The 1987 NFL Rushing Leaders

By Blaidd Drwg

One of the cool things about being a sports card collector is that the cards remind you of things that you have long forgotten. I recently came across a 1988 Topps Rushing Leaders card, highlighting the 1987 season. Did you know that there were only 2 running backs that ran for 1000 yards that year (it was only a 15 game season due to a strike and most players only appeared in 12 games since 3 of them were played with mostly replacement players – about 15 % of the league did cross the picket lines)?

The card that inspired the post - the great Eric Dickerson and the forgotten Charles White.
The card that inspired the post – the great Eric Dickerson and the forgotten Charles White.

The 2 running backs? Eric Dickerson and Charles White.  Charles White led the NFL with just under 1400 yards and Dickerson was second with just under 1300.

The story gets a bit more bizarre – White was actually Dickerson’s backup. Here is how that happened. Dickerson started the season as the Rams #1 RB, with White as his backup. After the 2nd week of the season, most of the players went on strike, but some crossed the picket lines to keep playing. Dickerson stayed away, White crossed the picket line. White became the starter. After an inauspicious debut of 9 carries for 18 yards, White busted out in week 4 with 166 yards vs. the Steelers. Charles White had, up until that point, managed 1 – 100 yard game and just 1400 yards in his 6+ year NFL career. He tore off another 100 yard game in Week 5 and then the strike ended. Dickerson was back for week 6, had about half as many carries as White in the game and then was summarily traded to the Colts. In case you don’t remember 1987, Eric Dickerson was the best RB on the planet, having just run for 1800 yards in 1986 and he was just 27 years old. With Dickerson gone, White retained the starting role and reeled off 5 more 100 yard games. Dickerson in the meantime, got off to a slow start with the Colts, but then managed to average 122 yards a game for the rest of the season to not only finish second in the league in total rushing yards, but to lead the AFC in rushing yards despite having played 3 games less than Curt Warner.

Dickerson would have just 2 more great seasons before turning into a pumpkin at age 30. Charles White would manage just 323 more yards in the NFL, getting hurt early in 1988 and losing his starting job to Greg Bell before retiring.

Revisiting Expectations

By Blaidd Drwg

I said in this post that I would revisit the points I made about the Mariners at the end of the month, so that is what I am doing.

The team went 5-9 in the interim, losing 8 in a row and then winning 4 out of 5, so this team is definitely going to be Jekyll and Hyde all season.

My points for review:

1)      These boots are made for walking – Zunino and Miller specifically were my targets and they had combined for 1 walk in 84 plate appearances in the original article. Well, they improved to 3 walks in 159 – 2 for Miller and one for Zunino. It actually should be 2 in 159; the Zunino walk was intentional, when they were playing in Florida, with the pitcher due up next. So Mike Zunino has exactly 0 unintentional walks this season in 74 plate appearances. That is terrible. About the only thing keeping him in the lineup at this point is pitchers continue to throw him pitches near the strike zone and he has turned them into hits. At some point they will figure out the guy can’t hit or lay off a curve ball out of the zone. Miller probably would have played himself back to Tacoma at this point if it weren’t for the fact there is no better option. Nick Franklin can’t play short and Willie Bloomquist can’t hit, so you are stuck with Miller and his 3 for 32 slump, except when you get to see Willie Bloomquist in the lineup, which is much too often these days. The walks have been a team issue – they are 14th in the AL in runs, just 9 ahead of the Astros and last in the league in walks.

2)      Under pressure – Cano won’t be allowed to hit with runners on base. I was wrong; he has only drawn 5 walks in 34 PA with runners on, and has hit a whopping .241 in those situations. Maybe teams will pitch to him as long as he continues to not do anything with guys on.

3)      Round and round – the M’s OF is a mess. It continues to be a mess. Ackley is the best of the bunch with a .256/.298/.372 slash line. Romero/Saunders/Almonte have shown nothing at bat and the fielding has been less than stellar. Time to trade Nick Franklin and an arm for Andre Ethier and his insane contract. He can’t be worse than what the M’s are trucking out there right now.

4)      Hot mess – the M’s rotation. Iwakuma is still a couple weeks from coming back, Walker has been shut down indefinitely, Ramirez and Maurer have pitched their way out of the rotation and even Felix hasn’t looked great in his last few starts. It will probably get worse before it gets better when it comes to starting pitching.

