For any professional sports team, roster turnover is inevitable. Players come and go all the time. Be it injury, contract expiration, a trade, or retirement, athletes rarely get to walk away on their own terms.
This has never been more relevant recently than for several Seattle sports teams. The Seahawks are forced to say goodbye to arguably their second best-ever receiver in Doug Baldwin and to fan-favorite safety Kam Chancellor.
Speaking of saying goodbye, have we seen the last of Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez?
While those teams are forced to make excruciating decisions, the Sounders are on the flip side and welcome two new players to an already stellar lineup.
Coming and going.
According to the NFL Players Association, the average career of an NFL player is 3.3 years.
Read that again.
An average of 3.3 years is not a lot of time to make your mark in a league predicated on violence. It is a brutal sport, and injuries are a major component of the NFL. So when a player’s career is cut short by years of abuse, it becomes a tricky mental game: ‘Do I continue to play the game I love, or do I listen to my body and hang up my cleats?’
Those are the questions Baldwin and Chancellor have been dealing with for the past year.
How do you make that decision? Well, the Seahawks organization made it easy for these players and terminated both their contracts, effectively releasing them from the team with ‘injury designations’ and therefore ending their time in the Rave Green.
As I said, a lot of players come and go, but these two departures feel different. Sad, even.
Baldwin, an undrafted free agent, played for eight years, all with the Hawks, and got every ounce of production out of talent no one could see except Seattle. ‘Angry Doug’ played with a chip on his shoulder (as many Seahawks seem to do) and made incredible play after incredible play. He racked up 493 receptions for 6,563 yards and 49 touchdowns.
Yes, he spoke his mind and never backed down from any competition. He took every perceived slight and used it as motivation to get better. But he did it with grace and thoughtfulness and showed the intellect that got him into Stanford. There was never anything malicious about his actions and that endeared him to Hawks fans.
Without Baldwin this upcoming season, the team’s receiving corps lacks an identity, someone to relate to and root for. Yes, Tyler Lockett appears to be a good candidate to take the mantle, and who knows what intriguing rookie D.K. Metcalf will bring. But the absence of Baldwin will hurt, both on the field and off.
Chancellor, the last remaining member of the Legion of Boom, has been out with a neck injury for over a year and didn’t play last season. So his departure was not much of a surprise. But when it became official, it hurt nonetheless. His hard-hitting ways and the swagger he brought alongside Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas made you proud to be a part of the 12’s.
Unlike Sherman and Thomas, who left the franchise in classless ways, Kam is doing it with grace. Doing it with the same elegance he used to effortlessly destroy opponents.
Two iconic Seahawks say goodbye. They will be missed and leave a gaping hole in a team lacking recognizable leaders. Russell Wilson…your turn.
The M’s put pitcher Felix Hernandez on the disabled list this week with ‘shoulder strain’ after a disastrous performance on Saturday. Spotted a four-run lead, he couldn’t get out of the third inning and gave up seven earned runs. It was his second straight poor performance after showing signs he might have found something new and putting up some strong outings earlier in the season.
This may just be another rest period to see if he can salvage the year. Or not.
Have we seen the last of Felix? Will the team relegate him to the bullpen so he can sit on his $27 million salary and fade into retirement? Will they let a 33-year-old mediocre pitcher take a starting spot from some young pitcher who may actually play a part in future seasons?
So many questions.
But if this is the end, it is a tough way to go out for Felix. He was sooo good for sooo long, it’s sad to see the King go down like this. Yes, money is great, but wouldn’t you rather step aside before you have to get tossed in the scrap heap? No easy decisions for player or team.
On a happier note, the Sounders announced two additions to their roster for the summer. Left back Joevin Jones returns after spending the last two years in Germany. He was part of the MLS Cup championship run in 2016 and was sorely missed until the arrival of Brad Smith from England last season.
Jones brings another element of speed and elusiveness down the wings and adds much-needed depth. Injuries are beginning to impact the lineup and being able to stick him on defense or even in the midfield will be invaluable.
Who does he replace? I would think Harry Shipp for sure and Nouhou to some degree. If Brad Smith is recalled to England when his loan expires in June, Jones will take his place. If Smith stays, I think those two are interchangeable out wide and can take pressure off Victor Rodriguez, who can’t seem to stay healthy.
The other addition is Ecuadorian center back Xavier Arreaga. He is a versatile 24-year-old and was defender of the year in his league last season. With Chad Marshall on his last legs, depth is needed on defense for the rest of the season. Arreaga will take some time to find his footing, but I imagine you’ll see a lot of the pairing of him and Kim Kee-hee going forward.
It’s all about adding depth with talented players to get through the long summer and position the team for a deep playoff run. So far, mission accomplished.
Hellos are always easier than goodbyes. It has never been more evident than in the city of Seattle this May.