BY Deidre Silva 07:00AM 07/04/2011

Crystal Balls: Predictions for the week

Mariners find a task for Figgins, Sounders find the Galaxy vulnerable and U.S. women’s soccer team finds German paparazzi waiting for a naked pillow fight.

Chone Figgins finally has a new task: Tracker of balls and strikes. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

MLB: Pre-All Star Game road show, Mariners at Oakland Mon-Wed; at Anaheim Thurs-Sun (ROOT)
PREDICTION: Mariners now engaged with Angels for second-best in AL West going into All-Star break
Texas extends its lead in the AL West this week (series wins against Baltimore and Oakland) while the bat-free Mariners mess up against the A’s, losing two of three, leaving the series with the Angels for No. 2. M’s take three of four because the Angels have no answer for burgeoning folk hero Dustin Ackley and Ichiro has an answer for his All-Star snub. Manager Eric Wedge looks to avoid another pitch-count embarrassment, so he finds a job for clubhouse puzzle Chone Figgins: Keeping track of balls and strikes.

Women’s World Cup: USA vs. Sweden, 2:30 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN)
PREDICTION: U.S. wins, 2-1, sweeps first round, avoids Brazil in first quarterfinal match. Whew.
Brazil’s Marta, tied for second in World Cup goals (12) with Seattle soccer icon Michelle Akers, scores a hat trick in Wednesday’s game against Equatorial Guinea and grabs the top spot from Birgit Prinz (14), Germany’s 33-year-old striker who is struggling to remain relevant in this year’s tournament. German paparazzi follow the U.S. team around town, waiting for them to one-up the German women in tourney promotion with a naked pillow fight.

MLS: Sounders FC at LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m. Monday (ESPN2)
PREDICTION: Sounders light up the scoreboard, win 2-0
After a 10-game unbeaten streak, the LA Galaxy (9-2-8) have to lose sometime, plus the league’s top team is missing its top two goalies, as well as superstar David Beckham, out with a back injury. Even with Sounders (8-4-7) Fredy Montero and Brad Evans out due to quad and hammy pulls, respectively, the relatively rested Sounders (only an Open Cup game, mostly reserves, in the last week) finally piece it together against their nemesis, which is 4-0-4 at home this season. Sounders, with a six-game unbeaten streak themselves, have lost five in a row to Galaxy.

Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series: Race #3, 9 a.m. Saturday, Sky Country Trailhead, Cougar Mountain, Issaquah
PREDICTION: Women’s field benefits by tough Texan’s absence
The women’s 10-mile record on the hilly Cougar Mountain track was set in 2006 by Chris Kimbrough, a 41-year-old mother of five from Austin, TX, who entered the race because it coincided with a trip to Bellevue to visit her in-laws. She showed up in the course log only once since, finishing first in the women’s division last year, two minutes off her record pace. Not sure how Kimbrough’s family dynamics will play into this year’s travel plans (in-law relations can be so sticky) but her absence will surely play well into the plans of any eager, young female runner.


  • Old Goat

    Swap the entire team with the Rainiers. After all losing is losing no matter who it is. Of course as has been the case for far too long the Mariners have taken it to a new level and no matter what moves are made the players seem interchangeable with little or no difference. The only way for any of these guys to improve their game is to trade them as has been proven over and over. Just do an accounting of former Ms as playoff contenders and all stars.    

    • Artthiel

       Old story, Old Goat. These are the Rainiers, just better paid. Might as well wait them out.

  • Tim M.

     Thanks for the comic relief Art.  Sad to say, but you are my only therapy in a most dismal Seattle sports landscape.  Pulled facial muscles?  I guess that explains my premature aging over the last 30 years. 

    • Artthiel

       Need to find a hobby, Tim. How about residential real estate? Hmm, no. How about journalism? Oooh, bad.

      I like Romney’s idea of retroactive retirement. Let’s all retroactively retire to 2001 and have our Groundhog Days there.

      • Tim M.

         The retirement would be effective just after the Cleveland series and before they choked against the Yanks…yeah I do need a new hobby, damn it!   My face hurts.

  • Tian Biao

    But . . . Smoak has the best name on the team. Smoak-a-motive, Smoak and Mirrors, Smoak Bomb, etc. I suppose it is time for a new one: Smoak out.

    • Artthiel

      Good thing they unloaded the Smoakamotive before derailment.

  • Trygvesture

    Hey Art– Doesn’t the strange, Invasion of the Body Snatchers behavior of Wedge and Z start to paint a picture? I  mean, REALLY… who can even begin to think their mouths don’t have puppet strings directly to Chuck’s office? Nobody in their right baseball mind would spew the nonsense they do, not even Maury on a really crazy day. 
    Somethin’s up. 
    No changes after the break? Who vetoed that? Wedge and Z both said it was coming — changes at the break.It’s Bizarroland. It doesn’t seem to make business sense anymore than it makes baseball sense unless they’re grooming the books for a sale by keeping their overhead and standings low enough to get the revenue sharing check, al la Pittsburgh — and then the bottom line looks ok for sale? The behavior is too off-the-planet to make sense. H&C haven’t been heard from nor seen, and  not seen in the same room as The Joker, either… secret identities? 
    What do they DO all day? Really– they don’t do anything baseball-related, right? Nor even PR/community boosting, certainly. Are they bunkered up somewhere? What??

    • Artthiel

       The criticism has bunkered them. Rare are their appearances. I don’t think any sale is imminent. The biggest deal may be giving Ichiro a two-year extension. And Wedge and Z are stuck trying to stay positive, but putting too much pressure on the players simply because the players as a group haven’t matured into guys who can carry a team. Truly a a bad roster.

      • Trygvesture

        (Hello Dr Freud– we have a slip here! ) 

         Love the typo: AA.Even a notch down from AAA…
        But– what DID happen to the changes-at-the-break intimations? Did they (W/Z) just determine the whole thing is tanked so badly it makes no sense to make the effort to lobby for anything that might be good baseball management anymore?

        I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to actually see and meet with those FO clowns– a new torture that should be outlawed. 

    • Jamo57

      What have they been doing?   Writing editorials under the alias of ‘Seattle Times Editorial Board’.   Sometimes the truth hides in plain sight.

  • Artthiel

     It’s the pressure from his bosses to justify his trade value. They don’t say so, but they don’t have to for Smoak to feel it. He may never be ready to handle MLB, but he needs more rope to find out.  

  • Ashland OR

    The Peanut Guy woulda been a total All Star on this team. They woulda peeled off the vendor vest and suited him up right away. The FO woulda let it happen– no salary burden. Coulda been the salvation of the season.

  • One174

    Smoak will go down to Tacoma and whack the ball all over the place. Then he will come back up and resume hitting .200. 

  • jafabian

    Justin needs to quit trying to be the next Prince Fielder and just go out and do what made him such a promising prospect to begin with.  Don’t emulate Fielder but rather (predictable but I’ll take it) John Olerun where he just hits the ball and fields well.  It isn’t necessary at this point to bring in the power numbers.