Monday, April 30, 2012

Mariners weekly recap: April 23rd-29th edition

By Kshell

This week the Seattle Mariners went on the road after a disasterous homestand. The Mariners this week won four games in a row including a couple of dramatic wins. The Mariners swept the Detroit Tigers on the road before dropping two out of three against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Mariners saw a big game from Michael Saunders friday night in Toronto as Saunders was playing in his home country. Since the Mariners went 4-2 this week I'll talk about the good(the hitting), the bad(Justin Smoak) and the awesome(more focus on some younger hitters). The Mariners youngsters this week looked pretty good as they took on two very tough teams both on the road.

The Good:

There was plenty of good this week which saw the Mariners sweep the Detroit Tigers in Detroit. Then on Friday trailing 5-3 in the ninth inning the Mariners rallied to tie up the score. In the 10th inning Michael Saunders hit the game winning grand slam to give the Mariners a 9-5 lead which they eventually won 9-5. The Mariners saw their young offense perform this week which was nice to see. With Chone Figgings sitting due to not hitting Dustin Ackley did well in the leadoff role showing that someday down the role he could be the new leadoff hitter. The Mariners offense this week scored 32 runs(5.33 runs per game) which is a huge upgrade from what we've seen the last four seasons and before this week this year as well.

Good Hitting:

Alex Liddi: 7-23(.304), 2 HR's, 3 runs, 3 RBI's, SB
Ichiro: 8-27(.296), 4 runs, SB
Kyle Seager: 5-13(.385), 2 runs, RBI, 2 doubles
Miguel Olivo: 7-25(.280), 2 HR's, 4 runs, 3 RBI's, SB
Jesus Montero: 7-22(.318), HR, 3 runs, 4 RBI's
Dusin Ackley: 7-26(.269), 2 runs, 3 RBI's, 3 doubles, 3 BB's
Michael Saunders: 8-23(.348), 2 HR's, 9 RBI's, 4 runs, SB

Good Pitching:

Felix Hernandez: 1-0, 7 IP, 1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2 K's
Kevin Millwood: 0-1, 7 IP, 1.29 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 4 K's
Brandon League: 2 saves, 3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, K

For Michael Saunders to have the big week that he did was a huge week for his career. He was off to another slow start in basically a make or break season for him. Saunders showed why he was a former top 100 prospect and hopefully has more weeks like this past one.

The Bad:

The Mariners went 4-2 this week so there wasn't much bad. Still it is getting a little bit annoying seeing the same people slump every week. Mainly Justin Smoak and Brendan Ryan as Miguel Olivo actually had a good week. Smoak the key piece in the Cliff Lee trade is getting off to a horrible start and has yet to produce a good major league season. Hopefully Smoak can turn it around as the Mariners really need his big bat to start providing otherwise he might have to sit on the bench if Alex Liddi keeps hitting. Hector Noesi who was a part of the Michael Pineda trade as a throw in with Jesus Montero has pitched poorly in three of his four starts as a Mariner. Noesi so far is showing that he probably isn't ready for the major leagues quite yet and the Mariners might want to think how they use him going forward before his confidence is totally killed. The Mariners also had two eighth inning meltdowns in their losses to the Blue Jays this week as the bats went silent those two games. After scoring 30 runs in the four game winning streak the offense scored just two runs in the two losses. The Mariners wrap up April later today as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays hoping to break .500 for the month with a win.

Bad Hitting:

Brendan Ryan: 0-14(.000), run, RBI, 4 K's
Justin Smoak: 2-16(.125), HR, 3 runs, 3 RBI's, 3 K's

Bad Pitching:

Hector Noesi: 5 IP, 7.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 2 k's
Tom Wilhelmson: 3.1 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 4 K's
Hisashi Iwakuma: IP, 36.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP, 2 K's
Charlie Furbush: 2-0, 2.1 IP, 11.59 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 4 K's

Hector Noesi for the season is 1-2 in four starts having gone just 17.1 innings posting an 8.83 ERA and 1.67 WHIP

Justin Smoak on the year is hitting .187/.238/.320 with three HR's and 20 K's in 75 AB's. Like Dave Cameron wrote earlier this week Smoak has average power to be striking out as much as he has been. Like I said I hope Smoak turns it around but so far it's not looking good for him.

The Awesome:

The young hitters of Michael Saunders, Alex Liddi, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero all did wonderful this week. The Mariners also scored plenty of runs so Felix Hernandez can finally earn a victory who has pitched terrific this season. With the Mariners sweep of the Detroit Tigers they improve to 8-2 since last year against the team who appeared in last years ALCS. The Mariners hitting still isn't hitting very well but they are scoring runs something they haven't done in the past years. The youth movement has been nice especially by the players I just mentioned. It was nice to see Saunders do something and hopefully this is just the start for him who is in a make or break season. The Mariners young hitters some of them are taking advantage of their player time which is nice to see.

Awesome hitting:

Alex Liddi: Hitting .297/.333/.486 on the year with two HR's. He is showing he can be a solid platoon option this year against left handed pitchers.

Kyle Seager: Hitting .279/.290/.426 with only one HR but seven doubles. Seager rarely strikes out but must walk more to further develope into a good hitter.

Michael Saunders: Hitting . 258/.347/.515 with three HR's and eight doubles. He also has nine walks as well. Saunders had a productive week and was once a top 100 prospect hopefully this is just the start of things to come for him.

Awesome Pitching:

Felix Hernandez: 2-1, 5 starts, 36.1 IP, 2.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 33 K's. Hernandez is doing what he always does which is pitch like the ace that he is. Hernandez is showing that the myth about his lack of a fastball is just that a myth.

Brandon League: 7 saves, 0-1,  11.2 IP, 1.54 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 7 K's. League minus that one blown save which is going to happen has been lights out once again this year like he was last year. League who made the all-star team last year is racking up the saves this year and could be going back to the midsummer classic once again.

AL West Standings:

Texas Rangers: 16-6, first place
Oakland A's: 11-12, 5.5 GB
Seattle Mariners: 11-12, 5.5 GB
L.A. Angels: 7-15, 9.0 GB

The Mariners are still under .500 ballclub but it was nice seeing that four game winning streak. The young hitters are finally starting to come around while aging veterans like Olivo, Ryan and Chone Figgins continue to take up space. Despite what Eric Wedge thinks these guys aren't veteran leaders and actually set a poor example. The Mariners two all-star pitchers continue to pitch well and it was nice for Saunders to finally show us something which has been long overdue. Hopefully Justin Smoak can take a page from Saunders and have a big week as he desperately needs one. The Mariners did have a winning week which was the positive in this long season as the first month is over after today.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sounders monthly rewind: April 2012

By Money Mike

For over a year now, I've been doing a lot of soccer related stuff regarding roster moves, previews/recaps, etc. At the end of each month during the MLS regular season, I plan on doing a rewind on the Sounders. So on the rewind I'm going to be talking about the clubs performance during the entire month, give some positives and negatives, look ahead to the next upcoming month and I'll also throw in some info with the Sounders U23 squad who will kick off their USL Premier Development League campaign on May 11. Most of that however, will relate to the young guys who could end up signing with the Sounders as Homegrown players. The Sounders had three matches this month and came way with two wins and a draw and are now getting ready for a long month of May where they have to play a total of eight matches in all competitions, starting on May 2nd at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy. They have seven league matches as well as a U.S. Open Cup match on May 29th which will be the last match of the month.


Eddie Johnson has made significant progress with his form that he, over the last couple of years, has seen dip since he moved to Europe in 2008. It was great to see him score his first Sounders goal last night against the Chicago Fire. I know it was just a tap into an empty net, but it's better to get that first goal out of the way. I think he and Fredy Montero have linked up very well with one another in these last couple of matches since Johnson was inserted into the starting lineup and if Johnson can stay healthy and maintain his form, I think the Montero-Johnson partnership up front will be the most dangerous in MLS.

Speaking of Montero, I did mention he has had his ups and downs this season. He well overdue to score his first goal of the season. Despite the fact he still hasn't scored, I think he was a little more aggressive this month getting forward a lot more than he did at the start of the season. I've said this over and over again and I'll continue to say it. Montero will end his scoring drought soon.