Are we having fun yet? Lets revisit again at the end of May.

Cleveland Rocks

By Blaidd Drwg

A little nugget from the “Strange but True” column by Jason Stark on December 30th:

Speaking of Cleveland, the Indians played an April 20 game in which they took a 14-0 lead on the Astros. The Strange But True part involves the local football team, the Browns, who haven’t held a 14-0 lead in any of their past 96 games!

In case you are following at home, that is 6 seasons worth of games. The last time that the Browns had a 14-0 lead on an opponent – December 30, 2007, exactly 6 years to the day that the column ran. It was also the last game of the season and the last time the Browns finished a season with a winning record.

Fouling Out in the NBA

By Blaidd Drwg

The Lakers managed to invoke a little known NBA rule last week in their game with the Cavs. They came into the game with only 8 players dressed. Two of them got injured and one fouled out, leaving them with just 5 players for the 4th quarter. With 3:32 left, that is when it got really bizarre. From

Sacre committed his sixth foul with 3:32 remaining but stayed in the game because D’Antoni was out of healthy bodies. The Lakers were assessed a technical foul.

“That was just crazy,” Sacre said. “When I got my sixth foul, I was just like, ‘Oh, dang!’ Then I got to come back in, so I thought it was something special. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Each side has to have five players on the court at all times during an NBA game. With the Lakers down to five healthy players, D’Antoni was informed by the officials that he could leave Sacre on the floor and any additional foul on the center would also result in a technical.

I really wonder what would have happened if someone else got hurt. Would they just leave the lifeless body lying on the floor? In case you were wondering, the Lakers ended up winning the game by 11.

What’s in a Name?

By Blaidd Drwg

As if one Wonderful Monds wasn't enough (love the afro)
As if one Wonderful Monds wasn’t enough (love the afro)
There were actually 2 of them.
There were actually 2 of them.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.I think this gets my vote for the worst name in sports. His actual first name is Ha’Sean, according to Wikipedia, which is bad enough, but why the hell would you go by ‘Ha Ha’? I am not even going to touch his last name.

Oh, and he is apparently an NFL prospect. Could you see Roger Goodell going up to the podium and announcing, “With the 23rd pick in the 2015 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, saftey,  from the Alabama Crimson Tide,” with a straight face?

Wonderful Terrific Monds (either I or II) he is not. I bet you had no idea that there were 2 guys named Wonderful Terriffic Monds (The father played football and the son baseball).

Edit – I stand corrected, there were actually 3 Wonderful Terriffic Monds. It appears that the football Monds was actually WTM II and the baseball Monds is WTM III.

More on the Mariners…Now With Expert Opionions

By Blaidd Drwg

The Mrs. accuses me of being too negative about the Mariners.  Yet, every year I make a prediction about their win total, I am either pretty much spot on or slightly optimistic about the team in hindsight. Since I don’t really care about the team, my predictions are analytical based on stats rather than emotions, so when I say that the Mariners are a 75 win team, that is what the stats tell me, not what my gut does.

My wife probably hated this post last week where I thought that the Mariners prospects for making moves and signing someone like Cano were not as optimistic as some people.  I wrote it before the rumors about David Price came up. I still don’t think that getting Cano and Price makes them a playoff team and I am not the only one. Here are some comments from 3 diehard Mariners fans who I absolutely respect the opinion of:

Scott Weber of Lookout Landing:

It’s that the Mariners simply are not in a position to make this kind of a splash, this many games out of a playoff spot. Especially when two other teams in their division are much stronger, and are also fortifying their clubs with moves that help them win now.

Dave Cameron of USS Mariner:

And I’m not convinced that David Price is the right guy, nor am I convinced that the 2014 Mariners are the right team, for this kind of trade to be worth doing.

David Schoenfield of

You can’t trade Walker for Price and then not sign Cano. But that’s no guarantee. You could trade for Price tomorrow and then see Cano sign with another team in January. And how good would they make the Mariners? Maybe Price pushes this team to 75 wins. Maybe Cano pushes it to 80. Maybe the young guys play a little better and you win 85.

All 3 quotes came from Schoenfield’s piece last week on, it is worth the complete read. These 3 guys know a heck of a lot more about the Mariners than I do and they all feel the same way I do. What does that tell you about this team?

