West Coast Super Bowl?

Hi. Sorry it’s been a while. I get busy and then I forget to blog. I’ll try to stick to writing something here once a week. We’ll see how I do. Between (finally) graduating and landing a full-time job, there are no guarantees.

My mom and I were talking the other day, and both of us decided that while we are going to watch the Super Bowl, we’re not happy about it. Why? There’s no West Coast connection. It’s two East Coast teams who just met in the Super Bowl a few years ago playing in a Midwestern city. Now, I’m all for the revitalization of the Midwest (setting the Super Bowl in Detroit last year was awesome), but when are we going to get our turn? When will we get a West Coast Super Bowl?

I know the argument against Seattle. Apparently it rains too much here for them to stage a Super Bowl outdoors. It’s too cold, they say. (Try telling that to a Seattle native on a day like today, when the temperature is upwards of 50 degrees and it’s gorgeous!) Well, if not Seattle, why not San Francisco, Oakland, or San Diego? Those three cities have mild, dry climates.

Besides, isn’t weather supposed to be one of the elements of football?

Apologies to Indianapolis, but maybe the NFL ought to put the Super Bowl in a place people actually want to go to. Like Seattle. Or San Francisco. We West Coasters are tired of feeling left out.

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Seattle Saturday Roundup 4/30

I’m going to try to actually make sports blogging a regular activity, since I often find myself talking about sports with folks. I just don’t have the discipline to sit down and write out my thoughts at the computer all the time. From henceforth, I will try to write a new post here once a week. Getting on Twitter helps when following sports. 🙂

Had a couple of exciting things happen in the Seattle sports world today. It was day 3, and, I believe, the final day of the NFL draft. The Seahawks primarily bolstered their O Line during the draft. I think James Carpenter was a good first round selection. Our right and left tackles are going to be beasts, and that will do wonders for our running game. However, wouldn’t Carpenter have been available in Round 2? He was so far under the radar that most folks were surprised when the Hawks picked him.

I’m a little disconcerted that the Seahawks did not pick a QB this time. Happened to catch Trent Dilfer’s commentary on ESPN radio yesterday, and he thinks the Hawks should have drafted a quarterback. Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst is not a good longterm solution for the Hawks, and this will likely be Matt Hasselbeck’s last year. Dilfer thinks the Hawks missed out on a potential NFL quarterback in TCU’s Andy Dalton. We’ll see.

This draft class may be wasted, anyway, because of the NFL lockout. All of these college players aren’t getting the training or the coaching they’ll need to survive the NFL. It could end up being very difficult for them to transition as a result.

Moving away from the NFL to the other league that plays at Qwest, the MLS — how ’bout them Sounders? What an emotional win today. USMNT Brad Evans and Alvaro “El Flaco” Fernandez were all over the pitch. Flaco, in particular, looked great. He’s really stepped it up. Seeing 36,000 fans holding #11 cards in the 11th minute for Steve Zakuani made me choke up. I hope someone recorded that or took pictures to send to Zak. We’re now tied with RSL for 2nd in the Western Conference, which is just awesome.

It will be interesting to see what happens when we play a competitive opponent. Toronto kinda sucks right now. We were making mincemeat of their defense. How will the team play against Columbus or the Timbers? We’ve got some tough opponents coming up. We’re going to miss the speedy Steve Zakuani. Rosales should be back soon, and will get more playing time with White and Zak both out. Hopefully White will come back as well — although Nate Jaqua surely proved able to fill his shoes today. Nate had some good shots on goal.

Last but not least, the Mariners. Believe it or not, the Ms are going for another sweep tomorrow! Fister pitched a gem today, and it sounds like the Ms took advantage of some breaks. Finishing 12-15 after starting out so poorly — hey, I’ll take it. As my awesome boyfriend and fellow die-hard Mariners fan put it “Nice to see them show a little heart.” This team is playing like it’s possessed. Whatever Eric Wedge said to them to make them go 8-4…well, he needs to keep saying it when they’re slumping. While I don’t think they’re going to make the playoffs by any stretch of the imagination — way too many holes in the offense — this team could very well break .500 ball. If they keep Felix and Pineida, and build around them as the core, we could be seeing some very good baseball in Seattle in the not-so-distant future. Hands off, Yankees. Felix is ours and there’s no way in hell you’re getting him.

Peace Out. Got an early Mariners game (10:35 our time) tomorrow I don’t really want to miss!

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Sshhh…the Mariners are winning!

