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!

Monday, July 31, 2006

I'm..... Entertained?

Before I jump into your regularly scheduled topic, I must gush a bit more at Tim Ruskell for getting CB Kelly Jennings signed and into camp. It is pretty much HUGELY important for rookies to get all the camp time they can, and even MORE important for a position such as cornerback, where potential star players routinely struggle in their first year.

Antrel Rolle? Check.
Pacman Jones? Check.
Ken Lucas? Check.
Marcus Trufant? Check.

It takes a while for cornerbacks to adjust to the faster, more physical wide receivers of the NFL, as well as the more accurate routes being run and the more accurate balls being thrown (except if your quarterback happens to be Aaron Brooks or Mike Vick). Entire game plans are drawn up around picking on the rookie.


Let there be no mistake about it. Our coverage team, as it stands, has multiple question marks in a division that THRIVES on throwing the football. THRIVES.

The Arizona Cardinals? The NUMBER ONE passing attack in the NFL last year. NUMBER ONE. That's better than the Colts, better than the Broncos, better than the Rams, better than the Seahawks. That is with Kurt Warner at quarterback and ZERO running game. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are special players (not special as in Isaiah K. "what a cool story" players, or special as in Pete Prisco), and Matt Leinart and Leonard Pope are awesome additions to their arsenal. The St. Louis Rams still have Torry Holt, who is the man. Perhaps the best wide receiver in the game today, though he doesn't open his mouth enough to be considered the best receiver, aka Chad Johnson or T.O.

As for the 49ers? Well, much ink will be wasted on the coming emergence of Alex Smith and the vaunted San Francisco passing game. Antonio Bryant! Yes! Not too worried about that. Yet.

Still, we combat those divisional foe's strengths with a "star" cornerback who reguarly allows big plays (Trufant), a rookie cornerback (Jennings), a poor to decent cornerback (Herndon), a safety coming off a life threatening head injury (Hamlin), and another safety still learning his position, which cost us with the Willie Parker run in the Super Bowl (Boulware).

This is a problem, a problem that would have been solved with an open checkbook thrown in the direction of Ty Law, who is overrated (no longer a shut down corner), but would have given our secondary stability. Not sure what Ruskell was thinking there. Seriously, I love Ruskell, but let's face it. His sophomore offseason was not quite the gleaming jewel of the previous offseason. Not franchising Hutch was a huge, whopping huge mistake (which, by the way, I caught immediately and Gavin made fun of me for being a whiny puss), and there should have been more attention paid to the secondary. Don't get me wrong. This wasn't a disastrous offseason by any means. It just wasn't super-awesome.

Wow. That took a little longer than I thought. Bottom line. Jennings is in camp, which should be seen as a HUGE deal to Seahawks fans, due to the fact that this is the SINGLE rookie perhaps fighting for a starting role at a position that is notoriously hard to learn. Again, big deal here.

When I sat down to write, however, my initial thoughts were with the Seattle Mariners, fresh off one horrific game and two exciting games with the Cleveland Indians (who, by the way, have to be my pick for most disappointing team in the majors). This series caused me to think back to the last three years of watching this ballclub.

In April of 2004 I was freshly married, with a full-time job, and planning to move from Spokane (armpit of the West) to Phoenix (what hell would be like if Satan didn't have air conditioning) to start grad school (and never work again). Thus, I didn't have too much time to watch the Mariners, and what I DID see was some of the least exciting and interesting baseball of my life. There was ZERO energy on the field (until September and Ichiro). Edgar looked like he needed a Red Bull. Olerud looked dead, as in his body was actually deceased but his mind hadn't caught up to that fact yet. Winn looked asleep, like he always did. Spaz looked stoned, Aurilia looked like a deer in headlights (guess the NL isn't as good, eh?), and Hasegawa looked like he'd much rather be back in Japan.

It wasn't, at all, fun to watch. That group wasn't just a losing ballclub, they were a losing ballclub with no hope and no energy. There was almost no reason to watch them.

Still, Gavin and I held out our optimism and declared 2004 a hiccup, a mere blip in our run of winning seasons. Surely 2005 would prove us right!


Again, 2005 started off as 2004 left off, except with a few new players taking the roles of sucking, like Beltre, Pineiro, Sele, Nelson, and Boone. Again, it was difficult to watch. There was no offense, the pitching would only stop the other team through sheer luck, and even Ichiro looked like he wanted to quit for the rest of the season.

Suddenly, up came Felix. Finally, a reason to watch Mariners baseball! He didn't disappoint, stunning us all with his two month run. Jose Lopez was up. Betancourt was up. Boone was gone. Olivo was gone. There was a faint glimmer of hope for the future, though, again, the M's were mostly only watchable when Felix was pitching.

Unfortunately, even THAT was taken from us at the beginning of the season, as Felix turned surprisingly mortal, allowing young pitchers like Verlander and Liriano to far outshine him. Sure, Lopez decided to become awesome, but that wasn't fully enough to make the M's entertaining, especially when Guardado had fallen apart.

Now? Now it's different, win or lose. There is a different feeling watching Mariners baseball to me right now. I actually (gasp!) enjoy watching these guys. Now, it's not like I didn't watch them before, no, it's either that or do something boring with the wife, like knit. It's just that now I don't read while half-watching. I wait to see which Mariner will do something kewl. Will it be Lopez at the plate? Betancourt in the field? Johjima? Ichiro? Ibanez? Putz? Lowe?

The majority of players on this team are actual good players now! And, for the most part, they are young, good, and hungry. They aren't bored with the game, as Edgar and Olerud looked. They aren't surprised that it's harder to hit the ball without steroids, as Boone and Spaz looked.

No, for the first time in three years, I am being entertained by Mariners baseball. And I love it.

P.S. No, I don't believe they are a playoff team.

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:53 AM  0 comments


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