Lost Weekend at Safeco

Morales in the dugout - not exactly burning down the house so far, unfortunately.
Morales in the dugout

Ouch.

My wife and kids watched two Mariners games this weekend. Both went into extra innings. Both ended as Mariners losses.

I only sat through one, Sunday’s 10-inning 3-2 affair. The Ms put up ten hits but could not bring a man across the plate when it really, really counted. Kendrys Morales (and yes, it’s only a small sample size) is 1-for-10 in his return to Mariners blue. Twice Sunday afternoon he came up with runners on, and did absolutely nothing productive either time. Unfortunately he was not alone in this predicament.

Talking with an old friend earlier today, I realized that part of me just wants the team to tank, go on a 15-game losing streak and erase any possible hope at the playoffs. The certainty of suckitude, in some ways, is better than the ping-pong teasing of having a wild card slot and then losing it. Yes, there is still a chance the Ms can take that wild card slot back – but this weekend did not help that chance.

There are still a few more days left until the trade deadline Thursday. It is certainly possible that this Mariners front office, famous for not leaking word of moves until they are actually being made, has some great news coming for us. This would be a very good thing.

It is still clear that we need a bat (and probably more than one). Watching Adam Jones hitting for the Orioles Sunday was a knife wound; imagining him playing the Safeco outfield a bitter frustration born of what could have been. Bill Bavasi’s legacy continues to hang over this Mariners team.

Silver linings department: Chris Taylor looked very good at the plate, at least what I saw on Sunday. King Felix was King Felix Friday night, and that is always a good thing, even when not enough offense can be found to help him out. Did I mention the Ms had 10 hits on Sunday?

The weather is gorgeous, August is almost upon us, and there are plenty of other things to do besides watch/listen to/be frustrated by the Mariners. And the season is not over yet. But this was a tough series.

Ah, a nooner at the Nat. What better way to celebrate summer? Photo cribbed from the interweb.

Bring on the boys of summer

Update: Thursday night’s Vancouver Canadians contest vs the Spokane Indians was suspended in the top of the 2nd inning due to rain; the teams hit Nat Bailey for a Friday afternoon double header to make up the game.

It’s a good time to be a baseball fan in Vancouver. If you’re all about Canadian content, look east — the Toronto Blue Jays are doing what they should have done last year. They’re ten games over .500, and sit 3.5 games up on the hated New York Yankees in the American League East. Want something closer to home? Just down the road in Seattle, the Mariners are riding Felix Hernandez’s pitching and Robinson Cano’s superstar play to a damned fine seasons themselves.

Ah, a nooner at the Nat. What better way to celebrate summer? Photo cribbed from the interweb.
Ah, a nooner at the Nat. What better way to celebrate summer? Photo cribbed from the interweb.

But who says you can’t have CanCon and a short drive to the ball park? Nat Bailey Stadium opens business on the Vancouver Canadians 2014 summer season this week, as the three-time defending Single A champion hosts the Spokane Indians. Opening night (Wednesday) is sold out, but $12.50 grandstand seats remain for both Thursday evening and the Friday nooner in this series.

Want box seats? You’ll have to wait another week, when the Tri-City Dust Devils come to town for three games, quickly followed by a five-game set against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Of special note is the July 2 appearance by Steve Garvey, who despite not making Cooperstown, has a gaudy list of Golden Gloves, Silver Slugger awards, National League and All-Star MVP nods, and impressive statistical achievements.

The Canadians started the season impressively, outscoring Salem-Keizer 20–4 in three straight road wins. The Volcanoes found their bats in the next two games, however, edging Vancouver 10–9 in 12 innings before taking the last game of the series 4–3. In the first loss, it was the bullpen that let the C’s down, but fielding errors were to blame for dropping the second.

Follow the Vancouver Canadians on Twitter here.

blackjersey14And if any of you have a few bucks to spare, feel free to get me one of these new Mounty the Mountie jerseys. They’re purty.

I’ll squeeze into a medium, or lounge in a large. Your choice.

