BY Steve Rudman 07:17AM 03/06/2011

Top 5 List: City’s pretty, sports are ‘miserable’

Seattle wins Forbes boobery prize for third straight year.

Seattle, WA.: The scenic and boobery capital of American sports (according to Forbes) / Wiki Commons

Earlier this week, Forbes selected Seattle as “the most miserable sports city in America”. Seattle is about to retire this trophy, the Emerald City having been designated “most miserable” for three consecutive years by the magazine. No other U.S. city can claim such a terrible trifecta.

Forbes based its rankings not so much on the fact that a particular Seattle sports team had a wretched 2010, although the Mariners found a way to botch 101 games. Rather, Forbes singled out Seattle specifially because of the lengthy run (44 years since the SuperSonics became Seattle’s first pro team) of mediocrity among its major (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) professional franchises.

In that time, covering a combined 107 seasons played by the Sonics, Seahawks and Mariners, Seattle has just one championship to show for it (1979 Sonics). That woeful number trails only Atlanta’s single title in 127 combined seasons by the Braves, FalconsHawks and Thrashers.

So why didn’t Forbes select Atlanta as the most miserable capital of the athletic world? Probably because the Braves have won so many division titles while Seattle teams claim division flags about as often as Franklin Gutierrez drops a fly ball.

Our main complaint with the Forbes list is that it broadly bestows “most miserable” status on a city without providing much texture or context. So we decided to list 10 areas of rampant boobery from which our sporting misery springs. Each area lists five samples. Oh, and BTW, Seattle is already practically a lock to be named “most miserable” again in 2012.

Bear in mind this list is not exhaustive, is meant for amusement purposes only, and that what follows isn’t the half of what makes Seattle such a miserable sports city (more misery here).

10. MISERABLE OWNERSHIP

  • 5. Jeff Smulyan: Underfinanced Mariners owner (1991) tried to spirit the club off to Florida and lied about his intentions.
  • 4. Bruce Anderson: Sounders (NASL) owner (1983) ran such a shoddy shop (and knew it) that he agreed to play the dunce in a “Dunk The Owner” contest at halftime of a match.
  • 3. Howard Schultz: Sold the Sonics to Oklahoma City’s Clay Bennett (2008) knowing full well what the consequences would be.
  • 2. Ken Behring: Tried unsuccessfully (1996) to move the Seahawks to Los Angeles (said he feared that an earthquake would wreck the Kingdome, then relocated the Hawks to the San Andreas fault before the NFL forced him back to the Northwest).
  • 1. George Argyros: Spent $13 million to acquire the Mariners in 1981, ran them into the ground and sold for $67 million; once fined $10,000 for openly wooing the San Diego Padres while he still owned the Mariners.

9. MISERABLE FRONT-OFFICE INTELLIGENCE

  • 5. The Seahawks planned to draft Stanford All-America OT Brian Hollway in 1980 (second round), but head coach Jack Patera mistakenly took his pudgy backup, Andre Hines, who played all of nine games with no starts.
  • 4. At owner Ken Behring’s insistence, the Seahawks used their 1991 No. 1 pick on quarterback Dan McGwire, who started just five games (immediately below McGwire on the draft board: Brett Favre).
  • 3. In the 1987 NBA Draft, the Sonics took future Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, then promptly swapped him to Chicago for a trio of turkeys, Olden Polynice, Sylvester Gray and Brad Sellers (Polynice provided more amusement for his multiple arrests for impersonating police officers than he did for playing hoops).
  • 2. In 1997, the M’s sent future All-Stars Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Red Sox for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb, who never could get his ERA under 5.00 and was cut.
  • 1. In 1972, the Sonics swapped popular All-Star guard (and future Hall of Famer) Lenny Wilkens to Cleveland for Butch Beard, who lasted one year in Seattle, averaging 6.6 points.

