Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Seattle Mariners Offense Should Be Sorta Bad Instead Of Historically Bad

Two games into the season and M's fans are already writing the narrative for the remaining 160 games. Same ol' shitty offense.

Seattle scored four measly runs in twenty innings against Oakland. Now there are a lot of reasons not to panic about the offense. First of all, Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon are decent pitchers. Secondly the games were played in Japan and perhaps playing in a foreign land screwed with their mojo (then again wouldn't it also mess with the Athletics as well???). And thirdly, IT'S ONLY BEEN TWO FUCKING GAMES.

The 2012 version of the Mariners possesses several upgrades from last year's anemic 556-run output, most notably the addition of DH/C Jesus Montero. Defensive questions aside there's not a baseball mind out there who doesn't believe the former Yankee won't hit for average and power. In addition to Jesus the M's should also expect improvement from Justin Smoak, who clubbed a home run in last night's/this morning's game. Smoak dealt with the loss of his father as well as a myriad of injuries last season and should rebound to become at least a league average 1B.

Throw in the potential of Michael Saunders, the development of Dustin Ackley and a bounce from Ichiro then it starts being reasonable to expect an offense capable of producing 600 runs. Doesn't sound like much but the 2010 squad scored only 513 times and was one of the worst offenses in MLB history.

Of course this year's team is already behind the 8 ball. Slow and steady goes the tortoise...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 Trojan Invitational

On Saturday I descended upon Cromwell Field at Loker Stadium to watch my first collegiate track meet. The 2012 Trojan Invitational featured high schools from the LA area as well as the home team USC Trojans, BYU, Michigan, 3-time Pac-12 Champion Oregon, 3-time National Champion Texas A&M, Washington and Washington State.

What started as a cloudy morning turned into a bright and sunny afternoon. Likewise the Trojan Invitational heated up late, saving its best event for the end as USC's 4x400m quartet of Bryshon Nellum, Joey Hughes, Reggie Wyatt and Josh Mance beat defending champ Texas A&M with a blistering 3:02:24. It was the second-fastest 4x400m in school history and the fastest time of the year.

I remember watching RS senior Nellum and senior Hugues on TV during their glory days at Long Beach Poly, which makes me feel old. Bryshon was a huge track star in high school and was expected to become a huge star. An unfortunate gunshot wound to the leg and several injuries perhaps robbed him of fulfilling his potential but Nellum, having also won his 400m heat in 46.45, is off to a good start this season.

Mance and Hughes finished first and third in their 400m heat with times of 45.65 and 46.24 respectively. Meanwhile Wyatt electrified the crowd with a blistering sub-50 second effort in the 400m hurdles.

All that speed built high expectations for the final 4x400m and the Men of Troy did not disappoint. In other events:

Marquise Lee won the long jump with a 23'11.5" leap that looked silky smooth. That the football team will retain him for at least two more seasons makes me giddy.

Indoor champ Ameer Webb ran an excellent 20.46 in the men's 200m.

The In-N-Out Burger Truck showed up on campus!

Sam Barkley, brother of Trojans QB Matt, ate in on his final hurdle in the 400m hurdles. I know what an awful feeling that is, myself having tripped in high school while finishing the 330m hurdles. Trooper that he was Sam finished the race.

Taft High looks like it will field a very strong track team this season.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Welcome USC Trojans To The Dregs Of College Basketball

Technically USC has not suited up the worst team in college basketball this season. The Trojans are ranked 263rd out of 344 according to In fact USC isn't even the worst team in the conference. That (dis)honor goes to the 272nd-ranked Utah Utes, which gave the Trojans their only win in Pac-12 play.

The Trojans (6-25, 1-16) have been tremendously awful this season. Preseason injuries to Jio Fontan and Dewyane Dedmon robbed USC of much of its 2012 potential. What has followed is a quick and sloppy race to the bottom. And the sad part is that team isn't half bad. Or rather USC basketball plays well during 50% of the game. Kevin O'Neill has always been known as a defensive head coach so despite a severe lack of depth his undermanned squad has stayed competitive in many games thanks to its suffocating D.

But the offense. Oh the offense. How abysmal has the lack of scoring been? Consider that the Trojans have:
* never scored more than 66 points in a game
* scored less than 50 points in 13 games
* scored less than 40 points twice

The numbers don't do justice to the ineptitude. There's no semblance of a plan or strategy. Instead the Trojans run down the shot clock before throwing up a disaster that may or not hit the rim. The end result has been awful and really, really boring basketball.

Tomorrow USC will play crosstown rival UCLA in the first round of the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament. Ever since the "scandalous" SI article came out the Bruins have been playing with the fervor of a dozen Reeves Nelsons. Presumably the Trojans will lose and this season can mercifully come to a conclusion.