Wednesday, April 30, 2008

GM 101

The life of a sports fan is one rife with criticism. We all believe that we are capable of running a spread offense in college. We watch Sportscenter highlights and complain about isolation defensive formations called out by coaches.

We think we know everything that is sport. In no other sense does this bode true than when it comes to front office transactions. If we can log into the ESPN trade ticker and deal Brandon Roy, Jarrett Jack, and a first round pick for LeBron James, then we find it inexcusable for Portland's GM to not pull the trigger on such a deal.

Find that hard to comprehend? How about Randy Moss to the Patriots for a fourth round draft pick.

Above all others I am guilty of said fallacy. I am the guy who will purchase John Madden football, only to simulate through an entire season just to play out the off season draft. In NBA 2K6, I prided myself on making the Sonics a perennial contender in just two seasons. Hell, I remember in MVP Baseball 2005, I finagled a way to get Ichiro onto the Red Sox for Trot Nixon and two fictional prospects.

Of course I understand that the transactions I make would never happen in real life. I also know that external factors such as player egos, fan base, and stifling owners can alter the decisions made by General Managers in all sports.

Still I will forever be critical of General Managers, as is in my nature as a sports fan. As such, for the sake of argument, here are some philosophies that I would abide by if I were a GM in each of the respective three major sports, (because I refuse to acknowledge the NHL until Gary Betteman is no more).

The Tao of Baseball

1. Unless a can't miss prospect is available, all picks should be dedicated solely to pitching

This sounds ridiculous, but makes sense when one looks at what teams look for when making trades. Nearly every major trade involves at least one pitching prospect.

Pitchers are the ultimate wild card in baseball, as the risk reward ratio is immeasurable. For every Felix Rodriguez, their are at least five Ryan Anderson's. This being said, by loading up on pitching talent, one is afforded the liberty of picking up solidified position players through trades.

Furthermore, established pitchers can be dealt away before they wear down or command ridiculous salaries. This is the philosophy that Oakland have followed for years and yet they always remain relatively competitive, despite a minimum payroll.

2. Base running and defense are paramount in winning championships.

The Red Sox do not win the 2004 World Series without Dave Roberts. The 2001 Florida Marlins beat out the Yankees not through power, but through a roster of some of the better defenders ever assembled.

Small ball is a dying facet in baseball, due to fan's infatuations with the home run. While power is important, a reliance on it rarely amounts to championships. Think of it like the three pointer in basketball: Teams live by it and die by it. If this years Detroit Tigers are not homering every inning, they are not winning games. Thus their poor start before noted speedster and defensive boon Curtis Granderson came back.

The Mariners set the record in the late 90's for most home runs in a season. And yet the team that won 116 games was built around smart base running and defense. With the ability to call the hit and run at any time, former role players such as Brett Boone and Mike Cameron became power houses, due to facing a multitude of rattled pitchers.

Speed aides defense through increased range. Increased range improves a team's pitching, as the risks presented by balls put into play are reduced. If a pitcher feels that they can rely on their field to produce outs, they can focus less on strikeouts and more on pitch location.

Their is a reason that washouts like Freddy Garcia, John Halama, and Joel Pinero were effective for that miracle stretch.

The enlightened view of Football

1. If looking for immediate returns draft defense.

The NFL defense is typically less complex than offense. Quite simply, a players instincts and athletic ability can bail them out of compromising positions much easier on this end. A missed coverage assignment might cost a team a game. A missed blocking assignment could cost a team the franchise quarterback.

Offensive players are the sexy picks, but experience the best success when groomed to gel within a respective scheme. Tom Brady. Priest Holmes. Steve McNair. Shaun Alexander. All former MVP's who were brought along slowly within a system.

Quarterback Matt Ryan was drafted by the Falcons for obvious political reasons in the recent draft. I promise you that if replacing the face of the franchise was not the mission and becoming competitive this year was, then Glenn Dorsey is selected in his place.

2. Every quarterback should sit out there rookie year. No matter what.

This philosophy is hard to abide by, as oftentimes a respective fan base will not tolerate it. However in order to allow a quarterback a chance for true success, then they must know the full array of a teams playbook.

Trent Edwards was an effective starter in his rookie year last year. However his role was also reduced to essentially running a mistake free offense. This was very similar to the system that Rex Grossman ran when he led the Bears to the Superbowl, or the one his backup Kyle Orton used to win ten game in a row the year before.

Mistake free play may give a team a chance to win with defense and a run game, but diminishes confidence in the signal caller. David Carr. Akili Smith. Tim Couch. Three quarterbacks expected to leap into the starters role, only to flame out shortly thereafter as a result of excessive pressure. Pressure brought upon by trying to win a modern war with an axe and shield.

The Basketball path to order

1. Swing men make great trade bait.

Basketball in the modern era is ripe with swing players who truly do not hold any singular position. Starting prominently with Magic Johnson, the philosophy is that the best player should have the ball in hand as often as possible. While their are a handful of players in the league who thrive in this system (LeBron James, Dywane Wade, Tracy McGrady) for the most part all that this does is eliminate the team dynamic on the court.

The best teams in basketball thrive on synergy. However the best players coming out of college are oftentimes the ones who took initiative to stand out from the pack. The easiest manner of doing so? Becoming a swing man.

Being the most athletic players on the court in addition to being the most alpha, swing men make for tantalizing trade bait. Of any other position, they are the most likely to go off for a triple double in a spot start and are always the most marketable. Stockpiling this commodity in the draft assures that a team has young talent that can be dealt for established position players who better fit a coach's schema.

2. Never take a risk on bigs.

Basketball and pro wrestling are the only two forms of sport in which an enigma will be offered a seven figure contract solely on the basis that they stand over seven feet tall. Rarely do these investments pay dividends.

While height obviously aides a basketball player, the ebb and flow of the game is not designed for someone of massive proportions. Anybody over seven foot two is destined to face lingering injury problems, as the body simply cannot keep up with the rigors of constantly running and jumping.

Furthermore, the physical nature of the inside game can age a man overnight. Being pounded at the boards and posted under the basket for eighty two games out of a year is nothing more than the modern day gauntlet.

A big is necessary for success in the league, but rarely worth gambling on. Instead all efforts should be made to ascertain established ones either through free agency and or trades. Imagine the Celtics this year with Spencer Hawes in the middle instead of KG... Could have been a distinct possibility if they had wanted to take thier chances on a big in the draft, rather than going for broke.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Welcome to the Seahawks, 2008 Draft Class. Hope You Survive The Experience!

Ever since I was young I've been a comic nerd. I would take my weekly allowance up to the local 7-11, peruse their latest shipment of comics, and, after thorough thumbing through, purchase a couple issues of whatever struck me. This was usually something one of the thousands of X-Men titles or a Spidey book. More often than not the underdog/outcast vibe that ran through the X-books struck a chord. As a half-breed going to a lily white public school in North Seattle I knew all about being different. The X-Men made it cool to be different, to dream about doing, seemingly, impossible acts. My young mind thought of the endless possibilities of eye-popping feats I could perform if I possessed superhuman powers. It was in this vein I was drawn into sports.

Watching impossibly large men performing athletic moves someone half their size would dream of wrapped me up in a sense of awe. Being witness to a 6'10" kid out of high school throw down rim-rattling, baseline dunks from outside the lane over 7 odd foot Goliaths let me believe that men didn't need wings to fly like Angel of the X-Men. Watching Joey Galloway take a simple short route, juke a defender or two and then outrun everyone else to the end zone, or, despite having the defense geared to stop him and the deep ball, beating the corner off the line of scrimmage and then burning the safety deep, had me feeling that man could run like Quicksilver. I remember going to M's games in the 'Dome with my dad. We'd marvel as The Kid hit the ball with Colossus-like strength, launching dingers for, what seemed like, 1,000 ft. For many kids I knew it was always one or the other. You either were a sports nut or you liked comic books, never did they meet. You either proudly rocked a Bone t-shirt or your sheepishly wore a shirt with Wolverine, claws exposed, cutting through the fabric of the shirt. But being part of two distinct and often separate worlds wasn't new to me. Loving both comics and sports seemed perfectly natural, despite the fact that I was the only one I knew who had this disposition.

