Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

On Seattle Sports: Mariners and Lackey rumors, and the end of the 2009 Sounders FC

Mariners pursuing John Lackey? Rumors circulate that the Seattle Mariners are in the hunt for Angels free-agent pitcher John Lackey.

This rumor comes with a clear caveat: The cost to land Lackey will be astronomical, likely requiring a long term deal well over $80 million, way out of the range of a Mariners team that’s trying to trim their bloated payroll (thanks, Bill Bavasi!) and needs to upgrade multiple facets of the squad while finding the cash to extend ace pitcher Felix Hernandez, who is due for free agency in a couple of seasons and remains the subject of trade rumors.

The Lackey rumor, meanwhile, is likely little more than the first of a series of blasts of hot air in the offseason’s Hot Stove League of personnel rumors.

The Dynamo Elimination: Sounders season ends in Houston… The Seattle Sounders’ inaugural season came to a rough and disappointing end yesterday in Houston, TX, falling 1-0 in overtime of the 2nd leg of their playoff series with Houston Dynamo.

Just like their previous meetings, Dynamo’s airtight defense sealed off the Sounders’ passing lanes all match long, preventing Sounders FC from the free-flowing possessions and clear shots on goal they had been accustomed to generating en route to a 12-7-11 record and playoff spot.

As regulation drew to a close, it became clear that the Sounders’ best hope was to finish the 30 minute overtime period with a 0-0 tie (as they had in the 1st leg at Qwest Field) and to try and win the game in the crapshoot-like penalty kick shootout.

But fate intervened: A dubious foul call early in the overtime period against the Sounders on what looked like a clean steal of the ball not far from their own goal gave Houston the ball within striking distance of the goal. Dynamo worked the ball into the penalty box before Brian Ching hammered a drive past a frozen Kasey Keller for the kill-shot goal.

The Sounders futilely turned on the aggression to try and rally, but a vicious slide tackle by James Riley earned him a red-card ejection and nailed the coffin shut on the Sounders’ postseason.

The Sounders exceeded expectations in their first season with an exciting free-flowing brand of soccer that contrasted the plodding continental defensive style that is the mind-numbing norm in Major League Soccer. It’s a shame their season had to end with a whimper instead of a bang, against arguably the best offense-killing trap-and-tackle defense in MLS.

Let’s hope MLS, which enjoyed how Sounders FC engineered a sizable, excited new fanbase in Seattle, takes a good look at their officiating and rules this offseason to encourage more of the Sounders’ style of soccer and less of the plodding trap-and-tackle insomnia curing soccer that has held MLS (and its revenue streams) back during this past decade.

Sounders FC Day

Photo by J. Kraemer, from our Flickr Pool

In recognition of the Seattle Sounders FC‘s first ever MLS cup semi-final match tonight (versus Houston, 7pm at Qwest Field), Mayor Greg Nickles has declared today Seattle Sounders FC day. “Sounders FC is now the franchise by which all others will be judged, and whose supporters are the envy of clubs everywhere,” Nickels says.

Starting at about…well, now, really, people who follow soccer tend to be a particularly passionate breed of sports fan, the Pioneer Square area will be overrun with green as Sounders fans gather to cheer on their team. The official march to the match starts 90 minutes before the game as fans gather in Occidental Park and march to Qwest Field while chanting, singing and raising their scarves.

If the Sounders win this series (game two is in Houston on November 8), they will next face Chivas USA, hosting that game one during the weekend of November 14. If not, Sounders will travel to LA to challenge the Galaxy.

Basketball returns to the Center…29 years later

Photo courtesy Chris Joseph Taylor and Seattle University

It’s been almost three decades since Seattle University‘s men’s basketball team played a full season at the Seattle Center, but now they’re back with a new coach and a return to Division I.

The SU men’s team opens up their 2009/2010 schedule with the Elgin Baylor Classic at the Key Arena on November 19 followed by a series on games stretching from November through March. Tickets for each home game start at as little as $5, ranging up to $20. Season tickets are anywhere from $40 to $150, with a limited number of front row seats at $500. At least six of the games will be televised by FSN Northwest for the benefit of those who can’t be there in person.

New head coach Cameron Dollar is expected to help drive the Redhawks through a successful season – SU Athletics Director Bill Hogan is sure that “Seattle U is the team to watch this year.”

For full schedule and ticket details, check out Go Seattle U or call the SU athletics ticket office at 206.296.2835.

Hockey returns to ShoWare

At long last hockey season is finally starting up again and the Seattle Thunderbirds are kicking off opening weekend with games against the reviled Everett Silvertips and the decades-long rival Portland Winterhawks along with a beer garden, barbecue, music and free stuff.

Friday night the Tbirds, who finished last season in 5th place in the Western conference, take on the ‘Tips (who finished 7th) at 7:35 pm. The last time these two teams met in a regular season game was last season’s final game when the Birds annihilated the Tips in an astonishing 10-0 shut out. Everett’s shown some improvement over the summer, however, beating Seattle twice in September pre-season games. Whatever the final score turns out to be, any time these two teams meet it’s an exciting game.