The Mariners and the Offseason

By Blaidd Drwg

I keep hearing that the Mariners are going to be a major player in the FA market this season. Here is where I think the Mariners have some major holes to fill to bring them to an 82-85 win team:

RF and LF (assuming that Dustin Ackley is their CF)

1B or DH (depending on where you play Smoak)

C (you need someone who can play almost every day in case Zunino proves 2013 was not a fluke)

SP (at least one back of the rotation guy)

RP (the bullpen needs help – too many guys imploded last year)

If you want to talk about being a playoff contender, they probably need to replace Smoak with someone better and they probably need 2 middle of the rotation guys in addition to 2 OF, a catcher and some bullpen help. I personally think they need to do more than that and that would be a ton of spending, so it isn’t going to happen.

I write this because of the flurry of activity that has occurred over the last week. The A’s have made trades to bolster their team and so have the Rangers. The Yankees have signed the best catcher and OF on the market and appear to still be in the running for Cano. The Tigers are making themselves better through trades and signings. The Mariners? Well, they did sign Willie Bloomquist. Are you excited yet?

I keep hearing the Mariners are the front runners for Robinson Cano. He tried to play chicken with the Yankees and the Yankees wouldn’t budge, so his agent, Jay-Z, decided to pull a Scott Boras move and get a bidding war for Cano’s services going, hence the Mariners involvement. The M’s are a team with just 2 players under contract (Iwakuma and Felix) and a bunch of guys who are arbitration eligible/under team control. If the M’s don’t go out and spend any money on FA’s this season, their payroll will be in the 45-50 million dollar range. Based on that, the M’s could afford to overpay Cano in the 25-27 million dollar range just to get him to sign.

With the M’s offer, Jay-Z goes back to the Yankees and says, “See, there is a team willing to pay my client 27 million per for 8 years, but he really wants to stay in NY. If you do 25 million per for 7 years with an option, we can call be happy.” Unless the Rangers step in, I would put money on Cano signing for 7 years/175 million with the Yankees.

There are a couple of reasons why signing Cano makes no sense, especially for 8 years:

  • You have now committed 50+ million dollars on 2 players through 2019. That is a ton of payroll on two guys considering one is a pitcher and the other will be in his late 30’s.
  • Signing Cano to that contract would basically mean he is untradeable. You now have to hope that his batting numbers don’t fall into a black hole in Safeco, or that he becomes unhappy if the team is not competitive.
  • You have no place to play him. I don’t think you can put him at DH, so that means you have to find a new position for Nick Franklin, unless you put Cano at 1B and move Smoak to DH.
  • Your team is going to get really expensive over the next 3 seasons. All of the guys under team control will get bumps due to arbitration and the arbitration eligible guys will get huge bumps from free agency.  As deep as the M’s farm system is, it can’t replace the entire roster, so you are probably looking at adding 40-50 million to your payroll in the next few seasons, assuming that you keep all of the important guys.
  • You are going to have to sign or replace Iwakuma. He is on the last year of his contract in 2014 and you are probably going to be paying him in the 15-17 million per range unless he implodes this season. The M’s hold an option on him for 2015, but I expect that the contract will get extended sometime this season and void the team option.
  • When was the last time a mega deal free agent worked out for the team that signed him?

Cano makes sense if you are close to being a perennial contender. The Mariners are not. I suspect what happens in the next few months is the M’s sign Nelson Cruz, resign Kendrys Morales, a couple of replacement level guys for the bench , a scrap heap starter and a couple of fungible relief guys and plod their way to another 77-81 win season, hoping that all of the kids become superstars.

And folks wonder why I gave up my season tickets.

“I picked the wrong week…”

By Blaidd Drwg

I moved to Seattle from Boston 10 years ago today. With my beloved Red Sox playing well and looking like the front runners for winning the World Series, I came to the realization that if they pull it off again this year, it will be 3 World Series Championships in my lifetime, all of which occurred AFTER I left Boston.  It isn’t like the Sox weren’t good when I was living there, it is just that they were getting caught behind the Yankee dynasty and couldn’t overcome it. I will count 2003 as a year in Boston, since I was there for most of the time, but here is how the team fared in my time back east vs. my time in the land of salmon and rain:


Years W-L PCT World Series Playoffs Winning Seasons
1991-2003 1081-959 .530 0 4 9
2004-Current 898-702 .561 2 6 9


Not really a point to this, just marking the 10th anniversary of my move to Seattle with something vaguely sports related.

Oh, and this: