By Michael Grey
Five thoughts on the week that was in Seattle sports and beyond:
Adjust and overcome.
The Sounders will be without key members of their lineup in Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin for several weeks due to World Cup play and virtually everyone recognized that coach Sigi Schmid would need to make some adjustments to continue winning. So far, so good. Last week I speculated with Jason Rantz on the Sounders’ flagship station, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, that fans should expect a more conservative approach with attention to defense and positioning with a 1-0 type of result. Through one week I’m undefeated! The Sounders did indeed finish the match with a 1-0 win on a sick shot from Obafemi Martins (thank you to the World Cup powers that be for motivating Oba) and took care of the greatest home-field advantage in MLS. With a road trip and a Cascadia Cup match in Vancouver on tap this weekend it stands to reason to expect more of the same. If the Sounders can continue to succeed with this approach while awaiting the return of their stars, very special results could await this fall.
The debate over Robinson Cano’s lack of “power numbers” baffles me. There are those (looking at you, Jim Moore) that have gone so far as to say that a lack of home runs means that Cano hasn’t “earned” his $240 million contract thus far (and I’m not even sure how you would do that two months into a 10-year deal). I get that Cano’s home runs are down a bit this year but the guy is hitting over .300, routinely turns in “SportsCenter”-worthy defensive plays and has provided much needed leadership in the Mariners’ clubhouse. This is a player that the Mariners have not had in years and right now he’s worth the price of admission. Cano is playing as well as anyone in the American League and one need only think about what this squad would look like right now without him to realize how silly the “power numbers” debate really is.
Time to get back to work.
The Seahawks wrapped up rookie minicamp, set about signing their draft picks and went to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl win with President Barack Obama. With that should go the last gasps of the 2013 season and not a moment too soon. It’s great for fans to bask in the glow of a championship run for as long as possible but the rest of the NFL is loading up to take a run at the champs and the Seahawks will need every second of offseason preparation to get ready for a rare chance at a repeat. The NFC West alone promises to be a butcher’s block and every team will have its A game ready to test any level of distraction from this year’s Seahawks. It’s a mercilessly short offseason for the champions, but it’s time to get back to work.
How is the sausage made?
This week the NFL had yet another lawsuit filed against it by former players, this time seeking damages for painkiller addiction and allegations of medical misdeeds. Once again, the legion of former NFL players now working in the media took to the airwaves talking about their experiences in the league and once again a brutal portrait of life as a professional football player was exposed. The NFL is the biggest and most profitable entity in the history of sports but I cannot help but believe that the future of the game is in danger as layer after layer of the effects of its brutality are peeled back. In this case, even the former players that spoke to defend the league spun tales of injuries, treatments and policies that would give many pause when considering the cost of a career playing football. None of this will matter in the immediate future, but to think somewhere conversations about steering kids away from football aren’t happening at kitchen tables across the country is naive. The league’s long-term sustainability will be tested and the way it responds to pleas of former players will have much to say about the future of the game.
This is the Memorial Day holiday and for most of us that means three days of cookouts, vacation cabins or maybe a baseball game. No matter what it is that you’re doing this weekend take a moment to remember those that paid the ultimate price for which the holiday exists. To those that have gone before and those still at the tip of the spear, thank you. Come home safe.
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.