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
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.
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, 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
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
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 $50/year for the better Netflix streaming service to be
a tolerable deal, but anything else is just too much. Plus, didn't
Microsoft already cover this when they decided that all free
downloads (like demos and such) would wait an extra week for Silver
don't touch online play all that much. At least not on a console.
The main thing I use Live for is to download Rock Band songs (which
Silver accounts can do) or to use Netflix. So, with a price jump
looming on my horizon, I am looking instead at cutting the cable, so
to speak, and resorting to PS3 Netflix. Unlike Microsoft, I am
beyond aware of the recessions...and a good deal of my stock
portfolio (which is mainly Microsoft stock...ironic as that is)
reminds me further.
On a final note,
for those who will happily accept this by saying "the prices haven't
changed in the last seven or eight years," I have something to add.
While there is inflation, the dollar is losing value a lot since
Live launched, while the competition went from offering nothing
(remember the dark ages of PS2 online? It was bad) for free to
now offering a decent comparison service for free. If Sony and
Nintendo started to charge, I could see using some lame "Microsoft
has not changed prices in eight years" bullshit...until that
happens, this is a price raise while the market shows that the value
is not identical across competitors as it stands.
I know that cuts have to
be made this time of year with the NFL. It's a fact of life. This is
when the CFL hopefuls find a ticket back to the frozen north, the
washed up 30-something running backs go selling their wares to any
sad team in need of a rusher after injuries deplete the running
game, and when the unsigned free agents see why they were not
signed. However, I have to say...
What the mother f$#@ 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
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
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.
Let's revisit earlier
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.
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
by...wait...what...really...you 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 console...now 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 in...to
justify the price?) that has failed me on two battery packs, and has
two others left with about a half charge at most.
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,
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
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
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.
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