Category Archives: Sportsball

Boxing: Mayweather v Pacquiao

by Dave Banuelos


I have loved Boxing longer than I’ve loved Baseball.

My early childhood was far more defined by Hagler-Leonard than the ’87 Mariners, and watching Mike Tyson destroy people was just a little more exciting than watching Jim Presley and Ken Phelps (even though those two combined for 51 HRs that year…who knew?). That eternally divisive decision (I still think Hagler won), and that Godzilla-like rampage through the heavyweight division occurred a generation ago when the sports world still converged upon a prizefight.

This Saturday, the fight in Vegas is—once again— all that matters. I know there’s a horserace, and some semi-dramatic early season baseball games, and some playoff basketball, and some playoff hockey. The fight is all that matters in sports on Saturday.

And this might be the last time that ever happens.

As a bordering-on-hardcore boxing fan in 2015, I can tell you that there are fighters out there who are way more exciting to watch than either of the two first-balloters who will finally face each other tomorrow. Gennady Golovkin is currently laying waste to the middleweight division in Tyson-like fashion. Sergey Kovalev is doing similar work at light-heavyweight. There are even more dazzling technical boxers (Guillermo Rigondeaux), and offensive machines (Leo Santa Cruz) out there than either of the guys fighting in the main event this weekend.

But Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao has the buildup, the compelling and sometimes sordid backstories (Floyd is a woman-beating sociopath, Manny probably took PEDs at some point) that have brought more attention from mainstream media on a boxing match than I’ve seen in over 20 years. Boxing has had its share of incredible moments in the last two decades, but it hasn’t produced a truly awesome sports moment since Foreman knocked out Moorer in 1994.

And I’m disheartened to inform you that Saturday is unlikely to produce a moment like that. Tune in early, and watch rising stars Vasyl Lomachenko, and Leo Santa Cruz do their respective things. Just don’t go in expecting the drama of Leonard-Hearns, or the Hollywood ending of Tyson-Douglas after Floyd and Manny receive their final instructions from referee Kenny Bayless.

I’m not saying it’s impossible. We would all love to see PacMan clip Money with a straight left, swarm him, and stop him. We’d all like Manny to do better than any rational fan could hope for, and eke out a Leonard-Hagler like decision. I’ve even fantasized about it being a questionable stoppage, or a garbage decision. The post-fight interview with Mayweather would be fucking amazing.

But Floyd is the Kobayashi Maru brought to life. He is the no-win scenario, the unbeatable computer simulation. He has made virtually everyone he has stepped in the ring with look helpless and befuddled at some point.  The only way Manny beats him is to hit him so hard and clean that it reprograms the machine. I’m not sure I like his chances, but I have a fan’s hope that I am wrong.

And while I hope this isn’t the last time boxing own the sports spotlight in my lifetime, I plan to carry on watching it until—for whatever reason—I can’t anymore.

Sportsball Wrap-Up: The Jaws of Victory

“It was a nice run, Kev. Had to close out someday. Nobody wins them all.”

In the stunning aftermath of yet another Russell Wilson victory over a Super Bowl winning quarterback (this time, himself), I find myself wanting to wallow in the unanswered questions which followed that game. But, along this run of improbable successes, I seem to have lost sight of the fact that I am a Seattle sports fan, and yesterday’s game was not the anomaly. Sure, I have snarky remarks that I could use to turn this into a caustic, laugh-so-you-don’t-cry piece, but the truth is that I am still proud of my team. Unlike last season, where a run to the Super Bowl looked unstoppable, and the Lombardi Trophy, a foregone conclusion, this season was heart and soul. It seemed that going into mid-November, the curse of the Super Bowl champions was nestled snugly upon us, and we could look forward to next year. And then this team of Sportsball heroes that nobody else seemed to want decided that they they didn’t want to go whimpering off into the night. They won every game left, and strode into the postseason, looking like the championship team we’d seen the year before. And even after the first three quarters of the NFC Championship, where it looked like all hope was lost, they managed to pull off a comeback that even the Seahawks’ faithful would have been hard-pressed to imagine.

There have been calls for a certain offensive coordinator’s head on a silver platter. And honestly, with the judgement shown with that final call, it might be an idea worth revisiting. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is Seattle team, and sooner or later, something like this was bound to happen. The Seahawks are now 1-2 on the big stage, and don’t have another chance to go after back-to-back championships for another two years, at least. The Patriots walked away with yet another victory, and it looks like the team that best personified the Bush era isn’t quite ready to fade into that long night. But Seattle should hold its head up high: there will be other chances for athletic glory, and Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger aren’t going to be around forever. The Seahawks have given the city of Seattle something to unite behind, and we will stand with them, good times or bad.