Saturday night at 7 pm the Birds take on the Portland Winterhawks. The rivalry between the two teams is so intense that Tbirds fans chant “Portland Sucks” even when the Birds aren’t playing Portland. Last year the Winterhawks struggled through a rebuilding year and finished at the bottom of the league rankings but boosted by some talented new rookies and the maturing skills of existing team members, the Winterhawks are poised to be serious contenders this season. Will this be enough to make them a serious threat to the Thunderbirds?

Prior to both games, the ShoWare Center plaza will be home to Party on the Plaza events with beer gardens, barbecues, free samples from Coke and Vitamin Water, and music provided by team sponsor Funky Monkey 104.9 FM. All fans at the home opener Friday night will receive magnetic schedules. On Saturday the first 1,000 kids through the door will receive a free hat.

Doors open at 6pm both nights.

Tickets are available at the arena box office but will go fast for these two games – your best best is to buy ahead online.

Top 100 HS football teams: East and Southsides represent

It’s about the time for high school football to start all around the state, but it’s never to early to rank the hottest teams, season started or not.

High School Rivals has already issued their popular list of the top 100 high school football teams in the US and there are definitely some familiar names on it.

At #20 is Sammamish’s Skyline whose first game isn’t until September 5th when they take on #79 Jesuit, from Oregon. At #53 is Lakes, from Lakewood who play their first game September 4th against nearby rival Bonney Lake. Bellevue (#63) also plays their first game on September 4th, hitting the grass with Marriot from British Columbia.

Three schools not seem like a huge number, but when you look at the list and realize that Texas, Virginia, Florida and Georgia, places where pro teams wish they could get the attention high school football gets, have a combined total of 25 percent of the listings with the rest divided up amongst California and then all other states, well, it’s pretty impressive. Besides, history has shown that once play begins several other Washington teams will make the list at least once or twice during the season.

The Seahawks, the Huskies and the Cougars get the lion’s share of media attention, of course, but serious football fans (or even the curious who don’t want to shell out the big bucks it takes to go to see the big boys) should definitely check out the high caliber quality of play available on the high school scene.

The Seattle School District Athletic department maintains a department web directory which includes links to sports schedules by school for all the local schools in the Metro league (including Seattle’s public high schools, Bainbridge Island, Holy Names, O’Dea and other local private schools.) All the other school districts have similar listings, so check out the ones in your area. You never know–that kid at Memorial Stadium today just might be the man playing at Qwest tomorrow.

Congratulations Huskies!

Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, the UW Women’s Softball team defeated the top-seeded Florida Gators by a score of 3-2, sweeping their two game series to earn their first ever NCAA softball championship.

The fine performances from the women on the team made their win look easy, but they had a long road to travel to get to their trophy, leaving Seattle way back on May 13 to head out to Massachusetts to begin tournament play. They’ll be returning to campus with UW’s fifth NCAA title overall, the first since women’s volleyball won their championship in 2005.

National player of the year Danielle Lawrie, originally from Langley, BC, is now second place for all-time wins for UW and a mere one strikeout behind the Pac-10 all single season strike out record. Over the course of the series, Lawrie led all pitchers with 49 strikeouts; the whole team lead the Women’s College World Series in team batting average at .304 and team earned run average at 1.88.

UW’s win makes them the 22nd Pac 10 team in 28 years to win the WCWS.

Congratulations again, Huskies!

Details from the NCAA’s coverage.

Rat City Review

RCRG S5 B2 - TR vs GD Intro 4
They throw balls of lightening!!!

I know this is way overdue, but I think I’m still processing just how awesome this event was. I was invited to attend the Rat City Rollergirls’ bout #2 at Key Arena back on March 7th and was even allowed to take photos from the floor. I had never been to a bout before so I really didn’t know what to expect. They used to have these out at a hangar in Magnuson Park over in Sand Point, but they were always sold out. Well, since the Sonics are gone and the Thunderbirds are now playing in their shiny new arena in Kent, there is a lot more room at the Key for the Rat City Rollergirls. While not every seat was filled, there were a LOT of people in the stands.

I’m not going to go into the details of how flat-track roller derby is played, you can read all about that on their website. I will say the action is pretty fast, but the game is easy to understand once you watch a couple of jams. They also spend a good amount of time at the beginning explaining how it all works to the crowd. I’m hoping they are just doing this because of all the new spectators and fans they are getting from being in a bigger venue. In fact, that is my only gripe about the game, there is a lot of talking between action. It isn’t a bad thing exactly, but it did make bouts seems like they took forever to get started.

Each team has their own theme and personality. For example, the Derby Liberation Front has an air of gorilla warfare, while Grave Danger is more of a horror-punk/undead themed team. The officials are all characters as well, which makes it seem more of a fun game and less of a “we’re only playing this game so we can get to the playoffs and win something” attitude that most other team sports have. And they do all of this while maintaining a family friendly event. In fact, most of the skaters seem to go out of their way to high-5 kids or talk to them as they pass by. Really cool.

