Tag Archives: In-N-Out Burger

Seahawks/49ers Preview

21 Oct
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Site: Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, California)

Kickoff: 5:25pm

For the second time in as many years the Seahawks head to Silicon Valley for primetime football. The Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers face off under the Thursday Night spotlight at Levi’s Stadium. After another heartbreaking loss last week the Seahawks sit at a very underwhelming 2-4. After one of the worst offseasons in NFL history, the 49ers have also jumped out of the gate slowly as they too sit at 2-4. San Francisco however enters this week’s game coming off a win over the Baltimore Ravens last week. The Seahawks lead the all-time series against the 49ers 18-15 including a 17-7 victory in their last meeting last season. This is must-win for the Seahawks since they cannot afford to lose any more ground in the division race. Here is what I’ll be watching for.

While I was busy putting offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on blast in my game review, I completely failed to mention that there has been a change along the Seahawks offensive line. Patrick Lewis got the start at center in place of Drew Nowak and although I saw improvement in interior blocking and pass protection last week, the play of the unit as a whole continues to be an issue. Lewis got hurt in last week’s game so Nowak will likely be back in the starting lineup this week with the newly re-signed Lemuel Jeanpierre as his back up. Quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked four more times against Carolina. Although the San Francisco defense has lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, they have managed to record 9 sacks so far this season, over half of them coming from their linebackers. This week it will be necessary for Jimmy Graham, Will Tukuafu, and Marshawn Lynch to block in order to help give Wilson time to make throws. The primary keys to a successful day on offense mirror what I said about Carolina’s offense a week ago. If Marshawn Lynch can run effectively he will take immense pressure off the passing game. Also, if Wilson uses misdirection regularly it will create space to make big plays. Although Seattle has not used read option much at all so far this season, do not be surprised to see it make an appearance in this game, especially if we are trailing in the second half.

With the shaky play in the third level of our defense in recent weeks, the best way to attack the 49ers offense on Thursday is to force quarterback Colin Kaepernick into short and intermediate throws only. If the Seahawks cannot put consistent pressure on Kaepernick that may actually be a good thing, as he has thrown the ball well deep down the field when forced to scramble outside the pocket, including a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Torrey Smith last week. Smith will line up across from Cary Williams, the matchup that will garner the most attention from me outside the numbers. I think the presence of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner will be the most important aspect of our defensive game plan. Although we played a solid game with Kevin Pierre-Louis in place of Wagner against Carolina, it will help greatly to have Wagner back to lock down the middle of the field.

No team may have lost more over one offseason than the San Francisco 49ers did over this past offseason, especially on the defensive side of the football. It is hard to believe that only two defensive starters from the 49ers 2012 NFC Championship team, linebackers Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman, remain on the roster. Over the course of the last 10 months the 49ers released outside linebacker Aldon Smith after a series of run-ins with the law. They also lost nose tackle Justin Smith and middle linebacker Patrick Willis to retirement. To make matters even worse the man they drafted last season to be the heir apparent to Willis, Chris Borland, also retired due to future health concerns. The loss of Borland was particularly unfortunate because he was a tackling machine in place of the injured Willis a season ago.

This season San Francisco has allowed an average of just about 27 points per game, a number that greatly correlates to the 49ers record thus far. The 49ers linebacker corps will have my full attention as they sport the two leading tacklers on the team in Bowman and Michael Wilhoite. However given the below-average pass protection Russell Wilson has received this season my 49ers X-Factor spotlight goes to the man most effective at getting to the quarterback. My X-Factor Player to Watch this week is outside linebacker Aaron Lynch. Lynch has recorded 3 sacks this season; a third of San Francisco’s total and all three coming at Levi’s Stadium. Lynch is also coming off his most productive day in coverage, recording a season high 5 tackles and one pass defensed this past Sunday. Keep an eye on how left tackle Russell Okung handles Lynch on the outside.

