With so much going on in the world of sports right now, I have to blog today in Larry King USA Today style. Yep it’s time for quick hitters like old Larry used to confuse the masses with. King’s former column was described by the New York Times upon its demise as “A weekly offering studded with plugs, superlatives and dropped names – all usually in close proximity to one another”. While name dropping and plugs aren’t my style, I do promise superlatives and close proximity. Rest assured though, I will not wax poetic about Frank Sinatra, critique any restaurants or break down my thought on a Broadway play or musical. And away we go…
NCAA Championship: Take Michigan over Louisville for all the marbles. Trey Burke and company are too young and athletic to know they shouldn’t beat the Cardinals. Shades of the Fab 5 with this Michigan group and reports that Jalen Rose has been working with Burke to keep them focused on the prize! NO TIMEOUTS! Louisville playing for Kevin Ware, but they really miss him on the floor. Foul trouble could and probably will be their undoing.
Mariners: Home opener and all the excitement that comes with it tonight. M’s are improved offensively; Morse and Morales seem to be solid additions. Not a fan of the M’s trying to nickname Morse “Beast”, no matter how many long-balls he strokes. In the name of Skittles and Marshawn Lynch can we not come up with something more original? “Re-Morse”…”Morse Code”…ok, so those aren’t great either, but c’mon.
Worried about Smoak and Ackley? Both are off to slow starts. Smoak concerns me more. His body of work over the YEARS has shown him to not be a cornerstone to build upon. Time to send him packing by the All-Star break and move Morales to 1st, bring up Zunino behind the dish and give the DH job to Montero. All will be upgrades. Ackley was rushed to the majors and it’s showing. He may need some the time in the minors he never really got to turn things around for the long haul.
The one nice thing about the M’s this year is a new feeling surrounding the squad. This team has some power for the first time in forever. You never feel out of ballgame. Hopefully this new offense will generate some fan interest that is burnt out on garlic fries, the King’s Court and choo-choo train giveaway night as the only reasons to hit Safeco Field.
Sonics/Kings: Pick your appropriate song title for this one: Should I stay or should I go? Or “Money Changes Everything”. Chris Hansen and company have done their work. Their presentation appears to be very solid and enticing to other NBA owners. That being said, I have been impressed with the efforts of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Don’t we all wish our Seattle and state politicians would have unearthed every stone the way he has when carpetbagger Clay Bennett came to town and pulled off his Sonic heist?
Both cities deserve teams, but money will be the deciding factor here. Look for more dollars coming from Chris Hansen before it is all said and done. David $tern wouldn’t have it any other way. Plus other owners don’t want to set a precedent allowing franchise sales to be overturned in this way even if they are rewarding the Maloofs while holding their collective noses.
Hall of Fame: Glove in, Haywood out. Happy for GP, well deserved. Those that question his HOF credentials either don’t know the game or didn’t see him play here in our “part unknown” locale called the Pacific Northwest, either way shame on you. Defense and leadership were Gary’s strengths. Find me an NBA coach that doesn’t want to build his franchise around those qualities. No Glove, no love and certainly no trip to the Finals for the Sonics in 96. Timing is everything, if not for a man named Jordan, GP would have brought another Championship banner to Seattle.
