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Fielding Any Question: A search for truths

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In this new feature, you — the reader — can ask any question of our resident know-it-all, and he will answer it.

MLS: MLS All-Star-Press Conference John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Hi Sounder at Heart readers, I’m Ethan. I’m not exactly new around here, but that doesn’t mean some of you might not know who I am. Over the years I’ve contributed articles such as Aftermatch Aftermath, I’m Not A Doctor But I’ll Fix Your Problems, and Choose Your Own Adventures: Sounders Style. Today, however, I’m here to contribute to something completely different. I’m here to answer your questions.

Something you guys might not know about me is that my brain is a veritable fount of knowledge. For some reason, it prioritizes the memorization of factoids and tidbits, something which was great for getting me through college, but which is not great for when your friends ask your opinion regarding the Transformer movies and you instead walk them through a breakdown of why exactly Michael Bay is a bad director and point out that all of his movies must contain one of each of the following: 1) gun fights, 2) car chases, 3) explosions, and 4) lens flares, even if none of those things make sense given the context of the film. One such example is The Island, which IMDB describes as “a man living in a futuristic sterile colony begins to question his circumscribed existence when his friend is chosen to go to the Island, the last uncontaminated place on earth.” Doesn’t that read like a movie that would contain gun fights, a car chase, explosions, and an amount of lens flare that would make J.J. Abrams blush? For this reason and so many others, dear readers, I am here to answer your questions.

How this works is simple — you ask me a question and I will answer it to the best of my knowledge. If the question is objective and allows for no room for subjectivity, I will answer it objectively. Conversely, if an objective answer does not exist, I will attempt to analytically assess the question to answer it in a manner most befitting of the question asked. Humor me, for but I am a man, but allow me leeway and know that I am, in fact, fallible ... something which haunts me.

Future editions of Fielding Any Question will rely more heavily on you, the reader. Leave any and all questions in the comments, or you can tweet me at any time, using the hashtag #EthanFAQ. (Please ignore all the MAGA twitter bots that follow me, they’re harmless.) Attribution will be given unless anonymity is requested.

With that introduction out of the way, let us begin.

Sounders related questions

Q.

Personally, I thought the coffin-corner kick Alonso did at the end of the most recent Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers match was incredible. It was a kick that showcased Ozzie’s true feelings about Portland, one that showed he cares enough about sportsmanship to return the ball to the opposition in honor of the unwritten rules of the game, but he’ll be damned if he is going to be happy about it or allow Portland to take advantage of his generosity.

If another team did this to the Sounders I would wring my hands and say some nasty things about the other player, but at the same time I would recognize it for the intelligent soccer move that it was. That kick took any probability that the Timbers had at equalizing and brought it near to zero.

Q.

Regarding this answer, there are several things to take under consideration. The first is that Gonzalo Pineda used to play for the Sounders with some of the current players, so he has a unique relationship with them. The second thing to consider is that Spanish is Pineda’s first language, and I presume he speaks it very well.

Throughout his years here in Seattle it is clear that Pineda has developed a fondness for this club and that he is a very passionate man. We saw that as a player and we’ve seen it as a coach. He’s also a very articulate man and conveys a high level of intelligence. Without knowing exactly what happens on the sidelines during games, I have to imagine that Pineda is a staunch defender of those he cares about, whether that’s current players, current coaches, or anything in between which he chooses to defend. When he hears someone saying things that he feels cross the line or if he hears someone say something to Brian Schmetzer or to a player in Spanish, he will jump to their defense.

For example, if Osvaldo Alonso kicks a ball 70 yards on the fly to bounce out for a Portland throw-in deep in Timbers territory and Portland Head Coach Gio Savarese starts going ballistic about the injustice, the audacity, and the unsportsmanlike conduct shown by a Sounders player and the Sounders coach, all in Spanish, Pineda might be quick to point out the hypocrisy contained within such an outburst.

This is all supposition, mind you. I could be way off base. Gonzalo Pineda might emit a specific pheromone that attracts females yet enrages males, I don’t know, I haven’t met the guy.

Q. If you were a soccer announcer, what would be your goal call catchphrase? – LikkitP

I would be pretty simple in my catchphrase; nothing overly extravagant, probably consisting of a clenched fist, a guttural grunt, and jaw-clenched “Yes!” But my job as a soccer announcer would most likely dictate the need for a lack of bias and some impartiality which would frown upon such a one-sided celebration. Because of this need to appeal to both sides, I’d make it unique and wholesome, probably something as simple as “Oh my stars!”

