What I Learned – Scott Servais on the 2018 Baseball Season

My baseball season officially kicked off Tuesday night. I was able to join about 50 other fans as Art Thiel of SportsPressNW interviewed Mariners skipper Scott Servais.

So what did I learn/infer from listening to Scott’s answers to 45 minutes of questions from Art, and 45 more from the audience?

  1. http://airshow-magazin.de/wp-login.php?action=lostpassword Kyle Seager is on the trade block – One of two things will be true on July 31. Seager will have gotten off to a hot start, leading the Mariners to a respectable record and as the trading deadline approaches, The Mariners will be in a position to make a run. Or…… Seager will have gotten off to his customary slow start, and as the only real trade chip the team has, he’ll be dealt for prospects.
  2. enter site This is the last year of the Cruz, Cano, Felix window – It was made clear that witht he amount of money tied up in the Big 3, there was no way to rip the team down to the studs, a la Houston and Chicago. But this is the last year of Cruz’ deal, and if Felix wants to be regarded in the same breath as Glavine, Maddux, Pedro, etc… he needs to pitch another 6-8 years. If 2018 goes poorly, I suspect you’d see Cruz dealt at the deadline and Felix redo his contract to be part of an overhaul so he can get another 150 career starts.
  3. conocer gente en san juan del rio You’re going to see a lot of Zunino, Segura, Haniger, and Paxton in the Mariners marketing materials –If you’re gong to trade any of the Big 4, you need some new guys to make bobbleheads for. The Mariners seem ready to phase out some of the old guard and put their promotional arms behind some new guys. I suppose this is meant to lessen the blow when our favorite guys disappear.
  4. site de rencontre ado skype “Performance” is going to mean something different – With the hiring of Dr. Lorena Martin as Director of High Performance, the Manager is going to have a few lineup decisions “strongly suggested” to him. Players will be evaluated constantly on aspects such as fatigue, conditioning, strength, mentality, etc… So while a 5 for 5 day may have previously earned you a week in the starting lineup, if you tired yourself out running all those bases, it may be highly suggested that you be given the day off.
  5. http://www.romagnamotorsport.it/?binarnewe=piattaforma-trading&b6b=a8 The Mariners decided not to look for new pitching, and are going to try to simply outscore teams – To their credit, they realized there weren’t going to be a lot of great pitching options to pick up this off-season. So as I wrote about last year, they built their 2018 starting rotation under the guise of competing for a 2017 playoff spot. They have accumulated average to above average throwers who they expect can give them 150+ innings. If those guys can get them through the 5th and only give up 3 runs, they will hand the ball off to the bullpen in hopes it gives up just 1-2 more runs. Meanwhile, they’ll try to bang out 5-6 runs a game on offense. Do that enough times and you make it to the playoffs. Now the downside is that if you try to do that in the playoffs, you’ll lose each game 8-3. But the team isn’t shooting for a World Series. It just needs to make the playoffs.

So those were my takeaways. I’m sure other people heard different things. But pay attention to the interviews Servais is doing all week on sports radio. Were his comments Tuesday off the cuff, or do they fall into some pattern of talking points?

 

Sounders Release 2018 Schedule

The Sounders 2018 schedule came out this morning. And it definitely has some interesting angles to it.

  1. The 1st round of the Concacaf Champions League matches are the week before the MLS season starts. So you can travel down to Santa Tecla, El Salvador on Feb 22 for Leg 1, or just wait until Thursday, March 1 for Leg 2 at home.
  2. MLS Opening Day is Sunday, March 4 vs the newest entry into the league, Los Angeles FC.
  3. After that, you have to wait 27 days for the next home match, a 3/31 7:00pm tilt vs Montreal.
  4. If you’re ready for more soccer, grab your patience pants. It’s 22 more days before you get to see Minnesota United come for a day game on Sunday 4/22. So if you are counting at home, that’s just 3 home games in the first (and rainiest) 9 weeks of the season. That seems like a good deal for us fans.
  5. Things don’t get too much busier in May. Dates on the 5th vs Columbus and the 26th vs RSL is all we get. So we enter June with just 5 home matches under our belt.
  6. That means things start to get busy in June. 6/9 vs DC United, 6/23 vs Chicago and then the big one. 6/30 vs Portland.
  7. After a 3 week break, we really get into the meat of the home schedule in late July and August. Hope you didn’t have vacation plans.  7/21 vs Vancouver, 7/29 vs NYCFC, 8/12 vs Dallas, 8/18 vs Sigi and the Galaxy, 9/1 vs Sporting KC.  That’s 5 home games in 7 weeks.
  8. As the kids head back to school, we close the season on a pretty regular cadence of home and away matches. 9/19 vs Philly, 9/29 vs Colorado, 10/6 vs Houston and the finale 10/28 vs San Jose.