Fans at Commercial Drive's Caffé Roma were thrilled by their opening game win over England. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

World Cup Power Rankings: Volume 1

Now that we’ve had a look at all 32 teams competing in Brazil, let’s take a look at where they stand. Please note: like all power rankings ever created, these are complete bullshit. These particular rankings do not necessarily reflect how good the teams actually are, or how they are playing. Rather, these rankings give us a chance to crack jokes and make snide comments.
CW — Chris Withers; JK — Jason Kurylo

32) Uruguay
New rule: lose to a CONCACAF team, and you get dropped to the bottom of the rankings. I’m not sure why I’m surprised. This is a team that managed a scoreless draw against Jordan at home in their final qualification game. Jordan. CW

31) Ghana
Sorry guys, but rules are rules. Look, you outplayed the USA and deserved better than a 2-1 loss, but you’ve got all the polish and finish of (somewhat ironically) a 400 lb American redneck in a barbecue sauce-stained tank top cruising up to the McDonald’s drive through in an 84 Dodge pickup at 3 in the morning. CW

Never Ghana give you up.
Never Ghana give you up.

30) Honduras
Fuck these guys and the bullet-ridden, thrice-carjacked bus they rode in on. The slaughter at the hands of the French is the first step in what’s sure to be an early exit for these assholes. You’d think they’d be more motivated to stay, given that the alternative is returning to Honduras where the largest export is stray bullets. (PS: CBC, I’m sure you must have footage of Honduras scoring goals against countries other than Canada. Please use some of it.) Spend a few weeks watching international football with fans of Canada’s men’s squad, and you’ll understand my unvarnished rage. CW

29) Australia
Australia is a terrifying place. Poisonous jellyfish, Vegemite, giant poisonous centipedes, Vegemite, and something called the Australian Paralysis Tick (!!?). The fates didn’t really need to add yet another way to go, yet here they are in a group with Chile, the Netherlands and Spain. Still, I can’t feel too bad for them. If you’re going to walk around with a name like the Socceroos, trouble will follow. CW

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Javier Hernandez chases a loose ball in monsoon rains during their opening game win over Cameroon. Photo stolen indiscriminately after a lazy Google search.

Ref, You Suck

Two days into the 2014 World Cup, and we’ve already been treated to some outstanding two-goal performances — most noticeably from Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie in a 5–1 thrashing of the defending champion Spaniards. (Not to take anything away from the star player on the host team, but Neymar’s pair on opening day came on a mediocre grasscutter from distance and an awful penalty call.) But no matter how many acrobatic headers RVP knocked in, or how many impressive runs Robben put together, the most impressive brace came from Mexican youngster Giovani dos Santos — and neither goal was allowed.

Giovanni dos Santos (circled) was called offside twice to negate two goals in the first half against Cameroon. Image cribbed from ESPN.
Giovanni dos Santos (circled) was called offside twice to negate two goals in the first half against Cameroon. The Cameroonian defender is clearly back when the ball is struck; the linesman is visible at the bottom of the screen, in perfect position to… miss the call? Image cribbed from ESPN.

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Drew Doughty puts his obscenely well-paid proof in the pudding. Actual pudding during the off-season, and outrageously solid play from October to June. Photo gleaned from the interweb.

Congrats, Mr Doughty

Drew Doughty, that fella wearing number eight for the Los Angeles Kings is about to add ‘Conn Smythe winner’ to his resume. This will sit nicely beside ‘two-time Olympic gold medallist’, ‘two-time Stanley Cup champion’, ‘Norris trophy nominee’ and ‘filthy, stinkin’ rich cat who let’s face it ought to be able to afford better hair care’.

Drew Doughty puts his obscenely well-paid proof in the pudding. Actual pudding during the off-season, and outrageously solid play from October to June. Photo gleaned from the interweb.
Drew Doughty puts his obscenely well-paid proof in the pudding. Actual pudding during the off-season, and outrageously solid play from October to June. Photo gleaned from the interweb.

Godawful facial growth aside, Doughty is every bit the MVP, anchoring the back end of the most feared defense in the land. At just 24, he’s got credentials among active NHLers only rivalled by countrymen Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby. Barring injury, and assuming he doesn’t get bored, he’ll have built a Hall of Fame career long before he hits the traditional defenseman’s peak of 30 years old.

