The past year has played out like a nightmare for sports fans in the Puget Sound. All major sports teams failed in varying styles. In fact, the failure of Seattle teams has even garnered national attention from ESPN. Perhaps its fans wallowing in their own self misery, but maybe it was something to pay attention to. How can all major teams fall flat in the same year? I see it as a perfect storm which no one could see coming. Lets take a look back.
07/08 UW Mens Basketball:
This might have been the brightest spot of all the major Seattle sports. However, their season was at best mediocre. The season started out promising going 9-4 in non-conference play, however, their disappointing Pac-10 play killed any hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament. People were expecting some players like Justin Dentmon and Quincy Pondexter to step up and become dependable starters, they disappointed with their inconsistent play. Ryan Appleby was the team’s only threat from the outside and was eventually guarded as such until he was throwing up prayers from thirty feet. Jon Brockman was the team, his hustle and hard work led the Huskies. Without him, the team was a gutless morass of ineptitude. The one real bright spot during the season was an upset of national power UCLA. That was as good as it got for Seattle fans. The season ended with a first round exit to Cal in the Pac-10 tournament and an embarrassing loss to Valparaiso in the College Basketball Invitational which is the tournament for the teams who didn’t get into the NIT. Some consolation.
2008 Seattle Supersonics:
Personally, this was the most heartbreaking part of 2008. While watching the end of the 07/08 season, I still held out hope there could be some way for the team to stay in the Northwest. But the whole ordeal was tortuous, knowing the team would inevitably leave. The Mariners are my favorite team now, but the Sonics were my first love when I discovered sports. Watching the trio of Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, and Detlef Schrempf play was simply magic. Unfortunately, those players are long gone and the 2008 team played like the move to Oklahoma City was hanging over them, on top of them already being awful. I remember the day the team officially moved, it was simply one of the worst days I’ve ever experienced as a sports fan. Its hard to describe the feeling. Some people compared it to losing a loved one, others compared it to a divorce. I don’t know about those but I know I don’t want to feel that again. I and many other fans are still recovering from pain Clay Bennett and his cronies inflicted on us, I fear it’ll never completely go away.
2008 Seattle Mariners:
Now we come to baseball. The fans entering spring training were hopeful. Nine out of nineteen baseball writers and analysts picked the Mariners to win the division. The M’s had what looked to be a good rotation, bullpen, and a serviceable lineup. The season didn’t start out terribly, finishing April at just under .500 and hope more wins would come with players getting healthy. Though from then on, the team collapsed on itself like a dying star. Only 4 batters in the lineup batted like professionals, other than King Felix, the rotation was a mess, with JJ Putz hurt, the bullpen seemed average at best, and the coaches looked clueless on how to fix the problem. Factions developed in the clubhouse with the much publicized threat of punching out Ichiro by one of his teammates. The team was quite literally the laughing stock of baseball. Ineptitude of this level had never really happened in baseball, the team had a payroll of $117 million and lost 101 games, the most losses in 25 years for the Mariners. After the last game of the season, the players and fans bolted away in all directions only to leave the management with their heads in their hands exclaiming “What have we done?”
2008 Seattle Seahawks:
The 2008 Seahawks started out fairly similar to the Mariners. Many analysts and football people picked the Seahawks to yet again win the NFC West division. The Seahawks were the pride of Seattle sports, they had been perennial playoff contenders. Seattle is a football city simply because of such a string of success in the past decade. For one reason or another, this team looked old, slow, and over-matched by teams they had beaten in past years. QB Matt Hasselbeck got injured and missed a large part of the season, while also looking like an old man when he did play. The 3 running back scheme which people hoped could be successful, failed. The defense which had people swooning in preseason, looked more exposed than a stripper. The team looked unrecognizable compared to the teams which won division titles year in year out. Its really unfortunate that it had to happen in head coach Mike Holmgren’s final year. It ended 4-12 and I don’t know how we got that many wins.
2008 UW football:
The UW football team has had a tough time since the firing of Rick Neuheisel. The team had hit rock bottom and Ty Willingham had started building the Huskies back to respectability. That all went down the toilet. The UW football team started the season being dominated by bigger programs and it continued up until the Apple Cup where the team made it to overtime against probably the only team in D-1 football as bad as them. Injuries to upperclassmen force the team to put in a number of freshman and sophomores not ready to play in games. The loss of UW’s only star Jake Locker to injury sealed it for the year. The team had one of the worst if not the worst offense and defense in D-1 football. The team went winless for the first time in their 100+ year history. Ty Willingham had no chance, everyone saw his firing coming from a mile away. This incompetence is not acceptable for a team which had won the national title as recently as 17 years ago. The season was painful for all Husky fans out there, knowing a loss was coming every Saturday. The end of the season put an end to the torture of this team.
Hope for 2009:
With the dropping of the ball on New Years the end of 2008 signaled a relief for Seattle fans. While every team was bad in 2008, each one has hope for 2009. The UW basketball team has started well, the team is meshing well with players contributing other than Jon Brockman. The Mariners have new management, new coaches, and a changing team. The Seahawks have the #4 pick in the amateur draft and hope that last year was just an aberration. The UW football team has hired their new coaches from the national powerhouse USC, with the prospect of attracting recruits because of their time with that program. Seattle is getting an expansion MLS team which will start play in March. Fear not Seattle fans there is always hope to hold onto, for the worst is over.