Screw reality. This is everything we’ve ever wanted rolled up into a single moment in time and it’s goddamn beautiful. You want Chris Petersen? You got Chris Petersen. You want Robinson Cano? You got Robinson Cano. You want the best team in the NFL? You got the best team in the NFL. If you have a wish to make, a prayer to be answered, a request you absolutely must have fulfilled? Today is your day.
You and I, we aren’t conditioned for this. This is sleet in November, triple-digit temperatures in July. We aren’t used to what this feels like. Happiness? Euphoria? This is Seattle. Seattle. When it comes to sports, we’re the perennially disappointed, the consistently underwhelmed. We live in a snow globe where it simply rains all the time. We fall short of expectations, come up empty-handed at year’s end, tank the off-season, blow the big game, flub every opportunity at every single turn, and wallow, miserably, wretchedly, in the cynical aftermath of the emotional nuking our psyches continually endure.
They’ve called us the Worst Sports City in America. On multiple occasions, no less. It sucks to be us, they’ve pointed out. And for the most part, they’ve been right. It has sucked to be us. We haven’t done shit. We haven’t won shit, we haven’t achieved shit, we haven’t been shit. We’ve been nothing. Some cities fly under the radar; we haven’t been on the radar.
Depending on how you look at it, this day was either supposed to belong to the Seahawks or the internet. It was Monday. Cyber Monday, the day the masses descend upon the world wide web for bargains. But Cyber Monday mattered little to those of us in the Emerald City. The Seahawks had a football game on this particular evening. That meant they were playing on Monday Night Football, arguably the biggest regular season stage in all of professional sports. They were already relegated to sharing a pseudo-holiday with online retailers. And yet their civic brethren across the sports landscape were not content to let them have even half the spotlight.
It started with the Mariners, those assholes, constantly fighting to stay relevant in a town where their irrelevance reigns supreme. They woke up on this chilly, sun-soaked morning and decided to sign Willie Bloomquist. Yes, the Willie Bloomquist. To a two-year, $5.8 million contract. It’s been five years since Willie last played for his hometown Mariners and he’s 36 years of age now, so why not sign him, right? Makes perfect sense. Anyway, they did it, they really did it. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t register on our radar – we’re talking about an aging utility player, after all – but this was no ordinary situation.
I’m ethically opposed to siding with the people who want to fire Steve Sarkisian from his head coaching position at the University of Washington. It’s not that I’m completely against canning the guy — with each subsequent loss, each confounding play call, and each season of unmet expectations I find myself considering the possibilities of life after Sark — because I’m not. It’s that those diehard radicals who spend every waking moment of their blubbering existences calling for the man’s head are part of the problem. It’s them, not the prospect of a sacrificial firing, that I have a hard time agreeing with.
But first let’s get the obvious out of the way. Steve Sarkisian has not achieved the goals everybody had for this team back in 2009, when he first took the reins of a Washington program very much in disarray. Coming off a winless 2008 campaign, the bar was set as low as it had ever been in the history of Husky football. And yet when Sarkisian was hired in December of that year, spirits were immediately raised, anticipation was at once rekindled, and expectations — in the forms of Rose Bowls and conference titles — were instantly set in place.
I’m a bowl prediction junkie. The white board in my work office currently displays a ranking of each Pac-12-related bowl as an object of constant reference. I obsess over bowl projections throughout the season and do my best to forecast at which destination each team will end up. It’s selfish, mostly. My friends and I travel to every University of Washington bowl game and turn the trip into our annual holiday vacation. As a result, we have quite a bit invested in where the Huskies’ postseason contest is played.
Over the past couple years, I’ve spent so much time analyzing bowl prognostications that I got to thinking I could probably just predict this stuff myself. And hey, since I have a website at my disposal, I put two and two together and here we are today.
I won’t pretend I know enough about the rest of the teams around the country to forecast the matchups of every single bowl bout. But I have outlined the likeliest postseason outcome for each Pac-12 football program below. Ranked from most prestigious bowl to least, here are your 2013 Pac-12 bowl predictions.
Don James walked away from the University of Washington and I didn’t understand why. I was eight years old at the time, so I did what most eight-year-olds do when they don’t understand something and asked my dad. My dad had a way of whittling down the most complicated situations into an explanation that a kid could comprehend.