As for Spencer Haywood, the rebuff is familiar. How it went down this year is atrocious. Erroneously told he was in, only to find out it was a mistake…heartbreaking. It’s a travesty. Next time you sing the HOFpraises of Lebron, Kobe, and KG, realize that Haywood was the trail blazer that bucked the NBA system to allow college players in early. He made it possible for these guys to go straight from high school to the Association. It’s still being held against him despite 14 seasons, 20 and 10 career numbers, 4-All Star appearances, an NBA title and an Olympic gold medal. Somewhere the Wheedle is crying! Hopefully a wrong will be righted next year coinciding with the Supes return to the Emerald City
Lightning Round: I know that just barely scratches the surface, so…
I like the A’s in the West and to take it all this season. Worry less about who the Seahawks back-up QB is and more about the “improving by the day” NFC West. Enough with the faux astonishment over Auburn’s alleged cheating. Boeing Boeing opening April 19th at the Seattle Rep looks outstanding. You can’t beat the Frenched Rib Chop at El Gaucho and why does the song “There used to be a Ballpark” always come to mind this time of year
Ichiro is now a New York Yankee and I couldn’t be happier. Not all of you though appear to be enthused that the face of the Mariners franchise for the past decade plus won’t be back next year. I’ve read your tweets and texts, taken your calls and struggled through your labored analogies on Facebook. I get it. You liked Ichiro!
You liked Ichiro’s Mariner career .322 batting average, 10 gold gloves and multiple All-Star game appearances. You liked his Rookie of the Year award and AL MVP trophy. You loved his record 262 hits in a season and his otherworldly .372 batting average in 2004. Clearly you love Ichiro’s numbers. I can’t blame you, but I can say now that he is a Bronx Bomber it’s time to look at the real Ichiro numbers to put the trade in perspective. (Disclamer: Any validity problems with the following numbers can be blamed on my public school education and absolute disdain for math)
1 – Number of playoff appearances for the Mariners during Ichiro’s tenure.
2- The number of “mid-level” (that’s being kind) minor league prospects the Mariners got from the Yankees in the trade for Ichiro.
3 – The number of weeks ago Ichiro asked to be traded from Seattle.
4-The number of years ago the Mariner brass should have pulled the trigger on trading Ichiro. Can you say “trade vale”?
5- Number of winning seasons for the M’s with Ichiro.
6- Number of last place finishes by the Mariners in the AL West with Ichiro.
7 – Number of combined MLB games played by D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, the newest
members of the Seattle Mariners…er…Tacoma Rainiers.
8 – Ichiro’s number in the batting order for the Yankees last night. The big Mariners debate of should he lead off, should he bat 3rd all seems pretty silly now.
10 –The grand total of playoff games Ichiro played in as a Mariner.
15.5 – Number of games the Mariners were out of 1st place in the AL West before last night’s trade went down.
16.5 – Number of games the Mariners were out of 1st place in the AL West a day after the trade.
31 – Ichiro’s new number with the Yankees, because another future Hall of Famer, Bernie Williams isn’t giving that number up, nor should he. Just ask Randy Johnson.
101 – The most losses suffered by the Mariners in a season during Ichiro’s time with the club…TWICE…in 2008 & 2010
261 – Ichiro’s batting average when he was traded to the Yankees. I paraphrase the Tom Cruise classic movie Risky Business, "You've done some very solid work here (this season)...but it isn't quite lvy League, is it?"
266 – Number of games the 10-time Gold Glove winner played centerfield for the M’s. Best outfielder on the team, but just wasn’t interested in playing where he was needed most.
288 – Ichiro’s current on-base percentage. Gulp…
916 – Number of Mariner wins during Ichiro’s tenure in Seattle. HOORAY…
963 – Number of Mariner losses during Ichiro’s tenure in Seattle. Oh….
2-million – Number of dollars the Yankees will pay Ichiro to play for them the rest of the season.
5-million – Number of dollars the Mariners will pay Ichiro to play for the Yankees the rest of the season. Please take our star…we’ll pay you!
18 –million – Number of dollars the M’s could spend next season on players, now that they’re not paying Ichiro.
And the most important of the Ichiro numbers….
0 – The number of World Series rings the Mariners won with Ichiro.
That last one was unfair. It takes an entire team to win a World Series. It’s not his fault. The Mariners are ring-less despite unbelievable, Hall of Fame caliber individual numbers from Ichiro.