To this day I get just as excited about seeing the Iron Man movie as I do watching the NBA Finals. Hell, maybe even more. As I've grown and been around sports fanatics and comic geeks alike, I've learned that these, seemingly, disparate groups of people have much more in common than they think. I have a friend who can name notable athletes given just a number. For example I can throw out a number at random, like 24, the names I come up with are pretty easy Champ Bailey and Kobe. This guy would pull out some obscure 4th outfielder for the Oakland A's in the 80's, a running back from the early 90's Houston Oilers, and a one time NBA All-Star who was cut down by injuries. This isn't that much different than my friend who can name what DC comic heroes came from what Pre-Crisis earths. Ultra-Man? Easy, Earth-3. Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters? Simple, Earth X. The knowledge level both possess in their respective fields would seem trivial to those on the outside. To the uninformed, these facts that have little relevance in the "real world". But to those who are big fans of comics or football see this knowledge as the ultimate show of commitment to their sport or their comic universe. These are legends whose stories inspired us all at some point during our childhood or even adulthood.

With all that said, I often relate the X-Men's plight of acceptance as one that parallels that of Seattle sports. Underdogs, cast-offs, spectacular performers achievements eclipsed due to the fact they weren't what people considered normal or traditional, these were themes that were ever-present growing up in the sports equivalent of Siberia, as well as the tales of garishly dressed do-gooders. Most recently it has been the Seattle Seahawks attempting to gain mainstream acceptance and meeting heavy resistance along the way. From the 'Hawks years of constantly flirting with greatness but falling short due to some constantly changing flaw, I recalled as the X-Men constantly tried to show the world that mutants were ok only to have a member of The Brotherhood of Evil mutants go and kidnap a senator and fuck their whole shit up.

Then 2005 happened, a perfect storm of a season. The O-Line led by Hutch and Big Walt mowed down opposing defenses, no matter how many were stacked in the box. Matt Hasslebeck overcame his erratic play of the past and was the definition of a West Coast Offense QB. Shaun Alexander used the dominance of his line to make cut back runs and reel off more yards going backside than play-side, zigging and zagging down the field to the red-zone. It was here he went feral and was an unstoppable juggernaut carrying defenders on the way to the end-zone. The Defense led by rookie Lofa Tatupu changed from sieve-like to a rubber band style of bend don't break attitude, and played with a heretofore unseen fire. Much to the national media's surprise the 'Hawks didn't fall to The Mighty Washington Redskins or The Fierce Carolina Panthers, despite being perceived as underdogs in both those play-off match-ups. The Dream of being considered and elite team died in Detroit on Ford Field. Our chance to have all that the team had accomplished over the past years validated with a Super-Bowl win was dashed.

Funny thing was, the events of the 2005 season seemed to be mirrored in an arc written by uber-writer Grant Morrison a few years earlier. The X-Men had done away with the silly, brightly colored costumes of the past and had adopted a more updated biker-style uniform that wouldn't be laughable if worn out in public. The X-Men no longer wanted to hide behind masks and costumes, they wanted the world to accept them as they were, different, but a good kind of different. A different that wished to be accepted by society not just lived in it's own little bubble in society. Eventually the good-will the X-Men have tried to foster is undone when Xorn, one of the teachers at the school, turns out to be arch-enemy Magneto. Magneto then attempts to wipe out all of New York City and create a new mutant utopia in it's place. Needless to say, New Yorkers weren't to pleased with this attempted redesign.

So if the Seahawks are the X-Men, Then Holmgren is Professor Xavier, the mastermind behind the whole team. Without his vision and planning the team would cease to exist. It is under his tutelage that the Seahawks learn to function smoothly as a team.Matt Hasslebeck is a much less grim and stiff Cyclops. If Cyclops were bald and had a penchant for self-deprecating jokes, he would be a dead ringer for Hass, leadership abilities and all. Big Walt would have to be Jean Grey "Phoenix", just as Phoenix is the most powerful of the X-Men so Walt is the most powerful Seahawk. Just as Phoenix provides Cyclops with stability and both physical and emotional security, Walt does the same for Matt. Keeping anyone one with the intention of hurting Matt pancaked into the ground. That means that this new draft class are like The New Mutants, a group of supremely talented individuals looking to make an impact in the majors, provided they live through the experience. So without further ado here are my thoughts on the 2008 New Mutants.

1st rd. #28 Lawrence Jackson. This guy comes pre-packaged with a cool nickname "Lo-Jack". At first I was baffled by this pick. The 'Hawks desperately needed a tight end, as the departure of Jerramy Stevens and acquisition of Marcus Pollard hadn't worked like planned and the #1 rated tight-end was available at this spot. I even thought that the hawks might take DT Kentwaan Ballmer out of UNC with this pick to add depth to out DT rotation but they didn't do that either. Lo-Jack seemed redundant with the semi-emergence of Darryl Tapp and the rejuvenation of Patrick Kerney. But he was the highest ranked player on the Hawks board so they snagged him in hopes of rotating him with the other two defensive ends so they would have fresh legs at the end of the game. And I get this, the 'Hawks saw what a fearsome and fresh line can do in the Super Bowl where New York's line, kept rested with healthy rotation, dominated the New England Patriots. In reality the entire defensive line deserved Super Bowl MVP, not Ellie May, despite his heroics. I think that at 6'4" 271 lbs Lo-Jack can add versatility to an already athletic line. He's big enough that, on passing downs, he could be used as a pass-rushing DT, a la Justin Tuck of the Giants. Plus the fact that he was a 4 year starter at a big time program and was regarded highly on his character, it's almost a no-brainer The 'Hawks took him.

rd.2 #38 The Hawks traded their 3rd pick to move up in the second round and and select Tight End John Carlson of Notre Dame. Same deal goes for Carlson as it does with Jackson, big time program, 4 year starter, high character guy, NFL ready. He was the reason the Hawks skipped on a TE with their first pick. On their Draft Board they had him ranked above all the other tight-ends. His measurables may not stack up compared to come of the other TE's taken in the draft but the fact that he had proven himself on the field made him far more valuable to the Seahawks than some of the other options at Tight End. At 6'5" and 248lbs I think Carlson will come in and provide instant production from a position that is an integral part of what the West Coast Offense tries to do in both blocking, route running, and pass catching which is more than anyone can say for Marcus Pollard.

rd.4 #121 Red Bryantt, DT, Texas A&M. Seems like another DT value pick, akin to last years 4th round selection of Brandon Mebane out of Cal. Standing 6'4" and weighing a hefty 318lbs, Bryantt seems like he could be the nose man the Hawks D-Line has desperately needed especially with the constant injuries to former 1st rounder Marcus Tubbs.

rd.5 #163 Owen Schmitt, FB, West Virginia. Ever since I saw a comic strip about this guy a few years ago in the ESPN the magazine I've been a huge fan. His crushing blocks and bull dozing runs were one of the reasons I came to really like WVU over these past few years. The man only had 4 rushes for a loss during his entire college career, during which time he busted 10 opposing player's face masks. Some have said this tackled-for-loss stat is skewed due to the fact WVU runs a spread-option system whose match-ups make it very difficult to stack the box against. This may be true but if you ever watched him play in person you know that the man is just a beast and even running in a normal system would have been taken down behind the line only a handful of times. I mean the man is 6'2" 247lbs, that's a fucking load! Plus every one who has every followed WVU football has taken the time to post on the about how much they love this kid and what a nasty streak he brings when he plays, something the 'Hawks O could use. This kind of out-pouring of support isn't something that happens for every player I assure you.

rd.6 #189 Schmitt, again. This time it's Tyler Schmitt long-snapper from San Diego State. Some people questioned the logic of taking a long-snapper in the 6th round when they are normally picked up as un-drafted free-agents after the draft. But anyone who watched the 'Hawks vs. Saints game last year knows just exactly how important a long-snapper can be.

rd.7 233 Justin Forsett, RB, Cal. Being a UW Husky fan I've been privy to some memorable running back performances. Whenever I saw Forsett I liked the toughness with which he ran. He was never the biggest guy on the field, he's 5'8", 194lbs, but he didn't shy away from lowering his shoulder to gain extra yardage. He's not the best example of straight line speed but his quickness in and out of the holes opened by the line is very impressive. He's also a solid blocker and has nice hands for an RB. I'm not sure this is going to be enough to help him make the team given our crowded backfield. But perhaps he'll be a special team performer this year and then step into Mo-Mo's role next year when Mo is a free agent and turns the dreaded 30.

rd.7 235 Brandon Coutu, K, Georgia. It was a given that, at some point in the draft, the 'Hawks were gonna take a kicker. Josh Brown became like a bad plate of Eggs Benedict and turned traitor on us, signing with the Rams. Olindo Mare, his replacement, is older and coming off a leg injury. So it figured we would grab a kicker to challenge Olindo for the starting spot. I just didn't foresee they'd take a kicker with a history of leg issues. The little I have read about this guy scares me. He seems injury prone, especially his legs seems to be a problem. Here's hoping those issues are in the past and he's ready to contribute to this team right away.

