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!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Late Night Ramblings

I haven't done one of these in awhile, but, once again, I can't sleep, so I figure that my body must be telling me that it's time to do some random blogging about nothing in particular.

Just had my fantasy baseball draft, and got stark raving mad (think the hot-blooded madness of Kurt Russell in "Tombstone", not the cold-blooded madness of Andy Garcia in "Ocean's Twelve") when my computer picked the beginning of the draft to go all ape on me, resulting in getting Pedro Martinez and Chris Carpenter over King Felix and Rich Harden (both of whom went to Gavin, my hated blood-enemy). Needless to say, I've already given up hope in THAT particular league, though I'm sure I'll scour the waiver wires in order to try and find some in-season sensation that will catapult me into the league playoffs. At least I have A-Rod. That wanker will count for something. Other good notes include Josh Beckett, Huston Street, and Francisco Liriano, who just got pulled over for drunk driving (yippee!).

Gavin, on the other hand, has Man-Ram, David Wright, and Joe Nathan. He is going to KICK MY POSTERIOR, to make up, of course, for all the times that my last-place fantasy team beat his second-place fantasy team last year. Good times. OK, you want an actual breakdown for the two of us?

Catcher: Jason Varitek (Colin) vs. Joe Mauer (Gavin)
Quality on both sides, but Mauer has the potential to be big if Gardenhire doesn't screw around with him like last year. Slight Advantage: Gavin

1st Base: Carlos Delgado (Colin) vs. Ryan Howard (Gavin)
Ryan Howard flashed big home-run potential, along with striking out 100 times in 312 ABs. It remains to be seen if we've seen basically how good he's going to get. Slight Advantage: Colin

2nd Base: Tadahito Iguchi (Colin) vs. Rafael Belliard (Gavin)
Yawn. No Advantage.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta (Colin) vs. Bobby Crosby (Gavin)
Going into last season, I would have given big props to Gavin for the Crosby pickup, but I actually went out of my way to pick up Peralta, because that boy went absolutely buck-wild last year, while Crosby still needs to prove that he can stay healthy. Slight Advantage: Colin

3rd Base: A-Rod (Colin) vs. David Wright (Gavin)
This would be a significant advantage with A-Rod against basically anybody except Davd Wright. Slight Advantage: Colin

Left Field: Cliff Floyd (Colin) vs. Man-Ram (Gavin)
Floyd is on the decline, and I actually don't really know why I picked him up. He doesn't really DO anything that well, while Man-Ram is fricking awesome. Significant Advantage: Gavin

Center Field: Grady Sizemore (Colin) vs. Brad Wilkerson (Gavin)
I love myself some Sizemore, though Wilkerson could have one killer season taking advantage of Ameriquest Field down in Texas. Slight Advantage: Colin

Right Field: Maggs Ordonez (Colin) vs. Shawn Green (Gavin)
Yawn. No Advantage.

Starting Pitching Rotation (Best 5):
Pedro Martinez, Chris Carpenter, Josh Beckett, Francisco Liriano, and Scott Kazmir (Colin)
Rich Harden, King Felix, Chris Lee, Doug Davis, Ervin Santana (Gavin)
Harden is better than Pedro. Felix is better than Carpenter. Lee has a better chance of collecting better stats than Beckett because Beckett has a nasty habit of getting injured. Significant Advantage: Gavin

Relievers (Best 3):
Huston Street, Bob Wickman, and Todd Jones (Colin)
Joe Nathan, Brian Fuentes, and Tom Gordon (Gavin)
Street and Nathan cancel each other out, but Wickman and Jones are better than Fuentes and Gordon. Slight Advantage: Colin

So.... how does that work out?
Significant Advantage: Gavin 2, Colin 0
Slight Advantage: Colin 5, Gavin 1
No Advantage: 2

So.... if you count those significant advantages as being worth two of my slight advantages (especially the starting rotation, which should be worth 3-4 slight advantages), Gavin is slightly my superior, though maybe not by as much as I initially thought. I just got so pissed about my computer forcing me onto Pedro and missing out on the King. Ah, well. Fantasy life for you.

Speaking of a fantasy, how about that Seahawks' offseason, eh? Sure, we've had our rough spells (*cough* Hutch *cough* Joe J *cough* Holmgren not shutting his trap), but, overall, looks like a pretty nice haul by Ruskell once again. I mean, look at our offense! Hass at QB, Shaun at RB, Strong at FB, an offensive line of Walter Jones, Ashworth, Spencer, Womack, Tobeck, Gray, and Locklear (great depth!), and a wide-receiving corps of Jackson, Burleson, Engram, and Hackett! That's, um, not too shabby! Will we miss Hutch? Absolutely, that guy was a beast and he WILL improve Minnesota's offense. It's just that he will be protecting Brad Johnson and blocking for Chester Taylor. I mean, wow. Again, I'm talking to this Vikings fan, and, first, he starts making fun of US for paying Burleson $49 mill. So.... I nip that in the bud by reminding him of the actual contract (4 yrs, $14 mill). His second argument.... we still don't have a #1 wide receiver. So.... I nip that in the bud by reminding him of D-Jack. His third argument..... the Vikings didn't really want Burleson. So..... I nip that in the bud by telling him that was not what the Vikings said, even citing Pro Football Talk, which this guy reads diligently. His fourth argument.... this wouldn't really hurt the Vikings because they have excellent wide-receiver depth, led by Koren Robinson. At this point I knew that it probably wouldn't be interesting enough to continue this line of thought, but, for you, the reader, I will. Here is the depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings at wide receiver. #1: Koren Robinson. #2: Travis Taylor. #3: Marcus Robinson. #4: Troy Williamson. That's a big shrug there, good buddy. A big shrug. Did the Vikings come ahead in the Hutch/Burleson switch? Yeah, probably, if you're just comparing those two players. But I'll rest in the knowledge that a lot of NFL guys are ticked off at the Vikings, and with the knowledge that Burleson will add that tough dimension to our wide-receiver corps that we lost with Joe J.

Basically, the offseason, in my opinion, has been upgraded to at least a B, if not a B+. All we are missing (and, seriously, I mean ALL we are missing) is a backup DE, a backup FS, a backup QB, resigning Josh Brown, finding a real punter (not named Tom Rouen), and a starting CB. That is it. That is all. And if we find cap room for one Ty Law? Wow. The offseason grade will creep up to the A range. Absolutely.

Now, as for Holmgren, five articles in like a week is probably enough there, big boy. I heard that you were still mad at the refs, that the loss was still hitting you hard, that you will probably retire after 2006, that you were surprised we didn't franchise Hutch..... blah blah blah. Honestly, a little too much from a coach that I usually have a tremendous amount of respect for. Now, I don't personally disagree or have a problem with anything he said (including the retiring possibility), but, man, his face was all over ESPN.com this past week, and that just hit me as a tad strange. As for him retiring, do it, Holmgren, especially if your family wants you to. I mean it. You have nothing more to prove here, so enjoy your life. You've earned it. Just don't be stupid and try to take on another coaching rebuilding job or, God help us, another GM position. You know as well as I do that you don't have the energy for it. You didn't have the energy to deal with a 9-7 team; I doubt you'd have the energy to deal with a 4-12 team. Stay with the Hawks or retire. Both choices are fine.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:40 PM  0 comments

2006 Seattle Mariners Preview: The "Pitching"

So.... while the hitting might see some improvement (No SandFrog, no Dobbs, no Willie Ballgame in a starting role, no Olivo, Borders, other craptastic catcher), we now reach the fun part of the presentation.

The pitching.

You know, the worst part about our team last year that Bavasi "solved" with the acquisition of one Jarrod Washburn, he of the "glowing" ERA, who also happened to allow a huge numbers of opposing batters to reach base. Washburn will seek to replace one Ryan Franklin, my favorite Mariner pitcher, who succeeded with a large helping of guts, mental strength, and *cough* supplements. We will also not have to watch Aaron Sele attempt to pitch, as our "#5" starter now is King Felix, who is the main reason to watch M's games this season. Let's take a look-see at each starting pitcher, and then the bullpen.

#1: Jamie Moyer
I love Moyer, no doubt about it. He has been, perhaps, the most successful Mariner's pitcher of all time besides Randy Johnson. However, the guy is freaking old. I mean, really, really old. Like, Crushed Dad old (low blow, I know). The guy can still succeed at Safeco, but watching Jamie pitch on the road is pretty hard to do. I, for one, embrace the USSMariner approach of turning Moyer into a home-only starter, but since the M's really have NOONE else to be a 6th starter (Foppert? Nageotte? Harris?), that idea won't be happening anytime soon. Also, claiming this guy as our "ace" puts us off to a bad start. Moyer is a good pitcher. He is, quite definitely, not an ace, whatever that is. Rich Harden is an ace. Bartolo Colon is an ace. Even Kevin Millwood could be seen as an ace. Jamie Moyer? Ummmm, no. Still, I hope for another semi-quality Moyer year where he succeeds at home and struggles on the road.

Gavin: I look forward to another year of long innings where Jamie allows a ton of opposing players to reach base and then somehow wriggles his way out of it, if not allowing a three run blast. I look forward to another glorious year of asinine "how does he win with pitching slow" recaps after a 6-5 win. I can't believe this is our ace. I'm already depressed and that's after one pitcher and I see what's next. Oh yeah, and lay off the Crushed Dad. Jerk.

#2: Joel Pineiro
The love-fest continues with Pineiro, who some people still believe has ace potential. Again, that proposition seems to be completely out of reality. The Pineiro I've seen the past few years is a sometimes decent pitcher who struggles with getting people out and usually encounters a BIG inning or two. Or three. My wish is for someone like Foppert or Nageotte (even Bazardo), to assert themselves in the minors so that we can trade this sucker before the trading deadline.

Gavin: Joel Pineiro is not a good pitcher and will never be a good pitcher. If our pitching depth was anywhere near what we used to believe it to be he wouldn't be anywhere near our starting rotation. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

#3: Jarrod Washburn
Is Washburn an upgrade? Yes, but only because of the pitchers he was replacing. Was he worth that kind of money? Absolutely not. Will he last the entire season without spending an extended period of time on the DL? I would be shocked. See, these are the kind of decisions that you just don't see from Ruskell, which is one of the many reasons why I continue to love the Seahawks management. See, even if Washburn has a decent season, I won't really to able to appreciate it just because of that terrible contract.

Gavin: The sad thing is that Washburn is a decent upgrade, the problem is that we're stuck with him for far too long, about the time when Lincoln gets to explain to us that the reason we didn't make a good midseason acquisition is because Washburn's contract kept our budget too high, but don't worry it'll be off the books in two years. I hate being an M's fan sometimes.

#4: Gil Meche
I have nothing more to say about this particular pitcher, new pitch or not. He is the new Matt Thornton (who, by the way, better not succeed in Chicago of I will cut myself, along with Jeff from Lookout Landing). I am sick and tired of him. That is all.

Gavin: Why are beat reporters even slightly optimistic about this pitcher? Do they have eyes?

#5: King Felix
However, I have everything to say about this particular pitcher. When players like him come along on your team, it allows you to enjoy the dog days of August when your team is about 20 games out of first. Watching him pitch last summer gave me new optimism about the Mariners. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but when your team has, perhaps, the best pitcher of this generation, you can't help but get excited about the possibilities. I will add a little prayer to my devotionals every night for his health, but, in my meantime, I can't wait to see the numbers that he puts up.