Cooperstown loves numbers, especially individual numbers, but baseball is a team sport and for the bulk of Ichiro’s tenure in Seattle, the Mariners were a bad team. It’s way past time for a change. I hope Mariner fans want to celebrate winning games and championships instead of batting averages and hitting records.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all that Ichiro brought to the Mariners. He is a once in a lifetime talent. He’ll be a great representative for the M’s in the Hall of Fame one day and I will always hold his exploits with the bat and on the field in the highest regard. But I’m happy the Mariners are moving on from the Ichiro era. Both sides win with the trade. Ichiro will prosper with the Yankees as a role player instead of the reluctant star and leader he appeared to be in Seattle. I think we’d all be happy to see him join the long list of former Mariners who became World Series champs with the Bronx Bombers.
The M’s have an opportunity to continue with their never ending rebuilding project without the stifling constraints that Ichiro came with. The trade allows Seattle to go after some proper fit players from both a financial and positional view. It allows the fan base to avoid seeing the continued decline of one of its favorite players. Most importantly the deal refocuses the franchise narrative off of one individual player in the twilight of his career and back on the team and what should be their most important numbers: Wins & losses.
My long time buddy Matt recently reached out to me on Facebook with a pretty big sports question. It’s a question I hear from a lot of people when they find out what I do for a living. So direct from Facebook (with a few auto correct errors cleaned up) is my response which has conveniently turned into my latest blog post!
Matt: All right, Doug. I need your help. How can someone like me who grew up in the Don James/Chuck Knox/Lenny Wilkens era of Seattle sports get excited about pro or college sports these days? This is the most disinterested I've ever been. All I see around me is a wasteland of mediocrity and ineptitude. Am I a fair weather fan, or do you have to be a masochist to still care? Give it to me straight. I can take it... :)
Doug: Totally understand where you're coming from. The era you're talking about seemed far more genuine than the sports of today. But have the sports/ teams changed or have you?
Don James left the UW under scandal and probation. He never really answered the many questions fans had about his program. Lenny Wilkens oversaw a Sonics team that became champs during the worst era of the modern day NBA, with poor attendance, rampant drug use and horrible TV contracts (remember the NBA Finals on tape delay). As for Chuck Knox and the Seahawks, they were exciting to a city that had never had NFL success or the NFL at all for that matter. For most of the "Ground Chuck" era the Seahawks were really a 9-and-7 caliber team with no real shot at winning it all.
You didn't mention the M's, but I will. You should love the Mariners today, because they are the same bottom of the heap team today that we used to watch from the 300 level of the Kingdome in the 70's and 80's. There's more excitement about the visiting team then the home squad. Under the current M's upper management business plan I don't expect changes anytime soon.
Don't get me wrong, money has changed sports incredibly over the last 30 years. Players that make more from product endorsement than by playing the sport bring ones loyalty into question. Teams being uprooted from city to city and conference to conference in the chase for the almighty dollar ruin any sense of tradition. These things existed to a much smaller degree back in the day, we just didn't notice it like we do now.
We see it now all the time and it has led sports to the velvet rope/nightclub concept. You can see every game now on TV or follow it someway on radio, or the internet. Sports are overexposed. If it's not the game, it’s the Twitter reports on the off field antics of the players or the never ending opinions and over analysis 24/7. There's no mystery to sports anymore. Which nightclub do people want to go to? The one with the open door and the everybody welcome sign or the one with the velvet rope , a line out front and a doorman only allowing a select few in at a time?
When you're a kid, you don't notice the machine that sports truly is. You don't see it for all of its warts and flaws. We're like that with most things. As we grow older we poke holes in whatever we used to take for granted. I think many who used to love sports are disappointed today, because the escapism it provided has disappeared. Sports has always had its troubles, you're just now old enough to see them through the wins and losses.
I’ve told many stories on the air about why I ended up working in sports radio. Sports was the only real touchstone for my father and me. Sports allowed me to live my unreached athletic dreams through the games on the radio. And I’m trained for little else in this world. But the main reason I work in sports radio is two-fold. I hated covering news and much preferred the stability of sports in this ever unstable world.
