Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page

Malik (8/30/10)

It's a good thing that pre-season losses don't equal losses in the regular season. After all, if pre-season mirrored the regular season, the Seahawks would have been awesome last year, and this year would be looking really bad. I mean for the second time in a row, the pre-season Seahawks lost. However, while the starters were on the field, the Seahawks looked more like a team battling a strong contender for the post-season (which is what the Vikings will probably turn out to be).

On the bright side, for a team that cannot produce sacks and has a lame as hell defense, the Seahawks still hit Favre a bit. I mean Favre ate the ground once when he was sacked, and also had one of his passes turned into a massive 70+ yard interception for a touch down. Not too bad when all I wanted to see the 'Hawks do Saturday was to hit Favre once.

With cuts looming around the corner, the team will definitely look different next Sunday against the Raiders. I mean a lot of the fluff will be removed, including the excessive size of players at running back. I mean the Seahawks have way too many rushers, and a few too many receivers at this point. Like it was joked about when the Seahawks signed the other Adrian Peterson (the one who was with the Bears last year); the Seahawks were all set for having a fifth down rusher. I just hope Julius Jones is one of those cut, since he's been an annoyance for myself since last season (I should never have felt good to see one of our backs injured, but I was when he had his rib/lung issue in November 2009).

I still don't know what to think about the Seahawks since they are still playing with an inflated pre-season roster, but I do know a few things. The most obvious is that the defense will be bad again this year. The true question is if the offense can make up for these short comings with enough points and playing time to ease the burden of the defense. I don't think this will be a division leading Seattle squad this season, but maybe a winning or even season could happen, with Arizona or San Francisco taking the NFC West title, depending primarily on ijuries and QB issues.


Malik (8/31/10)

XBox Live Gold prices are going up. Actually, let me say that in a better and more appropriate way; Why the f#@$ are XBox Live Gold subscriptions going up by 20% for a yearly subscription in the US? Does Microsoft have some idea of what this wacky thing I call reality is?

Reality, for those who are either living in a dream world, or have a MS job that entails sleeping and living out of your office/cubical, is something that includes such wonderful features as a global economic meltdown. It's also something that includes rampant unemployment and a sense of wanting value for your dollar.

To look at some comparisons of reality and fantasy...

Reality has $60 games that, in many ways, continue to offer the same level of entertainment as $50 of past generations offered. Fantasy says that rehashed sequels and a loss of innovative products is what the consumer wants.

Reality says Sony offers free online play for the PS3 and that XBox Live Gold, which is required for online play, is priced at an infinite times more per month. Reality also says, for what it's worth, that the Wii and DS both have free online play. Reality also includes a good amount of PC games running online for the same free price point (MMO's need not apply). Fantasy says Microsoft is offering something special for the price.

Reality says Microsoft has "continually added more content and entertainment experiences for our members, while keeping the price the same." Reality says Microsoft has added either the same stuff as their competition (Netflix...and while the 360 version is the best, it's still the same Netflix service), free online services (Last FM, Facebook, Twitter), or stuff that is not for everyone (ESPN). Fantasy says we want to pay for free, for free from "the other guys", or for sports stuff that has some major limitations (like local coverage on ESPN).

While I can understand how Microsoft feels (Live is a money maker, and they want to continue to print cash), and that the service does take an investment to keep it running, I think Microsoft needs to be careful with this type of move. The only thing that can make this slide under the radar for many is that it is, to those not in any loop about gaming news, under the radar. In the end, this is not the time (economically) to bring about such a change. Yes, it's only $10 per year, but that's still a bit hard to swallow in a time when a good number of families are left wondering if they will make rent or mortgage payments at the end of the month.

My main question for Microsoft, beyond this price jump, is why they don't have options out there. Why not a Bronze, Silver, and Gold package? Or if the names fail, make a higher tier Platinum package? Gold can remain the same price with the old services, and Platinum can handle the newer features, like ESPN. Maybe a less than Gold for those who want Netflix, but would be willing to skip everything else? I mean I consider the $50/year for the better Netflix streaming service to be a tolerable deal, but anything else is just too much. Plus, didn't Microsoft already cover this when they decided that all free downloads (like demos and such) would wait an extra week for Silver members?

