The most shocking development of the first week in April? Not Tony Wroten, nor Ryan Leaf, but Chone Figgins’ momentary resurrection from the athletic dead.
Sea Of Non-Tranquility: The Mariners spent part of the week arguing that a proposed arena south of Safeco Field would create more congestion and traffic problems. / Wiki Commons
The week started badly for Husky b-ball nuts, Tony Wroten bolting for the NBA draft two days after teammate Terrence Ross did the same. The Mariners would have had a great week if management had just shut up about Chris Hansen’s proposed SoDo arena. But the team on the field still had a pretty good one after Chone Figgins strung together his first consecutive multi-hit games since just before Seal Team Six took out Bid Laden. That Was The Week That Was:
APRIL 2-8, 2012
- GOOD WEEK — Chone Figgins went 6-for-9 with four RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base in leading the Mariners to 7-3 and 8-7 victories over the Oakland Athletics in a two-game re-start to a season that began March 28-29 in Japan. After hovering near the Mendoza Line (.222) for much of spring training, Figgins took to his new role as Seattle’s leadoff hitter in shocking fashion — .412 batting average for four games — given his abysmal efforts in 2010-11, when he absconded with $18 million from the Mariners’ till without having to give it back. Figgins, so glum so long, even looks happy (so far), as if he just spent 10 days in the Playboy Mansion.
- BAD WEEK — King County officials admitted that it co st $1,248 to cage a “rogue bunny” in the King County animal shelter in Kent. It apparently also cost an additional $2,496 to cage two guinea pigs. The way we figure it, this is about half of what it costs to cage Ryan Leaf in Great Falls, MT.
- EX-SEATTLE JOCKS OF THE WEEK — Ex-Mariners shortstop Omar Vizquel (1989-93), approaching his 45th birthday, entered Toronto’s 7-4, 16-inning win over Cleveland Thursday in the 12th inning, scored a run in the 16th and got the putout at first to end the game . . . Former UW basketball guard Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points with seven assists and Terrence Williams, a Rainier Beach graduate who played college ball at Louisville, added 16 off the bench in Sacramento’s 109-100 loss to Phoenix Tuesday.
- PLAY OF THE WEEK: Sixth inning, Friday, Mariners at Oakland: With Michael Saunders on third, Chone Figgins (three hits, two RBIs on the night) drops down a perfect bunt up the first-base line. Figgins’ bunt is so deftly placed that the Athletics have no play at home on Saunders, who scores, and no play on Figgins at first, who is grinning like a Cheshire cat when the cameras go to him.
- SUNDAY, April 8 — Seattle native Fred Couples, the second-round co-leader (72-67) fades to 75-72 over the final two rounds and finishes in a tie for 13th place in The Masters at Augusta National. Nice tournament for Couples, but it was asking too much of a 52-year-old to win when the oldest winner ever, Jack Nicklaus in 1986, checked in at 46 that year. Nice consolation for Couples: His $168,000 payday hikes his career Masters earnings to $1,914,282 (you could cage a lot of rogue bunnies with that), out of the $31 million total he has earned swatting a golf ball.
- SATURDAY, April 7 — Chone Figgins (again!) finishes a home run shy of a cycle, the Mariners pound out 13 more hits (26 in two days!) and start the season 3-1 with an 8-7 win over the Athletics. Felix Hernandez (1-0) survives a shaky outing for his first victory . . . Marc Burch’s header bangs off the crossbar in the 92nd minute and the Sounders (2-1-1) are forced to settle for a 0-0 draw with D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Fredy Montro’s slump continues: 4 games, 0 goals, 0 assists . . . UW men’s rowing team smokes Stanford by 15 seconds (5:40.78-5:55.61) on the Montlake Cut (that’s 50-0 in football).
- FRIDAY, April 6 –In a baseball equivalent of “The Return of the Mummy,” Chone Figgins collects three hits, knocks in two runs, scores a run and steals a base, leading a 13-hit assault that gives the Mariners an easy 7-3 win over the Oakland Athletics and makes a winner out of Jason Vargas. Future Seattle Gloom: In the fourth inning, Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes crushes a Vargas cutter, sending it 462 feet off the facade in left-center, his second homer against the Mariners in 2012 . . . Fred Couples, 20 years removed from his 1992 win at Augusta National, arrives at the halfway point of the Masters tied for the lead with a 5-under 139 after shooting a second round of 67 that featured seven birdies and just two bogeys.