Gavin: Every five days there will be light. The first M's game I will be at will be next Friday.

Bullpen
Closer: Eddie Guardado
The ultimate prankster, obviously. Whether his arm will fall off by June remains to be seen.

Set-up:
Soriano
Putz
Mateo
Sherrill
Random extra two pitchers

Our bullpen should actually be pretty good. Sherrill is finally the main lefty in the bullpen (no Thornton!), while Soriano, Putz, and Mateo are definitely key parts of a strong and capable bullpen, ready to strike people off and leave people on the bases. I am especially interested in how Soriano pitches. He was the most exciting pitcher on our roster before his injury two years ago, and it is FINALLY time to see him pitch again on a regular basis, perhaps readying him for the closer's role next year (or, in a perfect world, grooming him to be a starter).

So.... above-average bullpen, below-average rotation, plus one King. Your 2006 Seattle Mariners!

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:29 PM  0 comments

2006 Seattle Mariners Preview: The "Hitting"

Sorry, couldn't help myself with the sarcasm. Basically, offense has been a sad sad part of the Seattle Mariners the last two years as we watched John Olerud, Edgar Martinez, Bret Boone fade in the sunset of their careers, and gave far too many at-bats to Miguel Olivo, Scott Speizio, and Wilson Valdez to have anything that could be called consistent.

There is some hope, friends. Some hope. Let's go through the starters.

C: Kenji Johjima ("Rookie" season)
Backup: Rene Rivera (48 ABs, .396 BA, .408 OBP, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI)
Oddly enough, Kenji Johjima was our "star" signing this offseason. While he flashed some power over in Japan, he probably will become another Japanese slap hitter in the states, but a good one at that. His improvement over the Olivo/Pat Borders/Wiki Gonzalez black hole should in and of itself be worth a few wins.

At backup, I'm a bigger Rivera fan than most, basically because he's only 22 years old and showed some skills during his brief stint last season. Overall, this position has to be considered a major upgrade.

Colin: Yes, a major upgrade, mostly because of just HOW BAD the catcher's position was for us last year. Johjima should be a stabilizing force for our rotation, plus give us perhaps a better offensive threat then Dan Wilson. One more reason to actually be interested in the Mariners this year.

1B: Richie Sexson (.263 BA, .369 OBP, 36 2B, 39 HR, 121 RBI)
You cannot help but call that line an unequivocal success for the Mariners last year. Richie came back strong from his injury to be well worth the large contract he had signed the previous offseason. While he (at age 31) is going to start hitting the downside of his career, we should not expect a serious dropoff in power potential, especially if his spring training performance is any indication (which it shouldn't be, but heck we're optimists). If anything, we should expect a slight reduction in most numbers.

Colin: Sexson was amazing last summer, living up to all expectations. He is our best offensive player, and will carry us on his hot streaks, which are a sight to behold.

2B: Jose Lopez (.247 BA, .282 OBP, 19 2B, 2 HR, 25 RBI)
Yes, the numbers are not that great. Still, the power potential is there, and somtimes we forget that Lopez is only 22 and really got bounced around a ton last year as the horried Bloomquist experiment continued after Boone was DFA'd. While I don't see him as the second coming of Roberto Alomar, he should actually be seen as a decent upgrade over the trash previously mentioned. We should expect that OBP to creep to .320-.330 with a full season, and the 2B numbers translate out extremely well (possibly in the 40+ range). His defense has also improved now that he isn't being asked to do as much athletically and because he has Betancourt helping him cover the bag. Overall, we can all thank our local deity that this position was not filled by Fernando Vina.

Colin: It is past time for Lopez to be our starting second baseman. Past time.

SS: Yuniesky Betancourt (.256 BA, .296 OBP, 11 2B, 5 3B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB)
I added a few more stats to the speedster's portfolio. Obviously this isn't where Betancourt adds the most value. He is a human vacuum cleaner at short. I was watching the game last night and he made an unbelievable diving play to end the second (or third, I forget). He makes everything look smooth and he personally can save 15-20 runs per year. Now, will his offense translate into something decent as well? That's far more up in the air, and everything I've read from USS Mariner and friends has done nothing to convince me otherwise. He either could become Pokey Reese or Omar Vizquel. The optimist in me likes to think he could add 20 points to both his BA and OBP to take advantage of his speed. Again, he did provide some pop, with 11 2Bs and 5 3Bs in limited ABs. This is another exciting young player to watch this year.

Colin: I'll be honest. Betancourt is my second favorite thing about this upcoming year, because of his defense. The plays that guy made last season!

3B: Adrian Beltre (.255 BA, .303 OBP, 36 2Bs, 19 HRs, 87 RBI)
It's not every year that a player hits their worst PECOTA projection, but Beltre sure did come close in 2005. He simply looked lost against anything offspeed, which meant that he wasn't able to turn on the inside fastball, and basically that he sucked. Not exactly NL MVP type numbers all around. The prevailing notion around the game is that Beltre simply has to be better, because he cannot be worse. The WBC seemed to buttress that notion, but I'm not going to count on anything until the season starts. If he becomes 80% of the player he was, this could be another large offensive upgrade to the Mariners. If he continues to struggle, he will be the worst free agent signing of our lifetime. The stakes are high.

Colin: Beltre. Low and away, no hittee. Again, low and away, no hittee.

LF: Raul Ibanez (.280 BA, .355 OBP, 32 2Bs, 20 HRs, 89 RBI)
So where exactly did Bill Bavasi get off signing Ibanez to such a huge extension when his power peripherals are already going down substantially? Hmmm? Adrian Beltre in an awful year basically outslugged Ibanez, but because Raul walked more he was judged a much better offensive player. I smell something rotten here. Raul was underrated last year and is now officially overrated. Since his defense isn't all that great either we can expect to hear Chris Snelling rumors in full force come August.

Colin: Again, you don't see Ruskell making these kind of moves. Go Seahawks!

CF: Jeremy Reed (.254 BA, .322 OBP, 33 2Bs, 3 HRs, 45 RBI)
What an abysmal offensive performance by Reed last year. Whether it was his wrist or his head he took all those pundits predicting rookie of the year and stomped on their collective souls. While his defense was actually far better than anticipated, Adam Jones was moved to center basically to potentially replace Reed already. Jeremy has far too much talent to be this bad. It is apparent watching him hit that he has a good idea of the strike zone. He just has to find some power and consistency. Another large question mark for this Mariner squad.

RF: Ichiro Suzuki (.303 BA, .350 OBP, 21 2Bs, 12 3Bs, 15 HRs, 68 RBI)
Ichiro really wasn't an incredibly valuable player last year, and basically admitted he was bored with losing afterwards. He apparently is a player who needs a lot more to motivate him than hitting .400 (not seeing that story in spring training now, are we?). His RBI numbers have more to do with who was hitting 7-9 last year than Ichiro himself, who easily could have 80+ in a better environment. I did like to see the larger power numbers, although it came at the expense of quite a few slap hits. Ichiro popped up the ball more and slumped subsequantly, needing the last week of the season to solidify his .300 average. Of course he will continue to be a stallion defensively, but we need more from our superstar if we hope to surprise teams in the deep AL West.

DH: Carl Everett (.251 BA, .311 OBP, 17 2Bs, 23 HRs, 87 RBI)
That's pretty sad. He's already more valuable than Beltre last year and he sucks. There's nothing more to say about this. I'm not a fan. He's not any good. Come back Snelling.

Bench: Willie Bloomquist, Joe Borchard, Matt Lawton, Roberto Petagine
With Rivera we actually have a much better bench than previous years, especially if Hargrove actually utilizes them. Wee Willie is actually a terrific utility player, if he can accept the role. Lawton gives us the best fourth outfielder we've had in a while, and Borchard and Petagine are decent young bats. Overall, still mediocre, but FAR superior to the sinking feeling in the stomach when Spiezio or Dobbs approached for another wasted late inning at-bat.

Crushed Prediction: A much improved offensive squad with some exciting possibilities. The young players could all flame out, but at least will provide an interesting storyline to what will more than likely be another losing season.

Colin: Some possible excitement, some possible flameouts. Still, no Boone, no Olerud, no Winn, no Spaz, no Aurilia, no Cirillo, no Olivo, no Borders, no Valdez, no Dobbs. That is a good thing.

posted by Gavin @ 10:43 AM  1 comments

Crushed Fantasy Tips

If many of you are doing fantasy baseball and haven't done your drafts yet (ours is tonight), check out a few tips from the masters...

From a pitching side especially I'm trying to stay away this year from the Curt Schilling line of brittle older starters. Hence on my first fantasy team (with some guys from work) I have Felix, Rich Harden, Mark Buehrle, Dan Haren and Jose Contreras. There's not one guy on that list that should be considered a huge injury risk. That means there's no way I'm picking Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Schilling, Pedro (who actually was healthy last year which does not bode well for this year), Moyer (insert chuckle), Clemens if he returns, you get the idea.

From a closer perspective I'm going to stay away from Eddie Guardado who somehow made it through the year healthy but Rafael Soriano might be a good bet this year from a Holds perspective. I sure do like that Holds thing since it is really hard to get three/four good closers for 10 teams.

From a fielder perspective, just remember to try and get a few guys who don't strike out a ton, stay away from Ichiro (like I need to tell anyone that, he doesn't get a lot of TB, his OBP is subpar and he doesn't steal enough bases), and don't be afraid to go after some of the terrific young offensive talent out there. Examples are Ryan Howard (1B Phillies), Prince Fielder (1B Milwaukee), Richie Weeks (2B Milwaukee), Delmon Young (OF Tampa Bay), Dan Johnson (1B Oakland). I'm personally not going to draft Vlad Guerrero this year, who looks older and older each time out. I might go after Griffey again, but that's a big injury risk too. Since we do Total Bases instead of Home Runs (I love this league) you don't have to just think bashers.

Another big sleeper Colin and I were talking about is Brad Wilkerson, now with Texas. The guy had a "down' .350 OBP playing in that enormous ballpark in Washington and now moves to Arlington. Could definitely be a steal.

Mariners I would go for include: Johjima (really aren't that many good catchers), Beltre (he will be better, but only pick him up in a later round), Sexson (acknowledging the strikeouts), Soriano, King Felix (of course), and MAYBE Jose Lopez in a later round (his percentage of hits that go for extra bases denote a lot of potential power).

I know everyone has their own favorite players. Mine include Griffey, Jose Vidro and Placido Polanco.

posted by Gavin @ 9:36 AM  0 comments

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ultimate Explosion!!

If you were faced with a fantasy baseball trade that would be you giving away David Wright for Troy Glaus would you:
A) Laugh Hard
B) Sit dumbfounded that someone would offer a trade that idiotic
C) Ask for Miguel Tejada, Glaus and David Ortiz
D) All of the above

I was faced with that scenario today. Apparently a Mets fan thought I would do him a favor. The favor is me even considering trading Wright.

Anyways, on to the Explosion!!

- So Mike Holmgren is thinking about leaving. God, I hope he makes up his mind soon because there is no way I can put up with the type of articles out today for an entire season. Obviously we hope he stays. He's an amazing coach. We know Allen will throw gobs of money at him, buy him several more motorcycles and let him ride in that spaceship. If Holmgren wants to be a GM again, bad idea and shame on whatever team would decide to give him that opportunity. If he's just tired (and it sure doesn't look like his family is interested in him continuing) then congrats and ride off into the sunset. Just do it now. Don't go all Brett Favre on us (like I'm super looking forward to all that uber-hype again).

