Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

AL West Preview - Seattle Mariners Pitching

Well folks, it's time. Time to preview the hardest team in the league to preview. You think I'm joking? This goes way beyond PECOTA predictions and sabremetrics. It comes down to a crapshoot. Are these players the 2003 Mariners or the 2004 Mariners? You'll see what I mean as we go down the list.

Colin: Seriously. I love statistics, heck, I am going into the social sciences as a career, but sometimes statistics can only tell you so much. The ability of so many players to tank in the exact same year is mindboggling. It reminds me a little of the San Antonio Spurs when David Robinson was injured. They ended with the worst record in the league and ended up with Tim Duncan. Next year? They were back to awesome. Now, I understand that we don't have Tim Duncan, but we do have Adrian Beltre. Is that enough? Read on.

Starting Rotation: Joel Piniero - In 2003 Joel looked like the next big thing, in fact, he looked good enough to make Freddy Garcia expendable. A bulldog on the mound, Piniero rarely lacks confidence. His fastball is not overpowering, but he places it well. A good barometer on how well his day will go is whether or not he's able to throw his curveball for a strike. I love Joel's curveball. So in 2004 this pitcher decided to allow far too many home runs before landing on the DL. The M's need a solid season from Piniero... no doubt about it.

Colin: I'm worried. When I heard of his shoulder pain this spring, I immediately started planning for the ol' Tommy John surgery, just like EVERY OTHER SINGLE MARINER PITCHER IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS!! Honestly, what is going on with our pitchers? There must be something that the Mariner organization does that just screws with a pitcher's arm. I simply do not believe that we will see a full season from Joel. When he is around, however, he will be solid. He has to be.

Jamie Moyer - In 2003 Jamie Moyer became one of the oldest 20 game winners in MLB history. In 2004 he decided to join in the fun, giving up a league leading amount of homers, as his control slipped. When Moyer's control is off, he either misses the corners or throws it down the middle. Which Moyer will show up?

Colin: Which Moyer will show up? Maybe the 42 year old Moyer. When our dad was 42 he was quite definitely not trying to be a semi-ace on a major league roster. However, the optimist in me has to believe in this guy. It does not take power to throw the junk that Moyer throws. If he has found his control, he should receive his fair share of wins this season.

Bobby Madritsch - The most impressive call-up not named Bucky Jacobsen last year. Definitely came out of left field, after fairly unimpressive stint in the minors. Has the type of demeanor that spells for consistent success, kind of the anti-Freddy Garcia. Here's where the one stat I have read in the past few months stuck. Madritsch does not give up the long ball. If he keeps that up, Safeco Field and that great defense will help him have a solid season.

Colin: I will enjoy watching this pitcher all season on MLB Extra Innings. He is just fun to watch, an absolute bulldog on the mound who is not going to take any crap from anyone. How can you not root for this guy? I believe, due to my other belief in the injury to Piniero, that Madritsch will be the M's top overall pitcher this season. He does not have overpowering stuff, but he will make up for it with grit and determination.

Gil Meche - In 2003 Gil Meche was the comeback player of the year, demonstrating some of that talent that had us all salivating before all the injuries. In 2004 he decided to have serious control problems and look like Freddy Garcia on the mound, easily rattled. Now he says he's simplified his repertoire... don't know if I can think of an example of that being the difference for sure success. Gil will be dominant if he regains his confidence and throws strikes. Fairly simple.

Colin: Let me flip a coin to tell you how Gil will pitch this season. Heads. I have no idea what that means. I have no idea what to predict here. How many times can a pitcher "figure it out"? How many times can a pitcher be a "comeback player"? Gil: Trust your defense, throw the ball over the plate and hope for the best.

Aaron Sele - The replacement for Ryan Franklin. I'd rather not think about having to watch Sele throw again. Perhaps he'll surprise me. Personally, I see Sele as a placeholder before Felix Hernandez comes up to dominate.

Colin: Just what we needed as a team. Get older in our rotation. Are you kidding me? The only reason I can see for this is that Bavasi wanted to phase out Franklin already to insert Felix later on, and jumped at the opportunity to do it now, since it is a no-brainer to kick Sele out of here once Felix is ready to shine. Still, when that curveball is diving, Sele can be special, and he always seems to get wins in the regular season, even if his ERA is over 5. Now, the postseason? Tis to laugh.

Bullpen: Long Relief - Ryan Franklin, Ron Villone Moving Franklin into the pen was one of Bavasi/Hargrove's better decisions. I still remember when he started out in that role, coming in a few times against Texas and shutting them down, such as in A-Rod's first game back in Seattle. That was a game. Villone, unfortunately, was our best pitcher last year, and was fairly dependable in long relief. I would characterize this as a strength of our team. We should stem the bleeding successfully, allowing our offense to come back in games.

Colin: Franklin will be extremely upset at the demotion, and will start the season with something to prove. We have seen that Franklin seems to be at his best when he has a huge chip on his shoulder. Well? Can Villone repeat '04? Doubtful. I am not as sure as Gavin about the strength of this part of the bullpen. It will be nice, but I don't know how many games they will help us win.

Short Relief - Jeff Nelson, Matt Thornton, JJ Putz, Shiggy Hasegawa, Julio Mateo, with Scott Atchison and George Sherrill perhaps thrown in later... Again, 2003 or 2004? Julio Mateo, solid in 2003, shaky in 2004. If he is back, he is as quality a reliever as we could ask for. Hasegawa, 2003 or 2004? If 2003, he of the under 2.00 ERA will help make us the best bullpen in the league. If 2004, he will be terrible. JJ Putz showed great promise last year. Look for him to perhaps be the cornerstone, outside of all these question marks. Jeff Nelson wasn't that great in 2003 and was awful in 2004. I'm not that excited about him. Matt Thornton is only here because he's out of options. He was awful in Spring Training, and can't throw strikes. He has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher, but I'm not counting on him to put it together.

Colin: Could be blah, could be great. I would say that Mateo is the key, with Hasegawa a close second. If they return to form, our bullpen could be a strength. Nelson is a walker who is about three years past due on retirement. Putz could easily be our most consistent, while Thornton has the possibility of walking more people than Bobby Ayala. Listen, they could be solid, but I am just not sold on any of them. At least the starters had a good spring, you can't say that about the relief core.

Closer - Eddie Guardado In 2003, Everyday Eddie was one of the best closers in the game for the Twins. In 2004, he struggled early, got himself under control, then got hurt. If he's healthy, this position will be a strength for us. He has a tendency to make it interesting, but we're pretty darn used to that.

Colin: Everyday Eddie now sounds like a joke. I think he'll bounce back and be one of our best players this season, and I still like him more than Sasaki.

All in all, pitching staff full of question marks. 2003 or 2004? The season hangs in the balance.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:06 PM  0 comments

AL West preview - Seattle Mariners hitting

Position Players:
Catcher - Miguel Olivo
Olivo becomes the next in a string of heir apparents to Dan Wilson's throne. As Wilson's bat continues to deteriorate, this has become more and more of a necessity. Olivo's defense appears to be improved this spring, but his bat (at least when I was watching) still looks to have several gaping holes, especially with the breaking ball down. He does have some pop, can expect 15-20 home runs, but will have a terrible average unless he learns how to pull up.

Colin: CAN NOT HIT THE SLIDER. Watch. Watch him continually swing and miss. However, he is still a better bat than Danny, who, while still popular (got the biggest cheer at one spring training I was at; that's right, bigger than Ichiro or Sexson) just can't hit the broad side of a barn. He does seem to be earning the respect of the pitching core, so that is a huge plus. Overall, I expect improvement from him, but he will not be an All-Star anytime soon.

1st Base - Richie Sexson
Here's another 2003-2004 question mark. In 2003 Richie was one of the most feared power hitters in the NL. In 2004 he had that season ending injury. Is he fully recovered? His average appeared to be back this spring, but he didn't hit for power at all. I would like to believe in 2003 Richie, which should be good for over 30 home runs and a reliable presence in the lineup. Also look for him to strike out many many times with the bases loaded, ala Mike Cameron. My prediction. Don't want to forget his solid infield defense, either. Little drop off from Olerud.

Colin: This is my most optimistic prediction. I really believe that Sexson will have a killer year offensively. He is sick and tired of people doubting him after his FIRST INJURY, and he has something to prove to the folks back home. Sure, the hometown hero did not work for a certain Jeff Cirillo, but Sexson is GINORMOUS! The funniest thing I saw this spring was him simply standing next to Bret Boone. Sure, he will strike out, but he will be fun to watch even while striking out, which is more than I could say watching the aforementioned Mike Cameron.

2nd Base - Bret Boone
No, Boone is not going to repeat 2001. We have steroid testing now. However, he can repeat 2003 and forget 2004. I believe Boone struggles when he feels that he has to carry a team, but excels in a supporting role. That's what I see in this lineup, pitchers have to fear Beltre and Sexson, just like they feared Edgar and Olerud in 2001. It would be nice to have him avoid 14 errors in the field, though.

Colin: He's done. 80 RBI's, up to 20 HR's, great defense, lousy clutch hitting. Chalk it up.

Shortstop - Pokey Reese
Pokey Reese will be fantastic in the field. That's about all you can say. Bring on Jose Lopez. Can he avoid the injuries? Can he not be a black hole in our lineup? I'm not optimistic.

Colin: Well, he's swell defensively. Cool. Offensively? He's offensive. Automatic out.

Third Base - Adrian Beltre
Still can't figure out why the Dodgers let this guy go... they overpaid for Darren Dreifort, for crying out loud. There are not many good third basemen in the league now, and the signing of Beltre was huge for Seattle. Look for him to continue on his breakout season last year, while also providing Gold Glove caliber defense. I love that his success was in Dodger Stadium, pitcher friendly, so we can count on it more. After Jeff Cirillo and Scott Speizio, this is beyond a breath of fresh air.

Colin: Just one of the best days of my life. We signed Adrian Beltre? What!! Unbelievable. I have heard nothing but good things about him, from his clubhouse presence to his workout regimen to his ability to do everything on both the offensive and defensive ends. My faith in the Mariners was renewed the day that they signed Beltre. I remember talking with Gavin at the end of last season, saying that we NEEDED to sign at least two of the top-tier free agents. Gavin agreed, but was adamant that we would only sign one. He picked Troy Glaus. I picked Carlos Delgado and Troy Glaus. So... at least I was right that we signed two.

Left Field - Randy Winn
Yes, I am one of the Winn-haters who would prefer Raul Ibanez here once Bucky Jacobsen is healthy. It's not that Winn is a bad player, I just think he's mediocre. He gets insanely hot for a few weeks out of the year, pads his stats, and convinces sabremetrics readers that he's a quality major league player. To me, he's an automatic weak ground ball to the second baseman every time up. On the plus side, with the emergence of Jeremy Reed, he will be batting in the seven spot, which is his most comfortable position. He will be much better defensively here than in center, at least. If we get a good deal, we should move him.

