Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Thanks and Good Bye Jerry Brewer

My absolute favorite local sports meida figure is the Seattle Ties Jerry Brewer. He does an excellent job of avoiding the "hot take" approach to sports jouranlism and actually thinking through his positions. Brewer is an excellent writer and provides an upbeat and optimistic view of the sports world, which makes his pieces a joy to read (especially when you remember Steve Kelley who he replaced). During his brief time at KJR, Brewer also did an excellent job speaking his views to the world on the radio. Sadly his time in Seattle his coming to an end.

On April 6th the Washington Post announced that Jerry Brewer would be leaving the Seattle Times and joining them as a sports columnist. The change has been under the radar here in Seattle. I have seen nothing from the Times about his departure. In fact I heard about it through Seattle Sports Net. This is sad new for us here in Seattle. We are losing a great local voice, someone that stood above the ruckus.

Brewer's departure comes on the heals of the announcement by Bud Withers of his retirement from the Seattle Times. That means the only major local daily will be losing two of their three sports columnist in a months time. The Seattle Times Sports Editor has their work cut out for them. Hopefully they do a good job picking a writer to follow in Brewer's foot steps. Finding talented and interesting sports writers isn't the easiest thing in the world. Many of them just fall into the Skip Bayless trap of trying to say the most shocking or provocative thing they can. This is not what Seattle needs in a sports columnist.

Fans in Washington D.C. are getting a true gem of a sports writer. Hopefully they appreciate what Jerry Brewer brings to the table. If they don't he will always be welcome back to the Emerald City.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Overreactions from One Game

Yesterday the Mariners 2015 regular season started with a win. The game was exciting and a great way to welcome back the baseball season. However, it was only game 1 and there are 161 more games to play before we know if 2015 is the year the M's can break their string of terrible teams and finally get back into the playoffs. That means yesterday only represented 0.6% of the regular season. In football terms that is equal to about 6 minutes of play clock in the NFL season. The point being yesterday's result was a very small percentage of the overall slate of games that will be the 2015 season and we shouldn't pull any judgement about the upcoming season from this one game.

Lloyd McClendon constantly reminds us it takes at least 50 games before you can really tell what a team is made of. It is rational to wait and see where the season goes. I say to hell with rationality. The Mariners won the first game of the season in convincing fashion and are sitting in first place. It is time for some irrational thoughts. WE ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES BABY!

First up, the offense. The best player yesterday was obviously Seth Smith. The former Padre went 3-3 with two doubles and a triple. While there is no chance he finishes the season with a 1.000 average and a SLG over 2.000, it sure does look like he can hit. Let's say we pencil him in at like a .290 average with 40 doubles. Production like that from a guy you got for a pretty good middle reliever (Bradon Maurer) is a major win for the team. After watching a disaster in right field last year, it looks like we have a worthy successor to Ichiro. Mashing like this, Smith could easily become a fan favorite and earn himself a trip to the All-star game. He is definitely going to help the team.

Smith wasn't the only positive at the plate. Austin Jackson looks to have returned to form. With his combination of speed, patience and ability to make contact he might be one of the best leadoff men in the league. Robby Cano showed us once again that he knows how to deliver when it counts.The guy is straight up clutch. A runner in scoring position with Cano at the plate is as good as scored. Seager, Ackley, and LoMo all contributed as well. It is a good thing that Seth Smith and company have fixed the Mariner's offense because the M's big name free agent, Nelson Cruz, appears to be a complete bust.

Heading into the season there were red flags all over Nelson Cruz. He is an aging and injury prone slugger coming off the best season of his career in one of the most hitter friend parks in the league. After an 0-4 game where he looks over matched it appears our worst fears have come true. Jack Z would have been better off just putting the money in a high yield CD then giving it to Cruz. Any guesses how long Cruz will last before a phantom injury permanently side lines him?