The Sounders so far have done a great job defensively, shutting their opponents down and are tied for the fewest goals allowed with only three goals conceded. Ozzie Alonso is ranked as the best holding midfielder in MLS and he showed that against DC United, Colorado and Chicago after making some huge defensive plays to deny the opposition any chance of scoring. Jeff Parke is also doing a great job since he was re-inserted into the starting 11 after sitting on the bench the first two games of the season. The back line needed improvement during the offseason and so far, I haven't seen any real problems with this team defensively, not to mention the injuries.

After the beating the Sounders got from Santos Laguna earlier this season in the Champions League. Fans for some reason were criticizing new goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, saying he would never fit in with this team. I wonder if all of them are going to take back those critics after the start he's having. He has three shutouts this season, he has a goals against average underneath one and he has an 84% save percentage. So all this crap about Gspurning not being good enough should've ended right before the start of the MLS campaign because he is a solid goalkeeper and he's proved that so far in this young season.


The real problem I'm having with so far regarding the Sounders are the injuries. The first week of the season was completely brutal. Mauro Rosales who suffered two left knee sprains at the end of last season, suffered a right knee sprain after he took a shot intentionally from Toronto FC rookie Aaron Maund and he was out through April 14th. Adam Johansson suffered an injury during practice and was also ruled out through April 14th. Alonso took a shot from one of the TFC players during the opener, but luckily he hasn't missed any action. Of course we have Eddie Johnson, who missed the last couple weeks of training camp and started both legs of the Champions League Quarterfinal on the bench. He came on in the first leg and didn't seem to have any problems. Same with the second leg, but then he suffered a strained hip flexor. It's great to see that Johansson, Rosales and Johnson are back on the pitch now, but when you are out there without you're key players, things can get pretty rough for you and your team, but the Sounders just like last year, were able to get through it.

Western Conference standings:

1. San Jose Earthquakes, 19 pts (6-1-1), GF 15 GA 6 GD 9
2. Real Salt Lake, 19 pts (6-3-1), GF 16 GA 11 GD 5
3. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 14 pts (4-2-2), GF 7 GA 6 GD 1
4. Seattle Sounders FC, 13 pts (4-1-1), GF 8 GA 3 GD 5
5. Colorado Rapids, 12 pts (4-4-0), GF 12 GA 10 GD 2
6. FC Dallas, 12 pts (3-3-3), GF 10 GA 12 GD -2
7. Los Angeles Galxy, 10 pts (3-3-1), GF 11 GA 11 GD 0
8. Chivas USA, 9 pts (3-5-0), GF 4 GA 9 GD -5
9. Portland Timbers, 7 pts (2-5-1), GF 9 GA 13 GD -4

Look ahead to May:

Like I said this is going to be a long month with seven MLS matches scheduled for the Sounders. Overall in the month of May, the Sounders are 3-5-8. To me, this is a huge month for the Sounders because they've struggled in the May as you can tell by the record, but also because this is the only month where they have to play more than about 4-5 matches like they normally do in a month. So I think Sigi Schmid will be switching his lineup around every match this month. Which means Mauro Rosales could be left out of the squad for a couple of these matches, but of course this is my thought. Looking at their upcoming opponents, this is where the Sounders can really improve on their 3-5-8 record in the month of May.

Upcoming schedule, May 2012:

May 2 vs Los Angeles Galaxy, 7:00pm (KONG TV)
May 5 vs Philadelphia Union, 1:30pm (NBC Sports Network)
May 9 @ FC Dallas, 5:30pm (KONG TV)
May 12 vs Real Salt Lake, 7:00pm (KING 5)
May 19 @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2:00pm (KONG TV)
May 23 vs Columbus Crew, 7:00pm (KONG TV)
May 26 @ Chivas USA, 7:30pm (KING 5)

Aside from MLS, we also have the Sounders U23s who will kick off their USL Premier Development League campaign on May 11th. The Premier Development League is where mostly college players spend their summer gaining some work experience during their collegiate offseason, but the league also features over age players as well. Right now the Sounders U23 have about 6-7 players on their roster that have been in their youth program including Sean Okoli (Wake Forest University), DeAndre Yedlin (University of Akron), Darwin Jones (University of Washington) and Nick Palodichuk (Duke University). These players as well as a few others are eligible to sign with the Sounders as a Homegrown player. Sean Okoli was rumored to become Seattle's first Homegrown signing in 2011, but instead he decided to play college soccer at Wake Forest University. I still think Okoli will sign as a Homegrown player as well as Yedlin, Jones and Palodichuk. With what the Sounders U23 has on their roster, the future is definitely bright for the MLS club who are already enjoying success.

Hope you guys enjoyed reading the April 2012 edition of the Sounders monthly rewind. Hopefully, I gave you guys enough detail about this team and their performance. This is something new for me, doing a rewind every month during the regular season, but I hope I gave enough detail on this one. If not, sorry, there wasn't much to talk about for the month of April.

Sounders hold off Fire for a 2-1 win

By Money Mike

After scoring just one goal in the last three matches, the Sounders found their goalscoring shoes Saturday night as they came away with a 2-1 road win over the Chicago Fire.  The Sounders with the win are 4-1-1 on the year and are now preparing for a long month of may where they have to play nine matches in all competitions.  The Fire are now winless in seven games against the Sounders and have conceded five goals in their last three matches since newcomer Arne Friedrich was inserted into the starting 11 after an injury to Cory Gibbs and are winless in three games against winning teams this season.

Chicago had control and looked good the first 10-15 minutes of the game keeping possession, testing the goalkeeper, set pieces, etc.  In the third minute, Gonzalo Segares found Dominic Oduro unmarked in the six yard area but Oduro couldn't direct his header on frame.  10 minutes later, Patrick Nyarko sent Oduro away but Jeff Parke did very well to get back and force Oduro out wide and in the end, no real challenge for goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.  A minute later, Chicago continued to press and nearly made Seattle pay.  Pavel Pardo found Patrick Nyarko out wide, Nyarko then stepped past Leo Gonzalez and sent in a low cross which rolled all the way to Daniel Paladini for an open look at goal but Ozzie Alonso, who has got to be the best holding midfielder in MLS, got his body in the way and denied Paladini a chance to break the deadlock.

The Sounders chance didn't come until the 20th minute off the match. Mauro Rosales, who missed four games due to a knee injury, drew a free kick from the near side of the pitch and it was the Captain who took the free kick and found Jeff Parke for the header, but it sailed wide to the left of Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.  In the 27th minute, Fredy Montero came just a whisker of breaking his scoring draught.  Leo Gonzalez's long throw in to the box came off the chest of Eddie Johnson back to Gonzalez.  Leo had time to settle and whip in a good cross toward the near post and found Fredy Montero who directed his header towards goal and had Sean Johnson beat, but it was just a fraction too high.  A few minutes later, Montero tested Johnson from distance and the wind made it difficult for the third year goalkeeper, but he got his fist to it.

In the 38th minute, the Sounders opened the scoring and Arne Friedrich's struggles defensively continue. Ozzie Alonso sent Eddie Johnson behind the fire defense, but he was forced out wide so he waited for help and got support from David Estrada.  After receiving the ball from Johnson, Estrada made a cut inside the penalty area and it looked like tried to force one towards goal.  It was a weak shot, but it deflected off Arne Friedrich and rolled inside the near post.  They originally scored it as an Own goal on Friedrich, but at halftime they changed the ruling and credited the goal to David Estrada which gave him five goals this season in MLS play. However, after the game they decided to change it back to an Arne Friedrich own goal. So David Estrada still has four goals.

In the second half, things went pretty quiet for both clubs until the 60th minute. Eddie Johnson struggled a bit to maintain possession of the ball but he was able to play it out wide to Marc Burch who whipped in a good cross to the six yard area for Montero who miss timed his jump. The ball however found Eddie Johnson for the header, but the post saved Chicago there. Seattle came so close to doubling their lead. Three minutes later Chicago thought they had an equalizer. Sebastian Grazzini floated the ball into the area and was headed by a Seattle player. The ball fell to Marco Pappa who ripped it trough, however Dominic Oduro was in an offside position with his back against the goalkeeper and the goal was waved off.

