By Michael Grey
Five thoughts on the week that was in Seattle sports and beyond:
The $40-million man
The Seahawks made it official this week, signing free safety Earl Thomas to the richest deal at the position and locking him up through 2018. As contract signings go, Tuesday’s press conference felt more like a celebration than typical business and shows the way business will be done for the Seahawks moving forward. Transforming the roster of underappreciated (and often underpaid) superstars into one where those superstars get their due will be a tricky process. There is no question that Thomas is worth each and every penny he was paid, just as there will be no doubt when cornerback Richard Sherman gets his contract done in the days to come or when quarterback Russell Wilson signs his deal next year. However, in a salary-capped world there is also no question that those larger cap costs will bring more pressure on coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to mine gems from the draft and free-agent market. The talent level of this roster is off the charts, but so is the depth. Eventually you pay for one with the other. That transformation started Tuesday.
Speaking of Richard Sherman
The press conference for Thomas was nowhere near done when the questions about Sherman’s impending contract bubbled up. Reports have swirled for weeks that the Seahawks and Sherman were close to an agreement and many assume the deal will be completed before the draft. For the Seahawks’ and Sherman’s sake, I hope so. Watching so much of the attention immediately shift from Thomas to Sherman gave an indication of the all-too-famous “distractions” to come if any contract dealings last into training camp or the regular season. Repeating a championship run is tough enough, but trying to get there without your biggest star inked long term is not a place Sherm or the Seahawks want to be.
Well, what do you know?
What have we learned through one month of the season with the Mariners? We’ve learned that they can play terrible baseball and go into an eight-game skid. We’ve learned that they can bounce back and get wins against the top teams in the division and in places like Yankee Stadium. We’ve learned that Robinson Cano changes the landscape of the offense with his consistency. We’ve learned that Roenis Elias doesn’t care that he never pitched above Double-A and is going to make it hard to force him out of the rotation. Finally we’ve learned that new manager Lloyd McClendon is as steady as they come. The guy doesn’t blink, doesn’t waver and won’t be swayed by the emotions of the game. All in all, this M’s squad has shown glimpses of what many hoped would be a season of improvement all while battling injuries throughout the rotation. I can say this: they’ve been fun to watch thus far and with some starters finally returning to that rotation there’s reason to believe this team will only improve.
The Dempsey-Martins connection
The Sounders find themselves on the right side of a four-game streak with three wins and a come-from-behind draw in Portland. The club has hit that mark largely because of the offensive explosion from the Clint Dempsey-Obafemi Martins connection. Dempsey and Martins are first and second on the team in goals, assists, shots and shots on goal and there is no questioning the offensive identity of this club. The 4-1 drubbing of Colorado a week ago was a sight (and yes, I know that I say that about all Sounders home games, but it’s still true) as these two continue lighting it up. Three matches against Philadelphia, FC Dallas and New England between May 3 and May 11 give the Sounders a chance to really pile on some points before the World Cup break, and if the early returns are any indicator this should be fun to watch.
The new boss isn’t at all the same as the old boss
When the racist rantings of Donald Sterling surfaced last weekend, I fully expected some heavy-handed finger wagging and puffery from the NBA and its new commissioner, Adam Silver. I expected a cheap copy of his predecessor, David Stern, who among other things looked the other way on so many of Sterling’s transgressions in the past. By now you know that nothing like that happened. Silver issued a lifetime ban and announced he was confident that he had the owners’ support that was needed to force Sterling to sell the team for good. All this coming from a commish dealing with his first major issue and an owner that’s been a blight on the league for over three decades? A bad day for racism turned out to be a good day for the NBA and an even better one for the league’s new boss.
Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend and if you feel the need to know more stuff that I think about, please follow me on Twitter @TheMichaelGrey.