That’s 17 MLS home matches and one Concacaf match, with 14 of them coming in May – October. There will be more Concacaf matches, likely against a Mexican League squad, if they progress past El Salvador.  So I suspect no friendlies will be officially scheduled until we see what happens in the Champions League.

If you’re looking for good excuses to get out of Seattle, a couple of away matches stand out: Sunday 4/29 in LA is a good time to escape the rain. July 4 in Colorado could be a lot of fun.  And July 15 in Atlanta would be a fun excuse to see their new stadium, especially since it’s indoors.

Happy 2018. Go Sounders.

So Where Should Amazon Build HQ2?

Amazon has outgrown Seattle. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you build your company in a downtown core, rather than take over some unused farmland in a far flung suburb like Redmond. So now it’s time to find HQ2. Where should they go?

There’s no doubt that every city from Anchorage to Yuma will make a bid. But if I worked at Amazon, with a chance to be transferred at any moment, here are my top 5 picks.

  1. go site Raleigh, NC: The Carolinas are fantastic. Since most Washingtonians haven’t made it that far southeast, you might not know this. But Raleigh is especially comparable to the Pacific Northwest. In fact with Raleigh you get a more educated population, more universities, and closer access to a warm beach. You’d give up Uber access to an NFL or MLB team, and day trip access to Double Diamond ski runs. But you coud still get a Daisy run in if you need it. Plus you could buy a 5,000 square foot house for a year or two of salary.
  2. buy a heart lyrics Pittsburgh, PA: If a company is interested in AI, cozying up to Carnegie Mellon would be a pretty good way to do so. It would have plenty of opportunity to build a downtown campus, and still be close to New York and Washington D.C. As an employee, if you can deal with a Seattle winter, you could probably deal with Western Pennsylvania.
  3. binäre option trick Nashville, TN: Far enough east to give you access to New York, Boston, etc… and far enough north to keep you safe from hurricanes. Several great universities in driving distance, so there is a huge talent base to draw from. Plus, it’s great a place for distribution. Didn’t FedEx make its HQ in Memphis?
  4. here Charleston, SC:  Full disclosure, I have an affinity for Charleston. I think it’s the most underrated place to live in the country. You are giving up major league sports for friendly southern living. But you’d have Clemson, USC, and College of Charleston all in spitting distance. Oh, and if you are a current Amazon employee, its another place where your mortgage payment for a monster 5 bedroom estate would be the same price you now pay for your 800 sq ft apartment in Seattle.
  5. see url Detroit, MI: Detroit? Detroit?! Who wants to live in Detroit? Well several decades ago, the auto industry decided it was a good place to dominate an economy. So why can’t Amazon repeat that? Easy access to New York, Chicago and Canada. REALLY REALLY cheap downtown real estate. Employees could buy McMansions for nothing. Heck, Amazon could buy entire neighborhoods, develop them and sell them to employees. Plenty of professional and collegiate sports teams to support. And you could always escape the Midwest winter with a quick trip to Florida.

Your thoughts? If you were a current Amazonian, where would you be ok being transferred to?

* Image used without previous permission from https://www.designboom.com/architecture/seattle-approves-amazons-biosphere-headquarters-by-nbbj-10-25-2013/

What I Learned – Chris Isaak at Chateau Ste Michelle

(This post is part of the http://hillviewfreelibrary.org/?frencyz=top-site-de-rencontre-2016&e00=1d “What I Learned” Series, in which I share things I picked up during different events and experiences.)

It seems like Chris Isaak has been around since I first learned to turn on a radio. He has a song that any casual music fan would recognize no matter where it was playing, a few that casual music fans would recognize. But if you are like me, you’d be hard-pressed to name 5 Chris Isaak songs if your life depended on it.

