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Malik (5/23/11)

Another weekend passes, and I am still away from relaxing games and all that good stuff. I'm still living the life of a suburban "man-of-the-house", which seems to be a code name for not doing anything to relax with.

At least that lifestyle lends nicely to getting time to watch whatever game is on the TV. In the case of Seattle area people, this has been a good pastime for the weekend.

The Sounders FC beat Sporting Kansas City in one hell of a finish. For the most part, the game was not exactly high tension. The score remained at 0-0 up until the regulation 90 minutes had ended. It was only two minutes into stoppage time that the game finally broke away from being mundane and became amazing. On a corner kick, Parke managed his first goal since the middle of last decade (which would also qualify as his second MLS goal ever) on a beautiful header. After running down the clock for another couple of minutes, the Sounders squeaked out a tight win, and another perfect performance from Kasey Keller.

The funny thing is this is also the first win that the Sounders have pulled off at home in a May. Despite going to the post season for the last two years and being an unbelievable team for being so young, the Sounders had never seen 3 points at home in May before. I guess this was a perfect time to end that poor record. Of course, with how Seattle does a hell of a job beating Kansas City in the final stoppage time, time and again, it was only fitting for this to end that lame streak of May home games.

It's also amazing to be able to say the Mariners are looking good. Even when they do perform well over a season (which, I heard legends, would happen in the a magical time known as the mid 1990's), they always seem to be crap in May and June. Well, they just swept the Padres after sweeping the Angles in a 2 game series.

While I don't think this is a sign that the M's are turning around, it does show one important fact; the Mariners have an amazing starting rotation. I cannot believe I'm saying it with people like Bedard and Vargas in the rotation, but the M's have one of the best rotations in baseball and possible the best in the American League. Peneda is living up to the hype of being the next Felix Hernandez and is looking like he's going for a rookie of the year award (already got rookie of the month for April), if not trying to make his name onto a few Cy Young ballots. Hernandez is still doing pretty solid, despite a couple of complete flops a few weeks back. Bedard is finally showing why the M's traded, what felt at the time, too highly for his injured self. I mean the only thing missing from the pitching is a good solid closer who doesn't buckle under pressure. Even the middle relievers are looking damned good.

Of course, it doesn't help that the M's have crap for offense, with no power bats to speak of. I guess Smoak isn't too bad, but we just don't see a guy who is formidable in the 4-slot. It is obvious that intentional walks are not going to be a regular part of the M's offense.

Still, this season was officially dubbed a rebuilding year. Unlike last year, which felt like a rebuilding year but the M's acted like contenders. Strangely, the Seahawks did the same thing. Two years back, it was a team all about contending, and they flopped. Then last season they went into rebuilding and went on to beat the Saints in the post-season. While it's a long shot, it is possible to see the Mariners do the same and make the post season. Despite being so bad in April, the M's are only a few games out from first in the AL West. It's early in the season, and I have stopped giving any hope towards a solid M's team anytime soon, but this is the season in which the unexpected can happen. It also helps to have all the drama out of the clubhouse now.


Malik (5/27/11)

I am getting lazy on posting again, and I know it. Actually, lazy would be better than feeling like I'm in some weird blending of the movie Office Space and one of those home improvement style reality shows about people trying to remodel their homes. When you add those two features together, you get a world of mental and physical pain.

At least I am finally finding time to play games and relax a little again. However, despite some newer games I'd like to play, and despite not having played much of the third episode of The Silver Lining, I am actually sticking mainly with two other games of a nostalgic flavor.

On the 3DS, I've been playing a bit of Bust-A-Move Universe. I really want to quit, but I started a game a couple weeks ago and have been trapped in it. Each night I try to play for about 15-30 minutes before putting the 3DS to sleep again. I'm now around level 2700 and the game just will not end. Part of me wants to just fail already, but that would feel wrong. The other part of me wants to at least reach level 9001 so I can be a geek and say "my level is over 9000!!!"

I've also picked up Soul Blazer (SNES) again. I don't know why, but this game falls into the category, for me, that also has Xenogears and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The games I just have a feeling every couple of years that I need to beat again. I have better things to play, but these types of games are just so comforting and nostalgic in reminding me of simpler times in my life.