Baseball isn't all about hitting. To win a team also has to prevent runs.Yesterday highlighted exacly how amazing the Mariners are at doing this. Our starting pitcher was King Felix, who clearly lived up to his name. He struck out 10 and only gave up one run. That run was to Mike Trout during the second at-bat of the game. Giving up the occasional jack to the best player in the sport is acceptable. It seems obvious that Felix is back and on a mission to win his second Cy Young Award.

Seattle's bull pen finished off the game for Felix. There was a slight stutter from Lord Farqhur, but generally the team looked like they were picking up right where they left off. It is great knowing that any lead of 2 or more runs is basically a guaranteed win.

There was one spot on the defense that concerned me. Shortstop Brad Miller failed to turn two double plays last night. Obviously Miller isn't the second coming of Omar Vizquel, but I did expect a little high caliber of defensive play from him. Hopefully the coaching staff can work out the kinks. If they dont we could be in for an interesting year. At least the offense looks good enough to carry the team.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time to Stop the Brad Evans Experiment

I am done with the Brad Evans experiment. I know we need someone to play centerback with Chad Marshall, but Evans isn't that guy. He just doesn't have the understanding of the position yet. If the Sounders want him to play the position they should be having him practicing at the position and playing in non league matches, but against MLS opponents Evans shouldn't be playing.

In Saturday's match against San Jose Brad Evans was basically responsible for giving up two goals. The first was a bad first touch followed by a stupid header toward the Sounders goal, which gave Chris Wondolowski an easy finish. On the second goal Evans was completely out of position allowing Innocent Emeghara to get a ball deep on the attack. Evans attempt at a recovery resulted in him falling over and allowing another easy goal.

I know Zach Scott is old, but he does a better job than Evans. The Sounders offense is good but they cant be expected to bail out the defense every week. Giving up easy goals off of stupid mistakes is not a way to win soccer games. Until Evans can play a full 90 without making stupid mistakes he shouldn't be playing centerback.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lakeside vs Bellevue: Two Basketball Styles Clash

I went to the Washington State High School Basketball Championships again this year. The first game I saw was Bellevue High School against Lakeside High School. It was an interesting matchup. The game turned out to be the most exciting of the three I saw that day. The Lions ended up winning 58-54 and it was as close as the score indicates. On offense the it showcased two very distinct strategies for scoring points.

In 2014-2015, the Lakeside Lions two stars were Daejon Davis and Isiah Brown. The official program showed that those two players each averaged 20+ ppg, while nobody else even managed 10. The offense is all about two guys scoring the rock. During the game the team showed great ball movement and passing, which surprised me. I figured the two scoring threats would dominate the ball and force shots. The Lions passing was designed to move the ball quick and get to Davis and Brown for scoring opportunities. Once the ball made it to them both players did a good job scoring.

Much like his 28.2 ppg suggested, Brown appeared to be more of a pure scorer than Davis. Brown showed the ability to make plays on his own and he definitely wasn't afraid to take a shot. He made more than one impressive athletic play to twist and turn past defenders in the lane. A few times he forced a shot when he really should have passed, but as only a junior in high school this isn't a big deal. When it was all said and done Brown ended up with 31 points. I definitely expect him to play in college somewhere.

The Lions other star, Davis, scored most of his points by taking advantage of what the game gave him. He always seemed to find himself open for a catch and shoot or positioned correctly for an easy put back basket. Despite not making many flashy plays or any that particularly stood out, Davis managed to rake up the points as well. He ended the game with 17.

On the other side, Bellevue looked like the well balanced team their stats indicated. The official program showed that the Bellevue Wolverines had all five starts average over 10.0 ppg. Throughout the game the Wolverines scoring came from several different places. Lots of players scored in this game for Bellevue. Their most consistent scorer was big man Gunther Klimes who scored 21. He collected buckets throughout the game by consistently grinding away on the inside. Nothing as exciting as the Lakeside tandem, but it got the job done. Another Bellevue big man, Mikey Henn, also managed to score with inside play, but he didn't get a large point total because he got into foul trouble and spent a lot of time on the bench. In the fourth quarter guard Sharif Khan hit several key three pointers to bring the Wolverines back into the game. He scored 14 for the game.