8. MISERABLE (OR MEDIOCRE) FRANCHISES

7. MISERABLE RELOCATIONS OR FOLDINGS

  • 5. In the pro sports era (1967-11), Seattle has lost, without elaboration, the Pilots (MLB, 1970), Cascades (WTT, 1979), Smashers (IVA, 1979), Sounders (NASL, 1983) and  Reign (ABL, 1999), among others.
  • 4. Seattle would not support the Virginia Slims/Avon women’s pro tennis circuit in the late 1970s and early 1980s; nor a ATP tour in the early 1970s.
  • 3. No title sponsor came forth to support the LPGA’s Safeco Classic at Meridian Valley, so the LPGA abandoned Seattle.
  • 2. Seattle used to be a regular stop on the PGA Tour; it no longer is.
  • 1. Seattle SuperSonics: NBA team moved to Oklahoma City after no workable solution could be found to replace or upgrade KeyArena.

6. MISERABLE EXPENSIVE PLAYERS

  • 5. Cedric Woodard, Seahawks: Defensive tackle signed a five-year, $15 million contract in 2001 and produced one sack in the next 60 games.
  • 4. Scott Spiezio, Mariners: Signed to a three-year, $9.3 million deal, Spiezio lasted 141 games during which he hit .198.
  • 3. Carlos Silva, Mariners: Club signed him to a four-year, $48 million contract. In his 36-game tenure (2008-09), Silva went a Magooish 5-18 with a 6.46 ERA.
  • 2. Vin Baker, Sonics: Received a six-year, $86.7 million dollar deal (after the Sonics knew he was a bust), one of the great fleece jobs in franchise history.
  • 1. Jim McIlvaine, Sonics: Received a $33.6 million contract after averaging 2.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, and pretty much played up to his stats.

5. MISERABLE MOMENTS & MISPLAYS

  • 5. May 14, 2004. The Mariners became the only franchise since 1977 to allow an opponent (Yankees) to score six runs without an official at-bat.
  • 4. Dec. 29, 1994: Sonics lost to the Lakers 96-95 after botching a 4-on-1 fast break because Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp decided to showboat on the play.
  • 3. Oct. 29, 1978: The Seahawks lost to the Broncos 20-17 because they had 12 men on the field, giving placekicker Jim Turner a second-chance field goal after he had missed his first overtime try.
  • 2. May 22, 1977: Not only did the Mariners have five base runners thrown out in their game against the Oakland A’s, they were “thrown out for the cycle”: Skip Jutze (home, fourth inning); Jutze and Dan Meyer (home, sixth inning); Meyer (third base, eighth inning); Dave Collins (second base, seventh inning);
  • 1. April 29, 1986: Mariners batters fanned a record 20 times against Boston’s Roger Clemens.

4. MISERABLE NUMBERS

  • 5. – 7: Yards the Seahawks generated against the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 4, 1979, still an NFL record for futility.
  • 4. 513: Runs scored by the Mariners in 2010, the lowest total in Major League Baseball in 40 years.
  • 3. 140: Points scored by the Seahawks in 1992, the fewest in a season by an NFL team in the era of the 16-game schedule (since 1978).
  • 2. 15: Points that the Sonics allowed 5-5 Earl Boykins of Denver to score in a single overtime period on Jan. 18, 2005, an NBA record.
  • 1. 2: On July 9, 1985, the Mariners had two baserunners – Phil Bradley and Gorman Thomas — thrown out at home against Toronto — on the same play in the third inning!

3. MISERABLE HISTORY

  • 5. The Seattle Pilots (1969) are the only expansion franchise to last just one year in a city (went bankrupt and moved to Milwaukee).
  • 4. The Mariners are one of only eight teams never to win the World Series.
  • 3. The Sonics (now Thunder) still hold the distinction of blowing the largest second-half lead in the history of the NBA playoffs — 24-points to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980.
  • 2. From the mid-1970s through the early mid-1990s, Seattle hosted more than 100 national championship-type events, including three Final Fours (1984, ’89, ’95) and numerous other NCAA events. Since 1995, and except for the Federal Way Aquatics Center, Seattle no longer hosts anything of consequence (what national events do come to the Pacific Northwest (such as the U.S. Figure Skating Championships) now go to Portland and Spokane.
  • 1. The Seahawks are the only NFL team to rush for more yards and commit fewer turnovers than its Super Bowl opponent (Pittsburgh, 2005) — and still lose.