Colin: I also am not a Randy Winn fan. Do I have statistics to prove my feelings? No. Do I have a gut and eyes that watch Randy Winn hit? Yes.

Center Field - Jeremy Reed
Reed is an exciting addition to our club. His defense this spring was spectacular. He lacks the speed of Cameron or Griffey, but his instincts and willingness to give up the body make him at least a significant upgrade over Winn. His approach at the plate is impressive as well. I wish he would hit for a little more power, because our outfield is pretty darn weak otherwise. However, he is the best hitter in the 2 hold that we have had for a while, and gives Ichiro some needed protection. Look for him to spray base hits all around Safeco this season.

Colin: Besides Sexson and Beltre, this is the most exciting newcomer to Seattle. I loved watching him play this spring. Lots of energy, excellent mechanics at the plate, hits the ball to all sides of the field, and as Gavin says, he will be incredible in the 2 slot, forcing Hargrove into putting him there instead of Winn. I agree with the guys over at USSMariner that he will not be the second coming of Griffey, but he should have several solid years with maybe an All-Star appearance or two thrown in for good measure.

Right Field - Ichiro
What can I write that hasn't already been written? I was at the game last year when he broke the hits record, electric. Can he hit .400? Not unless he takes a few more walks. Can his defense get any better? No. Can he score a run a game? Absolutely, with this lineup behind him. Look for the best leadoff hitter in the game to become a force. Remember the Indians a few years ago, starting off with Lofton, Vizquel and Roberto Alomar? Pitchers always knew that if one of those guys got on base they would press the issue on the basepaths, and then they also had to concentrate on the sluggers coming up. This is what Ichiro and Reed can do.

Colin: Light shines down from heaven on this guy. Nothing more to say.

DH - Raul Ibanez
Hopefully this is platooned with Jacobsen. I like Ibanez quite a bit, thought he was our best hitter not named Ichiro last year. He is a lefty with power, which bodes well for Safeco. He has learned how to hit, and I look for him to be a solid addition to our lineup. Once Bucky comes back, this becomes yet another power spot in our lineup, especially against left handed pitching.

Colin: Left-handed power. He will provide that, and provide it well. I expect a great year from Ibanez. He wants to win here badly, and will do everything in his power to give a winning season to the fans in Seattle.

Bench - Dan Wilson, Scott Spiezio, Ramon Santiago, Greg Dobbs, Willie Bloomquist Worst bench around. Just awful. Seriously, outside maybe of Dan Wilson, is there someone here that you are interested in seeing in a game? Bring back Bucky, please. I strongly dislike what Bill Bavasi did here. I suppose you could add Abraham Nunez to this... yippee. If a starter goes down with an injury, we look to the minors for help.

Colin: This is just terrible. Wow. I mean.... seriously. Don't we have any major league talent to put on this bench? I can't even write about them, makes me too upset. My tummy hurts.

Hopefully at this time you see where the problem in predicting this team comes from. Even Spiezio had a great 2003 before his awful 2004. What does this mean? Well, I do think it means that simply adding wins to last year's total based on the additions of Sexson and Beltre is too simplistic. If half of these performers turn it around, we have a few more wins. If our defense is that improved, we have a few more wins. Frankly, if you take an unbiased look at this lineup, I think it's better than 2001. Don't think so? Let's take a look...

Catcher: Wilson vs Olivo - wash, with more power potential to Olivo
1st Base: Olerud vs Sexson - a healthy Sexson provides more pop, but Olerud was more consistent, edge goes to Olerud
2nd Base: Boone vs Boone - Boone was nuts in '01, edge to '01 Boone.
Shortstop: Guillen vs Reese - Edge to Guillen
3rd Base: Bell vs Beltre - Large edge to Beltre
Left Field: McLemore vs Winn - Actual edge to Winn here
Center: Cameron vs Reed - Cameron had more power, but Reed is more consistent, like Olerud, edge to Reed
Right Field: Ichiro vs Ichiro - I actually think '05 Ichiro has the potential to be better than '01 Ichiro... more walks, better on the basepaths.
DH: Edgar vs Ibanez/Jacobsen - Edge to Edgar
I count 5-4 in favor of '05 Mariners. The pitching is weaker... but not substantially so, especially if a few of those turnarounds occur. Definitely a better staff than 2003, and most definitely so if Felix Hernandez is called up. So yes, I'm optimistic about this year. I think the M's can compete and will be in the running for the division crown all year.

Colin: Wow, great analysis. However, I have to quibble with you on your prediction that our pitching is not substantially weaker than 2001. It will be. Our bullpen is completely unimpressive unless several people turn it back around. I can be optimistic about our lineup and even stretch to be optimistic about our rotation. But our bullpen has to prove itself to me. Will we be better than '04? Definitely. We have a much improved defensive squad, especially on the infield grass. We have a much improved lineup with power, speed, youth, and energy. We have a healthy rotation that awaits the arrival of King Felix. And, yes, we do have a better bullpen than last season provided that Guardado remains healthy and Mateo and Hasegawa turn it around. What does that mean? I predict around 85 wins, which means that with a little luck, we can stay in the race until September, and then it is anyone's game.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:05 PM  0 comments

Top Ten Gambles in '05

Guess who SI writer John Donovan selected as the #1 gamble of the offseason? Sexson? Nope. Carl Pavano? Nope. Rich Harden? Nope. That would be the honor of Adrian Beltre. Donovan's logic was that he had the biggest year last year, thus had the most pressure on him to repeat his feats. Donovan, one can tell, is very pessimistic about the Mariners AND about Beltre's capacity to repeat. He calls the previous five seasons for Beltre "underachieving", failing to note the injuries that had limited Beltre's growth plus his overall youth. Basically, if you want to read someone paint a worse-case picture of Beltre, read the article. Some other gambles? Sosa at #2 sans the Cubbies becomes another individual on the proverbial hot seat, needing to produce to come out of that cloud of steroids and a corked bat (remember that?). Sexson is at #3, cementing my opinion that Donovan didn't do any real research to write this article. Then is Glaus, Drew, Pedro, Beltran, Ordonez, Delgado (what?), and Derek Lowe. Whatever.

posted by colin_hesse @ 7:12 PM  0 comments

Preseason Power Rankings

CBSSportsline has come out with their preseason power rankings. Surprise, surprise! The Yankees are #1 while the BoSox are #2. The highest rated AL West team is Anaheim (you must mean the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) at #4. Next up is Texas at #10, which is an absolute joke. The Giants are four spots below Texas? Are you kidding me? The M's are listed at #22, while the A's are listed at #23. Interesting. What teams do the M's beat? Those powerhouses known as the Pirates, the Brewers, the Royals, etc. Well, at least CBS is brimming with confidence about the Mariners' chances. Does anyone remember where ESPN and CBS had the M's ranked at the beginning of the '01 season? I would be interested.

posted by colin_hesse @ 7:03 PM  0 comments

Bavasi... does he have a clue?

The M's today picked up Abraham Nunez off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. You read this correctly... we picked up someone the KANSAS CITY FREAKING ROYALS cut. Why did we do this? We have to put Nunez on the roster... does this mean the end for Bloomquist? Frankly, this better start making sense soon, because otherwise this, coupled with Thornton, Sele, and Nelson making the squad (over at least George Sherrill) doesn't exactly inspire confidence in Bavasi making quality decisions. Looks like Nunez can add to our already awe-inspiring bench. Sweet.

In other news, those Diamond Mind predictions are pretty darn interesting.

AL West W L Pct GB RF RA #DIV #WC
Oakland 85 77 .525 - 873 817 31.0 1.0
Los Angeles 84 78 .519 1 803 775 29.0 2.5
Seattle 83 79 .512 2 795 778 25.0 2.0
Texas 80 82 .494 5 852 875 15.0 1.5

This is probably pretty close to where I'd be (although I think Oakland is too high)... more to come with our Seattle preview soon!

posted by Gavin @ 4:34 PM  0 comments

Hawks continue decent offseason

Look, I'm complaining as much as anyone about the Seahawks inability to sign a playmaker on defense. However, we have to be excited about how many of the 16 free agents we have resigned, with Robbie Tobeck and Alex Bannister signing yesterday. Tobeck has widely been recognized as one of our leaders, and if there's anything we need, it's solid veteran leadership. Bannister is a bust as a wide receiver (thanks a bunch for losing the Green Bay game for us) but he was a Pro Bowl caliber special teams player, and our special teams play was anything but while he was injured.
At this point we have only lost two players we cared about, Chike Okeafor and Ken Lucas, and we have replaced both with at least adequate replacements. So even without the big splash, the Hawks offseason has to be looked at as a success.

posted by Gavin @ 4:10 PM  0 comments

Seattle P-I AL West Previews

If you want to read more AL West previes, feel free to jaunt on over to the P-I and read their previews of all AL West teams. However, be warned. They are pretty lame, far beneath what I would expect. Very little analysis, very little player predictions.... I don't know, I guess I just expected more from them. But, by all means, head on over there. Art Thiel and John Hickey have some good stuff, so that's worth it.

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:17 PM  0 comments

Huskies begin push back into mediocrity

A Rose Bowl berth still years away, Tyrone Willingham's reign began today with spring practice, and an awful lot of rules. Is there a statistical win share to having mandatory hair cuts and 6:30 AM meetings? Can we at least say 3-8 from 1-10 on those rules alone? Anyways, the Seattle PI has one preview article as this begins, which focuses on the make-or-break for the team next year... who is going to throw the damn ball? Please Lord, not Casey Paus. Anything but Casey Paus.
I was listening to 950 KJR this afternoon and Hugh Millen made an excellent point. We were 1-10. Ouch. However, we had a .500 running game, and an over .500 defense. We had a below .000 passing attack. It was beyond futile. If no one can beat out Paus for the starter, we can pencil in eight losses. Mark my words. No optimism.

posted by Gavin @ 2:16 PM  0 comments

Seattle Pessimism

The title of this blog is Crushed Optimism. This is because Colin and I are, unfortunately, eternal optimists when it comes to Seattle sports teams. So at the beginning of every season I dislike the doom and gloom portends of officious baseball writers, especially TV critics turned baseball writers, such as evidenced here. We'll write about this when our Seattle preview comes out, but why do we believe our starters are so awful when they were among the best in the league in 2003? Are they that awful or that good? Possibly not... but creating comparisons based only on one year is foolish. John Levesque in his pessimistic article even lists many of the reasons why the M's can make a decent jump this year... then summarily discounts them. I suppose it's better to be surprised than disappointed. I like being optimistic.

posted by Gavin @ 2:12 PM  0 comments

Changing Leagues

One of the truly interesting aspects of MLB to me are the different styles of play between the NL and AL, and how a quality player (Rich Aurilia) can struggle so much in transition. Phil Rogers, one of my favorite writers at ESPN.com, has an excellent article detailing the top ten players who switched leagues this offseason and how he expects them to do. This is obviously important to us for both Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre. Their ability to quickly learn and pick up American League pitching will be huge for our offense to pick up steam and confidence early.

posted by Gavin @ 2:09 PM  0 comments

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

AL West preview: Texas Rangers

OK, time for the "other" team in the AL West, the Texas Rangers.

