I was a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Washington the first time I met Lorenzo Romar. It was the evening before Valentine’s Day, 2004, and the Husky Men’s Basketball team was getting ready to square off against the hated Oregon Ducks.
In an attempt to encourage students to arrive a) early and b) en masse, the athletic department’s marketing staff held a pregame meet-and-greet with the head coach that also included … wait for it … FREE FOOD. A Qdoba taco bar was set up in an auxiliary gym and, not surprisingly, a good number of students showed up to sample the fare.
My buddy, Charlie, and I had been attending games the entire season, but up to this point crowds had been slow to follow us to Hec Edmundson Pavilion. A string of pivotal conference wins had sparked a renewed interest in the team, however, and the athletic department was looking for every opportunity to capitalize on the sudden success.
So it was that I found myself in the audience of a man in a well-tailored suit, wearing shiny black wingtips, standing much taller than I originally anticipated. He spoke in a calm manner, confident, quiet, commanding, yet still very warm.
“We need to come up with a good nickname for [Oregon star] Luke Jackson,” he suggested.
“Second-hand Luke!” shouted a voice amongst the throng. The gallery erupted in laughter. The timing was impeccable, with Oregon’s more talented star of the same first name, point guard Luke Ridnour, having departed early for the NBA (and your Seattle Supersonics) during the prior offseason. Jackson was, quite literally, Oregon’s second-hand Luke.
“I like that, I like that,” the coach replied. And then he paused as a smile crept across his face. We all laughed once more.
It was this initial interaction that spawned a relationship with Romar and his basketball program unlike most that any fan could ever experience with his or her favorite team. We were the Dawg Pack, a thriving, evolving mass of out-of-control, fun-loving students that wanted nothing more than to enjoy every Husky Basketball game with our friends. And he was the leader of an up-and-coming, exciting, fast-paced ballclub of bourgeoning superstars that not only won games, but also reciprocated the love expressed by the growing contingent of fellow students-cum-fanatics.
We would meet again, the students and Romar, on various occasions. When we camped out before the team’s nationally-televised matchup against an undefeated Stanford team, he delivered boxes and boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts the morning after a chilly, near-sleepless night. After that, he brought his players outside to visit with us. First Tre Simmons, then Curtis Allen, even Nate Robinson. We talked and took pictures, played Xbox, embraced the moment. And after that we were cool with one another. They got us and we got them, those players. We were all students on the same campus, and because of the coach we were no longer strangers to one another. As time passed, they became our acquaintances, our friends.
After each season’s final home game, win or lose, the coach would grab a microphone, stand before a crowd that unwittingly had begun filing towards the exits, and utter an unrehearsed speech thanking all of us for showing up and supporting the team. He’d remain on the court after those contests and hang out with us, talk to us, be amongst us. His players did the same. He even led an entire group of students on an impromptu tour of the facilities after a game once, simply because we were still in the building.
By the time I was a senior, we had begun sneaking into Hec Ed late at night – special thanks to two friends of ours, one who played on the team and another who moonlit as a campus security guard, for getting us in – to play pickup games, often for hours on end. This went on for more than a few weeks before Romar found out. Through an intermediary, he advised us against playing there. But he wasn’t upset. And he didn’t tell us we couldn’t play there. It just didn’t seem safe. We took our games elsewhere anyway.
Over time, he gave us so many speeches that we began to notice patterns. For instance, he would always tell us about his previous coaching stints at St. Louis and Pepperdine, where he had to go door-to-door at each university’s Greek Row and inform students that not only was there a basketball team on campus, but that students were also privy to attend, if they so desired. Washington, he informed us, was different. He didn’t have to tell us to come. We just came. And then we went nuts for his squad. It was the first time in his head coaching career that anything like this had occurred. No one was more grateful for the presence of a bunch of smart-ass know-it-alls than Coach Romar. No one was more grateful for Coach Romar than our bunch of smart-ass know-it-alls.
He defended us in the press when other coaches in the conference wanted to relocate the Dawg Pack. Washington’s students were breathing down their necks, they said. Washington’s students were too loud, too close, too rowdy. Other schools put their students on the baselines or on the opposite side of the court. Washington’s students were right freakin’ there! Romar wouldn’t let them move us. He fought to keep us where we were, where we gave the team a ridiculous home court advantage, where we deserved to remain. And so we remained there. They still remain there today.
He didn’t have to do any of this, of course. He could have just won ballgames and we all would have been happy, we all would have shown up. Secretly, most of us turned out on that evening I first met the coach because a complimentary taco bar was involved. But we kept coming after that, believe it or not, in spite of an absence of free food.
I get it. I get why some fans want him fired. Why certain people would rather see the Huskies guided by someone other than the guy who’s been doing it for the past 12 years. He’s the longest tenured head coach in the Pac-12 now, but it seems like just yesterday that I stood before him as a teenager, slightly skinnier and gawkier than I am now (though equally as motivated by a free meal), when he was in the midst of only his second season on the job. It’s the law of diminishing returns, the fact that his team has lost its grasp on success over the past three years, a quarter of the dozen he’s been at the helm.
And I admit I’m guilty of instigating the masses as much as the next guy, quick to poke fun at the team’s occasional inability to handle a zone defense, to recruit with the best programs in the nation, to win games they should be capable of winning. I’ve joked about some of his players. I’ve cringed when the likes of Andrew Andrews lofts an ill-advised three-pointer, or when the since-departed Abdul Gaddy would choke away a clutch opportunity in crunch time. I’ve been that guy as much as anyone else, as much as anyone who wants Romar gone.
But I can never want anything but the best for Lorenzo Romar. This dude has treated people well for as long as I’ve known him, for over a decade now. He has been and continues to be the ultimate human being. He is a good person who deserves good things to happen to him. How could I ever wish bad upon someone who has inspired so much greatness?
Some may not understand it, some may not care to understand it, some may not be moved by the man’s charisma or his heart, but I am. He will get a free pass from me. Not because he used to land the best players around. Not because he used to coach a perennial tournament contender. Not because he’s governed a clean program in an era when that’s an increasing rarity – though it’s certainly nice to know he stands for righteousness in the face of rampant artifice.
No, for me it’s simpler than that.
Romar was good to me and to all of my fellow students when he didn’t have to be. He paid attention to us when no one else did. He made the entire athletic department recognize and acknowledge our importance. He forced the institution to treat the students – not the adults, not the boosters, not the family men, nor the wealthy glad-handers – with the utmost respect. He had our backs when there was no reason to have our backs. He’s no hipster; he loved the Dawg Pack before it was cool to love the Dawg Pack. And I guarantee you he still loves the Dawg Pack now, even if it isn’t so cool to love them once again.
There is nothing I want more than to see the Husky Basketball program thrive. And there is no one else I want to see lead that program to greatness than Lorenzo Romar.
Filed under: Husky Basketball
It’s not baseball season until a photo of chubby Jesus Montero chasing chubby running girl appears on the internet. Go Mariners.
*Montero photo courtesy Ryan Divish. Everything else courtesy Google Images and Seattle Sportsnet.
Filed under: Mariners
Like any announcement of this significance, the moment was met with a variety of reactions across the public spectrum. Pundits and players alike weighed in on Sam’s revelation, with most initial offerings proving to be fairly positive in nature.
Seahawks linebacker (and Super Bowl MVP) Malcolm Smith was one of the first and most prominent athletes to share his take on the news, providing the following comments via Twitter:
There is no room for bigotry in American sports. It takes courage to change the culture.
— Malcolm Smith (@MalcSmitty) February 10, 2014
Smith’s opinion was thoughtful and enlightened and in stark contrast to comments on homosexuality made by his teammate, Chris Clemons, in March, 2013.
The 32-year-old Clemons, who recorded 24 tackles and 4.5 sacks in a relatively quiet 2013 campaign, will likely be released in the coming weeks to save the team more than $7 million in cap space for next year. It’s not irony, by definition, but in a unique twist of peculiarity, the vacancy left by Clemons’ departure could very well open up a roster spot for a rookie defensive end like, say, Michael Sam. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
With his landmark announcement, every franchise in the NFL will now be answering the question of how a player of Sam’s sexual orientation could potentially fit in with their team. Though there have been gay NFL players in the past, none have revealed themselves to be homosexual until retirement. Should he make a roster, Sam would become the first active athlete in the NFL who is publicly out.
The conversation about whether it is fair or unfair for teams to acknowledge Sam’s sexuality is a moot point – for now. We all know that professional sports franchises don’t operate in the same vein as your standard American workplace. But as more and more players follow Sam’s lead in the coming years, we can all hope that sports will progress to the point of becoming apathetic towards the sexual orientation of athletes. For the time being, however, the situation is new, revolutionary, and will undoubtedly inspire a host of questions. The Seahawks, as an organization that could vie for Sam’s services, are by no means exempt from speculation.
This of course leads us to a debate on Sam’s “football abilities,” which will quickly become code for “everything about Michael Sam that doesn’t have to do with him being gay.” The disclaimer of any intensive scouting report henceforth on Sam’s playing prowess will almost certainly include some allusion to this line of code, lest anyone suspect objectivity has been threatened in the analysis of a now-high-profile prospective draftee.
All that said, there is reason to believe the Seahawks could be in the market for Sam and those very “football abilities.”