So that's this years class of New Mutants. Over training camp and pre-season we will see how prepared each one is ready to step-up and fill a role on our X-Men. Who'll be the next Cannonball, New Mutant standout turned X-Man, turned team leader of X-Force? Who will be the next Cipher? The mutant with the ability to translate any language, who was mercifully killed due to his rather lame power. Only time will tell. Until then, Welcome to The Seahawks, 2008 Draft Class. Hope you survive the experience!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

If At First You Don't Succeed... Blow the Damned Thing Up

"This town needs an enema!"

Scour through the vast expanses of timeless Jack Nicholson quotes and one imminently arrives at this gem from the 1989 film "Batman."

Simple but poignant. Powerful with a hint malaise. Tacky and yet unrefined.

Metaphors typically used to describe the five alarm hot wings at Hooters manage to also summarize the sentiments of Jack's portrayal of the Joker. His is a character that views the world in black and white. He does not settle for grey. And in order to sway the balance to whichever way he chooses, he is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his visions ultimate success.

On the eve of the NFL draft we are beginning to see teams abide by this philosophy already. Kansas City traded away star defensive end Jared Allen to the Vikings for an additional draft picks. Word is they are in the hunt to add more before all is said and done.

Yes the team may suffer through growing pains, but the end results should justify the means. Even if only one player out of their entire draft becomes a future star, then the Allen deal can be viewed as a success.

Teams do this in every sport. They mortgage the present in preparation for the future. I would be lying to myself if I did not acknowledge that the knowledge that the Sonics have six first round draft choices in the next three years does not stimulate me in numerous ways that belie the social norm. Provided that the team does not relocate, I am geared up for contention come 2010.

This is the problem with the Seattle Mariners. For practically the entire expanse of my life, this team has toiled in the grey. Always on the cusp of contention, but one losing streak away from being an afterthought. Cursed as a team perpetually privy to being mathematically in the playoff hunt.

And while this theme has persisted for years, it makes little sense. Especially when jettisoning star players has been the centrifuge to some of Seattle's greatest successes.

Local legend Jay Buhner was acquired for the aging Ken Phelps. The Randy Johnson deal netted John Halama, Freddy Garcia, and Carlos Guillen. Mike Cameron and Brett Tomko landed in the Emerald City via Ken Griffey's departure.

Perhaps not a list of names that set the baseball prospectus ablaze, but all serviceable major leaguers who contributed to some fantastic runs for the club.

And while small market teams like the Twins and Athletics continue achieve comparable records, despite consistently jettisoning top flight talent growing fat in the farm ranks, the Mariners continue to flirt with the sentiments that they are a top flight contender each year. Just one player away from mojo magic.

Not going to happen. At least not anytime soon.

As proven already this year, this team is soft. When Putz went down with an injury no one answered the call to the pen. With Vidro and Ichiro struggling offensively, the rest of the team grows lackadaisical. Now that Beddard is faced with a lingering injury all season, watching this team try to compete for a pennant will be like seeing Miguel Cotto vie for a title belt one handed. By all means the talent and desire is their on paper, but I ain't betting on it.

These are three instances in which farm systems can save a ball club. The emgergence of Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury last season won the World Series for the Red Sox. Justin Upton's hitting has inspired the once punch less Diamondbacks. The Reds are riding a young Edison Volquez along with proven starter Aaron Harang.

Prospects changing the molds of teams when given an opportunity. Prospects gathered through knowing when to cut bait on deals with proven veterans and stars alike.

This team needs an enema. One year it needs to be blown up and rebuilt properly. Jose Lopez needs to be dealt to a contender. Ditto Raul Ibanez and Adrian Beltre. Garner the youth of others and watch their petals flourish as the old buds die.

But no, this will never happen. Instead we will invest the money from Richie Sexson's mammoth expiring contract into bottom rung starters for the rotation. Brad Wilkerson will start at first base over Jeff Clement. Raul Ibanez will entrench himself in an Edgar Martinez-esque role of being the old player stealing at bats from youngsters in commendation for past services.

Look, I hate the concept of prospects as much as anyone, but in baseball the risks are not as high as in other sports. Seeing how a player who has spent four years developing in the minor league system gives a much better impression than drafting a stud after his freshman year of college. In addition to this, prospects can always be used for future trade considerations (see Adam Jones.)

Unfortunately the Mariners do not have anyone of prominent enough value to attract a viable enough deal to yield instant results. The only player who could do that would be Ichiro. And any Seattle fan knows that the day Ichiro is traded will be the day the streets will run red with blood.

This team needs an enema.

A steady diet of baseball player equivalents of cream cheese hot dogs will do that.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bedard Trade Looking Worse and Worse

Hey Adam, Sorry we traded you. Please don't beat my team anymore, ok?

Last night was a realization of Mariners fans collective fears of a worst case post-trade scenario as the M's let a 5-2 lead slip away into a 8-7 loss. Adam "Only a Prospect" Jones completed the comeback by driving a double off the wall in left field to drive in the go-ahead run. Ichiro briefly tied the game with a 2-run dinger only to have the struggling bullpen turn right around and give up the eventual winning run. Then, to rub salt in the wound, George Sherril, former LOOGY(left-handed one out guy) turned shut-down closer, came in to notch his 5th save this season against his former team. The whole while #1 Staff Ace Erik Bedard and his hip were still side-lined with inflammation, their return uncertain. All in all, it was everything I prayed to Jeebus about NOT happening when I heard this trade was going down.
Ok, George, we get it, you're upset we traded you. Now would you kindly remove you teeth from my back?

The Baltimore Orioles improved to 6-1 against the M's this season, which makes up exactly half of our 12 losses. In those 6 wins George Sherril has come in like Marv Albert on Vanessa Perhach in that D.C area Ritz-Carlton and had his way with us, right down to forced sodomy and back biting. To make matters worse, recently the Mariners 'pen is holding a lead about as well as an old man can hold his stool .This type of thing was not supposed to happen to a supposed contender with "the best 1-2 punch in baseball", but with half of the 1-2 punch out, a horribly impatient offense, injuries to the bullpen and some of our more elderly players showing their years(Vidro, Wilkerson, Big Suxy) what seemed like sure wins are now mounting in the loss column. I don't imagine this is how management figured things would go down to start this season.

Right now The Mariners are looking about as dominate as the girls in those equus eroticus videos I love. To pull themselves out of this middling funk they have gotten themselves into the M's need a axis-shift type change. First thing that needs to happen is the bullpen needs to heed the advice given to Bri(the high-yellow gir from Phillyl) from her Real World roommates. They told her that if you give it up on the first date he won't respect you. Bri told them she didn't care if the man respected her, which is the same mindset of the M's bullpen, they don't care if other teams respect them, if they wanna give up runs then that's their prerogative. Hopefully Bri and the Mariners 'pen can learn together that, if you make 'em work for it, when they finally do get it they'll be a lot more appreciative. Remember kids, giving up sex and runs is just a sign of low self-esteem and if you have low self-worth you are easy prey for the many predators out there in the world.