2004 Record: 89-73

Significant Additions:

Sandy Alomar, C
Pedro Astacio, RHP
Greg Colbrunn, 1B
Richard Hidalgo, OF

Significant Subtractions:

Rusty Greer, OF
Jeff Nelson, RHP
Brian Jordan, OF
Jay Powell, RHP
Eric Young, IF/OF

A team that seemed to be content to stand pat, let their young players get one year older, let their hitters take the next step in what should be a special lineup, and let their pitchers take the next step in what should be a "special" rotation. Seriously, John Hart must see something in that rotation that I do not. But more on that later. Let's get to the analysis.

Possible starting rotation: Ryan Drese, Kenny Rogers, Chan Ho Park, Chris Young, and Pedro Astacio (if healthy)

Possible bullpen: Francisco Cordero (closer), Carlos Almanzar, Doug Brocail, Ron Mahay, Ben Shouse, etc.

Can you say "weak link"? Nothing special about this rotation, which is why I consider it strange how many pundits really like this Texas squad. Ryan Drese is a solid starter IF he continues the growth he exhibited last year. That is not a sure conclusion, as Seattle fans have witnessed in the regress of Gil Meche and Ryan Franklin. Let us say for the moment that he remains a solid starter. Is he a #1 starter in a rotation? Definitely not. That is an even easier question to answer then Joel Piniero. Next up is Kenny Rogers, who visited the magical Fountain of Youth last year (18-9, 4.76) and would be hard-pressed to duplicate those numbers. Expect a record closer to the .500 mark with an ERA over 5. Next up is Chan Ho Park. Need I say more? Injured often, inconsistent when healthy. Chris Young has had a nice spring (3.86 ERA) but is young. Finally, Pedro Astacio is solid when healthy, but also has a nasty habit of getting injured. Just a rotation that should not scare anyone. They will allow a team to have a modicum of confidence entering every game, knowing that the pitcher could easily have an off day, allowing the opposing team to have a field day. The rotation, as always, will not be helped by hitting-friendly Arlington, where balls just fly. As for the bullpen, it will be better than the travesties the Rangers would put out a few years ago. Cordero will be good if he can stop flinging chairs at people. Everyone else? *Shrug*

Gavin: Can't agree with Colin more on this pitching staff. Ryan Drese as your ace? Please. He was mediocre the second half of last season. Kenny Rogers did discover the fountain of youth. Can an old pitcher who relies on location continue? We're hoping Moyer can... and he doesn't pitch half of his games in the bandbox of Arlington. Chan Ho Park is Chan Ho Park. He's not going to become an All-Star after years of being the worst overpaid pitcher in the league. Chris Young is a nice question mark. Pedro Astacio... there's a reason he hasn't stayed with any team. I do think the bullpen might be nice... the Rangers have stockpiled some good relievers out of all their failed starters, and Cordero may be one of the best closers in the game. Still, this is a major weakness of this team, and will never allow for a prolonged winning streak.

Possible starting lineup:

One word: GREAT!!

Rod Barajas, C: A nice defensive player who works well with the pitchers. Hitting wise? Nothing special. However, it seemed as if he was always on against the M's last year. Of course, who wasn't?

Gavin: I like Barajas quite a bit... he's like Dan Wilson, except he can actually hit.

Hank Blalock, 3B: This guy is incredible. Works the count, can hit to all fields with power, left-handed, just special. If Texas makes a run, it will be largely due to Blalock along with...

Gavin: This is the first in a long line of impressive youngsters. Talk about a murderers row, the Twins are the only team who have had a more impressive run in churning out hitting talent. Blalock is special... and kills the M's.

Michael Young, SS: Just a great leader who has worked himself into a wonderful hitter as well. He will do whatever the team needs, whether that is a single, a sac-fly, a stolen base, or a home run. I wish the M's had a team full of Michael Young's.

Gavin: I like Michael Young quite a bit. He's worked himself into an impressive player. If he's able to continue to improve, he may end up getting better stats than Jeter.

Alfonso Soriano, 2B: Should have another 40/40 year, which is special. He loses value with his defense, which allows more baserunners then a 2nd baseman should. Will he learn the value of the walk? Remains to be seen.

Gavin: I am on and off with Soriano. His power and speed are undeniable, and in Arlington those skills will be amplified. However, there are major holes in his swing, his defense is terrible, and his OBP is sub-par. Still, one of the best second basemen in the league.

Mark Teixeira, 1B: Man, this line-up is killer! Here is ANOTHER hitter who should continue to improve and, probably, get 100 RBIs. Also another hitter who was deadly against the M's.

Gavin: Murderer's row, I'm telling you. Could be the best fantasy first baseman in the league. Their infield is insane. Blalock, Young, Soriano, and Teixeira. Is there a better offensive set?

Kevin Mench, LF: Finally a below-average hitter. He is a hustler who can produce, but after moving through the rest of the lineup, the pitcher can rest at least a little.

Gavin: Now we get to the outfield, where they start to throw out some sub-par talent, starting with Mench. They seem to like Mench, who essentially is Bloomquist with a bit more pop and a little less defense. Personally, I could do without.

Laynce Nix, CF: People are going a little sour on this prospect as his hitting and fielding have both declined. If he can turn it around he will add to the young lineup in a big way.

Gavin: Can he come back? I'm not sure.

Richard Hidalgo, RF: The one question mark in this lineup. The Rangers can expect anything from 50 to 100 RBI's from this inconsistent hitter, as any Astros fan can attest.

Gavin: Look for a comeback season from Hidalgo. He is the question mark, like Colin said.

Wow. I know I posted earlier that the Angels lineup was the best in the division, but the Rangers are an extremely close 2nd. Contact and power hitters abound, with excellent role players ready to step up if the stars falter. If they continue their growth and remain healthy, the Rangers should be in contention for a large part of the season. Will they be enough to carry the Rangers into the playoffs? Not with that rotation. I admit, I was extremely surprised that Hicks and Hart did not go after a few veteran pitchers in the off-season. A Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, or even a Kevin Millwood could have caused the stock of this team to really rise. In the end I expect a very similar season to 2004, with the Rangers ending with about 86-88 wins.

Gavin: I disagree with Colin, as I did with the Angels. This is easily the best lineup in the division, filled with young talent that still hasn't hit its peak. Far fewer question marks than the Angels have. However, I see way too much of the 1998 Mariners in them. Power hitters up and down the board... and absolutely no consistent pitching. They got lucky last year, thought Buck Showalter did it all. No, Orel Hershiser got the pitchers to completely overachieve. Can he pull it off again? I don't think so. I pick them for 78-83 wins.

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:56 PM  0 comments

Perhaps I misspoke

Is Danny Fortson a good team player like I posted yesterday? Not according to David Locke, who writes that Fortson might have worn out his welcome in Seattle. He has some interesting examples of actions Fortson has taken, including breaking team rules on numerous occasions. Well, shoot. I guess that Fortson is one of those guys who will do what they want to both on AND off the court. My question: Is this a bad thing? Sure, for us Seattle fans, stuff like this causes us to gasp into our cappucinos. We are not used to ballplayers who get in trouble and have aggressive personalities. We like 'em laid back, children-friendly, and huggable. However, these are the type of players who play extremely hard during the ballgames and really disrupt the opposition. Are we willing to put up with at least a few cases like this? If not, should we be?

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:48 PM  0 comments

High School Phenoms?

I blame the McDonald High School game as one of the major culprits for destroying pro basketball. You hype up these kids for a weekend, they feel on top of the world, declare for the draft, and sit on the bench for years. This year feels even worse, since there are no can't miss NBA prospects. Martell Webster, who we all hope to see in a UW uniform next year, is one of a few players most mentioned, but who still has quite a bit of grooming necessary to succeed at the top level. This is just another reason I'd like to see an age limit instituted in the NBA. I'm willing to give up two years of Kevin Garnett or Amare Stoudamire in the NBA in order to miss two years of Robert Swift sitting on the bench.

So watch the McDonald's game... a few of those players will be 12th men for the next three years on a pro team. Congratulations.

posted by Gavin @ 2:36 PM  0 comments

Morrison makes right choice

Well, at least one underclassman has good advisors. Adam Morrison has decided to return for his junior season at Gonzaga. One more year like he had last year should make him a lottery pick. One more year to work on his defense, to improve his lateral quickness, and to solidify his three-point shot. This automatically makes Gonzaga the WCC favorite again... and gives them another chance to crap out in the NCAA tourney.

posted by Gavin @ 2:31 PM  0 comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More reasons why Roy stays at UW

Hopping on the post Colin wrote yesterday, a few players have now declared for the draft. They include Charlie Villanueva of UConn, Ike Diogu from Arizona St, and Andrew Bogut of Utah. These are three of the type of players who easily beat Roy and Robinson in the first round. Frankly, I just don't feel that there are enough slots in a senior-heavy college game for Roy or Robinson to have a guaranteed spot in the first round. Think of the others... Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, Aaron Miles from Kansas. Francisco Garcia from Louisville. Luther Head from Illinois. Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye from Arizona. Sean May and Rashad McCants from UNC. This is off the top of my head... twelve players better than Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson. That doesn't count other players that could declare early like Sheldon Williams, Eric Williams, JJ Redick, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Marvin Williams, high school prospects, European prospects... there just aren't enough spots to fit in a talented swingman with knee problems and a five foot nothing guard who has never proven himself as a point guard. Hopefully they can do the math too.

posted by Gavin @ 7:59 PM  0 comments

Haven't we heard this before?

Look, I'm all about "character". We've all seen what happens when you stick a bunch of idiots together on a team. You call them the Portland Trail Blazers. At some point, though, just getting "character" guys is an excuse for mediocrity. For exhibit A, I demonstrate the Seattle Mariners. Enough said. For exhibit B, I throw out the Seattle Sonics the last two years.

Tim Ruskell wants the Hawks to be a team of character. Great. As long as you can balance that with winning. So far this offseason, I'm yet to be convinced.

Colin: The Seattle Mariners talked about building a team full of "good guys" for years. In return we got a bunch of 40 year olds that couldn't get past the Yankees. The Seattle Sonics traded for Ray Allen (and got rid of Desmond Mason?) in their quest of building the "good guy" team.

Isn't there a happy medium? Yes. I give you Danny Fortson. Is Danny a good guy on the court? Heck no. I give you Reggie Evans. Does Reggie make friends the way he plays defense? No. However, are they both excellent team players? Of course.

I agree with Gavin. Character has a place. The New England Patriots are a great example of that. However, the Pats also have that hard edge to them with Rodney Harrison, Corey Dillon, and Teddy Bruschi (who we pray will return to full health). Don't just feed me crap about getting nice guys. I'm a nice guy, but I'm also skinny and weak. Get us players, playmakers who are serious about the game and serious about winning.

posted by Gavin @ 7:51 PM  0 comments

Seattle 102, Memphis 99

This was a heck of a game. I tell you what, though, I knew the Sonics were going to win this game at the end of the first half. At that point, the Sonics were within six. This, while shooting 30 percent as opposed to 66 percent (or so) for the Grizzlies. Nine times out of ten, those teams come back. Luke Ridnour did an amazing job of running the pick-and-roll with a combination of James, Evans, and Collison. Memphis was so concerned with Ray Allen, double teaming him every time he touched the ball, that the pick-and-roll was easy.