As mentioned previously, the likely release of Clemons will open up a major role on the defensive line. The Seahawks face additional questions at the defensive end position with Michael Bennett becoming an unrestricted free agent, though all signs point to the team gathering the necessary funds to re-up Bennett long-term. Further, veteran Red Bryant could be let go to save money, as well, creating yet another vacancy at the same spot. All of this would make it imperative for the Seahawks to add between one and three bodies on the D-line, forging an opportunity for the likes of Sam.
The SEC’s leader in sacks in 2013 with 11.5 and a consensus All-American, Sam is described as a “high motor” guy, which would seemingly fit the mold of Pete Carroll-John Schneider draftees. At 6’2”, 255 pounds, Sam doesn’t possess prototypical size to play end in the NFL, however — thus punctuating the “high motor” designation. The Seahawks of the PCJS era have been characterized by effort players who buy in to the system, despite their physical traits or perceived limitations. That alone would give Sam a fighting chance to catch the team’s eye over other names at his position.
For what it’s worth, the Seahawks already employ one defensive end who compares favorably to Sam in Benson Mayowa. At 6’3”, 252 pounds, the 22-year-old Mayowa’s measurements align closely with those of his Missouri-bred counterpart. A rookie from Idaho, Mayowa was inked as a free agent following the 2013 Draft and made the roster out of training camp — he remains signed through the 2015 season at the bargain basement rate of $495,000 per year. Mayowa’s presence may mean that the Seahawks have no need for a player of a similar ilk in Sam, or it may indicate that the team is willing to add these types of guys on a repeated basis.
Beyond “football abilities,” Sam seems to possess the intangibles most organizations, including the Seahawks, would seek in a draft pick. He was a team captain of the Tigers’ program, is generally regarded as having a high moral fiber (“character,” in shorthand), and endured adverse circumstances during his adolescence that would prepare him for life in the NFL. A full dissertation on Sam, as penned by our friend Doug Farrar, can be found here.
From a societal perspective, there may be no better city in America for Sam to land than Seattle, which is among the most progressive when it comes to human rights and sexual orientation. On top of that, the environment in the Seahawks’ locker room, as evidenced by Malcolm Smith’s aforementioned comments, would appear to be welcoming. That the team was just crowned best in the league doesn’t hurt, either, and having a coach who is more willing than some of his peers to create a collaborative work environment is also a positive.
Away from the crush of a major media market like New York, for example, Seattle would provide a safe enough haven for the transcendent figure that Sam will certainly become – though no matter where the rookie goes, he will surely be followed by reporters seeking comment on more than just Xs and Os.
It remains to be seen whether the league’s first openly gay player could become a Seahawk, but the consensus is that, as a potential mid-to-late-round pick, every organization will at least have a chance to add Sam’s talents, if desired.
Would Sam make sense as a member of your defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks? For a number of reasons, yes. And should he find himself in the Emerald City come May, there are few places across the landscape of the National Football League that will offer Michael Sam a blend of acceptance and opportunity quite like Seattle.
Filed under: Seahawks
The man who jubilantly bounded along First Avenue without pants on probably summed it up best. With arms raised skyward, he hopped up and down, shuffling parallel to the southern flow of traffic as a cry of unbridled excitement sounded from his gullet. A cameraman with lens trained upon Q13 Fox News field reporter John Hopperstad, the unwitting accomplice in all this, remained frozen to a spot for fractions of a moment as the pants-less man, twig and berries in full view, coincided with the focal point of the shot. In an instant, technology recorded the half-naked hoopla in all its ballsy glory. And as millions of people the world around became privy to the triumph of the man’s favorite football team, the video of the happy, bottomless Seahawks fan gained rapid exposure.
Sure, anyone could make jokes about the guy – he wasn’t wearing anything from the waist down, after all. But adorned from the belly up in the wolf grey replica jersey of the team’s quarterback, the message was clear: Seattle was in full celebration mode. What better way to celebrate than by removing one’s clothes?
This is what we’ve waited for since birth. For many of us, the entirety of our respective existences has been spent anticipating a championship. As a collective whole, we’ve been trophy-starved in the Emerald City since 1979, when our dear departed (soon-to-return) SuperSonics took home Seattle’s first and only major professional sports title. Those who actually remember that star-crossed basketball season are now 40 years of age or older. Those who haven’t quite ripened to that level of maturity have never experienced the thrill of winning it all. Together, we’ve yearned for an event that was beyond slow to arrive.
We’ve been dubbed the Worst Sports City in America on multiple occasions, most recently within the past year. We’ve ho-hummed our way through countless losing campaigns, shrugged our shoulders repeatedly through playoff time, and rallied more passionately for a franchise that was stolen from us than for some that still exist. We’ve been characterized by misery and become synonymous with defeat. The trademark rain that falls upon our shoulders as we sullenly languish under murky skies has served as a metaphor for scribes who detail our athletic failures. To date, it seems, the only thing we’ve been good at is losing.
We’ve been discordant and irritable and more likely to pick fights with one another than to gather together in serendipitous solidarity. We’ve spent more time divided than united, embarrassed than emboldened, incensed than inspired. We’ve been angry and bitter, morose and beat down, hurt and disappointed. We’ve been the laughingstock, the butt of the joke, the doormat upon which outsiders wiped their feet. No one’s had it worse, they’ve argued. And we’ve agreed. A lifetime of shortcomings has brought us to a certain Zen state of understanding when it comes to our place in this world.
We have never been the winners. Until now. Until February 2nd, 2014, Super Bowl Sunday. We were champions once, thirty-five years in our distant past, and after a multi-generational drought, we are champions again. We are that team. With those players. With that trophy. We are those fans, the ones who get to hold a parade, who get to witness the unveiling of a meaningful stadium banner, who will get peppered with TV ads for commemorative t-shirts and hats and DVDs and knick-knacks and whooziewhats. Us. It’s us. We are the winners.
There are plays that will define our conquest. There are names that will forever be burned upon the tips of our tongues, historic in their significance to our victory. There are coaches and players and sounds and images and so many memories to be sorted like phone numbers in the Rolodexes of our minds. We will quantify the importance of each isolated second of our journey to relevance and qualify the legacies of those who lived that odyssey with us, who gave us reason to rejoice. All of that will be done in time. But for now, we reside in uncharted territory. For right now, we live in a haze of elation that we don’t quite know how to navigate.
This isn’t just about a football team. It’s not about the trophy that will be inscribed with the name of our city or the accolades that will come with being designated as victors. This is about a group of people who have thirsted for this moment forever and ever and ever. It’s about an entire region that has come together to be a part of the magic that surrounds winning. It’s about the smiles and the fist pumps you’ll get from strangers you pass at the grocery store, the reminiscent conversations you’ll have with people you otherwise never would have talked to, the laughter you’ll share with friends and loved ones when you think back to that time we did it, we really did it, we won our long-awaited championship.
This is what it feels like. Forgive us for removing our pants, but we needed this so bad and now we’re enjoying it with all our junk hanging out because, frankly, we just don’t know what else to do. We aren’t used to celebrating, so we’ll celebrate the only way we know how, which means some of us might be naked and some of us might be clothed. But I promise you, we will enjoy this like nothing else, absolutely nothing else, because this is that very moment we’ve been waiting for.
The Seahawks are Super Bowl champions. For the City of Seattle, best city on earth, and the entire Pacific Northwest, beautiful place we call home, this is our time. Enjoy it. Enjoy every minute of it.
Filed under: Seahawks
If you’re looking for a surreal experience, take a drive past the Seahawks practice facility over the next few days and feast your eyes upon the ghost town that sits upon the shores of Renton’s sliver of Lake Washington. The usually bustling Virginia Mason Athletic Center is vacant, save for a handful of cars in the parking lot and a few inconspicuous employees middling around the building, everyone else having departed for a game, just a game, to be played three-thousand miles away.
For a week, at least, the Seahawks belong not to the Pacific Northwest but to the nation, one of two teams that America will choose to root for come Super Bowl Sunday. These are your Seahawks, our Seahawks, Seattle’s Seahawks, certainly. But as the week wears on, a bandwagon will swell beyond capacity as onlookers the world around pick sides, opting between our squad and those other guys from Denver.
This is what we’ve always wanted, isn’t it? For the bulk of the past three years, as the Hawks have marched towards uber-relevance and the fan base has subsequently multiplied, the 12th Man has decried the lack of regard from those deemed nationally important. There were never enough segments on the radio, features on television, or inches in our favorite publications to satisfy our Blue Fridays – and Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, too.
But now as we approach the world’s biggest game, played on the outskirts of this country’s most recognized city, we’re becoming overwhelmed by everything that’s being said about our football team. And unlike before, when we blasted the media outside this regional bubble we live in for their perceived ignorance, we find ourselves struggling to digest the words and sentiments being frivolously bandied about by pundits who are finally paying attention. We asked for this. We got it. And now we don’t like it.
What were you expecting? The media is supposed to be unbiased. You and I, however, are very much biased. We love the Seahawks. That means absolutely nothing for those being paid to opine about our ballclub.
Take, for instance, this column on Marshawn Lynch from CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel. Doyel lambasts Lynch’s behavior at Super Bowl Media Day, calling it both “embarrassing” and “humiliating.” But embarrassing and humiliating to whom? Lynch isn’t bothered by his own reserved demeanor. The Seahawks certainly don’t seem to care that Lynch acts the way he does. The throng of reporters, including a number of Seattle-based pundits, expected nothing more and nothing less – well, perhaps less – from the running back. So it’s left up to guys who operate on a more national level, like Doyel, to recoil at the fact that, OMG, a player won’t address them in the manner they feel they should be addressed.
