How Many Titles Can We Expect From The Seahawks & Russell Wilson?

The NBA has obviously been on a lot of minds recently, with the Michael Jordan documentary (still haven’t seen it, still probably won’t see it) coming to a conclusion. When you think about the greatest players in NBA history – Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Shaq – you’re talking about guys with multiple championships (somehow, of the guys on that list, Bird has the fewest titles with three). One guy in the NBA can change things SO DRAMATICALLY for a franchise; you look at these players with their careers spanning 13-20 years and it would be fascinating to go back in time and be able to tell those fanbases: with this guy, you’re going to witness anywhere from 3-6 championships during his career.

It obviously doesn’t work that way in the NFL. The most important player is obviously the quarterback, and of the best all-time (since the merger in 1970), there have only been four NFL quarterbacks who’ve won more than 2 titles: Tom Brady (6), Joe Montana (4), Terry Bradshaw (4), and Troy Aikman (3) (I don’t count Steve Young here, because he was only the starter for one of his three championships).

For what it’s worth, you see A LOT of guys with 2: Peyton Manning, John Elway, Roger Staubach, Ben Roethlisberger; A LOT of guys with 1: Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Ken Stabler, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees; and A LOT of guys with 0: Fran Tarkenton, Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Philip Rivers.

In the middle of all of that, we have Russell Wilson with his one championship (the same number as Patrick Mahomes, probably the only quarterback most people would take over Russell Wilson if they had to start a franchise right now and could pick any player). Wilson is smack dab in the middle of his prime; he was the best he’s ever been in 2019, and we can expect right around that level of effectiveness for the next few years at least. He still hasn’t even surpassed 10 years in the league yet! And quarterbacks nowadays can play 20+ years.

But, it’s SO. FUCKING. HARD to win a championship in the NFL. Even for the very best players in the league! So much harder than it is for the very best NBA players. Which makes it reasonable to ask: how many more championships can we expect from Russell Wilson while he’s still in a Seahawks uniform? If Future Steven were to come back in time from 15 years down the line, how many Super Bowl titles would he be able to tell me I have to look forward to?

Odds are that number is ZERO! Odds are, I’ll have up to 15 more years with Russell Wilson (at the MOST; probably closer to only 10 more years) and I will see zero more championships for the Seattle Seahawks in that span. That feels just so damned demoralizing to think about, but that’s the nature of the beast. The Tom Bradys of the world are a once-in-a-generation breed. Wilson has played eight seasons; by this point in Brady’s career, he’d already won three championships. Montana had won twice. Bradshaw had also won twice and Aikman had nabbed all three of his. Wilson, again, just the one (and we’re all super-impressed that he’s already been to the Super Bowl a second time, but that fakakta play-call at the goalline obviously screwed the pooch).

I’m a firm believer that Russell Wilson will – when it’s all said and done – have a Hall of Fame career under his belt. That’s why I’m talking about him among these other all-time greats. I’m almost assuredly biased, but I think Wilson is a better player than all of those QBs I mentioned above who have one or fewer championships. I would like to think Wilson is among the elite level that Manning and Elway reached, which means I would HOPE he has at least one more title in him before he hangs ’em up.

If I’m right, then I think it’s reasonable to expect another Seahawks championship at some point in the next decade. Obviously, it’s unfair to put all of that on one guy; this is the NFL after all, there are 50+ other players on the team that need to pitch in to make this thing work. But, make no mistake, the quarterback gets all the credit and all the blame for a reason. The all-time greats find a way to come up big in the biggest moments. If Russell Wilson aims to be lumped in that category, then he’s going to need to find a way to take this team on his back and will them to victory.

I’ll say this: he’s on the right track. You can complain about play-calling and how the coaching staff is hamstringing him, but this is the organization we’ve got, and they’ve proven they can win in this league with their system. We’re not the Kansas City Chiefs, we’re not the New England Patriots; we’re the Seattle Fucking Seahawks, and Russell Wilson is being put in situations to succeed nearly every year. And, quite frankly, we haven’t been able to get it done in recent seasons. We haven’t been able to win enough regular season games to take the NFC West and lock down one of the top seeds in the conference, and we haven’t played our best on the road in these playoff games. At some point, we have to talk about Russell Wilson the way we talk about all of the other all-time greats, and stop making excuses. As everyone else needs to be better, so does Russell Wilson. Yes, he’s the best thing going for the Seahawks right now, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be better!

All I know is, I don’t want to wake up this time in 2030 and see the same number of championships next to Russell Wilson’s name. The clock is ticking. Yes, the Seahawks need to take advantage of Wilson’s prime, but you know who else does? Russell Wilson.