With over 25 minutes to play, the Sounders doubled their lead. Fredy Montero took the free kick from about 30 yards away and just missed Eddie Johnson, however goalkeeper Sean Johnson spilled it and Eddie Johnson tapped the ball into an empty net for his first Sounders goal and made it 2-0 Sounders. It's been a tough last couple of years for Johnson, but it's better to get that first goal out of the way and surely that goal will boost his confidence.

In the 89th minute, Chicago pulled one back. Marco Pappa's corner went straight in to the back of the net as the wind became a factor in this one. The Fire had the wind at their backs in the second half and Michael Gspurning had a tough time especially with this one as it dipped over him and in off the far post. However, Seattle did manage to hold on and get the three points.


- David Estrada got the start at left midfield and I thought he did pretty well out there at times and other times, I wasn't sure he felt comfortable in that position.  He got the start out there mainly because Mauro Rosales made his return and Alvaro Fernandez wasn't fit to go for this match.  I've been impressed with his form so far in this young season.  After only making 6 appearances in his first two seasons with Seattle, he's worked a lot on improving his game during the offseason and head coach Sigi Schmid said that he came into the season with the best form than anybody else on this team and after watching him play, there's no way you can deny the fact that he has a bright future with this team and I hope that US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will keep and eye out on him.

- The windy conditions really played a factor in this match. The wind blew Right to Left all match long and the wind was at Chicago's backs for the second half. I remember a couple weeks ago, there was a huge thunderstorm during their match against the Houston Dynamo and the referee decided to call the match early rather than suspend it for a second time. There were no thunderstorms however in this one so the referee didn't have to suspend or call the game early, but this is why they call it the Windy City.

- After the final whistle, tempers started to flare between the two sides.  Ozzie Alonso and Jalil Anibaba went at it after there was a challenge in the box that the referee decided not to call a penalty on and I think that may have been between Alonso and Anibaba.  Whatever it was, they went at it and a brawl broke out between the two sides.  Even if the game is over, the referee needs to keep the players under control.  The players are lucky that the referee didn't issue a card to anybody and I believe the MLS disciplinary committee is going to take a good look at his during midweek.

- The Sounders close out the month of April on a winning note. Now they have to hop back on the plane and head back to Seattle and start preparing for their match on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Galaxy and with the struggles that LA have gone through, maybe this is where the Sounders can possibly get their first win at home against the Galaxy in MLS play. They did beat LA on their home ground in 2009 and also defeated LA in the U.S. Open Cup at the Starfire Sports Complex in 2010 and 2011, but their is no excuse this time. The Sounders need to protect their fortress against LA and come away with all three points. It's going to be a big month and I think it'll be the key to how well the Sounders will fare against their Western Conference foes in the race for the top spot in the West.

- I just got an update earlier about the scrap between Ozzie Alonso and Jalil Anibaba after the final whistle. Anibaba apparently was issued a red card and will be suspended for Chicago's next match along with head coach Frank Klopas. We could see more disciplinary action from the MLS disciplinary committee later this week after they review this match.

Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Own goal (Arne Friedrich) 39'

Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson 1 (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 1) 67'

Chicago Fire - Marco Pappa 1 (unassisted) 89'

Misconduct summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - David Estrada (caution; Time wasting) 60'

Seattle Sounders FC - Fredy Montero (caution; Dissent) 91'+

Chicago Fire - Marco Pappa (caution; Dissent) 91'+

Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson (caution; Time wasting) 92'+

Chicago Fire - Jalil Anibaba (straight red; Fight) 97'+


Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Mauro Rosales (Marc Burch 51'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, David Estrada; Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 92'+)

Chicago Fire - Sean Johnson; Dan Gargan, Arne Friedrich, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares; Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause (Marco Pappa 61'), Pavel Pardo, Sebastian Grazzini (Rafael Robayo 80'), Daniel Paladini (Frederico Puppo 72'); Dominic Oduro

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Huskies Polk and Kearse go undrafted

By Kshell

The big surprised on Montlake was the fact that Chris Polk who graded out to be a second or third round pick went undrafted. Another Washington Huskies player in Jermaine Kearse went undrafted as well. For Polk and Kearse both record setters at Washington this was tough to see. Both were brought in during Tyrone Willingham's last recruiting class which was ranked 14th in the nation. Both guys were part of the turnaround of Husky football leading them to back to back bowl games. Both running back Polk and wide receiver Kearse were signed immediately. The Philadelphia Eagles signed Polk while the hometown Seattle Seahawks signed Jermaine Kearse. Kearse most figured would go undrafted after a disappointing senior season while Polk was a huge shocker. Polk left after his junior year and apparantly teams were concerned with his injuries which is why he was undrafted. Still despite what the combines say the eye test has to show that Polk is a performer on the field. Polk can flat out get the job done when the Huskies needed him to the past three seasons as well as Kearse.

For Polk he is going to a good situation with the Eagles who were impressed with him during the draft process. Although Polk has had three surguries already in his career he has yet to miss a game the last three seasons. After getting hurt his true freshman year Polk as a redshirt freshman in 2009 rushed for 1,113 yards with five touchdowns. In 2010 Polk ran for 1,465 yards with nine touchdowns. He was also named Holiday Bowl MVP as the Huskies upset the Nebraska Cornhuskers 19-7. As a senior Polk ran for 1,488 yards(5.1 YPC) with 12 touchdowns. He also caught 31 passes for 332 yards with four touchdowns. For his Husky career he finished with 4,049 yards rushing(5.1 YPC) with 26 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 79 passes for for 683 yards with four touchdowns all in just 40 career games meaning he averaged over 100 yards rushing per game in his career.  Polk will leave behind a strong legacy as he and Kaufman are the only backs to ever rush for over 1,000 yards three straight seasons. Polk was first-team all freshman selection and honorable mention all Pac-10 in 2009, second team all pac-10 in 2010 and the first Husky offensive player to be on the first team all Pac-12 team since Reggie Williams in 2003 when he was selected in 2011. The Eagles are going to be getting a very fine player in Polk who has a major chip on his shoulder much like Arian Foster did.

The Seattle Seahawks signed the former Husky standout wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. Kearse was a big play receiver for the Huskies and Jake Locker's favorite target in 2009 and 2010. Kearse  as a true freshman, caught 20 passes for 301 yards (15.0 YPC) and two touchdowns. As a sophomore, he broke out with 50 receptions for 866 yards(17.3 YPC) with eight touchdowns. Then as a junior he continued his improvement with 63 receptions for 1,005 yards(16.0 YPC) with 12 touchdowns. He was  named to the second team all Pac-10 team those two years. He had plenty of big games his junior year in the Huskies 41-20 win over Syracuse, Kearse had nine receptions for 179 yards with three touchdowns. Later in the year, he set a Huskies record against Oregon State, catching four touchdown passes in the 35-34 double-overtime win. He had nine receptions for 146 yards with four touchdowns that game. Then in the Apple Cup he had six receptions for 178 yards with two touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown. As a senior with more talented receivers in the fold and a new quarterback in Keith Price his production fell off. Kearse finished the year with 47 receptions for 699 yards and seven touchdowns. He was named honorable mention all Pac-12 but a memorable game in his final game. In the 67-56 Alamo Bowl loss Kearse caught five passes for 198 yards with a touchdown which was an 80 yard bomb.  Kearse has big play ability and is hoping to pull a Doug Baldwin and make the Seahawks roster.

For these two the news of not getting picked had to be a disappointment as they left behind a legacy at the University of Washington. I think Polk will make the Eagles roster and actually become a key member on a very talented team. For Kearse his odds are long but the Seahawks receivers aren't exactly studs either. Last year Doug Baldwin who put up less numbers than Kearse did in college made the Seahawks roster as an undrafted rookie. Hopefully both Kearse and Polk make an impact on their teams. Either way they were both great Huskies and their names are at the top of the record books for a reason. They were a big reason why the Huskies went from 0-12 to back to back bowl appearances.