This is a link-bait piece at its finest, an article idea conceived even before Doyel awoke this morning, I’d wager. Never mind the fact that Doyel could have crafted a story from the likes of any other Seahawk circling the floor or manning a podium at the Prudential Center on Tuesday. This column was as much about Marshawn Lynch as it was the author, who took the liberty of sharing his appall, however fabricated, in order to log site hits and boost his own Q rating with the reflection in the mirror.
You know who Gregg Doyel is? Seriously, do you even KNOW who Gregg Doyel is? Yeah, me neither. He’s just a guy. A guy who writes. I guarantee you that the Gregg Doyels of the world aren’t walking up to attractive girls in swanky clubs and name-dropping themselves on unsuspecting hotties who will then melt, absolutely melt, at words like “national” and “columnist.” It doesn’t happen that way. But if you presented this line of thinking to the reverent media, purveyors of truth, justice, and the American way, they’d scoff. Because in their own minds, these national pundits are the holy grail of information that this universe so desperately needs.
Why do you want ESPN’s affection, or Fox Sports’, or CBS’? Do you really need the worldwide press to tell you how great this football team is, how impactful their fans are, how well they might play come Sunday? Do you honestly desire the approval of scribes with their heads so far up their own asses that they can’t see the light of day? Is this really what you’ve craved, 12th Man?
None of it matters. Not any of it. From what Gregg Doyel has to say, to NFL Network, to NBC, to USA Today, to anyone else. You don’t need magazine covers or featurettes to tell you how important your team is. The Seahawks are great because of what they’ve done on the field. This isn’t about respect or disrespect towards a franchise or its fan base, either. The 12th Man is loud and everyone knows it – what everyone says about the 12th Man might vary, however, and that’s just fine.
So let’s ignore the national media and move past this desire to be loved, Seahawks fans. Win a game on Sunday and there will seemingly be no end to the accolades thrown Seattle’s way. Earning affection, rather than clamoring for it, is a much more satisfying achievement.
Filed under: Seahawks
Below is a response to a letter penned to Seattle by The Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson. Read at your own risk.
Dear Oklahoma City,
Truce? I don’t think so.
Here in Seattle, we’ve been watching your basketball team and its slobber-knocking run to an inevitable playoff ouster. We see the joy our former Sonics have created. We see the passion your fans have for this championship-losing bound bunch. We see the arm-waving, cousin-banging Thunder-up insanity of it all.
And we wonder if it’s time you went and fucked yourselves.
You’ve got a great, albeit unaccomplished basketball team.
We’ve got a great football team.
Can we all just agree that you’ll go fuck yourselves?
Sure, there will probably always be some people in Oklahoma City who want to get along with Seattle because they need validation and have a strong desire to be liked and accepted by all of society. They watched a couple years ago when the Thunder lost in the NBA Finals and felt that a future of fateful title defeats might be avoided if a bit of good karma was extended the Pacific Northwest’s way.
That’s assuming they survived the pain of seeing Clay Bennett purse his lips and tighten his asshole just a bit more than usual upon being toppled on the league’s biggest stage by the Miami Heat.
But the truth is, the Sonics’ departure can be traced in no part whatsoever to the Seahawks’ first of many other trips to the Super Bowl. That was February 2006, and it has no bearing on what’s occurred since, what’s occurring now, and what will occur later on because aside from being from the same city, the Seahawks and Sonics have very little in common, so why make such a lazy comparison unless you’re a lazy, talentless scribe, am I right?
The same winter that our football team had everyone buzzing here, a displaced basketball team was having a much lesser effect there. The Hornets had landed in Oklahoma City after a natural disaster forced them out of New Orleans, and Oklahomans were quickly realizing how beneficial it can be to capitalize on tragic events.
And as your NBA passion was borne out of others’ misfortune, ours in Seattle remained ever-fervent – though you’d like to believe otherwise because Clay Bennett is a propagandist who did a good job convincing you that we stopped supporting our team.
The Seahawks were the shahs, and the Mariners were the emperors, and let’s insert some other middling hierarchical relationship analogies in order to cobble together a back-handed compliment. The Sonics? They were our first love in this basketball-crazy town and as Bennett and his band of cronies did everything they could to make the gameday experience insufferable in that final year, fans still showed up, putting forth an effort that looked like this. Making matters worse was an NBA commissioner determined to stick it to our town, who had shared a bond with the team’s new owner over email exchanges dripping with curious affection, who had long developed a personal hatred towards the State of Washington and everyone in it, who will one day go to his grave with an entire region of basketball fans wishing he burns in hell for all eternity.
It’s not your fault, per se, but you won’t drop the subject, so it kind of is. I mean, we’d be fine just blaming Bennett, Stern, and Howard Schultz for this mess. But you assholes keep bringing up the past, intervening in our business, and pretending that the hijacking of our basketball franchise should just be water under the bridge. Like it’s no big deal. Like it just happens.
You know the rest, Oklahoma City.
No need for me to copy the remainder of Jenni Carlson’s format and pollute your brains with anymore of this impassioned drivel.
It’s plain as day that the original column, however petty, was shit out half-heartedly by a writer who will forever be stuck scribing for people that can almost read.
You can keep take that basketball team of yours and shove it up your collective asses. You can watch our football team in the Super Bowl and root for whoever you like, knowing that a football team of your own can’t exist above the college level.
And when we get an NBA team back in Seattle, you can rest assured that we’ll be there at every single meeting between our two squads, yelling, screaming, and rooting against you godforsaken pieces of Satan’s excrement, you trolling, sorry little bastards.
No better time than the present for you to go fuck yourselves.
Filed under: Sonics
11. He’s from Compton.
Compton. You’ve heard about this place. It’s a scary, scary little neighborhood. The concrete jungle, they call it. Jungles are frightening. Concrete is also frightening. They shoot people there, supposedly. Gangs run rampant through the alleyways. Wannabe rappers approach you on street corners, Discmans in hand, demanding you listen to their mixtapes. There is nothing more petrifying than that.
And Richard Sherman, he’s from there, he’s from Compton. California! Everyone there smokes marijuana! And carries an AK-47, just like Ice Cube said! How did Sherman escape? He must be some sort of magician, or worse, a wizard. Not the good kind of wizard, either. He’s like Voldemort. The Voldemort of Compton. What do we do? WHAT DO WE DO?!
10. He screwed your fantasy team.
You started a quarterback who started against the Seahawks. That was a mistake.
You started a receiver who started against the Seahawks. That was also a mistake.
Your quarterback threw an interception…to Richard Sherman. Your receiver was blanketed all game long…by Richard Sherman. The end result? You lost your fantasy matchup…because of Richard Sherman. And now you don’t like that guy.
9. He’s smarter than you.
He has a degree in Communications from Stanford.
He scribes for Sports Illustrated.
He graduated high school with a 4.2 grade-point average, good for second in his class.
He can write complete sentences and use the correct forms of their, there, they’re, your, and you’re. Why’s he gotta be like that? Damn that guy for paying attention through fourth grade English.
8. He has dreadlocks.
Wash your hair, hippie! This isn’t Woodstock, or Hempfest, or a Dave Matthews Band concert, or whatever it is kids are into these days. This is football. PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL. It’s time these players started looking like professional professionals, the most professional. There’s nothing professional about that Bob Marley ‘do. Uh-uh, no way. Pert Plus, fool. Give it a try.
7. He can read minds.
My god. You were just talking to your buddies about how Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t have tried to throw over Richard Sherman when, lo and behold, Sherman said that very same thing on camera. And wouldn’t you know it, you too questioned the ability of Michael Crabtree, mediocre receiver, when Sherman raised those exact questions, himself.
What the hell, bro? This guy have ESP or something? He some kind of mind-reader? I don’t trust this dude. Why did he have to say those things I also said?! Screw that guy! Get out of my head, you evil bastard! I hate you!
6. He’s a thug.
Spending his off days performing community service, Sherman is well-known for his thuggish behavior. Patrolling the halls of hospitals and giving back to kids in need, the third-year cornerback carries himself like a true gangster, one who belongs to a gang that has yet to be identified, unless you count the Legion of Boom, which is rumored to be loosely associated with the Latin Kings. Or maybe it’s the Crips. Or it might be that other one they have, the Whatchamacalits, we’re not really sure. Regardless…thug.
5. He’s a fun-loving troll.
So yeah, he patted his former college coach Jim Harbaugh on the behind after his Seahawks trounced Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers in Week Two of the regular season.
And yeah, he also patted Niners wideout Michael Crabtree on the behind when Crabtree was denied a touchdown on the final drive in the NFC Championship game.
And okay, yes, he did greet Crabtree with an overzealous attempt at a handshake right after that sneaky little butt-pat and the game-ending deflection that led to a Seattle interception.
And if you go back a ways, he did get in Tom Brady’s ear once after a Patriots loss to ask if the quarterback was mad, bro.
And he did silence ESPN talking head Skip Bayless by casually informing the obnoxious journalist that he was “better at life” than him.
Yes, he did all that. And more.
But in the world we live in, that’s called being a troll. Trolls can be good, bad, or somewhere in-between. Sherman is the best kind of troll there is. He’s a fun-loving, clever little troll who entertains more often than he irritates. Are you not entertained? Don’t we all just want a little entertainment?