Personally, I don't touch online play all that much. At least not on a console. The main thing I use Live for is to download Rock Band songs (which Silver accounts can do) or to use Netflix. So, with a price jump looming on my horizon, I am looking instead at cutting the cable, so to speak, and resorting to PS3 Netflix. Unlike Microsoft, I am beyond aware of the recessions...and a good deal of my stock portfolio (which is mainly Microsoft stock...ironic as that is) reminds me further.

On a final note, for those who will happily accept this by saying "the prices haven't changed in the last seven or eight years," I have something to add.  While there is inflation, the dollar is losing value a lot since Live launched, while the competition went from offering nothing (remember the dark ages of PS2 online?  It was bad) for free to now offering a decent comparison service for free.  If Sony and Nintendo started to charge, I could see using some lame "Microsoft has not changed prices in eight years" bullshit...until that happens, this is a price raise while the market shows that the value is not identical across competitors as it stands.


Malik (9/1/10)

I know that cuts have to be made this time of year with the NFL. It's a fact of life. This is when the CFL hopefuls find a ticket back to the frozen north, the washed up 30-something running backs go selling their wares to any sad team in need of a rusher after injuries deplete the running game, and when the unsigned free agents see why they were not signed. However, I have to say...

What the mother f$#@ is this shit?! Josh Wilson, who was one of the few bright spots in the passing defense, and the only consistent punt/kick returned for Seattle the last two years is off to Baltimore?! He is being lost because of Kelly Jennings? That Jennings from 2009 who didn't seem to know what sport he was playing? Wilson lost to Trufant, who spends each pre-season looking good while forgetting the 16 weeks that matters? What the f#@$?

All I can say about this is that I'd be happy if you are a Ravens fan. Wilson is a guy who can put on many hats, and knows that each one is a damned football helmet! I'd also be sad if you were a Seahawks fan, like I am, knowing the obvious problems in the near future (preview: Jennings as a starter has not been a pretty picture).

I can see a simple prediction for 2010. This is not me trying to "curse" the team, but being realistic, especially after seeing three pre-season games. The Seahawks are suffering from a very weak defense. The Seahawks have one potential to make a good season; being more impressive on offense and trying to keep the other team's offense off the field. This is how a team with such a lame duck of a defense can still remain dominant. Without this type of action, you will fail with a defense that cannot get it's act together.

One important part of this is having a guy out in the field who has a track record of making interceptions and then running them far back. This also requires a good punt/kick returner on special teams. While I'd like to say Golden Tate or Leon Washington will handle this role, Tate is an unproven rookie and Washington seems like someone who will be to prone to injury without any blocking on running plays. Tate will do good in his career...but I don't see it this year. He has too much energy and not enough focus to make it count. As for the other returner possibilities...well, the Seattle running game looks pretty damned weak. So, I wouldn't count on Forsett, Jones (please cut his sorry ass), or Washington (who looks good, but also looks a bit unsteady coming into the pre-season) cutting it. I also wouldn't count on Obamanu, who is freakin' fantastic but is sadly looking like a practice squad or cut candidate with how many receivers are already on the roster (speaking of which...why is Branch, of the glass ankle fame, still hanging around?) taking up valuable bench space.

Josh Wilson is not the be-all-end-all in the NFL. However, he is too damned versatile to let him slip away. Mark my words; in about three weeks, once the injuries start to pile up (and with a weak O-line, injuries are bound to come from sloppy passing and injured QBs putting receivers on the line), we will be missing Wilson on return duties. Also, mark my words; when we see Jennings and Trufant collapse, once again, we will be wishing for a cornerback/safety who can make important plays.

More than anything, a fifth round pick for Wilson looks like an insult. It reminds me too many other Seattle sports trades. Seattle seems to always clear out roster space like there's a fire sale. Yes, it's sometimes the team looking at a future free agent who will definitely get more money elsewhere (like Cliff Lee), and sometimes it's to make roster space. However, these trades make Seattle look like bad negotiators, which only brings about more lowball offers in the future. Eventually, it makes Seattle get stuck in a bad rut, where the option is to not make a trade, or to lower the asking price when the other teams know they can just stall and we will have to act on a bad trade if we want anything done.