Those reasons came home to roost this week with the tragic story that continues to unfold at Penn State: Charges of sexual abuse by a former football assistant coach, indictments and resignations by those in the athletic department. And now the announced retirement of NCAA coaching legend Joe Paterno, maybe just hours, days or weeks before his firing. It’s a sad state of affairs.
I got out of news because of stories like this. Years ago, I wanted to be the hard hitting news guy. From murders to political scandal, I wanted to be the guy who was impervious to the often brutal nature of the stories I was covering. I couldn’t do it.
I cried while covering a house fire story that killed 5 children in their sleep. I had nightmares after reporting on a bank robbery/suicide story and I feared for my life while covering a gunman on the loose story. I reported on those stories and many others just like it for years. I have great respect for those that have the proper detachment to do it and do it well. It just wasn’t for me.
Time for a switch to sports reporting and play-by-play. It’s been described as having a job in the candy store of life. The worst I have to tell a listener is their team lost. Or that their coach or best player is heading to another city. As a sports talk show host my predictions and opinion, while sometimes funny or entertaining, have very little impact on the athletes or games we cover. Sports also provide a sense of stability. Games are, for the most part, finite. They are governed by a fair set of rules, known by all involved. The best teams don’t always win, but the outcome is settled up front and on the playing field.
Then you have the Penn State debacle. This isn’t about a game, a coaching legend or sports. It’s about abuse and covering up that abuse to protect a program and a person that has become larger than the university and purpose both serve. We’re not talking about wins or losses. There are real victims here.
The feeling I am left with is disgust. I’ve been embarrassed listening to the many voices providing excuses for the transgressions that occurred. We trust that the legal process will eventually run its proper course. We should also trust that those in leadership positions protect and take responsibility for those in their charge. This clearly didn’t happen.
Sadly I’ve gotten used to stories like this in sports. I won’t shy away from it, I can adapt. So here it is Penn State fans. Your team lost. Your coach is leaving (in disgrace). The stability of Happy Valley is gone and won’t be back soon. There’s nothing finite about this. The eventual outcome for the victims won’t be settled up-front and nowhere near the playing field.
Now I’m depressed. Guess I better see if there are any weather forecasting jobs available.
It’s sad when the NBA season comes to an end. The final buzzer always leaves me a little misty, so you can imagine my unhappiness when the 2010-2011 NBA campaign came to a halt Wednesday night in Miami.
The season did end…right? Based on the celebration by LeBron James after the Heat downed the Boston Celtics last night, it must have!
James led the Heat on a remarkable 16-0 run to finish off the game, and the SECOND ROUND series Wednesday. After huffing and puffing and profiling for the cameras during the final minute, James fell to his knees at the buzzer and celebrated with Wade the rest of his teammates like he was in Times Square for New Year’s Eve. It was excessive, unnecessary and egotistical. It was like The Decision – Part 2.
I’m not a LeBron James hater. He is an unbelievable basketball talent. What he can do is amazing. What I don’t like is how he handles himself off the court. Last night just added to the royal pain-in- the-A persona that is “King James”.
I have heard many times today “you can’t tell people how to celebrate”. True, but hopefully, you don’t have to. I like the saying “act like you’ve been there before” much better.
The celebration by James was over the top and showed very little sportsmanship. I understand the Celtics had knocked James out of the playoffs in 2008 and 2010 and were the Beast of the East before Danny Ainge ruined his team with the Kendrick Perkins/Jeff Greene trade deadline deal, but it was a second-round win. It’s like going nuts over a wildcard playoff victory in the NFL or MLB. LeBron, you aren’t in college and you didn’t just win your way into the Final Four!
All this could be dismissed as youthful exuberance, remember King James is only 26 and has displayed THE DECISION making skills of an adolescent in the past, but the postgame press conference was James at his worst.
