I love baseball. I always have. I’m a fan of many sports, but baseball has always been my favorite. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been enraptured by the game. Baseball, to me, is just the greatest.
When people tell me they can’t stand baseball, you have to figure I’d be appalled, but I’m not. I get it. Baseball is long, often tedious, and rather slow. Games last three hours on average and rely on no clock to keep things moving. Not only that, but your best players will elude success seventy-percent of the time, and really, who wants to witness that much failure? Learning the nuances of baseball — the obscure rules, the unwritten points of etiquette, not to mention the lingo — is on par with learning Mandarin. And let’s be honest, going to a game isn’t necessarily cheap. All those things add up to a level of discontent that I can empathize with. Because frankly, I feel the exact same way about soccer.
I don’t have anything against soccer. I just don’t like it. I’ve given it a try and it’s not my cup of tea. When I was eight years old, I played organized soccer for the first time. I didn’t like the aimless running (there’s a lot of that as a kid), the rain, the mud, or taking balls off my face (feel free to have fun with that last item at my expense). Were it not for the mid-game orange slices and post-game snacks, I might have staged a sit-in halfway through the season. Soccer was that bad.
As I got older, my disinterest in soccer only grew. I had no desire to watch games or so much as kick a ball around with buddies. To me, soccer was the mushrooms on your plate as a kid or the math problems you had to do for homework. I acknowledged it existed and that’s where our affinity for one another came to its abrupt end.
Now here we are a generation later and soccer is the coolest thing going. Whodathunkit, right? I’m 28 years old, and chances are if you’re around my age, no matter whether you’re a soccer fan or not, you could not have seen this coming when we were kids. This is new, uncharted territory. We’re on the cusp of a soccer revolution that a decade ago would have been scoffed at. Sure, the world enjoyed fútbol, but not us, not Americans. We were the holdouts. Until this city, my city, Seattle, decided to become the soccer capitol of the United States.
There are times I actually feel bad that I can’t bring myself to like the “beautiful game.” I tried assimilating to the sport as an adult by attending a match, but no luck. I was bored. Nothing had changed since my youth. And now, as we sit here today, I’ve simply come to accept that soccer and I will continue to exist not as friends or enemies, but two entities forced to share space with one another.
In spite of all that, it’s impossible to ignore the impact that soccer is having on Seattle right now. Between Sounders matches and World Cup Qualifiers, the nation’s soccer spotlight is pointed squarely upon the Emerald City. We don’t just embody American soccer; we are American soccer. It’s intriguing, even to a curmudgeon like myself.
With a competing sport as my first love, however, the overwhelming support for soccer in this town has cast a shadow on my baseball fandom. More than anything, I wish our baseball team gave us reason to cheer the way our soccer team does. We all know they used to do that. Once upon time, the Mariners were our main attraction. And we were just as inspired by them as we currently are by the Sounders.
Winning cures all ills, and since their inception in 2009, the Sounders have been winners. Contrast that to the Mariners, who have emerged as perennial losers for more than a decade now. Make no mistake about it, each of these teams has earned their respective standing amongst the city’s sports fans.
As the crowd at CenturyLink Field has grown, the numbers at Safeco Field have dwindled. Some would argue that each team carries its own unique fan base, completely segregated from that of its next-door neighbor. But come on. We all know that isn’t true. Seattleites are notorious bandwagoners, determined to ride the wave of success before disembarking at the first sign of trouble. Sports fans in the Pacific Northwest (with the possible exception of Seahawks fans, who are crazy — in a good way) are malleable, impressionable fad embracers that view games as social gatherings and often little else. They are young professionals who strive to fit in, who gravitate towards counter-culture movements because counter-culture is what’s in, you see, and occasionally requires skinny jeans and faux eyewear to really pull off. Never mind the fact that the most counter-culture are those like my friend Bob Condotta, he of the hooded-sweatshirt-at-the-club look, who don’t give a damn what others think and are awesome because of that. No, the Seattle sports fan is a heavily influenced breed that would like you to believe they aren’t influenced at all. But they are, very much so, and that’s where soccer, at the expense of baseball, has come to gather its following.
The Mariners and their seemingly oblivious front office are probably just starting to realize that fans aren’t being swayed by gimmicks or guys who used to be good a few years back when they were, you know, playing against us. Fans, especially Seattle fans, are swayed by a winner. Soccer is evidence of that. As the losses have piled up on the diamond, fans have looked elsewhere for their sporty get-togethers with friends. Sandwiched between early and late happy hour, the people have flocked to the pitch — the Sounders, along with their increasingly rabid crowd, have blossomed.
My wish, as I alluded to earlier, is for our baseball team to infuse this city with a similar passion to that of our soccer team. It’s not asking a lot, and it doesn’t take anything more than victories. So above all else, just win, Mariners. Because as simple and as stupid as it sounds, if you win, this city’s fans will return.
Filed under: Mariners, Sounders
Tags: Sounders FC
In a “first ever in professional sports” the Seattle Sounders have announced that fans will decide the fate of General Manager Adrian Hanauer. Should he stay or should he go? Fans will be making that choice rather than the owners. This may be just a publicity move, but I’m thinking it gives fans a real connection to their team and could make someone a LOT of money. This could be something that Fans can do, besides come to games and scream at the tops of their lungs, that will have a major effect on the team.