Random Thoughts: No word yet on the Seahawks uniform combination but do we have 5 road games remaining. We will don college navy for one of those games (Dallas). With two opportunities to wear wolf grey still available to us, that means there is a 50/50 chance we wear wolf grey in San Francisco. It’s basic math, people. The 49ers have elected not to wear their new all-black alternate uniform for this game. Instead they will wear their traditional look of red jerseys and gold pants… Jim Nantz and Phil Simms have the call on the NFL Network/CBS simulcast with Tracy Wolfson covering the sidelines… The referee this week is Walt Anderson… Thursday will be an incredibly hectic and exciting day. I’m looking at a 4am wakeup call followed by a 7am flight to San Francisco which gets me into the Bay Area around 9 or 9:30am. Then comes a 4-hour window before the parking lots open at Levi’s Stadium. Tailgate will begin shortly after 1:30 then the game at 5:30. Then back to San Francisco after the game for the rest of the weekend… Should have waited to pull the trigger on tickets on Stubhub. I can’t believe prices have dropped as much as they have since the season started… I’ll be satisfied with at least two visits to In-N-Out Burger over the next 4 days… I love flying into SFO. The airport runway setup right off of the bay is unlike any other city I have flown into… Here is my history of being heckled at 49ers home games. In 2011 one drunken 49ers fan tried to sit on my lap and as he walked away he screamed “SEATTLE SEAHAWKS GINGER FRO” in reference to my incredibly long red hair. In 2012 I posed for a picture during a timeout and someone sitting above me in my section screamed “ginger on three! One, two, three!” In 2013 after posing for a picture a 49ers fan sitting a few rows above me threw a sandwich in my direction. It hit a 49ers fan sitting about 4 rows below me and he looked back and made eye contact with me. Because I was wearing Seahawks paraphernalia, he assumed I was the one responsible for the sandwich being thrown. He probably wanted to get security involved but the people around me seemingly convinced him I was not to blame. Granted all these incidents happened at Candlestick Park, but I have heard (and seen on Deadspin) that the Candlestick crowds make the drive down to Santa Clara every week. Hopefully the people around us are nice. I hope my friends and I are not the subjects of harassment. As long as we stay in our own lane and root for the Seahawks only, we should be fine.

Prediction: Due to the incredible sense of urgency after back-to-back devastating losses, I believe the Seahawks will come out with a vengeance. Marshawn Lynch will run for a touchdown and Russell Wilson will both throw a touchdown and run one in from inside the redzone. The Seahawks defense will play an air-tight game, allowing only one 49ers touchdown. The Seahawks will come home 3-4 and will have an extra couple days off before we get started on the Dallas Cowboys.

Seahawks 27, 49ers 13

Programming Note: I will be leaving my computer in Seattle so I will not be able to post my game review until I get home. Look for my 49ers review either late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

My Weekend in San Francisco 2013

12 Dec
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From left to right: Eric, Grant, Jeff, James

Saturday: My friends James and Grant and I arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport shortly before 8am. As I passed through security I encountered the most interesting set of TSA officers I have ever had the pleasure to deal with.  First, the officer who checked my boarding pass and driver’s license noticed my Seahawks hat and Seahawks coat and when she saw that my destination was San Francisco she knew I was heading to the game. Upon highlighting my boarding pass and sending me over to the security checkpoint she said to me “make sure the Seahawks kick their ass” to which I smiled and assured her I’d let them know where I was from. Second, after going through the screener, the officer who waved me through was probably the most attractive TSA official I have ever encountered. Lastly as I was scrambling to get all of my personal effects off of the conveyer belt, a third TSA agent jokingly gave me a hard time about how flustered I seemed based on how fast I was trying to get my things and get out of the way. It was certainly the coolest airport security experience I have ever been through.

After passing through security I grabbed breakfast and we headed towards the gate at the north satellite. Our Alaska Airlines flight was probably the most fun I have ever had on an airplane. Over half of our flight was Seahawks fans heading down for the game and the mood on the flight was excitement with lots of humor and stories being shared around the cabin. About halfway through the flight the flight crew requested at that everybody take out any Seahawks gear they had in the overhead compartments because they wanted to take some pictures of everybody on the plane in their Seahawks gear to post online. This got everybody excited and the flight got really loud. Even the passengers who were not Seahawks fans going to the game seemed to have a fun time or at least I assume so because nobody complained.

Our first stop upon arrival In San Francisco was lunch at In-N-Out burger which was conveniently about a half a mile south of the airport and was directly across the highway from our hotel. We definitely hit the lunch time rush because the entire parking lot was full along with a drive thru line about 20-25 cars long, almost stretching all the way across the parking lot and into the street. In-N-Out is customary to be a tradition upon all of my visits to California and this burger really hit the spot, keeping all of us full and satisfied until dinner time. After lunch we headed across the highway to our hotel, the Crowne Plaza in Burlingame, and checked in but not before being confused by the roads surrounding the hotel, making numerous wrong turns and detours. I dropped my luggage off at my room overlooking the southeast and relaxed for a couple of hours, allowing me to charge my phone and tour the hotel along with the amenities it offered. After this brief rest it was time to head downtown to the ultra-touristy part of San Francisco, the Embarcadero and Pier 39.