Don’t look now, but the Seattle Mariners are actually playing some decent baseball. Ever since Eric Wedge chewed them out for not playing up to their capability, the team has gone 8-4. They’ve benefited from some lights out pitching (Pinieda is AWESOME!) and some situational hitting. Mariners hitters have just been eating up relievers lately. And they seem to like hitting against Detroit. Particularly against Phil Coke.

My hope is that the Ms manage to take two out of three from Boston this weekend and come home from an awesome road trip. It’s going to be a tough series against Texas when they come home, but hopefully the Texas bats won’t be as potent in chilly Seattle. The White Sox are slumping. A 3-3 homestand isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

It would be interesting to me to see a graph of the Ms team batting average at home and on the road. Are they a better road team because Safeco is a pitcher’s ballpark?

I’ve been listening to most of the games now. Rizzs, I love to hear you call a game. No offense, buddy, but it’s just not the same without Dave. It doesn’t help that some of the broadcasters the Mariners have you working with are just awful. Ken Levine wasn’t so bad. And I kinda liked hearing Hendu. But one more game of “Captain Obvious” Ron Fairly and I swear I’m going to destroy my radio.


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The Suspension

I didn’t hear the break, thankfully. I turned the radio on right after it happened, only to hear Arlo White describe it. Those who happened to be tuned in when it happened heard the sickening sound of Colorado’s Brian Mullan breaking Steve Zakuani’s tibia and fibula. It was a dangerous, reckless tackle, and while I don’t think Mullan meant to break Zak’s leg, he meant to take him out for sure. Mullan was pissed off after yet another MLS non-call, and wanted to take out one of our best players. He meant to knock him down, but I don’t think he meant to hurt him.

Still, it’s a huge blow to the Sounders to have Steve Zakuani out for an extended length of time. His speed, quickness, and agility are tough to replace — if these factors are even replaceable. Plus, Zak’s a class act. He plays the game the right way. He doesn’t jaw at the refs, and garners a lot of respect from other soccer players. It’s a tough blow. Especially now that big forward O’Brien White is out with a blood clot in his leg(thank God they caught that before it was fatal), and breakout player Mauro Rosales is a gametime decision. The Sounders have depth, but they may not have enough depth for all of the extra games this summer — Champions League and the US Open Cup in addition to all the regularly scheduled MLS matches.

Even though Mullan apologized, which was pretty classy I gotta say, I’m glad he was suspended for ten games. MLS needs to send a message that retaliatory tackles will not be tolerated. You don’t make a hard tackle into a guy with your cleats up. That’s not cool, and could be very dangerous. But for anything good to come out of this, MLS needs to take a look at its refs.

The reffing is horrible in the MLS. Absolutely awful. Refs miss more calls than not, and seem reluctant to give players a red card. You don’t see that in international soccer. Pepe got kind of a bullshit red (in my opinion) in the Barca-Real match. It was definitely a yellow (I think it was a hard tackle — that game was so full of drama that I honestly can’t remember). Yet the ref didn’t hesitate to try to calm the game down, keep the emotions between the two sides at a simmer rather than a boil, and send a message that dangerously physical play will not be tolerated. What happens in the MLS is that a ref misses a foul, and the team that feels like it should have benefited from the foul ends up taking out a player on the opposing side. This can escalate to dangerous levels. The fouls that do get called in MLS, more often than not, are phantom fouls where nothing ever really happened. Maybe it’s time for MLS to train its refs on what a foul looks like. Time for the league to get a little tougher on reckless play.

Don’t just suspend Brian Mullan for ten games to send a message. Reform your reffing system, MLS. Start calling real fouls, before more good players like Steve Zakuani get injured.

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Camp Nou!

Today, we visited Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona. We paid 19 euros for a stadium tour, and it was well worth it. The team has been around for 110 years, and is a symbol of Catalan identity. There were cases and cases full of trophies, and interesting displays about the players, the team’s identity, and its history.

It’s hard not to be a Barca fan after visiting their home stadium. During the Spanish Civil War, the team was persecuted for being associated with Catalan identity. Its president was assassinated and the team was forced to change its name to be spelled and pronounced in a more Spanish fashion. After Franco’s death, fans smuggled the Catalunyan flag into the stadium and displayed it.

Fan favorites include Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol, both of whom, I believe, are of Catalan descent. Puyol is awesome. He is one of my absolute favorite players. His goal for Spain during the World Cup match with Germany was amazing. He came out of nowhere and headed the ball straight into the goal, propelling Spain into the final.

It’s no wonder that Spain won the World Cup in 2010 — eight of the national team’s players were from FC Barcelona. In 2009-2010, FC Barcelona won all six cups it was eligible for. No wonder this team is the best in the world!