Seattle Hasn’t Had Anyone Like Kobe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Definitive Mount Rushmore For Seattle Sports

That’s a bold proclamation, but I’m a bold individual.

Mount Rushmores:
Tuesday:  Seattle Sports Announcers
Wednesday:  Seattle Head Coaches/Managers
Thursday:  Mariners, Supersonics, & Seahawks (past & present)

It’s All Star Week in Major League Baseball, which means it’s pretty much a dead week in sports.  I’m not 12 years old, so the All Star Game doesn’t mean anything to me; I’m not 62 years old, so golf doesn’t mean anything to me.  But, a blogger’s job is never done!  Or, I dunno, maybe it’s been done ad nauseam.  Either way, I’ve got nothing timely to write about, and I’ve got nothing else better to do, so I’m doing this.

We’re celebrating some of the local Mount Rushmores in a series of posts this week, because that’s something people do, right?  Sports radio and the like; what’s your Mount Rushmore of 80’s Heavy Metal Bands?  Off the top of my head, I’d have to say Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue, and come at me bro if you think I’m wrong because I’ll fight this whole fucking town!

Today, it’s all on my shoulders to select the Mount Rushmore for Seattle sports.  It’s a daunting task, to say the least.  Am I man enough for it?  I dunno, probably not, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

So, I suppose to do this right, there have to be some parameters.  Obviously, they have to be great at their sport; Hall of Fame level.  There’s an element beyond that, though; one that transcends their own personal greatness.  Popularity is certainly a part of it, not just in Seattle, but across America and around the world, but I’d be remiss if I put too much emphasis on their notoriety.  I think it matters not just that they were great on their respective teams, but great when compared to others in the history of the game and position they played.

For instance, Steve Largent is my favorite football player of all time, and at the time of his retirement he was the best the game had ever seen.  But, now?  Largent is 18th in the NFL in total yards, surpassed by the likes of Henry Ellard (played 2 more seasons, is not in the HOF), Andre Johnson (who is good, but does he strike you as transcendant?), and Reggie Wayne (who had one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning throwing to him; of COURSE he has more yards!).  I’m just saying that the greatness of the wide receiver position has been deminished in the wake of the NFL turning into a passing league.  I mean, Terrell Owens has the second-most receiving yards of all time (behind the great Jerry Rice) and he’s still struggling to make it into the HOF!  I don’t care about his reputation or his attitude or whatever; 20 years ago, if he’d retired with the most yards in NFL history, he would’ve been a first ballot enshrinee.

Also, look at someone like Felix Hernandez; my favorite player of all time.  Yeah, he’s great, and he’s in my Mariners Mount Rushmore, but compared to some of the greatest pitchers of all time, Felix is just another guy.  Maybe in another era, with the stuff he has, he would’ve put up numbers commensurate to some of the all timers, but he’s in the era he’s in, and it knocks him back accordingly.  You have to go above and beyond in these situations if you want to make my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore.

In an effort to make this easier on myself, let’s knock out a couple of really obvious ones.

At the top, in the pole position of my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore, I have Ken Griffey Jr.

Absolute no-brainer.  22 years in Major League Baseball, 13 years in Seattle, at the absolute peak of his powers and popularity.  #1 overall draft pick by the Mariners in 1987, in his first 11 years with the organization he made the All Star team 10 times.  10 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Sluggers, and was the American League MVP in 1997.  He hit 417 of his 630 home runs with the Mariners.  He took the team to its first two playoff appearances in the history of the franchise.  He led the A.L. in homers 4 times and in RBI once.  He’s in the Mariners’ Hall of Fame, is the only actual Mariner to have his number retired, was a member of the MLB All-Century Team, and was the highest vote-getter in MLB Hall of Fame history in his first year of eligibility.  HE WAS THE MOST POPULAR ATHLETE ON THE PLANET!  He’s 6th on the all time home run list, and if you discount the cheaters that are Bonds and A-Rod, he’s truly in rare company (Aaron, Ruth, and Mays, are you KIDDING me?).

That’s what I mean.  Ken Griffey Jr. is the definition of a Mount Rushmore-type player.  He’s the greatest athlete the city of Seattle has ever seen and might be the greatest we will EVER see.  Anyone alive who got to see him play in his prime should thank their lucky stars.

At my #2 spot in my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore, I have Gary Payton.

