October 22, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) smiles after a touchdown by running back Marshawn Lynch (not pictured) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi
It has been some time since I wrote for Emerald City Swagger, so it is perhaps appropriate to post some general commentary on the state of sports in beautiful Seattle. The Washington Huskies are well into their (average) season, but for the purposes of this article I will focus on the Mariners and Seahawks.
Let’s start with the Seattle Mariners, which is a franchise in transition. Again.
The Jack Zduriencik era is over, mercifully. Put simply, he didn’t do his job. He did not build a winner, or even put the franchise on track to eventually succeed in the future. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.
The Mariners are a team that lacks an identity. They have an ace in Felix Hernandez that is still great, but could start aging at any moment. Taijuan Walker has shown flashes of brilliance, but it is unclear if he will become the ace that he was projected to be. James Paxton cannot stay healthy. Nelson Cruz had a great year, but it won’t shock anyone if he fails to swing a hot bat for another three years. Robinson Cano eventually seemed to figure things out, but that contract could become a major issue in a few seasons. Kyle Seager is a solid second-tier star.
Did I cover everything? Beyond those names, is there anyone on the roster that really gets fans excited? Is there a bevy of intriguing talent in the minors? That does not appear to be the case. The nucleus just doesn’t seem to be there. For too long the Mariners have acquired and retained players that are, sadly, below average.
For those that blame Safeco Field, I just can’t buy that argument. A large ballpark does not prevent you from hitting singles. Or walking. Or hitting into the gaps. The home run is overrated. Seattle was fifth in the entire league in home runs. Did that get them into the postseason? No.
Add all this up, and Jerry Dipoto has his work cut out for him. You want to remain optimistic as a fan, but realistically this club may need to rebuild from the ground up through the draft. The young core that Jack Zduriencik was supposed to develop just didn’t pan out.
Turning our attention to the Seahawks, did anyone see the ‘Hawks dominate the San Francisco 49ers last night? One win does not turn around a season, but Seattle looked quite effective on the road.
The Seahawks are still a contender.
The national media loves to pile on when a once-great team starts to tumble down the mountain. The reality is that NFL franchises have a hard time maintaining greatness, particularly in the salary cap era. To be fair, is it possible that the Seahawks just aren’t quite as good as they once were? It is possible, but that doesn’t mean that they are no longer a contender.
The Seahawks are still a contender.
Granted, it is also possible that this team is just different. The Seahawks obviously have offensive line issues, and that may not remedy itself this season. Russell Wilson may be running for his life all year.
I will say that the networks could benefit from a basic course in statistics. Some of the “trends” that they try to show regarding the Seahawks are laughable, and insulting to the entire field of mathematics.
If I may, many statistics that are quoted in sports are completely irrelevant because they are based on incredibly small sample sizes and do not have variables that can be even remotely correlated. Back away, experts. You are going to hurt yourselves.
Seattle does miss Max Unger, and they gambled that Jimmy Graham would make the trade a worthy swap. Last week in the Panthers game we really saw what a Wilson-to-Graham combo could look like, and it was certainly exciting to watch. If the line can buy Wilson just a bit more time, the offense could really get rolling.
Let us also keep in mind that the Seahawks have started the year with a tough schedule. The combined record of the four teams Seattle has lost to is 19-3. In addition, the Seahawks could have very easily won all four of those games. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
Even at 3-4, I think the Seahawks will be fine. The NFC is not exactly stacked with powerhouses this season. Seattle still has an excellent chance of making the playoffs. We have seen that in the NFL postseason, anything is possible.
I wish I could attach the same optimism to the Mariners. I wish you the best, Mr. Dipoto. You have some cleaning up to do. Go Seattle.