By Michael Grey
Five thoughts on the week that was in Seattle sports and beyond:
Passionate and paid.
The news from the Seahawks that they’d signed WR Doug Baldwin to a contract extension isn’t the biggest financial deal of the year. It’s not a cap-threatening deal. It won’t make national headlines or burn up the wire. However, it might feel better than any contract the Hawks will sign (until that Russell Wilson guy gets his money next year, that is). Angry Doug Baldwin (DB himself will tell you he’s passionate, not angry) finally got the deal that he wanted. Not by holding out. Not by skipping workouts. Not by taking on management in the media. Doug Baldwin got paid because he put his head down and got to work the day he got to the NFL and hasn’t looked up since. An undrafted free agent has become the most clutch WR on the best team in football, and he continues grinding to this day. At his press conference Thursday he said he still has much to accomplish. He claims he wants to be the best WR ever, go to Canton, and that he and these Seahawks want to do things the NFL has never seen. Don’t bet against him. In the meantime, it’s a great deal for a guy that truly has earned it.
The Legion of Zoom?
The first day of Seahawks OTA’s passed without a great deal of fanfare (which is great news compared to the alternative – just ask the Dallas Cowboys), but there was one interesting nugget concerning the prospect of Earl Thomas returning punts. Pete Carroll went so far as to say that if the season started today that Thomas would be the Hawks’ lead return man, replacing free-agent departure Golden Tate. For Thomas’ part, he claimed he’d been lobbying coaches for some time to get a chance to make plays in the return game. Carroll also said that Richard Sherman would be next in line for return duty – could we see members of the LOB deployed in new ways in 2014? Seems like a stretch to think one of the best safeties or cover men in the league would be used on special teams, but this is a Pete Carroll Joint, and with these Seahawks, never say never.
They are who we thought they were.
The Mariners were a perfect .500 through 50 games at 25-25. In 2014 that puts the Mariners within reach of a wildcard spot in a muddled and mostly mediocre American League. It also means that now we all have a pretty good idea what this team would need to make the jump from “better” to “contender.” The obvious fix is to add a bat with some power (oh where art thou Kendrys Morales?), but the other perhaps more daunting addition is a fifth starting pitcher. Don’t get this twisted, it’s been an amazing feat to see this patchwork rotation hang in, and in cases excel, to this point. Roenis Elias is my favorite story of this still young season, and the resurgence of Chris Young is worth some ink as well, but they’d be so much better in the fourth and fifth spots. The news that James Paxton’s rehab had stalled with shoulder inflammation was nothing short of depressing for M’s fans waiting on his return, and the still uncertain timeline for Taijuan Walker (who it’s worth noting is still unproven himself) provides little in the way of assurances. The M’s have obvious offensive needs, but to really make the jump some of the guys that they were counting on back in February have to find their way to the hill.
The letter B.
News broke Thursday that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had won the bid to buy the LA Clippers for 2 billion dollars. That’s billion. With a B. That’s more than the sale prices of the Pistons, Bucks, Grizzlies, Sixers and Pelicans combined. Even if he doesn’t complete the purchase, why would Ballmer choose to set a sales record in Los Angeles when he was working so hard with Chris Hansen to bring the Sonics back to Seattle? Instant gratification? Is he just bored in his post-Microsoft life? Did he lose a bet and have to prove he could spend $2 billion all at once? Rumors will circle and conspiracies will mount, but I have to believe that a good deal of his motivation comes from knowledge of his ownership prospects here in Seattle. It’s not just the NBA that needs to be dealt with but city, county & state officials seeking re-election, changes in the mayor’s office, an environmental impact study that has repeatedly been delayed and more. Make no mistake, there are challenges to the return of the Sonics closer to home than the new commissioner of the NBA. I believe Seattle will get the Sonics back (and, if the Sports Gods are kind, a NHL franchise to go with it) but the timeline for that move looks a lot less satisfying with the news that a man with the resources Ballmer commands is no longer interested in the project.
Be a kid again.
Chances are if you’re a sports fan that you got started when you were a child and have some fond memories of that time growing up. I had the opportunity to take my kids (ages 3 and 5) to their first big league game at Safeco last Sunday as the Mariners took on the Astros, and watching that game through their eyes is something I will never forget. I’m embarrassed at how often I myself lose track of what it is that made me love sports in the first place. At the end of the day it really is about the game. The pure, unadulterated fun of the game. It’s serious business and I get that but someday I will thank my kids for helping me keep hold of the joy of sitting at a ballgame with a hot dog, two sets of new eyes and cheering on the home team.
Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend and if you’d like to know more stuff that I think about or want to continue the conversation, please follow me on Twitter @TheMichaelGrey.