“4 those sincerely concerned, I’m doing ok & plan 2 B back by opening day. 4 those worried abt your fantasy team, u ppl are sick” -Arian Foster (via Twitter, @ArianFoster)
Fantasy football is like planking, Justin Bieber, and the Dougie all rolled into one. It is the biggest thing on the planet, and if you don’t believe me, just check the numbers.
It’s estimated that roughly 19 million people partake in fantasy football each year. Nineteen million! Try and put that number in perspective. If you’re having trouble grasping the sheer magnitude of this many human beings doing any one thing, consider this: if fantasy football were its own country, it would be the 60th-largest country in the world, bigger than such nations as the Netherlands, Greece, Guatemala, Ecuador, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, and the list goes on. And God only knows how wealthy a nation of fantasy footballers could possibly be.
I was rolling down Interstate 405 the other day when I came upon a crappy sedan plodding along the highway at about 50 miles per hour. Forced to spend a miserable ten seconds or so behind the Casey Kotchman of automobiles, I noticed that this slow-moving bastard had an Obama sticker on his bumper.
Now, I’ll be honest, I like Obama. He seems like a cool guy. I’m not really big on politics, but I can tell that he’d be a good dude to hoop and drink with. That sort of thing goes a long way in my book. He’s a guy’s guy, basically. And being a guy’s guy myself, I appreciate that.
At this precise moment, however, I was experiencing frustration. Frustration brought on by the operator of this clunker compact car. Frustration instigated by someone who happened to be advertising the current President of the United States of America.
When I was a kid, I was a baseball nerd. I played ball all year long, went to dozens of Mariners games, watched Baseball Tonight religiously, knew every player in the bigs (seriously), and collected cards like a klepto poker player. I was chubby and dorky and devoted myself to that accumulation of cardboard artwork like it was my baby.
My collection was thousands deep, spanning an era when baseball cards would essentially become worthless over time. Card companies were flooding the industry with new brands, new sets, new subsets, new inserts, new everything. Demand was high, but supply was even higher. The baseball card industry broke the first rule of economics, oversupplying their consumers with the goods, devaluing their product to the point of running their businesses into the ground.
For me, however, it wasn’t about the money. I cherished my collection. I curated it, sliding my most valuable possessions into plastic sleeves, organizing my anthology alphabetically. Even as I grew up and began moving from place to place, I often toted parts of my collection with me, a reminder of a childhood I had pledged to paper heroes.
Really, when you get right down to it, all you have is an ephemeral white line upon equally ephemeral man-made pavement. In mere minutes, the bike lane can be reduced to nothingness, the restricting boundary erased like a stray pencil mark on white college rule, the manicured rockery eroded like silt along a riverbank.
And yet for some reason we give unto the bike lane as if it were more than that. As if its whiteness — purity’s hue, mind you — is more than just the rigid absence of color. We are asked to share the road, to co-inhabit the concrete, and we do that. We do it both willingly and lawfully, steering our motor vehicles or our pedestrian paws away from said lane. Seemingly at all costs we avoid this forbidden expanse…save for those of us who pedal our Schwinns down its purity-lined path, of course.
As drivers and foot commuters, we yield space to our two-wheeled brethren. One could argue, however, that they do not yield equally to others in return. Consider, if you will, all those cyclists who filter into the flow of motorized traffic, who wander onto walkways, who stray from the sanctity of the bike lane in spite of its mere existence. Wherefore art thou, dear cyclist, when this holy light through yonder pavement breaks? Dost thou not revel in its grandeur, in its grace? Nay, thou dost not.
The Oklahoma City Thunder just won a playoff series for the first time in their brief, three-year history, and I’d like to take this opportunity to pay proper homage to their enormous accomplishment. Congratulations, f**kers. You earned it. Kind of.
You know what, it’s about time we took out some venom on OKC. We’ve spent all this time blaming Clay Bennett, blaming David Stern, blaming Howard Schultz. Why not let the benefactors of Seattle’s greatest heist have it for once, right?
First of all, Oklahoma City, you’ve got nothing on Seattle. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Let me ask you a question. Does anyone in that town of yours even play basketball? Anybody? Because in Seattle, we play on asphalt monuments emblazoned with the logo of OUR TEAM all over the city.
It wasn’t the jersey I really, truly wanted. Every kid in school wore KEMP or PAYTON on his back. I wanted to wear KEMP or PAYTON, too. But I had to settle for McMILLAN. These replica jerseys — watered-down mesh imitations made by Champion — sold for forty dollars at regular price. This particular jersey, bearing the name and number of the team’s most unsung player, was on clearance, and therefore affordable enough to go home with me on this day. Thus, I became the only kid at Medina Elementary with the uniform of one Nate McMillan.
(My little brother, meanwhile, became quite possibly the only kid in history with a Sarunas Marciulionis Sonics’ jersey…it was the only jersey they had on sale in his size.)
Rumors are circulating that the Sacramento Kings may be leaving the California state capitol as early as this year. Their most likely relocation destination? Anaheim, where they would play in the NBA-ready Honda Center, formerly (and more familiarly) known as Arrowhead Pond. The Honda Center is currently home to the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have played their games at the Honda Center since the team’s inception in 1993.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Anaheim is damn near Los Angeles. And Los Angeles, as you may have heard, already plays host to two teams in the National Basketball Association, the Clippers and the Lakers. If this migration were to go down then, the Greater Los Angeles area would have three — yes, three — NBA franchises at its disposal. The Greater Seattle area, meanwhile, would still have zero. I mean, L.A. is a great city and all, don’t get me wrong. But do they really need ten-percent of the league’s teams? All while Seattle puts up a goose egg on that pie chart? Seems a little f**ked up to me.
