The Seahawks Aren’t Great, Just Awesome

Seven years ago was the last time that Seattle got to see what a great team looks like. The Super Bowl XL team that rocked Qwest Field that year was a classically efficient West Coast offense team led by NFL MVP Shaun Alexander and his 28 touchdowns and a defense that was fine tuned to fundamental perfection. The 2005 team had a nearly perfect resume as they went 13-3, a perfect 10-0 at home, won the NFC West, and won the NFC Championship before losing* in the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mike Holmgren trying to give a side judge in Super Bowl XL a piece of his mind

Andy Reid Mike Holmgren trying to give a side judge in Super Bowl XL a piece of his mind

But they weren’t quite as fun as this year’s edition of the Hawks. The Seattle Seahawks are 9-5 heading into an absolutely riveting litmus test against the seemingly dominant San Francisco 49ers on primetime television. Although they are not quite comparable to their 2005 counterparts with a division crown seemingly out of reach and have a much less paved road to the Super Bowl in front of them, this team has assumed an identity that is thoroughly more exciting to witness than any Seahawks team I have ever seen.

Nothing about this team is perfect or as seemingly unflappable as the Super Bowl team, led by Hall of Fame coach Mike Holmgren, an all-time great left side of the offensive line with Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson, and Alexander’s season for the ages. That team was a football purist’s dream. But what exactly does a football purist look like? My caricature of such a man is a John Gruden type, sitting in front of a dark theater with a roll of tape being fed into a dusty projector, playing and rewinding relentlessly the delicate intricacies of the pulling guard setting the edge for a seven yard run on first down to set up a methodically executed post route on second and short, all the while wishing that Lynn Swann still played, if only for the grace that he brought to the football field. Football purist guy loved the 2005 Seahawks, and there is nothing wrong with that. But I love this year’s version better, for the same reason that I was listening to Good Charlotte instead of Coldplay in middle school.

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2012 UW Football Preview

The last time I got the energy to write on SS&O, I promised to be back to my usual semi-frequent writing self. Since then, I have realized that I don’t have that in me. Not even a Felix Hernandez perfect game could get me to write. The King had arguably the best individual performance in Seattle sports history and I didn’t comment on it. I did instagram about it though (b_boyd619, I don’t take THAT many pictures of sunsets and I could use some more non-sorority girl followers). But the point is that I am not the writing machine I thought I could be when Stanton and I started this blog last year. The application to the UW Football Preview is coming soon folks, trust me. There is one thing that will infinitely motivate me though. Ever since I was probably about ten, my dad stopped buying a program for every Husky Football game, and so did most of the people in the vicinity of Section 32, Row X, seats 3 and 4. They had me. I am a wealth of Husky Football knowledge. People who want to know a little bit about the team to have enough to talk about at a tailgate ask me how the team is going to be this year. That is what I can do for you. Husky Football is the one thing that I will always have the time to write about. So here we go. Welcome to the 2012 Washington Huskies.

The above image is the lasting one for the 2011 UW Football campaign. Robert Griffin III and Terrence Ganaway ran away from the UW defense in the Alamo Bowl back in December. The Dawgs lost 67-56 that night, giving up 777 yards of total offense. Those numbers are disgusting, even for the biggest proponent of offensive football. Such was the case for most of last season. Nick Holt and co. gave up 51 points to Nebraska, 65 to Stanford, 34 to Oregon, 40 to USC, and 38 to Oregon State amidst several other lousy defensive performances. To make matters worse, the offense was absolutely dynamite at times last season. Keith Price set passing TD records, Chris Polk ran for almost 1,500 yards and highly touted freshmen Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins performed extremely well. The firing of defensive coordinator Nick Holt after the Alamo Bowl was in my opinion about a month too late, but absolutely requited. You can’t be paid to be a defensive coordinator if your defense actually looks uncoordinated. I’m telling you, there are way better defenses out there with much worse players than the Huskies do, so the finger points up.

In steps the Great White Hope, or hopes actually, the new UW assistant coaches. New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, new secondary coach Keith Heyward, and the gem of the group, D-Line coach and recruiting extraordinaire Tosh Lupoi. Lupoi’s impact won’t be seen on gameday necessarily, but his impact on the recruiting scene is absolutely incredible. The guy is cooler than Sean from Boy Meets World and 18 year old kids love it. I can’t say this with 100% certainty but he’s the reason we got Shaq Thompson. Who’s that?

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Ichiro Suzuki and the Impermanence of Icons

Credible Italian Guy is back again, giving us his thoughts and opinions on the Seattle Mariners. This time, he breaks down the trade of Mariners Icon Ichiro Suzuki.

