Seattle’s Savior, Paul Allen

paulallenThere are many of us who still remember the lead news story on one fateful evening in February of 1996. As families turned on television sets across the region, we were informed that a caravan of moving trucks bound for Southern California had hit the road that day, packed to the gills with two decades’ worth of Seattle Seahawks history. Unceremoniously, our football team and all its belongings were gone, destined to become the Los Angeles Seahawks of Anaheim.

Owner Ken Behring, a festering pimple of a human being, was to blame for the heist. A real estate developer by way of the Bay Area, Behring had acquired ownership of the Seahawks in 1988 and proceeded to spend eight miserable years running the ballclub through the turf, beneath the concrete, and well below the surface of the ground.

While Behring, the real-life personification of a bumbling Scooby-Doo villain, acted quickly in shuttling the team out of town, the NFL and King County reacted with even speedier precision to halt the vans and return them to the Pacific Northwest. The shoddy relocation attempt was thwarted, and a humiliated Behring was forced to sell.

Almost immediately, a white knight emerged. He had built his fortune in the software industry, but his passion lay in sports, music, and later, philanthropy. He already controlled one major sports franchise – the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers – but had the bank account to afford another. Unlike his basketball team, this organization would be rooted in his hometown, rather than 173 miles south. With the stroke of a pen and a boatload of cash, Paul Allen committed to buying – and saving – the Seattle Seahawks.

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Clear the F*** Out: The Mariners Are Here

mariners

If it was a person, it would have a driver’s license.

It’d be wrapping up eleventh grade, might have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, may have just gone to prom. It’d be concerned about little more than finishing the penultimate year of high school before transitioning to a carefree summer filled with friends and fun. It’d be quite convinced it knew all there was to know in the world, yet still naïve to the reality that awaited later in life. It’d be a pain in the ass at times, an endearing goofball at others.

But it’s not a person. It’s a 17-year-old curse. A shadow that has loomed large, if not visible, over Safeco Field for nearly two decades. It has sucked the life out of a fan base that has become increasingly absent as time has passed. It has plagued a franchise and burdened a city.

Seventeen years without a playoff appearance. The longest drought of its kind in American professional sports. Even the Cleveland Browns have been to the postseason more recently than the Seattle Mariners. The biggest laughingstock in football somehow plays second fiddle to our baseball team.

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Six Radical Ways Baseball Can Be Improved Right Now

Baseball has spent much of the past decade looking for ways to speed up games, increase attendance, and attract a younger viewership. They’ve implemented changes like limiting mound visits, installing pitch clocks, and utilizing instant replay. But with each little change, few of the desired outcomes have been achieved. Games haven’t sped up all that much, attendance is about the same, and younger viewers are still gravitating towards other sports, like basketball and soccer.

So what’s baseball to do? They need help, and they need it fast. That’s why we’re here with some new ideas that will rock the boat and disrupt an entire industry. Some of these ideas are really stupid and mostly just serve as vehicles for throwaway jokes that the world would otherwise never read. But within the inanity there may be a gem or two. And before you ask, yes, alcohol was involved when this was written.

1. An expanded strike zone for pitchers who throw under 90 MPH

It seems like every big league pitcher throws his fastball 95-plus these days. Sure, velocity is fun to watch, but is it really fair to those guys who rely on finesse and savvy to get by? No, it is not.

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A Precursor to Greatness

One of my very first sports memories is the very first no-hitter in Seattle Mariners history. June 2nd, 1990. Randy Johnson, against the Detroit Tigers.

I was five years old and quite possibly the biggest little Mariner fan in the world. I wore a royal blue cap emblazoned with the team’s familiar gold “S” every single day (seriously, there are very few pictures from my childhood where I’m without that hat). The M’s were my entire being at that point in my life. I could name all the players on the team right down to the most obscure: Bryan Clark, a veteran relief pitcher; Dave Cochrane, the ultimate utility player; Jeff Schaefer, another utility man who was so irrelevant he would later be replaced on the front of his 1992 Donruss card by a picture of Tino Martinez. And of course I had my favorites, too: Ken Griffey Jr., Alvin Davis, Edgar Martinez, Omar Vizquel, and yes, the six-foot-ten-inch southpaw, Randy Johnson.