Huskies DT Ta'amu drafted in 4th by Steelers; OT Kelemete drafted in 5th by Cardinals

By Kshell

This year just like the last two years the Washington Huskies had two guys drafted in this years NFL draft. Steve Sarkisian saw two of his former players who were both recruited by Tyrone Willingham get drafted in Alameda Ta'amu in the fourth round and Senio Kelemete in the fifth round. For the Huskies to produce two lineman in the draft has shown just how far this program has come along. For Kelemete he was the first Husky offensive lineman taken since Joe Toledo in the 2006 draft. While Ta'amu is the first defensive tackle taken since Terry Johnson in the 2004 draft. Those stats right there shows you why the Huskies program has struggled in the last couple of years.

The Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to draft Ta'amu in the 4th round. Ta'mu who is 6'2" weighs 348 lbs is a perfect fit for the Steelers who run a 3-4 defense. In his career with the Huskies Ta'amu was a big time recruit for Tyrone Willingham out of Rainier Beach High School. Ta'amu started as a true freshman on the defensive line late as he played in all 12 games including the final five games as a starter. As a sophomore Ta'amu started 11 games. Then as a junior he started all 13 games was named Pac-10 honorable mention as well. He was also named Huskies defensive lineman of the year. He was a big force in the Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska and was due for a breakout year his senior year. Instead he stayed the same as a senior once again starting all 13 games and once again was only named honorable mention all Pac-12. He was also a team captain and at times the heart and soul of the defense. With the Steelers who run a 3-4 unlike the Huskies he'll be a big addition for them.

The other Huskies lineman who was drafted was Senio Kelemete another local product. He was picked by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round. As a true freshman who had his redshirt burned by Willingham Kelemete played eight games at defensive tackle making four starts. When Sarkisian took over the program he moved Kelemete to offensive line. Kelemete started as a true sophomore on the offensive line where started 11 of 12 games earning honorable mention. Then in 2010 Sarkisian moved him again to the blindside where Kelemete was the left tackle where he started 26 consecutive games and was a two year captain of the team. As a senior Kelemete was rock solid earning second-team all Pac-12. Kelemete is an athletic lineman who is 6'4" 307 lbs. The Cardinals can play him at tackle or guard and Kelemete will surely get the job done for the Seahawks divisional rivals.

This draft was a disappointment for the Huskies program as they expected to get four guys drafted instead they have just two. You know the program has arrived when the Huskies are getting multiple guys drafted not just two per year. Considering the Huskies did go back to back years in the 2008 and 2009 drafts with nobody selected at least they are getting some drafted. For Ta'amu and Kelemete they were both good Husky lineman and it was a shame there wasn't more players like these two on the lines for this program. I know both will do well in the NFL as they are going to teams where they fit their styles. For the Huskies program anytime you get guys drafted it can still be seen as a positive. I wish nothing but the best for Kelemete and Ta'amu!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fresh off a bye week the Seattle Sounders head to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire

By Money Mike

After a much needed week off the Seattle Sounders return to action much healthier than they were the last three to four weeks. After missing the last four games, both Mauro Rosales and Adam Johansson are set to make their return this Saturday as the Seattle Sounders invade Toyota Park to face the Chicago Fire in a U.S. Open Cup Championship rematch. Both teams come into this one with games in hand in their respective conferences. The new look Fire are off to a 2-1-2 start in the early stages of the season and earlier this week they brought back forward Chris Rolfe who began his career with the club from 2005-09 before spending the last three seasons in Denmark with AaB Fodbold. Unfortunately there's a chance Rolfe may not play this weekend for Chicago because right now he's dealing with a sprained left ankle.

Last time these two clubs met was back on October 4, 2011 at CenturyLink Field in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship match where the Sounders of course came out on top with a 2-0 win to claim their third consecutive Open Cup title, something that has never been done in over 40 years.  The Sounders are 4-0-3 all time against Chicago including that Open Cup Final victory and will look to extend their unbeaten run against them this Saturday and more importantly take advantage of the games in hand with the Western Conference.  The match will kickoff at 5:30pm and will be aired live on KONG TV and people outside the Seattle area can catch this live on ROOT Sports.  This is the only meeting this season between the two and the Sounders will look to make sure that it goes their way.

This will be the 100th match in MLS history for the Seattle Sounders.  March 19, 2009.  That's when it all began.  Over 32,000 in attendance to see the Sounders first ever match against the New York Red Bulls and they went home happy after the Sounders defeated the Red Bulls 3-0.  From then on, Seattle didn't look back.  In 09' however, the playoff race in the West as well as the battle for the top seed in the West was really tight.  The Sounders finished third in the West, but only a point shy of the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo.  Looking at the current roster, I think we still have nine players from the inaugural season on the current roster for 2012 including Fredy Montero, Ozzie Alonso and Steve Zakuani.  That was 2009 though, right now this is the 2012 season.  I still can't believe that tomorrow's match will be their 100th.  That's how quickly time has flown by.

Injury report:

Seattle Sounders FC - OK, for the Sounders, Josh Ford, Andrew Weber, Michael Tetteh, Steve Zakuani and Babayele Sodade are all ruled out. Alvaro Fernandez has been dealing with a right quad strain and it doesn't look like he will feature in tomorrow's match. Finally, as I mentioned earlier Adam Johansson and Mauro Rosales are expected to make their return after missing the last four games.

Chicago Fire - For the Fire, Cory Gibbs is out with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Steven Kinney has tendinitis on the posterior side of his right tibia and he is out as well. Kinney has not appeared in an MLS match since October 23, 2010. Last but not least, Chris Rolfe who re-joined the club earlier this week may not feature tomorrow night after picking up a sprained left ankle.

Key to this match:

Last match, this team really struggled to keep possession of the ball. You have to make sure everybody is on the right page because the main reason they gave the ball away so much was because they waited too long to pass the ball to their teammate and they find themselves in an offside position. Hopefully with Rosales and Johansson back, that area will improve. The lineup changes may have been the reason. Alex Caskey getting his first start as well as Eddie Johnson. David Estrada getting the start at right midfield. Whatever it was, hopefully it gets fixed tomorrow.

Seahawks take quarterback Russell Wilson in third round

By Kshell

The Seahawks surprised the experts once again with their third round selection. The Seahawks despite signing Tarvaris Jackson last year and Matt Flynn this offseason drafted a quarterback in the third round. Pete Carroll knows how important the quarterback position is and doesn't want what happened last season to happen again. The Seahawks took former Wisconsin Badger and NC State Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round. The Seahawks tomorrow will have two fourth round picks, one fifth round pick, two sixth round picks and two seventh round picks. The Seahawks who aren't financially tied into Matt Flynn are simply keeping their options open. Wilson won't threaten Flynn's job this season but someday down the line he might. If you have good healthy quarterback competition that can't be a bad thing.

Wilson began his career at NC State where all he did there was the all-time passing leader in school history. Wilson threw for 8,545 yards at NC State with 76 touchdowns to just 26 interceptions. Then he switch to Wisconsin where all he did there was lead the Badgers to the Rose Bowl. Last year Wilson completed 72.8% of his passes for 3,175 yards(10.3 YPA) with 33 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He played well in big games as well. In the Big 10 championship game rematch against Michigan State Wilson was 17-24(70.8%) for 187 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Then in the Rose Bowl loss to the Oregon Ducks 45-38 Wilson was 19-25(76.0%) for 296 yards with two touchdowns to just one interception. He also ran for a touchdown in that game as well. The Seahawks like his leadership quality and the fact he is very accurate. He may only be 5'11" 201 lbs but he is a gamer who hopefully someday can lead the Seahawks places. If Matt Flynn ends up being the real deal then the Seahawks can trade Wilson like teams have done in the past.

