Category Archives: Top 11

The Top 11: Christnukkazaa gifts that Seattle sports fans want, #6-2

6. Mariners grab bag of distractions. Do you like Nintendo DS? How about hat tricks? Are you a fan of electronic video board hydro racing? What are your feelings on large, furry, loveable moose? Are you interested in creating an entire 40-man roster of bobblehead dolls?

If you’re easily entertained, suffer from attention deficit disorder, or generally don’t care much about winning, then the Mariners grab bag of distractions is the ultimate gift for you!

The Seattle Mariners organization is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to draw your attention away from the product on the field and towards just about anything else. If you have one or more of your senses intact, the Mariners have something other than baseball that will appeal to you. Take a break from that Carlos Silva meltdown and enjoy some garlic fries. Not big on Willie Bloomquist groundouts? Wander over to our in-stadium team store. Regret bringing your hyperactive kids to the game? Let them try out our jungle gym.

You can eat, shop, and play just about anywhere for an affordable price. But why sell yourself short? The Mariners want you to use that $45 ticket as your personal pass to overpriced alcohol, an expensive fast food dinner, annoying Mickey Mouse theatrics, and a 100-loss season. You gotta love these guys!

5. Richie Sexson air purifier. Richie knows a thing or two about fanning, and now that he is currently unemployed, he’s taken his expertise to the world of air purifiers. Sexson’s top of the line purifier, the Richie218 (named after his final 2008 batting average with Seattle), is unique in that it both sucks and blows. In order to fully purify the air around you, the Richie218 will first clear the room of any dust particles by sucking unclean air into its reserve holding tank. The Richie218 really sucks! Amazingly, the Richie218 will then purify that air, recycle it, and blow it back into the room, creating a fresh, clean environment. The Richie218 really blows!

Not unlike a space heater or air conditioner, the Richie218 can blow both hot and cold air. Just ask the Seattle Mariners! They’ve watched Richie blow hot air for years in their clubhouse!

4. David Stern adult diapers. We all reach a point where even the best of us lose control of our bowels. David Stern, NBA commissioner, realizes this and wants to help. Stern should know. He’s been full of crap for years!

It’s no secret why David Stern always has such a weird look on his face, no matter what he’s doing. Stern lives by the motto “when you gotta go, you gotta go.” Press conference, NBA Draft, public appearance, it doesn’t matter. When David Stern needs to use the bathroom, he need not look any further than his pants.

People often ask, “How has Stern kept that pep in his step for over two decades?” The answer has been a secret until now. The David Stern line of adult diapers comes with an inherent cooling system designed by NASA that turns human waste into minty fresh relief. Why the crazy Stern mood swings? One minute constipation, the next minute flatulation, then perspiration, and finally celebration. Amazing!

3. Oklahoma City Thunder trash can. Okay, full disclosure, there are only two things on this entire list that are actual attainable items. The ’09 Sonics calendar, believe it or not, is one, and this wonderful item is the other. What better place to put your trash than in the Oklahoma City Thunder garbage can?

I suggest you save this can for only the worst messes made around your home. Let’s say the dog craps on the rug and you need to clean it up. No better place for the waste than your OKC can. Maybe your newborn goes through fifteen diapers a day. Feel free to use your Thunder can as the designated diaper zone. No matter the waste you have to toss, the Thunder trash can can handle it all.

2. Warren Moonshine. “Hall of Famer Warren Moon here for Warren Moonshine, a homemade liquor by me, Hall of Famer Warren Moon. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, hey Warren, now why would I want some fly-by-night alcohol when I could go down to the liquor store and pick up some of that name-brand stuff right now? Well friends, I don’t think I need to tell you again but I’m going to anyways….I’m Hall of Famer Warren Moon, and this is some Hall of Fame caliber moonshine we’re talking about here! Sure, I brew this in the back of my SUV, while driving, but don’t be fooled: this is some high-quality fire water. How do you think I won Rose Bowl MVP, Grey Cup MVP, and Pro Bowl MVP before getting to the Hall of Fame? That’s right, Warren Moonshine, by me, Hall of Famer Warren Moon.”

The Top 11: Christnukkazaa gifts that Seattle sports fans want, #11-7

We know you’re having a tough time finding the perfect gift for the person who has everything on your list this holiday season. That’s why here at SSN we’ve compiled a list of the Top 11 gifts that Seattle sports fan want to find waiting for them on Christnakuzaa morning. If you need some shopping advice, look no further than right here. Enjoy.

11. 2009 Seattle Sonics Team Calendar. If you’re having a hard time letting go, the 2009 Sonics team calendar is the gift for you. Apparently, the NBA produces these things months in advance or else just didn’t get the memo that our team no longer exists. Either that or this is David Stern’s idea of a sick joke.
Whatever the case may be, the ’09 Sonics team calendar is the perfect gift for any fan. Cherish it as a memento of days gone by hanging it on your wall and letting an Earl Watson ill-advised jumper stare at you for 30 days. Or take it outside with your David Stern dartboard, Oklahoma state flag, Mouhamed Sene replica jersey, and Aubrey McLendon souvenir stock portfolio and burn that sucker while you perform a ritual tribal dance around the flames. No matter how you use your Sonics calendar, I guarantee you’ll enjoy the crap out of it.