Again, I think this one is a no-brainer.  18 seasons in the NBA, 13 seasons in Seattle, again at the absolute peak of his powers and popularity.  #2 overall draft pick by the Supersonics in 1990, in his Seattle years he made the All Star team 9 times.  2 All-NBA first teams, 5 second teams, and 2 third teams.  He was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, as well as the steals leader the same year.  He is 4th all time in NBA history in steals with 2,445 (behind Michael Jordan, Jason Kidd, and a million miles behind John Stockton).  He’s also 8th all time in NBA history in assists with 8,966 (among the likes of Stockton, Kidd, Nash, Mark Jackson, Magic, Oscar, and Isiah).  When you’re talking true point guards, you’re talking the best of the best, and GP is right there.  He was always a defensive force, but his offense didn’t really start to take off until his fifth season in the league; yet he still managed to score 21,813 points, which is good for 31st all time, just ahead of Larry Bird, and just behind Clyde Drexler.

Again, we’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever put on a jersey and play the game of basketball!  I don’t know if people necessarily think of GP the way they think of Griffey, because Griffey might be the best or second-best centerfielder of all time; whereas there are a bunch of great point guards who are as good or even better.  But, I’m here to tell you that there really aren’t that many.

Guys like Stockton and Kidd played great defense and dished it out like no one else, but their offensive games were largely lacking.  They couldn’t take over a game and back down an opposing guard like GP could.  Nash and Iverson were awesome scorers, but they weren’t as suffocating on defense as GP would be.  Honestly, I think the only people in Gary’s league are Magic, Isiah, and maybe Oscar (but, I’ll be honest here, all three of those guys were either a little or a lot before my time, and I didn’t get to see them play in their primes).  Anyway, I’m talking about COMPLETE point guards, guys who played on both sides of the ball and did it damn well on both ends.  Not to mention from 1995 through 2003, Gary averaged over 38 minutes per game.

The only shame of it all is that he played in the opposite conference from Michael Jordan, and only got to face off against MJ the one time in the NBA Finals.  I think if those guys were in the same division and had to go against one another 4 times a year plus every year in the playoffs, it would’ve been one of the truly great rivalries in NBA history.  As it stands, Gary really didn’t have anyone who was his direct rival.  He was already established when Kobe was a young pup.  Kidd and Stockton were never much to speak of on the offensive side of the ball, so they never really challenged him at that end.  All the best scoring guards during Gary’s prime were in the East, or they were past their primes when Gary was in his.  That Finals series in 1996 was one for the ages, though.  It’s just too bad it was the first for that group in Seattle; I think the severity of the situation got to them mentally.  For the Bulls, it was old hat; just another business trip.  I think if the Sonics had gotten theirs in 1994 (like they SHOULD have), by 1996 it would’ve been like two equally fierce titans going against one another.  What could have been.

***

With the easy half of our Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore out of the way, now we get to the more difficult decisions.

For starters, where are the Seahawks?  I’m pretty sure you can’t have one of these without throwing a Seahawk on there, so let’s get cracking.

As I wrote about yesterday, there are currently 4 Seahawks in the NFL Hall of Fame (with this year’s induction of Kenny Easley).  So, yeah, a lot to choose from here.  At the top, I talked about Steve Largent a little bit, and I still stand behind that.  I think his candidacy for this list is pretty lacking, when you consider his current place in NFL history, which I very much believe applies here.

When you look at the rest of the Hall of Famers, I think one name clearly stands out, and that name is Walter Jones, my third choice for the Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore.

There aren’t really a ton of stats I can sit here and pull up to show Big Walt’s greatness; it’s not like the NFL keeps track of “pancakes” as an official stat (BTW tho, they absolutely SHOULD).  Jones made 9 Pro Bowls, was First Team All Pro 4 times, and Second Team twice.  He was on the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.  He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and has had his #71 retired by the Seahawks.

If you want to get a little deeper, in trying to compare him to the other greats in NFL history, that’s a little trickier.  Pro Football Reference has their “Approximate Value” stat that tries to equalize things across all positions, and gives your career a numerical value accordingly.  Across all positions, in the entirety of NFL history, Jones is currently tied for 150th, which – when you think about how many players there have been – is pretty astounding.  I did the research, and there are only 26 offensive linemen ahead of him on that list, but the vast majority of them are either guards or centers.  Among just the left tackles, there are only 6 ahead of Walter Jones:  Anthony Munoz, Lomas Brown, Willie Roaf, Mike Kenn, Gary Zimmerman, and Orlando Pace.  Four of those guys are Hall of Famers, and the other two (Brown and Kenn) just played forever.  So, yeah, I’d say that’s pretty good company.

Anecdotally, Walter Jones IS one of the greatest left tackles in NFL history.  The combination of speed, size, technique, power, durability, raw talent; it’s something we probably will never see around here ever again.  It’s ultimately the durability issue that cost him the end of his career, as injuries and surgeries became too much and cut it short, but he’s also a guy who was able to play through a lot of pain and injuries and keep up his high level of play.  He may not be the force of nature, popularity-wise, that Griffey or even Payton were, but his talent and standing among the greats at his position relative to the history of the game more than makes up for it.  As such, Big Walt is my #3.