- THURSDAY, April 5 — San Francisco hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who wants to build an 18,000-seat, $490 million basketball/hockey facility in Seattle’s SoDo district, says he has several yet-unnamed (actually, they have names, they’re just unidentified) investors interested in joining him in the project — this, to the Mariners’ chagrin, who are already on record as ranting about congestion and traffic (no one has done more to ease congestion and traffic in SoDo than the Mariners with all their 90-loss seasons). Hansen’s main disclosure: A deal could go forward without a hockey team, and it’s “highly likely” the arena could be built with only a hoops team, and hope for a hockey club later. Hansen further says, “We look at our deal holistically,” becoming the first potential pro sports owner, in our recollection, to use “holistic” in a press conference.
- WEDNESDAY, April 4 — Via team president Chuck Armstrong, the Mariners issue stiff objections to the proposed construction of a basketball/hockey arena in SoDo. Of the arena proposal, a letter signed by CEO Howard Lincoln contains the quote: “It simply doesn’t work. ” It’s really Lincoln’s franchise that “simply doesn’t work.” . . . UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar, in his final press conference 2011-12, spends the bulk of it talking about the twin bolts of sophomore Terrence Ross and freshman Tony Wroten going early to the NBA. Romar makes a spirited defense of Wroten, saying, “Most kids, if they could be one-and-done, would do it.” . . . Authorities in Great Falls, MT., say that ex-QB Ryan Leaf must remain behind bars for 30 more days while they process the paperwork that could send the former WSU star to prison for a long time.
- TUESDAY, April 3 — Romar gets another jolt when Wroten, UW’s second-leading scorer, follows Ross out the door and declares himself available for the NBA Draft. “I just felt like it was the right time and I’m ready,” says Wroten, a 16 percent shooter from 3-point range an a 58 percent shooter from the line . . . Seahawks, courtesy of new NFL outfitter Nike, unveil new-look — actually, extreme-makeover — uniforms, and anyone who thinks neon went out in the ’80s along with lip gloss and plastic bracelets, is in for a shock. Unis are a deep blue, but there’s a lot of bright, rave green highlighting on the jerseys, pants and helmets, not to mention faux-feathers trim. Our initial take, subject to change: “Bridezillas” are more understated . . . Hawthorne gone: Seahawks LB David Hawthorne, the team’s leading tackler the past three seasons, skips Seattle in free agency, accepting a five-year contract from the New Orleans Saints.
- MONDAY, April 2 — Two days after his arrest in Great Falls on burglary, theft and drug possession charges, former WSU QB Ryan Leaf is nabbed again and charged with burglary and theft, plus two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and violating his probation. “(The latest arrest) is based on a burglary that happened after he bailed out,” says Central Montana Drug Task Force Commander Chris Hickman. Leaf, the 1997 Pac-10 Player of the Year and No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft, was on 10 years’ probation stemming from a 2009 prescription drug burglary in Texas. “Our argument will be that he should go to prison,” says Randall County (TX.) District Attorney James Farren . . . Former UW mighty mite Isaiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings is named the NBA Western Conference’s Rookie of the Month after averaging 13.6 points and 4.9 assists. Thomas also led all rookies in fast-break points and ranked second in free throws (54). For Thomas, who scored a career-high 29 points March 28 against San Antonio, it’s his second Rookie of the Month award in 2011-12.
TOP 5 NUMBERS
Tony Wroten opted for NBA draft despite shooting 16% from 3-point range and 58% from the free throw line as a UW freshman.
If Ross and Wroten are taken in the first round, it will mark the first time 2 UW players go in the same first round.
The top salary on baseball’s Opening Day belonged to former Mariner Alex Rodriguez led at $30 million, his 12th consecutive year as MLB’s $ leader.
Thought to be an MVP candidate at the start of the season, Fredy Montero played his fourth game of the season Saturday. Totals: No goals, no assists.
Mariners play 4 in Texas this week. Last year, the Mariners went 4-15 against the pennant-winning Rangers and were outscored 95-53.
