King in the North(west)

6a00d8341c562353ef017d42439c3e970c-500wiIn my quest to bring you more columns on teams you could not care less about, I am starting a semi-regular column on the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have been my favorite team since I got into baseball, largely due to a fondness for Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball on SNES. I still maintain that it is one of the best games of all time, although it is obviously not on the level of Game of Thrones or my personal favorite game of all time, Mass Effect 2. This column was really also just an excuse to make another Game of Thrones pun, which I’m super good at. Like yesterday I posted this recipe for direwolf shaped scones on Facebook and called it Game of Scones. How great is that?

Anyway, the Mariners just wrapped up a series against AD’s second favorite team, the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers won 2 out of 3, although all three games were fairly competitive with Wednesday’s game going to 14 innings.  The one win the Mariners got was against Justin Verlander. Go figure.  Although there is a fairly large talent gap between the two teams (a 150+ million dollar payroll can do that), the Mariners have had a lot of success against the Tigers in recent years so this was kind of a disappointing result for Seattle. Still, you can never be too disappointed beating Verlander and I was doubly happy because he is on one of my fantasy teams and he turned in a solid start despite losing the game. Woof, this is reading like a Live Journal post, huh? Or at least what I imagine a Live Journal post would read like.

Coming into the season I thought that the Mariners could be a surprise team a la the 2012 Orioles or Athletics given the acquisition of some offensive firepower in Mike Morse and Kendrys Morales. This of course assumed that their young core of Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero would make a leap, which has not happened yet. The Mariners have also been bit by the injury bug, having several regular players go on the disabled list. Things could still turn around, and the fact that Seattle gets a good number of games against the Houston Astros could be the difference if they want to snag a wild card over an AL Central or East team. Still, their league worst offense over the past several seasons must make strides, and that is no given.

A Mariners post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the King in the North(west), Felix Hernandez. Felix is off to a stellar start to the 2013 season, and continues to prove that he is one of the top pitchers in the major league. Is another Cy Young in his future? If I could see into the future I would tell you, but I can’t, so I won’t.

That’s it for my first Mariners column. I don’t blame you for skipping over it, because I doubt it interests you very much. But if you read through the whole thing, here is a stellar gif of Khal Drogo as a reward. Who do you guys think would win in a fight between Khal Drogo and the Mountain? Let me know in the comments.

Bpbrady’s year in review

Top 5 Albums of the Year

5. Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar—Spank Rock: Spank Rock’s sophomore album delivered more of the same electro rock/rap goodness as his debut.  EBEFL is a good album to play at parties if you want music that is suitable for partying but you don’t want to cry after hearing LMFAO for the thousandth time.

4. El Camino—The Black Keys: While not as good as 2010’s Brothers, El Camino is another excellent effort from the Nashville based duo.  The Black Keys maintain their signature sound, while making things feel a little fresh with more upbeat, rock-y sounding tracks.  Plus, the announcement video for the album featured Bob Odenkirk playing Saul Goodman if he was a used car salesman

3. Within and Without—Washed Out: Washed Out’s first LP is going to be hard for him to top in the future.  In a year that featured a lot of good albums by chillwave artists, Within and Without was one of the best.  Washed Out is the chilliest of chillwave artists, and his music is perfect for relaxing.  He also does awesome live shows, so check him out if he ever stops by your town.

2. In the Mountain, In the Cloud—Portugal.  The Man: Portugal.  The Man has been putting out around an album a year for the past six years, yet they continue to fly under the radar.  In the Mountain, In the Cloud is probably not going to raise their profile very much, but it should, because it is an awesome album with a fantastic indie sound.  It even features a track that was deemed good enough to be included in the FIFA 12 soundtrack.

1. Era Extaña—Neon Indian: Neon Indian is also classified as a chillwave artist, at least by Wikipedia, however his (their?—Wikipedia is often vague on whether Neon Indian is a stage name for one person or for a group) music is a little more upbeat than that of Washed Out.  A lot of his music sounds like it could come straight out of an NES-era video game, which is fun.

Top 5 Sports Moments/Things of the Year

5. Dustin Ackley: When you are a fan of a team as crappy as the Seattle Mariners, good baseball moments are hard to come by.  It’s one thing when rookies are struggling to a 70 win record, but when it is a bunch of lazy, overweight vets going through the motions on the field it gets tiresome.  That is why Dustin Ackley was such a breath of fresh air—he was a rookie who came in and instead of struggling, lit up the AL for a couple months.  If he had been able to get a full season under his belt, he likely would have been rookie of the year, but Mariners fans will settle for the four months of excellent play they got out of him, and hopefully many more years to come.

4. The Detroit Lions 2011 season: Like fans of the Mariners, fans of the Lions will take whatever good they can get, and this year there was a lot of it.  Even if the Lions lose out and miss the playoffs, they will have finished with their first winning record in God knows how long.  The best thing about the Lions this season is that the players seem to finally care.  Stafford, Megatron and House of Spears have provided Lions fans with a lot of good times this season (and in House of Spears’ case a few less than good times).  If the Lions make the playoffs, I think I will finally understand what it means to be “happy to be there,” although I hope the Lions themselves aren’t satisfied with that.

3.  Michigan—Notre Dame: The first night game in Michigan Stadium did not disappoint.  Early on it looked bleak, as Notre Dame jumped out to a 14-0 lead.  ND even led 24-7 at the end of the 3rd quarter.  But Michigan would not go away, and came back to lead 28-24 with a minute to go.  The game was not over, however, and Notre Dame marched down the field to take a 31-28 lead, giving Michigan the ball back on their own 20 with 30 seconds to go.  Notre Dame then decided that covering Michigan’s receivers was overrated, and Denard Robinson lead the Wolverines 80 yards in 28 seconds, throwing a touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree to rip the Fighting Irish’s hearts out for the third year in a row.  Attending the first night game in Michigan history was a memorable experience, and I even got to see Little Aldland and  Mr. and Mrs. Aldland.

2. Michigan—Ohio State: It’s tough to lose to your rival, or any team for that matter, several years in a row.  Just ask Vandy fans, many of whom have gone their entire lives without seeing Vandy beat Tennessee.  While Ohio State’s streak over Michigan was not nearly that long, it was still annoying and OSU’s off the field troubles provided the perfect opportunity to end it.  And end it Michigan did, although not without drama, as the Buckeyes put up a fight, falling to the Wolverines 40-34.

1. Barcelona—Real Madrid/Barcelona—Manchester United (UEFA Champions League): Barcelona’s exit in the 2010 Champions League to Internazionale left a bad taste in the mouths of many fans of the club, particularly this writer who will go to his grave thinking that what would have been the winning goal by Bojan Krkic was wrongly disallowed by a handball call on Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure.  Still, commentators and analysts around the word continued to praise the 2011 Barcelona side as potentially one of the best all time if they would be able to win the Champions League twice in three years (Barcelona also won in 2009).  As is often said, to be the best, you must beat the best and “the best” came in the form of Barcelona’s eternal rivals Real Madrid and English giants Manchester United.  The semifinals of the Champions League saw a hard fought battle between Barcelona and Madrid, with the Blaugrana narrowly dispatching the team from the Spanish capital.  Despite the talent level at Manchester United,  the final seemed like a fait accompli, and largely it was.  Barcelona dominated  possession and the run of play in a 3-1 victory over their English opposition, lifting the Champions League trophy for the second time in three years.

ALDLAND’s year in review