- In other Hawks news, Andre Dyson signed a really reasonable deal with the NY Jets, which begs us to wonder exactly why we cut him. We definitely do need another corner. Get on that, Ruskell. Also, Holmgren has apparently made up his mind and says that Pork Chop Womack will be the starting left guard next to Walter Jones replacing Steve Hutchinson, which means that Tom Ashworth will probably be replacing Chris Gray in our lineup. Both are positive moves.

- The Sonics heard my plea to lose and got smoked by Houston. Luckily the gods are smiling down on us in the form of Rashard Lewis' sprained ankle. Now we only need to lose a few more and we'll be set.

- There's a pretty good article on the Husky football team today in the PI that goes through the team. I'll be more excited when football season is actually close, but there are some good solid young players out there ready to step up and contribute. The Huskies will be improved. They have to be.

That's all for today, because there's no way I'm touching that steroids crap.

posted by Gavin @ 1:22 PM  0 comments

MLB Preview: Oakland A's

After looking at both the Angels and the Rangers (two teams that should definitely win some games), it is fitting to finish with perhaps the best team in the AL West, the Oakland A's. This team, last year, traded away Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, had about as bad of a 1st half offensively as is humanly possible (outside of Seattle, of course), and STILL almost won the West last year. Harden was injured multiple times, Crosby spent more than half the season on the DL, and Chavez had a slump-tacular spring. And, again, they STILL almost won the AL West.

This year? They have more offensive talent, and even MORE pitching talent, which should, in my opinion, easily carry them to the AL West title, as long as key parts stay healthy and the offense produces more than 2 runs per game. This proves, once again, that Billy Beane really knows how to put together a team, both with key trades, prudent free-agent signings, and with a strong farm system that continually churns out producing talent. Now, if he could just get rid of that stupid drummer..... and if Oakland fans could actually put their buts in some seats! Seriously, what a terrible fan base! Your team has been good for the last decade, for no avail, it appears, until the postseason.

C: Jason Kendall
Another year older, but still with a great eye at the plate and, it appears, a good rapport with the pitching staff. Kendall was one player who just couldn't get a hit at the beginning of the season, but finished with a respectable .345 OBP. Sure, he's another year older, and his power rivals one Scott Podsednik, but his bat works in this lineup.

1B: Dan Johnson
A rookie splash last season has led to some big expectations for this huge specimen of nature. I see no reason why he shouldn't live up to at least some of them. In any case, Johnson is MUCH better then Scott Hatteberg, one player who I could never understand Beane's fascination for.

2B: Mark Ellis
Ellis is one of those stupid AL West 2nd baseman (Adam Kennedy) who, for some reason, get stuck in the #9 slot even though they always get on base. Ellis was the most consistent hitter (from the games I saw) on this team last season, and should once again be a nice table-setter for the lineup.

SS: Bobby Crosby
If he can stay healthy this season, I am extremely interested to see what type of numbers he can put up. Sure, the home-run totals won't be too high (thank you Coliseum!), but he is one of the truly exciting young players in the AL. He's not bad defensively either.

3B: Eric Chavez
Here's the superstar. Expect big things once again, especially against the Mariners, whom he destroys.

OF: Milton Bradley
Another Beane pickup that has some risk to it, but also carries the possibility of big rewards. Bradley should immediately add some needed pop to the lineup, and it's just a matter of controlling that Eric Cartman-ish temper. Of course, if he explodes, I sure hope I'm watching, because it sure is entertaining, and I sure hope it's against Carl Everett.

OF: Mark Kotsay
This is who we all hope Jeremy Reed turns into, because he is a quality hitter who hits the ball to all fields and, once again, destroys Mariners pitching (recurring theme of our previews, I know). Again, I'm struck by how much this lineup should be improved from early last year.

OF: Nick Swisher
Another rookie who had some huge hits for the A's in their last campaign. Kudos for having one adorable semi-scowl, semi-smirk plastered on his face at all times (as well as chewing something, I think).

OF: Jay Payton
I add him just to mention the neat outfield depth that the A's have.

DH: Frank Thomas, Bobby Kielty
Man, if Thomas has a great year...... shoot. This was a no-lose situation for Beane, as he picks up a slugger for next-to-nothing.

Starting Rotation
Rich Harden
Barry Zito
Danny Haren
Estaban Loiaza
Joe Blanton

Shoot. I don't really know why Gavin was hyperventilating about the Angels' rotation (hint, Gavin: Colon's back is one burrito away from imploding, Escobar is injury-prone, Jeff Weaver is, well, Jeff Weaver, and Lackey still needs to prove he can do it again) but this rotation is pretty doggone sweet. Harden, if HE stays healthy, is my favorite for the Cy Young. Zito and Haren are top-shelf starters. Loiaza should succeed in the Coliseum, and Blanton is Ryan Franklin with actual talent. What a rotation like this gives you is protection against a long losing streak. You know that you have a talented starter going every day of the season.

Bullpen:
Huston Street (closer)
Justin Duchscherer
Kip Calero
Etc., etc.

Street might, now, be the best closer in the AL West. Yes, better than K-Rod. So, while the bullpen might be the weakest part of the A's, that is "weakest" in name only.

Seriously, this team should win the West, and, barring another postseason collapse, should be playing for the right to play in the World Series. Now, if they can just avoid another slow, slooooooowww, start.....

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:38 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

MLB Preview: Those Texas Rangers

Growing up, I always saw the Texas Rangers as the sort of goofy and beefy friend that didn't really hurt anyone, would always look moderately good enough to get some attention but never good enough to actually get a girlfriend. Wow, that analogy turned out pretty lame. Anyways, leave it at the simple fact that I had little to no strong feelings about the group from Arlington.

Then A-Rod left. And joined Texas. And it was on.

Ever since that moment, Texas has been among my least favorite teams, even with the new influx of young talent, including Teixeira, Blalock, and Young (who I really do enjoy watching). That might change again once A-Rod's contract expires, but during the meantime, just say "No" for Texas.

That said, Texas does have a shot at the AL West this year (like every team not from Seattle), with an improved lineup (that's scary) and a perhaps much improved starting rotation (who still will suffer from having to pitch in that bandbox). Let's look at this sucker position by position....

(2005 stats)
C: Rod Barajas - .254 BA, .306 OBP, 53 R, 21 HR, 60 RBI
This guy is a stone-cold Mariners killer, but, in the end, he really doesn't get on base enough to become a real offensive talent. He seems to work well behind the backstop, however, and is always good for an onslaught against a Meche or Piniero.

1B: Mark Teixeira - .301 BA, .379 OBP, 112 R, 43 HR, 144 RBI
Teixeira became an absolute beast last season, going on several home-run tears and propelling one fantasy team (not mine) towards our league's championship. Look at those numbers, man! Expect those numbers to continue, as the Rangers have an absolute masher in the middle of that lineup.

2B: Ian Kinsler (from Arizona State!)
As per the rules at the beginning of our preview, I relinquish any knowledge about how good or bad a rookie will be. Read elsewhere for that. I will say that he has HUGE ears, reminiscent of the Crushed Dad's back in high school.

SS: Michael Young - .331 BA, .385 OBP, 114 R, 24 HR, 91 RBI
This guy has one of the smoothest swings I have ever seen, and he never seems to waste an AB. Again, this guy kills Mariner's pitching, but at least he seems to kill every team's pitchers. I really wish this guy was a Mariner. I mean, I know it will probably never happen, but he's the type of player you enjoy cheering on.

3B: Hank Blalock - .263 BA, .318 OBP, 80 R, 25 HR, 92 RBI
Now, this fellow seems to have gone on a down-swing the last few years, ever since he hit the game-winning home-run off Eric Gagne in the All-Star game. Blalock seemed originally to have the most talent of the three (just from a fan's perspective, I'm sure he didn't from a stat-heads perspective), but it has certainly become clear at this point that both Young and Teixeira are heads above Blalock. With that said, he is still an above-average 3rd baseman who has the potential for a bit of a rebound in 2006.

LF: Kevin Mench - .264 BA, .328 OBP, 71 R, 25 HR, 73 RBI
Yet ANOTHER Mariner killer, who goes by the name Shrek, which immediately makes me like him. See, this is hard. I actually like most of these guys, but I can't bring myself to like the Rangers. Dang it!

CF: Brad Wilkerson - .248 BA, .351 OBP, 76 R, 11 HR, 57 RBI
Wow, for a down season, having an OBP over .350 is pretty doggone good. Imagine this hitter going from perhaps the hardest place to hit in RFK to the 2nd best place to hit in Arlington! This guy is going to make this lineup even better, and should actually produce more runs even without Soriano (who is OVERRATED).

LF: David Delucci/Laynce Nix
Finally, two more Mariner killers, including Nix, who, specifically, is a Meche killer. Delucci is now trade bait, while Nix might get the starting nod in center and Wilkerson will slide over to LF. I hope you can realize how tremendous this lineup is. They are mostly young, hungry, with tremendous power and the opportunity to get on the bases early and often.

Now, as for that starting rotation:
1. Kevin Millwood
2. Adam Eaton
3. Vincente Padilla
4. Kameron Loe
5. R.A. Dickey

Millwood had a great free-agent year, but found that the money led him to Arlington, where good pitchers not named Kenny Rogers go to die. Speaking of Kenny Rogers, that will actually be a big blow for the Rangers, as he had an absolutely incredible season last year. Adam Eaton is a downgrade from Chris Young (yes, I'm serious), and Vincente Padilla is a mystery wrapped in a enigma. He has All-Star talent merged with Bartolo Colon attitude. Fantastic. Loe might turn out to be the most consistent starter, while the fact that Dickey procured the #5 slot has not a few Rangers fans scratching their heads. Overall, is this rotation improved? Probably. Is it on par with, say, the A's or the Angels? Um, no. Definitely not. Once again, this is a team that will go as far as their starting rotation can carry them, and that probably is not the postseason.

Bullpen:
Closer: Francisco Cordero (very nice)
Wasdin and Benoit are two nice guys, but the bullpen, by and large, isn't the best in the west. It's the worst in the west. Now, if the Rangers make it to the 9th, Cordero is very capable of earning 40 saves, but it is appropriate to assume that Texas will be in for, once again, a plethora of exciting, back-and-forth games.

Crushed Outlook: 2006 should look remarkably similar to 2004, with the Rangers staying in contention well into September, finally wilting in the pennant race. However, I would not be surprised to see them finish second in the AL West, easing ahead of the Anaheim Angels, who seem to be due for a fall.

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:13 PM  0 comments

MLB Preview: Anaheim Angels

I vaguely remembered previewing this team last year and was curious what I thought (i.e. was I full of crap). Basically I stated that banking on a bunch of 40 year olds to carry the offense seemed fishy. I also didn't buy into the "Steve Finley is Jesus" story. Apparently those were good thoughts. The problem that we will see as we go through this lineup is that there aren't enough changes to make a large enough offensive impact. I see a 2003 M's lineup in place, which is always dangerous. Let's go through this team.

RF: Vladimir Guerrero: If (and this is apparently a big if) Vlad stays healthy he is a dominant offensive force. However, he is really starting to break down more and more regularly, as I noticed having him on my fantasy team last season.