The second thing the M's can do is stop approaching hitting like an ADD addled child approaches a standardized test. By this I mean, they swing at the first thing that looks good to them just as the kid fills out whatever answer bubble looks good to him. The M's hitters need to realize that a walk is not a waste of an at-bat, and that not making an out(by, say, walking) is better than making one while trying to swing at whatever garbage is thrown in attempting to get a hit.

These are just two things that could help a lot if they were somehow corrected but I'm not holding my breath that they will be fixed. In truth there are a thousand things that M's could to do be better but really there's only thing I care about. Winning, by whatever underhanded, cheap, dirty, or otherwise unsavory means, is the cure fore everything. If they real off a few in a row including a sweep of the always tough Oakland A's this weekend, then all this will be forgotten. And then maybe people will actually come to the ballpark and I can get down to making some real money.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Random Sports List!!!

Don't you just hate it when you log onto your favorite sports site, only to find some random nonsensical list regarding players looks? Do I care who the "Top Ten Dreamiest NFL Players Currently Serving Suspensions for Violating the League's Substance Abuse Policy?" About as much as I care for "Top Twenty Hardwood Heartthrobs Who Ballooned to Over Three Hundred Pounds Before Retiring."

And yet I still read these articles. I read them simply on the basis that they are sports related. I hate it and yet I succumb to it, much like when I accidentally rented transvestite porn over a holiday weekend.

Regardless, in the spirit of mocking the modern sports media, I present to you my own extremely biased list. Without further ado...

Top Ten Sports Columnists File Photos

1. Bill Simmons

The classic mock laughter pose made famous by the crew at "NFL Today." His fox like grin borders somewhere on lines of, "Take the damned picture already, this tie is killing me," and "I just crapped in Skip Bayless' cereal." Enjoy your Cocoa Puffs Commie douche bag.

2. Jason Whitlock

Its a wonder that they could fit him into a profile photo without breaking out the wide angle lens. He looks winded, but satisfied, meaning he has either just dealt out some of his patented candid insights, or he had to jock for position with Charles Barkley after the Krispy Kreme fresh light went on. Very reminiscent to the look Belladonna had after her scene in "Weapons of Ass Destruction."

3. Charley Rosen

His photo only complements his attempts to come across as the grumpiest old cuss in sports. I can just picture him smoking cigarettes in his garage, listening to a Pistons - Spurs game on an old transistor radio, and hollering about all of the missed defensive rotations.

4. Dayn Perry

For some reason, he has two drastically different photos. The original makes him look like the dweeb singer from "Bare Naked Ladies." The other one gives the impression that he is dying of cancer. Neither one makes me wet between the legs.

5. Rick Reilly

The existential pose. A combination of the tragic thinker mixed with the sardonic grin of a man enlightened by many of life's lessons. Later made famous by the pregnant man seen on "Oprah."

6. Jayson Stark

Recently lost his beloved cat, "Mookie" and had him fashioned into a nifty cap so he could keep him close from now until eternity. Okay I made that up, but that sounds like a credible enough rationale to describe that damp furry mass on his head.

7. J.A. Adande

Classic yearbook photo. I wonder if they had an award back when he graduated for, "Most Likely to Sellout and Serve as a Lackey for Tony "Stat Boy" Reali."

8. Peter Gammons

The obituary photo... I rescind that. Even making that one sniping comment hurt my soul a little. Making fun of Peter Gammons is like mocking someone's grandfather. Just not cool. On a serious note, I was distraught for days when he had his aneurysm. I hope this BoSox loving bastard lives forever.

9. Mark Kreigel

The classic Jewish tough guy. His black and white photo makes him look like a cub reporter for the Brooklyn Dodgers. All he needs is a fedora and a press ticket and he can be out their finding the "hot scoop." In reality his articles effectively take hot scoops on whichever athletes are prominent in the headlines.

10. Mary Buckheit

A talented (and surprisingly attractive) journalist whose articles often get buried by her male counterparts. So naturally she brings up the rear on this list.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nihilistic Gobbledygook


The other day I treated myself to a fond stroll down memory lane by watching the 1981 classic "Heavy Metal." Perhaps it was a part of me longing to recapture a fond fleeting remnant of my childhood that is fluttering away with time.

Or perhaps it was because "South Park" paid homage to the flick in one of this seasons episodes.

Whatever the case, the movie embodies the eighties unlike any other. Essentially it is nothing, but a clip show of boobs, blood, and rocking music. Beyond this however several notable aspects stood out in my recent viewing:

- Don Felder's long forgotten gem "Heavy Metal (Taking a Ride)" remains as lucid and seething as ever before.

- John Candy as the star voice actor proves just why he is deserving of enshrinement in the "Comic Fat Guys" Mt. Rushmore.

- The short "Harry Canyon" is gleefully entertaining and in hindsight serves as the entire basis for that forgettable Bruce Willis fare, "The Fifth Element." I was pleased to be reminded of this one, as in my previous recollection of the film, the immortal "B-17" trumped all others.

And while I was overall pleased with my choice to dig out the flick for one last hurrah, I had one major complaint.

How can a film that is given the handle "Heavy Metal," in fact be less metal than "Transformers: The Movie?"

(Note: Before we go any further into this, please allow me to clarify one poignant issue. By "Transformers: The Movie" I am referring to the 1986 animated feature, not the Michael Bay debacle that is rapidly approaching "Rocky 5" status of movies never happened. I will admit becoming a little misty eyed in seeing Jazz torn in half by Megatron, but this in no way compares to the emotional trauma my psyche endured in witnessing the massacre of Ironhide, Prowl, Ratchet, Brawn, Windcharger and Wheeljack.)

How can Sammy Haggar touch Stan Bush's offerings? He wishes that he wrote these songs. "You Got the Touch" was even cited in "Boogie Nights!" Dirk Diggler sang transformers music for Gawd sake!!!

"Heavy Metal" had a Deo helmed Black Sabbath in tow, but even the pioneer of the devil horn hand sign himself could not touch the caustic wailings heard in Lion's cover of the "Transformer's Theme."

Even the prophet Steve Perry crumbles in the face of "Instruments of Destruction" by the band N.R.G.

This being said, while "Heavy Metal" warrants a presence in my collection of disintegrating VHS tapes, I hold divisively that the title should be awarded to the Transformers on account of lack of metal awesomeness.

From here on out "Transformers: The Movie" will hereby be referred to as "Transformers: Heavy Metal" with "Heavy Metal" changing its name to "Pterodactyl Riding Thunder Cunts:
Starring John Candy."

That is my word and it has been written.




At this point if you have read this far into the article, you may ponder what bearing this has at all on the sports landscape.

You are right. It doesn't.

Which is exactly why I take issue with the direction sports journalism is headed towards in our modern era. Articles like this have absolutely nothing to do with sports and yet are being passed by sports columnists all over.

I get it. "The Wire" is a brilliant show and I cannot wait to sit down and watch it in its entirety on DVD. However I fail to see how promotion of the show has anything to do with the NBA. Just because one or two of the players might one day end up like some of the characters on the show, I do not see the connection.

Yes, I have heard that the Raconteurs new album is supposed to be fabulous. And this will affect my fantasy draft how? For that matter, why are you being paid to tell me who to pick in a fictionalized league based entirely upon pure luck?

We have access to a nigh infinite amount of information via the web and yet I am more likely to find an in depth interview with Adam Corrolla in regards to his short lived stint on "Dancing with the Stars," then I am of finding one journalist willing to hold Matt Walsh's feet to the fire regarding his accusations against the New England Patriots.

Most people probably do not even know who Matt Walsh is.

Who dropped the ball in inquiring about steroid use in baseball, allowing Jose Canseco to be "vindicated" by the Mitchell Report?

What dirt has not been dug on "Sneaker Pimp" William Wesley allowing him to continue his influence on basketball?

Why is it not fishy to some that NBA commissioner David Stern is friends with Sonics majority owner Clay Bennett and somehow franchise player Kevin Durant ended up in Seattle?

No, no. Those questions will never do.

Journalists who ignite fires end up broke. Journalists who sit around and argue sports, (while citing other TV shows starring journalists who sit around and argue sports) get to write player's memoirs.