Again, this was an impressive win without Rashard Lewis. Without Radmanovic. Without Fortson. To go in to Memphis, one of the hottest teams in the league and win. It's insane...

Who the heck decided to make Jerome James a good player recently? This is yet another game where he's stepped up. If he continues, we won't have to break the bank in free agency for someone else. 22 points... wow.

Damien Wilkins has been an awesome addition. For the second time in a week, he saves a game with an amazing defensive play. He gives up five inches to Shane Battier, yet he blocks the attempted pass down low to Pau Gasol into Battier and out of bounds... one of the best defensive stops I've seen all year. This is a guy that I think we should definitely keep... I like him more and more each time. Personally, I believe that he's an improvement on Radmanovic. More defensive intensity, and can still hit the three.

So, it's playoff time, baby! Look for a bunch of pundits to pick us to lose in the first round.

posted by Gavin @ 7:38 PM  0 comments

Monday, March 28, 2005

The NBA potential of Robinson and Roy

I have always enjoyed the Go-2-Guy for some strange reason, even though he is a Coug. Today his article actually involved research and analysis, a first! He talked to several Sonic personnel about the NBA readiness of Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy, two Huskies that will consider leaving early for the NBA. Here are my two cents on this issue.

Robinson: Face it. He is small. In the college game, this is not as big of a deal. Viable big men usually jump from high school to the pros. Guards run the show, and Nate was able to use his quickness to take over ballgames. Moore raises a good point, though. In the NBA, Nate would need to become a point guard. His size would require it. And.... I just do not see him becoming a good point guard. He is a shooter, an energy guy, not a passer, and certainly not a great defender. Best chance? Next Muggsy Bogues or Earl Boykins. A good player, nice for a spark every now and then, but not a 1st round pick.

Roy: Most potential out of any of the Huskies, except maybe my favorite, Will Conroy. The man can shoot, pass, dribble, guard, play four positions on the court, everything. The NBA loves versatility, and Roy possesses that quality in spades. Should he go now? I would say no. A few reasons. 1. His knee still worries people, even though I believe he will be fine. 2. If Robinson leaves and Roy comes back, he will be the unquestioned leader of the team. He will be the go-to-man in the final minutes. He will be the center of attention. If the Huskies continue their resurgance, and with that class coming in there is no reason to believe they will not, Roy could bandy that leadership into a solid 1st round pick. 3. Become part of Husky lore. Brandon Roy could be one of THOSE names in reference to a program, the way Christian Laettner is to Duke and Danny Manning is to Kansas. One of those names that sticks with fans for decades. He stays, the Huskies become a viable Final Four caliber team. If they get there.... I can only speak for myself, but I will remember him.

Predictions: Robinson is gone. It was a stretch for him to come back this year. He has the hype, he has the Sweet 16, he has the Pac-10 tourney. The media love him, even though it looks like they just see his SportsCenter highlights and not his actual game.

Roy? I believe he will stay. I believe he wants to be the Man, and show the NBA scouts all that he has to offer. Will he? We'll find out in the next few months.

posted by colin_hesse @ 3:17 PM  0 comments

Friday, March 25, 2005

AL West Preview - Oakland Athletics

Well, time for us to continue our preview of AL West teams with Oakland.

2004 Record: 91-71

Significant Additions:
Dan Haren, RHP
Jason Kendall, C
Dan Meyer, LHP
Keiichi Yabu, RHP

Significant Subtractions: (plenty of these)
Jermaine Dye, OF
Mark Mulder, LHP
Tim Hudson, RHP
Mark McLemore, everything
Damien Miller, C
Arthur Rhodes, LHP
Mark Redman, LHP
Chris Hammond, LHP

Wow. One thing you can not say about Billy Beane is that he sits on his hands during the offseason. It is fairly obvious that Beane saw the team going downhill with the Big Three, knew that he was going to lose at least one of them to free agency, and took what our president would call a "pre-emptive strike". As an M's fan, the best days of the postseason (behind the signings of Sexson and Beltre) was when Hudson and Mulder were traded. With those two pitchers, you knew that even though the A's offense was nothing special, the team would be able to win most every night. Let's take a more detailed look at the current pitching roster.

Possible starting rotation: Barry Zito, Rich Harden, Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, and Dan Meyer.

Possible bullpen: Octavio Dotel (closer), Ricardo Rincon, Huston Street, Justin Duscherer, etc.

This is a completely different look for the A's and absolutely chock full of question marks.

Gavin: Barry Zito is an enigma. After winning the AL Cy Young award, he has been maddeningly inconsistent. It's to the point that you simply do not fear him as much when he's the opposing pitcher. His curve has either not fooled or the control as been off. If he is back to Cy Young form, this is a great staff...

Rich Harden may be the ace this year. I have been pretty impressed with him each time I've seen him. He has everything, including a hard fastball that appears effortless.

The rest of the rotation is young potential after young potential. Each of these pitchers has proven minor league success but no real major league experience. Look for them to experience growing pains. It is obvious that Billy Beane restocked for next season... anything he gets this year is a bonus.

As for the bullpen, Octavio Dotel is a solid closer. The rest of the bullpen is also filled with young talent. Look for Kiki Calero, acquired in the Mark Mulder deal, to be a consistent contributor.

Colin: I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this staff. Even Zito came to camp with a huge question mark. Can he be a stopper without the help of his two mates? Is he a true ace? Is Harden an ace-in-waiting? How much of this potential will translate to wins? It just seems that Beane is fine with taking a small step back in looking towards the future. This staff could be dynamite. It could be terrible. My guess? It will be good.... not great, but good. About as good as I hope the M's staff could be. That would be fine for most teams, but the A's offense... well, we'll get there soon.

I agree with Gavin that Dotel is a solid closer, and the bullpen is filled with that great word, potential, as well. The youth of the bullpen should cost the A's some leads. How many remains to be seen.

Possible Starting Lineup:

Jason Kendall, C: (Gavin) Kendall is a player that the Pirates didn't want... the Pirates. This is the big offensive acquisition? Yes, he has a good OBP, and he hustles, makes good contact. Kendall is also injury prone and unable to carry the offense.

(Colin) I think this is a major point. He was the best player on a terrible team that did absolutely nothing while he was there. The pitching staff didn't improve under his watch, the offense never centered around him, and he usually had at least one stint on the DL per season. Personally, I feel that Miller might be a better overall catcher.

Eric Chavez, 3B: (Gavin) Best player on this team. Chavez is great both in the field and at the plate. Outside of Alex Rodriguez, the best third baseman in the AL (sorry Adrian Beltre). Chavez has also struggled with injuries and Oakland desperately needs an MVP season out of him for this offense to compete.

(Colin) Another Mariner killer. Don't tell him that Safeco Field isn't a home-run park, he hits at least one every time the A's come to town. I love this guy. He will be money.

Bobby Crosby, SS: (Gavin) The 2004 AL Rookie of the Year displayed impressive potential also in the field and at the plate. If he can build on that success, he can be a good producer for this squad.

(Colin) They don't need him to just build on that success, they need him to uber-build on that success. They need a hundred RBI's from him to help what usually was a struggling offense.

Keith Ginter, 2B: (Gavin) Keith Ginter is the second baseman. Enough said.

(Colin) Let's trade them Willie Bloomquist. That'll show them.

Scott Hatteberg, 1B: (Gavin) For some odd reason, Beane keeps trotting Hatteberg out there at first base, even though it is apparent that he is one of the worst everyday first basemen in the league... not as bad as Erstad, but close. Yes, he'll work the pitcher some, but he lacks the power and consistency to compete with other first basemen in the league.

(Colin) Gavin states this well. Why would you want a 1st basemen with absolutely no power whatsoever? There must be someone in their minor leagues that could be a better fit.

Erubiel Durazo, DH: (Gavin) Most frustrating member of this offense for Beane, I'd assume. When he came over from Arizona, most (including me) figured he would become a major contributor. Instead, he has been wildly inconsistent, and Oakland needs him to give them the power boost necessary for this lineup to not just become a bunch of singles hitters.

(Colin) Of course, another character that performed well against the M's last year. Of course, that happened with just about everyone. I expect that, after Chavez, Durazo will work out to be the #2 power source of the lineup.

Eric Byrnes, OF: (Gavin) The beginning of an unimpressive outfield... in fact, I would call it the worst outfield in the AL West by far. Byrnes is a hustle player and a fan favorite. Plays decent defense, and is a gap player with some pop. Essentially each of these outfields are carbon copies of one another. Consistent mediocrity. It would be like Seattle having an outfield consisting of three Randy Winns.

Mark Kotsay, OF: (Gavin) See above.

Bobby Kielty, OF: (Gavin) See above. Not a consistent power threat among them, not a consistent base stealer among them. Not a consistent defensive threat among them.

(Colin) I'm with Gavin on this outfield. Randy Winn times three, though Kielty has the potential of more pop in his bat. This is the least impressive part of a less than impressive lineup. Best case scenario? Byrnes is an energy spark both offensively and defensively. Mark Kotsay has a high OBP and takes high quality AB's. Bobby Kielty finds a power stroke, becoming a viable, regular, home-run threat.

Gavin: Overall this offense is mediocre. Really mediocre. Long way from the "two walks, then three-run homer" offense of Miguel Tejada and Jason Giambi. They will put a lot of pressure on that young pitching staff.

Colin: This is a very tough team to call. They have the potential (there's that word again) to be a team that hustles, pitches well, and grinds out wins. They also have the potential to really struggle. A LOT with depend on the growth of Harden and the consistency of Zito. If they form a solid top of the rotation, the A's will be able to avoid long losing streaks and stay in the race for most of the season. If not.... they will, finally, have an off year.

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:35 PM  0 comments

M's vs Kansas City

Well, the editorial board of crushed optimists was able to attend another spring training game, this time against the Kansas City Royals. Again, some thoughts:

- The ol' offense needs to get it in gear. Ichiro and Reed have been the only consistent hitters I have seen in my three games.

- Scott Spezio is not over his slump. Not only did he have a crucial error, he killed several rallies with his bat. This problem was magnified by Hargrove batting him third. Third?

- I still have some hope for Baek. He is a battler, working his way through some hard innings before finally succumbing in the three-run 4th (helped by 2 Seattle errors).

- Reed will be an excellent hitter in the 2 hole. Best thing I have seen in spring training this year.

That was the last game for me this spring. Now it is time to get MLB Season Ticket and watch the regular season!

posted by colin_hesse @ 5:23 PM  0 comments

Thursday, March 24, 2005

UW vs Louisville

Thought I would do a running log of this game, just for the heck of it.