LeBron decided Wednesday night was the right night to apologize to the Cavaliers and their fans for how he handled things in leaving Cleveland for South Beach. Apparently he needed a win over Boston before he could say he was sorry.
"I knew I had to go through Boston at some point. I went through a lot signing to be here and the way it
panned out. I apologize for the way it happened, but I knew that this opportunity was once in a lifetime."
- LeBron James
The apology seems hollow and disingenuous. Even worse is the timing. It’s easy to apologize when things are going your way. The proper time was to say something before the start of the season or upon his return to Cleveland. Last night’s mea culpa was more about “look at me” than “forgive me”. It was an ends justifies the means statement. ”I’m sorry I left in such poor fashion, but I beat the Celtics so it must be ok.” None of this should really be a surprise, remember this is the same guy that pulled a disappearing act on reporters after his early exit from the 2009 playoffs.
Would James have apologized if the Celtics beat Miami? Would the time still have been right? We’ll never know. Maybe more apologies are coming, the Heat still have the possibility of winning another series or two (I’ve been assured the season did not actually end Wednesday night). Personally I’m hoping the mic goes silent again. The apology didn’t fit the King and hopefully neither will the ring.
Not sure where to go with this blog post. It’s Monday, May 2nd and I have wrapped up The Zone. It’s was a dream come true day for a sports talk show host. The weekend provided so many options. I wanted to talk about the NFL Draft, the NBA/NHL playoffs and the Mariners recent hot streak. But one story changed all that: The death of Osama bin Laden.
I’m not one of those “perspective guys”. You know the ones that after big natural, political or life catastrophes that say things like “It really puts things in perspective, really shows you what’s important in life”. If I needed the events of 9/11 or the death of Osama bin Laden to put things into perspective in my sports world, then I am too myopic and clearly have some other issues to deal with.
I enjoy and work in sports for many reasons. One of those reasons is the simplistic nature of the rules and guidelines that define and dictate game play. During play nothing else matters but the game itself. As a player, coach or fan you can get lost in sports, from game to game and season to season. For many it is the release or escape from the woes or monotony of daily life. I think that role is magnified in situations like this. We need escapism. The baseball and football games following 9/11 provided that almost 10 years ago. The games tonight, tomorrow and throughout the week will provide the same relief.
Sporting events also draw us together. The stadiums and playing fields give us a rally point. Philadelphia sports fans have been much maligned (rightfully so…they once threw snowballs at Santa) but the chant of “USA…USA” Sunday night at Citizens Bank Ballpark is one of the lasting images I will remember.
Sports also teaches the idea of moving forward. Do not dwell on a loss, instead move on to the next game. If you are a Zone listener, you by now know that that’s what we chose to do on Monday’s show. We addressed the enormity of the news of Osama bin Laden’s death and moved on. I think our job is to get back to promoting and championing sports during trying times as discussed above. Hopefully we did our job well, providing some escapism while drawing us closer together at the same time.
Smarter people than I have put pen to paper to explain the meaning of Sunday night’s events and the role the sports world played around it. I urge you to check them out.
