Playing Oregon Trail With Loathed Seattle Sports Figures

If you haven’t heard the big news, The Internet Archive recently released over 2,000 classic MS-DOS games to play for free online. One of the free games available is seminal childhood favorite, The Oregon Trail.

Because I’m still a 10-year-old at heart, I seized the opportunity to play one of my all-time favorite computer games once again.

Knowing I might not immediately possess the proper skill to conquer the Trail after a two-decade layoff, I opted to feel my way through the linear, two-dimensional world of middle America with a party of Seattle’s least-favorite sports figures. That party consisted of:

1. A young’n named “Cyler.”

2. Another young’n named “Ayala.”

3. An adolescent named “Figgins.”

4. An older fellow named “Chone.”

5. A leader named “Wakamatsu,” who we can only imagine would often fight with Chone and Figgins.

OREGONTRAIL

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An Open Vent: The Marshawn Lynch Saga That Will Not Die

lynchI love Marshawn Lynch. He is the curator of some of our greatest memories as sports fans and without a doubt one of the greatest athletes this city has ever seen. At this point in his decorated career, Lynch needs no colorful introduction. He is simply one of the most accomplished figures in Seattle sports history.

By contrast, I hate this incessant Marshawn Lynch versus “the media” saga that will not die. Of late, this story has spiraled to the point of fans crafting a petition to keep the NFL and the media from “bullying” Lynch by interviewing him after games. This is so incredibly stupid.

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Three Reasons You Should Start Despising the Carolina Panthers TODAY

camweb19s-1-webWith all due respect to the San Francisco 49ers, there may be no team easier to hate than the Carolina Panthers.

Don’t believe me? I can give you three reasons why the Seahawks’ upcoming playoff opponent is worth a hefty dose of your spiteful venom. And it all starts with the quarterback…

1. Cam Newton’s fake perma-smile

Cam Newton is to football what Alex Rodriguez is to baseball. Like A-Rod, Newton is a talented superstar. Like A-Rod, Newton has ventured into his share of controversy in the past. Like A-Rod, Newton feigns obliviousness to the public’s perception of him. And like A-Rod, Newton seems to be among the most genuinely disingenuous personas in all of sports.

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You Better Induct Edgar Martinez Into the Hall of Fame

edgar-martinez-35-9Some of baseball’s Hall of Fame voters are idiots. We know this because every single year they do stupid shit like lose their ballots, over- or under-peruse player statistics, mock the system by handing their vote over to a third party, and just generally make decisions from a moral high ground so lofty and full of bullshit that the average person can’t simply fathom the pompous arrogance that goes into an act as simple as voting.

This isn’t a difficult process, either. Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America are given a single sheet of paper upon which is printed the names of eligible ex-players. Beside each name is a check-box. Voters are then asked to check up to 10 boxes corresponding with the names of the players they’d choose to induct to the Hall of Fame. This is easier than correcting your neighbor’s elementary school math homework. And yet there are those who can’t complete the process without suffering an aneurysm because, well, who the hell really knows.

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An Open Vent: Funding Fanaticism, Resolutionaries, and the Ineptitude of Community Centers

SeahulkHappy new year, everyone! While sitting in the bathroom scrolling through the same old boring articles on staid pages run by conglomerations, you probably wondered once or twice how this lovely site would make its 2015 debut. Well, wonder no more.

I’ll admit I considered going a different route. I had pondered a long, lovely, flowing piece on the year behind us and the year ahead. Something beautiful, perhaps, that possibly evoked a tear or two. And in time, that article may come. But then I went back to the gutter and resorted to what it is some say this website does best (or worst, depending on your perspective).

And so, with all the brimming positivity undoubtedly polluting your life these days, we bring you three things that are really bugging the crap out of us, in this, the second installment of our recurring series An Open Vent. Because no matter what other people say, there’s nothing wrong with getting those panties in a bunch sometimes.

1. Funding fanaticism.

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The Remix

January 8th, 2011 …

ultimatebeastmode

… versus December 21st, 2014

B5cEXIsCIAELNRk

An Open Vent: What’s Worse Than the Mariners’ Pursuit of a Right Fielder?