***

Which leads us to our Abraham Lincoln spot on the mountain.  Who is my #4?

The fact that this is far and away the most difficult choice for me ultimately leads me to believe that whoever I choose is not long for this spot.  I’m a firm believer in the Smell Test, or the Eyeball Test, or whatever you want to call it.  Is a guy a Hall of Famer?  That should be obvious; it shouldn’t take much more than 10 seconds to decide.  Either he is or he isn’t.  Obviously, there are people on the bubble who need arguments in their favor (*cough* EDGAR *cough*), but for me it’s a lot more simple.  Yes, Edgar is a Hall of Famer; NEXT!

But, I don’t really have a solid #4, which means my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore is sitting atop a pretty shaky foundation.  There are certainly guys in the running.  Edgar Martinez, for instance, would be a fine choice; but can I include a guy who’s not even in the MLB Hall of Fame (yet)?  Same goes for someone like Jack Sikma (who absolutely should be a basketball hall of famer).  There are plenty of former Sonics and Seahawks who ARE in their respective halls of fame, so it doesn’t seem totally fair.  On top of that, can you rank any of these other guys as among the greatest at their positions all time?

My actual belief is that the #4 player on my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore is currently playing for the Seattle Seahawks.  But, since his career hasn’t ended yet, is it really appropriate to put him on there now?  Frankly, I think we’re another 7 years of quality play out of Earl Thomas from him being the guy.  If he can keep it up, and manage to stay healthy, he will go down as one of the most talented and important free safeties in the history of the NFL, with this Seahawks defense going down as one of the elite defenses in the history of the NFL.  As I wrote about yesterday, he’s the straw that stirs the drink; others may come and go, play or be injured, but the constant is Earl Thomas.  And, most importantly, we got a clear and obvious look at what this defense is without him, in the final 5 regular season games and 2 playoff games last year:  it’s not pretty.

So, I WANT to put Earl in here, but I just can’t.  What if injuries plague him from here on out and cut his career short?  Well, that opens the door for Richard Sherman, who is already the greatest cornerback in franchise history and already has made a name for himself among the greatest to ever play the game.  He needs some longevity to go with that to be Mount Rushmore-worthy, and the biggest question here is:  will he play out the duration of his career in Seattle?  There are obvious, serious doubts there too.

Which takes me to Russell Wilson.  What if he plays another 15 years for Seattle, and leads us to another 2-3 Super Bowls?  Doesn’t he HAVE to be the #4 on my Mount Rushmore, simply for the fact that he’s the most popular, recognizable figure on this team, at its most important position?

So, you see the bind I’m in.  All three of those guys are worthy, but all three of them need to put on some more years before they can be taken seriously among the top three on this list.

Where do I go from here?  While I acknowledge all of the above is true, I refuse to put “Placeholder” as my #4, so I’ve gotta make a choice.  To me, I think it has to come down to a couple of names:  Cortez Kennedy and Ichiro.

The Tez falls a few points below Big Walt on the ol’ Approximate Value scale, but I’m not going to go through and count the number of defensive tackles ahead of him.  Here’s what I’ve got:  11 year career, all with Seattle.  First round draft pick, #3 overall.  8 Pro Bowls, 3 First Team All-Pros, 2 Second Teams.  NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.  NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.  His number 96 is retired, and he’s in the NFL Hall of Fame.  Unfortunately, he got saddled on a lot of bad and mediocre teams, so the 2-time College Football National Champion only made one NFL playoff appearance (losing in the Wild Card round).  In my estimation, Tez ranks among the best all time at what he did, which was an all-around defensive tackle who could both rush the passer and defend against the run.  His sack numbers are impressive – particularly when you consider the number of double-teams he had to face – but his total tackle numbers are even MORE impressive.  I mean, he had 3 seasons where he averaged over 70 tackles per year!  As a DT!  Those are linebacker and safety numbers!

Then, there’s Ichiro.  He’s not in the MLB Hall of Fame, but that’s only because he’s STILL playing, at the age of 43.  Here’s a guy who spent 9 years in Japan before coming over to Seattle.  From age 18-26 (where, for a lot of people, he’d be working his way through the minors and getting into his prime at the Major League level), his numbers are essentially rendered irrelevant by a lot of baseball fans.  He nevertheless, as a pro starting at the age of 27, has managed to get over 3,000 hits, 2,533 of which were in a Mariners uniform.