We got downtown with about an hour of sunlight left in the day. This allowed us to take pictures of the surrounding views from the back of Pier 39 such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, and various buildings in downtown San Francisco. I definitely came downtown underdressed as the cool breeze from the water added with the chilly air temperature made it feel absolutely freezing. A knit hat would have done a much better job keeping me warm than a visor. Oh well. Let me say this about pier 39, it can be fun to peruse but you run out of things to do and see very quickly. After looking through a few shops and grabbing an utterly terrible cup of coffee from a Mrs. Fields cookie stand, we decided to stand at the front of the pier where a large contingent of Seahawks fans were meeting for a “takeover of San Francisco.” This event was hyped on Facebook but did not really live up to my expectations because there was simply no space inside the Hard Rock Café (the primary meeting place) for all the Seahawks fans to fit. We wound up killing about another 45 minutes of time around Pier 39 before walking north to meet our friend Lauren for dinner at Boudin Bakery.

I was first introduced to Boudin by my friends Josh and Amanda on my trip to San Francisco last October and although I was not a fan of sourdough bread I decided to give Boudin’s sourdough chili bowl the ol’ college try. I was blown away. The chili was amazing and the bread was so fresh and warm that you couldn’t even taste the sourdough flavor that I disliked so much. It was one of my favorite meals on my trip last year so I felt that another visit was in order this year to expose James and Grant to this great restaurant that they too had never visited. After dinner James, Grant, Lauren and I walked through the bitter cold north to Ghirardelli Square. Here we looked through the original Ghirardelli chocolate shop and stopped for James and Grant to split the famous Ghirardelli hot fudge sundae, as Lauren and I enviously watched them devour it. After driving around downtown and dropping Lauren off at home we headed back to the hotel and we decided to head down to the hotel bar to have a drink before calling it a night.

Typically, much like going through security at the airport or your flight experience, having a drink in the hotel bar seems like pretty textbook stuff. You go, you talk, you drink, and you go back to your room. Not on this trip, however. Once again a mundane part of a typical vacation was turned upside down thanks to a group of knucklehead Seahawks fans staying at our hotel. We took a seat in a booth in the hotel bar/restaurant and it took forever to get served by the one server/busser hybrid. Once we got our drinks (and James’s humongous chicken Caesar salad) after a long wait the mayhem really began. The front of the restaurant is lined with glass windows. One end of the front hallway leads to a stairwell and the other end leads towards the elevators and the front desk. All of a sudden we heard some sort of ruckus outside of the restaurant over by the stairwell. Our server and the main bartender ran outside to break up what turned into a fistfight that had been led down the hallway close to the entrance of the restaurant. We turned around to see a struggle between a small group of Seahawks fans and another couple of people. Hotel security is almost immediately on the scene and they make it known that the police have been called. Once the police arrived they started to question each person that was involved in the fight and word started to spread among the guests dining and drinking in the bar that the instigators (the group of Seahawks fans) were going to be arrested, charged with assault, and would spend the night in a San Francisco jail. After about 15 minutes with the police right outside the bar, we decided to close out and head back to our rooms before the scene potentially started to escalate again. It was a really bizarre experience but one we would joke about for the rest of our trip.

I headed back to my room and called it a night. We had a very big day ahead of us on Sunday. My gameday wake-up call was set for 6am.

Sunday: I woke up to a beautiful red sunrise and later we checked out of the hotel and were on our way to the stadium by 8am. What sucks is that we could have afforded to leave a little later than 8. I knew that the parking lot gates to Candlestick Park opened at 9am but with the inevitable traffic that was going to clog the areas around the stadium I was positive that the 9am opening time was simply a plucked time and the gates would be open before 9am. I was dead wrong and it left me scratching my head, flustered, and it required us to figure out how to kill some time. After driving around the outside of the stadium gates we drove through the bad part of San Francisco which neighbors Candlestick Park and we eventually found our way back onto the highway. We drove one exit south and waited in a Radisson hotel parking lot for about a half an hour before making another attempt to park at the stadium. As we were driving south however we saw numerous cars along the shoulder of the highway waiting for 9am to draw closer so they could finish their drive and get into the parking lot. At 9am we headed north on 101 once again and when we got back to Candlestick Park, the parking lot when from a ghost town a half an hour earlier to about halfway full by the time we arrived again. We hit our second snag of the morning when we re-arrived at the stadium. Candlestick Park has three entrances to the main parking lot and each gate had signs stating that the only people allowed to park in the main parking lot were fans that had purchased a pre-paid parking pass through the 49ers. This banished us to the outer gravel parking lots at the “Candlestick recreational area.” After walking back and forth between the car and the RV tailgating lot multiple times (because I forgot the tickets at the car and we could not take any outside alcohol into the Candlestick parking lot (the stupidest rule I have ever encountered on any of my road trips by the way)) we headed to the Northern California Seahawkers “Final Stompin’ at the Stick” tailgate in the northwest corner of the stadium lot. The tailgate was crowded with Seahawks fans but the lack of beer due to the “no-alcohol in the parking lot” rule put a slight damper on my personal pregame plan. Nevertheless I was still excited for the game.

