July 31, 2014: A day to remember in Seattle sports
What a difference a day makes.
My Thursday started like every other day this week: up early, out the door, top down on the Jeep and off to the Seahawks’ headquarters for another live show from training camp. But by the end of the afternoon I would find myself checking my Twitter feed to see if Gary Bettman and Chris Hansen had completed an arena deal for an NHL franchise here in Seattle because it was the only thing I could think of that would make the day much better.
First, there were Angels.
As most know, the Blue Angels practice for Seafair over Lake Washington and end up directly over the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where the Seahawks hold training camp. What you may not know is that I am junkie for military fighters, and whenever there’s so much as a pre-game flyover I turn into the giddy child I was when my dad took me to air shows. It may have been an annoyance for many stuck in traffic as result of the I-90 shutdown, but for me it was a thrill to have my own mini-show from some of the nation’s finest pilots. The Apache and Blackhawk helicopter flyover at the end of practice was just icing on the cake.
Then, there was the Hall of Famer.
Needless to say, the Seahawks have a different level of media covering their preparation for this season than they did a year ago. Tuesday, ESPN was on site for a live broadcast. Thursday, Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk was on hand for the NFL Network and the only shade to be found was under the 710 ESPN Seattle tent. It’s not every day that you get to spend the morning sharing jokes with an all-time great.
After that came the fireworks for Mariners fans.
For weeks, I’ve been on my high horse about the moves I believed the Mariners should make – and more importantly avoid – at the trade deadline. The only deals that made sense for a team grasping at a wild-card berth were those that involved no-name minor-league talent for rentals or bigger pieces of the future for big-league-ready players with years of club control.
First came the trade with the Padres that sent two minor leaguers to San Diego in exchange for outfielder Chris Denorfia, the quintessential nothing for not-much-but-maybe-something deal. The Mariners got needed help in the way of an actual big-league outfielder, and while his .242 average isn’t great, Denorfia has hit .301 over his career against lefties and is a veteran presence.
With the Mariners still nursing obvious offensive needs, the rumors of a David Price deal persisted throughout the morning. Just an hour after the Denorfia deal was announced, Seattle did indeed get involved in a Price deal, but one that sent him to Detroit. In jumping into a three-team deal, the Mariners acquired a quality center fielder in Austin Jackson from the Tigers and only had to give up infielder Nick Franklin, who had become a non-issue, buried on the shortstop depth chart and with no chance of displacing Robinson Cano at second.
This was a truly a surprise deal and one that pays off immediately with a guy in Jackson that has a .270 average that makes him the Mariners’ third-best hitter and a much needed right-handed bat. Add that to the fact that Jackson played his home games at Comerica Park – which is even bigger than Safeco Field – and you have nothing to worry about defensively.
Nothing eye popping, nothing that breaks the team. The Mariners were already a little better than a year ago at this time and at the deadline they were buyers, improved their team and didn’t touch any of their top prospects. A good day for the M’s.
But the best news on this Thursday afternoon was yet to come.
Just minutes after news of the Mariners’ trade broke came the rumor that Marshawn Lynch’s holdout might be coming to an end after eight days of uncertainty. By mid-day, pictures surfaced of Lynch at the Seahawks’ facility – inexplicably dressed in a black hoodie and stocking cap in the 85-degree heat – and an official announcement of his return came from the team.
Just to keep it real, Lynch even spent some extra time in the front atrium of the VMAC and had security personnel confine all of the local media to the press room until he had left. There couldn’t be a more Marshawn Lynch way to come back.
For obvious reasons, this was a source of great relief to Seahawks fans and players alike as the chances for a Super Bowl repeat increase a great deal with No. 24 in the fold.
Thursday was an awfully good day here in Seattle.
Now, about that NHL team.
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.