Category Archives: Sounders

Sounders reality show a joke

There is no greater publicity stunt in today’s world than having your own reality TV show. If you’re a washed up actor, a wannabe singer, a future backup dancer, or a twenty-something tool that wants to room with other twenty-something tools for a few months, then reality television is for you. If you’re a major professional soccer franchise, however, you shouldn’t have to rely on an overdramatized gimmick to sell your team on the local fan base.

That’s not stopping the Sounders FC, though. In partnership with KING TV, the local Futbol Club (or is that Film Crew?) began videotaping tryouts in November, complete with contestant profiles and likely all the drama that is usually associated with unscripted snippets of “real life.” The final results will be aired immediately following the completion of the Superbowl on Sunday, February 1st with the winning selection being announced. If nothing else, this should get a large number of preteen adolescent females interested in the one guy who will never leave the bench barring a freak accident that incapacitates all but 11 (or fewer) members of the team.

There are a handful of reasons why this TV show is a horribly bad idea, but I’ll limit myself to outlining three of them (full disclosure: when I said handful I really meant “three,” but the sentence was going nowhere and I had to make it interesting…the transition from the previous paragraph was admittedly weak).
  • Reason #1: Respectability. How often do you associate “respectability” with reality TV? Never. Reality TV in and of itself is a low-brow form of entertainment (think circus, clowns, rodeo) meant to stimulate the minds of an impressionable viewership. So when you are a team that’s part of a league that plays a sport fighting to gain a certain level of respect in the American sports spectrum, why whore yourself out to the local broadcasting pundits with this farce of a show? I’m gonna go Maury Povich on you for a second here: If you want respect, you have to respect yourself first (audience cheers, mom cries, seventh-grade dropout remains unmoved while faced with the prospect of bootcamp). TV talk show jokes aside, this isn’t a move that will fuel respect, and when you’re fighting to gain respect, it just doesn’t make any sense to take that big step backwards.

  • Reason #2: Past history of local Reality TV. Some of you hardcore locals may remember a couple years ago when KIRO broadcast an American Idol-like show called “Seattle Stars,” which was essentially a junior high school talent show for people over age 21. The majority of the contestants were people who spent their Friday nights in karaoke bars, butchering songs by Journey and Richard Marx while simultaneously having their friends video tape the entire escapade so they could upload it to YouTube the next day in hopes that a major record producer might stumble across it. It sounds bad, but was actually much worse when viewed live. The entire “Stars” production was amateur (it was hosted by sportscaster Gaard Swanson of all people) and reeked of desperate programming from the get-go. And where the hell are all those singers now, you ask? I don’t know. Kent, probably. The point is, local reality TV is flat-out bad, and I can’t see the Sounders show being anything beyond that.

  • Reason #3: Do you really want dudes like Larry, 390-pound retired bartender from Index, selecting members of your soccer team? No one should want that. I’d be pissed if localites were allowed to pick any members of any of my teams. I wouldn’t even want the opportunity to weigh in on the decision myself. I know that you, me, and everyone else out there who isn’t a professional scout, field coach, or front-office guy is not nearly as good at selecting members of any sports team as the staff being paid to do just that. You wouldn’t want some random guy off the street prescribing you medicine for that rash of yours, and likewise the average joe shouldn’t be meddling with any kind of organized athletic institution in the way the Sounders are promoting.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten to the point where I actually care about what the new Seattle Sounders do on the field. I’m not a soccer fan really, but I do want to see this team succeed. It’s civic pride, if nothing else. That’s why I don’t want to see this reality TV thing go down. It’s a step in the wrong direction for a franchise that, so far, has made all the right moves.

2009: This is our year

The city of Seattle is 2-0 in 2009. After wins by the Washington men’s and women’s basketball teams yesterday, our city is undefeated for the first time in what seems like forever. Now I know how the good people of Narnia felt when their endless winter finally came to an end, the snow melted and flowers bloomed, the white witch was destroyed, and peace and goodness was restored to their land of righteousness. This year, 2009, is the end of our long winter. This is the Chronicles of Seattle.

How can we not feel good about 2009? Now that 2008 is behind us, things can only get better. The Worst Year Ever is history and our future is as bright as the gleam in Steve Sarkisian’s eyes at his inaugural University of Washington press conference. We have a new regime on the diamond in GM Jack Zduriencik and field manager Don Wakamatsu. We have a new pro football coach in Jim Mora, Jr., set to rebuild a franchise coming off one of their worst seasons in recent history. We have the aforementioned Sarkisian ready to guide the gridiron Dawgs to their first bowl game in seven years. We have a brand spanking new Major League Soccer team, complete with a rabid fan base and one of the greatest ownership groups in sports. And for now, we have basketball and a team, at 10-3, halfway to an NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since Brandon Roy took to the court in purple-and-gold.

In truth, the magic number of wins that will almost surely guarantee a major-conference program an at-large bid to the NCAA Tourney is 21. The Husky men are currently 10-3, meaning they need to win 11 of their remaining 17 conference games in order to reserve their ticket to the dance. An 11-6 record the rest of the way in a Pac-10 full of surprising teams (the lowly Oregon State Beavers knocked off the thought-to-be-powerful USC Trojans yesterday…the crowd then chanted “Just Like Football!”) will be no easy task, but this Husky ballclub looks up to the challenge. In a hostile environment at Washington State, with a monkey on their back in the form of a seven-game losing streak to their cross-state rival, the Dawgs trounced the Cougars to set an early tone for the season. There will be no messing with this Husky ballclub.