I stood in the aisle at Fred Meyer and surveyed the boxes in front of me. Five-hundred, one-thousand, fifteen-hundred, two-thousand. The number was critical. Too many and she’d never finish. Too few and it wouldn’t be a challenge.
There were images of buildings and landscapes and works of art. I needed something bright. She was 86 years old. Her vision wasn’t what it used to be. The brighter the better, I reasoned.
There was a beach scene. Fifteen-hundred pieces. A snapshot taken under palm trees in Hawaii. The sun lit up the photograph. This would work. I grabbed the box off the shelf and went to pay.
When I was about eight or nine years old, I was cleaning my room one afternoon and got frustrated. I couldn’t move my toy box. It was too heavy and no matter how hard I tried to lift it or drag it across the room, I just wasn’t having any luck.
I started this website with the mission of bringing Seattle sports fans together. We’ve been disconnected over the years. We’re separated by hills and neighborhoods, zip codes and dividing lines, race, religion, politics, finances…a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t really matter.
The thing is, when a team is successful, a city can unite. We rally around victories, associate with logos, bond over beer and bratwurst. We’re not as complicated as we perceive each other to be. A win is a win no matter who you are. Unfortunately for us, the wins and successes have been few and far between for more than a decade now.
And so we drifted apart.
We’re not New York. Not Los Angeles. Not even Miami or Chicago. We’re America’s underdog. The forgotten metropolis. Crammed into the nosebleed section of the left coast. Where it rains a lot. Where coffee is constantly brewing. Where planes are made and apples are sliced. We’re overlooked and underappreciated.
The nation scoffs at us. They tend to forget that we even exist. When they mention us, it’s only to take jabs at the weather and the beverage of choice. Don’t act like you haven’t been gossiping behind our backs, America. We know how it is.
When it comes to sports, they treat us like a redheaded stepchild. They hijack our teams, tell us we aren’t supportive enough, put us amongst the worst sports cities in this great nation of ours, and occasionally slap the dreaded “mid-market” label upon us. The only mid-market we should be associated with is on the corner of First Avenue and Pike Street. We’re bigger than that. We’re better than that.
My head hurts. I have bruises on my body in random places. My left elbow has been throbbing for two days. I need water. I’ve earned a total of 1,200 minutes of sleep in the past five nights. Memories of the last 120 hours are hazy, at best. I’ve been surviving off Visine and Winterfresh gum. I got beat by a girl. I’ve never seen or consumed this much alcohol. I got knocked down by a football.
In spite of all that, I’ve never felt better in my life. Never.
I survived the greatest trip of my very existence. I’m 26 years old. I just partied like I was 18…for five consecutive evenings. I witnessed in-person the University of Washington’s first bowl victory in a decade. I enjoyed the Husky men’s basketball team’s demolition of both Los Angeles-area schools. I sat in a bar with Seattle fans and watched our Seahawks win the NFC West and, against all odds, make the playoffs. From that standpoint alone, it was an amazing stretch of sunrises and sunsets.
At some point on the evening of Thursday, December 30th, I checked my Facebook notifications through my phone. I don’t know where I was, exactly, or what I happened to be doing at the time. I do know that the outcome of the Holiday Bowl had been decided and that the euphoria among the Husky faithful was still settling in. We were probably on the San Diego trolley, or perhaps already sitting in a bar. It was then that I read the comment that would inspire me to wake up at 8:30 this morning, jump in the shower, dress myself, pack up my laptop, and walk down the street in search of free wi-fi (shout out to the Mission Valley Doubletree, where they charge $15 a day for internet).
“The least you can do,” the comment read, “is go and get hammered and give us all a good story about it tomorrow.”
And by “it,” the commenter was referring to the purple-and-gold celebration that was in the process of ensuing at that very moment. Done and done.
An airport employee is directly to my right, talking loudly on her cell phone in a language I cannot understand. She has removed her shoes. It could be a while before this gibberish ceases. Once, many minutes ago, this corner of SeaTac in the B concourse was nice and peaceful, a place I could write and work and daydream simultaneously. Now, however, my slice of Utopia has been infiltrated by loud cell phone talkers.
It’s 10:18 a.m. I’m getting ready to board a plane that will take me to Los Angeles. From there, I’ll be hopping in a car with some friends and driving down to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. I won’t be back in Seattle until Monday, January 3. Along the way, I’ll chronicle this journey both in writing and in video. Most of the video footage will consist of an open, anything-goes competition of skills between myself (Seattle Sportsnet) and my friend Bailey (Breakin It Down With Bailey). I’m confident I can win, in spite of the fact that there aren’t really any rules. And if nothing else, it should at least be fun to watch.
A few weeks ago, a group of local sportswriters started a website entitled SportsPress Northwest. A well-put-together online periodical, SportsPress Northwest was founded by Art Thiel and Steve Rudman, two former Seattle Post-Intelligencer journalists who had been struggling to stay relevant since the newspaper closed up its print operations in March, 2009. First glance at the website will tell you that a) this project was decently-funded, b) these guys have a talented supporting cast around them, and c) they clearly know how to write about sports. And yet in spite of all that, no one really cares.
It’s an unfortunate circumstance of the newspaper industry slowly falling to pieces, but unless your words are plastered on the pages of a daily print production, you might as well be Casper the Friendly Ghost. To remain apropos in the online world, you have to either do something that nobody has done before, or do whatever it is you’re doing better than everyone else who happens to be doing that very same thing. Most people don’t realize that. Thiel, Rudman, and their SPNW cohorts are guilty of this naivety.