Seeking answers in an increasingly troubled world gets more difficult by the day, so we have sought out the Portville Panther, the guy who settled a lot of problems back in the day.

Portville Panther has been hibernating since retiring from the Tile Plant (actually the place closed so he had no choice), but he still is the most cleverly adapt rascal on the planet when it comes to dissecting situations and offering solutions.

So here goes:

Sports Paper: The Seahawks are actively shopping veteran safety Earl Thomas around. They are asking a lot for him, but if they get something they like in return, should they trade him?

Portville Panther: Absolutely. Earl is the backbone to what used to be the team’s Legion of Boom. He covered for any mistakes up front and once he established his strong credentials he became almost indispensible. But, and this is important, football is the essence of team sport and no one person can carry a team game-after-game.  So get what you can for Earl and move on. The Seahawks are rebuilding and Earl’s value right now is at its peak, so trade him.

 SP: What about all the coaching changes the Seahawks made. Was that necessary?

PP: Yes. Everybody gets a little too comfortable in their jobs and there is a tendency to get soft over time, and get so you don’t see the big picture and are not willing to innovate. I like to hire people who are dreamers and are willing to risk making change to stir things up. So, yeah, get some new coaching blood in there. Don’t be afraid to make changes. Be different. So it’s a good thing.

SP: We who have had their NCAA basketball bracket busted look at Syracuse and wonder how an 11 seed has reached the Sweet Sixteen. Is the Orange’s success a product of the 2-3 zone Jim Boeheim has become famous for using?

PP: Most assuredly so. Basketball at all levels continues to change. College teams recruit guys now who are tall, have length, and are quick, can handle the ball and move quickly up and down the court besides pounding the boards for rebounds. So there is a lot of emphasis on man-to-man defenses and the transition game. Go, go, go, move it up the court as fast as you can and attack the rim. Everybody is going that way – except for one. Using that zone against the all the trends in basketball means teams that face the Orange are in for mystery and some trouble because it’s not something they see. So the Orange have an advantage and have used it to reach the field of 16.

SP: Washington coach Mike Hopkins served 22 years as an assistant to Boeheim (and also played for him at Syracuse) and has brought the 2-3 zone to Washington and just in his first season has turned the Husky program around. Is it because of the 2-3 Zone?

 PP: Most assuredly so. Washington doesn’t have an effective outside shooter, lacks height inside and yet has won 21 games this year because that zone has disrupted opponents not used to it. The 2-3 zone would not have worked so well for Washington if Hopkins had not moved junior guard Matisse Thybulle out front in the zone. The 6-5 Thybulle has an exceptional 7-foot wing-span and a remarkable instinct to anticipate passes and make steals (UW record 93 this year and another record 196 for his career). To be effective the 2-3 zone is best when you have guys like Thybulle.

SP: Does it appear to you have all three major sports – baseball, basketball, football – have reached a point where major changes in them need to be made if they are to continue?

PP: Not sure what you are getting at, but let’s take each sport and see. Baseball has evolved where now starting pitchers are not used as much in terms of innings or games. In the 1950s and ‘60s, there were a slew of pitchers that worked 200 games and over 200 innings a season. But with each following decade there has been a decline in such pitchers. Money is the basic reason for it. As teams pay more and more for pitchers (Clayton Kershaw’s salary is $32.3 million; Jack Greinke is at $32 million, David Price is at $30 million, but you get the picture) the teams bend backwards to protect them. Thus, you won’t find many pitchers in today’s game throwing complete games. It’s too risky. So teams have worked hard to produce bullpens with guys who throw 100 mph with control. If a starter can go six innings, teams go to the bullpen to close the game out. And it makes perfect sense. Football is struggling to keep its game safe so there are rules to not just protect the quarterback, who is usually the most highly paid, but also players who are defenseless. But it’s a difficult process because each year players are getting stronger, bigger, quicker and faster because of improved nutrition and training methods, which also starts at a very young age, and thus new rules have to be installed to protect the better and better athlete. That is a pyramid that at some point will reach an end with no place else to go. So we’ll see. Basketball player are also getting better and better, but the game has a simple solution unlike football. Just raise the hoop to 11 feet and move the three-point line out another couple feet. That will slow things down.

Ok, enough of this.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.