|Richard Sherman, celebrity softball slugger|
The Seahawks aren't an invisible force on my blog though. Way back in the primordial ooze of this website, it was originally "Tim's Random Sports Musings," and I happened to start blogging about halfway through the 2005 NFL season. Baseball was pretty dormant at the time, given that it was the offseason, and the Seahawks were on a roll. That roll got them the top seed in the NFC and ultimately an ill-fated (or, more accurately, badly officiated)* Super Bowl trip against a retiring Jerome Bettis, up-and-coming Ben Roethlisberger, and the now forever hated Pittsburgh Steelers.
*I wrote a blog about the Super Bowl, and I found that Seattle was the first team to ever lose it with more time of possession, total yardage, and fewer turnovers than their opponent. I've never gone further to see how many teams lose in the regular season with the same trio of advantages, but I suspect it is extremely few.
At some point, not far into my blogging life, I realized it made more sense to focus on the Mariners with a little bit of general baseball thrown in. There were other things I cared about, but that's where my main focus was, and it was more than enough to write about. So I didn't transfer any of the Seahawks posts because they are not germane to the current blog.
Fast forward to 2013. I went to the Richard Sherman celebrity softball game at Cheney Stadium this past summer, and wrote a tongue-in-cheek analysis of the swings on display at the game. I'll admit, I thought it was one of my better posts ever on the Musings. It is now my fourth most-viewed post ever, and it was my most viewed in 2013.
The post found its way to both the Seahawks and Mariners reedits in July, and the referrals are what resulted in the heavy traffic. However, the real stunner for me was that the Seahawks reddit referrals dwarfed the Mariners ones. Way, way more people were on the Seahawks reddit...even though the Seahawks were in one of the more dead periods in the NFL season at that point, the Mariners were in the heart of their season, and I was a baseball blog on a football message board.
That's when I realized both how irrelevant the Mariners had become, and how big of a deal the Seahawks were going to be. I knew they were a talented team, and a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but I didn't realize how hyped up people already were.
I can only imagine how many more people are on the Seahawks reddit now.
The Seahawks have taught me a few things about the Mariners this year. First of all, the Mariners have never had a team like the current Seahawks squad. The Seahawks were expected to be great and lived up to the hype. That combo has never happened in Mariners history. Seriously, think about it. The 1995 team is fabled because of their miraculous "Refuse to Lose" campaign. Their season was supposed to be dead when Griffey went down with the wrist injury - and, frankly, it pretty much was dead, particularly looking at the AL West standings in mid-August. The 2001 team is the best in M's history, and at 116 wins was a legitimate World Series contender. However, that came on the heels of the team losing Griffey and A-Rod in back-to-back offseasons. Who loses two players that good and gets better? Nobody expected 116 wins out of the 2001 Mariners. It's part of the mystique and magic of that team.
The second thing the Seahawks have taught me about the Mariners is just how inept the Mariners leadership really is. The Seahawks just made their second Super Bowl in eight seasons - which is probably more impressive than most realize. The apperances feel farther apart because the whole organization has turned over - players, leadership, everything but ownership - in those eight years. That's my point: The Seahawks found two completely different paths to the Super Bowl within a decade. The Mariners are yet to find one path to the World Series in almost 40 years of existence now, despite some waves of good fortune and good luck.
Personally, I believe any championship (particular in US sports leagues, where the champion is decided by a short tournament in any sport) takes both skill and luck. Talent only gets a team so far, so the Seahawks have caught some breaks this year, just like they did in 2005. The Mariners, over their years, have caught breaks too. The 2001 season featured pretty much every player in a career year. Zduriencik's initial campaign featured best-case-scenario seasons from Russell Branyan, Mike Sweeney, and Griffey. There's also the Bavasi miracle team that somehow one 88 games with a negative run differential - the roster that apparently convinced the M's leadership that they were Erik Bedard away from a World Series.
I doubt the Seahawks have had much more luck as a franchise than the Mariners, but recently the Mariners squeak out .500 seasons when they are lucky, whereas the Seahawks now have a Super Bowl habit when things break right. I'm not sure a ferry ride across Puget Sound could connect the talent gap between the two franchises, and it is only exacerbated by the M's brain trust and their inability to differentiate between good fortune and good talent.**
**While on the other hand, the Seahawks do things like draft an undersized quarterback (Russell Wilson) in the third round, and cut a fourth round pick rookie (Chris Harper) to keep a previously undrafted free agent (Jermaine Kearse)
Somehow, Seattle fans sensed all this by at least July of last year. I saw it in the traffic to this blog. More than anything, the Seahawks have taught me what it feels like to watch and root for a bona fide contender. My sports fandom is too young to recall the glory days of the Sonics, when they also had that same vibe, but they are the only comparison. The Mariners, frankly, have never been that good. They have had some great players, and several good teams, but it's never been more obvious just how far away they are from the World Series than right now.