A journalists job is not an easy one. Newsworthy material is not often entertaining. Serving as a living information filter, it is understandable of how one would use pop culture and hip simile to attract more attention to bylines.

However journalists have an obligation to the masses, and that is to provide an insight. To seek truth in a world of lies. To delve into unexplored realms. Damn it, they evoke the "vox populi."




And you know what? Maybe that has been the problem all along.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Just Call Me Mark Kegel

Danica Patrick became the first female to ever win an IRL race.

Which only means that her imminent spread in Playboy has been delayed an additional two years.

Tiger Woods is out for at least a month after knee surgery.

We may as well beat the rush and rename this site "Nobody Likes Golf... Again."

John Marzano died, may he rest in peace.

Seattle Mariner faithful will always remember him as the guy who lived out their greatest fantasies by punching out Paul O'Neill.

If the Pistons face the Spurs in the Finals again this year, then I am done with basketball for at least three years. No joke.

I figure that will be about how long it takes before I get the pleasure of watching the Memphis Grizzlies playing in Sonics jerseys.

Hey, at least we would get Mike Miller, arguably the best white guy in the league.

That will ease his transition to a city weened on Robert Swift, Vladimir Radmanovich, Vladimir Stepania, Nick Collison, Luke Ridnour, Vitali Potepenko, Pedrag Drobnjak, etc.

Kind of like how the Mariners finally got a left fielder in Randy Winn when Lou Pinnella left.

The Sonics would finally get the best white guy some years after the Wally Walker debacle.

Don't you just hate how every "Page 2" article has an incessant amount of hyperlinks?

I don't know about you, but I find this truly annoying.

Friday, April 18, 2008

28-2 NBA Franchise Owners say "Fuck You" to Current Host City Rights

Or at least that's all I can infer from today's vote by the NBA owners on whether or not to allow Clay Bennett to have my Super-Sonics to be extorted from the city of Seattle. Because, when it gets right down to this is a vote on allow multi-millionaires and billionaires to hold teams for ransom and demand new arena deals without having to put up one dime of their considerable wealth. And when the city rejects the exorbitant package put forth by Mr.Fat-Cat Owner, he can cut town with the team in tow. It doesn't matter how long the team has been in town, or what kind history they have, or how many people make the total sum or a large portion of their income from working at the facility or for the team. All that matters is that they are willing to bow to David Stern and the NBA and put the team and their sacred new facility before their civic needs. For as completely fucked and illegal this all seems, the worst part about it is no one can really do a damn thing about it.

Fuck You Fat-Man Nichols!

The vote today for legalized ransom just made sure of that fact. Not that it is any sort of real shock. Any rational person knew the owners were going to be for the relocation plan for the Sonics. It only makes sense for the new NBA paradigm that sounds more like a bad rap song than a business model "Make money, fuck the rest of that bullshit!".
Fuck You Gov.Grinch!

The best way to make money is to make sure that the city is completely subservient to the NBA club. To have it so that they are grateful that the NBA allows them to have their very own sports franchise is the overriding goal. If holding the team above their heads like kids in a divorce is the only way to extract the necessary funds for the brand new 3/4 of a billion dollar arena from the city the new paradigm demands that's what you do. It says "Go ahead player, you earned it!".
Fuck You Uncle Tom Owner!

So while there is plenty of blame to go around The Politicians for dragging their feet and only trying to get something done at the last minute, Howard Schultz for selling the team in the first place, Clay Bennett for wanting to move a team with rich history and 1 CHAMPIONSHIP!!! to Oklahoma, but the real blame has to go to David Stern for creating this criminal culture in the NBA. David Stern has put the task of making money in front of everything else in the NBA. He claims he wants to reconnect with fans and clean up the "image problem" his league has. Well I'll you what David, this sure as fuck aint gonna help!!!
Fuck You Sleazy Clay Bennett!

If David Stern continues to rule the NBA with his ego his money making plans will blow up in his face when he realizes that he has alienated his entire fan-base due to delusional mismanagement and greed. No one wants to support a league where your childhood team, who you watched fight Michael and The Mighty Bulls in the Finals, at a facility where you witnessed The Reign Man stop Karl Malone from delivering the mail, where you saw countless Payton tear-drop floaters in the lane fall softly through the net, can get sold to OKLAHOMA CITY to fulfill a multi-millionaire's childhood dream.
But Most of All FUCK YOU David Stern!!! There is a special spot in Dante's Inferno for you where you will be forced to watch as the Spurs play the Pistons every year in the Finals and you are forced to market Casey Jacobsen as the marquee player of your league.

No one should have to be face with that Sophie's choice of " Do I, with recession looming, spend $500 mil I don't have to keep the oldest sports team in the city around? Or do I play hardball, not pay for a new arena and then watch as my team is gutted and put back together as a monstrous Thing so it's easier to justify when the team is sold up-river."

My only hope is that The City of Seattle wins it's fight to keep the Sonics here another 2 years and that, somehow, in that time, the money for a rebuild or new stadium can be found. I have too many memories, many the best of my child-hood, to have them ripped away from right when we are about to be good again. And we will be good again. Don't believe me? Read Bill Simmons' comments on Durant Rookie of the Year and #48 On his MVP List.

Kevin Durant is just a few years away from averaging 30! Don't steal my chance to see that!

That's the worst part of it. The Sonics organization, for the first time in years, is positioned to become of of the best young franchises in the NBA. We have two young Stars in Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. In, what had to be, one of the most difficult situations of any NBA team with the looming move, the managements determination to tank, a horrid coach, role players whining about minutes, both of these players showed a lot of character by not only making it through the season without strangling P.J. or fighting Wally Szcerbiak but developing very well over the season. Their season-long growth was given it's true test in the last two games of the season against the Nuggets and Mavs in which they both posted career highs and made countless big shots in games that were must-wins for the opponent. The idea of these two playing alongside each other and getting only better in the coming years is exciting enough as it is but throw in the fact that we have 6!!!!! first round draft picks in the next 3 years. That includes two this year in one of the more loaded drafts of recent memory.

Jeff Green is the perfect wingman for KD. Tough Defender, High Basketball IQ,
scores without the ball. Don't strip me of watching the Jeff and KD become one of the best young duos in the league!

Having the 2nd worst record in the league gives us a higher chance of getting the top overall pick. Derrick Rose absolutely tore up the NCAA tourney getting shots at will and delivering the ball on a dime gave me dirty thoughts of him playing with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. Thinking about Derrick Rose throwing perfect passes to a cutting Jeff Green or Kevin Durant curling off a screen gave me a hard-wood hard-on I hadn't sported since Glove to Reign Man alleys were more en vogue than En Vogue.

Adding Derrick Rose to Kevin Durant would be like when Cap joined The Avengers. Prior to his addition you have a strong collection of talent but he brings a calm and focus to the whole thing. Like Cap, Rose would be the floor general, directing his teammates to maximize their skills. He would be the catalyst that takes the disparate parts and assembles them into a machine-like entity running with an almost unnatural precision.

Captain America wants Derrick Rose to Play for the SEATTLE Super Sonics!

And then I remember that if that were to happen, by the time the team fulfilled it's potential as a serious play-off contender it'd be in their 2nd or 3rd year in OK. So, all my hard work and waiting through countless rebuilds and putrid draft, through Robert Swift and Adrian Griffin, is that so somebody out in OKC can have a ready made team come right to their door ready to win? Fuck that noise!! Being a fan doesn't mean you get a killer team right away. Being a fan means being there through the McIlvane years, and the dark days of Wally Walker, of seeing your team fail before, finally, getting it together and turn things around. If the Sonics(under whatever new name they have) turn out to be a contender for years to come it'll truly be the proverbial shit in the cereal.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why the WWE is Better than Reality

If you smell what The Schultz is Brewin'

I admit it. I am a full fledged wrestling dork. Yes, I used to wrestle in the backyards of a friend’s home. Yes, we at one point constructed a ring using blueprints found online. Hell, I will even go so far as to admit that we used to film our pugilistic endeavors and air them on public access.
This alone should be reason enough to justify my Cal Ripken Jr. esque streak for sexual ineptitude.