A friend of mine posted that she’d like to see them given a parade, despite the loss. I’m sure that the rest of the country would mock us for not knowing how parades are supposed to work, but I think it’s a wonderful idea. We have all had days where we just couldn’t get it done, professional missteps that we’d rather no one knew about. The lucky thing for the rest of us, is that when we screw up, it’s usually not on a global stage. We quickly look around to make sure that no one saw us, and then do our best to make sure that something like that can’t ever happen again. It’s too easy to say you’re with someone through thick and thin, and then want to pile on when they seem hell-bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m fairly certain that there is nothing that any of us can say that will make anybody on that team feel worse than they do already. But with the narrative against them, and criticism bubbling up from everyone who saw the game, and knows they would have called it better, perhaps it’s time to tell our team something that they haven’t heard: Thank you.

And no, not the sarcastic mumbled thanks that spill out of one’s mouth like a toddler forced to apologize, but a genuine offer of gratitude for the simple joys we’ve been provided throughout the past few years, with a touch of sympathy, because we’re human beings, and not just raging animals. On one of the worst days of your life, it’s not uncommon for everyone to seem lined up against you. But sometimes just a simple reassurance from someone who matters to you, or even just a well-meaning stranger, can make all the difference. I’m aware that this is just a requiem for Sportsball, and that there are so many other things that deserve our full attention. But I’ve also spoken in the past of the banality of evil, and how the world might be a better place if we could just keep trying to fill it with random acts of kindness. So let’s start today, and never let it fade. Let’s stand together as the Twelfth Man and show that we support one another. It’s the easiest thing in the world to knock someone down a peg, but if there are enough us, we might manage some heavy lifting, and bring them back up again.

There are those who say that to survive in a world of ubiquitous terrorism, we must be just as ruthless as those who seek to do us harm. We must bend the rules which bind our hands, and keep us from our victory. We’ve all been hearing it for thirteen years, and, like trickle-down economics, I’m pretty sure it’s been debunked. I mean, yes, we can probably gain success against those who might do us harm if we toss out all civility. But those rules are not in place to protect the people we are up against: they are to protect us from ourselves. The “enemy combatant” who is spared from torture is probably relieved, I’m sure. But the moment we decide that we are above the very laws we’ve put in place, and seek vengeance because justice has eluded us, we are no better than those who seek to do us harm; actually, as they have no illusions about what is that they are doing, and why they have been doing it, it makes us worse. We will be hurt. People will take advantage of us. There will be times when we will lose. But we will not let the sting of failure keep us down, nor the seeming futility of goodness rob us of our decency. We will stand up for that which we believe in, and keep standing until the light, and all which it has come to represent, has driven back the shadows, not only from ourselves, but from everyone frightened by the night.



As the week drags on, and I hear more and more about the New England Patriots, and the accusations pile up against them, a nervous tic has begun to develop in the corner of my soul. Even though the memories of Super Bowl Extra Large have started to fade, slowly washed away by the victory a year ago, it makes me just the slightest bit uncomfortable to face the prospect of another contestable championship game. Bad Leon was the first of my friends to review the ’06 game in light of a championship season, and has rightly pointed out that yes, there was poor officiating, but that Seahawks team was also playing without testicular fortitude, keeping to a conservative game plan when they should have gone for broke. And, to be honest, I’m still a little shaken from the first three quarters of the NFC Championship. I remember the game against the Niners last year, and how it threatened to unravel me, but this year would have made me bald, were I not already so (and in a Super Bowl match-up between the number one offense versus the number one defense, my money will always be on the defense, so once we’d gotten past the Niners, I finally felt that I could sit back and enjoy the game. (That being said, I don’t think I really relaxed during the Super Bowl until the final couple of minutes, when I figured it would be mathematically impossible for the Broncos to win, even if we failed to field a team.)).