2. MISERABLE OPPOSING FORCES

1. MISERABLE GENERALITIES

  • 5. In 1973, the Sonics became the first pro sports franchise in America to sue itself. Shareholders in First Northwest Industries, owners of the team, sued primary owner Sam Schulman for a spate of bad trades that shareholders said cost them millions.
  • 4. Seattle is the only city ever awarded an NHL franchise to not ever get an actual team. Happened in 1976. NHL awarded a conditional franchise, the condition being that the Pittsburgh Penguins would be sold to a Seattle-based group. That group could never get its financial act together and the deal fell apart.
  • 3. In 1984, King County, representing the people, sued the SuperSonics beause not enough King County residents were attending games at the county-owned Kingdome.
  • 2. Seattle is the only city to implode a stadium (Kingdome) built to last 1,000 years.
  • 1. To underscore Seattle’s miserable mediocrity, in 1998-99, the UW football team went 6-6, the Sehawks 8-8 and the Sonics 25-25 (strike-shortened season).

YourThoughts

  • Lucky Infidel

    Sounds about right for Subaru-driving, left-lane hogging, pre-eminent women’s town in the world (really) Seattle. We are the personification of lame, geeky, and weak and yet we think we are so cool up in here in backward Hooterville. That is why nothing will ever really change as a result of force of community.

  • 1coolguy

    Not to add insult to injury, how Wally Walkers’ name doesn’t show on any of these lists is clearly a GROSS oversight Art, even though some of his inept, misdeeds are.

    A very close second is the Gemini pair Lincoln/Armstrong.

  • Greg

    Good God Art , good thing they made that bridge suicide-proof !

    Pass the Abilify …

  • Davo

    Reading this hurt.

  • Dave J

    Thanks, Coolguy! Wally’s King, while Behring and Slick Rick are amicable side kicks

  • Joel M

    You can add Bill Bavasi’s gold medal brainfarts to Wally’s hilarious incompetence….the list goes on and on but my favorite is still taking Brandon Morrow over hometown king Tim Lincecum.

  • just passing thru

    ok, Steve, I mostly smiled as I winced through this listing. And how about a top/bottom 5 “bad exits”

    5. Seattle Pilots
    4. Randy Johnson
    3. Alex Rodriguez
    2. Ken Griffey Jr (2x with potential for another shot at the trifecta!)
    1. Sonics

    bonus points: Mercer Exit off I-5

    • Steve Rudman

      I’ll file this. I’m sure it will come up sometime. Thanks!

  • JP Lowe

    My god that’s depressing…I need a new hobby.

  • Da Kid

    So you’re saying I should stay in New Orleans? No more Aints here, and the weather is soooo much nicer.

  • Da Kid

    Btw, here’s another vote for Dinosaur Senior. :)

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/sports/mlb/2011/04/ex-mlb-outfielder-carl-everett-arrested-fla

    Ex-MLB outfielder Carl Everett arrested in Fla.

    Former Major League outfielder Carl Everett is in a Tampa jail on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and tampering with a witness.
    Jail records indicate the 39-year-old Everett was arrested Monday night at his suburban Tampa home. He was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail shortly after midnight and is being held without bond.

  • thekellygreenandwhite

    I’m not looking forward to this…

  • jafabian

    Does he still have his reality show?  Maybe the Hawks will be on MTV now?  Will Snooki show up at training camp?

  • RadioGuy

    Terrific.  Why not bring in Rae Carruth?  Who cares if the locker room ends up resembling Shiloh or Antietam…there’s TALENT in there.  Bob Whitsitt must feel vindicated.

  • Matt712

    I haven’t heard any quotes from Pete yet, but I imagine it will go something like, “Oh gosh he’s such a tremendous athlete and a phenomenal talent and so experienced and the way he prepares himself and gosh just a really great guy and a handsome man and….”