Those Tacoma Stars

Don’t get excited that I might get excited about soccer. Especially indoor soccer. But the Tacoma Stars are back and apparently in a big way. Local South Sound guy Lane Smith is the owner. With local roots dating back to his childhood Smith was a player for Lincoln High School. He is truly a local guy with local connections. The Stars will partner with The Rainiers.

The 20 game season won’t kick off until early November but group and family tickets are for sale and the marketing staff is laying out plans. Very simply the franchise has plenty of good on its side. The Stars will play at the Showare Center in Kent. WHile a drive from Tacoma it is a fist class, right sized facility. The product will be priced right. A family of four will be able to go to two Stars games for the price of on U.S. Open golf shirt.

Smith and his team are perfect for this venture and they know the South Sound. Pay close attention. The Tacoma Stars will be a winner, regardless of how much they win. AND the Stars have maybe the best logo and brand in soccer.

Those Tacoma Stars

The NBA Lost Me

I went to a few Sonics games the last couple seasons they had in Seattle.The NBA was always full of incredible athletes in my view. Some would say they were almost too good. But the season has always been long and taxing. Even the greats appear to stagger to the finish line, pacing themselves as the season hits Valentines Day. Elephants can pop out twins in an NBA season.

After following and watching the Sonics for those three decades it was painful view the last edition of the team. The rebuilding and the losing and the half empty building cured any addiction, or even fondness I had for the game and even the league. The NBA and the Sonics did a nice job weaning me off the Sonics. By the time they left town there was no withdrawals at all. I felt guilty as many I knew suffered, some not so silently. That was seven years ago.

During that time I did what a good sports guy should and would do. I suffered with the Mariners. I REALLY suffered with Husky football. For that matter I suffered with Husky basketball as well. and of course I enjoyed the Hawks run and the transformation of Seahawk fans into something beyond Oregon Ducks fans. But all was good and as the Lakers sunk I realized that I had no interest at all in the NBA. I didn’t miss the season and didn’t even watch much of the playoffs. I didn’t care if Lebron James moved to the moon. I didn’t care if Okla co-owner Aubrey McClendon drove Chesapeake Energy into the ground or was fined $250,000 by the NBA for telling the truth. For me The NBA had fallen below the Paris Hilton line. That line below which i just don’t give a %$#+*. The Paris Hilton line is the Equator of apathy.

For no reason at all I turned on Tuesday nights game number whatever between the Cavs and the Warriors. I watched most of the last quarter. I watched a 15 point lead almost evaporate. A big lead going poof in a few short minutes is an excitement generator unique to basketball. I admit I have no rooting interest, but I watched. The great Lebron James shot 40%. The Cavs hung on and won the thing but I just watched. Down the stretch, the game on the line the only blood pressure rise I experienced came from the breathless announcers and a sideline lady named Doris.

What the last few minutes looked like to me was a lot of hectic grabbing, holding, hacking, stumbling around. There were many more fouls not called than called. Golden State managed to get 46 rebounds along with 25 fouls and 58% FT shooting. Some of those numbers would get you terminally sentenced to the JV team in your school days. After the game was over that Doris person seriously asked James how he maintained his class and dignity under such duress.

As most vowed to not miss a minute of the next game in the series I felt comfortable not knowing when the next game was to be played. So as I maintain hope that we see an NHL team here in the Puget Sound I am comfortable with the NBA playing no role at all in my life.

To validate my disinterest, 30 minutes after the game ended I was much more locked in to a rerun of Law & Order.

The NBA Lost Me

Do You Believe In (Not) Miracles? Or Curses?

“Do you believe in miracles?” Around 7:30 PM, February 22, 1980 at the Olympic Arena in Lake Placid, New York Al Michaels bellowed that non-question as the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviets. That U.S. team famously went on to secure the gold medal against all odds. To this day many of us feel sincerely that WAS indeed a miracle.

Sports events can go the other way. Play can get so bad, failure so extreme that it feels as if a non-miracle is happening. Normal, not quite possessed people / fans would consider this a curse. Let’s examine a professional athletic team currently cozying up to curseville.

This major league baseball team appears to be the most run-scoring challenged bunch since the first few games of the first Bad News Bears. This team gets on base and knocks in runs like Scotty (“yer killin’ me!!!) Smalls. in 54 games this team has scored three runs of less 31 (57%) of 54 games. In those 31 games this team has a record of 11-20, a ,355 clip. More currently this team has scored only 21 runs in nine games. That is an astonishing 2.33 runs per game. On May 26, ten games ago this team last scored more than three runs. Even worse, this trend has been running for months, actually years. All of this has caused almost everyone interested to call for the general manager to be ousted, erased, shot out of a cannon with no net and more..

One other not-to-be-believed truth: during a recent four season stretch this team finished numbers 7, 13, 13 and 14 in runs scored in the 14 team American League. Two facts: (1)The team is the Seattle Mariners. (2) That four season stretch was the period just PRIOR to the appearance in 2008 of one Jack Zduriencik.

See, the Mariners have been this incredibly, epically  unable to score runs for not just years but eras. Baseball logic tells us this is not probable, not really even possible. Only one question remains: Do you believe in curses?

Do You Believe In (Not) Miracles? Or Curses?

A few Questions

It is never time to panic in baseball. Even when it comes to Mariners baseball. But if manager Lloyd McClendon can start Logan Morrison (no, NOT JIM Morrison!) as lead off hitter then I can ask some questions. And I really think there is little that can be done to get this M’s bunch even playing .500 ball in 2015.