Q. If we make it to MLS Cup for the third time, will you change the spelling of your name to Svensson? – LikkitP

I would most likely not change the spelling of my last name to Svensson if the Sounders made a third consecutive MLS Cup. (I added that qualifier in for you, Likkit.) I base this decision on several factors: 1) I have not already changed my last name despite two consecutive MLS Cup appearances, 2) Swenson is a name handed down to me by my paternal grandfather, who was adopted, and therefore 3) I’m not even Swedish. I’m mostly British, Irish, and Norwegian through genealogy, though in practice the maternal side of my family has been in America since the early 1600s.

Q.

Kim Kee-hee was born on July 13, 1989 within Busan, South Korea. He is a living, breathing human born to another human. Due to his distinction of life, he exists within our physical world, which qualifies him as being. The word “is” defines as a third person singular present of be. So Kim is.

Q.

There are two ways of answering the question of whether Kim Kee-hee can dance like Roman Torres, and it’s quite simple. Does Kim Kee-hee possess the ability to dance like Roman Torres? The answer is yes, he can physically dance like Roman Torres; he has that ability. Can Kim Kee-hee dance as well as Roman Torres? Unlikely. Roman Torres is a good dancer and a master of the “Bunny Hop.” Kim Kee-hee could one day, with practice, perfect all the dance moves Roman Torres has mastered throughout the years, but I doubt the dancing skills of the two defenders are on an equal level at present.

Q.

I have to stipulate a caveat prior to answering this question: I do not know all of the MLS cap and roster rules, as the lack of complete transparency does not paint a complete enough picture for me to answer definitively. I will, however, attempt to answer this question to the best of my current understanding of the rules.

Thankfully, to aid me are some examples of what-to-do and what-not-to-do within recent MLS memory. I’m also running under the assumption that I’m an expansion team.

Step 1: Hire some high quality front office personnel: scouts, coaches, analysts, etc.

Step 2: Invest a lot of money into the academy and start poaching young prospects into my catchment area.

Step 3: Sign a youth DP with a large transfer fee, preferably 8-figures.

Step 4: Repeat step 3.

Step 5: Use my untold sums of GAM and TAM to fill out roster spots with high level talent, both from within the league and from outside the league. This includes trades for proven MLS veterans and transfers for highly skilled players from outside the league.

Step 6: Draft a starter with my #1 overall pick. Since there’s usually less than a handful of quality starters coming into the draft every year, having that #1 overall pick is huge.

Step 7: Use the expansion draft to fill in gaps in talent levels, pick up a starting goalkeeper and/or get some aging veterans who know the league and have had individual success navigating the nuances of MLS.

Step 8: Save my last DP spot for my first in-season summer transfer. This might be the name that changes everything.

Using these steps I can conceivably field a competitive team from Day 1. The new players can use the guidance from MLS veterans to help assist their transition into the league. The first two DPs I brought on board are proven talents from elsewhere in the world. I spend large amounts of money getting them here and the rest of my roster is built to maximize the opportunities to leverage the best of their abilities. I also would need a coach who has a proven track record of success, especially with young, technical players. I do not want coach who has a track record of failures.

Through these steps we could conceivably find an avenue for early success, but building up a robust academy is the most efficient way to maximize league inefficiencies. Having homegrown players on your roster is a huge advantage, especially with some recent rule changes. These academy players might not provide dividends for several years down the line, but the investment is worth it.

Q.

See all those W’s in “Why” and “Writing”? Count them up. Did you get seven W’s? One for each Win in the Sounders current Win streak! WWWWWWWhy there’s your answwwwwwwer right there. Howwwwwww wwwwwwwonderful.

Q. Who would be your top 5 Sounders in your “trust fall” group and why? – LikkitP

Without hesitation my first answers are Chad Marshall and Stefan Frei. Those two men have proven time and time again that they are worthy of trust. Next up would be Cristian Roldan. I’ve met this man and he’s a joy and someone you immediately feel a certain level of comfort toward. I also feel like Roman Torres would be someone who would never want to disappoint anybody, and therefore would never renege on a trust fall.

My last choice would be Bryan Meredith, because that man understands the pain of being left hanging.

(Ed. Note: The following three questions deal with the status of Clint Dempsey. These were rendered moot by his Aug. 29 retirement announcement. For the sake of honoring the legend of Deuce, we considered omitting these questions and their corresponding answers, all of which were written before the news came out. Instead, we’re publishing them in their unedited form with the hope that they give a glimpse into what we as fans went through during these most recent weeks.)