A little more than an hour before kickoff we decided to head into the stadium and made our way to the seats in Section 51, row 1. I sat in the exact same section and row the previous year so I was familiar with how to get to our seats and I had previous familiarity with the view from the inside of the stadium. I will spare details of the game because I’m assuming you already saw it on television but the environment inside the stadium was probably the worst experience I have ever had at Candlestick in regards to the people around me. During a television timeout in the first half, James asked the people sitting behind us if they could take a picture of our group with our backs facing the field. When we posed the entire section booed and cussed at us and one fan through a whole sandwich in our direction. Although the sandwich did not hit any of us, it did hit a 49ers fan seated in the lower part of the bowl about four rows in front of us. The fan continued to look back in my direction for the next few minutes and it was not hard to jump to the conclusion that he thought I had thrown the sandwich just because I was wearing Seahawks gear. He seemed like he wanted to get security involved even though the people next to us and directly behind us signaled to him that we were not the sandwich culprits. Still though, he had a look on his face that he wanted to come up and punch me in the face. I was hit in the head by some other small object when Russell Wilson threw his game-ending interception at the conclusion of the game but it was not big enough of a deal for me to be angry or questioning what had just hit me. Overall the crowd was very hostile and although I stood up and cheered loudly when the Seahawks scored, I felt like it was in my best interest to subdue my cheering to prevent any incidents that could involve me or the rest of the guys I went with. The crowd in San Francisco this year only re-affirms how pleasant other opposing fan bases are to interact with on my previous road trips. Even for a brief moment upon reflecting on the day’s events it crossed my mind that maybe I should not pay another visit to another Seahawks/49ers road game for a few years.

After the game we grabbed one last bite to eat once again at In-N-Out before heading to the airport to conclude our trip. Overall I had a lot of fun on this trip but it is unfortunate we did not get the chance to win the division on our final visit to Candlestick Park. Although the outcome of the game was disappointing, I had lots of fun on another Seahawks road trip with friends and it was definitely a memory making experience.

Gameday In San Francisco

23 Oct

On Thursday I broke a record for the earliest I have woken up on a Seahawks gameday. My previous record of 4:15am was broken by my 3:30am alarm at my house in Wallingford. The only reason why I was up that early is because of my flight to San Francisco the morning of the game. After showering, dressing up in my Seahawks jersey and other attire, and doing some final packing, my roommate Jake gave me a ride to the airport. My flight left at 6:15am and I checked in and got through security with just enough time to grab my Sea-Tac airport signature meal, breakfast from Wendy’s, and head to the gate.

I had never flown Virgin America prior to this trip. I must say I was incredibly impressed with the luxury and the features that came with the flight which included satellite television, a map showing where you were, a full beverage service, and lighting that made every passenger feel like they were sitting in first class. Aaron Levine of Q13 Fox was seated in the front of the plane and before we took off we engaged in a friendly Twitter chat.

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You can see part of the plane’s interior lighting at the bottom of the screen picture just to give you an idea of what it was like on my flight down.

I landed in San Francisco at around 8:30am. After de-boarding the plane I headed for the SFO tram which connected me to the airport BART station. I had never traveled via the BART before and at first I was confused how everything worked from getting your pass to knowing which train to get on and where to get off. After a good half an hour train ride I arrived in downtown San Francisco. I had a hard time figuring out the streets at first but I finally found my hotel after doing about a 4-mile loop walk. After checking in to the hotel I headed down to the Embarcadero (The street that runs along the San Francisco waterfront) and took a walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. I had not been to the Wharf since I went to San Francisco with my dad in 2007 so it was a treat to hang out and see what had changed and what was still the same from 5 years earlier. After taking some pictures and looking through some shops (which included a huge sports apparel/memorabilia store on Pier 39) I had an early lunch at In-N-Out.