1st Half:
15:51 - Louisville 8, UW 7. Good news: Bobby Jones is becoming a factor, which, as I blogged earlier, is crucial. We're moving the ball around against the zone, and Myles has early foul trouble. Bad news: Taquan Dean is starting out hot. We have to get out on him. By the way, Bobby Jones just got plastered. Someone has to call that screen out for him. Final word: Both teams are still feeling the other out. Very tentative play. That will change.

11:55 - Louisville 12, UW 13. I got a bad feeling about the officiating so far. Joel Smith was obviously hacked on the way to an easy lay-in. Nate Robinson received two ticky-tack fouls. Francisco Garcia was granted a reprieve on his second. This might change, but, wow, I am amazed that the Huskies are ahead right now, even by just 1.

7:40 - Louisville 18, UW 25. Still not real happy with the officiating. That 3rd foul on Nate was a crime against humanity. Garcia pulled him down! Unbelievable. However, Brandon Roy has come to play. Looks like he wants to impress some NBA scouts with his play in this tournament, so Husky fans get to trade having him for another season against having him play like a friek in the tourney. Louisville is playing tentative, losing their grip on the ball several times. Garcia is settling for long threes. We are extending our defense well, taking away their 3-point game. So... excellent except for the fouls.

3:50 - Louisville 29, UW 30. Well, it's raining three's for Louisville. Dean, Polancio, Garcia.... you just can not leave any of them open. Now the Huskies look tired, dragging about, missing a couple of easy shots. These next four minutes will be extremely important. The Huskies need to take back the intensity they showed earlier and rock the Cardinals now.

Halftime - Louisville 47, UW 35. Well, the Cardinals rocked the Huskies. Nothing more to say. I'm stunned. They couldn't miss, we couldn't do anything.... Wow. Well, here's hoping the second half is better than the first. We have the firepower. Let's see it in action. The Huskies need to:

1. Get back out on their shooters

2. Get on the glass. Louisville was getting to all the boards at the end.

3. Shoot some 3's. We only have 2. That won't cut it.

4. Pick the energy back up. They're playing like Gonzaga.

Well, here goes....

Second half:

15:40 - Louisville up by 14. Just for superstition sake, I am going to stop blogging for a little while. Trying to shake up things. Anything, you know?

Heck, I'll blog more when the game is over.

posted by colin_hesse @ 4:19 PM  0 comments

East Coast Previews

Well, in looking through the ol' ESPN.com today, I see that Dick Vitale, Joe Lunardi, and Andy Katz (the experts) all are picking Louisville to beat Washington. One guy, Fran Fraschilla, bless his heart, is going with the Dawgs. Please, Washington, please make all these ACC lovin' fools look bad again.

posted by Gavin @ 9:25 AM  0 comments

Seven Hours to go....

Need your UW fix? Here are some links:

Art Thiel
Seattle PI
Seattle Times
Brandon Roy
ESPN Preview
Dick Vitale: one guess if he picks the Huskies to win....
Gregg Doyel

That should be enough for now...

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:22 AM  0 comments

M's Roster Moves

Well, after watching Campillo pitch well last night, I learned that he has been sent down to AAA. A poster at USSMariner also stated that Aaron Sele had been sent down, leaving the battle for the fifth starter to Franklin and Hernandez. I was not able to confirm the Aaron Sele move. If true, and from what I saw yesterday.... let it be Franklin. I know, I know, I saw Hernandez absolutely own the Angels for two innings. He is special, and that is why I don't want ANYTHING bad to happen to him. Bring him up midseason. We might be out of the race by then, so it'll give me a good reason to spend the $150 on MLB Season Ticket.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:19 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Spring Training Update - M's 4, Angels 3

Colin and I hit up Spring Training tonight. A few observations...

1. Felix Hernandez rocks. The entire game was worth him striking out Vladimir Guerrero on three pitches. I couldn't believe it, I was expecting him to overthrow and give up a bomb. He did start overthrowing in his second inning of work and was bailed out by a couple great defensive plays by Ichiro and Jeremy Reed.

2. Jeremy Reed will have a significant effect on our offense. The first inning was prototype of what our lineup should be capable of. Ichiro led off with a single, then Reed tripled, and Beltre singled again. Three batters, two runs. He also did make the aforementioned great play in the outfield on a ball hit by Garrett Anderson.

3. Jorge Campillo is a starter, not a reliever. He looked solid tonight, although I'd be concerned about the strikeout rate. However, many of the balls in play were not hit hard. His curveball is fantastic. We were sitting on the outfield grass and you could still easily see the break. I think I do like him better than Ryan Franklin.

4. Pokey Reese can't handle the bat. This is not news, him walking twice tonight was news. He missed around four to five pitches that he should have handled. He will be a black hole in our lineup... should it be Jose Lopez?

5. That infield defense is all that it's been billed. Beltre made a couple great plays with the glove tonight, Reese gobbled up everything near him, and Greg Dobbs (in place of Sexson) made a couple nice spears.

6. Speaking of Dobbs, he might actually be the scarier pinch-hitting presence of the bench that we need in lieu of Bucky Jacobson. He looked good at the plate tonight.

7. Miguel Olivo has not learned how to hold up on the low breaking pitch. If he hasn't figured this out, we are in for many a strikeout this year. Not impressive.

All around, a fairly interesting game, and being able to see King Felix made any ticket price worthwhile. Look forward to another game on Friday!

posted by Gavin @ 10:17 PM  0 comments

SPU Women on to Final Four!

The Seattle Pacific women's basketball team advanced to the Division II Final Four tonight, beating Grand Valley State 67-55. They will play tomorrow during the Huskies game against Merrimack... yes, I have no idea where these schools are... it's Division II. Good job ladies, and good luck tomorrow!

posted by Gavin @ 10:14 PM  0 comments

NCAA Tourney - Sweet Sixteen Time!

Time to move on to the Sweet Sixteen. The wheat has been separated from the chaff (except for Wisconsin, but just let NC State handle them). Time for some fun...

4:10 PM PST - (1) Washington vs (4) Louisville
One of the two best games of this round. Look at Colin's preview for more in depth analysis. Suffice it to say that whichever team is more able to break the other's defensive intensity wins this game.

4:25 PM PST - (1) Illinois vs (12) Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Here's where a good story (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) comes to an end. Look for this game to be close for a half before Illinois puts it away.

6:40 PM PST - (6) Texas Tech vs (7) West Virginia

Not real excited about this game either. Texas Tech and Ronald Ross really took it to Gonzaga, and have played two excellent games in a row. West Virginia and Kevin Pitsnogle just took out Wake Forest. I don't know how this game will go, but I'm guessing it will look ugly.

6:55 PM PST - (2) Oklahoma St vs (3) Arizona

Best game of the second round outside the UW-Louisville matchup. Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye's high scoring attack versus the pressure defense of Oklahoma St. Arizona has the guard edge, with Mustafa Shakur and Stoudamire having the quickness and shot selection over John Lucas and JamesOn Curry. Hassan Adams will be an x-factor, with his driving ability and athleticism potentially opening up shots for Stoudamire. Big battle will be down low, where Frye and Ivan Radenovic do battle with Joey Graham and Ivan McFarlin. Oklahoma St just killed Southern Illinois down low in winning their last game. Arizona should be able to bang, but Radenovic especially has to be willing to accept some contact. I give Arizona the edge in this one, unless Oklahoma St creates a defensive battle.

posted by Gavin @ 2:49 PM  0 comments

Lovefest of Arizona/UW fans

Ray Ratto had an interesting article on how UW fans cheered UA on in Boise against UAB. As a Husky fan who lives in Arizona, you can bet I was cheering for UA. Why?

1. My grandparents live near Tucson. My grandpa is a low-key individual... except when his Cats are playing.

2. The normal love found between Cats and Dawgs.

3. To show the other conferences how the Pac-10 plays ball.

4. I just love watching Salim Stoudamire play... not against the Huskies. He has such a pure shot.

5. I think Arizona had, and still has, a great chance against Oklahoma State and Illinois.

6. I picked Arizona to go to the Final Four in my bracket.

7. Which older coach would you rather cheer for: Lute Olsen or Bobby Knight?

8. Once agin, to show the other conferences how the Pac-10 plays ball.

Cheer with me for Arizona this coming weekend. Go Cats! (until you play the Dawgs. Then the gloves come off)

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:26 PM  0 comments

Scouting Report: Louisville

Alright, almost time for the Sweet Sixteen! I figured it was time for the scouting report on the Huskies' next opponent.

Louisville Cardinal

Conference: C-USA. What have we seen from this conference so far? UAB rocked LSU (called by both Gavin and myself) and then was rocked by Arizona. Cincinatti had their regular performance, out in the first weekend. Charlotte was blown out by NC State. Not very impressive.

Record: 31-4. Not a very impressive schedule. They beat Stanford by 15, Florida by 4 (early in the season, before Florida became good), and then beat Cincinnati, UAB, etc. They lost to Iowa and Kentucky (by two). This is why, in my opinion, they deserved that #4 seed. I actually watched the game against Memphis AT LOUISVILLE that they lost by 17. They lost to Memphis by 17.

Coach: Rick Pitino. Great in the college game, horrible in the NBA. Did anyone watch him coach the Celtics? He looked lost the entire time. Romar was 3-1 against Pitino when he was the coach of St. Louis, so Romar knows something about how Pitino plays.

Star Player(s): Wow. Francisco Garcia, Taquan Dean, and Larry O'Bannon. They have at least these three players, all of whom could, if hot, beat UW all by themselves. They can slash to the hole or step back and hit the three. In a way...

Style of play: They are the Huskies. Same pressing, in your face defense. Same style of sharing the ball, a different person stepping up to the plate every game. Same intensity. Same weakness of being undersized, yet compensating for that with banging the boards. Same ability to find the hot hand. Again, they are the Huskies.

This will be a fun, exciting, up and down game. Louisville can easily go cold, which is what Husky fans should hope for. I watched this team several times during the regular season, and they never looked overly impressive. Plus they got their all-star game out of the way with their win over Georgia Tech. Quite simply, they cannot play any better than they did that game. That was perfect. Can they duplicate that performance? I doubt it. Now, what of the Huskies? Again, Jamaal Williams, Hakeem Rollins, and Bobby Jones need to be huge. Bobby Jones will need to stay away from cheap fouls and be used to guard whoever is the hot hand, be it Dean, Garcia, or O'Bannon. Conroy will take another of the three, using more energy on the defensive end, letting others score on the offensive end. Nate will need to slash ALOT, and Roy... just be your normal consistent self. Finally, we will need to limit turnovers from Louisville's full-court pressure, also limiting transition buckets. Fearless prediction: Louisville will be up by double-digits at some point in the first half. However, I just can't pick against the Huskies. The best team in the Pac-10 will be better than the best team in C-USA. Dawgs: 85-81.

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:02 PM  0 comments

Pokey Reese to Washington?