4. He endorses Beats By Dre.
Wait. Beats By Dre? Isn’t that Kaepernick’s brand? Don’t they sponsor him? What is Sherman doing with their brand on? I thought we all agreed to boycott Beats! I thought we hated Beats! What is happening?!
The moral of the story: this is why it’s a bad idea to get irrationally upset over headphones. Headphones, people. They’re just headphones.
3. He’s classless.
Richard Sherman isn’t classy, they say. And what is class, you ask? That’s a great question.
To some, class means saying “Please” and “Thank you.”
To others, class is speaking only when spoken to.
To others still, class means driving 50 miles per hour in the left lane of a major interstate with those whimsical little family decals stuck to the rear window of your Ford Windstar and a Jesus fish perched just above your “My child is a middle school honor student” bumper sticker.
Class, as it turns out, is pretty hard to define. And yet by every definition, supposedly, Richard Sherman is alleged to lack possession of that uber-ambiguous character trait we come to associate with politeness and silence and Jesus fish.
Well then. In that case, I want to be classless, too.
2. He’s a loudmouth trash-talker.
Did you not play sports growing up? Have you never enjoyed a little good-natured back and forth with a worthy adversary? Are you non-competitive? Are you soft? Are you a wimp? Do you fail to find the humor in, well, everything? Do you fail to succeed at much of what you do? Do you hate being reminded of your frequent failures? Are you upset over the way your life has transpired? Are you stuck in a loveless relationship? Do you look in the mirror and cry for long periods of time? Have you ever peed yourself just to enjoy a feeling of warmth?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, or if you’re vehemently opposed to answering any of the above questions, then I’m sorry, but you are not qualified to label Richard Sherman a loudmouth trash-talker.
If you still find yourself qualified to pass judgment and are still convinced that Sherman is little more than a loudmouth trash-talker, please turn the volume of your hearing aid down, exit your glass house, and judge accordingly once again.
1. He’s dark.
That year-round tan he sports is no coincidence: Richard Sherman might just be African-American. And in today’s society, that’s still a big deal to a number of people.
If the immediate internet backlash to Sherman’s NFC Championship postgame comments was any indication, a number of Americans still can’t accept certain behaviors without first considering ethnic background. In layman’s terms, we call that prejudice. And when it has to do with ethnicity, it’s better known as racism. People in this country are racist? Gasps abound.
But you already knew this. I’m not the first person to refer to skin color in a column on Richard Sherman and his quote-unquote attitude. It’s almost becoming cliché at this point. It’s hard to really know whether this desensitization to the idea of racism is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s certainly developing into reality. Are we making progress through overexposure? Or are we not making enough progress because we’ve started to tune out the messages of equality?
The fact is, if Sherman were a white guy who yelled into a TV camera, we’d all giggle. All of us. Because that’s just how we react to white guys mean-mugging through our flat-screens. Why do you think WWE is so successful? Because of impassioned, yelling white guys.
For example, take San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Isn’t Rivers just a goofball? Every time he goes nutso on the sidelines, we can’t help but smirk. He doesn’t look right expressing that much emotion. It comes across as wacky, rather than threatening.
But don’t you think Rivers might want to be taken seriously in those instances? When he’s trying to fire up his teammates, do you really think he’d appreciate being laughed at? When he’s screaming passionately in an interview over the good or the bad that just took place on the field, do you honestly believe he’s trying to be a comedian? Hell no. The guy is as serious as serious gets. But to us, it all seems so silly.
On the flip side, we have Sherman. Sherman’s antics aren’t much different than those of the San Diego signal-caller. Like Rivers, Sherman also wants to convey passion and inspire through communication. But unlike Rivers, society’s reaction to his behavior is decidedly different. There are those who are fearful of Sherman because he doesn’t look like many of us, because he’s an ethnic minority, because he manages to appear less goofy than Rivers. That’s scary. And for some godawful reason, when people get scared, they often get angry.
Who knows if that’s something the human race will ever be able to control. Some of us are built more tolerant, more intelligent, less afraid, less reactive, and less angry than others. But there are still millions upon millions of people who can’t control their rage when faced with something out of the ordinary.
So we use Richard Sherman as a vehicle for our ire. And we’re no better for it than we were before. It’s a unique predicament, and one for which there isn’t an easy solution.
Why do Americans hate Richard Sherman? Mostly, because they are not him. And he is not them. And that dissonance is great enough to invoke stupidity. Why are we so stupid sometimes?
Filed under: Uncategorized
Out of curiosity, I dialed up the San Francisco 49ers ticket office Sunday night. I wanted to see if their phones, like their franchise, would quit after five rings, too. Alas, the hotline was designed to operate much like the Niners of 2014 — and of each of the prior 19 seasons, as well — going straight to a pre-recorded message and resulting, however unfortunately, in no rings.
As many are well aware, the world has been reminded numerous times over the course of this season that the Seattle Seahawks, unlike the mighty 49ers, have amassed a total of zero rings, zero Lombardi Trophies, zero Super Bowl titles throughout their 37-year existence. Niner fans love to bring up the past in that regard, not only because the days of yore are where all of their success lies, but in turn because the past, you see, allegedly has some bearing on the present in today’s NFL. The Seahawks of right now, ringless wonders that they are, are somehow inferior to all those title teams of years gone by because, you know, SCIENCE.
Admittedly, we’ve waited anxiously for our time to come. For Seattleites like myself who grew up in the eighties and nineties, waiting has become second nature. The Seahawks teams of our childhood were occasionally dotted by big names — Largent, Krieg, Tez — but often characterized by substandard results. Back then the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, seemed as far off as Bali, an exotic greener pasture a world away that we would likely never see with our own two eyes. And then Mike Holmgren — as well as Holmgren’s successor’s successor, Pete Carroll — came along and changed all that.
We’ve had it pretty good the past decade-plus, watching (and cheering, and yelling, and screaming) as the Seahawks have found their way to the postseason eight times since 2003. That’s not a bad run of prosperity by any stretch of the imagination, so good in fact that fans have started to yearn for more, like a championship, for instance. As the wins have increased, so too have the expectations, culminating in the start of the 2013 campaign, where never before had such unbridled enthusiasm and nervous excitement greeted the opening of a Seahawks football season.
The regular season may as well have been an exhibition. Sure, we found ourselves fretting over the development of the team’s play week in and week out, but we all knew deep down that it didn’t matter. The Hawks were destined to trample opponents one by one over the course of sixteen contests, and so it happened just as fate foretold. For all the buzz in the air about Seattle’s superior ball club, there was a certain ho-hum shoulder shrug of expectancy that met each victory along the way. Only on the three occasions when defeat occurred did the earth seemingly stop, the pundits murmur, and the fan base raise a collective eyebrow.
But then each defeat was thrice met with a subsequent victory. And for each loss a veritable asterisk seemed to appear alongside the big red “L,” a caveat indicating why it was that perfection was briefly interrupted on the way to otherwise undeterred greatness. Indianapolis was a tough road game against a quality opponent, with a 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time kickoff, to boot. San Francisco was the biggest rival and arguably the second-best team in all of football; no shame could be felt in losing on the Niners’ home turf. And Arizona was that all-important “get it out of the way” defeat just prior to the playoffs, the type of loss that builds character and serves as motivation down the stretch. They weren’t excuses, per se, but reasons. As every shortcoming was reasoned away, each victory became more and more validated. And with each emphatic mushroom stamp of success teabagged upon the résumé of a damn good football team, the end result became clearer and clearer: the Seahawks would play in the Super Bowl.
If this article has bored you until now, that’s the point. Because like the eighteen contests we’ve just witnessed, everything up to right now has just been “Eh.” It’s been absolute “Eh.” And though you may have drank yourself to silliness on Sundays or gone batshit crazy for certain plays here and there, you’ve woken up every Monday morning with a feeling of reserved satisfaction, knowing in your heart of hearts that the previous win, exhilarating as it may have been, was only a small piece of a much larger puzzle. Eighteen puzzle pieces now sit on your grandmother’s coffee table attached in strategic juxtaposition. One final piece strays from the group ready to cap off a beautiful image of a Monet impressionism or a city landscape. The ultimate game, some two weeks away, will make a work of art complete.
This is it. This is what we’ve waited an entire season — or eight seasons, or thirty-seven seasons, depending on your point of view — for. One matchup to determine the best group of fifty-three guys in all the sport. And if you believe there’s another team better equipped to prove victorious in this event, you’ll be reminded by a group of badass mother … lovers … why you’re sorely wrong.
They are loud, they are brash, they are confident, they are cocky, they are arrogant, and they are so effing good at what they do. Richard Sherman won’t shut up, but why should he? He’ll beat you, then tell you how he beat you, then tell you how he’ll beat you again, and the world will explode in a cornucopia of reactionary emotions. But none of it will matter, because between the lines he will back up all the talk with a game that cannot be conquered, and his attitude, however aggravating, will permeate amongst his teammates.
