Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It's starting to feel different around here. How a few moves could signal a new beginning.
Every once in awhile I reflect on life and realize how ridiculously lucky I might be. I was born as a white male in America in 1982 to a middle class family in the Pacific Northwest and I never had to worry about having clothes on my back or getting my next meal. Trust me, I once weighed 360 pound so I only really had to worry about whether or not I would have four or five meals in a given day. "Maybe today it was only four and a half meals. I mean, it was only a 6" sub!"
I mean, sure, I could have been born to a real estate or oil magnate and been set to inherit millions or take over a wealthy business. I could have been born with crazy-good athletic genes that allowed me to become the next Peyton Manning or Sage Rosenfels. Or maybe I could have been born with great curves and piercing eyes to be the next Adrianna Lima. Hey fellas *wink*. But I wasn't born to be anything special, I was just born to be me; a regular middle-class guy with good friends, enough money to get by, and a whole slew of personal problems just like most of us. However, would I ever choose to spin the wheel and test my chances on getting a new life?
Hell no. Do you have any idea how lucky we are? No matter who you are reading this, you get to read stuff on the internet so I am assuming you aren't entirely impoverished or living in a ditch somewhere. If I spun the wheel, then sure I could be living it up in the Hamptons right now, but it's much more likely that I would be one of the 3,000,000,000 people that live on less than $2.50 a day. I spend more than that on Shipping & Handling of a "Mean Weener" Food Fighter action figure because I feel nostalgic one day. And going by the millenniums-old philosophy of "YOLO", then I could be also have ended up being any one of the trillions of people to have ever lived. I could have been the original Encino Man. Or worse, Pauly Shore. Or even lower than that, the person that has to clean Pauly Shore's hotel rooms.
But I wasn't any of those things. For whatever reason, I wound up being me and you wound up being you. Most likely, you and I share very little in common in terms of genes and relatives and friends and personal experiences. You may have known what it is like to have a flat stomach, or to have many girlfriends, or maybe you've never woken up in a pool of your own vomit in a strangers closet. We have our differences. But it is also very likely that by the miracle of chance we do have one thing in common, and that is a love of the Seattle Seahawks and very likely, all of Seattle sports. For that reason, we share a certain bond that no outsider could ever understand.
Being a Seattle sports fan isn't like two people who order the same flavor ice cream at a Cold Stone. It isn't like being two people that enjoy watching JAG, though we can assume they are both retired and bored out of their minds. But the bond isn't like being the same age as another person or even from the same city as another person. I am from Bellevue but I wasn't rich. I went to a school that was basically divided between the kids whose parents made $40,000 a year and $400,000 a year. It was that extreme. But being a Seattle sports fan is an experience where we all know the cost and reward of the last 30+ years of rooting for these teams.
High cost, hardly any reward.
Well, reward-dependent-upon-attitude, I suppose. You could see it as a blessing that you have teams to root for at all. Not just because you live in America, but because you live in a part of the country that has an accessible team. There are 32 NFL teams in just 23 states. Less than half of the United States of America have a football team, which is either good or bad depending upon if you give a shit and I'm certain that many don't, but for me I feel lucky to have grown up so close to a few professional sports teams and not in the middle of South Dakota. On the other hand, if I had been born in the middle of BFE, I might just care more about shootin' ducks that football or baseball. Either way, I'd still have zero Super Bowl championships to root for.
And there's the rub. It's all fine and dandy to be the guy or girl that sees the bright side to anything and everything -- like pointing out that even if Persons Unknown was the worst show ever, it's not like you had to hide your kids and hide your wife cause it wasn't sexually assaulting everybody up in here -- but then again we still have to accept the reality of our reality. Yes, I feel lucky to be Kenneth Arthur and there are billions of other lives that would not be as privileged as mine, but still I am a fan of Seattle sports and damn that is about one of the least gratifying sports fandoms there have been in the modern era. The Mariners have gone to the playoffs four times in 36 years and have a core belief that Raul Ibanez is going to do something. The Seahawks have made the playoffs a more respectable 11 times in 37 years, but we must remember that it is easier to make the NFL playoffs than it has been to make the MLB playoffs. And then of course the Sonics won an NBA championship so long ago that literally Larry Bird was not in the league yet and then they flew the coup for Oklahoma City.
If you're a Huskies fan of a certain age, then at least you got to enjoy something truly rare for any town when UW won the 1991 National Championship in football. I mean, as a Cougars fan, and I say this without a hint of irony, I have absolutely no doubt that I will die without seeing Wazzu win a championship in football or basketball. It's simply too hard for most any college to pull off, but the Dawgs did it. I'm not sure I would expect it to ever happen again, but it did happen.
I know that it's old hat, that Seattle is a sad-sack sports town that has die-hard fans and nothing to show for it, but it's still the only identity that I know. However, I find myself conflicted with this identity recently and unable to simply accept that these ne'er-do-well's will continue to never do well. With certain recent developments and a reflection of what "recent" really means, I can't help but wonder if this is just the beginning of something amazing for this sports town. If we are willing to accept that we never have to accept any stigma, get ready because I do believe in something better. I believe that the wait might just pay off. And it starts with the most recent news: The Kings are moving to Seattle and becoming the Sonics to start the 2013-14 season. Ho-ly shit.
