Is it just me, or is it hard to be a Seattle sports fan right now? I think we all know the answer. Let's take a quick look at what has happened.
The one constant that Seattle has been able to count on over the last few years is football. The Seattle Seahawks have been dominant in the "mighty" NFC West. Shoot, they even got us to the Super Bowl. Of course, all we get to say here in Seattle is "almost."
The Sonics were on their way up. Nate McMillan had the team headed in the right direction, then he bolted for Portland. So what happens, Howard Schultz sells the team to a guy in Oklahoma who wants a pro basketball team in Oklahoma, but Schultz believes that Clayton Bennett will keep the team in Seattle.
Then there's the Mariners...1995 marks the turning point for the franchise. The M's chased down the Angels and made the playoffs for the first time ever. They made the playoffs a couple more times in the '90s, then tie the single season record for wins with 116 in 2001. They made it to the ALCS a couple times. They even had Lou Piniella, who can draw some fans by himself. But, the team went down from there. Bob Melvin didn't work out, Mike Hargrove started to, then left the team, then McLaren didn't work. The M's were supposed to compete this year. They went out and got pitching and put themselves in a position to really compete this year.
I have to throw some love to the college football teams as well. The Huskies had things going well in the early '90s and throughout the '90s (except for the NCAA sanctions). Neuheisel got the team going with a Rose Bowl win, then he bet in a basketball pool (just like the rest of us), and got chased out of Seattle. Then the Washington State Cougars: well, you never know with them. They can surprise you, but they usually disappoint. Personally, I'm a Husky, but I like to see Washington schools do well.
So why are things looking up in Seattle? When you're at the bottom, there's nowhere else to look. The Sonics are gone. Apparently Clayton Bennett wasn't kidding when he made it known he'd like a team in Oklahoma City. And how can we blame him? Like it or not, he did try to find a solution, even if it wasn't a good solution. But then he goes and adds insult to injury. He calls the team "Thunder." A name possibly borrowed from the Seahawks band (Blue THUNDER) and/or our minor league hockey team (THUNDERbirds). Sure they might have thunder storms in OK, but I like my idea better.
The Mariners disappointed everyone with their pitching, but the offense didn't show up like many of you probably predicted. What's worse? Poor Felix Hernandez. He's going to get chased right out of town without any run support. How many games has he pitched in which the team didn't score any runs? I would tell you, but I can't count that high. At least we've had Ichiro and soon to be free agent Raul Ibanez. Ibanez has been big this year. So the M's will probably sign him to a huge deal and he'll probably have a freak injury happen to him next year.
And the Seahawks, our lighthouse of hope. Everything was primed for a huge season, Mike Holmgren's last. The 'hawks would start off strong and then get better with the return on Deion Branch. We need him more than ever right now, especially with six receivers being injured. The need for Branch to return is bigger than ever. But how healthy will he be coming back? The 'hawks almost need to re-sign Shaun Alexander and move Julius Jones to receiver. Hasselbeck needs someone to throw to. I hope things get going for the last ray of hope.
Then there's the college scene. The Huskies are no good. Jake Locker still has a lot to learn and he will be a star. They are a young team and I hope Tyrone Willingham gets the chance to keep working with the team. He had to do a lot more at the U-Dub than just coach football; he had to clean things up. As for Wazzu, things are going to be hard for them. It's going to take some time. They might win the Apple Cup though.
It's hard to be a Seattle sports fan right now. In times like these, fair-weather fans don't seem to get as much criticism as when the teams are doing well. They actually look like the smart ones. But I will continue to root on my teams. I may be disappointed a lot. But, you know what? It really is just a game.
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