The newest hot rumor around is us trading Pokey Reese to the Washington Nationals. Jose Lopez has been impressive this spring, and has shown glimpses of actual defensive potential. This is a good move IF (and if would be a big if) we feel that Jose Lopez is completely ready. Otherwise we will have a black hole at short, just like last year, and play people like Ramon Santiago (having a good spring... just the type of player to have a good spring, fool the manager, and then take up a bench spot for the rest of the season while providing outs each at-bat). So I am cautious... don't make the trade just because Lopez would start.

In other M's news, the editorial staff of Crushed Optimists will be watching Felix Hernandez pitch against the Angels tonight in Peoria. First hand accounts will be forthcoming.

posted by Gavin @ 10:35 AM  0 comments

Hawks Talk

The Seahawks made a great move today, signing Mike Reinfeldt to a contract as Vice President of Football Administration. Reinfeldt saved our offseason and more than deserved a chance to be a part of the team. We should all make him some pie.

Also, the Hawks are still in talks with the Redskins regarding wide received Rod Gardner, essentially for a third-round draft pick. We have two third-round draft picks. Rod Gardner is a talented wide receiver. He can catch the ball. WHY HAVE WE NOT PULLED THE TRIGGER ON THIS?? Yes, Gardner apparently does not want to sign a long term deal. Who cares? Make this trade.

posted by Gavin @ 10:32 AM  0 comments

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Go SPU Women in Elite Eight!

Again, proud Seattle Pacific alum here... the Falcon women prepare tomorrow to face Grand Valley State in Division II Elite Eight. While I'm not a huge fan of women's basketball, I do cheer for my alma mater, and since the women were smashed in the Elite Eight last year while ranked number one, I am hoping they perform better this time around. So if the Huskies lose, there still might be one tourney champion in Seattle.

posted by Gavin @ 11:06 PM  0 comments

Ken Bone - give the man a head coaching job

As a proud Seattle Pacific University Alumni, I have to give some props to Lorenzo Romar assistant Ken Bone. Blaine Newnham in the Seattle Times does an admirable job of detailing the great work Bone has done for the Huskies this year. While Bone always cracked me up with his sideline antics (he always looked pretty pathetic while pleading with the officials) he took SPU to the Division II Final Four my freshman year and almost beat UW in overtime the next year. Now that Lorenzo Romar is getting all this attention, it's time to see if Bone and his "structured freedom" offense get a shot at a solid Division I school.

posted by Gavin @ 11:01 PM  0 comments

Zags: Defense!!

Bud Withers has an interesting article out today in the Times about the lack of defensive intensity the Zags elicited during the game against Texas Tech. Withers quotes an ex-coach as saying the Zags just need to get more athletic in the backcourt.

I guess. I'm just not convinced, from what I saw, that defense lost them that game. I saw a lack of heart and overall intensity from everyone not named Adam Morrison. Did that impact the defense? Most assuredly. Did the lack of defense CAUSE the lack of heart? I don't think so. There just seemed to be something a little off during that game. If anyone has a better idea than I do (and that is not too hard to do) please shoot me a comment.

My solution? Get away from playing that zone for large stretches of the game. A zone breeds standing still, sapping away energy. Get some full-court pressure. Make sure your defensive intensity is breeding offensive intensity.

As I write this, maybe, in the end, I am agreeing with Withers. I am still a confused man from last Saturday. A hurt, confused man. I need about 97 more hugs from the Huskies come Thursday.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:45 PM  0 comments

Seahawk News

Buried in the back of this Seattle PI Notebook on the Hawks is mention of Marcellus Wiley and Jerome Pathon visiting Seattle. Former Husky Pathon would be a great pickup for Seattle, good hands in a supporting role, someone who can catch the ball. Wiley also has been on several solid defensive units and at the least could provide valuable depth. The article focuses on released defensive end Courtney Brown's planned visit... to this I say... no. Do we really need another underacheiving first round defensive end? Didn't we have enough fun with Lamar King?

posted by Gavin @ 10:42 PM  0 comments

Sonics 92, Bucks 84

Didn't watch this game, but you still have to be impressed with the Sonics' depth. This, in fact, might have been one of the best things possible for them. They were definitely on cruise control for the past couple of weeks. The challenge of playing through so many injuries might have lit a fire under some of the individuals most responsible for the spotty play. Tonight they beat the Bucks with Ray Allen out, not to mention the rest of the crew on the DL. Rashard Lewis (29 points) led the way, with Luke Ridnour (21 points) adding a career-high.
Hopefully the minutes Ronald Murray plays in the next few weeks gives him the time and confidence to be a big producer come playoff time, because you can never have too many scorers.

posted by Gavin @ 10:38 PM  0 comments

AL West Preview - LA Angels of Anaheim

Colin and I are going to start our MLB preview with a team-by-team look at the AL West. To start everything off, last year's first place squad, the newly named Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, my pick for "annoying interview question of the year" for manager Mike Scoscia.

2004 Record: 92-70

The Angels enter the season with high hopes. They are the only squad I see as having a legitimate preseason hope of knocking off either the Red Sox or Yankees.

Pitching - The Angels, just as with everyone in the division, have large question marks in the rotation. Staff Ace Bartolo Colon had a dreadful first half of 2004 before coming on strong towards the end of the season. He always looks as if he's about to collapse on stage, and should definitely lay off of the Krispy Kremes. Next up is Kelvim Escobar, one of the more overpaid pitchers in the majors. Anaheim felt before signing him that his home/away stats while a member of Toronto translated into ace potential. This was not a good move. Escobar is a decent starter, but not anything to get excited about. Jarrod Washburn is an enigma. He has great stuff, good location, and a fastball that tails away from hitters. He really gives the Mariners problems. However, he battles with consistency and his record last year was based primarily on amazing run support (Ryan Franklin was probably a bit jealous). Paul Byrd was a free agent signing from the Atlanta Braves. The M's wanted Byrd then, if we recall. Byrd is a slightly better version of Aaron Sele, a right-hander who relies on location. I wouldn't be excited about him as an Angel's fan. Finally, we have John Lackey, the hero of the World Series run, who has never been able, ala Jaret Wright, to live up to that potential. Will this be the year that he finally harnesses his potential? The Bullpen, however, is a major strength. Yes, Troy Percival is gone. However, F-Rod (Francisco Rodriguez) should be more than up to the task. Add Esteban Yan and Brandon Donnelly to the mix and you have a rock solid bullpen. They may miss Ben Weber, however.

Colin: I don't think you can consign the loss of Ben Weber to just one sentence. Is their bullpen solid? Yes. F-Rod is awesome. Brandon Donnelly and Scot Shields are servicable. Esteban Yan is.... Esteban Yan. To me, Weber and Percival made that relieving corp fall together to perfection. The 6-9 innings were theirs. As the M's learned PLENTY last year, and even more in previous years (Slocumb, Ayala, etc.) a weak link in any bullpen can cost a team wins. The loss of Weber created a kink in the armor. Just a kink, mind you, and that is still the best bullpen in our division. But it is just a tad weaker, and not as deep, creating potential problems when the inevitable injuries roll in throughout the season.

As for the rotation.... I actually believe (gasp) Kelvim Escobar is the best pitcher on that staff. He is certainly the most consistant, just needing better run support. Colon is who he is, an "ace" who, when on, is just outstanding. Unfortunately for the M's, this is the Colon they normally see. We shall call him Good-Colon. When Good-Colon is on the mound, hitters beware! He is a stopper, an innings-eater who will cow a club with his heat and his presence on the mound. Unfortunately for the Angels, there exists Evil-Colon, a fat slob who looks bored on the mound and throws like it. Evil-Colon could effectively add 5-8 losses to the Angels total, a large number that could significantly impact wildcard and division races. As for the rest of the rotation.... blah blah Paul Byrd (Kelsey Grammar) blah blah John Lackey (home runs, anyone?) blah blah Jarrod Washburn (I almost was an ace) blah blah. Scary? Certainly not.

Bottom line: This pitching staff will depend on Colon and Escobar to set the tone for the first 5-6 innings, but, more importantly, the bullpen will be the key to their season. A strong, healthy bullpen bodes well for the Angels. An inconsistent, spotty bullpen spells danger.

Gavin: Well, Colin is obviously smoking the wacky tobaccy with that Kelvim Escobar as ace spot... anyways, on to hitting...

Catcher: Benji Molina - Solid every day catcher. Underrated bat, great with the glove. Seems to continuously kill the Mariners. I would love to have him on our team.

1st Base: Darin Erstad - Worst everyday first baseman in the AL (minus us last year with Scott Spiezio). This should be a power locale, instead of a mediocre "hustle" player. Erstad at best should be a corner outfielder. This is a major disadvantage.

2nd Base: Adam Kennedy - Solid with the glove, okay with the bat. Decent power, good average. Could easily be upgraded.

Colin: Actually, Chone Figgins will be the everyday second baseman, last I heard. Could turn into a good leadoff hitter, but really was terrible against the BoSox last October.

Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera - Seemed to come up with clutch hit after clutch hit for Boston in the postseason. Now he's finally cashed in with a decent major league contract. I'd love to trash on him, but how many shortstops are better in the AL? Not many.

Colin: Cabrera scares me. As Gavin said, he's clutch. He is just one of those guys that, as an M's fan, you do NOT want up with a man in scoring position. You just know he will do something good. Will the Angels miss Eckstein? Yes, but not for his fielding. His hitting was overrated, really falling off after the World Series run. Cabrera was one of the best signings of the offseason across the board.

3rd Base: Dallas McPherson - Here is the biggest question mark for this ballclub. Anyone who watched this team consistently knew that outside of Guerrero, this team needed Troy Glaus. They will miss his big bat. McPherson is talented and highly touted. Can he come through, both with the bat and the glove?

Left Field: Garret Anderson - Gets older and slower every year. We in Mariner Land know what that means... one year his production is just going to fall off the charts. This may be that year. If not, solid solid bat.

Colin: One thing I do know about Garret. He will kill the M's. He might absolutely suck the rest of the season. He will kill the M's.

Center Field: Steve Finley - Big free-agent acquisition, the Angels hope that Finley can both handle the league transition well and fight off Father Time. If healthy and capable, Finley is a big bat and a passable fielder. I'm not quite as optimistic.

Right Field: Vladimir Guerrero - Best player in the AL not named A-Rod, and last year, best player in the AL. I still can't believe some of the home runs this joker hits... off his shoetops, up and away. His power is out of this world. Any team with Guerrero is going to be competitive.

Bench - The Angels do have Chone Figgins, a much improved version of Mark McLemore. Any bench is better than ours, so advantage to the Angels.

Overall, the Angels have what appears to be a decent lineup, both on the field, and at the plate. However, they have a ton of question marks. As an M's fan, I know that depending on 40 year olds is not a recipe for success, but that's exactly what the Angels are banking on. Look for either Finley or Anderson to miss a bunch of games. All that said, Dallas McPherson will make or break this team from a deep playoff run to out of the playoffs all together. I would say this is the third best lineup in the league, behind Texas and us.

