The cows in the barn look healthy and happy. Every factory is running three shifts.
In other words, there is a lot to be happy about, sports-wise, in the Pacific Northwest. (And farms and manufacturing are how my Midwestern, Rust Belt eyes see things.)
However, the ’68 Chevelle Super Sport in the garage hasn’t seen the light of day in years. And someone you thought was your friend has absconded with your Led Zeppelin records and may never be seen again.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide which erstwhile Northwest sports team has indubitably left town and which one might as well have.
Let’s start with the promise that the future holds. In 2021, Seattle will have an NHL franchise. Along with the team, there will be an extensively remodeled Key Arena and a swanky new practice facility where fans can do things like play rec hockey and spend money.
Are we a hockey town and a hockey region? Evidence would suggest we are. We are pretty close to Canada. Does eating poutine go with watching fights and flying pucks? I don’t see how it could not.
And what of those mythical birds, the Seahawks? Well, as Frank Clark posited just this week, the Richard Sherman can’t-get-over-the-Super Bowl-loss team is a thing of a past, though in terms of their style of play, they have a lot in common with their predecessors, namely a stout defense and a running attack that leads the NFL in rushing yards per game.
But is that old-school brand of football going to be enough come the playoffs, when they could face the high-flying offense of a team like the Saints or the Rams?
We shall see.
But isn’t just making the ‘offs good enough, since so few teams do it? Definitely not. Sports is mostly a do-or-don’t world. There’s not a lot of room for nuance, at least not on the scoreboard or the win-loss record.
For a little perspective, just be happy you’re not the Detroit Lions, who spend nearly every January in the Offs, which is the place you go when you want to spend more time with your family and your golf game. I think it’s one of those lesser-known islands in the Caribbean.
And what of that muscle car permanently parked in the garage, aka the Seattle Mariners? Must we really speak of them? They appear to be in the midst of an epic selloff. As a fan, there are few things more tedious than a rebuild, especially when you weren’t even good to begin with.
Who, you ask, are the missing Zeppelin records in this equation? I almost can’t say their name. Like a pod of Puget Sound orcas we thought were residents but turned out to be transients, the Sonics are long gone and may never come back, no matter how many jerseys people sport and how many paeans are penned in their honor.
We still have the Portland Trail Blazers, right? Technically, yes. But if you want to make watching them as enjoyable as possible, just get blazed; though, of course, don’t get behind the wheel after doing that.
And we’ll always have soccer—or is it football? We can claim ownership of three MLS teams: the Seattle Sounders, the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps. All have robust followings, spirited yet polite rivalries, their own special scarves and singalongs for their fans.
You know what goes really well with soccer? Beards, tech companies and double-IPA. That’s right, we fancy.
There are also the highly lucrative, “amateur” sports such as college football. The Huskies and the Cougs are both as good as they’ve been in decades. I like to pair Washington with a nice plate of brie and a glass of Willamette pinot. Washington State marries well with a big plate of chicken wings and a tallboy of Rainier.
There was once a notable college football team based out of Eugene. You know, the ones with the walk-in closet full of uniforms and the palatial practice facilities. They flew south a few winters ago and haven’t come back, though they are showing promise on the recruiting trail.
I could go on and on, right down the list, but I feel as if I’ve already mixed enough metaphors and slipped in enough odes to food and drink for one day.
So where do we stand, overall, Northwest Sports fans?
It’s not as cut and dry as one might like. There’s no stat sheet for emotions, as far as I know.
But we do have a lot to root and be thankful for. And if you’re looking for events out of your control in which to place all of your hopes and aspirations, your successes and failures, you could do worse than to watch sports. It can mostly be done right from your own couch.
Did I mention chicken wings?