Thank you to Seattle Sports and Otherwise for deeming me qualified to write a post that I am most certainly not equipped to handle. I don’t really believe any fan or even baseball writer can adequately assess something as significant as Ichiro’s end in Seattle. There has been so much written about what Ichiro has meant to Japan, Seattle, and Baseball in general. There is so much to say that I know a blog post wont allow, and there is so much to say that I will never be able to find the words for. But I will certainly do my best:

Growing up a Mariner fan in the early 2000’s was not an easy proposition. With the exception of one or two seasons, my fandom has been marred by losing season after losing season. The Mariners have not been even remotely good for the last decade, this much is clear. Of course after enduring ten-plus seasons of futility I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t ask myself “Why are you wasting your time with this non-sense?” The answer to this is complex and multifaceted but in a way the answer is Ichiro.  Not in a literal sense, but in a sense so much more impactful.

Why do we love sports? As easy as it would be to say we love the thrill of victory, that only goes so far to explain our inescapable romance with a child’s game, there has to be something more.

My first memory of the Seattle Mariners that I can remember was when I was ten years old. I remember sitting on my porch on the cool summers eve as I had just finished up dinner, basking in the now mellow sun, letting the ants run underneath my bare feet as I anxiously awaited 7:05, because I knew that was when the Mariners were going to be playing ball. There was no project, no deadline, and no career decision to be made; all I felt was an occasional breeze and the excitement of things to come. Mom and Dad were sitting in the family room; still lingering over dinner as I sat down on my carpet and watched the most breathtaking thing a 10 year old can see; his favorite team take the field. I felt safe, I felt comforted, and I felt as if there could be no wrong in the world. If I turned on the TV at 7:05, Dave Niehaus would welcome me to another Mariners baseball game, and win or lose, the rest was just gravy. To this day I can still remember taking my Fischer-Price toy bat and trying to do all the poses that the Big-Leaguers did, from the awkward stance of Brett Boone to John Olerud’s smooth swing. I didn’t see them as prima donnas and over-privileged athletes, I saw them as pure magic. I guess that is why I still obsess over the child’s game: because in a way, it still makes me feel like a child. Sure, as I have matured my understanding of the game has taken a new, less fantastical form; but the spark that started my love affair with the game will never subside.

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Why We Are Fans

I haven’t written anything since LeBron James saved my soul by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder back in mid June. Nothing. I got halfway through an NBA Draft Review before reading Bill Simmons’ take on the same thing, realized mine sucked in comparison, and then scrapped it. Since that moment I have watched the entire first season of Workaholics 2.8 times, a miserable amount of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and put a fruit snack into a rotating fan and laughed like a four year old at it when it got smacked around the cage of the fan. The summer of snapchat has been fun to me, but I stopped writing when I shouldn’t have. For that reason, this article is about the roots of why if you’re reading this, you love sports, and if you love sports, why you love sports, because I love sports. We like sportz.

This is the kind of tomfoolery that kept me out of the game

If you missed me, I apologize. I let the 14 regular followers of this blog down. You probably didn’t though as I tend to inflate my own importance. But my obligation to write is not to the faithful 14, it is to myself.

My first sports memory is going to the Kingdome with my parents and my godparents for a Mariners game. I was afraid of the Mariner Moose (I just don’t trust the guy), and so my godfather took me up to the very last row of the stadium so the Moose wouldn’t come up there, and from that moment on I could watch the game in peace. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to like baseball when you aren’t living in constant fear of a seven foot tall woodland monster with crazy eyes. Baseball became from that point on not my favorite sport by any stretch, but a crutch. There’s nothing on TV at 8:30PM in mid-July, you know what, I’ll watch the M’s lose 4-1. I’ve never expected anything from my baseball team, I don’t really enjoy watching other teams play. I don’t get stoked for Sunday Night Baseball. But I always have the Mariners in my back pocket. They are terrible now, but I can make fun of them whenever I want while they are terrible, I can make Justin Smoak jokes (Smoaks), but when they get good in the 22nd century I will be one happy guy.

You are looking into the eyes of a menace

That’s what being a fan is. I’ve paid my dues. I have seen so much bad baseball, through my mullet phase, my lesbian Tim Lincecum phase, through my semi normal cut I have now that I am endowed with the ability to ride the Mariners train whenever I please. I feel bad for a fan base that has never experienced a dreadful era of baseball, or of any sport. Having a laughable sports team is something that I have based my entire life on. My dad taught me Take Me Out to the Ballgame with the addendum, “So root, root, root for the Mariners / If they don’t win it’s the same!” That is the only thing I know. The extension of this argument goes over to a section of sports that I care about more than anything.

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There the Whole Time

Shortly before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, I attempted to write a “Woe is Me” article about how disgusted I was that the Thunder were this close to winning an NBA Championship that should have been Seattle’s. It was full of personal accounts of my genuine disgust of their success. The prime example being how I almost beheaded someone who claimed I should be rooting for the Thunder for “Western Conference Pride”. I counted on the Spurs to beat them. For me. I became enamored with the Spurs roster of veteran swingmen coming together to teach the young folks a lesson. And with San Antonio up 2-0, I was loving it. I was writing about how they were the Sonics, playing like an unlockable team in an NBA2K game against the Thunder. Then, for the next four games, my hope for the bullet that would kill the Thunder’s hopes of getting a championship that should be ours wilted. I fell asleep writing that article.