Take, for instance, the Rey Quinones situation. Earlier in my relatively brief existence, my dad had relayed a story to me about Quinones, a backup shortstop for the Seattle Mariners who holds the unique distinction of being the last Mariner not named Randy or Ichiro to don jersey number 51. Quinones, you see, was a crybaby. That made him unlikable. As an unlikable crybaby, Quinones’ departure from the team made a whole lot of sense. Why did Quinones get traded to Pittsburgh? Because he was an unlikable crybaby. I understood. No one likes a crybaby. Although I assumed at the time that Quinones only cried because he had either been spanked or sent to his room. I therefore made it a point to try my hardest not to cry when spanked or sent to my room from that point forward.
My entire adulthood has been spent hating the Oregon Ducks. That day in 2004 when the Ducks beat Washington 31-6, kicking off a nine-year (and counting) win streak against the Huskies? That was my 20th birthday, October 30, 2004. Since then, the closest the Dawgs have come to knocking off their johnny-come-lately rivals is a 34-17 defeat at Husky Stadium in 2011. Suffice it to say a great deal of vitriol has been built up over nine years of losing.
Anytime an opponent waxes the floor with you for nearly a decade, it’s hard to tolerate just about anything having to do with that opponent’s existence. I’ve learned to loathe Oregon with a passion outweighing similar levels of disdain held for any other rival in any other city in any other sport. Nothing evokes pure disgust, pure detestation, pure revulsion quite like the University of Oregon. I don’t want to beat them every year; I want to destroy them. I want to run up the score on them. I want to embarrass them, to crush them, to make them look as inferior as inferior can be. And yet my team hasn’t supported me on this quest for a proverbial mountaintop borne out of spite. They, like so many others, have been unable to topple the mighty Ducks. And so each year as the annual matchup with our hated foes arrives, we sit here and stew in a cesspool of frustration, anger, and hope.
This is stupid. Everyone is getting worked up over a goddamn flag. And not some flag that speaks to a powerful political agenda or anything like that. A stupid, stupid flag that bears the logo of Washington State University.
Now don’t get me wrong. I get why people are a little testy over this flag. Fact is, Cougars and Huskies are conditioned to despise each other. We’re rivals. It’s alleged that we don’t get along. And so it’s understandable why Husky fans, like myself, would bristle at the thought of Cougar fans raising their big, ugly flag on the Washington campus come Saturday morning, flying it in honor of a tradition (a tradition that’s been made fun of, mind you) that’s lasted a decade on the set of ESPN Gameday.
I’ll admit I’ve gone back and forth on this issue. At first I thought it’d be humorous to needle the Cougs a bit, stir up some shit and make them lose a little sleep while they pondered how, exactly, they’d get that flag safely onto campus later this week. But then I saw the unadulterated hate that flowed from the keyboards of Husky fans over this flag, fans who were prepared to all but kill people over menial garbage. Likewise, a good number of these very same, very angry Husky fans have gone and wished ill will unto other Husky fans because those Husky fans, you see, aren’t prepared to throw down in fisticuffs over, again, a flag.
By my count, I had only ever witnessed nineteen victories in-person at Husky Stadium. Nineteen. Not even twenty. Not even a great number. Not old enough to drink, not even old enough to really be considered an adult as far as society’s concerned. Nineteen, Jay Buhner’s number — Jay was great, but he was no Hall of Famer. Nineteen. Meh.
The first victory I ever witnessed live in that stadium? Idaho. The Vandals. And that was back in 2005, by a team that wouldn’t repeat the feat once more at home that year.
I had only enjoyed occasional flirtations with success in the old stadium. My college tenure kicked off with Keith Gilbertson at the helm of an underwhelming Husky squad; it ended a few years later with a winless 2008 campaign. The whole journey fell far short of what I expected, far short of what I thought the ride would be like when I was a kid. It was just plain bad.
An alarm will wake me at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday. I’ll reach for my phone, likely knock it off its nightstand, then be forced to rustle my body from its abbreviated slumber in searching for the source of my momentary discontent.
