Column as I see ’em …
If an NFL team must travel to Wisconsin for a date against the Green Bay Packers — as the 2017 Seahawks will, in what has become something of an annual ritual — Sept. 10 is as close to ideal as it’s going to get.
Between the hot, humid summers and bone-chilling winters in that part of the Midwest, there’s a delightful respite on the calendar called “autumn.” It has been known, in some cases, to last for days at a time.
Aside from the agreeable climate, the Hawks will face every definition of a hostile environment in their season opener at Lambeau Field, home of the league’s largest and longest pregame tailgate party.
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▪ Executives at ESPN had their fingers crossed before the schedule officially was released late Thursday afternoon, hoping for more scintillating matchups than it got last season. Of 17 Monday Night Football telecasts in 2016, only two involved a pair of playoff-bound opponents.
Not much of a bang for broadcasting rights fees that cost ESPN $1.9 billion per season.
▪ Boise State’s Tuesday announcement that it was disbanding one of the few college wrestling programs remaining in the Northwest couldn’t have been more awkward. Team members were informed of the program’s demise by a school compliance officer, who offered transfer applications.
As Broncos senior and 2017 NCAA qualifier Austin Dewey told a Boise radio station: “Everyone looked at each other as if their entire life got ripped away.”
Legitimate wrestling is not a revenue producer — its TV audience can be measured in the dozens — but a sport that offers 125-pound athletes a chance to compete in college is a sport that deserves to survive.
▪ I saw my first automatic intentional walk the other day at Safeco Field, which is to say I didn’t see much of anything. Rangers manager Jeff Banister signaled to the home-plate umpire, and the Mariners suddenly had a runner on first to load the bases.
Doing away with the ritual of deliberately throwing four pitches out of the strike zone was designed to pick up the pace of play, but when the automatic intentional walk is followed by a 30-second conference on the mound to discuss defensive strategy, pace is not accelerated.
▪ Speaking of pace: The Mariners were 16 games into their 162-date schedule when they took the field Thursday night at Oakland, posing a chance for fifth grade-level number crunchers to project season stats by multiplying current stats by 10.
Such a primitive math exercise suggests right fielder Mitch Haniger will hit 40 home runs with 150 RBIs, a historic output for a rookie, but not as historic as veteran third baseman Kyle Seager’s ability to drive in 110 runs without a connecting for one homer.
Haniger won’t finish with 40 bombs, of course, and Seager won’t finish with none. It’s likely they’ll both end up with 25 or so.
How volatile are April numbers? At 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday, none of the three hitters in the heart of the Mariners lineup — Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Seager — was hitting better than .220. A few hours later, Cano, Cruz and Seager had raised their batting averages by an average of .022 points per player.
▪ According to the axiom, a major league team can’t assure itself of a division title in April, but can struggle to the point that the season is shot before May. There are exceptions.
On April 21, 1982 — 35 years ago Friday — the Braves won for the 12th time in 12 games. They went 77-73 thereafter, but the hot start gave Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre his first taste of the playoffs.
Atlanta edged the Dodgers by one game in the NL West.
▪ I’m a free-speech advocate who acknowledges the right of anybody telling me what I don’t want to hear. But the Bible-prophecy zealot screaming into a street-corner megaphone outside the main gate of Safeco Field on Sunday tested my boundaries.
As fans were lining up to take photos of each other in front of the new Ken Griffey Jr. statue, they were told how their worship of a false idol guaranteed an eternity in hell.
There was no confrontation — everybody on the sidewalk tuned out the nonsense — but obnoxious zealots with megaphones are at odds with the fan-friendly experience the Mariners promote at Safeco Field.
Personally? I resisted the very strong temptation to yank the megaphone out of the guy’s hands and smash it. I suspect I’m well on the road to eternal damnation anyway, and silencing a jerk determined to make friendly folks guilty wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker.
John McGrath: @TNTMcGrath