10. Prize cannon. If you haven’t been to a major professional sporting event recently, you may not be familiar with the prize cannon. Picture a rocket launcher powered by air that fires t-shirts, sub sandwiches, rounded souvenirs, and more, and you have the prize cannon.
Why would the prize cannon make a great gift, you ask? More like why wouldn’t it make a great gift.The prize cannon gives you power beyond what you’ve ever imagined. Let’s say the neighbor’s dog is taking a dump on your lawn again. Just fill your prize cannon up with your ammo of choice (I suggest tennis balls, rolled-up socks, or potatoes) and let Fido have it! Boo-yah doggie, you won’t be pooping here anymore!
Another scenario: the Usain Bolt of bank robbers happens to be fleeing the cops on foot past your house. A battalion of officers follow behind him desperately trying to catch up. Seeing you, good samaritan, sitting in your driveway with your prize cannon in tow, the police signal for your assistance. You lift the brim of the Indiana Jones hat you happen to be wearing that day, look up from your Mai-Tai, and nod slowly but surely towards them. It’s gonna be ok, coppers. You pull four softballs out of your ammunition pack and load them into your cannon. Unaware of what he’s about to endure, the bank robber is sprinting towards you with a smug look on his face. You aim your cannon straight at his testes, pull the trigger four times–POOSH! POOSH! POOSH! POOSH!–and justice is served. You’re a hero, and you have your prize cannon to thank. Good going, gift-giver.
9. Tyrone Willingham talking action figure. Life-size? No. Life-like. Oh yeah. The talking Ty action hero stands 11 inches tall (we swear it’s not life-size) and wants to be your friend. Your buddies may have GI Joe, but you have a polarizing figure that knows how to ostracize boosters, fans and media members! Take that, Jimmy from down the street! Special features include:
-Three interchangeable outfits. There’s “Early Ty” with the swest look (that’s sweater-vest for those of you not up on your fashion lingo), featuring a purple UW swest and a pair of 1995 Oakley M-frame sunglasses. Then we have “Warm Weather” Ty, with his oversized white polo and weekend khakis. And just added we have “’08 Apple Cup Ty” with the “I don’t care anymore so I’m gonna where what I wore to bed last night” look, plus a beanie.
-Judo chop arm action. Whether you want to defend yourself against enemies or just let out some rage by throwing a clipboard, headset, or untimely challenge flag, the Ty judo chop allows you to act out on your bad decisions whenever you want!
-Talking pull string. The Ty action figurine says one thing and one thing only: “Okay,” as in “Our boys played hard today, okay?” Of course, you can ask your Ty doll anything you want and he’ll answer you the same every time. Ask Ty if he wants to save the world. He’ll say “okay.” Then ask Ty if he wants to go swim in your toilet. “Okay.” He’s cool with everything!
8. Shaun Alexander commemorative kneepads. Do you tend to fall down a lot for no particular reason? If so, then the Shaun Alexander commemorative kneepads may be the gift for you. There’s really no explaining how gravity can occasionally affect even the best of us, and we all know the ground can be a rough and abrasive landing place at times. That’s why we recommend buying protection, and protection starts and ends with your knees.
Just ask Shaun. He used to be a 1000-yard rusher with the ability to power through opposing defensive lines. Then he signed a big contract and gravity took its hold on the once-proud running back. Pretty soon Alexander was collapsing at the first sign of contact, and now? Now he’s unemployed and likely done with football. I bet he wishes he had these kneepads.
Even if you’re not prone to taking dives right now, the SA kneepads are recommended for individuals who are set to sign contracts they probably can’t live up to, or for those who like to sell out their teammates by giving less than 100%.
7. PJ Carlesimo choke collar for dogs. He’s out of work and looking to maximize on his fame. That’s why former Sonics coach PJ Carlesimo has unveiled his line of pet accessories for the Christmas season. The Carlesimo short leash is a popular item, but the one we really like is the PJ choke collar for dogs.
Made of stainless steel and uniquely crafted to look like Latrell Sprewell’s hands, the PJ choke collar is perfect for the petowner training a new puppy around the house. Besides producing an obedient, well-behaved pooch, the PJ choke collar can also be used as a fashion accessory for aspiring assistant coaches and for men who just want to say “Hey, take a look at my huge beard.” You may not be your company’s next CEO, but you’re gonna try to work your way to the top before being put back in your place by all the people you’ve pissed off along the way.
#6-2 will be appearing in Sunday’s updates, #1 on Monday.

The Top 11: Seattle draft busts of the past 25 years, #1

The first five on our list of the Top 11 Seattle draft busts can be found here, while numbers 6-2 are located here. To recap, the first ten individuals on our list are as follows: 11, Robert Swift/Johan Petro/Mouhamed Sene; 10, Ryan Christianson; 9, Sherell Ford; 8, Rick Mirer; 7, Patrick Lennon; 6, Roger Salkeld; 5, Scottie Pippen; 4, Rich King; 3, Brian Bosworth; 2, Ryan Anderson. And now, our number one Seattle draft bust of the past 25 years: Dan McGwire.

