Cheers And Jeers For Seattle Sports … And James Holzhauer

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Every fan has their favorite sport or sports team they follow more closely than others. We live and die with our teams. We cheer the good times and rant about the bad. If you’re not mad at your team at least once a season, something is wrong. 

In the spirt of this roller coaster life we lead, here are a few of my recent cheers and jeers. Things that got me excited and things that ruffled my feathers. 

Jeers to the Seattle Mariners

Wow, that happened fast. On April 11 the Mariners were 13-2, leading all of baseball in home runs and most every other major statistical category. They were basically playing out of their heads. I even wrote a column about eating crow because I thought before the season the M’s were, for lack of better words, going to suck. They shot out of the gate and left us all scratching our heads about what this team might be able to accomplish. 

Well, here we are, starting the month of June and the free fall is picking up speed. After hitting their peak, they have now lost 37 times and won just 12 (as of Tuesday), and they lead the league in errors. The team has 21 more errors than the next closest team this season. Unbelievable. Don’t you have to know how to catch and throw a baseball to make it to the majors? Guess not. 

How is it possible to lose that many games, that fast?

Shaky starting pitching, an unreliable bullpen and horrendous defense are all part of this ‘step back’ season. At times it has been downright embarrassing. 

But let’s be honest. Had the team not gone on their unprecedented streak to start the season and just started their losing right away, who would have cared? Fans were prepared for a terrible season. But expectations got raised and fans were left to wonder if maybe this wasn’t a throw-away season after all. 

Nope. The winning only delayed the inevitable. This team is beyond young and filled gaps with aging veterans who overperformed early and are now crashing back to earth. Hopefully the M’s can move some of these veterans quickly (see Jay Bruce leaving this past week) and the team can get something in return. 

For now, the long slog through summer begins and there just isn’t much to cheer about. We can only keep an eye on a few youngsters in the system, including pitcher Justus Shefield and outfielder Jarred Kelenic, and hope for the best. 

When does Spring Training start?

Cheers to the Seattle Storm

It may only be three wins, but to the surprise of many, the Seattle Storm have come out of the gates playing well to start the WNBA season. All without their two best players and their head coach. 

The face of this team, center Breanna Stewart, is out for the rest of the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and point guard Sue Bird is out indefinitely after having arthroscopic knee surgery last week. On top of that, head coach Dan Hughes is on a leave of absence as he battles cancer. Wow. How do you bounce back from that?

The season looked lost, but as I’ve said before, winning cures problems. 

Natasha Howard and Jordin Canada have upped their games and carried the team to start the season. Here’s hoping the defending champs can weather the storm and pull out another remarkable season. It won’t be easy. But nice work so far. 

Jeers to the Seattle Sounders

Two own goals in one game? How does that even happen? 

In Sunday’s game against slumping FC Dallas, the Sounders put two goals into their OWN net and lost 2-1. What is this, an over-40 beer league? Yes, the game is fast and furious at times, and things happen quickly. But come on, let’s show a little skill and professionalism and keep from kicking the ball in the wrong direction. Is it coaching, lack of focus or what?

The team’s poor form lately has a lot to do with injuries and new players playing in unfamiliar roles. The Sounders are in a bit of a slump, garnering just one point in their last three games. The injury bug is biting hard. Forward Jordan Morris and winger Victor Rodriguez are two of the team’s starters out with leg injuries. Center back Kim Kee-Hee is battling a knee injury and forward Raul Ruidiaz is just now coming back from a foot injury. 

The huge missing piece on defense is Chad Marshall. The Sounders, and maybe the league’s, best defender has hung up his cleats for good. He couldn’t rebound from chronic knee pain and was forced to retire last month. The team has capable players to fill in, but the impact of Marshall’s absence cannot be overstated. However, newcomer Xavier Arreaga should be a great addition on the back line. He got his first start Saturday and looked good. But, he was at fault for the first own goal, so hold your applause.  

With Marshall gone and injuries forcing players to the sidelines,  it will take time for these players to mesh. The upcoming two-week international break should give them time to heal and get everyone on the same page. 

The team is chasing Los Angeles FC who are on a tear and look to be the class of the Western Conference. So, the Sounders have to play better to keep pace, and putting goals in their own net doesn’t help. 

Cheers to James Holzhauer

Who is James Holzhauer, and what does he have to do with sports? 

It may be a bit of a stretch, but Holzhauer is a professional sports gambler who just recently went on an unprecedented and gripping run on the game show Jeopardy. It was riveting TV. 

He used all his gambling techniques and seemingly photographic memory to rip through the competition for 32 days. He correctly answered 97 percent of his questions and missed only one final Jeopardy question on his way to $2.46 million dollars in winnings.   

Even if you aren’t a fan of the show, it was a lot of fun to watch. As Holzhauer said, he played fast, bet big and blew people off the stage. His ability to buzz in before others and his knowledge of trivia was crazy.

I hated to see it end. But cheers also to Emma Boettcher, a librarian from the University of Chicago, who dethroned the champ. I thought it couldn’t be done. 

Jeers to Wally Walker

The Seattle SuperSonics celebrated the 40th anniversary of their NBA World Championship with festivities around town and even threw out the first pitch at the Mariners game on Saturday night. It was great to reminisce about the old team and how fun it was for the city to win a championship. 

However, are fans sure they should be celebrating Wally Walker? Yes, he was part of the team that brought home the trophy, but did he not play an integral part in the Sonics leaving Seattle as the team’s general manager? Was he not thick as thieves with owner Howard Schultz as they drove the team into the ground and eventually sold the team to investors in Oklahoma City?

Now Walker is part of one of the partnerships trying to build an NBA-ready stadium and bring a team back to the city. But is it just to right his previous wrong? I think fans need to check themselves a bit before they continue to pat Walker on the back. If he manages to help bring a team back, great. I just think fans are overlooking his role in the biggest sports tragedy Seattle has every seen. Just saying. 

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About Author

John D. Hunter is Montana native but grew up in the Tacoma/Seattle area and proudly attended Washington State University. He is a former morning show producer on KJR SportsRadio in Seattle. For 7 years he produced ‘Knight in the Morning’ with Michael Knight and New York Vinnie. From there he moved to ESPN.com where he spent another 7 years as an Interactive Editor and Soccer reporter/writer. He has covered 3 Super Bowls, the NBA Finals, 1998 World Cup in France and many more sporting events.

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