CF: Darin Erstad: Well, at least the Angels won't have one of the worst first basemen anymore. They'll have a decent CF who plays good defense and adds some at the plate. Oddly enough this has to be considered a net gain for LAA.

LF: Garret Anderson: He's only 33? Why does he play like he's 40? Anderson as well is starting to break down regularly. Obviously he has a tremendous bat when healthy, but like Guerrero is starting to age quickly.

3B: Dallas McPherson: The biggest disappointment of last season. He showed nothing at the plate. However, he has too much talent to be a complete waste. He's going to get another shot. We'll see where it takes him.

SS: Orlando Cabrera: Decent bat, decent defensively, a little overpaid but Boston sure misses him.

2B: Adam Kennedy: Has finally been exposed as a singles hitter who can do little else. The definition of "replacement talent".

Every position: Chone Figgins: Not sure exactly where he'll go, but he is too important. It's an insult to Figgins to be named in the same sentence as Eckstein or Podsednik because he is far more versatile and important to LAA. His speed and defense make him a valuable everyday player.

1B: Casey Kotchman: Had an impressive debut run, will be looked to add some pop to the lineup.

C: Jose Molina: Should not be a significant downgrade on departed brother Benji. Calls a good game, swings a decent stick, and is younger. Not too much to dislike.

Overall, I stand a little corrected from what I wrote above. They do have a few interesting young players in McPherson and Kotchman that will get a chance this year. Still, there is too much reliance in aging and brittle players from top to bottom. The depth will be tested yet again and this lineup will hit cold streaks. Pitching will be of the utmost importance.

And that pitching is pretty darn good.

Starters:
Bartolo Colon
Kelvim Escobar
Jeff Weaver
Ervin Santana
John Lackey

That, my friends, is an excellent rotation. Even if Colon finally succumbs to the Krispy Kremes, they still have some solid members in place. Now, Lackey has to prove that last year wasn't a fluke. He needs to continue the high strikeout numbers to place him as a top pitcher in the AL. Escobar is a solid rotation member. Weaver was an underrated steal of a signing. Santana is young and loaded with potential. Basically, there is no real weakness here. Very very solid.

Relievers:
Francisco Rodriguez - Closer
Scot Shields
Esteban Yan
Brendan Donnelly
Kevin Gregg
JC Romero

Any bullpen that includes the name Francisco Rodriguez is going to be a good one. Scot Shields may not be quite as brilliant as last year (when he was a bit overworked) but still should be pretty solid. JC Romero actually gives them a lefty to use at times, a luxury manager Mike Scoscia really hasn't had in a while. Again, this whole pitching staff may not be Oakland, but it still is good.

The Angels will be in the playoff hunt throughout the season. They have too much pitching not to be. However, the large number of offensive question marks means they will more than likely not be dominant. Another team in the division (probably Oakland) will then have a shot to knock them off their throne.

If the Angels answer the questions and make the playoffs, don't be surprised if this team makes it to the World Series.

posted by Gavin @ 1:13 PM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

Although we are in our MLB-Preview mode, it still doesn't keep us from rocking our normal every-day selves down your collective throats. With that said, on to the fun!

- We'll start off with one of those preachy national articles from ESPN columnists that I hate, this time from the pen of David Schoenfield. Mr. Schoenfield's main argument appears to be that baseball doesn't have a competitive balance problem as opposed to the NBA and the NFL. His "statistics" surround how many teams have made the playoffs or won a World Series in recent years. Here's my "statistic". The AL East standings in 2005: NY, Boston (tied), Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay. 2004: NY, Boston, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Toronto. 2003: New York, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay. 2002: NY, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay. 2001: NY, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay.
Are we getting the picture yet? Baseball's financial situation means that teams like New York and Boston can literally buy wins out from under the people in their own division. Rubes like Schoenfield like to preach about all the new winners, but even surprises like the Marlins have to blow up their core within the next year-two because of the financial realities of the baseball market. The reason San Antonio and New England can become dynasties is that the system rewards them for astute drafting and signing. Baseball's system rewards gluttons. Yes, there are GMs like Billy Beane who have a gift for reloading, but do you think he would like to still have Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Jason Isringhausen and Mark Mulder on his club? Hmmm.... look, it's great that we've had some wild card winners recently and some other teams have shown up, but to take that and make the claim that competitive balance is fine goes smack in the face of what we see year in and year out.

- The NFL released its preseason schedule. The Hawks get one game on NBC, at Indy, so my preseason tickets will officially go on sale the moment I receive them. If I'm already going to see Oakland in the regular season, the desire to see them in the preseason is...

- Peter King actually defends the Seahawks from illogical Viking fan! Then asks legitimate question about lack of Monday night appearance on opening weekend! Can it be that I can agree with Peter "NE ranked higher in power rankings AFTER having been eliminated" King twice in one day?

- A few M's notes, apparently all good for once. Jeremy Reed will be back, meaning we don't have to face another Wilson Valdez experiment to open the season. Greg Dobbs and Mike Morse were sent to AAA, meaning the gents at USS Mariner can do some backflips. I hope we keep both Petagine and Borchard on the roster after Lawton comes back, but know that Mike Hargrove and his insane 12 man pitching staff won't allow that. Let's see, instead of reputable backup outfielder we can have awful reliever. Makes sense?

- A few Hawks notes as well. I am in favor of attempting to get Joey Harrington as our backup. The guy is a good QB and perhaps can do well in our situation without the #1 pick pressure. Anything that gives Seneca Wallace the chance to be on the field more is fine by me. Also excited about resigning Maurice Morris, which continues to whittle that offseason shopping list down. Mack Strong is a stud, and I was personally glad to see him ignore offers from other teams to come back and be Shaun's mate in the backfield. He is too important to what we do. Finally, Ken Hamlin should be back by minicamps, which means the coaching staff (with new defensive coordinator John Marshall) will have a long look at where he is to see if the draft should go towards that defensive end I want or a backup safety. Offseason list now: backup QB, resign Josh Brown, backup DE, backup S, CB.

- The Sonics are irritating me with all these last second wins. They are now 8-4 their last 12 games. For crying out loud, I already believe in you next year. Lose now to get Brandon Roy!!

- Finally, Spencer Hawes is named a Parade All-American, meaning we gain one while losing B-Roy. The future of Husky basketball is bright, friends. We need to enjoy it while the getting is good.

posted by Gavin @ 1:10 PM  0 comments

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

MLB Preview: AL East and Central

Since we're actually going to put some real thought into the AL West, I'm left with the enviable task of going through two of the most interesting divisions in all of baseball. Both are ripe with interesting season storylines that I'm genuinely interested in seeing.

Let's start with the AL East...

1. Why did the Yankees stand pat?
Of course this has to start with the Bronx Bombers. I'm still very curious about their decision to basically go into next year with very little in the way of a serious upgrade. Kyle Farnsworth, Octavio Dotel, and possibly Ron Villone (although not probably) will help out in the bullpen, but if you can't think of a starter or position player who is new that would be because there aren't any. I think they are banking on Shawn Chacon and Chien Ming Wang to be the second half starters of last year, same with Jason Giambi on the offensive side. This seems pretty 2005-ish Mariner type thinking to me. New York is another year older with a lot of 30+ year players. Randy Johnson will get worse. Mike Mussina will get worse. Same with Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada (who is already starting to break down). There are a lot of names, and this team will more than likely make the playoffs again, but I do not believe the cracks have been filled to reach that world championship.

2. Why did the Red Sox not stand pat?
Then there is the polar opposite of Boston. The Red Sox pretty much let their entire world championship roster go except for Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz (who will both still be monsters). New addition Coco Crisp has to be seen as a downgrade on Johnny Damon, although Red Sox fans are excited to see a real arm out in the field. I'm not sure Josh Beckett has the health or mental fortitude to deal with being a Red Sox ace. I don't believe Curt Schilling is back to normal, same with Keith Foulke. I like the young arms, but are they enough to go the rest of the way? Basically, the Red Sox are going to have to win a lot more games than they were used to with pitching and defense. I'm not sure the team is built to win enough that way. The starting pitching staff is still super-weak after Beckett (yes, I'm still not a huge Tim Wakefield fan as a full time starter). Matt Clement is a giant question mark and David Wells is a fat 42. This could go either way. The Red Sox could gel quickly and be unbeatable or they could unravel just as quickly.

3. Is there a chance a third team makes a run?
The top two beasts of the East have way too many flaws and way too many question marks for their not to be a shot. Toronto was an early candidate, but if AJ Burnett's health doesn't hold out they will be an expensive failure. At least Vernon Wells finally has some help with Troy Glaus (if Glaus' knee holds up in the Dome). Tampa Bay has a lot of young arms, including potential ace Scott Kazmir, and finally should be able to offensively match their bigger rivals. Carl Crawford is a super stud, and I can't wait to see what Delmon Young and Rocco Baldelli add. Baltimore started off hot last year but wilted under their lack of starting pitching. Since they didn't really add help, I'm not sure if they will be able to run off a consistent year. Any of these teams could have a magical season if a lot goes their way and none should be a pushover for Boston or New York, which is good news for potential wild card teams in other divisions.

On to the AL Central...

1. Can the Champs Repeat?
The White Sox still have Mark Buerhle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras. They still have Bobby Jenks and Dustin Hermanson in the bullpen. A better staff there isn't in the league. If Jim Thome's health holds up, they are vastly improved offensively, with the coup of retaining Paul Konerko in Chicago. While they still may struggle to score runs consistently and we probably have to endure another season of Scott Podsednik-love (did you hear he hustles? I love players who hustle!) this is a team that will be around in the final weekend.

2. What team has the best shot at overtaking them?
This is probably a toss up between Cleveland and Minnesota. Cleveland was in it until the end last year and their young talent is another year older. The loss of Kevin Millwood is big, and it is debatable whether Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, and Jake Westbrook can hold together. Each can be maddeningly inconsistent (especially Sabathia, who was on my fantasy team last year). The bullpen was a huge strength and lost some key players. Still, they did add Paul Byrd and Guillermo Mota for depth. Byrd especially should be a good fourth starter. He's twice the pitcher Ryan Franklin is. Offensively I can't wait to see another year out of Grady Sizemore, Jhonny Peralta, Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner. From Minny, they are banking a lot on continued growth from Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Addition Rondell White isn't the answer. They will continue to struggle to score too often. That's why I still give the edge to Cleveland.

3. Will Kansas City or Detroit even be watchable?
What do you think?

Predictions, predictions, predictions...
New York and Chicago will win (yes, I know it's lame, but it's what I think today, maybe I'll change my mind in our final column)

posted by Gavin @ 2:08 PM  0 comments

Welcome Fantasy Baseball!

If there's one great thing about baseball season it's fantasy baseball, which is primarily the only way M's fans can keep interested in the sport after August. I'm in two leagues this year, one with friends and one with some work pals who happen to be Mets fans.

Unfortunately that latter league happens to be rotisserie. I'm not a huge rotisserie fan for the main reason that it is "lame". Weekly head-to-head is far more entertaining and does a better job keeping everyone in the championship hunt for the entire season (unless you are the Crushed Dad, whose fantasy luck runs pretty darn shallow). Regardless, you know the feeling when you are doing a draft and holding out for one player? He creeps up closer and closer until you can taste him? In our leagues some jerk like Colin would take that player right before me. In this rotisserie league I got every single player I wanted (well, after the first two rounds when I was sleeping... stupid East Coast bias time zone problems).