1. Dan McGwire. I almost considered just leaving this piece blank. There’s not much to say about Dan McGwire, and chances are if you hear his name these days you either laugh or cringe or both. First of all, he’s Mark McGwire’s little brother, which used to be a joke until we found out that Mark was a cheater and steroid user. Without the ‘roids, Mark may only have been as talented as Dan, we’ll never know for sure. With the ‘roids, however, Mark was a beast-and-a-half, leading fans to wonder whether Dan should have gotten on the juice as well. It definitely couldn’t have hurt.

For those of you unfamiliar with the enigma that is Dan McGwire, let’s quickly recap his short-lived NFL career. McGwire, a product of the football machine that is San Diego State University, was the 16th overall pick by the Seahawks in the 1991 NFL Draft. A 6’5″ quarterback with a rocket arm, McGwire was labeled the future of the Hawks franchise despite the presence of surefire veteran Dave Krieg under center.

McGwire was expected to emerge as the starter in 1992 with the departure of Krieg, but underwhelmed and eventually sunk to third on the depth chart behind the infamous duo of Stan Gelbaugh and Kelly Stouffer. In his first two seasons, McGwire recorded four interceptions to zero touchdown passes. The Seahawks, sensing a disturbance in the force, selected yet another franchise quarterback in the 1993 draft, this time going after the can’t-miss Rick Mirer. Following the conclusion of the 1994 season, McGwire’s tenure was over in Seattle and he remained in the league for one more year with Miami before hanging it up in 1995.

Now I’d like to sum up McGwire’s career by paraphrasing an Old Spice commercial. Dan McGwire was two things: a bust, and a white guy with a jheri-curl mullet.

The Top 11: Seattle draft busts of the past 25 years, # 6-2

The first five Seattle draft busts can be found here and they are: 11, Robert Swift/Johan Petro/Mouhamed Sene; 10, Ryan Christianson; 9, Sherell Ford; 8, Rick Mirer; 7, Patrick Lennon. Now, numbers 6-2. Enjoy.

6. Roger Salkeld. Roger Salkeld was the third overall pick of the 1989 Major League Baseball June amateur draft and chances are you don’t know his name. Which is just wrong, because when you’re the third overall pick of any draft, everyone should know your name. Michael Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Roger Salkeld. What do they have in common? All third overall picks.

Salkeld was the prototype when it came to pitchers. He stood 6’5″, weighed 215 pounds, and could throw the ball fast. Mid-90’s fast, which is just good enough for any front office staff to overlook your flaws. Like the fact that Salkeld was coming straight out high school, a major red flag with any pitcher, no matter how talented. Statistics will tell you that a high percentage of high school pitchers who go straight to the pros eventually burn out due to arm injuries. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Salkeld was no exception.

Salkeld spent three full seasons in the minors before making his Major League Debut for the M’s in 1993, at the age of 22. He appeared in just three games that season, but showed promise by posting a 2.51 ERA in 14 innings pitched. In an injury-plagued ’94 season, Salkeld would appear in his last game as a Mariner. With a deteriorating throwing arm to blame, Salkeld compiled a ghastly 7.17 ERA in 13 starts.
A year later, in May of 1995, Salkeld was shipped to Cincinnati in exchange for veteran pitcher Tim Belcher. Salkeld’s only full season in the big leagues was 1996, with the Reds, and by 2000, at the age of 29, he was forced to quit baseball due to a repeated string of injuries.

5. Scottie Pippen. Pippen wasn’t a bust in the true sense of the word, but from a Seattle perspective, he might very well have been the biggest bust of all-time. The Sonics selected Pippen with the fifth pick in a loaded 1987 NBA draft that produced seven All-Stars (Pippen, David Robinson, Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, and the late Reggie Lewis). They then immediately sent him to Chicago, committing one of the worst draft-day trades in history.

Pippen was obtained for a mere pittance by the Bulls, who sent the eighth overall pick in the form of center Olden Polynice to the Sonics. From ’87 to 1991, Polynice manned the middle for Seattle. In 1999, perhaps in a last-ditch attempt to justify trading Pippen in the first place, the Sonics brought back Olden for a second go-round and only further exemplified why the Pippen trade was flat-out horrible. Needless to say, Olden Polynice was ok, but definitely not anywhere near the list of the Top 50 NBA players of all time.

Pippen, of course, would become of the Top 50 NBA greats and put together a Hall of Fame career living in the shadow of the greatest player to ever take the court, Michael Jordan. Who knows how he would have panned out if he had remained a Sonic, but a trio of Kemp, Payton, and Pippen doesn’t sound too bad at all.

4. Rich King. If it hasn’t already become apparent, the Sonics and big white guys go together like Lindsay Lohan and dudes. Think of Jack Sikma as Wilmer Valderrama. It was a one-time fling that worked out for a little bit, but in the end the true nature of the beast was revealed. We’ve already mentioned Robert Swift in this list of busts. Then there was the Jim McIlvaine debacle from our list of the “Top 11 Seattle sports villains.” And then of course there’s Rich King.

King was drafted 14th overall by the Sonics in the 1991 NBA Draft. A 7’2″ center from Nebraska, King possessed the size and finesse to be a force in the league. The only problem was he couldn’t stay healthy. He played a career-high 40 games in his rookie season, but most of those minutes were logged in garbage time. An amazing stat from that year: In 213 minutes played over those 40 games, King recorded 42 personal fouls. Unbelievable. He’s like an octopus.