Two crazy chicks in a Jerry Springer stage fight don’t possess nearly the bombastic hubris of each member of the Seahawks roster, each with a chip the size of Jupiter beneath the requisite shoulder pads. The quarterback? Too small, passed on by every single NFL team at least once, and in most cases twice, in the draft. The running back? Too quirky, jettisoned from his first team before ever proving his worth, traded for next to nothing in return. The receivers? Too mediocre. The defense? Too braggadocious, too noisy, too concerned with extra-curricular activity, too physical, too whatever. Even the kicker (cut previously) and the punter (also cut previously) have reason to be angry. Anger, as it turns out, fuels hunger. Hunger, meanwhile, is dealt with by each individual in different ways. Some just play the game a little harder than their counterparts. Others, like Sherman, for one, want to make sure you remember why they’re here now.
The universe doesn’t quite know what to make of the Seattle Seahawks. There has never been a team with such a brief and undistinguished pedigree that has polarized a nation as greatly as this one. The Dallas Cowboys of the nineties may have divided sports fans into two passionate love-or-hate factions, but they did so only after winning Super Bowls — and this after spending decades as “America’s Team.” The Seahawks have no such acclaim to their credit, and yet they’ve already pissed off twice as many people as they’ve endeared, which is a generous ratio to say the least.
Squaring off against the distinctly white bread vanilla Denver Broncos, Seattle will surely assume the role of “villain” in the 2014 Super Bowl production. But loathe or love the Pacific Northwest’s one and only NFL team, the Seahawks will do everything in their power to make you notice them. Because they are hungry, because they are angry. And as they torpedo toward what they see as an inevitable outcome — the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy — you won’t be able to take your eyes off the baddest, best football team to grace the planet.
For now, they are a hotline that takes you straight to a pre-recorded message: ringless. But give it two weeks and that story might — and will, if you believe the players — change.
Filed under: Seahawks
Are you a 49ers fan making the trip to Seattle for this Sunday’s NFC Championship game? Do you know a 49ers fan coming to town to attend the game? Are you this lady, who would prefer to hang out with 49ers fans because the Seahawks faithful are “alcohol-fueled bullies”?
Whatever your situation, if you plan to support that other football team from San Francisco this week, we’d like to welcome you to the Emerald City with this comprehensive guide of things to do, places to stay, and restaurants at which to eat during your time with us. You can’t say we aren’t a classy bunch up here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Where to stay on your trip
Let’s start with lodging. You bought playoff tickets on a whim from a third-party reseller, dropping more than a thousand dollars of hard-earned cash that could have paid to send your kid to college bail your kid out of jail, and now you’ve only begun to piece the rest of your mini-vacation together. Not to worry, friend, we’ve done the legwork for you. When you visit Seattle, here are three of the best local inns for you to call your temporary home.
1. The Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino
With three stars to its name, the Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino is arguably considered the nicest hotel in all of Fife. If you have a gambling habit, you’ll find the sprawling complex especially to your liking – but don’t spend all that money in one place! An abundance of nearby automobile dealerships may just catch your eye before you leave town.
2. Extended Stay America
Nestled between luxurious Interstate-5 and a highway that prostitutes frequent, you’ll find the Extended Stay America, owner of an impressive (for Fife) 3.3 Google Review rating. Feel free to call the Extended Stay home for a night, a weekend, or forever – that’s why they call it Extended Stay! Just don’t venture too far from your room after dark. Unless you’re into hookers. In which case, go wherever the wind takes you. And Godspeed.
3. Days Inn Fife
One of very few motels bold enough to put the township’s name right there in their lodging’s moniker, the Days Inn Fife deserves recognition simply for claiming Fife as its own. Respect.
What to do on your trip
1. Visit the Emerald Queen Casino
Even if you don’t plan to sleep at the worldish-renowned EQC, we invite you to make a day of it at the slots. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch a concert from some of your favorite musical acts of days gone by, such as Brian McKnight, Air Supply, or my personal favorite, Billy Ocean!
2. Venture over to the Fife History Museum
Have you ever wanted to learn more about Fife? Great news! The Fife History Museum will give you what is most likely to be considered an unnecessary amount of knowledge on this city of industry. For just $20, you can allegedly purchase an annual pass so that you may return to brush up on ancient Fife trivia each time you return to the great state of Washington in 2014!
3. Take a dip at the Fife Swim Center
If you enjoy dozens of screaming children splashing you incessantly with chlorinated water, the Fife Swim Center is the place for you! Operated by Spaniards who siesta in the afternoon (we think), the Swim Center is open from 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and then again from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Oddly, the Swim Center is only open from 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Fridays. And a bit of bad news: the Swim Center will be closed this Saturday, January 18th, for what we can only assume to be a celebration of the 1955 Battle of Yijangshan – and who could forget that! Regardless, if you don’t go there, you might not have anything left to do in Fife. So…go there.
Where to eat on your trip
1. Louie G’s Pizzeria
With a 4.4 Google Review rating, Louie G’s Pizzeria does not mess around. Offering up a seemingly limitless supply of delectable Italian cuisine, Louie G’s is so good that it may even inspire you to sing the praises of one of Seattle’s favorite Italians, Breno Giacomini. Giacomini! Giacomini!
2. Thai in Fife
Proud bearer of a 4.0 Google Review rating, Thai in Fife wins the award for most transparent venue name. If you’re into Thai food while simultaneously in Fife, this is probably the place to go.
3. Jack in the Box
Marijuana is legal in Washington. Jack in the Box serves “Munchie Meals.” It’s not hard to figure out.
So there you have it! Three of the best places to stay, visit, and eat while you’re with us here in our fair city. We hope you enjoy your trip, but not too much, because we plan to kick your ass on Sunday. Also, your quarterback is a doofus, and you guys suck at geography.
Welcome to Seattle! Go Hawks!
Filed under: Seahawks
Three days from now, the Seahawks will take to the field for the first time in two weeks and kickoff what everyone hopes and expects to be a run to the Super Bowl. They’ll meet the New Orleans Saints in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field and undoubtedly the atmosphere will be beyond raucous, beyond chaotic, bordering on anarchic, absolutely insane.
Fans will be amped up after a fortnight away from football, and the energy won’t ooze from the stadium so much as it will rage like storm water through a collapsing levee. The Saints, bless their unfortunate souls, will be lucky to leave Seattle with their eardrums fully functional, their spirits still intact, and their appendages all firmly attached to their collective torsos. Beyond that, the outcome should favor the hometown eleven (or twelve, if you believe in the power of the home crowd, which most do), leaving little doubt over what will occur the following week in that very same venue: an NFC Championship bout with either the hated 49ers or the less-hated Panthers.
Until a referee starts the clock and a football takes flight from the runway of a strategically-placed kicking tee, fans will sit here and stew, anxiously awaiting a moment that seems farther and farther away despite getting nearer and nearer with each passing second. Twitching and shaking we idle at our desks, in our cars, on our sofas, and endure this delay like a child hopped up on sugar sent to his room for misbehaving.
The aggravation builds, the tension rises and falls with every breath, the seconds turn to minutes turn to hours. And as we quietly rumble through the passing moments, we seek outlets for our simmering anxiety. Those outlets, though, they’re insufficient. Seahawks fans have taxed every avenue of repurposed unease in recent days. It has been entertaining at times, boring at others. The end results of compounded apprehension have been good, bad, and ugly. Mostly ugly.
Rest assured, we really need the Seahawks to play a football game. Because in lieu of action, here are a few ways we’ve been spending our free time.
1. We have made every joke there is to make about the geographically-imprecise location of a Fife-based billboard advertising the San Francisco 49ers’ five Super Bowl trophies.
How many titles do the 49ers have? One, two, three, four, FIFE!
Why is the 49ers’ billboard so unfair? Because Fife will never have an NFL team to win a Super Bowl.
Do you have a joke of your own about the unfortunate placement of this billboard funded entirely by sensitive-yet-moronic San Francisco football fans? Have you been saving it to deploy at just the right moment? Well you may as well have been collecting baseball cards, because chances are your wisecrack is now worthless.
If you haven’t gotten your “that billboard is in Fife, you idiots” one-liner in by now, it’s very likely that someone else has already done so on your behalf. Seemingly every quip has been uttered, beaten, and dragged through the mud a thousand times since the digital “billboard” (it’s a screen that occasionally flashes in rotation with a bunch of other advertisements, so call it what you want) was paid for by a group of Niners faithful. It’s reached the point that people don’t even laugh anymore when you show them on a map the 30-mile divide separating Seattle from the location of the ad. The billboard, it seems, has achieved that all-important pinnacle of a bad idea’s evolution: apathy.
2. We have heard way too many new songs that include references to the Seahawks.
I blame Wiz Khalifa. His 2010 hit single Black and Yellow was purportedly about his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. Never mind the fact that at no point during his lyrical ode does he utter the words “Pittsburgh” or “Steelers,” countless musicians have followed in Khalifa’s footsteps, penning rhymes and rhythms in homage to their favorite football franchises in the three-plus years since.
Seattle is no exception, and with a multitude of aspiring-slash-struggling musicians in our fair city, dozens upon dozens of acts have attempted to capitalize on the Seahawks’ widespread popularity by releasing aptly-themed bits of aural (dis)pleasure. If you are a musician dying for attention (or a paycheck), it seems, your path to success is paved in shades of blue and green.
Problem is, most of these songs suck. They suck bad. And they’re written by no-talent ass-clowns who should give up a crumbling dream and take on full-time hours and the prospect of a middle management position at the nearest Burger King. Not all the cuts are horrible, mind you. But most leave something, or everything, to be desired.
