All posts by Alex

The Perfect Protest

It’s the perfect protest, really.

Silent, peaceful, powerful, and set against the backdrop of something Americans care about. This isn’t just a march through the streets on a lazy weekend afternoon. It’s an act of rebellion against the flag and the anthem, two symbols of this nation that still mean something to all of us.

The forum is ideal. A football field, the epicenter of Americana, the one sport that seems to rally citizens to come together, sit on their couches, drink beer, wear replica jerseys, and watch. Were it a basketball court, the outrage would be minimal – just ask former NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who staged his own sit-down protest in the mid-1990s, and has all but been forgotten since. Even in Major League Baseball, where Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado took a seat in the early-2000s, such an act was similarly overlooked. But football? Don’t mess with football.

If this wasn’t a big deal, columnists across the country wouldn’t be churning out opinions firmly entrenched on either side of this issue. Talking heads wouldn’t be devoting segment after segment to discussion of the topic. And those people you only kind of know on social media? They wouldn’t be lashing out at one another over differing viewpoints on the matter.

In today’s society, how else are you supposed to get everyone’s attention? We’ve created an atmosphere that rewards the loudest and most selfish of our species. We’ve designed online platforms that highlight how important we are and how much more cool stuff we can do than our so-called friends. Our cameras have been redesigned to take pictures of our own selves instead of the world through our eyes, and as a result the most ubiquitous type of photo we now produce literally oozes with egocentrism: the selfie.

Face it, in order to seize the public consciousness, we have to be a precise combination of brash, unique, and outlandish. And somehow, in sitting quietly while a song plays and colors are unfurled, a group of football players have managed to achieve the right mix.

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Explaining Seattle’s Love Affair With a Legend

Maybe they were bound to one another long before that fateful evening some nine years ago – an evening that, unbeknownst to many at the time, signaled the end of the Seattle Supersonics.

There was no naivety, however. Every fan in the building that night had an inkling the team could be moved in the offseason. But the prevailing thought was that they’d stick around, that the legal system, if nothing else, would bestow at least one more year of Sonics basketball unto Seattle.

Still, the audience took no chances.

In the waning moments of the season’s final contest, the capacity crowd began chanting “Save our Son-ics.” It was a murmur, at first. But then it grew, as all good chants seem to, spreading from section to section, filling the cheap seats and skyboxes alike, covering each crevice and corner inside Key Arena until every last basketball fan in the building spoke in unison.

At the epicenter, atop the hardwood floor that gave the room its heartbeat, there stood a young man, still a teenager, who heard every word the crowd shouted.

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Mariners Memories

I remember being four or five years old and dragging my dad into our front yard to teach me how to do a leg kick like a big league pitcher. Like Mark Langston and Mike Moore, two of Seattle’s very best, whose games I had actually seen with my own eyes. I could already swing my red plastic bat like Alvin Davis and could throw and catch a little bit. But now we needed to step it up. I wanted to bring the heat.

I failed at first. Where Langston and Moore stood poised like cranes on the front of their baseball cards, the rendition I put together, in retrospect, probably looked more along the lines of a miniature Chris Farley doing a karate kick, then chucking a tee ball with all his might. But I kept practicing and eventually got the motion down. Shortly thereafter, my parents stuck a pitchback screen on the lawn and let me while away the afternoons tossing to a net, whispering the names of all the great hurlers I knew as I fired fastball after fastball into a red rectangle.

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Farewell to Romarville

They bribed us with a taco bar the night we first met Lorenzo Romar. A Qdoba taco bar, no less, the good stuff. And this was back before Chipotle had taken over the world of fresh express Mexican, when Qdoba was the very best for which any hungry, broke college student could yearn. The muckety-mucks in the UW athletic department were basically begging us to show up and meet the head coach of the men’s basketball team. And, if we were so inclined, maybe stick around for the game, too.

It was the middle of Romar’s second season at Washington, one that had begun rather inauspiciously, before taking a more promising turn of late. The streaky Dawgs had rattled off five straight losses to open Pac-10 conference play, then abruptly reversed course and managed five consecutive wins. A defeat at UCLA halted the winning streak, and then it was back home to where we now found ourselves, in the presence of the ground beef and seasoned chicken upon which we feasted.

We sat and scarfed down our meal in Hec Edmundson Pavilion’s auxiliary gym as we waited for the coach to arrive. A staffer let us know Romar was on his way, and that he’d be taking a few questions in the limited time we had together before tipoff. Seconds later, a door flew open and there stood the guest of honor.

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2017 Seattle Mariners Preview: Felix Forgets 30

felixIt was a year to forget for Felix Hernandez. The regression he endured in 2016 was so abrupt and so sudden that even casual onlookers couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at his performance.

The 30-year-old was far from regal, despite a nickname he’d earned years prior. As his pitching suffered, he began to look less like King Felix and more like John Goodman’s King Ralph.

The Felix Hernandez we saw in 2016 was the product of a decade of indulgence, one that any athlete or ex-athlete over the age of 30 knows all about. There’s even a saying that sage veterans of sport will pass along to naïve young bucks, full of boundless energy and equipped with perfectly adept bodies: “Wait ‘til you’re 30.”

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New Reporter Brings Losing Pedigree to Sounders Beat

soundersThe Seattle Sounders FC kicked off their 2017 campaign in inauspicious fashion on Wednesday, falling by a score of 4-2 to upstart Atlanta United FC in the first preseason bout of the year.

Taking place on a neutral pitch in Charleston, South Carolina, the loss was the club’s first true defeat since dropping a narrow 2-1 contest to FC Dallas on October 16th of last year. (The Sounders also dropped the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on November 6th, but simultaneously won the series on aggregate scoring.)

The match was witnessed by new Seattle Times soccer reporter Geoff Baker, who will follow the club throughout their first season since winning the 2016 MLS Cup. Baker, a longtime journalist at the Times, brings an impressive résumé to his coverage of the team.

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The Seattle Mariners All-Headshot 40th Anniversary Team

The Seattle Mariners are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year and are honoring some of the greatest players in franchise history as a result.

To keep things interesting, the M’s are requesting your help in picking their 40th Anniversary team. From now until April 2nd, fans can vote on their favorite players here.

I’d certainly encourage anyone to go vote and help select the all-40th Anniversary squad. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the democratic process and witness Richie Zisk get elected Best Designated Hitter in franchise history, would you? Although I heard something about Edgar Martinez’s emails the other day, so… you know what, it doesn’t matter, just vote.

We went through and made our selections, stopping to enjoy the many photos of current and former M’s in their heyday. Some of the pictures were just too good to be ignored, so we decided to pay homage to the very best photos with the following selection of the greatest Mariners in history as selected by their ballot headshot.

If you find yourself stuck on who to vote for, always use the mugshot as a tiebreaker. That’s our theory, at least.

1B – Bruce Bochte

40thannballot_bochte

Bruce Bochte is probably best remembered for becoming the first Seattle Mariner to record a hit in an All-Star Game (at the Kingdome, no less), which makes him a worthy addition to the 40th Anniversary ballot. The photo, though? That’s another story.

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