Q.

It has been reported that Clint Dempsey has an issue with his back which is limiting his ability to participate. It is unclear when this injury occurred, but it must have happened after his most recent appearance against San Jose Earthquakes.

Q.

It has been established that Clint Dempsey’s contract expires after this season, and it would not surprise me if he retired once the season is over. The man is 35, he has several young children, and he enjoys his leisure time, so I’m anticipating that his well-storied career will come to an end.

Q. What is going on with Dempsey? I’ve been distracted by the World Cup, moving my family to Amsterdam, and having a 14-month-old child in a foreign country while setting up a house, bank, and other crap that goes with being an expat. I genuinely have no idea what’s going on, why he’s not playing, or why he’s even in the bench. – Chris Tobin

If I was terse with the first few answers, it was because I wanted to address it fully here, using this as my catch-all answer. As stated above, the answer we’ve been given is that Clint Dempsey has a back injury. That’s the diplomatic answer, and I don’t know how true it actually is. Tactically, Clint Dempsey doesn’t seem to fit with the style Brian Schmetzer wants the Sounders to play. He doesn’t press, he doesn’t move all over the field, and because of this rooted nature of his play, it restricts the Sounders’ ability offensively. For all we know, the reason behind Dempsey’s extended absence is that he might not be good enough to start for the Sounders, might be unwilling to be a super-sub, and the injury is a means for Dempsey to save face.

I don’t know the answer definitively, and this is all just my opinion, which is an important distinction. Earlier this week, Brian Schmetzer went on KJR and when asked on whether we will see Clint Dempsey again this season, he said the following, “That’s something we’re working through … If it doesn’t [work out], then we’ll send him off in the right fashion.” (Credit to Jackson Felts @JacksonKJR)

The Sounders weren’t winning games and twenty games into the season were barely averaging a point per match. Clint Dempsey wasn’t a solution. Whatever your thoughts on the matter, Seattle isn’t a market that tolerates mediocrity regarding their soccer, so just hoping that Clint Dempsey can flip that switch and be a player to tactically build around seemed to be folly. Brian Schmetzer had to act and he did.

It’s just hard to see this stalwart American superstar go from scoring 12 goals as a 34-year-old to a guy who can’t score one year later. Though there’s something funny to me personally to think that his last professional minutes might very well be that open-goal midfield shot against San Jose that hit the post.

We shall see.

But congrats on the move and I hope everything is going great in Tobin-land (also known as The Netherlands (also known as Holland)).

Non-Sounders related questions

Q. Which D&D race would make the best soccer players? Does this vary by position? – Dave Clark

Speed matters and it’s one of the constraints within D&D that makes quantifying real-life cross-application difficult. The standard movement for most D&D races is 30 feet per round, with a round being a 6-second increment. This translates to roughly 3.4 MPH, but that’s walking. Standard 5th edition rules included something called the Dash action in which a character can double their movement speed for a round, so 6.8 MPH. Back in 3.5 edition, a character could quadruple move for a short period of time, which would get a creature up to 13.6 MPH. You cannot quadruple move in 5th edition, at least not without aids such as spells or other magical abilities.

Now 13.6 MPH is fast. It translates into a 4 and a half minute mile, which is nothing to sneeze at. As a sprint, however, it’s not fast, at least not otherworldly. 6.8 MPH is significantly slower and would be detrimental to any soccer player, except for a goalkeeper. Because of this, I could not recommend any race play soccer, except for as the aforementioned goalkeeper, so maybe Dragonborn since they are the tallest core race.

None of this directly answers your questions, though. I think if we weren’t attempting to insert D&D characters in the real world and instead inserted soccer into a D&D world, we’d come up with something completely different, and I don’t think the answer varies by position. There are some races with the standard 30 foot movement: Human, Elf, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Tiefling, and Dragonborn. The rest: Gnome, Halfling, and Dwarf, have 25 foot movement, so they have a distinct speed disadvantage. For those reasons, and their lack of height, I’d eliminate the final three from contention of the “best soccer players” distinction. The rest have advantages that the others don’t possess, but I feel like an Elf’s Darkvision and Perception bonus is a better advantage than those of other races.