460xYou wanted Melky Cabrera. Melky Cabrera signed with the White Sox.

You would have settled for Alex Rios. Alex Rios signed with the Royals.

There are few, if any, starting right fielders left on Major League Baseball’s free agent market. But your Seattle Mariners still happen to be in search of a right fielder, market be damned. And you’re on the verge of freaking out. God forbid the team go to war with a designated hitter manning Safeco Field’s spacious nether reaches. Or worse yet, heaven help them if they bring back the likes of Ichiro.

You’re in full panic mode. But fear not, sports fan: it could be worse.

In the inaugural installment of An Open Vent, we bring you the unbridled rage surrounding three things that are unequivocally shittier than the Mariners’ seemingly futile pursuit of an outfielder. So sit back, relax, and prepare to get even more pissed off than you were before.

1. Mr. Playoffs.

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Death of a Rivalry

2019974298In fairness to the mantra uttered by members of San Francisco’s steadily eroding fan base, the 49ers did indeed achieve a Quest for Six on Sunday afternoon.

With just over thirteen minutes remaining in the first half, the frail fragments of former running back Frank Gore plunged into the end zone for a sextet of points and a whopping eighty-six-percent of San Francisco’s scoring output on the day. Seconds later, a keen ear could almost make out the resonating sound of Gore’s Life Alert Emergency Response monitor, the result of the old man unexpectedly succumbing to the effects of gravity.

The Niners’ lone touchdown was supplemented only by Phil Dawson’s extra point, tacked on immediately after Gore’s jaunt to paydirt. And just like that, it was over.

If there is such a thing as moral victories, however, the visiting squad could chalk up their second quarter red zone success as exactly that. In two of the three previous games, the Seahawks had neglected to allow their foes anything more than a field goal. That San Francisco achieved a six-point score should be applauded. Quest for Six complete.

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Strideline: Because Even If You Suck At Sports, Your Socks Don’t Have To

20141209_123651-1-1I am the worst kind of basketball player. Just good enough to be dangerous, just reckless enough to be stupid. My shot selection is best witnessed through beer goggles, and my go-to move is trash talk. No one in the world would confuse me, at the age of 30, for an athlete. Yet I still find myself playing ball a few times each week, determined to whittle the cartilage in my knees down to pure nothingness.

About the only thing going for my game is how I feel. I might not play all that well, but I feel well, at least. And isn’t feeling well what really matters?

In a kind-hearted effort to keep me feeling well while (hopefully) making me look and play a little better, the good people at Strideline sent me an array of Seattle-themed socks in time for the start of the winter season. And since I’ve been wearing their gear since they first came on the scene some five years ago, I could hardly resist their offer to take on more of their goods.

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Let’s Talk Podcasts

Podcasts are fun, right? Back in the day, we had a regular podcast at Sports Radio KJR, the inimitable Karate Emergency. Since then, our podcast sessions have been limited, but not on this particular day.

I had the pleasure of joining Casey McLain and Aaron Kirby as a guest on the Offspeed Podcast on Wednesday night. We talked Mariners (including both the Nelson Cruz and J.A. Happ acquisitions), Seahawks, Huskies, racist San Francisco 49ers fans, the evolution of 12s, semi-famous people from Montana, and Twitter behavior, among other things.

If you find yourself terribly bored with nothing better to do, feel free to listen in by clicking here.

And here’s a look at the two degenerates you’ll have the aural pleasure of hearing alongside yours truly:

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The J.A. Happening

You don’t like J.A. Happ. There are any number of reasons why you don’t like him. He’s a 32-year-old journeyman starting pitcher. His statistics are as mediocre as they come. Physically, he’s as unintimidating as a six-foot-five-inch human being can be. He only weighs 205 pounds for Christ’s sake. Eat a burger, Happ. Stop making the rest of us fat asses feel bad. And then there’s his head shot. I mean, just look at the guy:

happ

Remove the cap and that could be anybody. That could be your doctor, your accountant, your lawyer, the guy taking your order at Applebee’s, a serial bank robber, a high school math teacher, a U.S. senator, a creepy dude with seven or eight cats, your next-door neighbor, a soccer dad driving a Ford Windstar, and the list goes on.

