Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer for Seattle Sports

The Mariners are playing in front of a half full Safeco Field on Sunday afternoons and the Supersonics are heading to Oklahoma City. This is not a good time for Seattle Sports Fans.

I spent some time in Seattle this past weekend and I hate to report this... but it’s not a great time if you are a sports fan in the Pacific Northwest.

First of all, it’s official….the city is losing it’s NBA Basketball team, the Supersonics, to Oklahoma City. The Sonics have been an institution there since the late 60’s. My friend Bob Blackburn (A guy from my hometown of Fullerton, CA) was the Sonics announcer for many years. According to the citizens I interviewed, the fan base is still there for the basketball team and they are very upset. There was no way Seattle should have lost their franchise. The mayor and city council were asleep at the switch. And they will pay dearly for their lack of action at the polls this November.

I will also sorely miss the rivalry between the Sonics and my team, the Lakers. I don’t see the same intensity level for Oklahoma City-Los Angeles.

Before I boarded my train at King Station on Sunday afternoon, for a trip that would take me across the northern United States to the east coast, I stopped in at Safeco Field to watch the Mariners-Tigers game. I got my money’s worth. A fifteen inning affair that ended with the Mariners losing 2-1. This was supposed to be a big year for the M’s. With a team with the likes of Suzuki, Ibanez, Sexson, and Beltre they should have won the American League West. Approaching the Half-way point of the season they are a whopping 18 games out of first place. Three quarters of Safeco was filled.

This is one of the best places in America to watch a baseball game. A great retro look, beautiful green grass, a retractable roof to keep out the frequent Northwest rains, great food like this place that loads up everything with garlic, and the train running behind left field. What’s not to like? If I lived in Seattle I would get out there every chance I could no matter how the team was doing. I shouldn’t be able to walk up on a Sunday afternoon and get a ticket that easy. Glad that I could…but I shouldn’t have to do that. And the reminders are there, Mariner fans, on what happens when you don’t support your team. All around the stadium this season are graphics of Seattle professional baseball teams past…. The Pilots, The Raniers, etc. who all died out due to lack of interest.

The Mariners have a good announcer who used to call the games for my California Angels…Dave Niehaus. Mr. Niehaus is being inducted into the hall of fame in about 20 days. Niehaus has the funniest call of a grand slam in the majors. “Tell gramma to get out the mustard, relish, and mayonnaise….that was a grand salami!”

But the thing that breaks my heart the most about the Mariners is that they are now considering trading their franchise player for years… Ichiro Suzuki. People get up in the middle of the night in Japan to watch this guy. Ichiro is the guy that I think will break the .400 mark for a season. I want to see a .400 hitter before I check out, and Ichiro is my hope for this. On Sunday, Ichiro was being Ichiro. He hits a dribbler toward the left side of the infield and before the Detroit third baseman could get to it, Ichiro was on first. He’s still that fast. There is a patch out in right field that had to be transplanted. This is because if you ever focus on Suzuki during a game he is constantly stretching and moving to stay limber and moving around. He must wear a hole in the lush green Safeco right field every few days.

Of course if the Mariners don’t want him anymore, I know some fans in Anaheim that would love to have him.

By Allen Bacon, Editor, Daily Bosco

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