Malik (9/2/10)

Let's revisit earlier this week...

Microsoft is raising prices on Live Gold memberships. That's known and all of that. From reading the announcement (does anyone else feel sorry for Major Nelson? His is not a job filled with thanks at times), this comes from "continually added more content and entertainment experiences" on the service. To read between the lines (that's the "connotation" of the wording), it sounds like prices need to go up due to licensing fees, cost of operating the service, and all of that good (and not-so-good) stuff.

I don't like that, since I don't want many of the services, but I can try to pretend I understand their situation. However, what the f#$^ is up with this?

So, you can, right now, lock in a renewal at $39.99. That's not just (sarcasm) a great deal of $20 of the future price of $59.99! (/sarcasm) It's also a drop in the current price of $49.99. So, if more money is needed, why are they offering a lower than normal price for a new 12 year agreement? Is this some f#$^ing PBS pledge break type of deal. "The Dr. Who handbook normally goes for $59.99, but if you pledge only $100 today, you will get two copies of the book and a nifty little 'I support PBS' coffee mug!"

I call bullshit on this. I mean if the price must go up, then money must be needed to maintain the service. However, if Microsoft is advertising a discounted price right now, then money must not be needed as much as new subscriptions are desired. That is an entirely different animal. It's like comparing a human to a freakin' snail.

If Microsoft only tried to entice new renewals of service at the regular price, I'd see them as trying to be nice to longtime subscribers. However, with a current discount added to a nearly-here price increase, I feel like they are just trying to milk the cow for all it's worth, without worrying about who they hurt in the process. In particular, they look like they aim to hurt their own reputation in the console online gaming business.

Speaking of comparing a human to a snail, I feel like they are putting the consumer in the position of the snail...and getting ready to drop the boot of human liberty on the asses of longtime Gold subscribers (or Live subscribers for people like me who have been with Live since the original XBox days).

Like I said, if this was just a price increase, I'd be pissed off since I don't want a damned bit of their added "content and entertainment experiences" that have come around recently. However, with the current discount, it almost feels like they are just trying to boost subscriptions in the current financial quarter for their shareholders. As both a Gold member and a shareholder, I find this type of tactic to be dirty and sleazy on too many levels. I want to walk away from both roles right about now. I can find some more informed of companies to invest in (ones which recognize what a recession/depression really entail to consumers) and I can use my PS3 to stream Netflix while still mainly using my PC for online games.

By the way, with this global price increase, I find one part even more peculiar; why the global price increase for added "content and entertainment experiences" when the US gets more added features than anyone else? As an American, I am glad to know the screw job at least is lessened in terms of added content for myself...BUT...I would feel extra screwed to be a Gold member in Europe, Australia, or any other region that is seeing both the increase and the lack of content that the US is fortunate enough to get.

At least to make up for this, Microsoft did some damage control have got to be kidding me?! They now announce a controller with a minor tweak for $65! I guess Microsoft was a bit pissed to only have the most expensive online for a they can have the most expensive first party controller (beating the PS3 Dualshock Sixaxis by a nice chunk of change). Best of all, it still uses the same battery pack technology (bundled justify the price?) that has failed me on two battery packs, and has two others left with about a half charge at most.

Anyway, the controller itself leaves me with both happiness (forgetting the price) and disappointment. The happiness comes from concave analogue sticks. About time! My fingers slip off of convex analogue sticks, and this is just want I want. Just not for $65 before tax. In Washington state, also known as the land of Microsoft, this is close to $75 after sales tax. However, I like colored buttons since I still remember I can add Microsoft Points (now that would be a good change; money instead of Microsoft fun bucks) with "blue" rather than X. Green is yes, and red is no. That's simple and also makes life easier to teach gaming to people ("press green to jump"). However, the most obvious thing I know from having bad PC controllers in the past is that a bad d-pad is not due to the shape you use (disk or cross pad), but the shape of the controllers housing around the pad and the shape and size of the contacts within the controller. A disk that becomes a cross pad will not solve bad controls on Street Fighter 4...a better contact system, however, will.