So in vetting tunes for the playoff run, be sure you’re being selective. You love the Seahawks, everyone understands that, but you don’t need to post or re-post links to lazy works of art on YouTube simply because those music videos include references to your favorite football team. I like tits and ass, but you don’t see me linking to every cut that references boobies and badonk. Use good judgment. The world will be a better place.
3. We have over-Photoshopped and over-memed.
You have a picture of something, anything. You took the picture, opened it up in Photoshop, slapped a Seahawks-related image on it, hit “Save,” and uploaded your unique creation to the world wide web. Your friend saw that picture. He told one of his friends about it, who told one of her friends about it, who told three more friends, who told six more friends, and all of a sudden you’ve done it, you’ve gone viral. Now everyone is under the impression that there actually is a 12th Man flag on the moon, all because you pieced together two unrelated images so deftly that it has to be real, I mean just look at it, that is clearly not Photoshopped.
This is a trend. For every fifty Seahawks fans that don’t know the difference between Photoshop and Print Shop (remember Print Shop?) there is one enlightened individual who can brilliantly craft any foreground to any background and vice versa, leaving nothing to the imagination because to see it is to believe it.
But even if you can’t Photoshop, you can probably meme. Meme generators pollute the web like sex pill ads, popping up by the millions upon simply Googling “meme.” The formula is ridiculously uncomplicated. Upload an image. Add text to the top of the image. Add text to the bottom of the image. Click “Create.” Done. Your text doesn’t even have to be inspiring or particularly humorous. It will still show up in big, white block lettering. It will still appear in goofy, irreverent fashion. It will still make the rounds on social media if you want it to. And then you’ll be the guy that created that one meme that everybody saw, even if they saw it and didn’t care for it. You’ll be the guy. That could be you.
You won’t be able to suit up and play for your beloved Seahawks. But damn it, thanks to your image manipulation skills, you will contribute to the playoff run.
4. We have dissected every last goddamn statistic.
The football nerds. Someone save the football nerds. After a week-and-a-half with no game film to analyze, they’re going crazy looking for material to break down. Are you interested in how the Seahawks perform on third downs in the fourth quarter when the temperature is exactly 44-degrees Fahrenheit? You could be. What about how the defense performs between the hours of 2:25 p.m. Pacific Time and 2:45 p.m. Pacific Time? We’ve reached a new level of analysis that can only be appreciated by the most diehard of all diehards. There is nothing left to scrutinize, nothing left to inspect.
I liken this to that one commercial from days gone by when a wayward middle-aged man slumped miserably before a computer screen, made one last click of his mouse, and was greeted with an ominous response from the speakers on his machine: “You’ve reached the end of the internet. Please go back.” How much has that man seen, we all thought. How much weird shit did he have to wade through to get to this point? Does his wife know? Has he been fired from his job yet? How is he not in jail? There were so many questions, most of which began with “How” and “Why.”
This is where we’re at in our analysis of the Seahawks. Numbers and words mean nothing anymore. The team needs to play. Just play. Play already! Play a game, save the nerds.
5. We’ve been fighting about stupid, stupid stuff.
You’re not a real fan. Do you even know who Michael Sinclair is? I bet you don’t. Have you heard of Cortez Kennedy or Dave Krieg? Can you even spell “Krieg”? Name five players on the offense whose last names aren’t Lynch or Wilson. You’re not a true Seahawks fan. You don’t deserve this team.
The absence of game action has forced fans to out-fan one another. Who’s the fanniest of all fans? Let’s find out by tickle fighting one another over social media until someone breaks and admits defeat. Let’s get upset over the economics of who gets game tickets and who doesn’t, over who deserves to be there and who doesn’t, over third-party resellers (just get out of the ticket-selling business, StubHub! GOD!), over supply and demand, and over just about anything else one could possibly get upset about.
As soon as kickoff hits, we’ll stop this madness. The game itself is a pacifier of sorts for the crazed fanatics we’ve become. Instead of fighting over useless nonsense, we’ll be fighting over the offensive play-calling (hashtag, FireBevell), or about the proper juxtaposition of the vast array of consonants in “Hauschka.” Regardless, we won’t be pretentious pricks for at least three hours on Saturday, and that’s a good thing. Until the game ends. And we have a championship for which to prepare. And this all begins anew.
Filed under: Seahawks
Tags: 12th Man
Remember 2010? It will forever be etched in time as the Seattle Mariners’ “Believe Big” year. Believing big didn’t really work out the way everyone hoped, but the optimism was warranted. Coming off a promising 2009 campaign in which the team posted an 85-77 win-loss mark, the ’09-’10 offseason was full of giddiness and excitement.
Neglecting the various warts in a lineup pockmarked by over-performers and aging veterans, the M’s front office pulled off two major moves that offseason. The first came on December 8th, 2009 in the form of diminutive free agent infielder Chone Figgins. The Mariners inked Figgins to a (ugh) four-year contract that day, then waited just eight more days before pulling off their next big move. On December 16th, the team acquired starting pitcher Cliff Lee from Philadelphia for a hodgepodge of middling prospects. The move was heralded as a franchise-changer, the type that would take the organization from okay to great. With Lee and Felix Hernandez, the Mariners would be unstoppable. Never mind the fact that, assuming both aces stayed healthy, the duo would appear in just 40-percent of the team’s games. This was it! This was the Mariners’ year!
In clear win-now mode, the Mariners’ front office should have added to their December harvest by adding a power hitter or two (or six) to an otherwise unintimidating batting order back in that ’09-’10 offseason. Instead, they supplemented their heist by taking fliers (slash, risks) on a handful of guys who had, at one time or another, been considered decent ball players: Milton Bradley, Casey Kotchman, Eric “Beach Cruiser” Byrnes, and Ken Griffey Jr. in his second (and final) swan song season with the team.
As we all know now, the 2010 Mariners bombed epically for a number of reasons. One, their core performers – Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, and Jose Lopez, to name three — couldn’t produce numbers mirroring their over-performance of a season prior. Two, their “big free agent signing,” Figgins, regressed faster than Lebron James’ hairline. Three, the risky players the team invested in and relied upon – Bradley, Kotchman, Byrnes, Griffey – failed just as spectacularly as Figgins. And four, management sent the team up the river by failing to fully commit to a season that was expected to be quote-unquote BIG. In all, the year was a complete and utter disaster.
Fast forward to today and the M’s find themselves in the midst of a somewhat similar situation. No, they haven’t pulled off a trade for a superstar pitcher, but they were able to ink the market’s top free agent to a decade-long contract – subsequently bumping the Figgins deal of 2009 down a rung on the ladder of the organization’s biggest free agent signings. And in convincing Robinson Cano to presumably finish his career in Seattle, the Mariners have begun to act in congruous fashion to four years ago, embarking on the piecemeal process of adding parts to a machine that now seems to be somewhat functional.
Last week, the soon-to-be-2014 Mariners signed free agent slugger Corey Hart, formerly of the Brewers, to a low-risk, one-year deal. The 31-year-old Hart, an All-Star in 2008 and 2010, is coming off a 2013 campaign in which he appeared in exactly zero games, the result of knee surgery that left him sidelined for the entire season.
The club also made a trade for first baseman-outfielder Logan Morrison, sending reliever Carter Capps to Miami to complete the deal. Morrison, who has combined flashes of brilliance with stretches of ineptitude in his four-year career, is just 26 years of age and was once considered among the game’s best young prospects.
Optimists will look at the additions the team has made in the wake of the Cano deal and scoff at their similarity to the moves made back in the ’09-’10 offseason. But in harkening back once more to those deals of four years prior, it’s hard to ignore at least a couple important bullet points.
In 2009, Figgins and Bradley were both 31 upon being obtained by the Mariners, the same age Hart is now. Each failed to extend his big league career beyond his time in Seattle and, like Hart, both had been All-Stars prior to arriving in the Emerald City. By the same token, Morrison evokes memories of the then-26-year-old Kotchman, a former prospect himself, who never quite panned out the way everyone expected. Entrusted with the starting first baseman’s job, Kotchman couldn’t quite put up starter’s numbers – a problem all too familiar to the Miami faithful who have watched Morrison develop.
Sure, Morrison and Hart play the game differently than their comparative predecessors in Mariners blue. Both have more power at the plate than the men I’ve aligned them with (a trait the Mariners sorely need), and Hart has a more distinguished pedigree than either Bradley or Figgins. But each maintain unique risks of their own, as well. Hart is attempting to return to baseball after surgeries on both his knees, the type of thing that would make even the Adrian Petersons of the world cringe. Morrison, meanwhile, has been lauded as one of baseball’s premier denizens of social media, accruing more Twitter followers than could fit in any one stadium in the country. Morrison’s off-the-field notoriety has often been seen as more burdensome than beneficial, however, creating a distraction for his employer and causing critics to point fingers when his on-field play has suffered. The virtual LoMo persona perpetuated by the talented Morrison has, to date, been more curse than blessing for the professional baseball player that is Logan Morrison.
With all due respect to both Hart and Morrison, history reminds us that the Mariners cannot settle for the haul they’ve accrued thus far. And indications are that they won’t settle, either. Coming off a season in which the team finished with a paltry 71-91 win-loss record, glaring holes persist at any number of positions in the lineup. Another power hitter is needed in the middle of the order to protect Cano and augment Hart. The rotation still needs at least one more proven major league arm. The outfield is barren, with none of the three positions set in stone at this point. And the bullpen, marred by inconsistency a year ago, is in need of at least one stabilizing presence, preferably in the form of a closer.
