team?  I’m willing to wager not a very high percentage.  And even if they do stick, how long until they’re bumped by the next low-round draft pick in one of the subsequent drafts?

Chris Polk is a stud, plain and simple.  The Eagles are lucky they were able to get him after the draft, and I think they will reap the benefits so many other teams passed on.  Especially those 18 other teams who drafted running backs this year.  My guess is, all those 5th, 6th, and 7th round running backs drafted this year won’t do shit in the NFL outside of special teams.

Chris Polk will be a star.  He’s going to start by backing up LeSean McCoy, then he’s going to take over when McCoy gets injured, and finally he’ll be dominating by the time the Eagles let McCoy go.

You done fucked up, NFL.  You let a Husky Legend go undrafted and gave him all the motivation he’ll ever need.

And, We’re Back …

My apologies unending, murderous rage for the technical difficulties since this past Saturday. Rest assured, a long-term solution is in the works so this never happens again.

So much I’ve missed in the last three days. So, expect posts on the following, in some particular order:

That might not necessarily sound like a lot, but there will be words. OH YES. There will be words.

I’ll close with last Friday. I was going to write about last Friday, specifically the Mariners game where Michael Saunders hit that grand slam to win it in extra innings. I didn’t get to see much of that game, because I was at an NFL Draft party (which morphed into a Trivial Pursuit party once the Draft got sufficiently boring), but we did flip over for the final couple innings.

Really, all I’ve got to say is: was that exciting or what?

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship, Michael Saunders. Keep it up. And try to bunt better the next time we have a runner on third base in a tied game.