I woke up with the intention of finishing it, getting it off before Game 1 of the Finals to show how mentally unstable I was in the face of a Thunder Championship. It didn’t get done. And I’m glad it didn’t, because a week and a half later I came out with a new perspective on basketball.

I watched Game 1 in a bowling alley in Oxford, Ohio on the “fun night” of a five day Leadership Academy. That is the equivalent of having someone ask you what your favorite Nickelback song is. I bowled a gentleman’s 71, then retired on top like Barry Sanders did to sit in the greasy chairs of the bowling alley to watch the game. Sitting amongst 80 guys who had no capability of understanding how the guy from Seattle wanted Miami to win so badly, I was a pariah. Every LeBron bucket got a, “%#@& YEAH!” from yours truly and a bunch of judgments that I had the worst case of undiagnosed Tourette’s in the history of mankind from just about everyone else. A thunderous James jam evoked a dickhead fan reaction in me that even I was surprised by. The Heat became the same team the Spurs did, and at that moment I put all my faith in LeBron James to stop the Thunder. He was my Lee Harvey Oswald to the Thunder’s JFK. But, as the Heat became increasingly out of Game 1, my visible sickness increased. I couldn’t hang. Not only was I watching the Thunder get closer to what should have been mine, Seattle’s, something that would have upset me in my own living room; I was watching 85 people my age loving it. And why not, the Thunder are everything the casual NBA fan would love. Unassuming superstars, no player that would ever or has ever had a “Decision” with a taste-the-rainbow supply of Vitamin Water behind him like LeBron did, and an all around likeable team.

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Still-Semi-Credible Italian Guy Breaks Down M’s Top Draft Pick

Editor’s Note- Credible Italian Guy is my good friend Philip Smeraldo and my go to source for Mariner’s analysis and was more than eager to break down the M’s pick of Mike Zunino after I was initially skeptical. Ever the optimist, Phil does a great job of analyzing the pick on the marginal value and also how it fits with the organization as a whole.

Alright, Credible Italian guy coming back with some more Mariners related news. Last time I was here I wrote about the Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero trade that shook the baseball world. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m going to anyway, I talked a bit about Michael Pineda’s injury history and why that could be a problem for the Yankees. Boom. I balanced out this wonderful prediction however, with calling Brandon League the best closer in major league baseball, so as always, take my words with a grain of salt.

The Seattle Mariners were given the right to draft 3rd in the MLB First Years Player draft  due to an exceptionally poor all around performance by last years team. With this pick the Seattle Mariners selected Mike Zunino out of the University of Florida. Zunino is a Florida native hailing from Mariner High School, anybody believe in destiny?

A quick run down on Zunino’s Vitals:

  • Zunino stands at 6’2 and weighs 220 Pounds according to University of Florida’s Player Stats: Above average stature for a catcher, which I will touch on later.
  • 21 years old and just finished his Junior year in college.
  • Bats Right Handed
  • And if you have not learned by now Zunino plays the most important defensive position on the field Catcher.

Alright lets get to the good stuff. The Scouting Report

The Defense:

Mike Zunino made the all-defensive team for the SEC, being the unanimous pick by the committee to be the best fielding catcher in that Conference. Right away this should inspire confidence. If you’re more of a skeptic or just feel like being disagreeable I will give you more.

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Isaiah Thomas Snubbed from NBA All-Rookie Team

If you had told me the day after that Isaiah Thomas got drafted 60th (and last) in the 2011 NBA Draft that I would be writing a rant-article about him not making the NBA All-Rookie 1st team, I would have looked you square in the eyes, taken out my loaded 9 millimeter, and hit you in the face with it.

Hyperbole aside, that’s the situation we are facing. Thomas finished 10th in overall voting, which is odd because by my count there are only 3, at most 4 rookies who outplayed him. So read on as the rest of this article scorns the few rookies unfortunate enough to have beaten Thomas on the All-Rookie team voting. ESPN’s “The Brady Six” style.

The NBA’s Rookie Of the Year (and winner of funniest youtube video amongst rookies), Kyrie Irving had a great season and far and away deserves his spot on the first team. Adrian Brody Ricky Rubio finished second in voting, and for how adorable and awesome he made the Wolves look until he tore his ACL he certainly deserves it as well. I’ll have Boobie Miles sum up Rubio’s game. Boobie, how does Ricky play?

And he can pass!

Too bad Kobe treated Rubio’s knee like he probably treated Steve Blake after every Laker’s loss this season and we only got half a season out of him.

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