By Michael Grey
Five thoughts on the week that was in Seattle sports and beyond:
Putting the “Oh!” in offense
The Mariners started the season with a bang and that’s putting it lightly. Through the first week of the season, Mariners batters are first in runs scored and third in slugging percentage. In layman’s terms, the batters in this lineup are absolutely mashing. Extra-base hits, production up and down the lineup, advancing runners, taking advantage of runners in scoring position, hit and runs, oh, and some home runs, too. Smart baseball. Fun baseball. I can almost hear It’s-A-Long-Season-Guy typing his snarky comment as I write this but, for now, I will buy what these Mariners hitters are selling. I understand that it’s a 162-game grind but all the M’s can do in the beginning of the season is begin – and they couldn’t have done it with a whole lot more pop than what we watched this week.
They can throw it, too
There are so many questions – many asked by yours truly – about this Mariners rotation as it enters the season with two of its prized horses on the shelf in Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker. Most anyone could’ve predicted a dominant opening day from King Felix, but what about seven full innings from Erasmo Ramirez and James Paxton? What about the guy that could be the biggest question mark in this entire rotation in Roenis Elias? Here is a pitcher that hadn’t started a game above Double-A and but for a blown call on a third strike would’ve pitched five innings of scoreless ball himself. This Mariners team absolutely needs the arms at the back of the rotation to hold things down as the big guns get healthy and they did it in spades so far this week. This pitching staff talked about being confident and aggressive throughout the spring, then you saw it play out right before your eyes in the first week of the season. Now about Hector Noesi coming out in late relief …
Takin’ care of business
The Seahawks called a Friday press conference to announce a contract extension for head coach Pete Carroll. While so many of The 12th Man eagerly await a contract cycle that includes Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson, this might be the most important piece of business that the franchise can get done. The plan needs an architect and Pete Carroll (along with general manager John Schneider) is just that. The Seahawks did not resemble the organization it is today when Carroll arrived. It’s not just about talent acquisition or game plans – it’s about the culture that Carroll has created. Getting his contract done is an obvious move that everyone expected but that doesn’t make it any less important for a team with a legitimate shot at repeating as Super Bowl champs. Now that Carroll’s contract is finished, the team – and the 12s – can move on to more pressing matters like the draft, deals for Thomas, Sherman and Wilson and trying to decide where to build the case for that shiny new Lombardi trophy.
Nothing like a rivalry
The Sounders have had uncharacteristic struggles at home, piling up their second loss this season at CenturyLink Field against Columbus last Saturday. Maybe a trip south on I-5 and one of the most intense rivalries in all of sports is just what the doctor ordered. It’s time for the first match of the Cascadia Cup and a date with the Portland Timbers. While Seattle has had its challenges at home, the Timbers have struggled everywhere thus far and will be looking to get right at their rival’s expense. The good news for Sounders fans is the fact that Clint Dempsey returns from his two-game suspension (they certainly could have used him a week ago). He looked fantastic in the U.S. friendly with Mexico, manning the middle and creating on offense much like he’ll be asked to do Saturday. The best news is that this match will always be the most intense of the MLS schedule. Green flares. Tifos. Eternal Blue Forever Green. Rose City Til I Die. Emerald City Supporters. Timbers Army. It doesn’t get any better than this in all of American soccer.
Draft insanity is one of my favorite parts of the NFL year. I get caught up in prognostication, mock drafts and all of the “expert” opinions out there as much as the next guy. However, when Mel Kiper went so far as to intimate that the only reason Jadeveon Clowney doesn’t end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame would be his personal effort, even I am inclined to Pump. The. Brakes. It’s hard enough to discern whether or not these prospects can even become decent pros, much less All Pros, much less Hall of Famers. I would say that it’s putting the cart in front of the horse but it’s more like having the cart shipped three time zones ahead and assuming you can get where you’re going with just the horse. I think that Clowney is a freak of nature just like everyone else, but can we wait until he’s played a single down of football before putting him in the Hall?
As always, thanks for reading my ramblings, have a great weekend and if you’re so inclined or feel the need to know more stuff that I think about, follow me on Twitter @TheMichaelGrey.