WHY isn’t Franklin Gutierrez up from Tacoma, playing CF or any OF position? Seth Smith is the only OF currently earning his meal money. Why isn’t Jesus Montero up from Tacoma, playing   DH or anywhere? Lomo will need another incredible hot streak to hit .240. WHy isn’t Ketel Marte up from Tacoma playing SS? He is the PCL leading hitter and an offensive producer. If his batting average drops a HUNDRED points he will still be hitting better than Miller. Why is Rickie Weeks still on the roster? Why is Dustin Ackley still marching out there almost every game. When will Austin Jackson ever hit .250? Or will he ever?

There is never a time to panic. But 50 games into the season is none to early to quit trying things that clearly don’t work. And this “offense” is not working at all.

A few Questions

Will Mariners Ever Score?

Of course. The Mariners always score. Sometimes they score zero runs. Often they score either two or three runs. And that is about it. The M’s NOT scoring runs is like rain in Seattle. But even Seattle gets our occasional great sunny summer and even warm winter. When do M’s fans get to experience runs ringing up at Safeco like “light drizzle” days, one after another after another? After a decade of under scoring under achievement the M’s finally went out and did something about it.

Robinson Cano came in 2014 for big bucks and delivered. Batting .314, his home run total disappointed some but those 37 doubles were solid. (More than Ichiro ever got by six! OK, sorry). Really didn’t matter though. Even with the M’s startling us all and winning 87 games they only scored 3.9 runs per game while all of MLB averaged 4.07. This season Nelson Cruz has out produced any free agent ever for Seattle. By out produced we mean generating runs and at an almost epic pace, at least by Seattle standards. Pretty cool, huh? Well, not so much. In the world of MLB run scoring  the M’s have clawed their way backwards to where they have been for years. That would be, at the bottom or close to it.

Through 47 games your 2015 M’s are averaging 3.8 runs per game. Overall MLB is averaging per game per team 4.18 runs. How can this be? That’s nothin’. Consider these numbers, or lack of through 47 games:  The M’s have scored three runs or less in 24 of those 47 games. In those three runs or fewer games the M’s have gone 9-15. That is a .375 rate, folks. If we still harbor playoff hopes and need to win 90 or so Seattle needs to play .583 ball the next four months. That is well north of .375.

Well, waitaminute. Baseball can be a game of streaks, right? Yes, but Seattle can’t seem to  streak the right direction. Early in April our M’s actually scored five runs or more four games in a row, against the A’s and Dodgers. FIVE RUNS! So they can do it. Two issues: 1) since that stretch the M’s have not scored five runs in even two games in a row AND (2) even in that offensive explosion our guys managed to lose two of those four games.  Later in April the M’s scored three runs or less eight of ten games. In those eight games the M’s did manage to win four. May 13-16 against SD and Boston the Mariners hit the pay station for SEVEN runs in FOUR games, a scorching 1.75 average. And again The M’s won half of those.

As the seasons closes in on the one-third mark the Mariners find themselves at number 25 in the majors in runs scored. Being ahead of the White Sox that means THIRTEEN NL teams are scoring more than Seattle. That’s like losing a three-legged race to a team with only one leg.

So, will the Mariners ever score? Of course they will. Will they score enough to win another 67 games? Only if they can score five runs in a game more than once a month

Will Mariners Ever Score?

Mariners Fans Are Spoiled!

You read that correctly, we Mariners fans are really spoiled. Not in the classic, in the playoffs ever season, win three World Series titles sense. I am talking about the getting to watch some of the greatest single players in the modern era kind of spoiled. I won’t go through the list of players that came up or made historical marks with the M’s who are or will be enshrined in Cooperstown. But looking at Hall of Famers it is apparent Mariners fans are and have been spoiled. Given the painful futility of the last decade plus it is worth noting that we have been witness to some true greats. And thus spoiled relative to some more successful teams. Of course virtually every other team has won more than Seattle the last 12 seasons or so.

Consider the top teams historically by HOF members are NYY (22), NY Giants (18), Cardinals (17), Cubs (13), Cleveland & Red Sox  & Pitt(12 each) and the list goes on. What is interesting is the bottom of the list. Ariz, Colo, Hou, LA Angels, Seattle and the Rays all have none. KC, Mets, Rangers and Blue Jays all have one each.

The Mariners have been around, mostly losing for 38 seasons. During that time no less than SEVEN Hall of Fame worthy players started their MLB careers in Seattle. One of those Lou Piniella obviously started elsewhere but managed Seattle for 10 years. Without getting buried in detail or debate, the following are those HOF type guys: Junior, Randy, Ichiro, Omar Vizquel, Lou and Edgar, We give a coulda/shoulda to A-Rod. I really don’t think Edgar will get in but he should. Many forget Omar but he is truly one of the great SS of all time.  Randy got in on the first ballot, Junior will as well. Iciro also should be a first ballot guy. Bottom line is we suffering fans have not only witnessed the performance of these six elite players, they all came along since 1989, or in the last 25 years. Very few, actually NO team with Seattle’s losing history has produced this quantity of true stars in this time.

And now, Felix Hernandez has become as great a  player as we have ever seen in our town, on our team ever. He came here very young, performed better and better, year after year. AND then, he chose to stay in Seattle. Maybe no other truly great player ever suffered through losing like that  and chose to stay. The M’s could have traded Felix for a ton, and Felix could have left town for a ton. Lo and behold neither happened!

Felix is here and he is indeed The King. Now in his 10th full season Felix has never started fewer than 30 games in that stretch starting 31 three times, 33 twice and 34 three times. Felix is so good every time out fans only need worry about marveling what we behold.

Right after or along with Ken Griffey Jr., Felix Hernandez is the greatest athlete in Seattle history. Griffey is still the greatest, but The King, in his prime is not nearly finished. It is OK for we fans to be spoiled, as long as we know it.

Mariners Fans Are Spoiled!