Colin: Third best? Any lineup that includes the words "Vladimer" and "Guerrero" back to back automatically becomes, at the very least, second best. I will do one better and give them top billing, based on my gut feeling that Figgins and McPherson will be solid, Finley and Anderson have one more year before they "Olerud-ize", Cabrera is, as stated earlier, CLUTCH, Erstad is a pro, and Guerrero is THE MAN. Best lineup, best team in the division. They are the head on favorites. Best bullpen. Best rotation unless Oakland's young guns come to play. Best lineup. Bad things will have to happen to bring these bad boys down. M's fans: sorry. We are not better than this team.

posted by Gavin @ 10:22 PM  0 comments

Monday, March 21, 2005

Moyer to probably start vs. Twins

Well, the Seattle PI has done the math and it comes out to what most of us have dreaded... Jamie Moyer will be serving up gopherballs to the Twins against Johan Santana on opening day.

Here is where our lack of a true ace really hurts, outside of the playoffs. The M's are probably really looking for a quick start to gain some momentum and put last year squarely behind them. Unfortunately, becauase we don't have an ace, we decide that we'd rather start 0-1. 0-1 can quickly become 0-2 and so on... just like last year.

I mean, there's not many pitchers out there that we could feel comfortable with going against Johan Santana, but still... how many home runs do we feel like seeing on Opening Day that's not from Sexson or Beltre?

Frankly, I'm hoping Jamie proves me wrong, just as he's proven all the doubters wrong in the past. I'm just not holding my breath. Steve Kelley seems to think he's back, but I'd like to point Steve to Moyer's ERA last Spring as well.

Colin: (Update) We have a poster who is correct that Brad Radke, not Santana, will pitch Opening Day. As he states, no idea why that is. But.... I'll take it.

posted by Gavin @ 1:29 PM  1 comments

Teams that had something to prove...

At the beginning of every tournament, some teams talk about how disrespected they are, how they have a chip on their shoulder, how they're going to show the world, etc. How did those teams do this first weekend?

Washington - Proved it was a legitimate one seed with thorough dismantling of Pacific.

Louisville - Proved it should have been higher than a four seed with thorough dismantling of Georgia Tech.

NC State - Proved it should have been higher than a ten seed with performances over Charlotte and Connecticut.

Boston College - Proved it really got lucky the first twenty games of the season by bowing out to UW-Milwaukee.

Iowa - Proved it didn't belong in the tournament with first round hiccup against Cincy.

Wake Forest - Proved it didn't deserve the one seed with loss against West Virginia.

Arizona - Proved it should have been higher than a three seed with impressive wins against UAB and Utah St.

Illinois and North Carolina - Proved they are the best teams in this whole tournament.

posted by Gavin @ 1:16 PM  0 comments

Conference Thoughts

Now that the Sweet Sixteen has been established, I have a few thoughts...

#1 The Pac-10 was obviously not as good as I had thought. Thanks a lot, Stanford and UCLA, for playing terrible basketball in the NCAA. This to include Oregon St and Arizona St playing terrible basketball in bowing out of the first round of the NIT as well...

#2 The SEC was a terrible conference. My vote for worst in the nation officially goes to the SEC. Alabama, out in the first round. Kentucky, two awful performances, bailed out by the other team. Florida, blow 20 point lead to Ohio, then unimpressive loss to Villanova. Mississippi St, good showing against Stanford and Duke (best showing of any SEC team). LSU, blown out by UAB. All in all, not a good conference.

#3 The Big 10 got lucky. Illinois was a one seed and both Wisconsin and Michigan St played Cinderellas in the second round. Look for both to be whittled out in the next round. This also was not a good conference, probably tied with the Pac-10. Look at Iowa... I can name a few teams better than Iowa that weren't 10 seeds.

#4 The Big 12 was only slightly better than the Big 10 and Pac-10... not by much. Texas Tech played selfless ball to advance (helped by Gonzaga choking at the line). Oklahoma St has looked impressive. Oklahoma was overrated, but at least made a decent showing of itself. Kansas was the shocker of the tournament. Iowa St won once, then tried to run with North Carolina (not a good idea).

#5 The Big East was the deepest conference in America. It has to be the deepest if the best teams, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Boston College, all get knocked out in the first two rounds, but the middle teams, West Virginia, Villanova, all put together impressive showings (especially the Wake Forest win).

#6 The ACC, unfortunately, is the best conference around, but not by as much as Dick Vitale would like you to believe. Duke and North Carolina advanced because they were one seeds, and Duke looked shaky twice. Georgia Tech got demolished by Louisville. Wake Forest got upset by West Virginia. NC State, though, knocked off Charlotte and Connecticut. That, plus the undefeated first round, squarely gives the title to the ACC.

posted by Gavin @ 12:54 PM  0 comments

Sonics Displaying Impressive Depth

The last two victories (over LA and Orlando) have to rank as two of the best this year, considering that Fortson, James, Evans, Radmanovic, and Allen (for LA only) were out. That's an awful lot of minutes and scoring lost. Luckily, we have Flip Murray. Radmanovic's stress fracture is a gift from above... he had been killing us for about a month now. This injury gives him the time to fully recover from his wrist problem and hopefully become an actual productive member of our lineup when he returns. Until then, Murray can fill the third scorer's role admirably. We're very used to the three guard lineup, so it's not that difficult to run more of those sets. As for Fortson and James being out, we're really starting to see the value of Nick Collison and Vitaly Potapenko. In fact, I like the combo of Collison and Potapenko better than Fortson and James. They bring it each night, without the silly technicals (Fortson) and pansy screens (James). Hopefully Rick Sund feels the same way.

posted by Gavin @ 12:49 PM  0 comments

Ed Hartwell to Atlanta

Well, looks like the Seahawks are set with the worst linebacking core that I have seen as a fan. The oft-injured Chad Brown, the unproven Dee Dee Lewis, and the undersized Niko Koutoviedes. Man, I WANTED Hartwell, but it turns out the Hawks dropped out of the bidding a while ago. Where is the run-stopper? Where is the pass coverage underneath? Are we not still stuck with the worst zone coverage imaginable? Have we not learned from the Patriots just how important the linebackers are? BAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!

Gavin: Well, the Hawks obviously believe that Edgerton Hartwell's presence was not necessary to improve their defense. To this I have to say... was anyone watching this team last year? Do we honestly believe that Niko Koutivides, Chad Brown, DD Lewis, and whatever the heck guy we signed from the Browns entail a good linebacking corps? This is not a positive sign. Yes, we sign two decent players to replace two decent players. Yes, Marcus Tubbs will be another year older and wiser to prove he was worth a 1st round pick. Where are the impact players? We still won't be able to blitz, and we still don't have a true run-stopping middle linebacker! Look for next season to end up looking an awful lot like this season... consistent mediocrity.

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:39 PM  0 comments

Sunday, March 20, 2005

NCAA Tourney - Sunday Must-See Recap

Not as many upsets today... in fact, not too many good close games today...

(10) NC State 65, (2) Connecticut 62
This was the best game of the day, but shouldn't have even been close. Every time Connecticut threw the ball down low, they scored. Every single time. However, they didn't throw the ball down low enough, NC State hit a ton of threes, and Julius Hodge hit a circus shot at the end. If I was a Connecticut fan, I would be fairly upset. If I was a Big East fan, I would realize that my conference was pretty darn overrated, with Syracuse, Pitt, and UConn taking early exits.

(5) Villanova 76, (4) Florida 65
This win for Villanova would have been more impressive if it wasn't against an SEC team. As I have said multiple times, don't bet on the SEC (hint, Kentucky is going down soon). This game was narrowed after halftime, and then Florida decided that it was an SEC team and wasn't going to get over the hump. Villanova will present an interesting matchup for North Carolina.

(7) So. Illinois 77, (2) Oklahoma St 85
Oklahoma St really impressed me in this win. Joey Graham was a complete non-factor, and yet Oklahoma St came back from a deficit to take complete control of the game. Ivan McFarlin (31 points) had the performance of the tournament so far. Every rebound or post-up in the second half was won by Oklahoma St. That game against Arizona will be amazing.

(13) Vermont 61, (5) Michigan St 72
Michigan St got lucky. Taylor Coppenrath did not show up at all. They forced Vermont to be a jump shooting team, which was right into the strength of Michigan St's defense. Vermont kept it close for a while, then tired. If Coppenrath had decided to man up, this game could have been different, but now Michigan St gets to be beaten severely by Duke.

(5) Georgia Tech 54, (4) Louisville 76
I still can't believe how easily Louisville won this game. There's nothing more I can say. This was not a close game. I do think that Louisville is a good matchup for the Huskies, but it will definitely be a challenge.

Look forward to another great weekend!

posted by Gavin @ 11:25 PM  0 comments

Visitors = No time for blogging

Gavin and I apologize for our lack of blogging material today. I have had visitors, and actually Gavin is coming down for a meeting of the crushed optimists editorial board. He will be in Chandler for the next week. Thus, you might see a lack of material posted. Do not worry! Crushed Optimists will still be on top of any development in the Seattle sports scene! There just might be a little less of it this next week.

We will be seeing the M's Wednesday and Friday, and will post our reactions to what we see.

posted by colin_hesse @ 6:15 PM  0 comments

NCAA Tourney - Sunday Must-See

After a rocking, rollicking, bracket-bustering Saturday, what's in store for Sunday? Here are my must-watch games...

9:10 AM PST, #10 NC State vs #2 Connecticut
Julius Hodge and company overcame their first round jitters to post an impressive win over Charlotte. Connecticut will need a much better performance, especially from freshman point guard Marcus Williams, in order to move on. Look for Josh Boone and Charlie Villanueva to try and dominate the inside. This will be an interesting battle of wills... I'm leaning towards Connecticut (although I picked NC State in my bracket).

11:15 AM PST, #5 Villanova vs #4 Florida
This should be a great game, as all 5 v 4 games should. Villanova's gaudy gaurd play will be well tested by Florida's Walsh and Roberson (who needs to step his game up). I still feel that Florida is a little overrated (SEC), so Villanova has a good shot at pulling this one out.

11:20 AM PST, #7 So. Illinois vs #2 Oklahoma St
Oklahoma St. can easily become the second two seed to be knocked out of the tournament versus the Salukis. The defensive intensity So. Illinois brings, coupled with the confidence of consistent tournament performances, will be quite the challenge. Oklahoma St played pretty poorly in round one, and are playing in front of home town fans, so will try and make a statement. This has all the makings of an upset, and at the least an excellent game. Either that or Lucas and Graham go nuts and Oklahoma St wins by twenty.

11:40 AM PST, #13 Vermont vs #5 Michigan St
Vermont, my upset special of the first round, can easily make it two in a row against a mediocre Michigan St squad. Vermont has the inside game with Taylor Coppenrath to bang with Alan Anderson and friends. However, Vermont must do better at the free throw line, as Michigan St is money from the charity stripe. This will be a low scoring defensive struggle, but T.J. Sorrentine could make the difference from outside (like with that bomb in overtime against Syracuse... unreal).