Let’s get into it:  he was with the Mariners for 12 seasons.  An All Star his first 10 years (including All Star Game MVP in 2007).  A Gold Glover his first 10 years.  A Silver Slugger 3 times.  A Fielding Bible Award winner 3 times.  American League batting champion twice.  In 2001, he was the Rookie of the Year and the MVP in the A.L.  He also led the league in stolen bases that year.  He also had over 200 hits in his first 10 years, and set the single-season record for hits with 262 in 2004.  Like Tez, Ichiro was saddled with some pretty bad Mariners teams after the 2003 season.  Yet, he stuck around and remained true to the organization long after he could’ve gone to any number of teams to play for a contender.

If you want to talk about popularity – particularly on a global scale – Ichiro sits up there with Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime.  Even across America, he was the face of the Seattle Mariners for a decade!  He was a dominant force at the top of the lineup, and he was equally as great at his defense in right field.  He stole bases, he kept the opposing team’s running game in check, and if he were in a better-run organization, he could’ve done even MORE with his offensive numbers.

Is he among the greatest outfielders of all time?  That’s a little tougher to nail down.  He wasn’t like a Griffey or a Mays; Ichiro’s game is speed and singles (among other things).  I think he ranks up there among the greats at his defense, and among the greatest all time leadoff hitters.  I think he’s the greatest Japanese-born baseball player of all time, which is not an insignificant feat.  And, I think when you tack on the fact that some of his prime years were spent in the inferior Japanese leagues, you have to wonder what could’ve been had he gotten to America sooner.

All of that considered, that’s why I’m making Ichiro my #4 on my Seattle Sports Mount Rushmore.

So, what do you think?  Griffey, Payton, Jones, Ichiro.  With a very strong likelihood that my future #4 will be someone on this current Seahawks team.  Maybe in another decade I’ll come back and write a new one of these for shits and giggles.

My Griffey Hall Of Fame Weekend Experience, Day 2

I stayed up through the whole game, everyone!  Keep your chins up!

Allow me to re-introduce myself ...

Allow me to re-introduce myself …

Look, I’m not gonna lie to you, Day 1 kinda got away from me a little bit.  It took me a while to get going on Day 2, but I eventually ventured out of my apartment, grabbed a couple coffees and some scratch tickets, and even worked in a shower before I sweated myself through the second game of the weekend.

I threw $190 into scratch tickets and walked away with $30 when all was said and done, but it’s not all champagne wishes and caviar dreams for Steven A. Taylor.  There’s also copious amounts of line waiting!  We left South Lake Union around a quarter to 3, Ubering our way to 1st & Edgar Martinez Way to the sight of yet another fuckload of people waiting in lines to grab Day 2’s prize:  a mini Griffey HOF plaque.  We, no joke, got in the same line for the Left Field Entrance, at about the same distance as I was for Day 1.  And lo and behold, we got our plaques.

Bee-you-tiful ...

Bee-you-tiful …

We opted to stay in the stadium, as opposed to making our usual trek to Sluggers, because the 24 Retirement Ceremony was starting at 5:30, and we sure as shit didn’t want to miss it.  Since we were starving, food was our #1 priority.  I made the mistake of ordering a Mariner Dog (ate two bites and threw the rest away) and some Club Level “garlic” fries.  You tell me, is this abomination an appropriate order of garlic fries?

Horse. Shit.

Horse. Shit.

That’s either garlic powder, or parmesan cheese, but there’s NO FUCKING GARLIC on that shit!  Safeco, I expect better.

Once I got rid of that shit, I ended up walking a million miles to get a mediocre slice of pepperoni pizza and a cup of chocolate soft serve ice cream, before turning my attention to the $6 Tecates they sell at the Hit It Here Cafe.  Beer:  you can’t fuck up beer.

Let your freak flag fly …

The ceremony was fantastic.  The Mariners know how to do one thing well, and that’s throw a party for their greats.  The usual suspects showed up, from Alvin Davis, to Dan Wilson, to Jay Buhner, to Jamie Moyer, to Edgar Martinez wearing a backwards cap, to Dave Niehaus’ widow; while a bunch of shockers popped in, like Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy, Gary Payton, Spencer Haywood, Rickey Henderson, and others.  Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Kobe Bryant, and even Jeff Gordon had jumbotron salutes.  It was truly a star-studded affair.

The Great One ...

The Great One …

We even got a Griffey speech with almost no blubbering!  It was everything you could ever want from a ceremony!

Retire them numbers ...