Best of all, I've managed to find a little time to watch some sports now that most TV is entering re-run time. So, while the Sounders FC are not looking amazing, the Mariners are really becoming fun to watch. There's a strong chance the M's will pull off an unimportant, but not bad, record in a few days. They may have the best starting rotation ERA in May of all time. The current best is around 2.7 or so, and the M's are running in the 2.1-2.2 range. Not too bad for a team that included a good amount of starting pitchers I expected to fail (Bedard and Vargas) or to not be polished enough yet (Peneda). However, the team is looking solid on pitching, and has pulled off a few series wins lately with some amazing pitching and better than expected run support. Now if only Cust and Smoak can be the big bats the M's need, the team could become amazing in the final two thirds of the season.

However, with the Sounders looking less than amazing, my long standing theory of Seattle sports is being reconfirmed. I swear, Seattle is allowed to only break even in sports. If the M's are good, then the Sounders and Seahawks will flop. If the Seahawks are good, then the other two fail. In the past, the Sonics, if this karma is a rule, kept the other teams under control. However, with the Sonics gone, this leaves the field open for each year. I know, this sounds superstitious, but it just seems to be more of the rule than the exception.


Malik (6/3/11)

I've been away from posting as the world kicks my ass. Sleep deprivation, work, just keeps coming and not giving me a break. Well, I guess I got one "break"...

I feel like I have disgraced myself and am getting ready to remove all semblance of dignity tomorrow. My iPod, which I bought in August of last year, just suffered the same problem that made me buy this iPod. The headphone jack has become loose. In other words, I will have to get it replaced, do some self done repairs, or make the most painful decision I have ever made...I'm going to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store.

I feel that the entire atmosphere of Apple is not for me. In reality, it's not for anyone who is trying to be a real person. It's a clean, sterile, white environment of only smooth lines and curves with personalities to exemplify this physical look. In other words, it just feels cold, and imaginary. I personally like the feel of the competition far more for one reason; Google, Microsoft, and whoever else is in competition with Apple right now (the list fluctuates too much to keep track) show personality that can be physically seen as anything but smooth and perfect. There are flaws, and flaws feel real.

Anyway, I hope to have this headphone issue resolved quickly enough that I don't have to linger in this environment. The truth of the matter is that I'm pretty gentle on my iPod. I almost never remove my headphones and never put the iPod in a position any more dangerous than being in the front pocket of my pants...which seems like the natural intended home for this gadget. Yet, I've now seen two iPods in my home die of the same hearing related problem (my first iPod dies of a HDD failure, but that was a one time issue so I forgive and forget). In fact, looking online, it seems like this is not a rare issue, and the spare parts are even readily available (for more than I want to pay for an iPod still under it's 1 year warrantee).

Anyway, I have little else to say except for a quick observation on sports;

The Mariners are amazing right now. I expected to say that line even less than I would have expected to ever make a reservation for the Genius Bar. However, when you have a starting rotation and a bullpen like the M's have, you have more than just the potential for a great team. When you add in a manager like Wedge, who does not take crap from slacking players, then you see things get amazing. If only the M's could handle their low batting average, and add a power bat (or remind Smoalk and Cust why they are on the team), and you have a championship contending team.

Assuming Pineda doesn't hit the wall in the middle of the year (many rookies seem to love hitting a rookie slump around the All Star Break), I see him taking home the AL Rookie of the Year award, without a doubt. If he can keep it up, he even looks like he'd want to take the Cy Young Award home at the same time. He has the best record (wins and losses) for the M's, a solid strikeout count, goes for seven or more innings without a problem, and the best ERA for a starter on the M's...and one of the best in the league. Pineda is looking like the real deal, and as long as this star that is burning so bright doesn't burn out really quickly, the M's may have a perfect 1-2 punch with Hernandez. Although it is funny that it's not the first and second pitcher in the rotation, but the last and first. Then when you have Bedard finally earning his pay, and Fister and Vargas looking well above average, this is a pitching team for the first time in longer than I can recall.

Now if only the M's will improve their batting average and find a good power hitter on the cheap...this could be more than just an AL West winner. This could be a team to go the distance in the fall.


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