By Michael Grey
Five thoughts on the week that was in Seattle sports and beyond:
The Mariners started spring training with back-to-back injuries in their starting rotation when Hisashi Iwakuma hurt his hand and Taijuan Walker came up with a sore shoulder. Instantly the pressure was on the team to cobble together a five-man rotation that could get it through the first month of the season. All that made the move on Tuesday to saddle Randy Wolf (who had pitched well enough to act as one of the band-aids to the rotation) with a 45-day exemption all the more puzzling. In February, the 37-year-old was signed to a $1 million deal and, despite the rotation being depleted so severely, the Mariners didn’t want to be on the hook for even a pro-rated portion of that contract and he was released. Could that really have been a money move? Were the hundred of thousands that could have been lost really worth amplifying the stress on the rotation? And far be it for me to flippantly spend someone else’s money, but what do those dollars mean to a team that just dropped nearly a quarter billion on its second basemen? While I certainly understand not believing that Wolf was any kind of long-term answer, the Mariners will start the season with 22 games against the American League West from March 31-April 27 and Chris Young in Wolf’s place.
Jared Allen has left the building
Well, the Jared Allen Watch was fun while it lasted. Selfishly, I still believe that having No. 69 in Seahawks colors would have been a fun cover as the guy brings personality by the truck load. I also believe that he would have made the Seahawks’ defense better, but I give a ton of credit to John Schneider and Pete Carroll for knowing the value that any one player represents to this team and for not deviating from their structure in assembling the roster. Chicago came to the table at the last minute with a contract that pays Allen almost what the Seahawks awarded to Michael Bennett and it was apparent that Seattle wasn’t going to be willing to go near that high for his services. Once again, the bottom line in the NFL is, well, the bottom line (unless the Raiders are on the line, of course). It would’ve been fun to have Allen in town but not near as much fun as another deep playoff run will be.
Two out of three ain’t bad
The Sounders rebounded nicely on Sunday with a road win in Montreal after dropping a match at home a week earlier to Toronto. Stefan Frei has himself two clean sheets in three starts and, save for 12 minutes in which the Sounders’ defense couldn’t contain Jermaine Defoe, they have been solid. One obvious blemish is Clint Dempsey’s two-game suspension for a cup check on Toronto’s Mark Bloom. MLS cannot afford to stand by and allow one of its brightest talents to act out that way on the field. Cheap shots of that nature will always bring disciplinary action. Dempsey is the kind of player that can make a big difference in this league and with a full year in Seattle will be a major contributor to this squad, but not if he’s on the bench. Team USA is already calling for his services and Dempsey can ill afford to allow his temper to cost him additional time on the pitch.
Mark Cuban vs. the NFL
“Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.” That was one of a number of quotes that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban used in explaining why he believes the NFL could “implode” in the next decade. On the surface, a rant about greed from an NBA owner and billionaire could be laughed off, but does he have a point? Could the NFL be over-expanding in too many directions? The short answer is no, the NFL is simply trying to feed our voracious appetite for football. However, if you dig a little deeper you see a league pushing for more teams in the playoffs, more regular-season games, more primetime games on more networks and ultimately more teams in other countries. I could certainly see a time when the expansion of the league combined with the never-ending stream of rule changes begins to turn off a seemingly unending fan base. Will that happen in the next 10 years? I highly doubt it, but no business can grow forever. In the meantime, Cuban should turn his efforts to his own league with its massive market-to-market inequities, terrible NCAA policies and – most importantly – returning a storied franchise here to Seattle.
Speaking of money …
The Detroit Tigers just signed Miguel Cabrera to the biggest contract in the history of MLB, worth just shy of $300 million. Those are real US dollars, not some make-believe online currency or Monopoly money. The deal will take him through age 40 and actually contains club options for the two years following, which could inflate the total value of the deal to north of $350 million. Dollars. For some scale that means that the Motown slugger will make $49,423 per at-bat for the next decade. It also means that I have almost that long to find a way on to Miggy’s holiday shopping list.