Chris Isaak also plays at Chateau Ste Michelle every year. It’s a beautiful place to see a show, but what could get 5,000 people to plunk down $50 every year for the same show, to see a show they’ve probably seen before?

Isaak split up his show by engaging in long conversations with his audience. He comes out in crazy sequins on his coat. He introduces his bandmates, sharing how they’ve been together for 32 years. He tells stories that seem like they are coming off the cuff, not some sort of pre-rehearsed monologue. By starting the show with an attitude of, “Let’s all have a good time together tonight,” he forms a bond with both the entire audience, and the each individual member of it.

Now I suspect that you have to do this if you are going to spend the better part of 32 years playing in front of crowds. You’d probably go crazy if you just trotted out on stage, played your songs, and then headed to the bus for the next city. But his interaction seems genuine, and in return he gets fans to return every year.

What I learned – The keys here are engagement, authenticity, and consistency. Isaak is a 32 year old brand that doesn’t have a ton of new products to offer up from year to year. But by making a true connection with the audience, and giving them a a personal experience, they are active customers. Plus, by distributing his product in the right venue every year, Chateau Ste Michelle, he gives his customers a way to consume the product that adds to the experience. Customers know exactly where to look for the date he’ll be coming to town. He’s not jumping from place to place and making customers do the hard work.

The result – a guy who has a few songs you’ve heard any more that you may not have, delivers a great show that leaves you satisfied and happy.

Some Fun Trivia to Celebrate Mariners Opening Day

It’s the home opener of our favorite hometown 9, the Seattle Mariners. So let’s take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and review some stats and trivia since the day the Mariners were bounced from the last playoff game in which they participated, October 22, 2001.

hulka mujer verde soltera Things that did not exist the last time the Mariners were in the playoffs:

  • Xbox (launched 11/15/01), Century Link Field (2002), Facebook, Instagram, iPhone, Amazon Web Services, Seattle Sounders, Oklahoma City Thunder, Tesla, Uber, Snapchat, Link Light Rail.

Notable stats from October 2001:

  • ladogal danazol 100 mg U.S. President: George W Bush
  • buy hoodia spray 2001 U.S. House of Representatives: Democrats 213, Republicans 220
  • paroxetine 20mg 2001 U.S. Senate: Democrats 50, Republicans 49, Independent 1
  • 2001 Seattle Mayor: Paul Schell through November, then Greg Nickels elected
  • 2001 Washington Governor: Gary Locke
  • 2002 Oscars (for movies produced in 2001):  Best Picture: A Beautiful Mind | Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Training Day) | Best Actress: Halle Berry (Monsters Ball)
  • Top 10 TV shows, 2001-2002 season: Friends, CSI, ER, Everybody Loves Raymond, Law & Order, Survivor, Monday Night Football, The West Wing, Will & Grace, Leap of Faith
  • 2002 Grammy Awards (for songs produced in 2001):  Song of the year: Fallin, by Alicia Keys | Record of the year: Walk On, by U2 | Album of the year: O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack
  • 10 Richest People in the World: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Karl and Theo Albrecht, Paul Allen, Larry Ellis, 5 heirs to Sam Walton – Jim, John, Alice, S Robson, Helen

Sports Champions since the day the Mariners lost in 2001:

  • World Series winners: Arizona, Anaheim, Florida, Boston (3),  Chicago White Sox, St. Louis (2), Philadelphia, New York Yankees, San Francisco (3), Kansas City, Chicago Cubs.
  • Super Bowl winners: New England (5), Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh (2), Indianapolis, New York Giants (2), New Orleans, Green Bay, Baltimore, Seattle (YAY!), Denver
  • NBA Champions: Who cares, the league ceased existing to me in 2008.

Statistical Points of Interest:

  • Seattle Population:  2001 – 570k | 2013 – 652k
  • Cost of Super Bowl Ad: 2001 – $2.2 million  | 2017 –  $5.0 million
  • Internet Advertising Revenue: 2001 – $7.2 Billion | 2015 – $59.6 Billion

Meet Your New 2017 Sounders

The MLS season is a long one, running a full 9 months from early March to early December. So before the ink was even dry on the papers forever documenting the 2016 Sounders MLS Cup win, the wheels of progress were underway to form the 2017 version. Many of the players who played a decent sized role in the title run found themselves trading their Rave Green uniforms for flights back to their home countries. Meanwhile, a new set of Sounders filled out change of address forms, and made plans to move to Seattle.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the turnstyle over the last 3 months. (For a full review, read this article from SounderAtHeart.)