This game highlighted the two common strategies for basketball offense. The first, which was used by Lakeside, is a star focused scoring attack. The second, which Bellevue used, is a team driven method, which relies on the ability of anyone to be the nights star, depending on what the other team gives them. You see both of these style all the way up to the NBA. In the history of basketball neither has been definitively proven to be better than the other. Coaches, commentators, and fans will continue to debate the merits of each for years to come. The Bellevue versus Lakeside game was the perfect example of the two strategies pitted against each other. And much like the history of basketball neither strategy proved to be far better than the other.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Mariners 2015 Season Prevew: A Negative View

I decided to write a negative view and a positive view this year. If you don't want to be brought down off your spring training high don't read the below preview.  I'll post something more upbeat and optimistic about the upcoming 2015 season later.

Well the Mariners have done it again. They followed up a surprise winning season by adding a big name free agent and building up all kinds of preseason hype. This time the free agent is Nelson Cruz and the hype is so big that in Las Vegas they have the third best odds for an AL team to make the World Series. It has all resulted in the city's fanbase starting to dream. However for me it is all just too eerily similar to 2007 and 2009. In the 2007 offseason it was Erik Bedard and talk of finally returning to relevance. In 2009 it was Chone Figgins and the cover of the ESPN the Magazine MLB season preview. You might remember both of the follow up seasons turned into unmitigated 101 loss disasters.  The overselling of the 2015 M's and their constant history of failure has basically turned me into a pessimistic mess. I want to believe this year will be different. I want to believe baseball games will have actually meaning in August. But, I just cant get myself over the hump of pessimism.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Seahawks Season Recap: The Game that Changed Everything

Things didn't end quite like we hoped they would for the Seahawks. Instead of being the two time defending Super Bowl champions the Seahawks fell just short. However, the failure at the goal line doesn't mean the season was a failure. In fact far from it. The Seahawks turned what looked to be a struggling and potentially disappointing season into what ended up being another NFC Championship. They broke the NFL's draught of defending champions failing to win a playoff game and rattled off eight straight wins. I think it is important to stop and reflect on this success of a season. In doing so I want to focus on one key point of the season, a game that turned the season around and catapulted us into the playoffs.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Get it Together Mariners

For the last several years I have attended the Mariners home opener with a group of friends. We take in the first game of the season at Safeco Field and revel in the optimism that still lives in the minds of baseball fans on those cold dark spring nights. For the last several years the game has been one of the few to actually sell out. It is an opportunity for the fans to cheer loudly for the home team stars. Generally it is an awesome experience.

Excitingly this year the Mariners home opener on April 6th will also be the season opener. This is the first time since 2008 that team will start the year in Seattle. Normally this would be reason for celebration, but the Mariners managed to screw up a good thing by scheduling the game at 1:00pm on a Monday. What a terrible decision by the Mariners. I mean downright awful. It makes a classic sporting event (the baseball opening day) inaccessible to the majority of the fans.

It is kind of like starting the season in Japan, but worse because instead of the team by on a different continent which completely inhibits the fan ability to attend, the game is here in Seattle. It is so close yet so far away. It will just be sitting there taunting us. Making us all curse our limited PTO stock piles.

Fans, who will be looking forward to seeing Felix, Cano, and Seager for the first time in 2015, will be forced to take time off work to see it live. I am sure some people will choose to miss work so they can see the M's play, but many wont be able to. I know I can't skip work to drive down to Sodo for a baseball game.

Additionally, because of the time of day, those of us that want to watch the festivities live wont be able to. The broadcast is right in the middle of the work day. Most jobs frown on employees watching TV while they work. These fans will be forced to record it and hope no one spoils the outcome before they get a chance to watch it. Coworkers, radio stations, and Facebook will all have to be avoided. If you don't a have a DVR or a functioning VCR and blank VHS tape you are just shit outta luck.

Instead of feeling like we are part of the festivities we are left feeling like we are being forced out of them. Shame on the Mariners for distancing their fans. Usually they are great at fan relations, but this time it was a total fail.