So I will have one league with King Felix. Other studs I was hoping for on my pitching staff are Rich Harden, Mark Buerhle, F-Rod, and Jason Isringhausen. The computer picked David Wright for me in round two, pretty funny in a game full of Mets fans. Then Victor Martinez dropped into my lap, so I took him and ran. Bobby Crosby is my shortstop wizard. Johnny Damon should hopefully grab runs for me and yes, I do have the steroid king in Bonds, who I picked in like the 14th round. All in all Colin think it's a pretty strong team, but since it's rotisserie I could really care less.

More to come over the weekend...

Go Fantasy! Take me away from my job into a land of gumdrops and fairies!

posted by Gavin @ 10:43 AM  0 comments

Rose Bowl Upcoming For UW!!

At least that's the rather rosy picture you hear if you talk to Coach Ty Willingham and his "star" quarterback, Isaiah Stanback.

Willingham: "My thought is that we will have a 13th game."

Reporter: "Um..... you are guaranteeing a bowl game for UW?"

Willingham: "Not guaranteeing..... just stating that the expectation of this team should be a bowl game."

Stanback: "I see myself in a BIG bowl this year."

Your UW Huskies, ladies and gentlemen! Now, what has happened since a horrific last few seasons that have turned the frowns upside-down for the good folks at Montlake?

Wait, I know! It's an incoming terrific recruiting class, right? Coach Ty got those blue-chippers that we knew he was going to get! In your face, Oregon! Eat our dust, USC!

Nope. 6th best in the Pac-10, 35th in the nation. Now, I can't really fault him for that; you try recruting awesome athletes to play at a recently terrible program. But there is definitely no cause for optimism here.

Hmmmm. Ooh, ooh! A revamped offensive line, right? We'll win the battle of the trenches up front to bust out with our improved running game!

Well, maybe, but we are replacing virtually our entire offensive line and our best running back from last season. It conceivably COULD be better, but it also could be a lot worse. That's not to mention the other hit to our offense in losing Craig Chambers, our one deep threat, while including Stanback as our quarterback, a man who has never really inspired game-changing performances in anyone around him while getting some major hype from various media outlets. Props to Stanback for being the one Husky that opposing Pac-10 coaches will bring up in trying desperately to say something nice about UW and trying to make sure their team doesn't believe they can just coast through the game and still win.

OK, so that's a crock. What about some love for our defense, huh? Our team will be built around tough, hard-nosed players who hit you early and often!

Again, that is a possibility, but our secondary still might really suck eggs (like worst in the country sucking of eggs), we lost our two best linebackers from last season, and there are no real incoming defenders who make you sit up and take notice.

Colin, stop being so pessimistic. Surely if you could just WATCH the Huskies during spring practices, you could see why Coach Ty and Stanback are so optimistic about their chances!

True, there is a chance that my optimism could rise if I, or anyone else, could watch the Huskies during those spring practices. However, Coach Ty has forbidden anyone from attending those practices for reasons that can only be described as "Hargrove-ian" or "Radmanovic-ish".

So, let's review. There is optimism because..... 1. Lackluster recruiting class, 2. New offensive line, running back, deep threat, and same quarterback, 3. No real bright spots on defense, and 4. No one to watch the so-called improvement.

This optimism sounds strangely familiar to the type of garbage I hear spouting from the mouths of certain politicians during a certain "war-ish" engagement..... (ed: political viewpoints might not represent the entirety of the Crushed Optimists editoral staff, the entirety of Colin's warped sense of humour, or the remaining 79% of people who live inside King County who still believe that the last gubernatorial race was "fair" and the magical votes that were found were "an act of the fairy-people" (ed: this political viewpoint AS WELL might not represent the entirety of the Crushed Optimists editorial staff)) In conclusion..... no real reason for optimism if you are a Husky fan, and if I offended anyone on either side of the aisle, I recommend a humour transplant and a severe intake of Doritos, Mountain Dew, and at least one season of "Family Guy".

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:18 AM  0 comments

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ultimate Explosion!!

Campers, it is Ultimate Explosion Time, and you know what that means... a heaping help of obsequious garbage pushed down your throat by an egotist!

Moving along to the fun...

- Brandon Roy has been named a first team AP All-American. His stock is going to do nothing but rise between now and the draft. I would be shocked if he slipped all the way to the Sonics, but if they passed on him I would perhaps literally cry.

- The Sonics are going to have an even harder time drafting that Roy fellow if they keep winning games like yesterday against the Spurs. Come on guys, we're already interested in next season, quit rubbing it in! Lose while giving us hope! Still, if there's a team I like beating, it's Bruce (kickin') Bowen and Manu (floppin') Ginobili. Generally speaking, I hate the Spurs. I do really like Ray Allen, and feel that as long as he's on our team we have a chance to be a solid playoff force each year. I also love the quote in this article about Earl Watson telling Bob Hill that he wanted Luke Ridnour to play the fourth quarter. If those two can coexist well, we are set for years at point.

- Back to the Huskies and Roy, who we are going to really miss, along with Jamaal Williams and Bobby Jones. Mike Jensen is cheered on his departure. I will not miss his penchant for crushing boneheaded mistakes, capped off by the three-point play on Marcus Williams on Friday night. Speaking of the game, if you read my long rambling game thread I do rant about the officiating a lot, but I agree with Coach Romar that the Dawgs still had multiple opportunities to win. If they don't hit that three with Appleby in the face of the shooter we win. Simple as that. It was fitting that UConn missed a tying three yesterday. Good article on what to look forward to next year, which is basically an amazing incoming class. I think we will definitely be the biggest team in the Pac-10, able to muscle opposing teams inside. Brockman, Artem Wallace, Joe Wolfinger, Spencer Hawes are more of a force than we've had in years. Add some Bobby Jones clones to the mix and we will be a good defensive squad that struggles to score consistently. If that sounds familiar, check out a UCLA team in the Final Four. If the current team had played defense better in the final few minutes and overtime, they're in the Final Four.

- The Mariners start in a week. I'm not excited yet, although I am signing up for that USSMariner feed on Sunday. My first game will be next Friday to watch the season debut of King Felix, preferably with no shin splints. While there are a plethora of articles today bemoaning the lack of bullpen performances, I could care less. The final two slots are not that important. What is important is Rafael Soriano, JJ Putz, Julio Mateo, and Eddie Guardado closing games for us. George Sherrill is far better than his numbers indicate as well. This bullpen will be a strength.

- On to the NFL, where apparently a trip to the Super Bowl still isn't enough to get the Hawks into top primetime game. Instead, networks would rather show San Diego-Oakland. That is riveting TV, folks. I can't imagine the overhype the "Manning Bowl" is going to get as well. I might just avoid ESPN for the two weeks leading up to that mess. When is the schedule released anyways?

- Finally, just can't do one of these without a Hawk article. Good recap of our offseason so far.

- Oh, I almost forgot, I did get that commemorative Seahawk DVD in the mail over the weekend and can't wait to watch it. Go Hawks!

posted by Gavin @ 1:57 PM  0 comments

Baseball Season? Already? Plus: National League preview

Well, now that the college basketball season is over for the state of Washington, ending on an extremely (and eerily) similar note to the football season, it must be time for some baseball, right?

Gavin just returned from coming down here to Phoenix, and we took in a couple of spring training Mariners games against the White Sox and the A's. Afterwards, we realized that we had done little to no blogging about the upcoming 2006 season. Blame it on the Seahawks. Blame it on the Huskies. Or.... blame it on the fact that it's usually depressing to blog about the Mariners. Whatever the reason, there have been no words of "wisdom" from us surrounding the upcoming season, with Mariners baseball set to begin on April 3rd against the Angels and Bartolo Colon (I would assume).

That's, sadly, about to change. It's time for us to begin our 2006 Major League Baseball Preview, starting with the NL East. We will endeavor to do this preview with these thoughts in mind:

1. We are not experts, and will not profess to be experts
2. We don't know what half of those cool stats mean, though we wish we did (we're just lazy)
3. We know very little about what cool rookies will rock the world
4. We realize that, if you really want to read about any of the above statements, you should just go to USSMariner or Lookout Landing, because they DO rock

Here's our schedule:
Monday: National League
Tuesday: AL East and AL Central
Wednesday: Anaheim and Texas
Thursday: Oakland
Friday: Mariners
Sunday: Final predictions

Now, the National League!! Am I going to go team by team? Absolutely not. That sounds like a lot of work. No, I'm going to do the "Land of Conclusions" approach instead, where I put forth certain questions and/or statements and agree/disagree with them.

1. Best Team in the National League: St. Louis Cardinals.
There is at least one more year for this group of Cardinals to continue their dominant regular-season performance. They still have Pujols, with Edmonds and Co. to flesh out an above-average offense. They still have Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder to flesh out an above-average starting rotation. And they still have Jason Isringhausen and Co. to flesh out an above-average bullpen. They don't seem to be great in anything, but they are really good at everything, and that should be good enough.

2. Worst Team in the National League: Battle between the Washington Nationals and the Colorado Rockies. I mean, at least the Nats have uber-rookie Ryan Zimmerman, while the Rockies have virtually no one as they go through another round of pitchers who's careers will be ruined by Coors Field. At some point, don't we have to say that professional baseball in Colorado just doesn't work? The air just isn't conducive to putting together a quality baseball team.

3. Most Improved Team:
There are a few candidates for this award this year. First, the Pittsburgh Pirates (67-95) await a full year of Zach Duke, hope for a bounce-back performance from Oliver Perez, and will depend on another All-Star campaign from Jason Bay. This is one team that I will be watching on my Extra Innings package this season, which I did end up buying once again due to the fact that, regardless of the Mariners losing hard the past few years, I am still a baseball fan, and there is a sports void outside of baseball until August. The other possibility is the New York Mets (83-79), just like every year. Still, they have Pedro, Beltran, Wright, Wagner, and plenty of other high-priced players who have the talent to knock off the Braves.

4. Most Disappointing Team: The Houston Astros. No Clemens, no playoffs. It's that clear. Brandon Backe is not a #2 starter. Willy Taveras can't hit, and neither can the vast majority of players on this team outside of Ensberg, Biggio, and Berkman. I trust Phil Garner to get the most out of this team, but it's probably asking too much for them to return to the postseason. Now, if Clemens returns in May, I might have to rethink this.

5. Player to Watch In A New Town:
Ryan Franklin in Philadelphia. I might plan my schedule around watching his first couple of starts in that bandbox. A fly-ball pitcher..... there? On steroids?

6. What Dumb Move Will Pat Gillick Do Next?:
The correct question is.... what dumb move won't Stand Pat do next?

7. So..... Barry Bonds, huh?:
May that name never be spoken of again. OK, that's too much to ask for. May that name not be brought up on every single SportsCenter from now through September. OK, that's too much to ask for. May that name not be listed ahead of Babe Ruth on the home run chart after this season. OK, that's too much to ask. May that name still elicit bile in my throat years after he retires. OK, that can happen...

8. Will the NL West suck once again?:
Probably, but not like last season. Bonds will be back. Peavy will be back. The D-Backs should be slightly better. The Dodgers will have Gagne and Drew back, at least for part of the season. So.... no, it shouldn't happen again, but none of those teams will make it to the World Series or anything.