Who’s Out?

The MLS has some pretty onerous salary cap rules. Add in 2 new expansion teams this year in Minnesota and Atlanta, and it makes it hard to keep a team together. Here are the 18 names you won’t see wearing a Sounders uniform this year:

  • Nelson Valdez (released because he was too expensive and signed with a team in Paraguay)
  • Tyrone Mears (released and signed by Atlanta)
  • Dylan Remick (released and redrafted by Houston)
  • Erik Friberg (released and signed by a team in Sweden)
  • Andreas Ivanschitz (released and signed by a team in the Czech league)
  • Zack Scott (retired)
  • Herculez Gomez (retired)
  • Some guys you may or may not recognize were also released and signed with minor league teams (or retired): Darwin Jones, Charlie Lyon, Jimmy Ockford, Victor Mansaray (loaned out) Michael Farfan (retired), Nathan Sturgis (still unsigned), Oalex Anderson (still unsigned)

Who’s New?

New Sounders are often guys we’ve never heard of. So, for these 8 new players, I’m sharing the 0-100 ratings the video game FIFA 2017 gives them.

  • Clint Dempsey, F, (Back from Disabled List): 80
  • Gustav Svensson Mid, / Def (from Sweden and Chinese League): 72
  • Will Bruin, F, (from Houston): 69
  • Harry Shipp, Mid, (from Montreal): 68
  • Bryan Meredith, GK, (from San Jose): 61
  • Nouhou Tolo, Def, (Sounders 2): NR
  • Henry Wingo, Mid, / Def (Homegrown): NR
  • Seyi Adekoya, F, (Homegrown): NR

Who’s Back:

Check and make sure your favorite players are still here. Just 14 remain from the team that won in Toronto, but 9 of them started that night.

  • Tony Alfaro, Def: 62
  • Osvaldo Alonso, Mid: 79
  • Brad Evans, Def / Mid: 70
  • Alvaro Fernandez, Mid:  70
  • Oniel Fisher, Def: 61
  • Stefan Frei, GK: 73
  • Joevin Jones, Def: 66
  • Aaron Kovar, Mid: 62
  • Nicolas Lodeiro, Mid: 78
  • Chad Marshall, Def: 74
  • Tyler Millar, GK: 58
  • Jordan Morris, For / Mid: 68
  • Cristian Roldan, Mid: 65
  • Roman Torres, Def: 72

Now I’m no math genius, but if you lose 18 players and add 8, you should still have some roster space available. In fact, an MLS team can carry 28 players on their roster at one time, so since the Sounders only have 22 on the current sheet, logic dictates you’ll see 4-6 more players either get signed from Sounders 2, or come in a late transfer window signing. The primary MLS transfer window runs from Feb 18 – May 11.  Then, the secondary one opens from July 10 – August 9.

The Sounders still do have one ‘Designated Player” spot available, meaning they can essentially sign a player for any amount of money they want and not have it hit the salary cap. (Dempsey and Lodeiro are the other two. Valdez was the 3rd, so they cut him to get that Designated Player spot back.)

So there you go; that’s your 2017 Sounders squad. See you at Century Link.

Stories You Missed – January 2017

We all can’t read everything, and our Facebook feeds are now overrun with political arguing. So to make things easy for you, I’ve assembled some of the stories from last month about tech, marketing, sports and Seattle that you may find interesting.