I strongly encourage anyone who is even remotely interested in the sport to go to the next bout, which is on April 18th (that’s a Saturday) at Key Arena. Prices are $20 for adults and $13 for kids under 13. Day of the bout the prices go up to $28 and $17. You can buy tickets at the Key Arena box office, or through Ticketmaster if you feel like giving a horrible company an extra 40% (personally I would just take the time to drive over to the Key and buy them in person).

Many more pictures of the bout I attended after the jump:

Rat City Rollergirl Derby – Bout 2 – Key Arena

[Photo by Axle Adams]

The Rat City Rollergirls are gearing up for bout 2 in Key arena tomorrow, are any of you going?. Bout 1 was apparently more popular than anyone could have expected and the Rollergirls enjoyed a record number of fans. This of course came at a cost, specifically long lines. However, they promise to have more staff in place to handle the large crowds for the bout tomorrow night (Saturday!).

The Rat City Rollergirls would like you to know the following information as well:

The Rat City Rollergirls were absolutely thrilled at the turn out for
Season 5 Bout 1, and we thank you for supporting our transition from
Magnuson Park to our new Seattle Center home. A major factor for this
move was to make room for new fans, we did –estimated attendance was
more than 4,000 (as opposed to sold-out crowds of 1,200 at Hangar 30).

Why were the box office and concession lines so long?
Attendance exceeded the expectations of KeyArena staff, and we
understand many fans encountered long lines and a long wait at the box
office, concessions, and season ticket holder VIP lounge. We apologize
for any inconvenience, and assure you that these operational issues
are being resolved. At Bout 2 on March 7 and for the rest of the
Season 5 bouts, KeyArena will be fully prepared (with beer flowing) to
accommodate all of our fantastic fans.

Why were ticket prices higher than I’d seen advertised?
As in seasons past, day-of tickets for bouts are higher than tickets
purchased in advance. For the best possible deal, the Rat City
Rollergirls highly recommend purchasing tickets at the KeyArena box
office before the day of the bout (open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6
p.m.). In addition to the KeyArena box office, tickets are also
available through Ticketmaster’s Web site and retail locations.

What are ticket prices?
Before the day of the bout
Children (12 & under): $13 at KeyArena box office (fees included)
Adults: $20 at KeyArena box office (fees included)
$20 at Ticketmaster retail locations*
$20 online through Ticketmaster*

Day of the bout
Children (12 & under): $17 at KeyArena box office (fees included)
Adults: $28 at KeyArena box office (fees included)

* Additional Ticketmaster charges will apply. Ticketmaster fees are
variable and subject to change.

Where is the KeyArena box office and what are the hours?
KeyArena box office, 312 1st Ave N., Seattle 98109
Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(206) 684-7200

Where can I buy tickets online?

When is the next bout?
The Rat City Rollergirls look forward to seeing you on Saturday, March
7. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., and the first game of the night begins at
5:30 p.m.

Thank you again, Seattle, for supporting the Rat City Rollergirls.

Hockey Challenge 2009 this Saturday at the Showare Center

Seattle’s Acolatse and Portland’s Jordan drop the gloves on Valentine’s Day
Originally uploaded by Zee Grega.

Way back in 1998, the US and Canadian Microsoft Exchange workgroups decided to have a hockey game to build morale and turned it into a fundraiser to support their charitable giving. They had such a good time with their competition that they turned it into an annual tradition in association with the Seattle Thunderbirds and other supporters. The Seattle Ronald McDonald House is the grateful recepient of their munificence – last year alone they raised over $110K and have raised more than $3.6 million over the years.

This year’s Seattle hockey challenge is on Saturday, February 28 at the ShoWare Center in Kent. The first of six games between Hockey Challenge teams begins early in the day at 9 am with games continuing throughout the day until the Thunderbirds step on the ice to take on long-time rival Portland Winterhawks in what will inevitably be, as all Seattle/Portland games are–an exciting match-up. Knocked out of the playoffs yet again, the Hawks are playing for pride while the TBirds are jockeying for position in the upcoming playoff slotting, amping up the thrills on the ice as the two teams battle for the win.

Following that game is the special Hockey Challenge All-Star game featuring Michael Rosenbaum, best known for his role on TV’s “Smallville”, Jason Thompson from “General Hospital”, Cameron Bancroft (“24: Day 4”, “Hockeyville”), “Adam @ Home” and “Red and Rover” cartoonist Brian Basset, 2006 US Women’s Hockey Olympic medalist Kelly Tysland (nee Stephens), KCPQ news anchor Bill Wixey, and KJR radio host Ian Furness, as well as former Thunderbirds Jamie Huscroft, Al Kinisky, Regan Mueller, Blake Knox, Troy Hyatt, Lloyd Shaw, and Danny Lorenz.

Mariners Flirt With Jr. (Again); B/W Are The Children Our Future?

The Mariners and Ken Griffey Jr. (aka the man who built Safeco Field) are thinking about getting back together. Griffey is one of the most likeable players in the game and one of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball history, but will Seattle’s love affair with him still be hot and heavy now that the 39-year-old ball player is returning after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee?

If the M’s are in a rebuilding mode, what does it say that they are investing in an aging and surgically-repaired player who is in the twilight of his career?

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