I can understand why a person would have mixed feelings about this whole NBA relocation business. Rooting for Seattle to get the Kings is sort of like being in the afterlife and rooting for your kids to die because you get to talk to them again and you're lonely. "Oh God, I hope Johnny doesn't pull out of this coma!" You'd like to have had a team evaporate out of thin air but that's just not the nature of business, which is a perfectly acceptable reason to hate the business and never watch professional basketball again if you so choose, but it is the truth. When the Sonics were taken, all I knew was that I didn't want them to go. I sent Liam Neeson to get them back and even that was to no avail. It was very apparent though that the team as we knew them were never coming back and so the next step was either acceptance or wanting a new team. It's unfortunate that Sacramento had to lose their team but that's not the fans fault, it's not Seattle's fault, and it's not Chris Hansen's fault. It's the financial fault of the Maloof brothers and for whatever reason, their decision to sell out of the market to an investor that never hid for a second what his intention was.
When the Sonics left, my interest in the NBA immediately waned and over the last few years I made fruitless efforts to care about teams like the Blazers or Clippers but I just can't. I want to say "Too bad, because the Clippers are really good" but no. That is simply not something I can do. I don't root for just any team, I root for my team and even though I live in Los Angeles it doesn't matter. Whether I live in LA, Bangkok, or the top of the Earth, I don't just root for teams, I root for my home and that will always be Seattle. And frankly the Top of the Earth just doesn't have very much talent. So like a rom-com where the guy leaves the girl and meets another girl but then at the end of the movie goes back to the original girl and says, "It's you. It was always you." so goes my heart for the Sonics. I mean, we've all had those moments where two girls, one of which is Anna Faris and the other of which is Amy Smart, both want us, right guys? Hello? Guys?
So yes, I am excited to have the NBA back in Seattle and I am very hopeful about the potential of that team to become something great. We have fans that are going to sellout games immediately, even in the Key Arena, which last I heard had been overtaken by wolves. We'll get those wild beasts out of there, kick out the vagrants and vagabonds, and setup a few Auntie Anne's and be crackin' in no time. There are already a few high-profile names being kicked around for the front office, and excitement levels for the team have every right to be high. I also expect the league to rig the lottery to give Seattle the number one pick since they owe us and since they rig that thing. So get ready for Cody Zeller?
However, my excitement for our city goes beyond just the return of the Sonics. I think that the Seahawks bright future should be obvious to you and there's not much point in delving too deeply into that, but here's what you already know:
- An exciting rookie franchise quarterback, really for the first time in franchise history.
- A general manager that really just seems to know the fuck out of what he is doing.
- A defense with more swagger and confidence than a baby made half out of Ryan Gosling and half out of Channing Tatum.
- Very likely the best team in franchise history in 2012, is also one of the youngest in the league and losing very little to free agency and likely adding very much in the draft and I expect some excellent wheeling and dealing because of that Schneider guy.
Basically at this point, failure to get a ring in the next 3-5 years would be more stunning than actually getting a ring. That might sound nuts but would it sound nuts if it was the exact same organization but called the Green Bay Packers? Because they are that good right now at this moment.
On top of the return of the NBA and the incredible-looking present and near-future of the Seahawks, there is the potential addition of an NHL team to this city. The biggest block between Seattle and a professional hockey team is an arena. There were already some people that wanted an NHL team to be in the area. Well, the arena is coming and it's coming relatively soon. I don't know much about hockey but I attribute that mostly to what I had said before, that I root for my home and not necessarily for any team. We didn't have a hockey team in my home, but now I have some interest if and when that team comes to Seattle. And hey, there's got to be at least eight years before the next lockout threatens to cancel another season, right!?
Finally, there's the Mariners.
Well, that wraps up this post on how excited I am for Seattle sports right now.
No, seriously, here is the thing with the Mariners. There are some legitimate questions to be made right now about the ability of GM Jack Zduriencik to generally manage this team to a World Series. Which should come as very little surprise to anyone that follows baseball, because nobody in the history of the organization has helped this team get to a World Series. But this one might hurt a little more because we haven't trusted someone in charge as much as we trust Jack in a very long time. He pulled off some amazing trades but then has also made some amazing blunders and questionable moves that even make Bill Bavasi scratch his bald head every now and then. (This is an exaggeration. Bavasi is literally the worst GM in the history of anything.) But Jack has done some questionable things. What he hasn't been questionable in however is the development of what might be the best farm system in baseball.
Yep, I am hopeful for the Seattle Mariners too. Why? Because as long as Jack Z doesn't screw it up, the M's have perhaps the best collection of talent on the cusp of the majors as any team in baseball. It's not going to happen in 2013, which is why they will take a backseat to the Seahawks, the Sonics, and maybe even the rumors of a hockey team. But in 2014 and 2015, I think that there is a solid opportunity for the Mariners to be playoff contenders and in baseball the only thing that matters is making the playoffs.
Seriously, you play 162 freaking games and then decide a champion on a few short series.
Things are looking so bright for this town that I can even see the bright side for the Mariners. I don't think that we have to accept mediocrity anymore. In fact, I don't think we even have to expect it. There's something better coming for Seattle. This city is like Ben Affleck and it's reputation for being a loser is like Boston in the movie The Town and Seattle is saying, "I'm putting this whole town in my rear view" as it goes for the Oscar okay this analogy is way too complicated. What isn't complicated is seeing why there might have been a karmic flip switched at some point. The teams are coming in, rather than going out. The Seahawks are opening a window, rather than closing the door. I believe that Seattleites are smart people. I believe that some of the brightest minds come from the Pacific Northwest and reside there. I think that is part of what makes us who we are, even down to the personality of our sports teams, and I hope that it starts a whole new era of Seattle athletics.
We're lucky. Not just to be alive and not just to have a roof over our heads and several meals throughout the day. We're lucky to be fans of Seattle sports. It's just starting to get good.