The allure is hard to put into words. I suppose that I just find it truly refreshing to see disagreements handled with burly men kicking the crap out of one another and jawing on a microphone for two hours out of my night. Who knows? Maybe the world would in fact be a better place if this were the case in all endeavors. This rationale did end the Cold War, as far as Rocky 4 was concerned after all. And you cannot tell me that seeing Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton pile driving David Duke through a table would not warm your soul just a tad.

But I digress.

One of the greatest aspects of wrestling I always found was how quickly a characters persona could change in one instant. All it took was one well placed chair shot to determine which direction they were headed. Hit the buxom female valet? Bad guy. Hit the obnoxious TV announcer that no one can stand? Good guy. Plain and simple. I have seen wrestlers in the past go from homicidal, homosexual rapists to poetry spouting baby faced ladies men overnight in this manner… Just trust me on this. I assure you that it is true.

And this is why wrestling is great. We distort our impressions of these larger than life icons for the sake of entertainment. In the real world we would never allow ourselves to ignore the major trepidations of another’s past overnight. Do you think that Michael Richards has any network sitcoms in the works right now? If life were like wrestling, he could have his own standup special on BET simply by assaulting Mitt Romney with a lead pipe!

In this society, typically you fuck up once and you are done. Occasionally you will see a celebrity pull a WWE patented move of disappearing for a long time and then returning triumphantly when the heat has died off, but this can take years. Overnight absolution simply does not exist.

Or does it?

Yesterday famed Seattle goat Howard Schultz announced his intentions to rescind his sale of the Seattle Supersonics to the evil alliance that is the Oklahoma investors. This is not unlike the good old days, when Goldberg was kicking the crap out of the NWO. If he pulls this off, he will officially become a God in the Emerald City.
It took him long enough.

Perhaps he was swayed by that walrus of a man, Big Lo’s viral plea (which was only slightly less embarrassing than my student film Tuesday’s with Bozerman.) The Seattle Times sponsored bit in the same vain of the infamous “Shoeless Joe Jackson” quip.

“Say it ain’t so Howie… Say it ain’t so.”

I can just picture the coffee mogul, sipping at his triple grande macchiato. The hot liquid seeping out of the rim of the cup into his lap, because his jackass employees always seem to overfill it.

He closes his eyes.

He grits his teeth.

“No… No it ain’t so!”

He grabs the two by four and makes for the door.

He will not be denied.

Jim Ross' turkey jowel is shaking like a shutter in a windstorm as he screams, "My Gawd! That's The Schultz music!!! Buisness is about to pick up!!!

Hey, in my world, this is how it went down.

And you cannot convince me that this is not the least bit more exciting than the reality of the situation.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bedard's Hip: The New Vin Baker's Alchoholism

Sadly we won't be seeing this anytime soon.

Eric Bedard, Staff Ace and one of the key five (Ichiro, Beltre, Felix, Bedard, JJ) the M's were counting on to be the core and driving force of this team throughout the season, missed his second scheduled start of the year the other day due to "hip inflammation" or some such bullshit. When the extent of the injury was just speculation my bowels were clenched tighter than the skin on Joan Rivers' face. With the buzz now having been confirmed as fact, outright fear has loosed my rectum with shock, causing me to drop a load in my new 501's

This team without Bedard is like without the degradation. Sure, it's still roughly the same thing and yeah, you can still get off on it(win) but the road to climax(winning) is much more difficult sans the rough stuff the site is known for(Eric Bedard). Truthfully, I can't imagine we're gonna be over a .500 club without #1 Staff Ace Eric Bedard.

All the M's were trying to do this season rested on the premise that with a "killer 1-2 punch", hot and cold offense, and a mediocre defense were enough to win the division and make it to the play-offs for the first time since 2001. If it turns out Bedard is out for an extended time or nagged by this injury all year, the most important piece of that (limited) formula is then gone or about as effective The French "resistance" in WWII.

With Adam Jones becoming a local hero after his game winning hit the other night; George Sherril showing versatility, that was never taken advantage of in Seattle, as a closer, proving tough against both lefties and righties alike with a mere 2 runs allowed in his 6 saves opportunities;The M's are looking like they got the worst of the deal that sent Jones and Sherrill to Baltimore for Bedard.

Most of us here at the Nobody Lies Soccer were against this trade for these exact reasons. Eric Bedard is injury prone. He' never once posted 200 innings pitched in a season before( a bench mark for a durable, reliable, #1 Staff Ace status). Adam Jones will be a superstar someday, and he is still under his original contract he signed with the M's until 2013 which is just a couple hundo-thou compared to $7 mil we gotta pay Bedard. Which is to say nothing of the Sally-Struthers-sized contract extension we'll have to pony up to keep him next season. George Sherrill was the best man not named JJ in the M's 'pen last year. Now, with JJ down, there has been a major clusterfuck in the bullpen. The M's have desperately tried to find someone who can make it out of an inning and not cause massive heat palpitations amongst the coaching staff. Eric O'Flatline's last few outings have caused me, a relatively healthy 25 year old, to clutch my chest and hope a defib unit was within reach.

Remember this man? Remember when he used to pwn?'Member when he bought out the bar? Good Times!

Here's hoping this "hip inflammation" rectifies itself with rest and treatment while on the 15-day disabled list and does not turn out to be like Vin Baker's alcoholism, an seemingly minor issue that everyone thought would be resolved easily. Instead it kept popping up, like a boner in math class, at the worst times. It starts with just a few games missed and a sub-par performances before developing into a major issue and destroying the entire season or seasons. Otherwise, I may just hunt down Bill Bavasi and subject him to some "A Clockwork Orange" style of re-education.
"You see, Bill taking walks is a good thing! See, you can trade players you have no need for with the intention of turning right around and dealing them for a player you do! See, you can swap proven stars for stud prospects no just the other way around, you dumb fuck!!!!!"

Sonics… ‘Nuff Said

When I was a youth growing up in Seattle, my Aunt had season tickets. Every year around my birthday she always admonished my father and I with a pair. Often times this was the only game I would see live all season. I looked forward to it every year.

The first game I ever saw, the Sonics defeated the Portland Trailblazers. That one game permanently established my allegiance in the I-5 rivalry. Even now, with Portland swelling with young talent and character, there is a part of me that wishes them the worst.

There was a year in which I received an autograph from every single player on the team. No kidding. The first time I ever had anyone personally autograph anything for me.

On that night, my Aunt’s tickets happened to be one row down from famed Northwest author, Tom Robbins. The Sonics were destroying the Milwaukee Bucks. Bored (and probably drunk) my father sent me down to procure his autograph. Not only did the man sign my program, (the edition from the year before) but he had his assistant take us to the locker room after the game.

Michael Cage offered me his shoes.

Benoit Benjamin got out of his car, just for me.

Shawn Kemp patted my head and commented on my “Legend of Zelda” mesh cap I got out of a cereal box.

The only player I did not approach that night was Dana Barros. He was my favorite at the time, because he excelled despite being undersized. He was with a girl that night and I did not want to bother him. That girl was Brandy Norwood aka Ray J’s sister.

And then there was the year that I went to the 1992- 1993 Western Conference Finals. That was the year the Sonics recorded “Not in Our House” with Sir Mix A Lot. A belated gift from Aunty, before the game my father told me that we could each make $200 if we scalped the tickets. It did not even register as an option to me.

I screamed all night until my voice turned to a nasty squeal like that of Ned Beatty’s in “Deliverance.”

We lost that game. Adding insult to injury, I got dripped on the whole game by a small hole in the Coliseum ceiling. That same hole was one of many nuances that prompted the construction of the Key Arena.

Every year I would watch this team. I watched them grow. I saw them flounder. I lived through the Vin Baker era. I cheered for the Ray Allen era. Seeing the team pull out possibly the last win ever in Seattle brings me great hope for the Kevin Durant era.

Whatever will happen, will happen. I have made peace with this. I am not Bill Simmons. I have no clout.