Should any of the additional upgrades be made in the near future, fans can start to feel a bit more comfortable with the prospect of a successful 2014 season, albeit one that will be played in what could be the toughest division in baseball. Still, there’s enough evidence in our recent past to temper expectations leading up to the year’s first pitch. Believe if you want to. Just make sure to believe in moderation.
Filed under: Mariners
It was Thursday afternoon. I had just acquired a carne asada burrito from Casa D’s — one of the greatest hole-in-the-wall food establishments in the entire world, for the record — and was enjoying lunch in my car while listening to sports radio. I don’t usually eat meals in my car, but on this particular day I needed a break from the office. So I sat there and listened to my pals Jason Puckett and Ian Furness discuss something I half-paid attention to while downing a gigantic flour tortilla filled with wholesome goodness.
The banter ceased. A commercial break hit. I neglected to change the station. I picked up my phone and scrolled through a seemingly endless Twitter feed. A fast-talking pitchman took the airwaves in a taped advertisement for a car dealership. “Win $35,000!” he said. I continued to scroll. “If the Seahawks shut out the Giants…12 winners…no purchase necessary…” And still I scrolled. The ad came to its end.
I heard the words. I even remembered them as I finished my lunch and headed back to work. I didn’t catch the name of the dealership, though. And I didn’t have time to check out some car website to enter a shady contest that presented improbable odds of winning. So just as quickly as the ad had entered my consciousness, it fled.
Sunday came. The Seahawks met the Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The first two quarters of play meandered along at a sluggish pace. By halftime, the scoreboard read 13-0, Seattle. It was a meager output for both teams. And yet one half of that mark stood out significantly. New York’s goose egg triggered memories of Thursday afternoon. That ad. That car dealership. What if…what if it actually happened? What if the Seahawks actually shut out the Giants?
All I know is some local car dealership advertised on @SportsRadioKJR that they’d give 10 fans $35K if the Seahawks shut out NYG…
— Seattle Sportsnet (@alexSSN) December 15, 2013
My brain immediately went into self-loathing mode. Why didn’t you enter the contest, dumbass? You could have won $35,000! Why weren’t you paying more attention to that godforsaken commercial that destiny, apparent destiny, had united you with?! WHYYYYYYY???!!! What the hell is wrong with you?!
But then reason kicked in. There’s still a half to play, idiot. The odds say it won’t happen. New York will score at least once. And heck, even if they don’t, what are the chances you’d win anything at all? Tens of thousands of people heard that advertisement. Many more probably knew about it through other means. I bet there are hundreds upon thousands of entrants. You wouldn’t win shit. Hah. Forget it.
Midway through the third quarter and the Giants offense continued to look inept. The Seahawks kicked a field goal to extend the lead to 16. New York gained possession, then punted. After an exchange of possession once more, they punted again.
I’d imagine that local car dealership is getting a little panicky right about now, maybe calling in some IOUs, a few favors.
— Seattle Sportsnet (@alexSSN) December 15, 2013
The fourth quarter transpired. Eli Manning threw an interception. The Seahawks took over with just 16 yards standing between them and a touchdown.
A completion, an incomplete pass, a Russell Wilson scramble, first down. An incomplete pass — but no! A defensive holding penalty, replay first down, ball at the two-yard line. A Marshawn Lynch run for a loss, followed shortly thereafter by a sack — there’s life in this Giants defense, at least. But then on third down, a pass. And a catch! Doug Baldwin, dragging defenders over the goal line, resulting in a TOUCHDOWN! And now it’s 23-0.
Two more punts, then another Seahawks interception — really, Eli? REALLY?! And that was basically it. Giants backup quarterback Curtis Painter trudged onto the field for the game’s final series and did what most backups in garbage time do: nothing. The scoreboard read 23-0. The shutout was intact, complete. Oh. My. God.
RIP to the local car dealership that advertised the ~$400,000 fan giveaway if the Seahawks shut out the Giants.
— Seattle Sportsnet (@alexSSN) December 15, 2013
ESPN quickly caught wind of the story. Not the game story. The giveaway story. Federal Way’s Jet Chevrolet would be $420,000 lighter, it seemed. Thankfully, however, they had taken out a $7,000 insurance policy. They were out $7,000 and whatever it cost them to place those ads. They were also likely out of any future dealings with that particular insurance agency, I’d wager.
WHYYYYY???!!! The question rang louder in my head.
Twelve individuals would win $35,000 each, according to Jet Chevrolet’s owners and ESPN’s reporters. Twenty individuals had purchased vehicles during the promotional period and were entitled to 100 entries apiece into the sweepstakes. Just 12 individuals — TWELVE! ONLY 12! YOU AND I, WE COULD HAVE BEEN 13 AND 14!!! — had entered online with no purchase made and were entitled to a single entry each. So a total of 32 different individuals would be vying for 12 chances at $35,000. Those ads didn’t reach a huge audience, it would seem.
I crawled into a tiny little hole in the ground and began to do the math. If 20 people had been given 100 entries apiece and 12 people had been given one entry each into this giveaway, an Average Joe like you or I, who hadn’t bought a car from Jet Chevrolet, would stand a 1-in-2,012 chance of winning $35,000 at the initial draw. From there, things went down as follows:
Assuming an individual who had entered the contest with 100 entries earned the first $35,000 prize, the second draw would give an Average Joe a 1-in-1,912 chance of winning money, since 100 entries had now exited the pot after the first victory. You could therefore infer that by the time the twelfth and final draw occurred, an Average Joe would have as good as a 1-in-912 chance of winning a significant amount of cash. By then, an opportunistic entrant would only be competing against 21 others for that prize, too. It was enough to make one’s stomach turn a little bit.
So here I sit on a Sunday evening, sipping beer and glancing up at my TV every couple minutes as I punch keys on a keyboard, thinking about how it could have been me. I could have been one of those 12 people who entered a contest by doing nothing more than visiting a website and entering in some info. Sure, the odds say it wouldn’t matter anyway, I probably wouldn’t win. But I heard the ad. I tuned out the ad. I didn’t act on the ad. Instead, I read through Twitter and chomped away at a burrito that my body probably didn’t need anyway.
Moral of the story? There isn’t one, really. I guess I’ll pay more attention to advertisements, or at least free giveaways, from here on out. And knowing sports radio, that likely means I’ll be signing up for a number of refinance loans and sex pills, which allow the mood to be right whenever I want it to be right, but for no longer than four hours, of course, because that’s dangerous.
Congratulations to Jet Chevrolet on a successful-ish advertising campaign. Apologies to whichever insurance company took $7,000 and figured they’d be getting off scot-free. Whoops.
But most of all, hooray for a Seahawks shutout. If nothing else, we’re all a little better off because of that.
Filed under: Seahawks
Geoff Baker, that rascal. He retires from his job as Mariners beat writer to take a new gig as The Seattle Times’ Chief Investigator, Pain In The Ass division. All that stuff he could never say about the M’s when he was an objective reporter? It shall now flow onto the interwebz like champagne in a nightclub frequented by Pacman Jones, splashing liberally onto the breasts of intrigued onlookers who soak up the spillage with smiles on their faces. This is a new era of badassery in local sports media, an era punctuated by whatever Baker shall uncover when he is not sailing the skies in hot air balloons or sampling fine cabernets in exotic locales.
As you may have read over the weekend, Baker’s inaugural foray into the world of sports business reporting (or whatever that title he’s inherited proclaims he does) was a bit of a ground-breaker, an earth-rumbling piece about the Mariners’ front office and their unique brand of dysfunction, the kind that paralyzes fans everywhere into a veritable dumbfounded/angry/terrified hybrid of a stupor. Sure, we’ve known for years that the Mariners were run by a bunch of bumbling idiots. But Baker’s piece not only highlighted the stupidity of the team’s decision-makers, it got reputable sources to speak on record about that stupidity in expansive detail.
So now we’re left with a bunch of questions. What does this all mean? Where do the Mariners go from here? Does Baker wear even nicer button-ups now that he’s presumably been given a raise? Let’s work together to try and answer some of the most pressing inquiries this weekend’s prose has given us.
1. Is Jack Zduriencik really as big of an asshole as he’s been made out to be?
If there’s one thing that’s damn near impossible to refute, it’s an attack on one’s character. If someone calls you a dick, then goes to great lengths to prove you’re a dick, it’s not easy to come back and reveal yourself as better than how you’ve publicly been portrayed. The assumption from many readers, then, is that Jack Zduriencik is empirically a dick. Evidence suggests it, first-person accounts corroborate it, and thus inference makes it so. Jack Zduriencik: dick.
To Jackie Z’s credit, he’s never shown himself to be much of a jerk in the public eye. He’s been fairly kind to the media, well-spoken in interviews, and more reminiscent of a fun, non-handsy uncle than a shrewd businessman. Were it not for his draft picks bombing, his free agent signings sucking, and his trades imploding in recent seasons, no one would really care if the guy was or was not a douchebag. In the annals of sports history, there have been countless jerks that have run franchises. The difference between anyone giving a damn about personalities or not is whether the organizations those jerks headed up actually won games. Zduriencik’s Mariners teams have been absolute duds. In turn, we really do care if he’s losing and acting like a prick behind the scenes.