This may all sound like blind optimism, but the truth of the matter is, no one can really be pessimistic after last year. We hit rock bottom. We were the Britney Spears of the sports world. Now we have to pick ourselves up and begin the climb back to the top. Britney knows what’s up. This is our year. I can feel it, and you should feel it too. Go out and buy that Mariners jersey you’ve been wanting. Go grab some purple drink and gulp it down. Reserve your playoff tickets early. This is the season we’ve all been waiting for, the year we return to glory, the time for us to break out our “Seattle” shirts, our “S” caps, our Husky gear, our Tatupu jerseys and wear them proudly. The Mariners are on the rise, the Seahawks will start fresh, the Sounders are here to stay, and the University of Washington is back! Everybody welcome 2009, the year Seattle returns to glory!

How do we really feel about the Sounders?

The Seattle Sounders FC needed a coach so they went out and signed the best coach money could buy. That would be Sigi Schmid, who is essentially the Mike Holmgren of MLS. After winning two MLS championships and being named 2008 Coach of the Year, Schmid may very well be the best coach in American soccer. But what does that mean, really?

Often viewed as the minor leagues of the world’s football, MLS is the league where lesser players dominate and good players go to die. Veterans of European soccer make their way to MLS when they know their time is up. At the same time, American players who could never cut it across the pond find their way into MLS starting lineups. All of this leads me to wonder what the MLS will mean here in Seattle.

Part of the reason Americans can get behind the NFL, NBA, and MLB so strongly is because we are witnessing a sport played at its very highest level. The NFL has the best football players, the NBA the best basketball players, and MLB the best baseball players. MLS is the exception to the rule. Sure, it may technically be a major professional sport, but the game’s highest level is played in Europe, not America. Fans don’t attend MLS games for the same reasons they don’t attend Minor League Baseball games or NBDL games; the game played at a lower level just isn’t as much fun to watch.

This presents an interesting quagmire for MLS. Hardcore soccer fans are more apt to shun MLS in favor of the English Premier League, while the casual soccer fan (or non-fan) is likely to stay away just because soccer isn’t that appealing to them. Personally, I don’t consider myself much of a soccer fan, and chances are I’m part of the majority. I’ll watch the World Cup, but that’s about it. Even in a 0-0 World Cup game, chances are you’ll see some things done with a soccer ball that you’ve never seen before, and that’s intriguing. With MLS, the intrigue just isn’t there. In an exciting MLS contest, there’s a good chance you probably won’t see anything you haven’t seen before. We know this going in, which is why we simply don’t go. It’s the same reason why cliched chick flicks don’t register at the box office, or overused jokes don’t make a star out of an aspiring comedian. America needs new, exciting, fresh, and original. The MLS doesn’t provide that.

So I ask, how do we really feel about the Sounders? Right now we feel great. The team is brand new, we have celebrity ownership, we’re making big-name signings left and right, and we’ve sold more 2009 season tickets than any of our league’s counterparts. But what happens after that initial sheen wears off? What happens after the first season is complete? What happens if we don’t win? Seattle fans have made it clear across all sports that they cannot support a loser (save for the Mariners post-2001). It’s what caused us to lose the Sonics, what forced NFL blackouts through the ’90’s, and what plagued the pre-1995 Mariners. In a sport that is already struggling to establish a fan base, how will we truly, ultimately embrace Major League Soccer in Seattle?

KIRO 710 AM to switch to all-sports

Jayda Evans of The Seattle Times is reporting that KIRO 710 AM radio will become an all-sports station beginning April 1, 2009.

If you’re a Seattle sports fan, this is fantastic news. For as long as I can remember, there has really been only one sports station in the area, 950 KJR AM. KJR does a decent job with their local sports talk, but really provides no national perspective on issues until around 10:00 PM each night when they switch to an ESPN feed. If anything, this development should breed competition between the two outlets and force both the old (KJR) and the new (KIRO) to step up their on-air game on a daily basis.

My only advice to KIRO is to leave the objectivity at the door. I can understand trying to appease the Hawks and M’s (and Sounders, I guess) by toning down the on-air criticism, but fans are entitled to voice their opinions and hear those of the on-air personalities, as well. In the Mariners first go-round with KIRO (which ended a few years ago), the station would always have New York Vinnie host a post-postgame show where the conversation could get a little salty at times. I say bring back Vinnie and have another go at that, he’s not doing anything these days.

And on a side note, I can’t tell you how happy I am that the Mariners are leaving KOMO Radio. There’s no reason why anyone should listen to KOMO unless they’re stuck in traffic. KOMO spent the last couple years butchering Mariners broadcasts to death and seemingly attempting to take down the career of Dave Niehaus with all their ridiculous BS. The pre- and post-game show hosts they had were straight garbage and offered nothing more than an elementary school opinion on the quality of play; honestly, if you listened just to those broadcasts you wouldn’t be able to tell if the Mariners were in last place or first place, it was that bad.

In addition, almost all the postgame calls they received came direct from retirement homes, with old guys demanding more playing time for Willie Bloomquist. “What about that Bloomquist fellow, why don’t we play him more? Put him at first base in place of that Sexton, see what he can do there. I don’t understand why they’re not playing, don’t they want to win….” Yeah.