By the 1994-1995 season, King could barely take the court after suffering knee, thumb, back, and foot injuries. He played in two games that season and after his rookie contract expired in the Summer of 1995, King rode off into the sunset having played in just 72 professional games.

King currently lives in Bellevue and was profiled in a “Where Are They Now?” article by the Seattle P-I’s Dan Raley last March.

3. Brian Bosworth. The Boz, in his day, was a lot like actress Keira Knightley. Keira is one of those celebs that for some reason people think is really hot. A Keira Knightley movie comes out and people get excited because, you know, Keira Knightley is in it. But then you see the movie, and it’s not that good. It gets Oscar buzz, but for what reason no one really knows. Keira just bugs you the whole time you’re watching the film because she isn’t what anyone would call a sensational actress. She learns her lines, regurgitates them, collects a paycheck, goes home. And to top it off, she’s also not nearly as attractive as one would think. Someone started spreading the rumor that Keira Knightley is sexy, but that’s not true at all. She’s a stick with a torso and that just shouldn’t do it for anyone.

The Seahawks went after the Keira Knightley of the 1987 supplemental draft, selecting Brian Bosworth out of the University of Oklahoma. The former Sooner linebacker was a good college player, but became larger than life with a constant media circus surrounding him. “The Boz” was an outspoken critic of the NCAA and had been thrown off the OU football team for using steroids and wearing a t-shirt on the sidelines in-game that crossed an ethical line. Despite his trangressions, the Hawks took a chance on Bosworth and quickly watched their investment backfire.

Boz actually had a decent rookie season, making the NFL All-Rookie Team and recording the only four sacks of his career. But by the end of his three-year rookie contract, Bosworth was done with football and had taken his celebrity status to the big screen, starring in a number of “B” action movies. His most notable NFL moment: being embarrassingly run over by a young Bo Jackson on his way to the end zone.

2. Ryan Anderson. They called him the “Little Unit” as soon as he was drafted. Ryan Anderson stood 6’11” and would eventually become the tallest Major League Baseball player in history. It was a foregone conclusion. He paralleled his idol, Randy Johnson, to the utmost degree. Tall, lefthanded, 95-MPH fastball, erratic control. Anderson was raw, but it didn’t matter. As far as the Mariners concerned, he was the next big thing.

Let’s work backwards. Ryan Anderson is currently an aspiring chef in Arizona. How did he get to this point, you ask. The short story: injuries. But the long story is slightly more complicated. Basically, Anderson wasn’t ready for professional baseball, in any way, shape, or form.

Anderson did have the same physical makeup as The Big Unit, but mentally, he was nowhere near Johnson’s level of drive and determination. Johnson, for one, came to the pros via USC. Anderson came straight out of high school. Johnson was surly, but had an unquestioned ability to focus on his job, pitching. Anderson could neither focus nor put on a happy face, and teammates, coaches, and media alike all grew tired of his childish act. Arguably, Anderson’s lack of mental preparation led to his physical deterioration, and after three shoulder surgeries, the Little Unit was forced to retire in 2003, six years after becoming the Mariners 1997 first-round draft pick.

The Top 11: Seattle draft busts of the past 25 years, #11-7

There have been plenty of draft busts in Seattle sports history, which is why we had to limit our findings to the past 25 years. Whether it was the Sonics, Seahawks, or Mariners making the selection, our local scouting departments seemingly had a knack for unearthing untalented players. By the way, do you know how hard it was to find images of some of these players? Especially live-action images, near impossible. Anyways, here’s our list of the Top 11 people you can’t help but shake your head at. Enjoy.

11. The Trifecta (Robert Swift, Johan Petro, Mouhamed Sene). Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me three times, I must be the Sonics front office staff on draft night. 2004: Robert Swift. 2005: Johan Petro. 2006: Mouhamed Sene. What do these three names have in common? Let’s see:

  • All three are former Seattle Sonics first-round draft picks.
  • All three are centers.
  • All three are over 7′ tall.
  • All three spend more time on the bench than they do playing.
  • All three are now Oklahoma City’s curse of a problem, and yet we’d take them back in a heartbeat.

Let’s start at the beginning with Robert Swift, class of 2004. Right away there were problems with Swift. I remember watching the ’04 Draft and hearing Swift’s name announced by David Stern, then immediately thinking, Who? Swift wasn’t present at the venue, so there was no visual of the guy the Sonics had selected. Quick cut to the studio analysis. Usually you have the consensus “great pick/really fills a need” garbage from the overpaid talking heads, but this one was a stretch even for the eternal optimists. I remember someone labeling him a “project,” which in draft-speak is a nice way of saying “you’re doomed.” And they were right, Swifty was one hell of a project.