After picking up some beer at a downtown Safeway, my friend Josh and I took a cab to Candlestick Park and arrived in the massive parking lot shortly after 2:30pm. After looking around for a group of Seahawks fans, we found a group of 5 Seahawks fans currently living in the Northgate neighborhood of Seattle who had flown down the previous day for the game. One of the guys works in the suites at CenturyLink Field and was in the Red Zone Suites during the Monday Night Miracle in week 3. He showed us a couple pictures of the ESPN broadcast with him in the background. We joked that he got to see himself on television thousands of times in the days following and he agreed while laughing along. Josh and I drank 3 Pyramid Hefeweizen’s and a shot of Crown Royal each (which I struggled with, since all I’ve been drinking recently is Fireball…). I was not heckled much outside the stadium during the tailgate. The only thing possibly worth noting is that a couple of 49ers fans were playing catch and the ball was overthrown and dribbled over towards where we were. The 49er fan chasing after the ball got close and screamed to us “don’t touch it!!” No worries though man, I wouldn’t touch your red and gold ball with a fifty foot pole.

After tailgating for about an hour and a half we decided to head into the stadium. We sat on an aisle with a family of Seahawks fans to our left and friendly San Francisco fans sitting in the row above us. The site from my seats was nostalgic because last season I sat in the exact same spot only one section over to the left. Here is the view from my seats at Candlestick Park; Section 51, Row 1, Seat 3.

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The game got off to a good start but the Seahawks got tired and fell apart in the second half. There were chants of “Seahawks suck!” multiple times in the second half but nothing too bad was said in my direction. The best heckling story I have is when I was having my picture taken at halftime. I knelt down at the staircase in front of our section and as I was getting my picture taken, a 49ers fan in my section screamed “Ginger on three! ONE, TWO, THREE!” Of course I just laughed it off and kept on cheering for the Seahawks. No beers were thrown in my face and no threats of physical harm were sent my way. Most importantly, I was not shot or stabbed as I was leaving the stadium. Great success in staying alive. Of course I was disappointed that we had lost and I did my best not to let it get into my head too badly but I ultimately failed, as I was unable to shake off the loss in order to have a good time for the duration of my trip. We got out of the Candlestick Park parking lot relatively slowly and got back to the hotel pretty late.

Among other stops on my trip to San Francisco was a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square, and we ate at well-known San Francisco restaurants such as Taqueria La Cumbre, Boudin Bakery, and Capurro’s, which was recommended by Coach Carroll during his Seahawks press conference the day before Thursday night’s game. I also had the opportunity to buy a standing-room only ticket for game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday afternoon between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants but I decided to turn the opportunity down.

I flew back to Seattle on Sunday night and it was the shortest flight I have ever been on. We took off from SFO at about 10:45pm and we landed at Sea-Tac at roughly 12:15am Monday morning. I might be flying United more often! After getting a ride back home I unloaded my bags and went to bed, thus ending my long weekend in San Francisco.

Next year is the final season of San Francisco 49ers football at Candlestick Park before they move into their new state-of-the-art stadium in Santa Clara. There is no doubt I will make one last visit to the Stick next season to see the Seahawks play. It will surely be a special trip and hopefully I can make the trip with many of my friends.

Programming Note: Look for my preview of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions most likely on Saturday afternoon. Go Seahawks!

My Weekend in Arizona

12 Sep

Friday: My flight to Phoenix left Seattle at 3:20 Friday afternoon. I was in an aisle seat about 25 rows back and to be honest my flight could have gone a lot better. Let me touch on the one bright spot; there were at least 20 Seahawks fans on my flight and when we started to descend towards Phoenix, most of them started to get riled up. That was a lot of fun to be a part of. Now to the annoying part of my flight. The guy sitting next to me was wearing a Seahawks shirt and Seahawks hat, which was nice. About an hour into our flight while I was listening to music, he wanted to start a conversation about Sunday’s game. I told him about my annual road trip and what my outlook on the game was and he told me about his thoughts. While he was talking I remembered one of my least favorite things about talking to strangers about football; I ALWAYS seem to know more about the game than they do, so I had to listen to amateur analysis that either didn’t make sense or was completely irrelevant. To make things even worse, he was boozing throughout the entire flight. As the drinks went down, the more annoying and belligerent he got. I tried to make it clear I wasn’t in the mood to talk by putting in my headphones but he just would not shut up. The icing on the cake was that he would try to get up to use the lavatory at the most inopportune times including right when the beverage cart was in front of our row, and once the flight landed and everyone seated on the aisle was standing and grabbing for their bags in the overhead storage bins. At least I can say I didn’t have the most frustrating flight, as one of the other guys I traveled with got a condensed life story from an elderly woman he was seated next to.