9. Can the Atlanta Braves continue their playoff streak?:
Unless the loss of Leo Mazzone hit them like a ton of bricks. I'm through predicting against team until it actually happens. The Mets have the best chance to knock them off, but they are still the Mets.

10. So.... Predictions, Colin?:
Since you asked..... NL West: SF Giants. NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals. NL East: Atlanta Braves. Wildcard: NY Mets.

Other possibilities: San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs (if Prior and Woods are healthy), Philadelphia Phillies.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:06 AM  0 comments

Friday, March 24, 2006

NCAA Tournament: UW vs UConn Live Blog

To really know what I think about this game, read my keys to the game below. Honestly, I don't think we're going to win this, but I think we do have a realistic chance. I also fully realize that this live blog will end if I feel like sulking. Deal with it.

- Well that sure started out great. Mike Jensen as our freaking jumper, easy bucket for Boone.

- Two bad calls already. Bad Three. I'm feeling the sulk coming on a little early.

18:53 UW 2, UConn 7
Could we play worse at the beginning? Possibly. Not by much.

17:57 UW 7, UConn7
We withstand the opening couple of minutes thanks to Brandon Roy. Definitely need him to produce huge. Bobby Jones should not take threes in this game.

16:47 UW 10, UConn 8
I said Mike Jensen needed to force the bigs to play out. Need more deep shots like that. This is what is odd about UConn. They always seem on the verge to blow teams out (7-2 opening) but in this tourney always let the opposition back in.

15:05 UW 14, UConn 14
I have to say, UConn is playing as well offensively as they pretty much can (3-4 from three) and we are in this game. This could have been a disastrous opening four minutes but the Dawgs have withstood it well. They are running enough to keep away from the size disadvantage.

- The Cingular guys deserve to be slapped.

14:28 UW 14, UConn 17
Can you miss from three? Huh? Miss?

12:34 UW 18, UConn 20
Good defense by Bobby Jones. Where is Roy? Our offense looks sketchy without him.

11:51 UW 20, UConn 20
Our defense has shown up this game so far. 7 forced UConn turnovers. I don't think the Huskies are used to the type of pressure we force. Bobby Jones is playing great defense without fouling. Of course, Brockman and Williams have two already. I knew someone would get in foul trouble.

- What's in my wallet? Never a Capital One card. "No Hassle" indeed. Those commercials have been hassling me for years now.

- Miller Genuine Draft? Beer grown up? Just like most grownups... no taste. HAHAHAHA.

10:06 UW 22, UConn 24
We've only given up three offensive rebounds so far, which is not too bad. UConn also missed a three... finally (of course we gave up the putback).

9:31 UW 22, UConn 24
Appleby, you are not Magic Johnson. Let's not give away possessions like that. Then three fouls now on Brockman already. That's harsh.

7:52 UW 26, UConn 24
We're getting lucky on the misses on the one-and-ones. As good as a turnover. Our defense continues to impress. They changed the third foul from Brockman? Nice. Roy gives us the lead. First points in ten minutes. Need more than that. Let's say it again, our defense is winning the game so far.

- Agent Jean Stewart, thanks for giving a social reject such great discounts. I am now all over All State. The dancing is pretty Colin-esque.

- It is here.

6:42 UW 30, UConn 26
Another missed call against Roy, but we get another offensive rebound! Take that, size advantage! Technical on Calhoun, who's probably trying to fire his team up a bit.

5:14 UW 36, UConn 29
Jamaal Williams needs to stop traveling. That's at least two. That turnover leads to that stupid three by Brown, but WHAT a response by Joel Smith, with maybe his best play of the year drawing the and-one. That gives us a seven point lead while having taken only five threes, making only two. We are taking it right at the Huskies.

3:21 UW 40, UConn 30
Terrific defense by Brandon Roy. Marcus Williams thought he could take him off the dribble. Roy quickly abused him of that notion. Then he goes back and takes an amazing steal for the dunk! Wow! Go Dawgs! It's only some sketchy officiating giving UConn all these free throws keeping them within spitting distance.

- FreeCreditReport with enrollment in Triple Advantage? Wouldn't that mean Sort-ofFreeCreditReport?

- I'm a business traveler. If I was asked to help design a hotel, I'd add a McDonald's.

1:49 UW 42, UConn 37
The refs are not doing very well right now. I strenuously disagree with their asinine decisions.

1:14 UW 45, UConn 38
Bobby Jones actually hits a trey! Alright! And then they actually call a foul on UConn!

Halftime UW 45, UConn 40
And... the refs blow a 10 second call and get Bobby Jones with his second. Shoot. Then they blow another foul call and let UConn shoot more. Nuts. Last chance for the half... and Appleby essentially doesn't know how much time is left. He sure is dumb sometimes. Still, we lead at the half!

Key Stats: UConn has 21 free throw attempts, we have 7. Of course, they've only made 12.
3 pt shooting: UConn is 6-9 which is ridiculous. We are 3-10. I repeat, we are winning while these past two statistics are there.
Rebounding: UConn has 3 offensive rebounds, 17 total. We have 5 offensive rebounds, 13 total. This is insane.
Turnovers: We have 6, they have 13. This is the defense I've been talking about.

Overall, our defensive intensity has offset the free throw and three point advantage and has negated the size problems. Roy has a quiet 11. We need him to take over the second half so we can skate to the Elite Eight. All you can ask for is to be close at half to win the game. That's what we have...

18:24 UW 49, UConn 40
We start off pretty well, Roy bucket, defensive turnover, but stupid offensive foul on Bobby Jones. Saw it coming from fifteen feet. Pull up, Bobby, that's three. Roy again! Make him the guy! And then good steal by Jensen and foul to put Brockman to the line!

16:18 UW 51, UConn 43
Appleby has another boneheaded play, a double dribble. He needs to get his head in the game. Another no call on a Roy drive. Apparently Roy needs to lose a limb to get a call.

- Good news. I don't have DirectTV. Seriously, why would one need HBO, Starz and Cinemax? How many freaking movie channels do you need?

15:26 UW 51, UConn 43
We have missed seven shots in a row but have maintained our lead through our defense. That's good news from a dry spell. The shots will fall. Only three points for UConn in the first five minutes.

15:05 UW 53, UConn 43
Terrific penetration by Dentmon drawing the and-one! Man, has he been solid.

13:48 UW 53, UConn 45
Awful two misses by Roy on lay-ins. Still, turnover after turnover after turnover. Is this just great defense or is UConn that bad at holding the ball? 23 turnovers. That is insane. Of course, we've now had two bad turnovers in a row ourselves to let UConn back in it. The double technical gets four fouls on Roy. Man, that is awful. The officials have definitely not been good this game. Game changing call.

12:50 UW 53, UConn 50
Seven team fouls already on UW. Stupid refs. Offense already looks really out of sync without Roy. Then we give up another three. We need to stop the bleeding now.

11:28 UW 57, UConn 57
UConn cannot miss threes. 8-11. Nuts. And then another stupid foul gets four on Brockman. The ensuing free throws tie the game. We shouldn't panic. The game is still very winnable. UConn is too good a team not to have a run like this. You have to just withstand it. Our composure sure does seem threatened with yet another traveling violation.

9:20 UW 62, UConn 61
UConn missed a three? Are you kidding me? Great three by Appleby and good offense slowing down the game to get Roy back in. UConn takes the lead on a good inside feed. We are still in it. Again, do not panic. Jones didn't on the put back. Can we survive till the 8 minute mark and probably seeing Roy again?

8:25 UW 64, UConn 63
Again, this is all about survival. We are surviving without Roy.

7:45 UW 64, UConn 64
8 minute break keeping the tie in place. This has basically been a treading-water part of the game for UW and they are doing the job. Kudos to this team. Romar can keep Roy out for a couple minutes longer if he so chooses... maybe until the five minute mark.

5:30 UW 70, UConn 66
Roy is back in now, maybe a little earlier than I'd like. They have been showing the Florida-Georgetown game now, which means we get to stare at the upper left screen as the clock counts down. Get job by Williams on the offensive glass! Four point lead!

4:55 UW 71, UConn 68
Good job by Roy getting to the basket and the refs actually called a foul! Still, Roy needs to actually make these, for crying out loud.

Clock watching... clock watching...

3:56 UW 73, UConn 72
We have survived to the four minute timeout. Again, this is exactly where you want to be for an upset. Just give yourself a chance. Let Roy take the game over from here.

Shout out to Crushed Optimist Nate Acheson watching the game from the darker reaches of Kazakhstan.

2:51 UW 75, UConn 72
Roy has missed some cruical free throws down the line here. Finally another turnover. About time. Our ball after the timeout. Let's play some contained smart basketball, wind this puppy down.

1:21 UW 78, UConn 72
First possession was not contained smart basketball. The second possession is a Jamaal Williams THREE POINTER!! Come on "D"!

1:16 UW 78, UConn 73
Bobby Jones has now fouled out. We actually got a little lucky with all these guys with four fouls that it lasted this long. It also put Josh Boone at the line, who can't hit free throws.

21.2 UW 78, UConn 76
Cannot let Rashad Anderson that open. Come on Dentmon!

21.2 UW 80, UConn 76
Attaboy

11.2 UW 80, UConn 79
Stupid Jensen. If that's the end of his career, it's fitting.

7.9 UW 82, UConn 79
Friendly bounce on the first. Right on the second.

End of regulation UW 82, UConn 82
What a three. Oh my gosh.

2:41 UW 86, UConn 86
Hard foul on Dentmon. Not like that's a surprise. Enter Brandon Burmeister. Whatever.

1:33 UW 87, UConn 88
ANOTHER awful call. That would be called goaltending ref.

51.4 UW 89, UConn 90
One more stop guys...

Crap again. Well, Illinois fans may say we deserved it, but that was an insanely poorly officiated game. Good job Huskies. Thanks for a great season.

posted by Gavin @ 7:10 PM  4 comments

Dear Vikings, Eat it!

As I wrote yesterday, our offseason priorities now included: backup RB, resigning Mack Strong, another WR (Nate Burleson), Defensive End, Backup Safety, Kick Returner

Well, cross two off that list. First up is Mack Strong, who comes back with a three year deal, which will probably be a year-to-year situation given his age. This is big from Shaun's standpoint, as Strong probably affected Alexander's fantasy numbers even more than Hutch. He also is Mr. Seahawk. He needed to finish his career as a Hawk. I wasn't ever that worried he wouldn't return. Holmgren and Ruskell liked him too much.

The best news, of course, is the sweet revenge Seattle is now visiting upon the Minnesota Vikings in regard to one Nate Burleson. They have signed the restricted free agent WR to a seven year, 49 million dollar offer sheet. If that sounds familiar, it's the exact contract offered to Steve Hutchinson. While I believe that's probably too much money to give a number two wideout, Burleson has shown great potential. To really rub it in both the Vikings and the NFLPA's collective noses, Seattle included two poison pills. One is that if Burleson is paid MORE than all the running backs combined the deal is guaranteed (Minnesota isn't paying their RBs much). The second, and my personal favorite, is that the deal is guaranteed if Burleson plays five games in the state of Minnesota during any year of the deal. That just cracks me up.

Look, this was Pandora's Box that Steve Hutchinson's contract opened. We said it before. The NFL is going to have to reign this in, and now. Still, revenge is sure fun, especially when it comes with filling one of our main offseason priorities.