  1. Three Sounders FC Departments Honored with 2016 MLS Club and Executive Awards: Congrats to the team members who don’t wear jerseys. Sounders FC tied for the lead among all clubs with its three awards: Corporate Partnerships Team of the Year, Marketing Team of the Year and Public Relations Team of the Year. I don’t know how these awards are judged, but if you enjoy your time at Sounders games, these groups probably play a big role.
  2. After Buyouts, Layoffs, 23 Staffers Exit ‘Seattle Times’: Well if you think that the national newscasts are a series of partisan wonks arguing talking points back and forth, then you won’t like this article. The newspapers still can’t figure out a business model, which means more cuts to local journalists. If you have an idea for how to save local news, you’re running out of time to share it.
  3. Dramatic video footage shows drone circling and then crashing into Seattle’s Space Needle: Well I guess this is why we can’t let everyone just fly their drones around all the time…
  4. The latest Amazon-occupied building sale shows how far Seattle real estate has come in last decade: If you think your house or apartment is expensive, imagine trying to buy an office building in Seattle these days. One of Amazon’s 290,000 square foot office buildings just sold for $269 million – or about $925 a square foot. That compares to $1.85 Million for your 2000 square foot house.
  5. Venture Investment in Seattle Area Companies Falls 27 Percent in 2016: It was a mixed bag of news about how much money investors poured into Seattle companies in 2016. On the downside, for the full year, investors poured just over $1.5 billion into 282 local deals, down 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively, from 2015. But on the upside, the fourth quarter of 2016 saw 77 local deals completed, totaling $561.3 million, compared to 81 deals totaling $190.6 million in the same period of 2015, and the final six months of 2016 saw a combined 157 deals, up 26 percent from the first half of the year, and $919.7 million invested, up 58 percent.

Oh and the Seahawks lost. But we don’t need to rehash that.

Have a good story to share? Email me and let me know.

A Few Thoughts About Sigi Schmid

It’s the end of an era. Quite literally.

The Seattle Sounders have only known one head coach in all their days. Through 250 MLS matches, a host of playoff games and some lengthy runs through the U.S. Open Cup and Champions League, Sigi Schmid has been the only man driving the bus. And now that ride has ended.

While Sigi was alone in compiling 115 wins, 69 losses and 66 draws from 2009-1016, the Seattle Mariners are now on a 5th manager to pull them out of their 573-660 streak.

Sigi will get criticism for not winning the MLS Cup, a compliant that seemed to heat up after the Seahawks got their ring three Super Bowls ago. And the cry of, “Well we’re still an expansion team” fell on deaf ears as soon as the hatred Portland Timbers raised the cup ahead of the Sounders. At that point, the knives were out.

But Is 2016 Sigi’s Fault?

The Sounders had a run of bad luck last year that stretched them thin, so they stocked up on some guys who were supposed to plug the holes and then provide depth in 2016. At this time this year, here is what the Sounders lineup was “supposed” to look like:

Forwards: Starters: Obafemi Martins, Dempsey, Valdez. Bench: Jordan Morris.
Mids: Alonso, Evans, Ivanschitz. Bench: Kovar, Roldan, Friberg.
Def: Mears, Torres, Marshall, Jones. Bench: Scott, Remick.

Instead, Torres is hurt and Martins is sitting on a bench in China. Dempsey missed a month on National team duty. The Sounders were trotting out a lineup of role players and hoping Jordan Morris could dramatically exceed any reasonable expectation of a rookie. Evans got shoved back to defense and couldn’t contribute on offense. When Dempsey was here, he had no one to pass to. The team was so slow that defenses could push high up the field and pressure guys like Scott into turning it over in front of goal.

A lot of things went wrong this year, and I’m not sure if any coach could make that lineup work. The Sigi detractors have a fair point – that with the players we ended up with, he stubbornly stuck to a formation that didn’t seem to fit them. It’s really a double edged sword. If he was switching formations every few games (the way we all would playing FIFA on XBox) and it didn’t work, we’d be yelling about that.

And so that leaves Sounderland in a little bit of a quandary. Sigi was “our guy” from the get go. Adrian is “our guy.” GM Garth Lagerway is a Real Salt Lake guy. “Our guy” took a fall because the coaching staff and management team couldn’t get results in 2016 with the product they put together. Now we have to trust in Lagerway to find the right players and the right coach.

I’ll miss Sigi. I’ll miss wondering how a guy who spends every day on a soccer field and eating meals specially prepared by a scientific driven training team could possibly weigh in at 3 bills. I’ll miss standing behind the bench trying to figure out what crazy substitution is coming next.