To top it off, Swift is a non-European white guy, which is a horrible, horrible sign. Try to think of five really good non-European white guys in the NBA right now……..it’s difficult, I know, but keep trying………Steve Nash, yes……Brad Miller, but that’s a stretch………Mike Dunleavy, Jr., also a stretch……..ok, so the consensus is you can’t fill out an All-Star roster with non-European white guys, which basically begs the question why draft one in the first place unless he’s the next Larry Bird? Oh wait, hold on a second. Apparently the next Larry Bird was already drafted, and has yet to pan out so far in his third season. Goes by the name of Adam Morrison. Whoops, never mind then, I guess even the next Larry Bird isn’t a draftable non-European white guy. Moving on.

So here comes the 2005 draft and the prospect of improving from a year ago. Stuck with the 27th overall pick after the Sonics’ one playoff season in the past decade, the team drafts French center Johan Petro. There are about a million things wrong with drafting French center Johan Petro, but why go into it? Let’s just move on to 2006 (although it should be noted that of the three big men, Petro has shown the most promise thus far).

Mouhamed Saer Sene. If you are (or were, I guess, at this point) a Sonics fan and hear this name, chances are you cringe. Sene was the epitome of a mistake the moment he was selected and everyone knew it. At least you could pin the “project” label on Swift and Petro. Sene wasn’t a “project,” he was “raw.” “Raw” is the draft equivalent of “this guy isn’t American, isn’t European, and isn’t Yao Ming, so what the hell is he?” “Raw” means that you, the player, aren’t even on anyone’s draft board. The Sonics made this raw pick because, in layman’s terms, another team baited them into it. They claimed they “had to” pick Sene because they couldn’t afford to let him drop to an opponent lower in the draft, who supposedly would have selected Sene and used him against the Sonics in some way…I guess.

So here we were with the 7-footer from Senegal, a young Dikembe Mutombo, soon-to-be-fired experts said. Sene’s biggest claim to fame was a 7’8″ wingspan which allowed him to touch the rim standing flat-footed. Interestingly enough, he carried that flat-footed approach into games which made him quite useless on either end of the floor. Naturally, he blocked a few shots here and there, but so did Shawn Bradley and Georghe Muresan back in the day. Long story short, in his two years on the job in Seattle, Sene just didn’t play, and when he did it was for the minor league Idaho Stampede of the NBDL and not the Sonics.

Time for a side note. When Sene was selected, did anyone else immediately think of the movie “The Air Up There?” Because I did, and I could picture Kevin Bacon going to Africa to find Sene and bring him to America to play for a team here, just like in the movie. And not only that, but dominating alongside Sene on a dirt basketball court after having his lower abdomen sliced open in a tribal ritual to indoctrinate him into the group. Maybe it’s just me.

Of course, we don’t have to worry about The Trifecta anymore. Now they languish on the bench of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

10. Ryan Christianson. Realizing the clock was ticking on catcher Dan Wilson, the Mariners used their 1999 first-round draft pick on a high school catcher by the name of Ryan Christianson. The #11 overall pick in a draft that produced the likes of Josh Beckett and Josh Hamilton, among many others, Christianson was labeled the catcher of the future for the big club and set on the fast track to the Major Leagues. Unfortunately, Christianson’s fast track wasn’t very fast at all, and he derailed almost immediately, spending three years in Single-A ball at the outset of his career.

By 2005, Christianson was in his second stint with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, on the cusp of making the big show, when he tested positive for steroids. That effectively ended his Mariners career and Christianson was released prior to the end of the season.

Christianson was last spotted as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A affiliate in 2007.

9. Sherell Ford. Where the heck is Sherell Ford? Honestly. Does anyone know? If you know, please tell me, because I’ve been Googling Ford for an hour and he’s disappeared off the face of the earth. I can at least break down what we do know about Sherell Ford, international man of mystery.

Ford, out of the University of Illinois-Chicago, was the 26th overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. At that point in the draft, there aren’t hugely outrageous expectations placed on players. You just kind of hope for the best and assume you’ll get a two- or three-year rookie contract out of whomever you select. In Ford’s case, 28 games was all the Sonics got, good for 90 total points, most coming in garbage time.

A 6’7″ swingman expected to fill a void at the shooting guard/small forward positions, Ford essentially just filled a void on the payroll. He didn’t even last on the bench after a season, and beyond that rookie year, Ford never played in the NBA again.

According to his Wikipedia page, Ford was last spotted in 2006 when a Chicago ABA franchise invited him to take part in a tryout for their expansion team. The franchise has since folded. No word on whether Ford made the team or not.

8. Rick Mirer. You would think Mirer would be higher up on this list, but he’s here at #8 for two reasons: 1) the Seahawks actually managed to get four semi-productive seasons out of him and 2) when they finally gave up on Mirer, they managed to get a first-round pick in return for him, which is pretty amazing in and of itself. Mirer did try his hardest to become the very best bust he could be though, there’s no denying that.

The second overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, right after Washington State quarterback Drew Bledsoe, Mirer was supposed to be a franchise savior for whichever team ended up with his services. Hyped as the next Joe Montana, Mirer more closely resembled Hannah Montana during his tenure with the club. The only thing he possessed similar to that of Joe Montana’s was a strong arm…which he used to deposit balls into the hands of cornerbacks and safeties. In his four years in Seattle, Mirer amassed 56 interceptions to just 41 touchdown passes.