This got me to thinking; could this work with the NFL? Fans love their fantasy football, right? What would happen if fans got to pick between several coaching candidates? Or what players make the team? How about picking this weeks starting QB? Or even the game plan? Make it all interactive on the web with some fancy software that will take the average of all responses from choices offered by the software. Maybe throw in some kind of wild card to shake things up. How cool would THAT be? This would give the games real meaning to the people who support the team in every NFL city.
Can you imagine what this idea could do to the game? It would make it an interactive real-life computer sports game. Think of all the ways fans could exercise their will? Of course there would have to be safeguards to prevent fans of enemy teams from infiltrating our fan choices to weaken our team. But that can all be worked out. Maybe you buy into different levels of voting. For example; you have a “basic” package that allows you to vote on the defensive coach and two offensive lineman, a linebacker, and a safety. The “silver package” allows voting on head coach, defensive coach, and 4 offensive and defensive players but not the QB. The “gold” package would give you control of all coaches, and all players. And the “Platinum” package adds game planning and 3rd down play calling during the game. The “Super Double Platinum” level gets you into the NFL DRAFT! Yeah BABY!
Crazy you say? I’m absolutely insane? Yeah, but how much would you PAY for this kind of control of your Seahawks? Hmmm? If the powers that be determine there’s a boatload of cash to be made, I’m thinking there may soon be conversations along these lines. In fact, it’s already being done in other entertainment genres. Ever hear of “American Idol” or “Dancing with the Stars”? They already have fan voting. If there’s one thing franchise owners like, it’s new revenue streams. Fan interactive voting would be a FAT new source of cash for owners.
Call me crazy, but remember… you heard it here first.
Tags: Sounders FC
Editor’s note: From time to time we like to feature guest writers on the site. Today we welcome Ryan Scally to Seattle Sportsnet. Ryan is an avid soccer fan and accomplished scribe, providing matchday reporting for Goal.com, among other publications. You can find him on Twitter @NWSoccerGuy. If you’ve ever wanted more soccer coverage, here it is. Let us know what you think.
By Ryan Scally
“Playoffs!? Playoffs? You kiddin me?” These words were famously uttered by Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora in a postgame news conference and has been used as a sound bite by every major sports network in the United States.
Seattleites can closely identify with this phrase in recent history. While the Husky football team has been improving, and the men’s basketball team is usually a lock for a March madness trip, the same cannot be said for our professional teams. The Mariners have been abysmal. The Seahawks somehow managed to make the playoffs last year, but appear headed for an early vacation this season. The Sonics are long gone. Screw you Clay and Stern!
There is one team in Seattle that has made the playoffs three seasons in a row. Okay, I guess technically the Storm has made numerous postseason runs and even won a few titles but this article is a lot funnier if I just say “one” team.
I am referring to your Seattle Sounders FC. Yes that’s correct. I’m speaking about the soccer team here in town that has swept several thousand people off of their feet and probably even stolen a few guy’s girlfriends. So, if you are one of those “soccer is boring” people, I won’t even waste time pointing out that you are an idiot and just ask that you please move on to the next article. I will point out though that the Sounders scored the same amount of points as the Hawks did this past weekend.
But I digress, the Sounders travel to Salt Lake City this weekend for the first leg of a two-leg home-home series. Feel free to Google aggregate scoring if you are unfamiliar with the process.
While the Sounders are old hands at winning the U.S. Open Cup — they are three-time Open Cup champions — the same cannot be said for the MLS Cup. They average only 0.25 goals in the playoffs and have yet to advance past the first round. Steve Zakuani’s meaningless late goal in L.A. last November is the only playoff goal in team history.
So why will this year be any different? Scoring, that’s why. The Sounders have found a way to put the ball into the back of the net. Unlike in years past, forward Fredy Montero is on a scoring hot streak. Perhaps more importantly he is on one at the right time. Newly acquired striker Sammy Ochoa has scored tw0 goals in his past two games and appears to be meshing well with head coach Sigi Schmid’s philosophy.
The team’s defense has had a few lapses in judgment recently, but I am optimistic that they will be stepping up their level in order to send retiring captain and goalkeeper Kasey Keller out in style.
One big question remains. How will the Sounders play without the little engine that could, midfielder Mauro Rosales? Rosales re-aggravated an MCL injury this past weekend at Chivas USA. Rosales has been playing out of his mind this season after signing a one-year, $42,000 (yes, you read that correctly) contract. He has scored five goals and provided 13 assists. On the field, his pace and determination have immediately made him a fan favorite.
If the 2001 Seattle Mariners taught me one thing it’s that Bret Boone looked bad with frosted tips. It also taught me that the regular season means jack squat once the playoffs start. If the Sounders are able to continue to find ways to score goals, and also find a way to keep Real Salt Lake’s equally potent attack in check, they will stand a chance. They would move on to play the winner of the Los Angeles Galaxy-New York Red Bulls matchup.
Could this be the first Seattle professional team to win a league championship since the 1979 Seattle Supersonics (once again, my apologies to the Seattle Storm)? The pieces seem to be in place. The goal scoring is there. The storybook finish for a great captain is in waiting. And 36,000 fans have cheered their guts out since March.
It’s time to bring a title back to Seattle.
Filed under: Sounders
Tags: Sounders FC