As 2017 heads to the locker room for the final time, we can begin to digest the year in sports with all its ups and downs, concussions, groin injuries and late night Trump tweets.
Let’s see, where do I begin? Okay how about this? The Mariners high hopes for a World Series visit vanished less than a month into the season when right handed starter Drew Smyly was injured. He never did return to the rotation. That seemed to start the season-long slide from a World Series ring to hollow ring for the 40th Mariner season.
Then to make matters worse, once the season ended and hopes rose to acquire Japanese sensation Shohei Othani, fans and talk show hosts tripped over themselves with more talk of a World Series in 2018. Then the next Babe Ruth took his talents to Disneyland and left Mariner fans with the prospects of more Griffey and Buhner Bobblehead nights to distract fans from any real success.
Personally I hope it all turns around for the Mariners this coming spring and summer but jumping over the Astros and the Angels could prove to be a mountain a little too high.
By late summer when Seahawks training camp started, fans turned their attention to some terrific draft picks like defensive tackle Malik McDowell, chosen 94th overall. He would indeed shore up a front four already loaded with talent, making the Seahawks defense the talk of the NFL again.
Then in July there was the ugly ATV accident that shut down McDowell’s season, followed in December by an arrest for disorderly conduct. Suddenly the bright star had fizzled and the Seahawks would need to rely heavily on Bennett and Avril and the rest of their veteran defensive stars to do the bulk of the work. A trade with the Jets for Sheldon Richardson proved to be a brilliant and necessary move in the nick of time and with the emergence of Frank Clark, the Seahawks defensive line would still be one of the best in the league.
The regular season opened in Green Bay with the defense holding Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to two touchdowns in a 17-9 loss. It became clear on that day in September that defense was not going to be an issue in 2017, but lack of offense might be.
One of the key reasons for the Seahawks lack of offense and a running game in particular was the preseason injury to promising left tackle George Fant, causing a season-long scramble to find the right combination.
Then in game four against the Colts, emerging star running back Chris Carson went down with an injury and sent that position into a season-long skid out of control.
Those injuries were followed in rapid succession by the loss of Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor and, for short periods of time, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner.
Somehow after losses at Jacksonville and at home against the Rams, the Seahawks rebounded with a Christmas Eve win at Dallas, a gutsy response to a couple of disappointing weekends.
Now the end is near, the end of the season that is. I’m not jumping on the bandwagon that says the Seahawks reign of glory in the NFC West and the NFL in general is over. A victory on Sunday against the Cardinals in Seattle will give the team its sixth consecutive 10 win season, something only a few others have achieved.
The Seahawks are far from finished and frankly far from even being worse than they have been. Sure some familiar names will be gone in 2018. Names like Chancellor and Sherman may be among them, but that’s the nature of the league, the name of the game. It’s always been that way.
Every team loves to get faster, stronger and yes younger. That’s how the Pete Carroll Seahawks have been winners all these years and that’s how they’ll do it again.
Before I shift away from the NFL I want to reiterate my disgust over the president’s continued efforts to divide America by party and by race. His constant tweets are annoying enough but especially when they attack the good intentions of our athletes to shine a light on injustice in America. Blasting NFL players for bringing attention to social injustice is not only irresponsible on the part of the president but clearly an example of a lack of knowledge on the real issues in America.
I was okay when then-President Nixon, not one of my favorites, sent a few plays to the Washington Redskins coaching staff in the 1970s. That was meant to be fun and it was taken that way. Hurling insults and threats to people trying to do the right thing does nothing to unify our country. In fact, it does just the opposite.
The other big story in 2017 was the emergence of Tim Leiweke’s Oak View Group and the city of Seattle’s decision to approve a plan to renovate Key Arena and give new life to Seattle Center.
Personally I’ve been a fan of this approach for years. The last time Seattle Center was vibrant was during the Sonics 1996 run to the NBA championship against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The time before that was their 1979 run to the title itself and the time before that was when Elvis came to the World’s Fair in 1962.
Seattle Center should be the home of Seattle’s next NBA team, whenever that happens and Seattle’s next NHL team, something that will happen in the next few years. The re- building of the hub of Seattle is the best sports news of 2017 and maybe the best news overall.
I love Seattle and its sports teams. If you know me then you know I’m an eternal optimist. With that as a back drop here are my predictions for 2018.
The Mariners will rebound with a season of minimal injuries and spectacular progress, making the playoffs and reaching the American League Championship Series against Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and the New York Yankees.
The Seahawks will rebuild their offensive line around George Fant and emerge with one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. The defense without Sherman, Chancellor or Avril will rebuild around Frank Clark, Sheldon Richardson and offseason free agents and draft picks to become potent again. They will battle the Rams and 49ers for the NFC West title and the 12s will be happy again.
Happy New Year. May all your sports teams reach at least some of your lofty expectations.