With the Seahawks signing Matt Flynn and now drafted Russell Wilson I think the Tarvaris Jackson one year experiment in Seattle is going to end. Most fans knew last year that Jackson was simply a placeholder for this franchise. Now he may not be as bad as a Charlie Whitehurst he also isn't very good either. Last season with the Seahawks Jackson passed for 3,091 yards(15 games, 14 starts) completing 60.2% of his passes with 14 touchdowns to 13 interceptions on the season. His quarterback rating was 79.2 which looking at these numbers aren't bad. The problem is those numbers aren't good. Jackson is the defination of average to below average. In his career his rating is 77.7, has a completion percentage of 59.4%, touchdown to interception ratio of 38-35 and a starting record that sits at 17-17. I wouldn't mind keeping Jackson as the experienced backup and just releasing Josh Portis or put him on the practice squad. Wilson is an interesting pick that is for sure and so far the offensive issues for next season has yet to be addressed in the NFL draft so far.

Schneider comes from the Green Bay Packers who draft a quarterback every season. You can never have too many quarterbacks as we have witnessed the last four seasons with poor quarterback play. Wilson was a good college quarterback and the Seahawks are hoping his skills can transfer to the NFL. With Flynn and Wilson at quarterback and for now Jackson the position appears to be much improved over last year. I doubt Wilson takes a snap this year unless Flynn is a disaster which we all hope he isn't. Wilson was a winner in college, highly successful and very accurate. The Seahawks may have found their gem in this years draft which so far has confused all of the ESPN draft pundits.

Seahawks take LB Bobby Wagner in second round

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks once again traded back in the draft then surprised the draft "experts". This time the Seahawks traded four spots back to the New York Jets gaining an extra fifth and seventh round draft pick. With their pick the Seahawks took middle linebacker Bobby Wagner out of Utah State. The Seahawks despite having an already top 10 defense are loading up on defense once again. They also gained extra picks which is a smart move given how well the team has drafted in the past couple of years. Wagner could also be an outside linebacker. The Seahawks needed linebackers and have picked up two who provide different roles. Also by trading back twice Pete Carroll and John Schneider have picked up an extra four draft picks which is the key.

What the Seahawks got in Wagner first of all is a 6 foot linebacker who is 241 lbs. Wagner is a four-year starter and a two-time captain. He was also three-time all WAC while at Utah State. His senior year he had 147 tackles including 67 solo and four sacks with two interceptions. Wagner will start for the Seahawks at either middle linebacker or at outside linebacker. Despite what Kiper said he wasn't a reach as Rob Rang had him going 48th to the New England Patriots and several scouts had him as a second round grade. Just because him and his moron buddy McShay don't know what they are doing doesn't make him a bad player. The Seahawks are making sure their defense stays in the top 10 for years to come. They'll hope to land some diamonds in the rough later in the draft like they have already in the last two years with Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright not to mention signed Doug Baldwin already. This was a good pick and Wagner has a nose for the football which is something you can't teach.

The Seahawks are adopting the Bill Walsh philosphy which is trading back to acquire more picks. By doing so John Schneider has added an extra fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh round picks while still getting both guys they wanted. That is what championship teams do they trade back get guys who fit their system and load up on more picks to acquire even more talent. Walsh perfected this strategy and you see the Baltimore Ravens do this quite a bit. By trading with the New York Jets the Seahawks acquired a fifth and a seventh rounder. The last two years the Seahawks have taken Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman in the fifth round so don't scoff at that fifth round pick. The Seahawks in my opinion are having a very excellent draft and going to add to their depth. This is a young team already on the verge of doing big things and this draft will just add to that.

At the end of the day let's stop listening to Kiper and McShay. Instead let's trust that Carroll and Schneider who have drafted well the last two years know what they are doing. They have addressed the linebacker/pass rusher positions while gaining four extra picks in the draft. This draft isn't being praised by those ESPN blowhards but those guys don't know what they are talking about anyways. The Seahawks are breaking in new uniforms this year and also going to bring a talented roster to Century Link Field. The Seahawks are having a good draft so far don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Seahawks select OLB Bruce Irvin with 1st round pick

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks made a bold move in this years NFL draft that shocked all the prognosticators. The Seahawks first of all traded their 12th pick overall in the draft to the Philadelphia Eagles for the Eagles 15th pick overall, 4th rounder(114th overall) and 6th rounder through the Colts(172nd overall). Then the Seahawks took troubled OLB Bruce Irvin out of West Virginia University. Irvin is considered the best pass rusher in this entire draft but has had some off the field issues. He also appears to be as of right now a one dimensional player. Most people had Irvin projected to go into the second round although Rob Rang had him going to the Baltimore Ravens with the 29th pick. In fact several teams coveted Irvin who offers an elite skill set which could make this Seahawks defense very dangerous.

The major negative on Irvin is his poor rap sheet. Irvin was ruled ineligible to play high school football and served time in Juvenile while in high school before dropping out and getting his GED. He also had to attend Mt. San Antonio junior college in 2009 where all he did was earn first-team all-american status recording 72 tackles, 21 for loss and 16 sacks. After he signed with the West Virginina Mountaineers he had a monster year in 2010. In 2010 Irvin recorded 14 sacks and earned second-team all-big east. In 2011 he recorded 8.5 sacks and was first team all-big east. Irvin is 6'3" 245 lbs who runs a 4.5 40 which Pete Carroll says is closer to 4.4 actually. Irvin also had the fastest shuttle time at 4.03 seconds he is a fast freak of nature. Some have said his ceiling is Von Miller while his floor is a nickel pass rusher. Either way he is a guy who is going to rack up sacks for the Seahawks and fill a role. Carroll has also known him since he was in high school and feels like he can mentor him so the off field issues won't be a problem. Carroll is banking on Irvin to be on his best behavior and be that beast pass rusher the Seahawks have lacked since trading away Julian Peterson.

Last year the San Francisco 49ers were mocked for "reaching" for Aldon Smith out of Missouri. Smith was taken 7th overall in the draft by the 49ers. This past season Smith started zero games for the 49ers as well so when you hear that you think he was a bust. You couldn't be more wrong either as Smith recorded 14 sacks, forced two fumbles and even recorded a safety. Smith was half a sack away from the rookie record set by Jevon Kearse. Smith is a specialist for the 49ers and they used him to get to the NFC championship game. He was also arrested very recently for a DUI so like Irvin might have some character issues. In today's pass happy NFL the most important thing in this league to be successful is having a good passing offense which the Seahawks addressed with  Matt Flynn and a good passing defense. The Seahawks have a great secondary ranking 11th against the pass. The Seahawks however needed a pass rusher as their leading sack man was Chris Clemons who had 11 but will be turning 31. After Clemons? Leroy Hill with just four sacks. The facts are the Seahawks needed more pass rushers and even if that's all Irvin does much like Smith does for the 49ers this pick is worth it.

I know I preach not to trust Seattle sports but I do trust Pete Carroll and John Schneider until they do me wrong. In the draft they haven't so far. In their first draft in 2010 they took pro bowler safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor(5th round). They also took two year starter at left tackle Russell Okung and nickel corner Walter Thurmond. The following year they took all rookie selection Richard Sherman in the fifth round who emerged as a starter. Also took starters James Carpenter, John Moffitt(3rd round) and linebacker K.J. Wright(4th round). That doesn't include Doug Baldwin who they signed off free agency who went undrafted. Baldwin this past year started one game while catching 51 passes for 788 yards and four touchdowns. Add it all up the Seahawks in the last two years through the draft have had eight impact players. They also acquired an extra fourth and sixth round pick in the process a point that keeps being ignored. These two know what they are doing especially in the draft.