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Touchdown Barcelona!

First, it’s really difficult to blog when Firefox automatically translates instructions on webpages into Catalan. I remember a little bit of my high school Spanish, but Catalan is completely different in some ways. I brought my little Netbook for blogging, and even though my language is set to English, Firefox still translates everything!

Anna and Smiley’s Most Excellent European Adventure has officially begun! We are in Barcelona, Spain, after about 15 hours of traveling yesterday. My key to beating jet lag is to sleep as much as I can on the plane (thank you, Tylenol PM) and then to stay up as late as I can once I get to where I’m going. It worked pretty well, except I started fading around 5 PM local time.

We took a bus to our hostel, the Hostel Sant Jordi Arago. It’s just a short walk from Las Ramblas, a major walking street in Barcelona. It’s a nice place, and I would recommend it to others traveling here. The rooms are comfortable and quiet.

We grabbed a tapas lunch (yum), and started walking Las Ramblas. The buildings around here are pretty interesting — they remind me quite a bit of Morocco. It’s a neat mix between Spanish and Arabian architecture. On Las Ramblas, we saw a bunch of people dressed up as human statues — butterflies, and even Gene Simmons from Kiss! Passing tourists give them coins to make them do things. I snapped a bunch of pictures.

After a nap, we went to a cafe down the street to watch the Barcelona-Sevilla match. Sports fans the world over make the same rooting noises. So I fit right in. One thing that I found really interesting happened when Barca scored a goal. Rather than preemptively celebrate, the fans in the cafe waited until the ref confirmed the goal before cheering. We all got really into it at the end of the game. Sevilla had some good looks, and at times Barca’s defense really broke down. (Just like the Sounders!) Barca was pressing hard at the end, but the game ended in a 1-1 draw. It was fun.

Today, we plan on walking Las Ramblas, checking out La Boqueria market, and touring Camp Nou, the Barcelona soccer stadium. It’s going to be an awesome day!

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Community Shield Match

These Sounders look ready to start the season! The first half saw more of those troubling defensive lapses. James Riley made a pretty sweet header to save a goal Keller wouldn’t have been able to get to. US Men’s National Teamer Brad Evans (hearby known as USMNT Brad Evans) was sprinting all over the place, although it was hard to tell if there was much point to all his sprinting. We couldn’t get a good answer out of fellow Sounders fan Justin why USMNT Brad Evans is his favorite player on the team.

Many times, I wish Blaise Nkufo has been a bit faster. He’s so slow that it looked difficult for speedsters like Zakuani to set him up. Zak or Fernandez would try to pass the ball to him, and we just knew he was never going to get to it. Sigh. It’ll be interesting to see how long he sticks around, with O’Brien White here. White’s definitely much faster, and is a very skilled player.

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s header was an amazing goal. He seemed to come out of nowhere, fly up over a bunch of maroon jerseys, and smack the ball right into the goal. Awesome.

I’m still learning how to “speak soccer,” so apologies if my analysis isn’t as insightful as y’all would like. I’m as much a fan of the game as anybody, but nuances still escape me. And I tend to get distracted by the chants of the ECS, whom my date found rather entertaining. My season tickets are right behind the ECS, and I know I’m going to be torn between watching and chanting with them and watching the game.

We had great seats, down on the 50 yard line. It stayed dry until about the 75th minute. And then the heavens opened up. All the clothes I was wearing got super soaked. We felt like die-hards, standing there in the pouring rain. Thank goodness the Sounders won!

Fredy Montero was on fire. I like to see him get going before the season starts. He apparently wanted to put on a show for Colombian pop star Juanes (who was in the stands). And boy, he did. Scored two goals in the second half. Great form. If he can stay strong for us at the beginning of the season, it’ll be awesome.

A bunch of players are going to have to step up. Evans is out with a pulled hamstring for 1-3 weeks. He’s replaceable, so I’m not too worried. More worrisome was the loss of Steve Zakuani, my own favorite player, towards the end of the match. I didn’t see the injury, but he was down on the turf for a while. Apparently it’s his hip. Hopefully he isn’t out for too long. Looks like Tetteh and Friberg will be seeing more time with both Evans and Zak out. They’re both good players, but Zak’s got more experience and is, in my own humble opinion, one of the better midfielders in the MLS.

Fucito will be out 3-6 weeks with his injury. Everybody root for him to come back healthy and strong! We love you Mike Fucito!

All in all, it was a fun game. Good luck against LA and Houston, Sounders! I’ll be back in the stands in April. My next update will be from England, as Dave and I recap the Chelsea-Man City match! Cheers!

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