Retire them numbers …

Then, the game happened, and I don’t even know anymore.  Like the previous night, Mike Trout hit a 3-run homer in the first to put the Mariners at a huge disadvantage.  Unlike the previous night, the Mariners were unable to respond with more than a single run in the bottom half of the inning.  But, in spite of Taijuan Walker’s mediocre return from the DL (4 innings, 6 runs), the Mariners continued to chip away!  1 run in the first, another in the third (Guillermo Heredia’s first ever homer), 2 runs in the fifth (Guti homer, to pull him within a triple of the cycle), and 4 runs in the seventh (a Leonys Martin sac fly, and a MONSTER 3-run homer from the hero of the night, Shawn O’Malley).

It was truly a magical night.  Shawn O’Malley even followed up his game-winning homer with a diving stab the next inning to take a hit away from them, resulting in chanting from the sellout crowd.  Was I JUST complaining of O’Malley’s defense earlier this week?  I don’t recall that!  Surely t’was some other blogger!  Was I among those leading the chants for the rest of the evening?  No hypocrite guy, but MAYBE!

Big ups to the bullpen tonight, for picking up where Taijuan failed to leave off.  Cody Martin went 2.2, Drew Storen got the last out in the 7th (and the win).  Wilhelmsen came in to dominate the 8th, and Edwin Diaz got the game sealing double play to close out the 9th.  Bing, bang, boom, Mariners defeat Angels 8-6, and we all went home delirious.

Day 3 happens later today, and I, for one, can’t wait.

Let your body move to the music ...

Let your body move to the music …

Seahawks Bring In Antoine Winfield

Antoine Winfield has played in the NFL for 14 seasons.  He will be 36 years old by the time the Seahawks play their first regular season game this year.  He signed for a 1-year, $3 million deal.  If he’s not on the week 1 roster, he only receives $1 million.  This is what you call a low-risk move.

It also has the potential to be a very high-reward move.  For starters, he’s not a starter.  Or, rather, he’s not slated to be a starter.  If all things go according to plan, Antoine Winfield will be our #3 cornerback.  He will fill the Marcus Trufant role on this team from last year.  By all accounts, Winfield was very good in this role.  In fact, in some circles, Winfield was rated as the #1 cornerback in football last year.  Of course, a lot of that had to do with his ability to tackle and stop the run – he had 100 tackles last year, as a CORNER – but I say all the better.  We’ve already got the best cover-corner in the NFL in Richard Sherman.  We’ve also got a Top 20 guy in Brandon Browner.  We don’t necessarily NEED Winfield to be the best cover guy.  But, we will need someone to help out against the run, especially when we play teams like San Francisco, Minnesota, Houston, and the Giants.

Now, obviously, everything doesn’t always go according to plan.  Last season, for instance, we lost Browner for four games due to suspension.  No one saw that coming!  And you NEVER see injuries coming (just ask Kobe)!  So, it would be nice to know that while we don’t need Winfield to be a starting, every-down corner, he COULD be a starting, every-down corner if the unthinkable happens.

Of course, all of this will shake out in Training Camp.  Who knows, maybe Winfield won’t even make the team!  I doubt that, but I’ve been surprised before.  Consider him another cog in the Seahawks Super Bowl machine.  We’ve got some of the best starters in the league (especially at quarterback), we’ve got some of the best depth in the league (except at quarterback), and we’re still ten days away from the 2013 NFL Draft.

This year is going to be fun.

Isaiah Thomas Is Still Great For Husky Recruiting

What does it take to bring in top-flight talent into a college basketball program?  Top-flight talent.

In other words, if you’re starting where the Huskies started when Lorenzo Romar was hired, you’ve got a VERY daunting task ahead.  But, thanks to him, we had a big influx of talent.  And he took that talent and turned it into more talent.  And now he’s continuing the cycle.

A 4-star recruit, Nigel Williams-Goss, just declared that he will sign with the Huskies in their 2013 recruiting class.  In the Seattle Times blog post I read today, he’s attributed to this quote:

They have a track record of sending a lot of pros through the years …

Which got me to thinking.  That’s true!  That:  is a true statement!  You’ve got Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Spencer Hawes, Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter, Isaiah Thomas, and soon to be pros in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.  Those are eight guys who have had (or will have had) extended periods of time in the NBA.  But, how good are they really?

Nate Rob has the most experience, having played in 448 games, winning multiple Slam Dunk contests.  But, he’s an old man by basketball standards, being a 7-year pro and all.

Brandon Roy probably had the greatest NBA career (or, at least, he was the best of the bunch in the NBA), but he suffered chronic injuries and was forced into early retirement.  Plus, for as great as he was, it’s not like he was a flashy, me-first type of guy.  He was never one to grab the glory, so for the most part the country as a whole didn’t pay a lot of attention to him (compared to other superstars who shall remain nameless).