The Seahawks moved back and acquired some picks while grabbing the guy they wanted. Sure most pundits had Irvin slipping to the second round so why not wait until then you ask? Obviously Carroll and Schneider heard through the grapevine that somebody else liked Irvin a lot. In fact seven or more NFL teams had Irvin in their top 15 so the Seahawks didn't want to risk it. As for the character issues? I can care less to tell you the truth. The Seahawks with this pick did something that the Tim Ruskell era Seahawks wouldn't have done. They swung for the fences and ignored "character" issues. Facts are in the NFL not all these guys you root for are "good" guys in fact most are scum. Carroll unlike Ruskell isn't trying to build a community service all-star team he is trying to win a Super Bowl championship which this team deserves! Irvin is an elite pass rusher who was misused in a 3-3-5 and still recorded 22.5 sacks in two seasons there. Even if he is one dimensional he is elite at that skill. I love this pick and I'm excited for what Carroll has up his sleeve in the later rounds where the Seahawks in recent years tend to excell at.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Seattle Mariners weekly recap: April 16th-22nd edition

By Kshell

The Seattle Mariners just completed a dreadful week at home which saw attendance numbers reach all-time lows while the team went 1-5. During that 1-5 stretch the Mariners saw a perfect game thrown against them. That was the first ever perfect game and no hitter thrown in Safeco Field history.  I happened to go to a game this Friday which was Ichiro bobblehead night where the first 20,000 fans received a free bobblehead. Too bad less than 20,000 fans showed up. At least I got to see the Mariners first every all-star throw out the first pitch in former outfielder Rupert Jones. In three seasons with the Mariners Jones hit .257/.333/.418 with 51 home runs and 68 stolen bases. Then the Mariners proceeded to ruin that moment by falling behind 6-0 midway through the second inning before having a perfect game thrown against them the following day. This week I'll go over the good(Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas), the bad(the hitting) and the ugly( this lack of offense in year four under the Jack Zdurienick regime). Anyways hope you enjoy my weekly recap of the Seattle Mariners.

The Good:
Whenever you go 1-5 there isn't much good. The Mariners after that great 3-1 start are now 7-10 on the season. The positives were the pitching of Jason Vargas and especially Felix Hernandez. For all the talk about King Felix's lack of a fastball those talks died after his last dominant start which he showed that his most powerful pitch is his change up. Up 1-0 facing a bases loaded one out jam in the eighth inning Hernandez got out of the jam with back to back strikeouts on a change up. Sadly which has been a theme in his career in Seattle he didn't earn a win as Brandon League blew the save for him. Another positive this week was the long relief trio of Hisashi Iwakuma, Steve Delabar and Erasmo Ramirez. They not only pitched well but saved the rest of the valuable bullpen arms so the Mariners can survive. The hitting once again didn't get much help although two reserves who rarely played did hit well. Justin Smoak also saw his first career four hit game. Hopefully for Smoak that is the type of game that can launch his season as he has been struggling all year long.

Good Hitting:

Casper Wells: 3-7(.429), run, 2 doubles
Alex Liddi: 2-6(.333), RBI, double
Justin Smoak: 4-16(.250), run, RBI, 5 K's
Ichiro: 6-24(.250), HR, 2 runs, 5 RBI's

Good Pitching:

Jason Vargas: 1-0, 7 IP, 1.28 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 7 K's
Hisashi Iwakuma: 4 IP, 2.25 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 2 K's
Erasmo Ramirez: 4.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, K
Steve Delabar: 3.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 6 K's
Felix Hernandez: 8 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 12 K's

So far on the year Hernandez is 1-1 in four starts. He has thrown 29.1 innings with a 2.76 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and has 31 strikeouts. His fastball might not be as fast as it was but that is also by choice. His best pitches now are his cutter and mainly his change up. He is still an elite pitcher and fans need to stop worrying about him. He isn't the problem and is actually one of the few bright spots on this team.

The Bad:

The Mariners went 1-5 this week as attendance sank below 12,000 setting a Safeco Field record for lowest amount in a game. The Mariners got bombed in the game I went to losing 7-3 but fell behind 6-0 after two innings. On Saturday they allowed a perfect game and they simply aren't hitting the ball well at all. They began the week off by blowing a 9-1 lead against the Cleveland Indians at home as Kevin Millwood gave it up. The game I attended Hector Noesi who was in the big Michael Pineda trade got rocked and could only give the Mariners four outs. The team is still showing signs of hacking away at pitches which Eric Wedge keeps preaching to attack but at what point are they just hopelessly swinging at everything? At what point does this mess fall squarely onto Jack Zduriencik's shoulders since this is year four? Practically everyone on this roster was put here at the hands of Zduriencik and this team is terrible. The Mariners are 5-2 against the Oakland A's and 2-8 against everyone else. This year looks no different from 2010 or 2011. The pitching is decent but still not good enough. While the hitting has been downright terrible the last two weeks which ended with the White Sox sweeping them. The White Sox are now 19-3 against the Mariners since 2010.

Bad Hitting:

Kyle Seager: 4-20(.200), run, SB, 4 K's
John Jaso: 1-8(.125), HR, 2 runs, 4 RBI's, 2 K's
Dustin Ackley: 5-24(.208), 2 runs, 2 RBI's, 7 K's
Jesus Montero: 3-19(.158), HR, run, 3 RBI's, 5 K's
Brendan Ryan: 2-14(.143), 5 runs, RBI, 7 BB's, 5 K's
Chone Figgins: 3-21(.143), HR, 2 runs, 2 RBI's, 9 K's

Bad Pitching:

Kevin Millwood: 0-1, 9.1 IP, 10.61 ERA, 2.14 WHIP, 4 K's
Brandon League: 0-1, blown save, 2.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 2 K's, save
Hector Noesi: 0-1, 1.1 IP, 40.60 ERA, 6.01 WHIP, K

The Mariners are 4-9 since starting the season 3-1. They aren't hitting and their pitching has been rough at times too. The Mariners simply aren't making enough on the field progress in year four under Zduriencik's regime.

The Ugly:

The Mariners allowed a perfect game to Philip Humber who isn't an ace by any means. In fact in his career he has only started 30 games with a record of 12-10, 3.90 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He is a solid pitcher but not a guy who should be putting up zero after zero on you.  The Mariners had a disasterous week seeing attendance numbers look like crap, blowing a huge lead, getting swept at home and the perfect game to a middle of the rotation guy. With the Mariners ownership trying to the block the Sonics return and the poor product on the field the fans have finally spoken. They want a winner and are tired of the gimmicks! This team needs new leadership at the top as Eric Wedge and Jack Zdurienick need to go. Obviously Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln need to go or the manager/gm doesn't matter as long as those two clowns are operating this dog and pony show.

Ugly Hitting:

Seattle Mariners: Hitting .223/.274/.342 on the season. They ranked out of 14 teams in the AL: 14 in on base percentage, 13th in batting average, slugging average and OPS. 13th in home runs and walks while 4th in striking out the most. They rank 11th in runs scored basically this is the same crap we've been dealing with the last two years.

Justin Smoak: Hitting .203/.242/.322 with 17 K's in 62 plate appearances and only three walks.

Chone Figgins: hitting .215/.278/.323 with 20 K's in 75 plate appearnaces only six walks. A leadoff hitter whose on base percentage is under .300 but is striking out 26.7% of the time per plate appearance is just sickening!

Miguel Olivo: hitting .154/.170/.192 with 11 K's in only 54 plate appearances but has just one walk. Despite this piss poor stat line Wedge continues to play him even at DH in a move that makes zero sense to anyone who still cares about this team.

Ugly Attendance:

Tuesday April 17th vs Cleveland : 12,461
Wednesday April 18th vs Cleveland: 11,343(lowest in Safeco history)
Thursday April 19th vs Cleveland: 12,947( on a day when Felix was pitching)

Friday April 20th vs Chicago White Sox: 19,947(bobble head day and a friday)
Saturday April 21st vs Chicago White Sox: 22,472( beautiful Saturday after noon game)
Sunday April 22nd vs Chicago White Sox: 19,975

The fans have spoken they are tired of Jack Z's crap product he has put on the field year after year. He is a major league scout but he isn't a major league GM.

AL West Standings:

Texas Rangers: 13-3, first place
Oakland A's: 8-9, 5.5 GB
Seattle Mariners: 7-10, 6.5 GB
L.A. Angels: 6-10, 7.0 GB

This franchise needs to start getting serious about baseball or Safeco Field might have some games where the attendance drops below 10,000 fans. The fans are tired of this crap as the hitting hasn't improved at all. The hype about this team being improved was just that hype. Felix Hernandez continues to be wasted on a poorly built team that is "building" one brick at a time. Zduriencik is building this thing up much like Paul Wulff built up Washington State football. He is doing it very slowly and hopefully the next guy can lead us to the promise land. This team is a mess and this week was an absolute embarassment.