Q. How come cyberpunk and other near-future novels don’t have sports? – Dave Clark

I think this answer could come down to numerous “author’s choices,” where it could be as simple as everybody is too busy attempting to survive their daily lives that they can’t devote the time necessary to play sports, or something as complex as the human psyche has evolved beyond the need for such physical senselessness when we can watch robots do the same while plugging into a virtual reality world where we could perform sports instead with our avatars. But if you recall in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, there was a scene on Coruscant where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anikan Skywalker enter a bar and on one of the viewscreens is a robotic version of American football. However, Star Wars is a historical documentary, not a cyberpunk or near-future setting, so the comparison is not wholly apt.

Q. If there was a soccer move/maneuver called “The Swenson” what would it be? – Jacob Sweeney-Samuelson

It would probably look similar to someone attempting something like a Rabona or the Cruyff but failing halfway through and making a Frankenstein version of a slew of other failed moves. Would it work? Perhaps. Would it look good? Goodness, no.

Q. If you could put Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games in any other book/movie, which would you choose? – Susie Rantz

I feel like that poor girl needs a chance at a normal life, so maybe something in a contemporary setting, although as I think more and more about this, I keep coming back to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. As a Bennet sister, she would be afforded the ability to pursue her own desires, while allowing her to be true to herself, a luxury that was not afforded to a lot of women at that time.

Q. What do you think happened to Hank Scorpio after he seized the east coast? – Jacob Cristobal

Details are vague regarding Hank Scorpio post-East Coast seizure, though we do know that his Project Arcturus was successful. That particular detail is telling and could potentially forecast the future of the celebrated philanthropist, as Project Arcturus was a rather nasty piece of work. However, it wasn’t merely Hank Scorpio’s goal to rule a large swath of land east of the Appalachians, instead the man wanted to rule the entire world. Later on though, there was a rumor that Hank was seen in a Turkish prison, a prison from which he escaped. His whereabouts are unknown at this time.

Q.

My first three-part question! I’ll answer these separately.

The gifs in question most likely reference Aftermatch Aftermath. Unfortunately, they are probably never to return. The internet strayed away from .gif format a while ago, for the most part, at least when it comes to quality gifs, and it was this format that I was able to utilize in the articles. Other gif formats were too cumbersome or unyielding to the point it bogged down the ability for some users to even load the articles. In addition, I was spending more and more time each week attempting to find gifs I might be able to use, and the pickings became slimmer and slimmer, especially once I’d been doing the same thing weekly for years. It was becoming stale to me, and writing each article was a chore instead of a delight. I was also finding it increasingly more difficult each week to devote the hours it would take to create one article and began to feel like I was mailing it in. So with a whimper, I stopped.

I think you look incredible in blue. You really wear it well, though it’s important to note that the photos of you in green are few and far between (read: I haven’t found one yet), so I can’t answer this one way or another. But saying that, I think blue is your color.

Writing a limerick is not easy,

At least clean; it’s easier sleazy.

But when put on the spot,

It’s more often than naught,

I can write one that will appease thee.

Q. What is the best cider? – Jacob Landsberg

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not the biggest cider fan and that other people have varying tastes, but I’m partial to Strongbow cider. But like whatever you like, there’s no judgments here. Also, Ace Pineapple Cider is legit.

Q.

I feel like I’m in a good work situation and my boss has definitely helped facilitate this, allowing me the freedom to work how I like to work, all the while making my boss look as good as possible. Also, he’s ridiculously handsome, has an excellent sense of style, and I feel like I finally have a peer in those areas, Which, as a competitive person, I thought would be a problem, but instead it’s refreshing. He makes it seem so natural that it helps me relax my high standards for myself. I fully intend to let myself go now, all thanks to him.

Q. Who is the worst boss ever and why is it Realio? – Spenser Davis

Realio is the worst boss ever because I feel like it would be in his power to get me paid a ludicrous amount of money, yet here I am not making a million dollars a year. That’s pretty messed up when you think about it. Like, if you had the power to do that for someone, wouldn’t you hook them up like that?

Q. Is this a great FAQ or The Greatest FAQ? – Mike Russell

I’d say this is a perfectly acceptable FAQ. The questions were fantastic and I can only imagine what the future holds.

Q. What is the meaning of life? – Jacob Landsberg

Be true to yourself. Find your passions and pursue them. Live your dreams. If you want to be an accountant, go be the best accountant you can be. If you want to be a lawyer, go be the best lawyer you can be. If you want to live in Oregon while being an accountant and a lawyer ... well, I mean, that’s weird, but you do you.