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Malik (3/19/12)

After complaining last week about Seattle sports looking pretty sad, things can turn around pretty quickly. I mean the Sounders FC played their first game of the season against Toronto (a team in the CONCACAF semifinals against Santos), and proceeded to show that the Sounders have some solid power and some great skill coming from the roster. This is a roster that still has a few big names and important players injured and limited in playing. I mean Johnson and Zakuani are both still not in the game (or in more than a limited fashion) and Seattle still laid down the hurt on Toronto with a 3-1 win. Best of all, it was a 3-1 that was made up of David Estrada pulling off a hat trick, and earning MLS Player of the Week honors. For a player who I never expected too much offense from, Estrada is having a damned good week...which will hopefully translate into a damned good season.

On the other hand, the Seahawks have pulled out a big upset by taking Matt Flynn off the market, despite initial thoughts saying Flynn would join the fins. While this could be a bad move, it could also begin the start of a new dynasty for a Seattle QB. I mean it is true that Flynn has barely seen any quality time on the field. The same could be said about another QB Seattle once got from Green Bay. When another former Green Bay higher up came to Seattle over 10 years ago and became Seattle's GM, he brought along a backup QB from Green Bay. That GM would be Holmgren and that QB would be Hasselbeck. This time it's John Schneider in as the Seattle GM and he's bringing Flynn. So, history is looking promising for this type of move. It also looks good when Flynn has thrown for 6 TDs in a single game just a couple months back.

At the same time, Kolb looked like a neglected backup would should be a starter. When Arizona took him in one expensive deal last season, it was not exactly a happily ever after type of moment when the season ended. I mean Arizona is trying for Manning, despite the high cost of Kolb. So, a good neglected starter in the role of a backup is not always going to pay off in the end. However, any move in football is always a gamble. Hell, it might be seen that Peyton Manning has his form back and is solid this year, but with the wrong team he just doesn't have the same magic. Football..."any given Sunday" is still the name of the game.

Of course, when you have a choice of Flynn or T-Jack, it's safe to say that Flynn is an upgrade. I liked seeing how T-Jack wouldn't give up, even with a torn pec for half the season, but he just is not a starting QB. T-Jack is a perfect backup and a wild cat player, but he is not the right call for the role of leading an offense down the field.

Plus, if Flynn fails, there is always a chance that Portis can show his talent, since I think he was definitely not the correct person for the #3 job in Seattle last season. I think Portis has a good chance, given time, to be a professional starter. At least Seattle should now be out of the shadow of the T-Jack and Whitehurst combination.


Malik (3/22/12)

I am glad to see that the NFL is really laying in on the Saints for the entire bounty hunting incident (or is that "incidents" when it covered three years). Actually, I'm glad to see that some people have been hit hard. Quite frankly, the loss of two second round draft picks for three years of breaking the rules seems like a minor annoyance. I mean at least hit a first round pick or two considering all of the lies and false testimony that has been shoveled towards the head offices of the NFL.

Personally, I think bounties are about the worst possible thing to see in the NFL. Yes, we all love the thought of our team winning, and an injury or two on the opposition cannot hurt those odds. However, when you have intentional injuries, that's when football becomes less fun to watch and more of a 60 minute chore to sit through. I can say that with experience, since the Seahawks in the late 2000's were nothing more than a group of second through seventh string guys covering for an entire team of injuries. I mean we went without a healthy starting QB and without any starters in the receiving corps for about two years...those were two painful years. Losses are one thing, but a boring loss in which your team just keeps calling for the cart to haul off another wounded player is not even close to entertainment.

I actually know people who are angry at the NFL for penalizing bounties. These people are also Seattle fans. Apparently they don't remember what it's like watching a NFL game with only backups filling in for all the injured players. It also goes both ways. I mean watching a healthy Seattle team destroy an injured opponent is just as unentertaining for me as watching an injured Seahawk team face a healthy opponent. If you think leveling out that problem with both teams being beaten to all hell...think again. While injuries weren't the only problem, look back at the Seattle-Cleveland game last year (3-6 final score).