Hawes, Brockman, and Pondexter have all had nice little careers, but they’ve been role players at best, and bench-warmers at worst.  No 4-star recruit comes to college with a dream to one day play 3 minutes per game in the NBA.  They all want to be the Next LeBron, or the Next Kobe, or whatever.

IT, on the other hand, is doing what none of those other Huskies have been able to do.  He’s young – having just completed his rookie campaign.  He’s awesome – having made a real case for Rookie of the Year.  He’s getting all the right kinds of publicity – starting as a rookie at point guard, with his size, etc.  He’s one year removed from the college program that helped make him a star – the same college program that just featured two guys who are pretty much guaranteed to be First Round draft picks in the upcoming NBA draft.

When high school guys talk about the Washington Huskies as a program that “sends a lot of pros through,” they’re talking about Isaiah Thomas.  He’s the cocky underdog, a fighter with a sass-mouth that can back up all his shit-talk on the court.  And even though he plays for Sac-town, he’s always going to be a Husky.  He’s always going to be an asset to the program (just like Wroten and Ross will be assets, even if they didn’t exactly lead us to a title while they were here).

Washington has a reputation now.  We’ve always had a reputation, but now we’ve got a GOOD reputation.  We’re a program who has seen elite guys come and go.  We’ve got a head coach who has made NBA players out of raw, unsculpted Play Doh.  We’ve got a community in the 206, 253, and 425 that continues to come back home and remind the world there are some elite basketball players playing in the Pacific Northwest.

And the better IT does as a pro (not to mention all the other guys mentioned), the better the University of Washington is going to do as a program.  We will never be lacking in guard talent, I’ll tell you that for free.

What Does She Have That I Don’t: Isaiah Thomas Leaves Huskies

I know I seem to say this a lot, but THIS is my worst God damned nightmare!  We just went from a Pac-10 Pac-12 contending team to an inconsistent, middle-of-the-road, NIT-bound also-ran.

This is awful.

For the last three seasons, we’ve had quality upper-classmen leadership (in addition to the already-quality leadership from the coaching staff).  I don’t care who you are (Kentucky), you NEED leadership from your players come crunch time!  Brockman begat Pondexter, Pondexter begat Thomas, Thomas was SUPPOSED to beget Thomas for one more year, which was just enough time for him to eventually beget someone else (Gaddy or Ross probably).

Who’s going to be our floor leader next year?  We’re a God damned rudderless ship over here!

I don’t just mean, “Who’s going to take the big shots?”  I KNOW who’s going to take the big shots.  It’s going to be The Terrence Ross Show!  If his (true) Freshman season was any indication, Ross is fearless when it comes to jacking the ball.  Allow him room to work a defender off the dribble, and you can expect a whole lot of Kobe references next season (hopefully minus all the rape).

We’re considerably younger next season as well.  Suggs and Gant will be our only seniors, so I guess this is good for them.  You can probably pencil Suggs into the starting lineup now, alongside some 4-man combo of Wroten, Gaddy, Ross, Gant, and N’Diaye (odds are Gant is out in that scenario, if we’re looking to go a little more traditional in our lineup).

Who does that leave?  Gaddy and N’Diaye will be Juniors (but really with only one season’s worth of D-I experience); Ross and Wilcox will be Sophomores; Simmons, Wroten and the rest will be Freshmen.

We’re young!  We’re a young team now.  Which is fine if you’re recruiting 5 blue chippers to replace those out-going after one-and-done seasons; but we’ve got, like, AH blue chipper.  Fortunately, he’s a guard, but still.

Maybe this means our true freshmen stand a chance at playing.  I still contend either Stewart or Andrews will be riding pine all year (after all, we’ll have to contend with Wroten probably being one-and-done).  Wroten, if he doesn’t start, will stand to still play at least 25 minutes.  If he turns out to be the talent we’ve been promised … MAYBE things will be okay?

God, I don’t even know what I’m saying right now; this is all too surreal.  I’ve been living my life all season long with the knowledge that IT would be back next year.  It was simply without QUESTION!  He would come back and we would God damned avenge our early exit this year!  Not only is he gone, but Christ in Hell, so are our chances at winning!

Ugh, this is the worst day of my life.  I fucking hate every other college basketball team in the world right now.  I hope all Final Four teams’ planes crash into Cowboys Stadium (on their flights down to Houston this weekend), killing everyone and Jerry Jones instantly.

A Team You Hate To Love

Not a day goes by where I don’t wish I was a fan of a winner. The Patriots, the Colts, the Steelers, hell even the Giants make a Super Bowl a decade.

But no. I had to be a homer through and through. It’s absolutely revolting.

So, I suppose I can’t let too much time pass without commenting on the likely signing of Pete Carroll as the new Head Coach and President of the Seattle Seahawks.