The rumors about Zduriencik’s office behavior have been out there for a few years. What Baker wrote about in his column was nothing new to people with even a limited knowledge of the inner workings of the team, but quotes from former employees like Tony Blengino and Eric Wedge were eyebrow-raising to all. While many people knew Jack operated under two different guises — a warm public persona compared to a much colder private one — no one had any on-the-record details of his behavior until Baker solicited those very tidbits from two men with reason to divulge their secrets. Certainly Baker did right by his interviewees by painting them as “reluctant” (at least in Wedge’s case) mediums of potentially damning information, but no one can deny that both Blengino and Wedge had just cause to out their ex-boss as a bit of a bastard.
Perhaps that’s why one may reserve judgment until the other side is heard, or at the very least some unbiased views of Zduriencik are presented. But really, when judging character, is there such thing as an unbiased account? The evaluation is entirely subjective in and of itself, which makes it all the more difficult to refute such characterizations (or mischaracterizations, depending on one’s viewpoint) as those presented in Baker’s article.
Moral of the story: Treat people well. Do the opposite and it may come back to haunt you, as it most certainly has in Zduriencik’s case.
2. OMG. How does this alter the future of the team??!!
Frankly, this onslaught of news probably won’t change much about the way the Mariners do business. Longtime president Chuck Armstrong announced his impending retirement a couple weeks ago, and Zduriencik remains under contract through 2014. CEO and de facto team owner Howard Lincoln remains firmly entrenched atop the organization, however, and as long as he’s free to reign, the culture around the ballclub will likely continue to fester.
Lincoln has proven himself incapable of making sound baseball decisions, though not for lack of trying. His meddling ways have hurt the organization on multiple occasions and were alluded to in Baker’s exposé. Even recently, in inking free agent Robinson Cano to a deal, Lincoln and crew seem to have screwed up what could otherwise be labeled a home run. Ultimately, any success or lack thereof falls into the lap of the head man. As long as this team is a cellar-dweller, it will be Lincoln’s fault, no matter how power is distributed or who becomes the scapegoat for all the missteps. And in knowing how Lincoln operates, we can always be sure of one thing: there will be plenty of scapegoats.
3. Okay, so how do we get rid of Howard Lincoln?
Unlike his pal Armstrong, Lincoln seems determined to turn the Mariners into a winner before he calls it quits. Unfortunately, he’s either too proud or too stupid to realize that he’s the one preventing a winning environment. Lincoln’s pre-baseball life indicates he’s a fairly intelligent individual, so his blind desire to win appears to be driven entirely by ego. That creates quite the problem.
Everything with regard to the Mariners flows through Lincoln, which means even the Jack Zdurienciks of the world are dependent upon whether their borderline crazy boss still chooses to work. Because Lincoln craves the influence over his team the way he does, an asshole like Zduriencik is purely collateral, spare parts if you will. If Lincoln chooses to fire Jack at season’s end, he’ll immediately replace him with yet another yes-man who he can influence and puppet to carry out “the organization’s” desires. The few exceptions to the Lincoln gong show are men like Wedge who refuse to be manipulated by their creator, so to speak. The franchise needs shit-stirrers to keep the crap from stagnating. Maybe manager Lloyd McClendon can be that guy. Or maybe he’ll succumb to the wishes of his overlords and allow a vicious cycle to continue to play out.
In order to see the end of the Howard Lincoln regime sooner rather than later, either a) the M’s need to win now, or b) Lincoln must die. These are the only two seemingly feasible outcomes. Lincoln won’t leave while his legacy remains tarnished, no matter the reasons behind why that legacy is tarnished. In Lincoln’s mind, the only way to repair his image is to lead the organization into a winning era. Perhaps the signing of Cano will help accelerate the moving walkway along the path to success. But if it doesn’t, then we’ll be forced to wait for nature to intervene. Which is incredibly disappointing for all involved.
4. So what’s the Mariners plan for success, then?
It appears the M’s are fully committed to winning right now. Zduriencik is out to save his job and Lincoln wants to win a World Series before he perishes, one would assume. At the same time, the team has built up a decent stock of prospects in recent years (thanks, Blengino) and has plenty of cash to spend on pricey free agents, a la Cano.
However, there’s certainly no guarantee that trading for talent or investing in it on the free market will result in wins. The men pulling the strings haven’t displayed an affinity for making good decisions, which means the front office is just as likely (if not more likely) to make a bad deal than a good one.
Good deals or bad, the ballclub will need to part with some of the young talent they’ve cultivated in-house to acquire ripened veterans that can contribute immediately. Trading incumbent second baseman Nick Franklin seems like a given with the signing of Cano, and parting with a surplus of young arms in the forms of Brandon Maurer, James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez, and even Taijuan Walker appears to be on the horizon, as well. We’ve heard about the Mariners possibly acquiring big-name All-Stars like David Price or Matt Kemp, but there are other players to be had with lesser name recognition that could significantly upgrade the roster (think Billy Butler, et al). Specifically, the Mariners need to focus on improving their outfield across all three positions, while also considering an uptick at first base, designated hitter, and in the latter part of the starting rotation. The bullpen needs attention, as well, but bullpen upgrades are easier to be had on the cheap. When dealing with a 91-loss team, the argument could be made that every single position needs work. So far, the M’s have improved in one area: second base. That still leaves everything else.
The addition of Cano immediately makes the Mariners a more attractive destination for outside players than it was previously. Whether that yields a healthy crop of free agents (and players with the ability to waive no-trade clauses) remains to be seen. No matter what, though, it will be imperative for the M’s to continue to build upon their initial success in wooing the market’s top prize and not settle for that lone signature blue chip. Robinson Cano does not single-handedly turn the Mariners into a playoff contender. With a little help, though — and in spite of the perpetually-burning dumpster fire in the team’s front office — the M’s might improbably become a force in the American League in 2014. Whodathunkit?
Filed under: Mariners
Screw reality. This is everything we’ve ever wanted rolled up into a single moment in time and it’s goddamn beautiful. You want Chris Petersen? You got Chris Petersen. You want Robinson Cano? You got Robinson Cano. You want the best team in the NFL? You got the best team in the NFL. If you have a wish to make, a prayer to be answered, a request you absolutely must have fulfilled? Today is your day.
You and I, we aren’t conditioned for this. This is sleet in November, triple-digit temperatures in July. We aren’t used to what this feels like. Happiness? Euphoria? This is Seattle. Seattle. When it comes to sports, we’re the perennially disappointed, the consistently underwhelmed. We live in a snow globe where it simply rains all the time. We fall short of expectations, come up empty-handed at year’s end, tank the off-season, blow the big game, flub every opportunity at every single turn, and wallow, miserably, wretchedly, in the cynical aftermath of the emotional nuking our psyches continually endure.
They’ve called us the Worst Sports City in America. On multiple occasions, no less. It sucks to be us, they’ve pointed out. And for the most part, they’ve been right. It has sucked to be us. We haven’t done shit. We haven’t won shit, we haven’t achieved shit, we haven’t been shit. We’ve been nothing. Some cities fly under the radar; we haven’t been on the radar.
We were a glorified coffee house, a hipster’s paradise, a tech mecca, nothing more. We were a shoulder shrug, an eye roll. We were Carlton Banks, Screech Powers, Steve Urkel, the uncoolest of the uncool. If they cared about us, they only cared about us long enough to poke fun at us. And when they poked fun at us, we often found ourselves in agreement with them. They were right, after all. We weren’t anything beyond a punch line. We were the joke.
I’ve been doing this for twenty-nine years. That’s how long I’ve lived in this soggy, dismal snow globe of ours. Since birth. This is all I know. All I know is what it feels like to be on the losing end of championships, the wrong side of recruiting pitches and free agent signings, the opposing hemisphere to success and victory and celebrations and parades and all the giddiness that goes along with all those wonderful, marvelous things.
But today. We have today. We staked out today. We sat in front of our computer screens for the bulk of a week — for the bulk of the past few years, since we’ve been here before — waiting for today. We refreshed our web browsers incessantly, addictively in anticipation of today. We sourced sources who sourced other sources, we mongered rumors from rumormongers who metastasized magnificent tidbits of the most menial nature. We sat in a metaphorical squad car like the fictional Ed Hocken, shelling red pistachios by the dozen, looming outside the figurative office of our very own Vincent Ludwig as Frank Drebin, that rascal, bandied about the confines haphazardly searching for clues.
We won at something. We poached the New York Freakin’ Yankees and the entire free market for their very best player. We hijacked college football for one of their very best coaching candidates. We did that today. Both those things. Two hours apart. And all the while we were supposed to be sitting here content with the fact that our 11-1 NFL team remained poised to clinch their division crown just 48 hours from now.
There is logic, of course. We haven’t won anything yet. They don’t hand out rings for off-season hauls, no trophies for mid-season win-loss records. But there has to be a start. There is a spark that begats a flame that ignites the fire. The blaze does not matriculate from thin air, spontaneously. That spark must always occur first. Robinson Cano is a spark. Chris Petersen is a spark. Eleven wins to one loss is a spark.
So screw logic. Forget it. Let’s enjoy this moment. Because we don’t have moments like this very often. Today, we are kings. Today, we are the center of the sports universe. Today, we are on our way to greatness, to success, to victory, to championships, to awesomeness, to badassery, to celebrations and smiles and hugs and laughter and all that good stuff we’ve longed for, we’ve yearned for. This is the start of something amazing. This is what the top of the world feels like. Yes. Seattle.
Filed under: Husky Football, Mariners, Seahawks