1. CAROLINA - CAM NEWTON, QUARTERBACK, AUBURN
2. DENVER - MARCELL DAREUS, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, ALABAMA
3. BUFFALO – VON MILLER, LINEBACKER, TEXAS A & M
4. CINCINNATI – A.J. GREEN, WIDE RECEIVER, GEORGIA
5. ARIZONA – BLAINE GABBERT, QUARTERBACK, MISSOURI
6. CLEVELAND – PATRICK PETERSON, CORNERBACK, L-S-U
7. SAN FRANCISCO – ROBERT QUINN, DEFENSIVE END, NORTH CAROLINA
8. TENNESSEE – NICK FAIRLEY, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, AUBURN
9. DALLAS – TYRON SMITH, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, USC
10. WASHINGTON – JULIO JONES, WIDE RECIEVER, ALABAMA
11. HOUSTON – PRINCE AMUKAMARA, CORNERBACK, NEBRASKA
12. MINNESOTA - JAKE LOCKER, QUARTERBACK, WASHINGTON
13. DETROIT – ALDON SMITH, DEFENSIVE END, MISSOURI
14. ST. LOUIS – DA’QUAN BOWERS, DEFENSIVE END, CLEMSON…
15. MIAMI – MIKE POUNCEY, OFFENSIVE LINEMAN, FLORIDA
16. JACKSONVILLE – RYAN KERRIGAN, DEFENSIVE END, IOWA
17. NEW ENGLAND – ANTHONY CASTONZO, TACKLE, BOSTON COLLEGE
18. SAN DIEGO – J.J. WATT, DEFENSIVE END, WISCONSIN
19. N.Y. GIANTS – CAMERON JORDAN, DEFENSIVE END, CAL
20. TAMPA BAY – AKEEM AYERS, LINEBACKER, UCLA
21. KANSAS CITY – STEPHEN PAEA, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, OREGON STATE
22. INDIANAPOLIS - GABE CARIMI, TACKLE, WISCONSIN
23. PHILADELPHIA – CAMERON HEYWARD, DEFENSIVE END, OHIO STATE
24. NEW ORLEANS – ADRIAN CLAYBORN, DEFENSIVE END, IOWA
25. SEATTLE - NATE SOLDER, TACKLE, COLORADO
Here’s the 2011 NFL Zone Mock Draft. We locked ourselves out after the Seahawks pick at 25! Tune in Thursday, April 28th for live coverage of the NFL Draft from Seattle Seahawks headquarters. See if we came close on our picks!
Everybody keeps asking. Who do ya think is gonna win? Who you going with on Sunday? Who's going to win the Super Bowl? I don't think you're going to like my answer.
Let's be clear, the number one thing I hate about sports talk radio is predicting games. We do it on the show (quite often tongue in cheek) for entertainment, but I'm not a gambler and I never claim any inside info on games. There's nothing enjoyable about the radio host that gives you his "locks" of the week or offers his thoughts on the lines for a particular game. Even worse is “I called it" guy. You know the type that can't wait to tell you over an over again that he knew what was going to happen and as if predicting a win somehow played a role in getting that win.
All that being said, I will make a prediction for Super Bowl XLV. That prediction is PAIN! With apologies to Clubber Lang from Rocky III who made that phrase famous, I think this Super Bowl is going to hurt....a lot!
I'm not talking about James Harrison or Clay Matthews knocking the spit out of opposing player’s kind of pain (although that will occur). Nope I'm talking about a pain that won't go away with an ice bath, a numbing pain killer shot or even surgery and rehab. This Super Bowl will leave the kind of pain that will hurt all over and last a long time. Maybe even years.
The NFL is poised for a work stoppage after the end of this season. The owners and players association have not been able to agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the past two years. The deadline isn't actually until March, but in reality the NFL as we know it will stop after Super Bowl XLV. No free agency, no signing draft picks and no trades. NO FOOTBALL.
I can go on and on about billionaires versus millionaires, or killing the golden goose, but why bother. Both sides have known about this for too long to not have the framework for a new deal in place. I cannot empathize; I have little in common with either side, except a love for the game. I have no interest in waiting to see who will blink first.
There will be a winner Sunday in North Texas. There will be a whole lot more losers everywhere else as this season sees its final curtain. You don't know what you got, until it's gone. Sadly we are going to find out all about that adage after the final whistle of Super Bowl 45. So if you want my prediction for the big game here it is: I want a tie! Overtime rules be dammed! Low scoring, high scoring, I don't care. I just need a tie that keeps the players on the field and that doesn't allow the game to end. "No pain no gain" is a great catchphrase, but I like this one better..."no end no pain!" Enjoy the game everybody.