1:45 PM PST, #5 Georgia Tech vs #4 Louisville
Best game on paper of Round 2. Either team could have been a two seed. Now they get the chance to go up against the Huskies. This is an impossible game to pick. Louisville's frenetic defense might present problems for Georgia Tech, who hasn't seen much like it in the ACC. However, Jarret Jack and BJ Elder are too experienced to throw balls away. Luke Schensher (spelling hopefully close) could be the difference maker, as Louisville lacks a big man that could pressure him into making mistakes. I like Georgia Tech, but only by a slim margin. I hope Louisville wins, because I feel they match up better against the Dawgs.

posted by Gavin @ 12:16 AM  0 comments

Saturday, March 19, 2005

NCAA Tourney - Saturday Must-See Recap

(8) Pacific 79, (1) Washington 97... I have to admit, I thought this would be a much closer game, with Pacific's solid interior game giving the Huskies some problems. I sure didn't expect for us to win by twenty. Colin has a better post on this, suffice it to say the Arizona win in the Pac-10 tournament is the only game I've seen the Huskies play better in.

(6) Utah 67, (3) Oklahoma 58... As I predicted, defensive struggle that Utah won. Andrew Bogut has come to play in this tournament. Oklahoma just was too weak offensively to maintain any kind of run. I didn't expect them to play quite as poorly as they did, and it's a testament to that offensive inefficiency that they were unable to take advantage of an incredible amount of Utah turnovers. Oklahoma lost this game, Utah did not win it.

(11) UAB 63, (3) Arizona 85... Again, thought this one would be closer, but I did expect that Arizona's athletes (Hassan Adams, Salim Stoudamire, Mustafa Shakur) would be easily able to break the press and steal quick buckets, and they were definitely able to. Playing UW three times probably helped them quite a bit. UAB also couldn't buy a bucket from three to save their life. Add that to Channing Frye dominating down low and you have a solid win for the Wildcats.

(7) West Virginia 111, (2) Wake Forest 105... I have to admit I missed this game to watch my sister-in-law in a choir concert. A little upset that I did miss it, too, because I would have loved to have seen the look on all those East Coast jerks who picked Wake Forest to go to the Final Four over the Huskies. Does this mean that Texas Tech is favored to get into the Elite Eight? Basically it means that the winner of the UW vs Georgia Tech/Louisville game will be the Final Four rep.

posted by Gavin @ 11:57 PM  0 comments

UW vs. Pacific or How Seth Davis Learned To Love The Dawgs

Seth Davis picked Guillarmo (hopefully spelled correctly) Yango to be the player of the 2nd round. THE PLAYER OF THE SECOND ROUND!! This was Davis' lock upset, a time to, once again, smirk and say, "See, UW did not deserve that #1 seed any more than Kevin Federline deserved Brittney Spears." Well....

You might notice that I did not do a running log of this game. A few reasons for that. I was drinking alcohol to try and control the pain of Gonzaga, plus I did not want to curse the Dawgs. Mostly I was feeling emotionally fragile. Very fragile. I needed a hug. I received.... 97 hugs courtesy of a bee-yoo-tiful offensive performance by the Huskies.

- You know it is going to be a good game when Bobby Jones is NOT in foul trouble and is going ape on the offensive glass, hitting three pointers, and running on the fast break. That man was a machine in this game. With apologies to Nate Robinson, my player of the game.

- However, Nate Robinson actually showed why he has the word "hype" permanently tatooed on his left buttock. His drives were under control, using body position to gain rebounds and easy layups, and he had excellent defensive pressure on Pacific's guards.

- WE ATTACKED THE ZONE!!! WE ATTACKED THE ZONE!!! It looks like UW might have finally figured out that you attack the zone through passing and penetration, not a large amount of three point attempts. In the first ten minutes of the second half, it seemed as if every single possession ended in a layup or a three foot hook shot. Just an excellent offensive show.

- Still a tad sketchy on defense, especially on the defensive board in the second half. We forced no turnovers for the entire second half. That is not UW defense. Sure, the refs had started to call some more ticky-tack fouls, but Pacific was getting some wide open 3 point shots and some easy follows of the glass.

- Have we finally earned the #1 seed? Probably not. We will be the underdog against either Georgia Tech or Louisville. But, wow, if we play like that next week..... we have a chance.

UW 97, Pacific 79. Thank you, Lorenzo Romar, for saving me from experiencing one of the worst sports days of my life.

Time for another week of optimism. Will it be crushed? We shall see....

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:40 PM  0 comments

Second Thoughts on SEC/Pac-10

After day 2, I must say, my immediate thoughts on these two conferences were wrong. UCLA and Stanford surprised me by playing horribly. In my mind, they allowed the media to justify their views on the overall weakness of the Pac-10. The ACC (5-0) stepped up, the Pac-10 (2-2) stepped down. Even the SEC stepped up, with Miss St, Kentucky, and Florida moving on. My faith in the Pac-10 has been shattered. Fine. You guys earned it. A tie for last place with the SEC for the worst conference. Good job.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:59 AM  0 comments

Gonzaga vs. Texas Tech

Glory be. The Gonzaga game stands by itself, forcing the Phoenix channels to air it for us poor Seattle sports fans who happened to go to school in Spokane (not Gonzaga, Whitworth) and need our Gonzaga fix.

Gonzaga 32-25. Offensive rebounding has been key, as Gonzaga has been missing some easy shots, but Errol Knight or Turiaf have been there to clean up the glass. As I speak, Mallon got ANOTHER offensive board and scored a lay-up.

On the defensive end, Gonzaga is going with a zone that Tech is doing a good job attacking, especially Ross, who seems to make just about everything. Gonzaga needs to keep up the offensive intensity, because Tech is not going to lie down. They are too well coached.

*Wandering Thought* Is it just me, or are the commercials overly lame this year? The "taste loss" adds grow old after time, the "lime in the Coke, you nut" is just extremely stupid (who wants Coke anyway? Drink Pepsi!), and that basketball bouncing commercial, well, I've run out of words. It's also stupid.

Halftime: Gonzaga 38, Texas Tech 29. This lead should have been double-digit, but some missed free throws and a godawful three by Morrison is letting Tech stick around. That scares me a little. Gonzaga has been in control this entire game, but you know that they will go through a cold spell, and Tech will go on a hot spell, and then, well, it is anyone's game.

16 minute mark: Gonzaga 48, Texas Tech 41. Defense, Zags, Defense! And a note to Batista and Raivio: stop jacking horrible 3's. Tech has started out fast, looking to beat the zone, but they are also heating up from behind the arc. This is a scary time. Morrison will have to continue slashing to the hole, coming up with easy bank shots, because some of the Zags still look intimidated by playing in the tournament.

*Wandering Thought* Has there been a more stupid idea for a TV movie than Spring Break: Shark Attack? Will anyone watch this? Shouldn't some TV exec be fired for promoting this during March Madness?

12 minute mark: Gonzaga 54, Texas Tech 52. My worst nightmare, coming true right before my eyes. Sean Mallon driving the basketball? What!! Raivio throwing a pass that had no chance of succeeding? What!! Gonzaga: 1. Slow down. 2. Go inside. 3. Stop giving up offensive boards. 4. Get out on the shooters.

8 minute mark: Who cares. Tech up by 2. Gonzaga playing like crap, especially Batista and Mallon, who are stuck in WCC mode. This ain't Kansas, guys. (The Wizard of Oz, not the basketball team) Crushed optimisim on full alert. Gonzaga getting outplayed, outhustled, outrebounded, outhearted, outeverything.

2:30 mark: Gonzaga back up by 1, thanks to only Adam Morrison. And I mean only Adam Morrison. He has scored the last 10 Gonzaga points. Batista finally got another offensive board, but Raivio is playing ala Stepp right now, missing the big 3 when we really needed it. Maybe it is the curse of Stepp. From now on, all-conference Gonzaga point guards WILL suck when it comes tourney time.

End of game: I am a Seattle sports fan. You think I would get used to this. I don't. Gonzaga earned this loss with their lack of hustle, poor free throw shooting, and lack of defensive intensity. There is something that Gonzaga misses during the tournament. Maybe the high seed works against them. They are able to beat teams like Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State in the preseason because they are the underdog with a chip on their shoulder. Now? They played scared. Well, at least they can go back to Spokane...

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:44 AM  0 comments

Friday, March 18, 2005

NCAA Tourney - Friday Must-See Recap

(10) NC State 75, (7) Charlotte 63... Charlotte jumped out to a huge lead in this one, led by Eddie Basden. NC State looked completely out of sorts, and I was wondering where the team I saw in the ACC tournament was. Then Julius Hodge woke up and took over the game, along with super-sub Cameron Bennerman. Charlotte started playing to hang on, lost their agressiveness, and could never recover. Still can't believe NC State was a 10 seed. Can you honestly tell me that Nevada and Texas were better teams? Come on. NC State should give Connecticut a run on Sunday.

(13) Ohio 62, (4) Florida 67... Florida came close to continuing to prove my point about the SEC, letting a 20 point lead slip away in a furious five minute span. This game reminded me a lot of last year's tournament, when every upset I picked (I picked Ohio in this one) came down to the last two minutes before the favored team pulled it out. Well, I wrote it yesterday, hard to pick on the team led by freshmen. Florida just executed better when the pressure was the most intense and you have to hand it to them.

(12) New Mexico 47, (5) Villanova 55... This game should not have been this close after the first half New Mexico had, only scoring 11 in a great show of offensive futility. Have to give them credit for closing the cap, bringing it to 52-47 near the end. Basically, this turned out to be an entertaining game, but you knew in the back of your mind that this was too large of a deficit to overcome.

(10) St. Mary's 56, (7) So. Illinois 65... St. Mary's made me look like an idiot. They settled for far too many threes and didn't play anything resembling defense. They tied it up late, but So. Illinois controlled the tempo and the game for much of it. Not as good a game as the score makes it sound. I now cheer for the Salukis to push Oklahoma St to the limit... they can definitely pull it off. The experience of being in the tournament truly showed today, and it won't disappear on Sunday.

(13) Vermont 60, (4) Syracuse 57 (0t)... I picked this one! Best pick of mine in the tournament, including the UW-Milwaukee win. As I wrote yesterday, Gerry McNamara was the x-factor. He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn tonight, took way too many bad shots, missed the three at the end of regulation, and had the cementing turnover in overtime. This game just followed my script to the letter. Taylor Coppenrath was a force inside, and T.J. Sorrentine, while struggling, hit some great threes, including an absolute bomb in overtime that pushed the lead to four. I can't neglect to mention the Cambodian force for the Catamounts, Germain Mopa Njila, who led them with 20 points and 10 boards. I pick Vermont into the Sweet Sixteen...

(12) Old Dominion, (5) Michigan St... I won't be able to watch the end of this one, as I'm off to Portland. However, it's pretty darn close right now, could go either way. Would be great if the 4 and 5 seed loses in this bracket.

posted by Gavin @ 8:23 PM  0 comments

 


Go Here Sometimes...

We Wrote These...

Blast to the Past