As a gamer, I will deal by just buying what I want and not letting hype control me. I want Rock Band 3 and have DLC on the 360 for RB, RB2, Lego RB, and Beatles RB, so I'll stay on the 360 train with RB3. However, beyond that, I shop for value and not for console unless a game is console exclusive (like LittleBigPlanet 2). So, I don't give a crap when I can actually look at Sony as the discount console in some matters...that just seems weird to say. As a shareholder in Microsoft, I'm just feeling pissed off. I really don't trust a company when they do this type of maneuver and then offer that ridiculous new mouse all in the same week (weak?) period.

Call me an irate gamer if you want, but I'm just getting tired of the line between fantasy and reality being blurred. Especially when it's a company's fantasy that is taking the lead and my reality that is expected to pay.


Malik (9/3/10)

To continue bouncing on subjects, it's back to the NFL for today. I mean it was the final pre-season game night for all teams last night, so there is some obvious Seahawks stuff I need to vent about.

First off, in the first game of any sort without Josh Wilson, the cornerback position looks bad. Kelly Jennings gave up a massive pass interference penalty on his first attempt to guard against a pass. He also later on was tossed around, tripped up, and just looked like a player who shouldn't be making the final cut. However, the Seahawks need a CB beyond Trufant, and that leaves only Jennings after Wilson was sent to a team that will hopefully appreciate his overly high levels of enthusiasm and playmaking potential.

On a different front, the Seahawks are going to cut backs soon. I mean there is Rankin, Jones, Forsett, and Washington all trying to be in the heart of rushing plays. Washington seems locked in, especially since he didn't have to play last night (being kept safe for the opening game against the 49ers). Forsett has some skill, but is looking a bit less than impressive this pre-season. Julius Jones...he will not be cut, but if the world was merciful and fair, we'd be spared from his lackluster playing (his time has passed). As for Rankin...he's the only back to impress me any this pre-season, and that's all because of his 98 yard kick off return for a touch down. While that's only one play, I'd give him a nod over Jones, who has no real plays to call his own this pre-season.

On the receiver front...Seattle has way too many. I like the idea from the above link to trade Houshmanzadeh. He may have some major potential, but he's never been able to get on the same page as Hasselbeck. I mean they always feel like they are trying two different routes, and I'd like to say Hasselbeck is right (being the QB/captain) on knowing what play is being attempted. Also, with Mike Williams (who is awesome this pre-season) and Golden Tate (who showed some good flashes last night), Seattle has some good receivers. Add in Obomanu when needed, and it looks pretty good. However, if a veteran is sent packing from the receiver corps, I'd agree with the usual feelings of Seahawk fans; Branch is not worth it. Oh well...just wait a week for his leg or ankle to snap again, and he'll be done for the season...once again.

Oh, and I'm not ignoring Deion Butler. Damn! He was on fire last night. Or at least as much as any Seahawk could be playing well in that game. He knew the routes, could hold on to the ball, and could move down the field. What more do you want from a receiver?

I think my main question leading into the start of the regular season is still the O-line. If they can protect Hasselbeck, things may be good on offense this year. If they can't, then it all goes down in flames. First comes the injured Hasselbeck, then comes the injured backs (since Whitehurst loves to throw passes to the backs where it's asking them to commit suicide against an overwhelming defense). Then it all falls apart since the defense is so weak and the Seahawks will be outscored in no time.

Speaking of the defense; how many times in a game can you fail to a QB Sneak on 4th and 1? I don't think we know the answer yet, since it worked every damned time and Seattle had no idea of how to stop one of the most basic 4th and short conversion plays in football. If this can't be stopped, then a week from Sunday may be pretty damned ugly when Frank Gore, once again, gores the shit out of the Seahawks.


For Those Who Don't Have Flash Plug-Ins...

Rested XP    News    Reviews    Videos    Features    Forums    Archives    Search This Site    Links    Contact Us    Disclaimer

Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page