If the accusations against the Patriots stand, I would like to see someone lose their job over it, and see a public apology (the same that Robert Kraft is demanding from the NFL if they are found innocent of wrongdoing) from the smug S.O.B’s. Hell, even if no conclusive evidence is found, and it was just an amazingly preferential coincidence, I think it’s time to close the book on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It seems that every other year (okay, not quite that frequently), I’m hearing about some scandal coming out of Boston. In ’07, there was the videotaping debacle, and… okay, that was seven and a half years ago. Whatever. I’m still not convinced that the win in ’02 (just months after the towers fell), was anything more than a slickly designed bit of propaganda. Amidst the calls for war and vengeance, and the drive toward unity, which team won that year? The Patriots. Hold on, let me adjust my tinfoil cap, it’s scratching my ear a bit… Again, so far it all seems like coincidence, but coincidence makes me nervous when it comes to this time of year. It’s easy enough to drag everything out until the unthinkable happens, and then punish the culprits afterward. I still like to imagine that the Seahawks are the Team of Destiny, but dueling superstitions have a way of unbalancing a man.

But putting that all aside for just a moment, the real reason that the gnawing pit of doubt is growing in my tummy is that I will be watching the Big Game at my friend’s house this year (actually the same place I watched the Super Bowl last year), but once again, in the presence of a Pittsburgh fan. Do I think that somehow his presence will put a karmic damper on the Chickens? Not entirely. And despite being a hard-hitting team that has inspired rule changes in the NFL in an attempt to muzzle them, I choose to believe in the inherent goodness of my team. I genuinely like what I’ve seen of Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, and Earl Thomas. And Marshawn Lynch, though somewhat grumpier a man than I would care to try and get to know, has my full support (not that it’s worth that much) in his ongoing battle with the NFL regarding wardrobe choices and generally refusing to play the media game. I’m sure that there are guys who would much rather be soaking up all of the limelight than focusing on the game to come, but I personally would like everyone to keep their opinions to themselves, and get back to work. Because nothing screams “valid use of time” like reporters asking various players to reveal their team’s strategy for the biggest game of the year. “So, yeah, we figured that no one from the other team is going to pay attention, here’s exactly what you should expect to see on Sunday…” Every interview is just the same jumbled mix of ambivalent praise for their opponent and vague padded statements about how they are just focused on the game. Well, except for Bill and Tom and Bob. They also get to look super offended at the notion that they cheated. Because New England never cheats.

It’s nice to have gotten that out of my system. As someone who has forsaken the utility of flesh, the most that I will actually be contributing to my Sportsball team is my goodwill. I’ve gotten a hat and t-shirt for David, and Seahawks earrings for my wife, but none of the players will be able to actually see them, as we will be watching a football game on television, and not conversing with them via Skype (and let me just point out that even were I to have the ability to chit chat with these athletes during the game, under no circumstances would I want them to waste any of their time on me). The game will play out as it plays out. As I don’t have tickets, and I’m not even in Arizona, there is nothing that I can physically do to alter the outcome of the game.

That being said, the narrative, for me, remains the same: The Seahawks need to close the book on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Patriots. They are the team of a nation at war in Iraq. The team of a decade of doubting the patriotism of those who didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. This decade needs to be about decent people (not pretty people) with a solid work ethic, and I think I know just the team to fly that banner.

Go Seahawks!


Whispers In The Dark

My name is Tex, and I’m a Seattle sports fan.

I was born just a few months after the Seattle Supersonics won the NBA Championship, and did not see another major Seattle team win a championship until I was 34. I grew up watching the inconsistent antics of the Seattle Mariners, and was bewildered when we fired Jim Lefebvre for having the gall to lead us to our first winning season.  We had a handful of power bats and lights-out pitching, but generally, mediocrity was a far-off dream to which we could only hope to aspire. I don’t think I even really watched a World Series until the early 90’s, as I believed that the post-season was just something that happened to other teams.

Under Lou Piniella, they started to gel, the assorted home runs and strikeouts finally coming together to let us win more often than not. In 1995, we actually made it to the playoffs (something we would do only three more times, exiting most often at the hands of the New York Yankees), squeaking in by virtue of a one-game playoff victory against the California Angels. That year was the only one in which we were able to get past the Yankees (proving that we could only get past New York in a best-of-five series), but Cleveland was ready to knock us in out six. The Mariners hung around, earning a playoff berth in 1997 (losing to Baltimore in 4), which helped get them a new stadium built to replace the concrete deathtrap that the Kingdome had become.

The season after they inaugurated their fancy new ballpark (with retractable roof), they made it to the post-season yet again, this time sweeping the White Sox in the ALDS, only to drop the ALCS to the Yankees, who, like Cleveland five years earlier, took four out of six, and sent us home for winter. It was a bitter ending, but we were now a team that could compete. We’d had three playoff appearances in just six years, whereas in the 18 seasons prior to ’95, we’d not had one at all. And then something absolutely magical occurred: SoDo Mojo.