We didn’t always stay all nine innings back then. I was young enough to necessitate an early bedtime and my brother was even younger, so attending a full game was, for us, as rare as a no-hitter. But on that particular day I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the ballpark along with my dad. And we weren’t leaving until the final out was recorded.

Through the fog that shrouds the memories of childhood, I remember standing and cheering during the ninth inning. We were in our usual spot in the Kingdome, 300 level, first base side. When Tigers catcher Mike Heath swung at a high fastball to end it, everyone on hand went nuts. There hadn’t been much to cheer about in the annals of Seattle Mariners baseball and this was one of the franchise’s first noteworthy triumphs. It was a memorable evening, one nobody in attendance would ever forget.

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Mariners Fans Don’t Deserve This – But the Franchise Does

Mariners fans know aggravation.

With every ill-advised decision their favorite baseball team makes, the frustration boils and festers until it can’t simmer any longer. It’s the kind of maddening anger that widens the eyes and quickens the pulse and feels as if it can only be satiated with destruction and rage. Unleash a fury of haymakers upon a punching bag. Smash a Louisville Slugger upon the ground until splinters fly in every direction and sweat drips to the earth. Throw a TV out a window, scream to the heavens, sprint until a lung bursts, whatever it takes to ease the angst. And yet the angst never eases.

The club’s latest maneuver has nearly everyone wondering whether the brass on the corner of Edgar and Dave have any clue what they’re doing. On Sunday, the M’s optioned outfielder Guillermo Heredia to Triple-A Tacoma to make room for the activation of pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. In doing so, they elected to keep outfielder Ichiro Suzuki on the big league roster – despite the fact that Heredia had outplayed Suzuki in every facet of the game to begin the year.

Though any of number of excuses could be conjured to justify keeping the 44-year-old future Hall of Famer around, the reality is that the organization chose to honor a legend rather than invest in the on-field success of the ballclub. Anyone with two eyes and a passion for the game could see right through the front office’s intentions – and that, above all else, was incredibly irritating to a fan base that has suffered long enough.

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The Addicts

They slowly wither away in dark rooms illuminated only by the iridescence of a television set, mainlining ROOT Sports coverage of Seattle Mariners baseball like heroin junkies slumped upon the dusty plywood surface of a neighborhood drug house.

They find comfort in Brad Adam, take solace in Angie Mentink. This is what they know, what they crave, what they need to survive this day and the next. They know they should quit, but how does one loosen the firm grasp of addiction?

They are lifers, these people. They bleed every shade of Mariners blue that can be bled: royal, powder, navy, teal. They’re in it for the long haul, despite the utter misery of the situation in which they find themselves.

For the most part, they are passionless, barely functional, hardly human. Losing is what they’ve come to understand, and each subsequent loss registers no more than a facial twitch or a shrug of the shoulders. Wins, those fleeting moments of abbreviated happiness, result in tempered celebrations that only serve to worsen the dependence upon this poisonous chemical.

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The NBA Wants You to Kiss Its Ass

Fuck the NBA.

Those homewrecking charlatans. Those self-indulgent jerks. Those bastard sons of bitches.

We were in a relationship once, you know. For 41 years. Happily married. We entrusted them with our hearts and our souls. And then one day they ripped them to shreds.

But they didn’t just stop there.

The divorce was bitter. They took everything and left us with nothing but memories. They had all they needed, but still wouldn’t quit. They spun a dirty narrative: that we weren’t any good to them, that we didn’t do enough to keep them around, that it was our fault, that we were the bad guys.

What had we done besides faithfully devote ourselves to them? We showed up en masse, filled an arena to its gills, lived and died through the good seasons and the bad. They weren’t satisfied with leaving, though. They needed the rest of the world to scorn us, too.

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