If anything I just wanted to reminisce on some great moments I had in Sonics history. Because when things are all said and done, they will always be with me. Thanks guys.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Little Things That Keep You Up At Night

Though I hate to admit to it, I tend to consider myself to be somewhat of a worrywart. Call me the anti- Bobby McFerrin. I just cannot watch television without seeing commercials for prescription drugs and pondering whether or not I truly do have irritable bowel syndrome. I do not drink Mountain Dew because I fear what the infamous Yellow Five may do to me. Hell even as i type this out, I cannot help, but ponder if my laptop is rendering me impotent.

When I grow old I know that am destined to be that crazy old man sitting in a rocking chair on his porch, touting a shotgun and whistling to himself.

And this is exactly why I still catch myself second guessing the Adam Jones trade.

Yes, I know that the trade garnered the M's arguably the best one two starting combo in baseball.

Yes, I know that the season is only three weeks old.

And yes, I know that both George Sherrill and Adam Jones are still on the waiver wire in my Fantasy Baseball League.

I am aware of all of these things and yet I still worry.

Do you recall Ryan Anderson? I sure do. The 6' 10" pitching phenom nicknamed the "The Little Unit." He garnered this label due to the M's front office executives picturing him paired with Randy Johnson. Yes that Randy Johnson, who has since played for four different ball clubs since his tenure with Seattle.

I remember Ryan Anderson because he was hyped in the minor leagues to be a homegrown stud. Even after multiple surgeries, his name was still brought up in the local newspapers. The reason? The Mariners staunch denial of accepting the fact that they stink at developing talent.

Since Ken Griffey Jr. we have had Gil Meche, Jose Cruz Jr., and Alex Rodriguez come through the system. All of these players were homegrown, but all departed before reaching their primes. Thus the fans never got to see them blossom into the stars we had heard about through the farm system. If this is any indication, then Felix Hernandez (whom really was not homegrown per se, but was purchased ready to play and allowed to grow into his body) will be down in a matter of years, which brings me even more anxiety about the Mariners ability to evaluate young talent accordingly.

This has always been the Mariner's problem. They evaluate talent terrifically when making trades (for prospects not cagey veterans) but are terrible with their own minor league system. This is why chumps like Ryan Anderson received so much undeserved hype. Because their typically is no one to be excited about!

Adam Jones had the potential to atone for this. The entire city already knew his name before he even played his first pro game. Everyone was excited entering the 2008 campaign due to the open outfield spot for him start in. He was the next messiah! The next Griffey! The minor league system would garner much needed credibility and the people would accept the growing pains.

But instead I will watch him make stellar catches in the Baltimore outfield, as he did yesterday. I will see him make the necessary adjustments to his swing to hit for power. I will watch all of this and I will wonder what could have been.

And I will find myself worrying about the eventual fate of the next chosen one.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fade Away Billy Buckner, You Changed a Nation

The Boston Red Sox celebrated their home opener the other day, by touting out famed pariah Bill Buckner to toss the ceremonial first pitch. Bill Buckner! The biped equivalent of the infamous Chicago Cubs goat of baseball lore.

The fact that he was heavily applauded speaks volumes of the changing culture in the Red Sox nation. It begs one to question if the Fenway faithful have grown so arrogant that they felt an exoneration was deserved. Time will tell if Buckner is blamed if the Sox do not capture it all again this year.

For that matter, how many of the "fans" in attendance even recall who Buckner is. When your bandwagon includes Dane Cook of all people, (whom has been spotted adorning a Yankees cap atop a Boston shirt) it is a a safe bet to say that you are the flavor of the month.

When the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series Buckner was contacted similarly for the sake of public relations and declined. In light of the second world series victory he accepted his shot at redemption.

And with it ushers in a new era of the Boston Red Sox. Forgiving people, willing to look beyond the foibles of one man. A nation willing to showcase their most hated member as an act of pious. May as well have had Aaron "Fucking" Boone receive the toss.

This is why my dusty ball cap with the faded red insignia has been retired to the back corner of the closet. They say that rats are the first to abandon a sinking ship and my whiskers are twitching. Such hubris can only spell certain doom.

Would the Seahawks ever have the officiating crew from Super Bowl XL do the coin toss to start a season? Should the Sonics have Michael Jordan sing the national anthem for stomping on their collective throats in the 1996 NBA Finals? Should the M's extend the olive branch to Osama Bin Laden for effectively destroying the greatest stretch run in baseball history in 2001?

Somehow I seem to doubt it.

Bill Buckner was a good man who suffered for far too long due to rabid overly obsessed fans. Crazy folk who blamed every shortcoming of their lives on one bum play.

Idiots. Self righteous barbarians.

The real Red Sox fans. My kind of fans.

And now that being a Boston fan is chic, he will be remembered as a hero.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Inspiration From Leinart Without the Risk of Gonorrhea

By now I am certain that everyone and their mongoloid cousins have been subjected to the now infamous Matt Leinart party pictures. Well, for those of you who haven't, here is one last glimpse into the “Girls Gone Wild” lifestyle of America’s favorite heartthrob/underachieving quarterback.

I look at these photos and all I can picture is Matt Leinart bench pressing the dumpy brunette with the nose piercing, while Nick Lachey mills around, sheepishly approaching the other girls one by one and saying “I love your legs. They got your feet at one end, and your pussy at the other, and I wanna fuck you.”

And yes, that was a “North Dallas Forty” reference for any of those scoring at home.
Why has that movie never been remade? It’s a quandary that keeps me up at night, (that and Rocco Siffredi's filmography). I know many would consider “Any Given Sunday” as being the modern take on the behind the scenes world of NFL superstardom. Of course these are probably the same mental giants who propelled the “Chocolate Rain” guy to success and should all be sterilized for the sake of the human race.

In all honesty the best behind-the-scenes sports show was the short lived ESPN series “Playmakers.” While a novel idea, too many of the storylines were based upon rumors and hearsay as opposed to actual real life gridiron stories. Furthermore, the show was doomed from the start, given ESPN’s relationship with the NFL. Once rumblings came down from the powers that be, the network put the Cliff Robinson chokehold on production, relegating it to the bargain DVD bin at Best Buy.

Now, picture the direction that the script for that premise could go if made for the silver screen. Cast Omar from “The Wire” as an incarnation of Pacman Jones. Show his entrance into the NFL, minor flashes of brilliance, and eventual suspension. Parlay this with a rising rap star portraying Chris Henry only have him end up perishing due to his antics, causing the Pacman character to rethink his life.

Then cast some smarmy jackass like Ryan Reynolds as the pretty boy quarterback constantly boozing, cavorting, and having illegitimate children… And not being suspended by the commissioner!

If Forrest Whittaker can get a role as a sage offensive lineman, you have guaranteed Oscar buzz.

I mean c’mon. These storylines, combined with the overzealous agents, HGH, celebrity status, etc, make for a provocative setting. At the same time this film could be a spiritually uplifting fare as well.

Just picture it: the Pacman character’s suspension is finally lifted after he starts a charity helping impoverished youth from his community. He strolls out onto the field, pausing to look back at the luxury skybox that his Roger Goddell-esque nemesis sits in, fuming. He fastens on his chin strap, gets a hug from old Forrest, and immediately severs the spine of the white boy media darling in front of a capacity crowd!

Okay, that might be a bit extreme. But don’t think I won’t cite this post in court if we see this script in the coming years…

Nah. Hollywood will probably just make “The Replacements 2” instead.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Breaking: Mariner Moose indicted as Congress expands investigations into MLB

Hold onto your hats America, this just in... The Seattle Mariners' mascott "Moose" (00) has been summoned for questioning in a Congressional probe into HGH and other performance enhancing drugs.

One Mariner clubhouse worker, who requested to remain anonymous said:
"I've been working around the moose for the last 15 years... I noticed him becoming much more aggressive... and implusive. Fellow clubhouse workers will agree with me, after the incident involving Coco Crisp being maliciously attacked by Moose with the quad... he eventually began to target other animals and even small children."

Insiders also say that only a few of these alleged attacks have been caught on camera and the actual number of reported incidents involving quads are between 20-30, and hooves/horns between 100-300.