As the 2001 season began, we were coming to terms with the loss of future Hall of Famer, Alex Rodriguez. We had survived the loss of Randy Johnson, and Ken Griffey, Jr., but to lose this kid who looked like he’d be remembered as one of the greatest of all time? Things looked a bit uncertain as we rolled into the new season. And then we started to win. A lot. By the All-Star break (hosted at Safeco, and featuring 8 Mariners), we had a 63-24 record, and looked unstoppable. It wasn’t graceful, and there was a reason “Two Outs, So What?” was a thing that year, as that team often left it until the last possible instant to pull out the win. And when we finished the season with 116 wins, tying a 95 year old Major League record, it seemed like this team was destined to go all the way.

But, in true Seattle fashion, there was no Heimlich maneuver to save us in October. After scraping together the three games we needed against the Indians, we only managed to take one from New York, and just like that, the season was done. In the 13 seasons since that epic run, we’ve made it past the regular season exactly zero times, having only five years with a winning season (more games won than lost), and have a combined 991-1,115 record (.471). We had grown accustomed to losing.

Meanwhile, the Sportsball team next door, The Seattle Seahawks, had begun to make a little noise. Having more appearances (almost double, at that point) than their next door neighbors (and former roommates), they hadn’t had much better luck getting anything done in after the season’s end. But in 2005, our luck was about to change. We won 13 of 16, dominated at home in January ’06, and, with authority, took the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 5th. It was the first time in my life that my team was actually playing for a championship. It would not, however, be their first championship. I had taken the day off of work to watch this unbeatable team go on and claim their glory, and instead was treated to match of bad officiating and anemic offense. We were still playoff contenders in the years which followed, but nowhere like the team which played in the lead-up to Super Bowl eXtra Large…

Before checking back in with my beloved Seachickens, let’s take a brief ride across town and check in on the last team to have won a championship in this city: The Supersonics. Between my birth and 2008, they made the playoffs 18 times, even making it to the Finals in ’95/’96 only to lose to the Chicago Bulls (in the first year of their second three-peat title runs). But in ’08, the Sonics ceased to be, and the Oklahoma City Thunder have gone on to five playoff berths (although they haven’t won a championship either) in six years. It seemed that Seattle would remain the City of the Also Ran.

Which finally brings us back to the Seahawks and their 2013 season. They had looked pretty good, if a little young, the year before, and had to sit and watch their division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, lose the Harbowl to the Ravens in Super Bowl XVII, while they waited for their chance to show the world just what they had. They were the presumptive team to beat, and all season long, they played like untested champions. With a 13-3 record (the same as they’d had on their last Super Bowl run), they hit the playoffs running as the #1 seed. The most anticipated match-up came in the NFC Championship game, as the two best teams in the NFL, the Seahawks and the 49ers, battled for the chance to beat the living crap out of the AFC contender, with Seattle coming out on top. We were going back to the Super Bowl!

As it turned out, that game was rather anti-climactic. We beat the Broncos 43-8, and it was more a showcase for our unstoppable style of play, than any type of contest. I couldn’t believe it while it was happening. I’d seen my teams just lay down and die, despite having amazing years, and it it wasn’t until the last five minutes of the game that I was able to give a sigh of relief. Even if the ‘Hawks had been forced to field their coaching staff, it was now mathematically impossible for Denver to close the gap. The Seattle Seahawks had won the Super Bowl.

I’d been living in the Bay Area for over a decade, and was actually working in San Francisco during that playoff run. Oh, the trash-talking, and dirty looks to which I was subjected as the Seahawks ended the Niners’ season, and proved that they were the best. During the off-season, my co-workers took every opportunity to let me know that this coming year was their year, and that no team had repeat in the decade since the New England Patriots won back to back. Honestly, I told them that I was just amazed we’d won it at all, and having witnessed my team go all the way, was prepared to see them go back to their failing ways. But secretly, somewhere deep inside, I hoped that Russell Wilson’s mantra, “Why Not Us?” would carry over to address the ten years of statistics saying that they wouldn’t win (and most likely fail to even reach the playoffs).

The season got underway, and we started losing games we absolutely shouldn’t, and the wins we got were ugly and too close for comfort. And halfway through November, it looked like it was going to be all over. At 6-4, with the best teams in the league (and our own division) left to play, it looked like it might be time to turn our eyes toward next year. And then we beat Arizona. By a margin.