But this is a reminder that nothing lasts forever. The storybook start to the Sounders franchise, with Sigi leading us to a 3-1 win over New York, still hasn’t had the magical payoff moment we’ve been waiting for. I hope it comes soon enough that Schmid’s fingerprints are still on the team. I hope we get to see Brad Evans and Ozzie Alonso lift a cup and we can remember Sigi’s original influence.

So long sir. I feel lucky that we had you take the reins at the beginning and lead us to where we are today. Best of luck in whatever challenge you take on next.

What I Learned from Copa America Centenario

A few quick takeaways from what was a pretty cool tournament.

1) South American soccer is more fun than European soccer:
Sure, the Germans have technical skill that is fun to watch. But if you gave me the choice to randomly select two South American teams or two European teams to watch play, I’d choose the South Americans every time. With the exception of Bolivia, who played a 4-4-1 with their 11th guy being Messi’s shadow, the South American teams came out attacking. The irony is that they can do so because the good ones have such strong defenses that they can send an extra guy forward. As much as I love the Iceland story, even they play 10 guys deep and hope to get lucky on a long throw or corner kick.
Arg vs Bol

2) Argentina was just a superior team to see live:
Chile’s defense must be fantastic, because I don’t know how they shut Argentina down. Granted, when I saw them live they were facing an overmatched Bolivian team, but I think the result would have been the same against Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador or Columbia. They are so technically proficient with the ball, and can deliver pin-point passes from anywhere on the field. Their fullbacks are giants who can dribble and pass as well as U.S. forwards. Even their little guys are strong. And their 1st touch always seems to be placed in a direction that is away from a defender. You didn’t have to understand soccer to appreciate what they can do.
Messi

3) FIFA, Concacaf and Conmebol made a quick cash grab:
Great tournament, yes. But tickets were so expensive, that it turned into something I would like to attend and see once every 8-12 years or so. It was a shame that they priced families out of the market. I wouldn’t have dropped $600 to bring a family of 4 to see Peru vs Haiti. In a world where variable pricing is so easy to implement, I think they dropped the ball for the sake of trying to get as much up front cash as possible, since they forced you to buy tickets before the schedule came out. Then, they only sold tickets on one side of the stadium, so on TV it looked like there were more people in attendance.
Empty West Stands

4) The USMNT is probably right where they should be:
The U.S. benefited by Brazil and Uruguay not really showing for Copa America, and that probably lifted them from a loss in the round of 8 to a semi-final shot against a much superior Argentina squad. If they were in the Euros instead, I could probably name 6-8 teams who the U.S. should lose to, 6-8 they should beat, and a few that they’d probably just go 0-0 with. We have some good young speed and a decent defense, but no go-to scorer. If you are going to go into a tournament with those attributes, you can’t make mistakes – like handballs in the box, needlessly accumulating useless yellow cards or lashing out for stupid reds. If there’s one thing I can blame a coach for, it’s a lack of player discipline. Those careless mistakes need to get hammered out of players if you want to beat a team from Pot 1 or Pot 2 in a 2018 World Cup Match.

USMNT Wins

5) USMNT fans are a lot of fun:
The costumes, the flags, the cheers – the U.S. game had a fantastic atmosphere about it. Maybe it was because we were playing at home, but I’m glad we have joyous and positive fans, not thugs and brutes.

US Fans

Could the NBA Come to Seattle With Chinese Billionaire Owners?

An article on Forbes.com states,

“…let’s look at the NBA, and the chances for Alibaba or another company to make a bid for a U.S. basketball team in the next few years.

It’s hard to know which NBA clubs might be up for sale, though various websites say that a few could come into play if the right buyer emerges. Alibaba chief Jack Ma and Wanda founder Wang Jianlin probably head the field of most likely candidates to make such a bid, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of these big-name executives launch such an effort within the next 1-3 years.”

If the NBA wanted to get Chinese market more interested in the league (without moving a team to Shanghai), Chinese ownership of a franchise would be a good way to open up TV rights to games across the Pacific.

It would be natural to put an Asian owned team on the West Coast. We know Allen, Buss, Balmer and the Warriors or Kings owners aren’t interesting in selling. So would make sense to have a current owner cash out for a huge payday, and move the team to Seattle.

Farfetched? Maybe. But not out of the realm of possibility. Opening the Chinese market is a pretty big carrot to waive in front of NBA owners.