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Runs for the Border: Nelson Cruz, Crunchwrap Supreme

nelsoncruzThere is a special place in my stomach reserved for the gut reactions to Seattle Mariners free agent signings. It sits adjacent to the space allotted for the digestion of Taco Bell, and as a result elicits similar neural transmissions within my brain.

It all begins in the wake of a brief struggle between desire and logic, once reality sets in. An action has occurred, I discover. This action cannot be undone, I realize. From here on out, only reactions may take place. Thus, the time is nigh to react.

A part of me wanted that aging power hitter, I surmise, just like a part of me wanted that Crunchwrap Supreme.

The Mariners have now landed that aging power hitter, not unlike my belly, which has just landed a half-pound of mystery meat packaged within both soft- and hard-shell tortillas.

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Sweet Potato Fridays

10366149_10103019981005758_1375243646822493341_nEvery Friday, we ate lunch together. My grandma was a fickle eater, but there were always certain things she’d pick at no matter what. Crispy breaded pieces of chicken, potstickers, milkshakes, sweet potato fries. She loved sweet potato fries more than almost everything else, a food she’d only discovered about a year ago. It was the one item she would specifically request. Everything else could come and go, but she always made time for sweet potato fries. These weren’t the healthiest foods in the world, of course, but they were necessary. At 90 years of age, my grandma needed to keep her weight up and any one of these menu selections would do the trick.

We talked about a number of things, her and I, but she liked to discuss the Seattle Mariners most of all. No one (outside of, perhaps, my other grandmother) was as loyal to the Mariners as my grandma, who watched every game on a giant flat-screen TV my parents purchased for her a few Christmases ago. Her day revolved around first pitch, while her bedtime often coincided with the game’s final out. If you asked her when the television broadcast was set to begin, she’d give you a time exactly thirty minutes before its actual commencement, a habit borne out of diligently watching the pregame show.

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History, Home Runs, and the Unexpected Arrival of Fun

628x471They were down to their last at-bats, the Mariners, and a game they desperately needed to win was quickly slipping from their grasp. Their divisional foes, the hated Texas Rangers, had built a lead in the top half of the seventh inning and managed to protect it through two frames since.

Now, the Rangers turned to their closer, a lanky right-hander by the name of Jeff Russell. The 34-year-old Russell had enjoyed his best years with Texas, even leading the American League in saves in 1989, his fifth year with the club. He had bounced around over the past three seasons, however, embarking on an odyssey that had taken him from Oakland, to Boston, to Cleveland, and finally back to Arlington. All the while he continued racking up saves, and it was this very situation, pitching in defense of a two-run Rangers lead, that Russell had grown accustomed to enjoying.

His first assignment would be to retire a pinch hitter, the speedy, switch-hitting Alex Diaz.

Diaz was in the midst of what would ultimately become his finest big league season. He would finish the year with career highs in a number of categories, including games played. And his 18 stolen bases would triple his next-best seasonal output hereafter. For now, though, Diaz was merely focused on reaching base by any means necessary.

***

The Mariners had squandered eight innings worth of opportunities, as well as a quality start by Felix Hernandez, and now scuffled into the ninth deadlocked in a 0-0 tie against the rival Los Angeles Angels.

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The Indisputable Importance of Dustin Ackley

MLB: Seattle Mariners-Photo Day

The second half of Dustin Ackley’s 2014 season has borne one of the more remarkable individual turnarounds in recent memory. Ackley, who spent the previous two-and-a-half years playing miserable baseball, emerged exactly two months ago finally looking like the No. 2 overall draft selection the Mariners made him in 2009.

In and of themselves, Ackley’s stats tell a compelling story. In the first half of 2014, the 26-year-old posted a middling .225/.282/.335/.617 slash line, with just four home runs and 29 RBI. Coming out of the All-Star Break, those numbers seemingly transformed overnight.

Since July 18th, Ackley’s numbers are more Stefan Urquelle than Steve Urkel. Along with an eye-opening .287/.322/.489/.811 slash line, the Mariners’ starting left fielder has cracked seven dingers and driven in 33 runs. Those statistics are worthy of individual callouts, so bear with me for a moment.

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