*Special thanks to my sisters boyfriend Nick Snow on two of the pictures he took. He is a great photographer and hopefully you guys get to enjoy more of his pictures.

Friday, April 20, 2012

SSB weekly rant: April 14-20th edition

By Kshell

Happy 420 to all my readers who happen to enjoy the green. This weekly rant has plenty to rant about this week. First I'll begin by saying that I'm sure every 7-11, smoke shop, fast food drive thru will be quite packed this Friday as it's 420 day which is a big "holiday" for all those weed smokers out there. For those of you who managed to put the bong down(or continue smoking I guess) while reading this I'm very happy that my blog has appealed to you. Now back to what I'll be ranting about this week. In this following post I'll mainly be talking about the Seattle Mariners and I'll spend some time discussing the Seahawks schedule. For the Mariners there will be plenty to discuss this week that has me in a bit of a pissed off mood. Once again I hope my weekly rantings will at the very least entertain you guys. For those who don't smoke you can enjoy this April 20th as well and thanks for reading my blog.

This week the NFL schedules were released and like always people were curious how the Seahawks schedule was. Well earlier this week I broke down the Seahawks schedule week by week to see who the Seahawks play as I gave my two cents on each game. The obvious game that stands out is the third week of the season as the Green Bay Packers come to Seattle to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night on September 24th. Matt Flynn will be taking on his old team and the Seahawks will be hosting a rare Monday Night game in September. The Seahawks have won four in a row on Monday Night at home and have won five in a row overall. The 12th man will be rocking on that night as the Packers stroll in led by Aaron Rodgers who might be the games best player. The Packers last year went 15-1 as they looked to defend their title but were upset in the divisional round to the eventual Super Bowl champions New York Giants. This will be a big stage for the Seahawks to show the nation they are a serious threat this year as most national experts are picking them as a team poised to bounce back this season.

The talk of Felix Hernandez and his fastball have died down after last night. Hernandez used mostly his cut fastball and his change up as he went eight strong innings, allowing only five hits while walking just one. He recorded 12 strikeouts including back to back strikeouts with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning. All that was for nothing as Brandon League blew the save and the Mariners lost 2-1 losing the series to the Cleveland Indians. For Hernandez he once again failed to get the win which has been a sad case over the years. In fact since his debut he has had 16 no decisions where he pitched at least seven innings and allowed one run or less. That is the most in baseball since he's been called up. This year in four starts Hernandez has pitched 29.1 innings with an ERA of 2.76, 1.02 WHIP and 31 strikeouts. What he has to show so far is only one win(which was the start he allowed six of his total nine runs actually). For Hernandez who has been surrounded by the Mariners garbage since 2010 as he is only 28-27 this has to be getting old. Last year in August I actually talked about how the Mariners are wasting an incredible ace in Hernandez. If the losing continues and with Hernandez a free agent after 2014 look for him to demand a trade in the offseason or at some point next year. Every athlete wants to win and he's no different. I wouldn't blame him one bit Bill Bavasi and now Jack Zduriencik have failed to build a winner around Hernandez.

Eric Wedge is starting to piss me off with his stance on Miguel Olivo. His quotes to Mariners propaganda person errr beat writer Shannon Drayer were quite alarming.  "Miggy is our starting catcher, Jesus is going to get time as well, it is going to be tough to get Jaso back there,” he said. “Not that I am against it but right now I feel like I need to give the time to Miggy and Jesus. I still want to get Jaso’s bat in the lineup from time to time if I can so that is what we are trying to do.” Then he followed it up with another gem of a quote as well "We’re trying to get it going,” he answered. “I have had conversations with him. I was really pleased with what he did this spring he’s working up the middle more, he is trying to go the other way which is against what you have seen from him in the past typically. He has done a nice job with it. I think he has been a little anxious here early on I think he has been pressing a little bit but his confidence hasn’t wavered and I feel he is going to hit but he just has to do some things in an adjustment period to make that happen.”. Translation our manager is a moron just like John McLaren. He believes in crap like "this guy is gritty", he just "looks" like a ball player, he's "tough", etc. This is all nonsense when John Jaso is left handed, better and younger than Olivo. This year in only 11 AB's Jaso is hitting .273/.333/.727 with one home run and five RBI's. Olivo on the other hand in 42 AB's is hitting .143/.163/.190 with three RBI's. Another thing that pisses me off about Wedge is with a lead late in the game he keeps Figgins in left field instead of substituting a defensive replacement in Casper Wells. Let's face it guys Wedge doesn't know what he is doing and Zduriencik failed on his second manager hiring in four years.

The problem with this picture isn't that there is so many empty seats the problem is you can't tell which game it is or what year. The Mariners crappy play has caught up to them. On a night when Felix Hernandez was pitching the Mariners barely drew over 13,000 fans a day after setting their worst mark in Safeco Field history. Last year I wrote a piece how the gimmicks are no longer working to draw in the fans. This franchise had a great fan base but they are saying enough is enough with the losing. With the price of concession stands, parking and as Chuck Armstrong pointed out the traffic it simply isn't worth it to go to a game. Sure at home I miss out on hydro races and dancing grounds crew but I can enjoy a meal for 1/10th the price. I can yell at the T.V. and not worried about being ejected by the super sensitive folks at Safeco Field. The Mariners need to build a winner then the fans will show up. As of right now I'm supportive of the fans who don't show up because the Mariners management has spit on us fans lately.

Later on today I'll be going to the Mariners game as I'll be forced to interact with the worst kinds of fans in the world.........the bobblehead fans. I'm going to the game with my sister, her boyfriend and my best friend and they are excited to get an Ichiro bobblehead. Which means I'll have to deal with several idiots who don't know the game and are there for the bobblehead. The same type of fans who like Olivo because Wedge says he is good so he must be good. One of these days I'm going to plan a brown papersack game and I hope I can get a huge following to join me on this. Sure we might get kicked out but it would make for a great story and a better time than watching the groundscrew dancing. Anyways since I'll literally be sitting behind our dugout if we are getting blown out I'll let Wedge know exactly how I feel about him as a manager in this town.

That was my weekly rant I hope you enjoyed it. For those who say I'm too negative on Seattle sports well what is there to be positive about? The fact the Mariners made the playoffs 11 years ago? Maybe our new slogan will be "at least we aren't the Pirates". There is plenty to be upset about in Seattle and since I don't have to worry about having credentials revoked I'll continue to speak my mind on the Mariners poor ownership. Hope you enjoyed my blog and for those tokers out there may this be a special 4-20 to you as well!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Seattle Seahawks 2012 schedule is released!

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks 2012 NFL schedule has officially been released. This year the Seahawks will begin the season on the road against a divisional opponent like they did last year as they begin the year against the Arizona Cardinals. Their home opener will be the second week of the year as they take on the Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks have two national T.V. primetime games as they take on the Green Bay Packers at home on Monday Night on week three. Then later on in week seven at San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night football. In this following post I'll give my two cents on each game while examing more games more deeply.

‎1 Sun, Sep 9  @ Arizona Cardinals (0-0) 1:15 pm PDT 

Previous meeting: Arizona Cardinals won 23-20 in 2011

These teams split the season series last year each winning on their homefield. The Seahawks last year went 7-9 while the Cardinals went 8-8. Both teams are hoping to return to the playoffs as Matt Flynn will be making his first start in a Seahawks uniform going up against Larry Fitzgerald and Cardinals offense.

2 Sun, Sep 16  vs Dallas Cowboys (0-0) 1:05 pm PDT

Previous meeting: Dallas Cowboys won 23-13 in 2011

This will be the Seahawks home opener as they take on the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have won the last three meetings against the Seahawks all down in Dallas. The last time the Cowboys played the Seahawks in Seattle was the memorable 2006 Wild Card playoff game. The Seahawks won that game 21-20 in a wild finish. That game is most memorable because the Cowboys were in position to win the game with a field goal. Instead holder and starting quarterback Tony Romo fumbled the ball and was tackled short of the goaline.  Romo's miscue still haunts him to this day as the following year with the #1 seed the Cowboys lost their first playoff game. Romo being called a choke artist started that night in Seattle. This will be Matt Flynn's first home start of his career for the Seahawks as well.