Even further, Congressmen are expected to look into the evidence that Moose had issues in 2001 involving him bleeding through his pants. The official explanation from the disgraced mascotts attorney Howard Bennett is that it was an injury obtained from a "hunting incident." However, no such "hunting incident" was reported in 2001 for Moose - who did not miss playing time during the 2001 season (a year in which the Seattle Mariners went on to win 116 games).

More updates to come as story unfolds

Mariners to play four in Baltimore!

It's so early in the season but the time has come where fans on either side of the big trade can come togather, and get a real taste of what the deal does for both teams. If for some reason, that rock you're living under does not even have radio reception -- I'll break down the gist of the deal.

= Mariners receive Erik Bedard
= Orioles receive Adam Jones, George Sherrill and three other prospects

While nobody we sent to the O's is a proven dynamo, and Bedard sure seems to be -- I dont like the deal and I have a feeling you wont either when the bottom of ninth rolls around tonight, with 2 on, 1 out, and Adam Jones facing JJ Putz's probable replacement Mark Lowe; especially when weighed against the fact that Bedard wont square off against his old team until Sunday.

-Jolly Blogger's fearless prediction: Series split 2-2, and that aint bad!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

M's no longer undefeated. That was short :(

For any of you who are wondering how we ended up losing a game in which we had bases loaded, one out, and our power bat up at the plate in the bottom of the eighth hoping to break the stalemate. The guys down at have a pretty good break down.

This is something I should have touched on in my first game wrap-up/season preview, Richie Sexson SUCKS BALLS! He has been incredibly atrocious for the past two seasons, finishing up last year with a .205(!!!) batting average and a meager 21 home runs. For some unknown reason the Mariners continue to bat him in the clean up spot(4th) in hopes of him igniting our offense. Instead of ignition, time and time again all we receive from Richie is, like that renal failure of a Matt McConnaughey movie, a failure to launch.

Many talking heads and supposedly knowledgeable baseball people thought Sexson was due for a resurgence due to two main factors. The first was his working out in the batting cages this winter, the first time in his career. The other was the idea that because it was Big Suxy's contract year he would go bonkers a crank out 40+ dingers. It's rather early to say real definitively but I seriously fucking doubt that will happen. 150+ strikeouts, I'll buy that for a dollar! But not so much for 40+ dingers.

The Mariners, again, are putting a lot of stock in Big Suxy's ability to bounce back from career lows the past two seasons, overcome the emotional scarring from being booed by at his home park last season, and become the fearsome middle-of-the-order big bat they hoped for when signing him to his 4 yr/$49 mil contract. I, for one, am not holding my breath.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Boo Birds out early on Bush's First Pitch

In a non-Seattle sports related story but one that lives up to our moniker as the "Daily Kos of Sports Blogs" President Bush got mercilessly booed while throwing out the first pitch at the Nationals Game on Sunday. Fucking brilliant!

Despite the heavy booing you can hear this exchange between John Miller and Joe Morgan of ESPN

John Miller: There are many presidents who have thrown out first pitches but I don't know if anybody has done it better than this particular president!
Joe Morgan: That's some heat right there, boy. Some HIGH heat!

This bit of dialog from two former players turned sports network announcers is telling of the relationship between right wing politics and the professional sports sector. You have to admire ESPN for their stance, though. In the face of having one of the most unpopular presidents in the history of this fine nation getting booed mercilessly on national T.V, they just put the blinders on and felate the man for his athletic prowess. As if how well the president can huck the ball is a large and deciding factor on how a president is judged. Detaching yourself that far from reality aint easy.

Mariners undefeated in regular season play for the month of March!

Time for Mojo Risin' at The Safe! Here's hopin' we don't end up like Mr.Mojo Risin'.

On a cold and snowy March day the Seattle Mariners let fans forget about the inclement weather outside the closed roof at SafeCo Field and bathe in the warmth of beautiful and warming M's baseball. The controversial moves made in the offseason provided all that was expected and more. Eric Bedard the newly acquired staff "Ace" from Baltimore proved his mettle by surrendering only one run to a Texas club with massive mashing potential. Raul Ibanez scored more clutch RBIs just as his veteran grit would have you believe he would be capable of. Finally, Ichiro was Ichiro, slapping the ball through holes in the infield and raking liners just over the reach of hapless Texas defenders. For sure this was the brilliant Opening Day management and fans expected to start the season. For those that believe in such things, Opening Day could be taken as an omen for the rest of the season. Indicating that the 6 years of futility since the Mariners last play-offs birth were a distant memory and the AL west is all but secured by the Mariners.

This air of both invincibility and inevitability that club and local media would have you believe is a charade, a deeply cracked facade that, if looked at in any sort of real light, would show more blemishes and weak points than a pre-make up Tila Tequila. And if one knows how to look properly, the Opening Day salvo wasn't a reassurance of the M's predicted dominance this year so much as a very clear picture of all that might go wrong.

Don't get me wrong. I am very happy the M's won. I would like nothing more than to see the M's pwn the regular season and playoffs all the way to a World Series. But I am not drinking the Bill Bavasi kool-aid just yet. I have seen to many seasons of flawed front-office logic to just up and hand the division to the M's just because the went out and traded(the farm, many would say) for "an established #1 ace starter". And this is what I mean about about Opening Day showing all the Mariners inadequacies. For all the mystique he garnered on his way out to Seattle, Eric Bedard is still just a man. He showed that as he struggled mightily yesterday throwing 106 pitches through just five innings. Not quite the staff ace fans were expecting. Despite struggling with his command and fighting an tight strike zone Bedard did only give up one run.

For a much of the game that one run seemed like it would sink the good ship Mariner and the hopes of a fast start to the season with it. The mariners bats, impatient as ever, swung at anything near the strike zone resulting in plenty of strikeouts and meekly his ground balls. This free-swinging, plate-discipline-be-damned attitude may be one of the heavily mitigating factors in the M's success this season.

Last night the laissez-faire batting style netted the Mariners 5 runs, enough to win most games. But the same style that can lead to the entire club catching fire batting against middling pitching can lead to innings of brutal flailing as the M's batters go down in order again and again. The idea that you have to make a pitcher work and force him to throw you good pitches is alien to the Mariners as sincerity is among politicians. Last year, on average the Mariners saw the fewest pitches per plate appearance out of any MLB team. This fact significantly favors the pitcher as he doesn't have to work knowing he can throw junk up to the plate and it'll be swung at. He never has to sweat and never gets worn down. The bullpen, normally a weak point for most teams, gets used later and thus opportunities to hit against lesser pitching are lost.

One thing conveniently glossed over in the whole Bedard for the-entire-farm-system-trade was the impact the trade would have on the defense. Adam Jones, by all accounts, was an above average defensive outfielder who was only going to get better as he learned to play in the outfield at the major league level. Losing him in the trade severely hurt the defense as the Mariners had no back-up plan to replace his glove. This left the outfield defense dangerously depleted. Jones' replacement Brad Wilkerson is a serviceable vet but is long in the tooth and been injury prone. Ichiro is still a ball catching machine in the outfield His ability to gracefully lope to the ball catch and fire it back in with such ease is amazing. One could question his effort if not for the obvious black hole he creates when a ball is hit into his area. Raul Ibanez is another gritty vet with adequate power but far less than adequate legs to track down fly balls in spacious SafeCo left field. I can guarantee there will be many times this season that a perfectly catchable ball drops right in front of Ibanez because his old legs could not carry him to the ball's destination fast enough. These things may seem small and insignificant but when playing a close game that ball dropping for a hit or being caught for and out can decide the outcome.

Last night's 5-2 win could have easily been a 2-0 loss if not for a little energon and a lot of luck. These are the same ingredients that it will take for the Mariners to make a strong play-off push. If things break right we win a lot of 5-2 games, if they don't we stand to be on the losing side of a large number of 1-0 or 3-1 type games. With the Mariners there isn't a whole lot of middle ground, your either with us or against us. We win handily or we lose painfully. Either way we play in the best venue in all of baseball. Win or lose we will do it in style with our Puget Sound, Seattle Skyline and Mount Rainier views provided from the friendly confines of SafeCo Field.