Luckily for the Hawks, the 1997 Chicago Bears were a passer-desperate team willing to do anything for a starting quarterback, which Mirer technically was. Packaged with a fourth-round pick, Mirer was on his way to Chicago with a first-rounder coming West to Seattle. With their two 1997 first-round picks, the Hawks selected cornerback Shawn Springs and left tackle Walter Jones, making Mirer a pretty valuable bargaining chip.

Mirer remained on NFL rosters until 2005, when he unofficially retired. He hasn’t played since.

7. Patrick Lennon. In evaluating Major League draft prospects, scouts will always tell you to avoid guys who have “slow” skills. Slow skills are those which don’t lend themselves to athleticism, per se, but are rather baseball-specific skills that tend to decline rapidly once a player ages or makes the leap to the next level of competition. Examples of slow skills are proficient power but low contact ability; lack of speed on the basepaths; and the inability to play the middle positions on the field (shortstop, second base, center field). Patrick Lennon was a slow-skilled player. And yet somehow, the Mariners found it in their hearts to draft him eighth overall in the 1986 June amateur draft.

It should be noted that Lennon didn’t appear in a Major League uniform until 1991, five years after he was drafted. That he even appeared in a big-league clubhouse is pretty remarkable considering the fact that he just wasn’t any good at baseball. In the nine games Lennon was a part of in ’91, five came as the DH, which is a ridiculously bad omen for a young player. He recorded one hit, a double, in eight at-bats that season, posting a .125 batting average.

In 1992, Lennon spent the majority of the year in Triple-A before earning another late-season call-up. He appeared in one game, recording two at-bats and going hitless. Unfortunately for trickLe (I like to call him trickLe, it’s a hybrid of Patrick and Lennon, it’s like A-Rod, and is used to exemplify how out of control the hybrid nickname has become), that was the last time he’d ever appear in uniform as a Seattle Mariner. As soon as the season was over the M’s released their one-time first-round selection and he was quickly signed by the expansion Colorado Rockies. Interestingly enough, Lennon was released by the Rockies before the team ever played a game and he wouldn’t appear in the Majors again until 1996 with Kansas City.

Lennon managed to appear in 81 more big-league games in his post-Mariner career before hanging it up at the age of 31 following the 1999 season.

The Top 11: Seattle sports heroes, #1

Our first ten Seattle sports heroes, counting down from 11, are as follows: 11, 1995 Mariners supporting cast; 10, Ichiro Suzuki; 9, Brandon Roy; 8, Mike Holmgren; 7, Lenny Wilkens; 6, Steve Largent; 5, Lou Piniella; 4, Don James; 3, Gary Payton; 2, Edgar Martinez. Numbers 11-7 can be found here, while numbers 6-2 can be found here. And now, our number one Seattle sports hero.

1. Ken Griffey, Jr. There is no debate. Ken Griffey, Jr. is Seattle’s biggest superstar. He saved baseball in this city, and arguably put Seattle on the national map with his highlight reel catches, 1997 MVP season, and picturesque swing. Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam may have represented Seattle all across the world, but Griffey was the city’s biggest rock star since Jimi Hendrix.

Griffey emerged on Seattle’s radar as a name in 1987. He was the first overall pick in Major League Baseball’s June amateur draft that year, and was poised to become the face of a franchise if everything went according to plan. Mariners owner George Argyros had wanted to use the #1 pick on Cal-State Fullerton pitcher Mike Harkey, but was overruled by his scouting team, who labeled Griffey a can’t-miss prospect with five-tool abilities. Junior was the prototype. He had the prototype build (6’3″, 195 pounds), prototype bloodlines (dad Senior was a Cincinnati Reds outfielder at the time), and the prototype attitude (generally well-liked, but with a dash of cockiness that tended to breed greatness).

By 1989, Junior was the starting center fielder on a young Seattle team. He had been hand-picked by first-year manager Jim Lefebvre to replace up-and-coming Mickey Brantley, who would ultimately have his career derailed by Junior’s emergence (no fault of Junior’s). Griffey spent some time on the disabled list that year, but still put together a decent rookie season, hitting 16 home runs and batting .264. He lost out on the American League Rookie of the Year award to Baltimore Orioles closer Gregg Olson (which, if you’re keeping track at home, makes for three obscure players that are answers to trivia questions involving Griffey: Harkey, Brantley, and now Olson).

Griffey really took off in 1990 and would never look back. He was a bona fide talent and the nation took notice. By 1994 he had had his own candy bar, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, done voice work for The Simpsons, acted in a major motion picture (Little Big League), guest starred on a network TV show (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), and produced a video game (Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball for Super Nintendo).

Even with all the accolades, Griffey outdid himself in 1995. The ’95 season began in somber fashion for Junior, who broke his wrist on a Spider Man-like leaping catch against the Kingdome’s right-center field wall. In the ensuing moments, Junior captured a spectrum of emotions from fans: amazement at the attempt, jubiliation at the catch, worry at the aftermath, sadness at his depature, fear at the prospect of being without his presence in the future. Despite a three-month absence spent on the disabled list, Griffey continued to dictate the Mariners season. While he watched from the sidelines, the team remained barely in playoff contention, hovering around .500 for the twelve weeks Griffey was out.

