Calaghan: Seahawks fans, hope for best, prepare for worst

By Peter Callaghan, Columbian Syndicated Columnist

Published:

 
photoPeter Callaghan covers the state Legislature for The News Tribune in Tacoma. Blog: thenewstribune.com/politics; or Twitter: @CallaghanPeter. Reach him at peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com.

I'm not sure how to break this to all of those in the region getting revved up over the current edition of the Seattle Seahawks, so I will try the direct route.

Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.

This isn't meant as buzzkill as much as advice for approaching this weekend as the team plays the San Francisco 49ers with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. There will be so much hype per square inch of Western Washington on TV, radio, newspapers and all of our websites that fans might actually believe the end result depends on their unfettered fandom.

Therefore, only positive and optimistic words and thoughts will be tolerated.

But this part of the world doesn't exactly have a great record when it comes to winning championships. It isn't that the major pro and college teams have blown the big games (Super Bowl XL and any Cougar bowl appearance notwithstanding); it's that they haven't played in many.

University of Washington Husky football has won a few national championships, depending on who is counting. The WNBA Seattle Storm has won two. The NBA team formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics has one. And who can forget the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans hoisting the Stanley Cup on the ice at the old Arena (other than just about everyone). The team might have won again in 1919 if not for that whole Spanish Flu pandemic.

And that's about it. The Puget Sound area might not hold the record for fewest championships but it has to be a contender vs. San Diego, maybe. Or Buffalo. Or France.

History of mediocrity

Losing games isn't as bad as losing teams. The Sonics were stolen away by Clay Bennett and David Stern while the Seattle Pilots were taken by Bud Selig. The replacement Seattle Mariners are one of just two baseball franchises to never make it to a World Series. The year they tied a major-league record for most victories, the team melted down in New York, an occurrence blamed by some on the club's visit to post-9/11 Ground Zero.

"The guys were still choked up from Ground Zero and we weren't ready to play," said then-coach John McLaren in Jon Wells' "Shipwrecked: A People's History of the Seattle Mariners."

The only reason Atlanta replaced Seattle on the 2012 Forbes' list of the Most Miserable Sports Cities in America is because it had just lost its hockey team for a second time and failed to get into the baseball playoffs on the last day of the season. Apparently Forbes awards extra misery points for getting agonizingly close.

But proving that it can contend if the stakes are low enough, Seattle regained the title in 2013. Measuring just the four big men's sports, Forbes noted that in 115 total seasons, Seattle franchises advanced to the semifinals 11 times, the finals only four times.

As consolation, Forbes did buy into the claim that the refs cost the Seahawks the Super Bowl in 2006. But it showed little respect for the Mariners by misspelling the nickname as the "Mainers" (which maybe isn't so bad if it caused some readers to think the team actually plays in Bangor).

Forbes did hold out hope that the Seahawks could get the region off the top of the list with a Super Bowl XLVIII ring. But the magazine also advised, "Until then, easy on the coffee. It's known to trigger heartburn." (Why is it that national newsies think the only thing that happens in this region is coffee consumption and salmon tossing?)

Anyway, all this history might explain why so many fans have placed so much psychic energy into the Seahawks.

All past failures, all the disappointment, all the unfulfilled hype, every disappointing Christmas can be washed away with a Super Bowl victory. Nothing else will do.

That's a big load for the players and coaches, though I'm sure they can handle it. Still, protect yourself by hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.

Trust me, it's safer this way.