6.01.2006

It's OK ... I'm angry too

For those not keeping track of such things, there are only 57 days left until the Seahawks open training camp in Cheney on July 29.

I point this out because I find it interesting that this fact leaves me with mixed emotions.

On the one hand, I'm excited beyond belief about being that much closer to returning to the scene of my favorite sports moment of all time, thanks to my new Seahawks season tickets.

But, on the other hand, the fact that I'm so looking forward to the start of something that actually is a full month and a half before the first real game of the team's season is -- at least on some level -- disturbing, as it only makes me that much more angry at the sad state of the other professional franchises in Seattle.

When juxtaposed, the contrast of the three teams is striking. How the Mariners and Sonics descended into such a morass of ineptitude while the Seahawks -- the laughingstock of the city for the better part of a decade -- ascended to what is becoming the model of how to run a franchise is baffling to me.

Larry Stone had a great story yesterday in the The Seattle Times about how the Mariners have absolutely squandered everything they built during their run of division titles and playoff appearances from 1995 to 2003. The Sonics did a similar thing following their Western Conference dominance during the mid-1990s.

For both teams, the legacy of their success has been marred by arrogance and an unbelievable series of personnel blunders.

The Mariners thought that a new stadium and an advertising campaign built around personalizing likeable players would be enough to keep fans in the seats even during a "rebuilding" phase. But when you allow a marketing scheme to force you to keep aging players to the point where you run the team into the ground, then make the mistake of replacing them with high-priced failures (Scott Spiezio, Rich Aurilia, Adrian Beltre, etc.) and bad trades (Freddy Garcia for a catcher who no longer is with us, light-hitting CF Jeremy Reed and utility man in the making Mike Morse), a clever ad campaign will not outweigh three consecutive 90-loss seasons.

Likewise, the Sonics essentially have kept the same front office on their way to five lottery appearances in the past eight years. The ownership can whine and complain all it wants about its lease and needing a revamped arena (just 10 years after they moved in, incidentally), but the reality is that if you don't win, it doesn't matter where you play -- just look at the Mariners, who have set new lows for attendance on multiple occasions this year in what is widely considered one of the most beautiful parks in the majors. To their credit, they do seem to have stockpiled some talent, but only time will tell if they can turn the Sonics into a winner once again.

So, where's the lesson in this?

The Seahawks have made the playoffs for three consecutive years, yet it took a run to the Super Bowl for the city to fully embrace the team the way it once did in the 1980s, in the days before Ken Behring. It took 15 years for the fans to come around.

What these franchises fail to value is just how hard it is to get fans back once you've lost them. We Seattleites are a laid back bunch on the whole; we'll put up with a lot for a lot longer than most fans. But we get real mad when we feel like we've been betrayed -- and we don't forgive easily. I'm angry that the Sonics have allowed themselves to slip into mediocrity, then have the audacity to threaten to leave town if they don't get a new arena. Everytime I see Adrian Beltre whiff while chasing another fastball out of the strike zone or Jeremy Reed hit another weak grounder to second base, I just get more angry.

The thing that should scare the Mariners most is that I'm a die-hard fan, and even I'm getting to the point where the Mariners are a distant third behind the NBA and NHL playoffs in terms of my interest level, something I never would have imagined two years ago. If I'm there, imagine what the casual fan -- the person whom franchises traditionally make the most amount of money off of -- is thinking.

The Mariners and Sonics would be wise to heed that lesson.

Some of my other favorite stories of the day:

6 comments:

Erik said...

Nice post Nuss...Keep it up

The Nuss said...

Thanks man! You losing patience with the Mariners and Sonics like I am?

Jay Bates said...

Jeff:
I've seen more than my share of 100+ loss seasons with the M's. I'm a fan no matter what. And I think so is the rest of Seattle. It's not just that they are losing, but they're not very interesting to watch. They've tooled themselve to be a sit-around-and-wait for the three run homer. I'd much rather watch (and fear) a team that has an earnest threat to scratch across a run in any inning, at any point in the line-up, than a team that might score three runs in one frame of a nine-inning game. Teams look forward to playing Seattle because there's no threat of their scoring at any time. Even the Kingdome days were more fun than this. Sure, their pitchers gave it up like a prostitute on prom night, but their offense could put up sick numbers. But my favorite game is the 1-0 score between two teams that live the entire game with the threat of scoring. Now THAT is exciting baseball.

Good writing.

Go M's.

Jay

Jay said...

Oh, and by the way, Jose Lopez in the two-hole is Stooooooooooo-pid. His average elevated when Ichiro started getting on base, and then pitchers threw him fast balls. In the three hole, pitchers can throw him off speed stuff because Beltre has already struck out or hit into a double play before him.

jay said...

Make that Jose in the three hole being stupid. My bad. I'm the one who's stooo-pid. Put him back in the two hole. He can't bunt worth a squat, but he'll get pitches to hit.

The Nuss said...

I actually am seeing some things I like. Check out the new post. Maybe you'll think I'm nuts ... even I'm not really sure if I believe this can continue.