With this new signing, we now are left with a defensive end (probable first round pick), a backup safety, backup RB, and maybe a kick returner (although with Peter Warrick returning we may not be in the market any longer with Burleson's signing). That's a pretty darn short list.

In Ruskell we trust!

Go Hawks!

Update: Per ProFootballTalk's Rumor Mill that we link to, the contract from Seattle's perspective is actually a four year, 14 million contract with 5 million guaranteed. That seems much more reasonable. The higher total is again to dissuade Minnesota from matching.

posted by Gavin @ 5:37 PM  0 comments

UW vs Connecticut: Keys to the Game

I should probably start this out by saying that in no way do I consider us a favorite to win this game. If we do win it will be an upset, and rather a large one. With that said, here are five keys to put Washington on their way to the Elite Eight.

1. Keep Brockman, Jensen, Jones out of foul trouble.
We need these guys to play a ton of minutes on the defensive end against this much bigger Connecticut squad. Jon Brockman has to be a rebounding machine. Mike Jensen has to at least not suck as much as normal against Josh Boone etc. Bobby Jones will be going against Marcus Williams, Rashad Anderson, Devin Brown or whatever other Husky is hot at the time. These defensive stoppers will set the tone and we need a tone to be set.

2. Keep second chance points to a minimum.
When you're playing a larger team like UConn, you know you will be giving up the rebound battle. However, they are far too talented to give second and third chance opportunties. We have to hold those points under 15.

3. Get hot from three.
Let's be honest. Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong will block everything in the lane. That means we need to force them outside. We need Ryan Appleby and Mike Jensen to hit big threes. We need to be at least at the 40% mark, if not 50% mark for the game. When you're the underdog, make threes.

4. We need to get their bigs in foul trouble.
If we do drive, we need to get a foul. Roy is great at this type of body control. Dentmon is getting better at it. Jamaal Williams needs to try and not just shoot fadeaways. I know UConn has a lot of depth, but a steady stream of free points is necessary to help keep pace.

5. Get Roy the Damn Ball
Brandon Roy may be the best player left in this tournament. He needs to touch the ball on almost every possession. He needs 30 points. He needs to dominate. We will go where he goes.

This will be a difficult task, but let's keep some faith and hope for the best!

posted by Gavin @ 3:50 PM  0 comments

Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Format!

Thanks to the Crushed Dad for putting in the effort on the updated site!

Basically, we wanted at some point to not look like everyone else.

Now we are awesome.

FYI... I'm the good looking one on the top. Colin is Scruffy the Wonder Dog.

posted by Gavin @ 10:17 PM  1 comments

Thursday Night Notes

- Tim Ruskell continues to plug the holes in ways we had discussed earlier, signing Tom Ashworth to a deal today. Ashworth is only 28, played right tackle for the Patriots, and stuffed Julius Peppers in their last Super Bowl win. In other words, he's young, way cheaper, but still experienced. This is what we meant by guards being replaceable. Ashworth gives us an athletic tackle possibility to slide into that position.

- More good Hawk news today as Ken Hamlin was cleared to play next season. This still means we need a good backup, but we don't need to be paying anyone starter money.

- The big picture on these two moves is probably that we are drafting a defensive end with our first round pick.

- Offseason priorities now include: backup RB, resigning Mack Strong, another WR (Nate Burleson), Defensive End, Backup Safety, Kick Returner

All in all, nice.

- Chris Wilcox has turned into an absolute beast for the Sonics. We absolutely need to sign him long term this offseason. He's going to be expensive, but not as expensive as he will be if he plays this way for a full season next year. He fits our offense perfectly and it's showing.

- Good signing by Carolina getting Keyshawn Johnson. A terrific number two receiver opposite Steve Smith. It again looks like Carolina-Seattle as the top two teams in the NFC.

- The Crushed Optimists staff get our first look at the Seattle Mariners tomorrow. Details to follow.

- The Seattle Pacific Men's Basketball team lost in the Div II Final Four today, basically because they choked the last four minutes away. Oh well.

posted by Gavin @ 8:28 PM  0 comments

Live Blog: Gonzaga vs. UCLA

Well, now, sorry for being late, but Gavin, Bekah, the wife, and myself were playing a board game instead of watching the end of Bradley/Memphis. Hopefully I didn't miss much; it doesn't appear so.

1st Half:
14 minute mark: Gonzaga 11, UCLA 5

-- It appears that foul trouble is already marking this game, as Heytvaldt already has 3 fouls

-- What a horrible alley-oop attempt by Farmar. I've seen better passes from my middle school teachers in the annual Students vs. Teachers game, where all the jocks would go up against the best that Icicle River Middle School had to offer. One year I didn't realize that only the good players were in that game, and I went down to join the action. No one actually told me that I wasn't supposed to be there, and I didn't find out until after the game that I had screwed up. Ah well.

-- Pendergraft makes a basket, and Pargo adds another for a 15-5 lead. This game is playing out exactly how I thought it would so far. Bad shooting by UCLA plus sub-par play by Farmar leading to turnovers and easy buckets for the Zags.

-- Raivio is actually carving UCLA up, which is good to see after that terrible performance last week. Remember, this guy looked remarkable last season. It's not like that talent could have all disappeared.

-- Another foul on Pendergraft, who is actually getting to the free-throw line instead of being the fouler. Of course, he misses the front end of a 1-and-1, which sucks, but I like the energy displayed by him. And as I write that, there he goes fouling Bozeman. Man, that man draws fouls the way Gavin draws Big Mac's.

-- "Is it true you do more brakes than anyone?" "Oh, those are Fred's old brakes." And my life begins to wither away....

-- Looks like UCLA scored, but we wouldn't know that because we had fun watching a few meaningless seconds of West Virginia/Texas. As Gavin says, there must be a team of monkeys working at CBS, randomly flipping from game to game.

-- A FIELD GOAL!! UCLA!! WOW!!

-- Where is Morrison? Why isn't he getting the basketball? Why are the Zags only up now by 6? Why did Morrison finally get the ball and then lose it? Blah blah blah blah blah?

-- There's Morrison hitting the runner. Good, get him involved. He only has 4 points at the 10 minute mark of the half.

-- Good move by Knight, for once, but he still can't finish the easy lay-in. Fortunately Batista is there to grab the follow and get to the line.

-- Horrible 3-point attempt by Knight. Fortunately Raivio is there to hit the jumper, and the Zags have a nice 24-12 lead. UCLA is 2/13 from the field so far. And I am laughing.

-- If UCLA wasn't hitting their free-throws, this game would be almost out of reach. As it is, Batista is playing extremely well, stretching the lead to 13.

-- 2/15 from the field for UCLA. Still laughing.

-- There's Morrison, again curling off the screen, allowing him to hit the running jumper, and Batista follows with a baby hook-shot, Zags up 31-16. They are hitting on all cylinders. Next up... not allowing the Bruins to go on a run before the half. There's 6:42 left.

-- Well, Hollins is playing well for UCLA, but there is Morrison again. Man, whenever UCLA scores, Gonzaga immediately goes down and answers.

-- 5:49 in the 1st Half. 1st mention of Morrison being a diabetic. I was wondering how long it would take.

--Excuse me. My dog is climbing my back for some odd reason. So.... Morrison is good, huh?

-- Another break, Zags up 35-20, which is pretty awesome. Commercial break: crappy commercial for Subaru, followed by that GODAWFUL APPLEBEE'S COMMERCIAL. I HAVE BANNED MYSELF FROM EATING THERE UNTIL THAT SUCKER IS OFF THE AIR. Then there is that stupid Coke Zero, where the guy gets shot with a dart by a Coke executive. I love CBS!

-- UCLA: 5/23 from the field. Still laughint.

-- Morrison is a little too intense for my liking sometimes. Can you imagine him on a first date?

-- Batista is establishing EXCELLENT position down in the paint, where he can easily finish with that jump hook he has perfected.

-- A nice couple of plays by Farmar, finally, hitting a 3 and driving into the paint. Too bad they're still down by 15. 13 at the half.

Halftime: Gonzaga 42, UCLA 29. Just like usual, UCLA scores about 30 points in a half. It's just that this time they are playing a team that scores about 40 points in a half, and so their offensive problems are magnified. As for Gonzaga, that was about as perfect a half as they could have hoped for. Morrison and Batista were amazing, with timely support by Raivio and Pendergraft. Boy, if they even play at 75% of that kind of quality play, they will be good to go!

Commercial of the Half: "Good news, I got promoted." "Good news, I got DirectTV." Hilarious. Seriously, give those marketing genuises a promotion, because it's totally true. I would much prefer DirectTV then a raise, promotion, and regular meetings with the CEO. That is soooooo true.

-- I can apply for NCAA Women's Tourney tickets online? Why am I just hearing about this?

2nd Half:

-- OK, go time. Gonzaga can NOT allow UCLA to go on a run to begin the half.

-- And what did they do? They allowed UCLA to go on a run to begin the half. Excellent, as the lead drops to 9. Mark Few calls the immediate timeout, which is a good call.

-- Good job by the Zags stopping this run by putting it inside to the big man. Batista has been CLUTCH this tourney so far.

-- Boy, Raivio is playing terribly again. C'mon, boy, get it in gear!

-- Batistia AGAIN! Man, when the Zags need a bucket, that is the man. Gonzaga up by 10 with 16 minutes left.

-- UCLA is within 6 due to Raivio's poor play. He needs to be taken out immediately. Seriously.

-- Hey, a Coach K commercial! Now, the only time we will see him during the rest of the tournament. Serves him right.

-- MORRISON!! FOULED AS HE MADE THE THREE! There we go, get to the clutch player, which also gives Afflalo his 4th foul. Excellent.... Back to a 10 point lead with 15:20 left.

-- Hey, they did take Raivio out! Wow, my advice was followed by Coach Few telepathically!

-- I have to say, UCLA plays fantastic transition defense. If they could only shoot better.....

-- 13:09 left. Gonzaga 51, UCLA 43. The Zags are beginning to give this game away, but Morrison and Batista need to get even more touches at the offensive end.

-- And there is Batista to stretch the lead back to 10. Keep feeding him the basketball. Then Morrison follows with a fast break! YES!

-- Only 9 turnovers so far by UCLA? Wow, I thought they had done more than that.

-- 12 minute mark finds Gonzaga back up by 12. They withstood the opening run by UCLA to start out the half. That might bode well for this game....

-- Quick 3 by Afflalo coming out of the break. He has 4 fouls, so it would be really nice to get that 5th on him before he gets hot.

-- Cheap, cheap foul on the 3 point attempt by Cespedes. Don't follow there, that's ridiculous.

-- Looks like we get Texas/West Virginia until that game is over. Shoot, back later.

-- What a finish in that game! Still, good to be back at the 6 minute mark, Gonzaga up by 10.

-- Man, lead down to 7 at the 5 minute mark due to a 3 by Farmar. Shoot, let's not let that continue....

-- The announcers are talking bad about how the refs are giving the game to the Zags. Sure, dudes. Sure. Um, that foul there was supposedly against Batista? Nope. Man, these announcers are whining like a Seahawks fan!

-- These minutes are going by SO SLOWLY! 3:13 left, Gonzaga 71, UCLA 64.

-- Pargo, just catch the ball, alright?

-- 2:09, Zags lead down to 5.