Personally, I hope the NFL never allows Gregg Williams to return to the NFL. In fact, I think the punishment, assuming nothing gets overturned on appeals or that "in definiantly" doesn't mean one year, is perfect so far, except that second round draft pick punishment. Anyone involved in an act that is designed to lower the quality of the game deserves to not be in the game. Football...we only get 16 games, plus a few playoff games, per year. I don't count the pre-season (which is what games could look like with bounties...slow, awkward, and full of guys who should be cut). If the season is not going to cover much more than a few months, then make those months count. Plus, on the converse side, with 16 games, an early bounty related injury could make for 15+ games of pure boredom when a player needs half a year to rehab.

The one really crazy thing in all of this is that I never thought I'd see it. I mean there have been sports controversies (steroids in baseball, steroids in bike races, steroids in...everything), but I didn't think I'd see an entire team getting a huge black mark in a single incident. In the age of quick and easy communication, it's amazing to see that this could happen and remain hidden for three years. It's not quite as big as the Black Sox scandal, but it sure feels pretty close in terms of the total impact on the game. This definitely feels larger to me than the Patriot Act of the NFL (the spying).


Malik (3/23/12)

I've spent some time over the last couple of weeks complaining about Mass Effect 3. I think the complaints are quite valid (especially how scanning somehow is worse in ME3 than it was in ME2...and in ME2 it was horrible). However, to be fair, the game does some things quite right.

In particular, I think the writing has improved, despite being a little less frequently found than desired (most NPCs are just silent filler people to make the Citadel not look deserted). The truth of the matter is that the writing that is present is some of the best in the series. Especially when you deal with any characters who have been staples to the series. Well, the recurrent characters and Javik (the DLC Prothean ally you can get for $10 or in the collector's edition of the game).

Beyond it all, I have to say that from what I've seen, there is only one important rule when playing ME3; know where Garrus is at all times. The best lines of the game have to be those that Garrus says, or those that he is involved with. Even his side stuff at the Citadel is so much grander than what I've seen from other characters. Garrus is just a natural master of deadpan comedy that makes the game feel so much larger and more immersive.

It does help that Garrus is also a character that fits my party in almost all situations, so I've naturally had him with me since he first returned to active duty on my ship. Even outside of combat and missions, he still is awesome to behold. Without too much in the ways of spoilers (nothing major at least) I just have to point out a few golden moments.

The first has to be when Garrus was with me for missions with Wrex (hopefully both are alive in your game since Wrex could have easily died in ME1 and Garrus could have easily died in ME2). The two sworn enemies due to genetics are hillarious when they joke off of each other how much disbelief they go through knowing they are friends...and why. Let just say that Garrus points out to Wrex that they can be friends since (to paraphrase slightly) Wrex "was able to melt this Turian's heart with his wit and charm."

Another golden moment is when you see Joker and Garrus in the cockpit of the Normandy trying to see if either has any joke that is not know to the other. The crowning moment is when Garrus tells a Turian joke that Joker doesn't which Joker is the star of the joke.

The single best, for me, was when I went on a mission with Tali and Garrus. Tali was the romance option I went with in ME2. When Shepard and Tali discuss possible living arrangements if Tali would like to rejoin the Normandy, Garrus is perfectly on cue in reminding the two that he was on the Normandy and is quite aware of what went on in Shepard's cabin.

Anyway, I'm getting pretty far into the game at this point. I still think I have quite a bit of game ahead of me. I hope so. I mean now that I'm starting to get into ME3, I really don't want to see it end anytime soon. I still think ME2 was the defining moment of the Mass Effect franchise, but is warming my heart with it's wit and charm. Just not with the scanning and lack of intelligent life on the Citadel (silent people who don't even move do not count as intelligent in my book).


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