This has been as unique a year in sports as any before. The NBA is coming back after a four-and-a-half-month hiatus…with only 22 teams. It’s nearing the end of July and the MLB is just about set to play ball, with 12 players so far opting to sit out. There wasn’t even an NCAA Tournament this year! Universities are cancelling non-conference football games with further action likely. It is anything but normal.
In the spirit of living out history, I want to travel to a year in Seattle sports history that will be worth the wait.
The year is 2028. It has been two decades since the Sonics took their history and left for OKC. Finally they are coming home. Kevin Durant, the only former Sonic currently left in the league, retired two years earlier at 36 after getting one more ring to go along with his two Golden State titles. Now that the league is purged of all former Sonics, the franchise can start fresh with a new generation of players and fans, alongside the Seattle Totems, in Climate Change Arena.
The Totems, now in their seventh year in the NHL, have established themselves as one of the best home teams in the Western Conference behind the most loyal fans in the league. Since selling out their first entire season, the Totems have only played seven games in their existence in front of a less-than-max capacity. While the home crowd has propelled them to two Western Conference Finals, the team has failed to reach the Stanley Cup, just like another Seattle team wearing navy blue and northwest green.
The Mariners’ rebuild of the early-2020s has paid off in a way big later in the decade. Although unable to shell out the dough needed to attract big-time free agents, Jerry’s farm has yielded bunches of homegrown talent, none more fruitful than Julio Rodriguez. He comes off a 2027 season where he finished second in MVP for the second time in his short career. Now at 26 years old, Rodriguez and fellow outfielder Jarred Kelenic have their sights set on Seattle’s first World Series title. Though the lineup is reminiscent of those late-90s power-filled teams, it’s the pitching staff that has the attention of the league. Gilbert and Kirby are both viable aces, and behind them sit the more-than-capable Justus Sheffield, Ljay Newsome, and Emerson Hancock. These guys have brought back the age of the starter, as manager Mike Cameron isn’t afraid to let his boys ride.
2028 has it all: the beginning of an era with the rebirth of the long lost Sonics, the promise of the up-and-coming Totems, the chance of a title with the homegrown Mariners, and the end of a storied career with Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Last year, the special advisor, Pete Carroll, sat down with GM John Schneider and the 38-year-old Russell Wilson to help broker an understanding and hopefully a deal to allow the former MVP and four-time Super Bowl Champion to retire in Seattle. Both sides acknowledged the desire to avoid situations like Brett Favre in Green Bay and Tom Brady in New England. While some fans have been clamoring for backup Sam Huard, the local kid who spent his first year in the league rehabbing from a gruesome knee injury, Wilson still believes he can lead the Hawks to one last Super Bowl. It seems GM John Schneider and Coach Stephen Belichick agree. Wilson was the first QB to bring a Super Bowl victory to Seattle; this year, he’ll have the chance to win his fifth ring, good for second all time, in Super Bowl LXII.