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Officially Embarrassing

Whitecaps Wednesday

The Whitecaps put together one heck of a performance over the weekend. They were the better team over the course of the game and even dominated for long stretches. It was a wonderful display over the league leading Seattle Sounders in a rivalrous Cascadia Cup fixture.

It’s a shame that referee Ismail Elfath’s performance overshadowed all of this.

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Whitecaps’ anthem singer Marie Hui looked stunning in a scarfed colour spectrum pregame. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked In The Head.

The unfortunate truth is the type of officiating he displayed provides the feed and the fodder for fans to question the integrity of MLS officials. And it’s disappointing that this even warrants discussion.

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Erik Hurtado dances and deals prior to Darren Mattocks' goal during a 2-2 draw between the Whitecaps and LA Galaxy. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

A Million Ways To Lose The Voyageurs Cup

Add another one to the list. Last night, the Vancouver Whitecaps’ improbable streak of failing to win the Voyageurs Cup stretched to 13 years when Joe Bendik made the only save of a penalty shootout to send Toronto FC through to the finals against the Montreal Impact.

Erik Hurtado dances and deals prior to Darren Mattocks' goal during a 2-2 draw between the Whitecaps and LA Galaxy. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Erik Hurtado is starting to shed his reputation as a speedster with no touch; he provided more than a few moments of excitement, including a gorgeous one-touch goal on a full run, during a home-and-home against TFC. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

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King Felix gives the umpire a piece of his mind after being ejected during the 12-5 Mariners pounding of the Rays, May 12th 2014.

Mariners Mid-May Musings

King Felix gives the umpire a piece of his mind after being ejected during the 12-5 Mariners pounding of the Rays, May 12th 2014.
Mariners pitcher “King” Felix Hernandez gets ejected, May 12th 2014. Photo credit Joe Nicholson, USA Today Sports.

Baseball has a loooong season. This is not news to fans, or my friends who like to joke there are still 3428 games to be played… before the playoffs begin. My pat counter is, hey, we could be the NBA, where I think the playoffs last longer than the regular season. But I digress.

Since the last time I wrote about the Mariners, much has transpired. I was in Ohio for work, then sick for a week, then back online again, and now finally have time to write. And that’s just me!

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408km

Bucket list check marks

I got to make a big, fat check mark on the ol’ bucket list last weekend. No, not the one involving four bronzed goddesses wielding skewers of barbequed Kobe beef, bottles of fine Belgian porter, dewey eyes and pouty lips; I’ll have to save that particular event for another life. Rather, I completed the Vancouver Half-Marathon on Saturday. Considering my downright anti-running attitude as little as a year ago — there may have been comments to the effect of, “unlike those gaunt, neon gear-laden freaks over there, I have absolutely no desire to voluntarily subject myself to jogging distances that have been known to kill people” — this is a major  personal accomplishment of both mind and body.

So far I’ve racked up just over 400km in 2014, well ahead of schedule for my goal of one thousand klicks, despite having several training setbacks for minor injuries (a mild ankle sprain) and illness (two bouts of the flu).

408kmSo what was the BMO event like?

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Kristjan Aug leads Southsiders in chant, cheer and song during a 2-2 draw between the Whitecaps and LA Galaxy. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Whitecaps, Morales Celebrace Good Times

Whitecaps WednesdayThe Whitecaps came away with a valuable trifecta of points this weekend but it was far from a perfect performance. After a remarkable first half, Carl Robinson’s squad continued searching for that elusive 90-minute effort.

There was plenty of pomp and circumstance pregame as the Caps were celebrating their 40th anniversary. Members of the original Whitecaps team from 1974 were introduced to a sellout crowd, who cheered while adorned in their finest 70’s attire.

Kristjan Aug leads Southsiders in chant, cheer and song during a 2-2 draw between the Whitecaps and LA Galaxy. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Kristjan Aug, seen not wearing his 70′s attire as this photo was taken weeks ago, was likely cheering on Saturday nonetheless.. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Steve Nash was also in attendance and helped welcome Bob Lenarduzzi to the Whitecaps Ring of Honour. The blue and white kept the good times rolling with an electric first half that saw them jump out to a 3-0 lead.

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