As anybody who knows me already knows, I’m a big fan of my hometown teams…. Seahawks, Mariners, Supersonics, and even the Washington Husky teams. And while every team has its ups and downs that fans must contend with, the downright futility of Seattle’s professional teams are well documented.
The Sonics hold Seattle’s only major pro-sports championship, way back in 1979, in the era of Downtown Freddy Brown, Jack Sickma, and Gus Williams. There was the blip of Xavier McDaniel (X-man) in the 80′s, and they had a hot streak in the 90′s with Gary Payton and the Reign Man. But despite mostly mediocre seasons, fans still turned out to Key Arena. And don’t let David Stern tell you otherwise… Key Arena is a great place for fans to watch a basketball game. You’re right on top of the action and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. David Stern used to believe the same. Of course this year, it was painful to watch the Sonics. Clay Bennett has done what he could to put the worst product on the court as possible (final record: 20-62) , perhaps in part to discourage fans from coming and strengthening his case to take the team home to Oklahoma City. So while most NBA fans are paying attention to the Lakers/Celtics series, I’m monitoring the Sonics/Seattle federal trial along with other fans to see if the only major Seattle team with a championship leaves. Yes, I know the Seattle Storm won the WNBA title, but that’s not the same.
How about the Mariners? I’ve followed the M’s from its first year playing in the Kingdome in 1977. I remember watching games from the cheap left field bleachers, when the tickets cost $3.75, and listening to Dave Niehaus’ play-by-play on the radio while I was doing yard work growing up. I’ve attended spring training games in Arizona regularly over the last 12 years. And I think I’ve been to every single home playoff game they’ve had (which haven’t been many). The team had two magical years… They won 116 games in 2001. But 1995 remains the miraculous year. They staged a remarkable comeback to tie the Angels and win the West with a one game playoff. And I will always remember the decisive 5th game against the Yankees, and the wide grin on Ken Griffey Junior’s face on the jumbotron as he scored on Edgar Martinez’ 11th inning double to win it. That win probably saved the Mariners in Seattle. But it is telling that an AL Division playoff win is the high point of the franchise. And after a tantalizing season in 2007, I had high hopes this spring for a contending team. But today, on the heals of being swept by the Washington Nationals, the first shoe finally dropped with the Mariners announcing that they’re firing GM Bill Bavasi. It certainly won’t be the first change, since at the current pace of 24-45, the Mariners are on pace for their worst record in their entire history.
So, for me, it’s time to start anticipating the start of the NFL season. No, the Seahawks haven’t won a Superbowl yet (I watched them lose to the Steelers in Superbowl XL). And yes, they finally cut the cord with Shaun Alexander, so the running game will be a question mark. And yes, they had what looked like an unremarkable draft. But it’s another new season, and fortunately for the Seahawks, they are in the hapless NFC West, so they should be contenders again this year. Thank goodness…. I need something to look forward to!
6/19 update: Seattle Mariners just fired manager John McClaren