3 Mon, Sep 24 vs Green Bay Packers (0-0) 5:30 pm ESPN 

Previous meeting: Packers won 48-10 in 2009

This is an interesting matchup as Matt Flynn takes on his former team as the Seahawks take on reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have won three in a row against the Seahawks. Although last time these two teams played on Monday night it was in Seattle as the Seahawks won in the snow 34-24. The Seahawks have won five games in a row on Monday Night and have the best record in the NFL on monday night. This will be a special game as every game on Monday night is special.

4 Sun, Sep 30  @ St. Louis Rams (0-0) 10:00 am PDT

Previous meeting: Seahawks won 30-13 in 2011

The Seahawks have dominated this series losing just one time against the Rams since 2005 posting a 13-1 record against the Rams. This is a key divisional game as the Seahawks prepare for the Rams on the road. The Rams will be having a new head coach as Jeff Fisher takes over the Rams hoping to lead them to some wins as they have been horrible lately.

5 Sun, Oct 7 @ Carolina Panthers  (0-0) 1:05 pm PDT

Previous meeting: Seahawks won 31-14 in 2010

The Seahawks get their first taste of Cam Newton the electric quarterback. The Seahawks have never won a game at Carolina in franchise history as they are 0-2 all-time. The Seahawks defeated the Panthers to go to the Super Bowl in the 2005 NFC Championship game. That was then and this is now. The Seahawks will have a hard time containing Newton as most teams have.

6 Sun, Oct 14 vs New England Patriots (0-0) 1:05 pm PDT 

Previous Meeting: New England won 24-21 in 2008

The Seahawks host the defending AFC Champions New England Patriots as Tom Brady makes his first appearance at Century Link Field. Brady missed the meeting in 2008 as he was out for the season as the Patriots rallied to defeat the Seahawks during Mike Holmgren's last season. Brady however did defeat the Seahawks back in 2004 at home 30-20. This will be another fun game for Seahawks fans as the day before the USC Trojans who are expected to contend for a national title will be playing the Washington Huskies on the same field. For fans of Seattle the SODO area will be packed for that 48 hour run. This will also see the return of Deion Branch back to Seattle where he played with the Seahawks from 2006-2010 and was regarded as a bust. This will also be Pete Carroll's first game against his old team. He was the head coach of the Patriots from 1997-1999 before being fired for Bill Bellicheck. That worked out well for both as Bellicheck won three super bowls while Carroll became a legend at USC.

7 Thu, Oct 18 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-0) 5:20 pm PDT

Previous meeting: San Francisco won 19-17

Last year the 49ers won swept the season series from the Seahawks. This will be the second primetime game for the Seahawks as they travel to play at the defending NFC West champions 49ers on a Thursday Night game. This will be a short turnaround for the Seahawks who are 1-1 on Thursday Night games in this recent format. If the Seahawks wish to compete for a division title they'll have to beat the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh dating back to his days at Stanford is 4-1 all-time against Pete Carroll including last years season sweep.

8 Sun, Oct 28 @ Detroit Lions  (0-0) 10:00 am PDT

Previous meeting: Seahawks won 32-20 in 2009

The Seahawks take on a Detriot Lions team fresh off of making their first postseason appearance since 1999. The Lions last time they played the Seahawks blew a 17-0 lead as then rookie Mathew Stafford threw five interceptions. Now Stafford is no longer a rookie in fact he is a pro bowler who has led his team to the playoffs. This game is on the road at Ford Field the site of Super Bowl XL the place that gave the Seahawks the most heart breaking loss in franchise history.

 9 Sun, Nov 4 vs Minnesota Vikings (0-0) 1:05 pm PST

Previous meeting: Vikings won 35-9 in 2009

The Seahawks will be hosting the electric Adrian Peterson who still remains as one of the leagues premiere backs. The Vikings are in a transition right now unlike the NFC championship game bound squad the Seahawks faced back in 2009. Tarvaris Jackson the Seahawks backup quarterback also played with the Vikings. This will also be a homecoming for John Carlson who just signed a five year 25 million dollar deal with the Vikings.

10 Sun, Nov 11 vs New York Jets (0-0) 1:05 pm PST

Previous meeting: Seahawks on 13-3 in 2008

Tim Tebow will be playing at Seattle for the first time as who knows if he'll be the starting quarterback by then. Mark Sanchez the quarterback the Seahawks passed on will be entering a make or break season as will his loud mouth head coach Rex Ryan. The Jets who went to back to back AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010 are hoping to get back there. This will be the teams first meeting since Mike Holmgren coached his last game in Seattle as the Seahawks defeated the Jets in the snow 13-3 back in 2008.

11 Bye

12 Sun, Nov 25 @ Miami Dolphins (0-0) 10:00 am PST 

Previous meeting: Dolphins won 21-19 in 2008

Matt Flynn will be taking on the team he passed on to go to Seattle. The Dolphins were very much in the Flynn sweepstakes before losing out. This will be a cross country flight for the Seahawks who in the past haven't done very well in 10 a.m. games on the east coast. The last time these two teams played the Dolphins were enjoying an AFC divisional championship debuting the Wildcat. They have fallen on hard times since then because they still have yet to replace Dan Marino at quarterback.

13 Sun, Dec 2 @ Chicago Bears (0-0) 10:00 am PST

Previous meeting: Seahawks won 38-14 in 2011

In what will be the fourth trip to Chicago for the Seahawks in the last three years. The Seahawks have owned the Bears in the regular season winning the last three matchups including twice in Chicago. In the playoffs though the Bears have ended the Seahawks season twice. Last year the Seahawks crushed the Bears in Chicago behind a strong defensive outing. The Bears were banged up without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. The Bears are always a tough match up especially on the road in Chicago.

14 Sun, Dec 9 vs Arizona Cardinals  (0-0) 1:15 pm PST
This will be the second matchup of the season for the Seahawks. In a strange scheduling by the NFL this will actually be the Seahawks first home game against a divisional opponent. The Seahawks have defeated the Cardinals the last two years at home and hope to do so again.

15 Sun, Dec 16 @ Buffalo Bills (0-0) 1:05 pm PST

Previous meeting: Bills won 34-10 in 2008

This game will be played out of this country as the Seahawks will be actually playing in Toronto which spoils what should have been the return of Marshawn Lynch to his old team the Buffalo Bills. The Seahawks traded for Lynch during the 2010 season and so far have been very happy with that trade.  Lynch provided a memorable playoff run to defeat the bounty hunting New Orleans Saints in the 2010 Wild Card playoff round. Then last year Lynch ran for over 1,000 yards first time a Seahawk did that since MVP Shaun Alexander did it in 2005. Lynch also made the pro bowl last year as the Seahawks sent five guys to the pro bowl. The Bills are a hurting franchise having not made the playoffs since 1999 when the music city miracle happened. The Bills are a decent team but as a Seahawks fan I'm thankful this december game is in Toronto in a dome and not in the horrid temperatures that Buffalo can produce in late December. This will also be the Seahawks last road game of the season.

 16 Sun, Dec 23 vs San Francisco 49ers (0-0) 1:15 p.m PST

This game has a chance to be very huge as the Seahawks take on the 49ers for the second time. Like year during the Christmas week the Seahawks will be hosting the 49ers in which will be pivotal game in the division title race. The Seahawks also might be developing a rivalry with the 49ers. There is no secret Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh don't like each other. I actually like that our head coach doesn't like another coach in our division. I always hate how Steve Sarkisian is so nice to every coach after getting his butt handed to him it's refreshing to see. With the addition of Flynn the Seahawks are hoping to take over this division. Beating the 49ers would be a nice start to doing just that.

17 Sun, Dec 30 vs St. Louis Rams (0-0) 1:15 pm EST

Two years ago these two teams played on the last game of the regular season and it came down to the division title which the Seahawks won the game 16-6. Can the Seahawks repeat history by clinching the division title on the last week of the NFL season? We'll sure find out. The Seahawks have won seven in a row at home against the Rams as they hope to continue this domination of the Rams. I like that the Seahawks have all three divisional games late in the year at home. If the division race is close you have to like the Seahawks.