-- They waved off that basket? OK, even I have to call "Shenanigans" on that one. That basket should have counted, and Batista should have kicked the ball back out instead of throwing up a prayer.

-- 1:01, Zags lead still 5, UCLA ball.

-- Crap.

posted by colin_hesse @ 7:25 PM  0 comments

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wesley Reads Blogs!

Wil Wheaton, he who played Wesley on Star Trek:TNG, and who reminded me a ton of Vlade Rad-Man back in the day, reads blogs! Yippee!

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:00 PM  1 comments

Final Last Word on Hutch

Steve Hutchinson decided to throw out some last words to the media yesterday so I figured we here at Crushed Optimists should as well.

Without quoting Hutch verbatim, essentially he threw out the tired refrain of, "I'm not sure the team wanted me back, they didn't pursue me as hard as I thought they would. The Vikings really came through for me."

Here would be an excellent paraphrase.

"I thought I should be paid like a tackle. The Seahawks thought I actually played guard and wanted to pay me like that. I told them to go to hell and asked my agent to find me money. The Vikings were desperate enough to throw gobs of money at me that I can roll around in all night long. Screw you, Seattle."

Sometimes I hate pro player-speak. If Hutch really believed the Seahawks weren't interested in "pursuing" him then he is apparently a moron. I'm sure all those glowing quotes from Ruskell, Allen et al were just noise.

This is all about money. We got Julian Peterson. Life moves on. When Hutch comes back to Seattle this year and gets beaten by twenty, he can still roll around in his money and we can move on towards Miami.

LAST WORD OVER.

posted by Gavin @ 12:48 PM  0 comments

NCAA Tourney: Sweet 16 Time!

Before I get to my picks, I don't want to brag, but I had one heck of an opening weekend with my bracket, and, honestly, isn't that what is most important? I ask because I doubt my bracket will last the next couple of rounds, but getting into the top 99.9% of the ESPN brackets is pretty darn nice.

Now, as for the upcoming games.....

Thursday:

(4) LSU vs. (1) Duke - Sorry, but a team that barely beat Texas A&M (who were playing pretty well; Gillespie should get a sniff of the Indiana job) does not beat Duke, who looked awesome against George Washington. Sheldon Williams and JJ have at least one more game in them before meeting Texas in the Elite Eight. And, yes, that means more fawning by various talking heads about Redick, Duke, Coach K, and everything that is spawned from the depths of hell.

(13) Bradley vs. (1) Memphis - Why are some people saying that Memphis looked the most impressive this past week? Who did they beat? Bucknell? Well, Bradley manhandled both Kansas and Pittsburgh. Manhandled them. I watched the Pitt game, and it wasn't as close as the score indicated. Pitt was absolutely out of that game almost from the first minute. My upset special. Goodbye to the first number 1 seed exiting the tournament, while the Cinderella team moves on.

(6) West Virginia vs. (2) Texas - I like West Virgina, but not this much. Texas has both the guards to hassle West Virginia's outside game and the big guys to disrupt the non-existent post game of West Virginia. Face it. This region was going to come down to these two teams. I saw that on Selection Sunday. There was a huge dropoff between Duke/Texas and Iowa/LSU.

(3) Gonzaga vs. (2) UCLA - Now this should be a fantastic game between two of the best programs on the West Coast. I love Mark Few, and I really love Ben Howland, but Farmar's injury, the lack of a consistent offense from UCLA, and the actual appearance of a supporting cast from Gonzaga leads me to pick the Zags in a close one. Expect Morrison to rebound from a sub-par game against Indiana. And, yes, my picks would match up Bradley against Gonzaga to go to the Final Four. Mid-majors, unite!

Friday:

(4) Boston College vs. (1) Villanova - Can this four guard offense continue to lead Villanova to the Final Four? I am reluctant to pick them to do so, especially after watching them continually allow Arizona back into that game on Sunday, a game that should not have been that close. However, Boston College really didn't look that impressive, as they should have lost in the 1st round against Pacific, and Allen Ray looks clutch. Just clutch. The Cats should get at least one more win.

(11) George Mason vs. (7) Witchita State - This should be a great game, with two experienced clubs going at each other. Actually, I have been plenty impressed with both of these teams, and really have no idea who will win, so I will go with George Mason for this reason. Their coach had the guts to suspend their 2nd best player for the beginning of the NCAA tournament, knowing that him doing so could mean an early exit. That took class, and I like that. Go George!

(7) Georgetown vs. (3) Florida - This could also be called Noah vs. Hibbert, because two great big men will be going right at each other. I picked Georgetown to win this game before the tourney started, so I guess I'll continue with that pick, but my heart isn't really in it. Florida looks outstanding; the best Billy Donovan team I've seen in a long time.

(5) Washington vs. (1) UConn - I didn't think UW had a chance against UConn, and they prevailed. It took 0 turnovers from Justin Dentmon. I don't think he can continue to do that against Marcus Williams. Sorry, but I just can't justify a homer pick here. I can only hope for a close game that goes down to the wire where anything can happen.

So.... my Elite Eight.....
Duke vs. Texas
Bradley vs. Gonzaga
Villanova vs. Georgetown
UConn vs. George Mason

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:38 PM  0 comments

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So..... That Seahawks Offseason...

A month and a half ago a small event happened in Detroit that was ruined by several zebras and a bus. The zebras forgot that they weren't in Africa anymore and started chasing after all the birds they could find, while the bus, weighing over 3,000 pounds, discovered that it was a magic school bus that should have all the love of the world lavished upon it. That bus received more love for weighing 3,000 pounds then all of the teachers and nurses of the world combined. Now, the bus is in line to remain on television, growing even larger until it blocks out all the sunlight in the combined New England area.

After that, the Seahawks returned home with a semi-large offseason list, including resigning Shaun Alexander, Steve Hutchinson, Rocky Bernard, and Joe J., while upgrading their defense and special teams. I returned home (from Seattle) full of trust for Tim Ruskell, as well as full of gas from the load of chicken wings, salsa, and beer consumed in the previous 24 hours.

Well, a lot has happened in the past month and a half. Let’s go through a little recap, Colin style….

1. Hawks resigned Shaun Alexander: And the MVP of the league returns to Seattle with a reasonable deal (I’m too lazy to look up the numbers again, pretend that they are on the screen and that they are reasonable), solidifying his place as one of the top-5 players to ever put on a Seahawks uniform. While this move registered as an “ehhhhh” on the national meter (thank you, East Coast Bias, for once again proving yourself, as the Red Sox trading Bronson Arroyo got more press from ESPN), the move registered as an “chick-a-bow-wow” in Seahawks Nation, where we were now guaranteed of having an above-average offense once again, with Hass, Shaun, D-Jack, and Walter all on-board and Holmgren running the show.

2. Hawks lose Marquand Manuel to the Packers and Joe J. to the Browns: In both these cases, Ruskell couldn’t be faulted. Manuel knew he wouldn’t be the starter in Seattle, he wanted starter money, and so he went out and got starter money. Manuel is an interesting case, full of energy and decent in coverage, but his stats from last year were actually remarkably sub-par. He, along with Herndon, supposedly had terrible years. Thus, the return of Hamlin to form will more than make up for that loss. Just keep out of Pioneer Square, man. Geez, for a pacifist city, that Square has seen more violence in the past ten years…. (Basra West?) And, Seattle, take down all street signs and, instead, put up flower boxes and pictures of rainbows. Fits your image more anyways. Oh, yes, Joe J. to the Browns. Again, another move out of our control, as Joe moved to a situation closer to home while we offered him more money. Can’t fault Joe J. either, and I will always appreciate the effort that both these gentlemen extended in a Hawks uniform last year. However, even though it wasn’t our fault, my stomach, also upset by the IBS rampant in my system (yeah, it’s a fun condition to have, want to fight about it? (needed Family Guy reference)), upped it’s acidity, as our wide-receiving corps took a hit, as did our depth in the secondary. In fact, after dumping Andre Dyson, we were (and are) left in the unenviable position of having Babineaux and Williams as our 3rd cornerbacks (dear Jesus, no (actually, let’s make that a little longer…. : Dear Jesus, I know that you usually don’t concern yourself with sports, even though we always pray to you around the 4th quarter, but if I could just ask for one sports gift this month, it would be another cornerback so that I wouldn’t have to watch those two try to cover wide-receivers. Oh, and another punt returned so I never have to watch Williams muff a punt again. Thank you. Amen.)), which is a situation that needs to be remedied.

3. Seahawks resign Rocky Bernard and sign Russell Davis: And our defensive line gets even stronger, though this move might mean less playing time for one of my favorite Seahawks, Craig Terrill, the token white defensive tackle in the NFL. (I mean, come on. There are as many black speed-skaters on the US Olympics team.) Now Rocky can remember that he really isn’t as good as he was last year, while Davis can remember that he really isn’t as bad and oft-injured as he was last year.

4. Seahawks lose Steve Hutchinson to the Vikings: We’ve written a little about this recently, but it comes down to this. An owner with a name something like Ziggy decided to stop Minny fans from talking about boats filled with football players, KY-Jelly, and sexed-up women, as well as the fact that, in the past two offseasons, they got rid of Randy Moss (best wide-receiver in the game, though Norv Turner wouldn’t know that), Daunte Culpepper (when he is on, one of the best quarterbacks in the game, though don’t tell Vikings fans that; they swear by Brad Johnson, which is funny to me. Who would honestly take Brad Johnson over Culpepper? Are you kidding me?), and Mike Tice, one of the all-time worst head coaches of all time. Watching his pudgy face roam the sidelines was just a thrill for me, with that stupid pencil permanently attached to his ear (probably with KY-Jelly). Now, instead of having those players, they have an outstanding guard, an old-older quarterback, and the Whizzinator. Way to go, Vikings! And, Hutch, have fun in Minnesota in the winter. That’ll be a real treat, I’m sure. Of course, the Hawks wouldn’t have lost him if they hadn’t tried to save $600,000 by using the transition tag instead of the franchise tag. Oh, poor fools. Ruskell’s first undeniably bad move. Bottom line: Vikings paid a ridiculous amount to get an outstanding guard and will have a great offensive line as a result. Seahawks lost an outstanding guard…. and will have a great offensive line as a result.

5. Seahawks play the ugly step-sister in a weird dance between John Abraham, the Jets, and the Falcons: The Hawks are willing to give up their 1st rounder to get John Abraham, who is only one of the best pass-rushing DE’s in the league. However, Abraham really wants to play in Atlanta, near where he grew up. However, the Falcons don’t want to give up a 1st rounder. However, the Jets want a 1st rounder. And so we play….. the waiting game. Next move: Fly Paul Allen to John, and promise him that Allen will buy his home-town, dig it up, and fly it to Washington state.

6. Seattle signs LB Julian Peterson: This guy, two years ago, was one of the most feared players in the league, and was the best linebacker on the market. Our front seven is now officially awesome, and would up to extra-awesome with the addition of Abraham. DD Lewis is now relegated to a depth position where he can play either side, and our pass-rush should improve even from where it was last season. This is a good thing….

So, where do we stand right now? I give us a B- for no particular reason, other then I like how it sounds. Losing Joe J. and Hutch, even if one of those moves wasn’t our fault, hurts, while the additions and resignees definitely help. Next up: Nate Burleson, where we will put in his contract that he can only sign with a team that lives in Seattle at the time of the signing.

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:45 AM  1 comments

 


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