After getting off the plane we headed for the rental car shuttle. Once we stepped outside it was like walking into a sauna. 90 degree temperatures at 6:00pm is uncomfortable but also add in the smelly Phoenix air and you are miserable, at least to start. I got used to it by the end of the weekend. After getting our car we drove about 20 minutes to Glendale, the site of both University of Phoenix Stadium and our hotel. We checked in to the Glendale Renaissance then drove to In-N-Out Burger for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and I took a self-guided tour of the place. Let me tell you, I have never stayed in a more luxurious hotel than this place. Unfortunately I was only there for the weekend and since we were busy for most of the trip, I was not able to take advantage of any of the amenities the hotel offered which includes a beautiful outdoor pool with bar, state-of-the-art workout room, or the spa.

We then walked around what is called the “Glendale Entertainment District” which includes our hotel, University of Phoenix Stadium, Westgate shopping center, and Jobing.com Arena (home of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes). All of these buildings are within walking distance. We spent the rest of that night at a pub called McFadden’s. If I had to simply describe McFadden’s, imagine if Finn MacCool in the U-District had a baby with a place like Coyote Ugly or Cowgirls Inc. The women are incredibly attractive and the beer is expensive. All in all, the four of us had 12 Guinness’s total which racked up a tab close to $80. To a college aged man, McFadden’s is a place to go drink and observe the people around you. Our bartender may have had the most clothes on of any bartender and she was only wearing a bra-type tank top and shorts that were so short her buns were drooping from the base of them. I’m not going to lie though it was fairly awkward being at a place like that with my dad. This bar became a talking point among the four of us for the duration of our trip because each night we pondered the thought of going back to drink there. When we got back to the room we called it a night. Even though we had landed at 6 at night, we definitely made the most of our first night in Arizona.

Saturday: After pounding a coffee and a cinnamon roll, the four of us headed to downtown Phoenix to tour Chase Field; home of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. We have done a baseball stadium tour for the past three road trips and this one was one of the best. Among the stops, a pool located beyond the right-center fence, the club level, a suite, the visitors’ clubhouse, and the Diamondbacks dugout. After the tour we had an appetizer and beer at TGI Friday’s which is located in the second deck in left field. It is a similar setup to the Hit it Here Café at Safeco Field but because this restaurant is a TGI Friday’s, the food is leaps and bounds better than what is served at the Hit it Here Café.

After leaving downtown Phoenix we headed towards Peoria. I stayed in Peoria for my three trips to Mariners spring training so it was nice to see how the area had changed in the last ten years; the last time I went to Arizona. We killed some time at a mall (the same mall I had bought Pokémon cards at in 1999) before heading over to Buffalo Wild Wings for the Washington Huskies game against LSU. After some bickering (by my dad) about which televisions the Husky game was going to be on, I enjoyed some classic buffalo and spicy garlic wings while watching my Dawgs get pummeled by LSU. We left at halftime because the game was so bad. On the way back to the hotel we stopped to get beer for Sunday morning and to get a poster and pens so I could make a sign for the game.

When I got back to the hotel I made this sign:

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And then I called it a night in preparation for a HUGE day on Sunday.

Sunday: My alarm went off at 6:30am and I was immediately alert with adrenaline flowing through my veins. I pulled back the curtains on the window and witnessed a spectacular view of the stadium and then I turned on NFL Network to watch NFL Gameday Morning. After watching Warren Sapp make his “bold” prediction that the Kansas City Chiefs would beat the Atlanta Falcons 41-0, I took a shower and got in my gameday attire. I went down to the lobby to get another cup of coffee and cinnamon roll, not before I high fived two young girls who were wearing Seahawks jersey’s. The prefunction started in my room at 9:30am. While flipping back and forth between the Colts/Bears game and the Redskins/Saints game, I drank a 6-pack of Bud Light and then at 11:30 we headed across the street to the stadium.