When Junior returned in August, the team was desperate for a spark to get them back on the winning track. Junior provided just that. Down the stretch he would quickly return to form, helping lead the ballclub to the playoffs for the first time in their history. One of the great images of the ’95 season is of Junior, arms raised, fingers pointed the heavens, immediately after hitting a game-winning home run, the first of his career. I can tell you that the game was played on a Sunday afternoon. The Mariners wore their alternative teal jerseys on Sundays that year, and here was Griffey all tealed out.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the Griffey-Seattle relationship occurred later that season, in the ’95 American League Division Series against the Yankees. Junior, barrelling around third base in the 11th inning of the deciding Game 5, would score on Edgar Martinez’s infamous double to essentially save the Mariners franchise from leaving Seattle. The image is considered holy to a true Mariners fan. Griffey, sliding feet-first, left hand outstretched to graze home plate. Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz positioned in front of the dish, awaiting a throw that won’t arrive on time. In the background, pure happiness. Numerous figures frozen in mid-air, leaping with unrestrained jubilation. Bob Wolcott, the Mariners 21-year-old starting pitcher, displaying a vertical leap that would get NBA scouts’ attention. An amazing photograph, and one that has been reproduced a thousand times over in Mariners lore.

In the aftermath of that winning run, a second photo would emerge to capture the spirit of the moment. Griffey, immediately tackled out of sheer joy seconds after crossing home plate, pops out of the bottom of a dogpile grinning like a kid on Christmas morning as teammates celebrate above him.

Ken Griffey, Jr. would remain in Seattle through the 1999 season. He won an American League MVP award in 1997, and amassed numbers as a Mariner that had him on pace to become one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. Upon a fateful trade to Cincinnati, however, Griffey’s career was sidetracked by injuries and he would never again be the same player he was in the Emerald City. His return to Seattle in 2007 resulted in multiple standing ovations, a tribute video that brought grown men to tears, and a home run for the opposition that had 45,000 fans cheering for him once again.

Ken Griffey, Jr. played a game in such a way that it moved people to take action. He brought fans to a once-empty ballpark and got them to watch him and his teammates. He made a state government take action and ensure that their baseball team would never leave the only city it had called home. He helped fund a new baseball stadium, simply by hitting home runs, catching fly balls, and flashing a geniune smile every now and then. He elicited emotion in fans and created it himself. Griffey may not ever fully realize exactly what he means to this city, but there’s no denying that when it comes to heroes, he may not have a cape or be able to fly, but Ken Griffey, Jr. is our Superman.

The Top 11: Seattle sports heroes, #6-2

Heroes #11-7 can be found here. They are as follows: 11, 1995 Mariners supporting cast; 10, Ichiro Suzuki; 9, Brandon Roy; 8, Mike Holmgren; 7, Lenny Wilkens.

6. Steve Largent. The former Seahawks wide receiver was arguably this city’s first superstar athlete. He became Seattle’s first true Hall of Famer in 1992, after a thirteen-year career that saw him leave the game in 1989 as the NFL’s career leader in receptions (819), reception yards (13,089), and touchdown receptions (100).

Despite the national accolades Largent received at the back end of his career, he arrived in Seattle inconspicuously in 1976 after a trade with the Houston Oilers. A star wideout at the University of Tulsa, Largent wasn’t selected until the fourth round of the ’76 NFL draft. Prior to the start of the regular season the Oilers sent Largent to the Hawks in exchange for a 1977 eighth-round pick. There may never have been a better trade in Seattle history.

Following his football career, Largent turned his national stardom into a successful foray into politics. Beginning in 1994, Largent served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a member of Oklahoma’s first district, but resigned his seat in 2002 when he took an unsuccesful run for the office of governor.

In addition to his records and Hall of Fame selection, Largent was also a seven-time Pro Bowler and was chosen as a member of the NFL’s 1980’s All-Decade Team.

5. Lou Piniella. When Piniella came to Seattle in 1993, interest in his Mariners ballclub piqued, but expectations remained low. In 1992, behind manager Bill Plummer, the Mariners had put together one of their worst seasons in history, finishing 64-98, despite a roster brimming with talent. With younger versions of Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez (the 1992 American League batting champ), Jay Buhner, and Randy Johnson, the Mariners were on the verge of putting it all together but needed a leader to show them the way. Piniella became that leader.

Piniella’s impact on the team was immediate. The team put together their first winning season in seventeen years of existence with an 82-80 finish in 1993. They took a nosedive in the strike-shortened season of ’94, finishing 49-63, but were bailed out in a sense when playoffs were cancelled anyways. The 1995 season brought renewed hope, new players, and a new attitude to the Kingdome. Sweet Lou managed to get the most out of his team that year, sending the Mariners to the playoffs for the first time in their history and essentially saving baseball in Seattle.

When he wasn’t winning ballgames, Lou was winning over fans and players alike with his on-field tantrums. He would throw bases, kick dirt, toss his hat, yell and scream all in a futile effort to change a seemingly bad call. It was one of his finer points.

Lou stuck with the M’s for seven seasons after that miracle ’95 run, but departed following the 2002 campaign to move closer to his home in Florida. Upon returning to the Emerald City with his visiting Tampa Bay Devil Rays club shortly thereafter, Piniella was greeted with a standing ovation and even gave addressed the crowd in red carpet fashion before the game.