Please, Mariners, don't make Felix Hernandez carry the team on his back. It's a strain. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest
READS OF THE WEEK
- Thiel: Is It Possible Safeco Field Is Middle-Aged? Not to jar your Easter weekend idyll of church, baseball, daffodils and sunshine, but, um, Safeco Field is middle-aged. At least as far as baseball stadiums go, Seattles secular church of Our Men of Participation is No. 15 in years of service among the 30 MLB teams, despite entering its 13th season . . . MORE
- Thiel: To Do, And Not To Do, For Mariners: Since the season has at least three starts to it Japan, road in Oakland, home in Seattle Im sure the Mariners wont mind my help in offering my dos-and-donts list right now for the 2012 season. They will probably have another re-start next month, after mathematical elimination from the race . . . MORE
- Hickey: Mariners Pay Too Much For Too Few: Not only is it time for baseball teams to play games that count, its time to count the money. A list of Major League Baseball salaries released by USA Today Thursday showed the New York Yankees ready to pay $197.96 million to players on their opening day roster. The San Diego Padres pay barely a quarter of that, $55.24 million . . . MORE
- Thiel: SODO Arena, The Truth And The Mariners: Rather than rely on rhetoric in the first of many dust-ups over the proposed arena, please go to this City of Seattle link to start understanding why frequent SoDo users and businesses, including the Seattle Mariners, are pissed off . . . MORE
- Romar Reflects On Losses, Looks Ahead to 2012-13: University of Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar, scheduled to spend his final press conference of the season summarizing the events of 2011-12, predictably focused instead on the headlines generated over three days by his two leading scorers, sophomore Terrence Ross (16.4 ppg) and freshman Tony Wroten (16.0 ppg), now ex-Huskies . . . MORE
- Dybas: New Deadline Shows Players No Love: Adults have again colluded to short college athletes. College coaches pushed a change the NCAA passed quietly last spring. April 10 is the new date underclassmen have to withdraw their name from draft consideration, in order to retain college eligibility . . . MORE
- Wayback Machine: Johnny ‘Needlenose’ Pesky: From the dignified, derby-topped Dan Dugdale at the dawn of the last century to Eric Wedge today, the men who have directed Seattles numerous professional baseball enterprises we count 56 spanning the Siwashes through the Mariners represent remarkable managerial diversity . . . MORE
- Thiel: Change College Rule To Two Years, Or Zero: If Kentucky wins the NCAA mens basketball title Monday night, as most expect, John Calipari, known as Coach Vacate, his ways will not be validated. Too late for that. Win or lose against Kansas, he already has been validated. That day in August 2009 in Lexington when he signed a $31.65 million contract for eight years was all the validation required . . . MORE
- That Was The Week That Was (March 26-April 1): Not a great week for the states athletic concerns: The Washington Huskies basketball team not only thudded in the NIT, it lost its leading scorer to the NBA. Although the Mariners provided a highlight by winning on Opening Day in Japan, they negated the effort with a lapse into feebleness the next day. The Sounders got suckered by a flopper . . . MORE
The SoDo District, hard by the busy Port of Seattle, is the proposed site for a basketball/hockey arena. A citizen's review panel gave its OK Wednesday to proceed with plans for the $5o0 million facility, but he Mariners and port are not OK with the site. / Wiki Commons
POLL OF THE WEEK
Mariners, Port Object To Arena Site; Do You Agree?
- A citizens advisory panel charged with reviewing a proposal for a $500 million basketball/hockey arena in the SoDo District informed Seattle and King County officials Wednesday to go forward with the idea, calling it an unprecedented opportunity to bring two professional sports teams back to Seattle.
- “It was best for me and my family. I feel like going out after my freshman year, I accomplished a lot and I’m ready for the next step” — Tony Wroten, UW freshman guard, on his decision to make himself available for the draft
- Terrence and Tony are two exceptional talents that weve lost. They both accomplished quit a bit while they were here and, while they both are young, they certainly made their presences felt. Obviously, we wish them well” — Lorenzo Romar, bidding farewell to his two top scorers
- “From Day One, they were one of the first teams to contact me in free agency. I think they valued me and my body of work, and I had never played a snap for them” — David Hawthorne, former Seahawks linebacker, after signing a five-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.
- “One hundred percent, there are issues with our site. Yes. There’s issues with every site. I can’t manufacture a site out of thin air and with no issues on it” — Chris Hansen, prospective arena builder, on whether SoDo is the best site for a proposed basketball/hockey arena
- Can I win? I believe I can” — Fred Couples, Seattle native, after his second-round 67 at The Masters Friday gave him a tie for the second-round lead
- “We’ve seen the competition. Washington is the No. 1 team in the country right now. The defending champions expressed themselves very well today” — Craig Amerkhanian, Stanford rowing coach, after defending national champion Washington beat his crew by open water on the Montlake Cut