Imagine walking into Costco on a 100+ degree day and walking straight into the frozen produce section in the back corner of the building. That is the only example I can think of when comparing the difference in temperature between outside the stadium and inside the stadium. There was easily a 25 or 30 degree difference and it really hits you once you open the doors and enter the stadium. I held my sign for the duration of pregame warm-ups, hoping FOX would get it on camera to use when the coverage of the game started on TV. Unfortunately I was not informed that my sign made it on TV by any of my friends watching back home so I just assumed all of the work I had put into it came short of my ultimate goal. The Seahawks had a great turn out in Arizona. I had several Hawks fans around me and I saw many 12th Man flags around the lower bowl of the stadium. After the Seahawks ran out of the tunnel, it was the Cardinals turn to be introduced and the building went absolutely crazy. I can easily say that it was the loudest environment I have been a part of on the road. Of course the noise level was not even close to CenturyLink Field, but it definitely came the closest of all the places I have been. Add in 50,000 white rally towels and it felt like a playoff game. The game had its ups and downs. I can’t remember the last time I screamed so loud after Sidney Rice’s touchdown. I wanted to make sure Cardinals fans knew I was there representing the Seahawks. After Braylon Edwards’s dropped pass on 4th and goal, I immediately slipped into a state of frustration, anger, and disbelief. I went back to the hotel and sat in a chair upset while listening to the broadcast of Sunday Night Football. After grabbing another burger at In-N-Out for dinner, I returned to my chair and sulked until I fell asleep about an hour after the Sunday Night game.

Monday: I woke up at 6:30am again in order to get ready, pack up, eat breakfast, and drive to the airport. Because one of our group members was heading to Detroit instead of back to Seattle, we had to get to the airport early because his flight left an hour before ours. I sat at the gate for a little over an hour before boarding my flight and I tried my best to get over the painful loss from the day before and to start focusing on Dallas next weekend. I noticed that there were some media members on my flight home; Ian Furness of Sports Radio KJR sat in the fourth row of first class and the cameramen and production team from Q13 FOX sat three rows behind me. I sat in row 19 by the window. This time around, I sat next to another Seahawks fan returning home but we did not communicate at all. Upon our descent to Seattle, I had a breathtaking view of downtown Seattle. Unfortunately my camera was not working on my phone so I could not get a picture. If I could have taken a picture, I’m confident I would have gotten likes on Facebook that would tally into the 30’s or 40’s haha. I made it home just in time for the Monday Night Football doubleheader and told my roommates all about my great but painful weekend.

I had a ton of fun on this trip. I highly suggest going to Arizona to see the Seahawks play. It is a trip that is easy to make with friends especially if you are staying in the Glendale Entertainment District. I hope my friends and I can put a plan together so I can make that trip once again next season!

Seahawks/Cardinals Preview

7 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

Site: University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

NFL Kickoff weekend is finally here! In week 1, the Seahawks travel to the Arizona desert to take on their division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 14-12. Their most recent matchup was a 23-20 Cardinals overtime win in week 17 last season. I will be in attendance in Arizona this weekend, as I am going on my annual Seahawks road trip. The Seahawks must get off to a hot start this season to avoid falling into a hole early like they did last season. Here is what I will be focusing on this weekend in Arizona.

If you predicted at the start of offseason activities that the starting quarterback matchup for this game would be Russell Wilson vs. John Skelton you need to go to Las Vegas or go buy a lottery ticket immediately. This is the most intriguing storyline of the game. Russell Wilson beat out Matt Flynn to be the Seahawks starting quarterback and John Skelton beat out $63 million man Kevin Kolb after Skelton led the Cardinals to a 5-2 record in their final 7 games last season and had a fairly better preseason performance than Kolb. I am very nervous about how Wilson handles the pressure being his first ever meaningful NFL start. I expect to see a considerable amount of scrambling and quarterback rushes on Sunday. All may not be productive but I can see Wilson breaking away from the Cardinals defense for a couple runs of at least 10-15 yards. John Skelton is the better option at quarterback for Arizona which is disappointing for me because we have a better chance to win if Kolb is the quarterback in my opinion. If Skelton has time to throw he can be dangerous. It will be huge for our defense if we can put immense pressure on Skelton all game long. All in all, I believe the Seahawks have the advantage at quarterback. Although Wilson is a rookie, he has shown unbelievable poise and has a demeanor that rivals very great quarterback in the league.