First, on Jim Mora, no it wasn’t fair to only give him a year and can him. But, let’s face facts, this wasn’t the guy to lead us to the promised land. I mean, look at his output when he was the Secondary Coach. He took a middle-of-the-road group and brought them down to one of the worst in the league. Then, he took a team with a 4-12 record (decimated by injuries) and improved them by AH game (still decimated by injuries, but I would argue not nearly as bad).

But, you know, I’m always dubious of sons of head coaches. I’m not gonna say Jim Mora Sr. was Bill Walsh or anything, but he was tons better than junior. Hell, I’m dubious of sons in general when they follow in their father’s footsteps: coaches, presidents of the United States, whatever.

Anyway, what’s done is done and this dark regional nightmare is over. A new regime, a fresh start.

The token complaint is that Pete Carroll is a great College Coach, but an average-at-best NFL Coach. That’s the easy, short-sighted argument; the Mike & Mike argument. Hard to refute, given the obviousness of the statement, but nevertheless I’m looking to go beyond that.

First, let’s look at the man’s career. Before he was hired at USC, he had never been a college head coach. He had no track record of being “Great” for college. People just slap that label on him because he’s an energetic “Rah Rah” type of coach, whatever that means. I wonder what type of coach ISN’T Rah Rah; I guess that would be a corpse-like Art Shell type coach.

And how hard is it, REALLY, to be a great head coach/recruiter for USC? It’s been the best football school in Southern California for, what, the past 90 decades? Does it take that much convincing to get a kid to commit to all that sunshine and success? Especially when you get all that hush-hush money on the side from boosters?

Let’s stick Pete Carroll in Iowa and see how great he is at recruiting talent before we automatically label him a “Great” college coach. That’s like saying Phil Jackson is the best NBA coach ever; oh, you mean he won a lot of games with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaq? Neato.

Conversely, how bad of a head coach was he in the NFL? Ostensibly, he’s had more NFL coaching experience, if you include all his assistant gigs. He’s been a part of some great NFL defenses in his day. He’s been a Head Coach for 4 years, on two different teams. A bad Jets team for 1 year, and some decent New England teams following The Tuna and his Super Bowl run. With neither team did he have the kind of control he had at USC, or will have with the Seahawks. I’m willing to give the man a chance. A .500 record early in your career in the NFL isn’t that bad. At the very least, it’ll always give you a second (or third) chance; just ask Jim Mora the next time he’s hired

The bottom line in this whole thing is that it appears we’re swapping out the same head coach. Jim Mora seems to be just a younger version of Pete Carroll. What we’re banking on is that Carroll’s experience in dominating the Pac 10 the last decade will carry over and help him improve upon what he was in his original NFL incarnation.

What most people seem to forget in all this lamenting of Mora’s firing is that the Seahawks organization HAD to do something. They had to do something big. And they weren’t going to get Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden or Marty Schottenheimer. They already lost out on Holmgren and Shanahan, so that didn’t leave a whole lotta options when it comes to bringing in a Big Name. And who’s the biggest viable name in College Football?

The fans are restless. That’s a combined 9 wins the last two years for a fan base who’s grown accustomed to getting that total EVERY year over the past decade. A fan base who’s been consistently selling out Qwest Field every year since it opened. A fan base who most certainly would’ve started turning their season tickets in had the organization not done SOMETHING.

Smart fans question the move. But, the bulk of Seahawks fans aren’t smart. They’re fairweather fans, people who just like watching football (who like watching the Seahawks only when they’re good). These are people who see a name like Pete Carroll and applaud loudly, because he’s a winner! They either don’t remember his initial NFL tenure or don’t care. They recognize the name, and that’s all that matters.

This won’t save the Seahawks entirely from a season ticket standpoint; they’ll still see some losses due to the fact that the team has been so bad lately. However, I think they’ve saved themselves from the certain hemorrhaging that would’ve taken place had they made some no-name coordinator a head coach alongside a no-name General Manager’s assistant our new GM.

Is it the right move? Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck EVER knows what the right move is? So much of this damned crapshoot is devoted to luck, it’s pathetic. Draft picks panning out, free agents living up to the money they make before they fall apart due to aging and indifference, avoiding too many costly injuries, fumbles bouncing your way, referees not shitting themselves on the field. X’s and O’s rarely decide the outcome. You’ve got to hit on all those intangibles first before you’ve even got a chance.

So, we’ll see. At least we know what we’re getting for the next 3 years. I know he’s under contract for 5, but I give him a guaranteed 3. After that, if he’s 0-48, I think it’s safe to assume we’ll be looking elsewhere.