Piniella is the manager that all Mariners skippers have been and forever will be compared to. He may not have won it all with this team, but he won over the fans of the city and kept a Major League team entrenched here for years to come.

4. Don James. When Don James resigned as head coach of the Washington football team prior to the 1993 season, he left college football as one of the last men in a dying breed. James was the type of head coach you rarely see in today’s game. His intensity and passion was visibly reflected on the field by his players, who, despite an age gap between mentor and tutor, played the disciplined, hard-nosed style of football that their coach demanded of them. James was a man who could command both fear and respect, which allowed him the luxury of eighteen solid seasons on Montlake as the leader of the Dawgs.

The Dawgfather emerged as the man to replace another icon, head coach Jim Owens, in 1975 after four years at Kent State University. He wasn’t the biggest name, nor had the most impressive resume, but at the age of 43 was ready to make the leap to a major Division-I school and happened to be the right guy at the right time.

James’ first two seasons at Husky Stadium were the definition of average. He compiled an 11-11 overall record over the ’75 and ’76 campaigns and couldn’t find a way to a bowl game. That all changed in 1977 when the Huskies rose to prominence, going 10-2 and becoming Rose Bowl champions. Following that season, James would take the Dawgs to 13 more bowls in his fifteen remaining years as head coach. His career apexed in 1991 when the Huskies won a share of the national championship.

Though he’s been retired for over fifteen years, the Huskies are still searching for the man to replace Don James. The team is now searching for their fifth head coach since James’ departure and to hear people talk about the Dawgfather, one would assume he had just resigned last week. Like Lou Piniella with the Mariners, James will now and forever be the coach that all other Husky coaches are compared to.

3. Gary Payton. Most heroes complement their achievements with humility, affability, politeness, and a sense of respect for others. Not Payton. Built like the one and only foil to all that embodies heroism, GP was a loudmouth, trash-talking, in-your-face gamer who never took a play off. He built his reputation on attitude and intensity, and would eventually become arguably one of the greatest players in NBA history.

Big for a point guard, Payton, at 6’4″, was the second overall pick by the Sonics in the 1990 NBA Draft. Coming out of Oregon State University, the wiry Payton was expected to team up with power forward and 1989 first-round selection Shawn Kemp to form an inside-out, one-two punch. The duo would do just that over the course of the next seven years, taking the Sonics to the playoffs in the final five seasons they played together.

After Kemp’s departure in 1997, Payton would last almost six more years in Seattle before being traded for Ray Allen in the middle of the ’02-’03 season. To this day, Payton is among the top three in fourteen different major statistical categories in Sonics franchise history, including being the leader in points scored (18,207), steals (2107), assists (7384), and games played (999). Payton eventually went on to win an NBA championship with the Miami Heat in 2006, but still considers himself a Sonic at heart. He helped lead a rally this past year to keep the Sonics in Seattle, and continues to be a prominent figure in the Emerald City despite making his home in Las Vegas.

2. Edgar Martinez. Over the course of a professional career that began in 1982 and didn’t end until 2004, Edgar combined 22 years as a member of the Seattle Mariners organization with Hall of Fame numbers to become one of the most beloved sports figures in this city’s history.

He first appeared on the scene in 1987 as a pinch-runner, slender, with a mustache that resembled a small rodent. He wouldn’t crack the everyday lineup until 1990, after starting third baseman Jim Presley was traded to Atlanta. Over the course of the next fifteen seasons, Edgar would play in seven All-Star games, win five Silver Slugger awards, and collect two AL batting titles (1992 and 1995).

But even if you took away all the great years, the statistics, and the achievements, Edgar’s meaning to this city could simply be summed up in one moment. The Double.

The Double stands as one of the greatest moments in Seattle sports history. Like Joe Carter’s walk-off home run to win the 1993 World Series, Michael Jordan’s push-off jumper over Bryon Russell in the 1998 NBA Finals, or Dwight Clark’s “The Catch” in 1982, The Double was a once-in-a-lifetime play that came to define an entire team’s season in one instant.

1995. Game 5. American League Division Series. Bottom of the 11th inning. Down 5-4. Runners on first and second. The opponent was the hated New York Yankees. The pitcher was Yankee ace Jack McDowell, brought in out of the bullpen to close the door and send New York to the ALCS. Mariner second baseman Joey Cora stood on second, Ken Griffey, Jr. on first. Cora could score to tie the game on a single. Junior, with his speed, could possibly score on a double. Edgar emerged in the batter’s box and assumed his stance, hands held high, the head of the bat pointing towards the pitcher’s mound, left foot raised up from the ground, weight back, neck cocked, squinting. McDowell came set, checked the runners, and delivered. As if in slow motion, Edgar uncoiled from his statuesque pose and released his bat through the zone. Smoothly, effortlessly he connected with McDowell’s fastball. A line drive down the left field line. Cora scored easily. Here was Griffey, now, steaming around third base, being waved in by a frantic Sam Perlozzo. Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz positioned himself in front of the plate, awaiting a throw that would arrive too late. Edgar Martinez of all people had won the game and the series.

Our #1 hero will appear in tomorrow’s updates.