Earlier in the week news broke that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been dealing with back spasms and is a question mark for Sunday’s game. Although Lynch is a big factor in our offensive gameplan, I believe Robert Turbin, Leon Washington, and even Kregg Lumpkin are fully capable of keeping our running attack afloat in Arizona. Lynch is a beast but when you have a solid offensive line leading the way, it doesn’t matter who is running the ball. Having said this, I expect to see Lynch play this weekend. On the subject of the offensive line, 7th round rookie J.R. Sweezy is slated to start at right guard this week. Sweezy, who hasn’t played on the offensive side of the ball since pee-wee football, starts in place of incumbent John Moffitt who has been recovering from elbow surgery. Although Moffitt is healthy, Coach Carroll explained that Sweezy has fully earned the opportunity to start because of how well he has picked up the techniques to play along the offensive line.

At wide receiver, the Seahawks will start Braylon Edwards at split end, and Sidney Rice at flanker. Golden Tate has a sprained knee and will not play this week. Doug Baldwin will be back in the slot after missing most of the preseason because of a hamstring procedure. I am excited to see how we use different receivers in different packages. My bold prediction of the game: expect Charly Martin to have at least three catches for 25+ yards.

On defense, Bruce Irvin has a good chance to record multiple sacks this weekend. The Cardinals offensive line is banged up and battered and may be the worst offensive line in the NFL. The Seahawks MUST take advantage of pass rush opportunities. Expect Irvin, Chris Clemons, and Jason Jones all to contribute. Even if we can force John Skelton into bad throws, we have a good chance to create turnovers.

Over the last 8 seasons, the one constant of Arizona Cardinals football has been all-pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. What is amazing to me about Fitzgerald is he makes catches thrown from anybody. No matter how good or bad the Cardinals quarterback is, if the ball is thrown in Fitzgerald’s direction, he will most likely make the catch. In 2 games against the Seahawks last season, Fitzgerald had 14 catches for 213 yards and one touchdown. The secondary has to make sure we lock him down so he doesn’t break away. Although containing Fitzgerald is important, the Seahawks secondary has to make sure to also pay attention to Michael Floyd, the receiver lining up opposite Fitzgerald. Because the Seahawks have one of the best run defenses in the NFL, expect Skelton to throw early and often. A successful pass rush and the Seahawks defense taking advantage of Skelton’s mistakes will put us in a great position to win this game.

On defense, the Cardinals studs are defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback Patrick Peterson. Along with these stars, I am also looking at the steady play of up-and-coming linebacker Daryl Washington. Washington was awarded a six-year contract extension this week, locking up what Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt described as potentially “one of the best linebackers in the conference.”

Random (Trip) Thoughts: My flight for Phoenix leaves Friday afternoon and I plan to head straight to In-N-Out Burger… Other stops tentatively scheduled during my weekend stay in Arizona are a tour of Chase Field (home of the Arizona Diamondbacks), Peoria Sports Complex (spring training home of the Seattle Mariners), and possibly a quick hike up Camelback Mountain. Apparently when you get to the top of the mountain, you get a breathtaking view of downtown Phoenix… I am staying at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale. It is right next to the stadium. Check it out!…

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… My plan is to make a Russell Wilson poster for the game on Sunday. Since I am sitting in the lower bowl, there is a good chance I may get on T.V. If you are watching the game, be on the lookout for me!… I come back Monday evening just in time to watch the back half of Monday Night Football with my roommates… This will be my fourth trip to Arizona. I have not been back since 2002. I am excited to see what has changed in and around the city.

Prediction: Here is my history when seeing the Seahawks play on the road:

2007 (San Francisco) – Seahawks 23, 49ers 3

2009 (Indianapolis) – Colts 34, Seahawks 17

2010 (Denver) – Broncos 31, Seahawks 14

2011 (San Francisco) – 49ers 33, Seahawks 17

2011 (Dallas) – Cowboys 23, Seahawks 13

As a sports fan, there is no worse feeling than to sit at the airport or at the hotel after watching your team lose on the road. Months of planning and hundreds of dollars spent, only to see your team fail. I am absolutely SICK of this feeling. There is no reason why the Seahawks cannot win this game. Expect Russell Wilson to play well but make some mistakes. I believe the defense will be the ones to win this game for us. Like Coach Carroll always preaches, it’s all about the ball. If the Seahawks win the turnover battle, and I believe they will, they will be heading home 1-0. It has been 5 years since I have seen the Seahawks win on the road and I am telling you right now, I predict this personal losing streak will come to an end this weekend.

Seahawks 27, Cardinals 23

I will try to blog from my iPhone this weekend but my posts will be brief. It may be as basic as a picture or a random thought. I hope to have my review post done and published by late Monday night once I get home. If not, look for it on Tuesday afternoon. Thanks for reading everyone. It’s time to get back to football. Go Seahawks!