Wassell’s Thoughts: How to define Seahawks’ success in 2020
Welcome to another edition of Tom Wassell’s Thoughts, a regular column from the co-host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy. This week, Tom explains how he’ll view success for the Seahawks in 2020, why games like the Mariners’ 7-4 loss in Texas still frustrating even if they’re to be expected in a rebuild, and his thoughts on the college education of student-athletes during Covid-19.
How do we define success in 2020?
In last week’s column, I pointed out that the Seahawks have widened their window for success over the next few years through trades and draft picks. That may or may not be true on paper, but now that the season is underway, it’s time to prove it on the field. If players like Adams, Dunbar, Taylor, Brooks, Dissly, etc have productive seasons and they make the playoffs, that will define 2020 as a success.
A common thought on this topic is that since they haven’t made it past the divisional round of the postseason since 2014, they at least have to accomplish that in order to call this a good season. I’m not so sure about that. At some point over the next few years, the team does need to get back to the top of the mountain, but why does it have to be this year?
Of course, the goal is to win the Super Bowl every year, but if a young core of players come of age, that gives Seattle more chances at a championship than just this year. If they don’t, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have to start all over again.
In simpler terms, the Seahawks need to establish their young core in 2020. If they do that, they’ll obviously win a lot of games. But I’m not going to throw a fit if they’re on the road in the second round and they get bounced again.
Ask yourself this: What if they got to the NFC Championship because the team they played in the divisional round was missing their QB (think Tom Brady/Tampa Bay)? Would that prove the Seahawks are better than every other year they didn’t get that far in the playoffs? No.
Develop the next generation of stars and figure the playoffs out when we get there.
Mariners losses = High draft picks?
The Mariners blew a 4-2 lead in the 8th and went on to lose in Texas, 7-4 on Wednesday night. Taijuan Walker was outstanding (six innings, six hits, one unearned run, five strikeouts) and Seattle got a couple of home runs from Nola and Vogelbach. Erik Swanson came on in the 8th inning and because of a few hit batsmen, an error and a misplayed ball, the floodgates opened and the game unraveled in the span of about 5 minutes.
It was frustrating to watch and I said as much on Twitter. I should have expected the response:
Is this what we have to say every time they lose? I don't disagree, but if I'm gonna bother to watch these games, I get to be a little annoyed at innings like this. https://t.co/MtxeqQjctD
— Tom Wassell (@tomwassell) August 13, 2020
This makes logical sense. Why wouldn’t we want the highest draft pick we can get? That should be enough to make everyone feel better about a meaningless game in the strangest season of all time. But that doesn’t help me in the moment.
If I’m going to invest a handful of hours per night in a baseball team, I’m entitled to be annoyed when they boot the ball around the way they did on Wednesday. That was flat-out atrocious and I’m sure the players feel the same way. No excuses. It’s not that I think their performance somehow compromises their hopes for the future, it’s just one of those things that we can’t help as fans. We watch. We hope to win. When they don’t, we get upset. Don’t tell me about draft picks three minutes after the game is over. I don’t want to hear it. You’re just making it worse. When I go to bed, instead of counting sheep, I’ll count the number of losses it’ll take to upend Pittsburgh as the worst team in the sport.
Being a sports fan can be painful at times, but one of the perks is that there are strange instances when we get to be angry and happy at the same time. I’m glad sports are back.
Pay kids to go to class?
It’s a terrible shame that the Pac-12, Big 10 and perhaps other conferences elected not to play any sports this fall for a myriad of reasons. The NCAA has issues beyond just COVID-19 too. We’re getting to the point where players’ willingness to stick up for themselves is growing stronger and college sports’ governing body may be forced to re-examine some of its policies regarding financial compensation for the student-athletes.
I don’t have the answers to this conundrum, but there is a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t get addressed enough and it has to do with players rejecting the education that’s offered to them. For many of these kids, their value to the school may exceed the dollar amount of the scholarship that they’re given. If the schools decide at some point to pay them, why not add an academic requirement to that? If you go to class and pass, you get paid. If you don’t, you get nothing.
Too often, I hear “well, these football players aren’t going to school for an education, they’re just there for football.” OK, I get that many probably don’t have a fundamental wish to study astrophysics or electromagnetic theory, but as long as they’re given that opportunity TO BETTER THEIR SITUATION, why not take advantage of it? Give them the incentive to do so.
The percentage of players that will play sports professionally is so minuscule, it’s mind-boggling that more of them don’t take their studies seriously. Unfortunately many of them come from the worst of circumstances, growing up in impoverished areas of the country with little hope of improving their chances at a good life. Well, here’s their chance. The school is giving you free education (something very few other students get), allowing you to play football and be paid for it as long as you keep up your end of the bargain. Which seems like a better option: earning a degree en route to a nice career or returning to the dire situation in which your life began?
I know there might be a moral issue with paying kids to go to school. I admit, the solution I’m proposing is not perfect. But think about how many more young men would be improving their own situation and helping out our communities by becoming examples of how to better oneself as a result. Someone smarter than me needs to take this idea, weed out its flaws and make it happen.