Groggy and confused, I’ll look out the window and be forced to think, actually think, before I understand why I’ve chosen to rise so early on — What day is today? Do I have to go to work? Is it…Saturday? — a weekend. The realization will hit me and I’ll be up, sleep washing away from my brain as quickly as the initial bout with irritation set in a minute earlier. And from there, maintenance. Shower, clothes, shoes, stuff.
I’ll pace the apartment checking off a list in my mind, ensuring I’m leaving nothing behind, as my girlfriend does whatever it is girls spend so much time doing in the bathroom. Friends will arrive. We’ll load up the back of the car until it’s weighed down by the excess. We’ll run through the mental checklist once or twice more — tickets, don’t forget the tickets — and then go.
A grocery store first for all the things we don’t need but do need. Because no one needs that much Busch Light, but come on. Water, get lots of water, this is an all-day affair, we’re going to need water. So we’ll get water. And maybe some hot dogs, bread, snacks, things that don’t necessarily correlate but will ultimately satiate, no matter their nutritional relationship — a three-to-one male-to-female ratio does not an efficient shopping trip make. Self-checkout line and at least one person asking the ultimate question: “Oh, you must be going to the game today. What time is that at?” Seven. “Seven?” Seven. And then confusion mixed with intrigue on the part of our interrogator. It will be 8:30 a.m.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Boise is not a state. I don’t know when this geopolitical sham will finally cease, but it needs to. How can we preach “No Child Left Behind,” then mislabel our institutes of higher learning? And not only that, but it leads to a bigger question of how valuable the education at such a disoriented house of academia can possibly be.
Fighting with people on Twitter is about as pointless as it gets. In general, you both come off looking like douchebags, and no matter how heated your discourse becomes, there is no governing body to determine who wins and who loses. You can’t really out-debate one another in 140-character blurbs, and about all you’ll end up doing is pissing off the people who mutually follow you and your sparring partner, victims of timelines filled with petty drivel. You can punch and kick and scream and get worked up over words on a screen and you’ll be no better for it when the day is done.
Okay. That wasn’t the best Seattle sports weekend. The Huskies (both the football and basketball editions) lost, the Seahawks lost, and word came out on Sunday evening that both Hawks starting cornerbacks — Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner — are facing four-game suspensions for performance-enhancing drug use. So yeah. Admittedly, things could get better.
Scrolling through the Twitter timeline over the past 24 hours has revealed varying stages of grief from Seattleites. We’ve seen everything from denial, to anger, to depression, to acceptance. Some fans are ready to jump off a ledge, some are cursing out anyone who so much as talks to them, some are claiming it’s all a conspiracy, some have the blinders on and refuse to speak one ill word about any of our downtrodden ballclubs, some are coping with humor, and some are just plain sad. No matter one’s progress through the grieving process, it’s clear that these are dark times for us right now. And so as a result, I’m here to offer perspective.
Earlier this week, we found out that the University of Washington athletic department has imposed an interesting policy regarding sports and Twitter. Basically, media members reporting on any Husky basketball or football game are limited to the number of times they can tweet during a contest. Yep, it’s like that.
As a proud UW alum, I’ve been schooled on recognizing stupidity. And this is about as stupid as it gets.
Putting clamps on those giving you the time of day? Really? If there’s anything we all know, it’s that in America, the media cannot be controlled. You can’t stop the media, you can only hope to contain it. And yet trying to contain it usually doesn’t work out so well.
Knowing that this will undoubtedly spiral into an abyss of long-running jokes and never-ending punch lines, I figured I’d take the opportunity to ask my alma mater why on earth they’d want to censor their guests. I’ve come up with 11 questions. I was allotted no more than that.
I am a firm believer in patience. We live in a world that’s all about moving quickly, reacting, and analyzing big, important topics in, say, 140-character blurbs of irreverence. We expect certain outcomes in life, and when those outcomes don’t immediately transpire, we tend to freak the hell out.
Take, for instance, marriage.
We grow up thinking we’ll all be married by our mid-twenties. We don’t even consider alternatives, really. We’ll graduate high school, then either enter the working world or head off to college. We’ll meet someone in those formative years just outside our teens, fall in love, and be bound by law no later than age 25. Might as well be a theme park ride.