We beat the 49ers in their fancy new Santa Clara stadium just four days later by the same margin for a very happy Thanksgiving.

The Eagles gained some ground on us the following week, but we still beat them by 10. Three games to go, but every one was still win or go home…

We beat the Niners once again, this time back at home. Now at 10-4, our playoff chances were looking better, and San Francisco’s season came abruptly to an end.

We took our second game from Arizona, and were now jockeying not for just a playoff berth, but for the NFC West, and possibly the #1 seed for the second consecutive year.

In the final game of the season, we beat the Rams by two touchdowns, and managed to pick up the top spot in our Conference thanks to some assists in the Win/Loss columns throughout the league.

Back in the playoffs, and back at home, we faced the Carolina Panthers, and took them by fourteen, carrying on our winning streak for a seventh game. We played better than the team which had won it all one year ago, and looked ahead to our opponent in the NFC Championship game: The Green Bay Packers, who we beat by 20 points in the first week of the season.

I turned on the television this morning, eager to stomp the Cheeseheads, and get back the Big Game. Everyone was downplaying the Packers, and yet still finding a way to disparage Seattle. As the clock ticked down toward Kickoff, I joked around with Bad Leon Suave, and started psyching myself up for game time. We talked about Alice in Chains playing halftime, and what songs we thought they should play. And how since Layne Staley died, they should go by Alice in Zip Ties. And then the clock struck noon, and the game was soon underway.

All this season, I’ve been saying that the Seahawks are a Second Half team, and that they always look vulnerable in during the first 30 minutes of the game. None of that prepared me for just how terribly they were going to play. Long gone was the dominant defense, and Russell Wilson finished the half with a Passer Rating of 0, in contrast to having had the highest Passer Rating in football during the playoffs. He’d been perfect the week before, and now he couldn’t throw anything but interceptions. Our defense let through 3 field goals and a touchdown, and it’s a miracle it wasn’t more than that. Goal line stops are great, but so is stuffing downfield. Russell Wilson had finally found an answer to “Why Not Us?” and it wasn’t what he’d wanted to hear.

We didn’t score until ten minutes into the 2nd Half, with our first touchdown courtesy of a trick play by Jon Ryan on 4th Down, and bringing us to within 9. Our defense held the line, and the 3rd Quarter was ours alone. The Packers answered a few minutes into the 4th with a Field Goal, tacking on another 3, and making two touchdowns the only shot we had to win it. The Seahawks looked to get it started with about five minutes left to play, but Russell Wilson’s interception (a career 4th in a game) didn’t give us back the chance to score until we were closing in on three minutes to go in the game. A touchdown by Marshawn Lynch was called back due to a pinky toe out-of-bounds, but Mr. Wilson drove it toward the goal line, and ran it in himself with just before the 2-Minute Warning.

Our only chance was to go for an On-Side kick, which never, ever works. And yet it did. We got the ball back, and with 1:25 left to play, Marshawn Lynch strolls back into the End Zone, and this time it wasn’t coming back. Russell Wilson went for the 2 point conversion, and it looked like we would have to settle for the points we’d had up on the board when Green Bay tightened the noose around him and all looked hopeless. But somehow he managed to float it in to Luke Willson, and gave his team insurance against a Packers Field Goal. About a minute later, that little miracle paid off, as Green Bay punched one through the uprights, and brought the score to 22-22.

The Seattle Seahawks overcame a 16 point deficit, scoring 22 in the 2nd Half, and taking the game to Overtime. 30 minutes ago, they’d been all but ready to go home, and here they were, winning the toss, and getting the first drive of the 5th Quarter. It reminded me of the Week 3 win over Denver, and, after going head-to-head with them all game, just drove the ball downfield on the first possession of OT, and ended that game with authority. It only took 3 minutes and 19 seconds, but after an impressive display of offensive precision that the Seahawks had excelled at until this game, Russell Wilson connected with Jermaine Kearse, and the game came to an abrupt end. Seattle had won 28-22, and was on its way to Super Bowl XLIX.

The Patriots won later in the evening, and it somehow seems fitting that if the Seahawks are to be the first team in a decade to repeat, they must get past the last team to have done so.

I’m Tex, and I’m a Seattle sports fan, and for the past while, I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of an elite 12th Man Program. My faith is strong. My Seachickens will prevail. Why Not Us, indeed.


I’ll be taking tomorrow off to let this whole experience just sink in. Have a safe and happy MLK Day.