BY Art Thiel 11:00AM 12/31/2014

Thiel: Things I didn’t expect from sports in 2014

We in sports spend a lot of time attempting forecasts. But as Seattle sports in 2014 established, the unknown unknowns are just . . . well, unknowable.

Steve Ballmer: The new frontier of nuts. / Wiki Commons

Half the attraction of sports rests in the attempt to forecast. Which means half our time with sports is purposeless, because so little is predictable.

For example: Seattle sports 2014. I did not expect to see:

  • The starting quarterback for the University of Washington football team and the best returning wide receiver wade into a campus crowd celebrating the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win while wearing Broncos gear, igniting fights. The university’s educational mission was set back 153 years to its 1861 dirt-floor beginnings by weapons-grade knuckleheadism.
  • A Pioneer Square race between the arena project and the tunnel project to see if either can finish before the sun goes supernova.
  • A kid from O’Dea High School show up on the global stage as one of the brightest young stars in U.S. soccer history. And actually gets to play. And play well. Despite the self-imposed pressure to have a new hairstyle every day.
  • Steve Ballmer bolting Microsoft and the arena project to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, an overpay of about $1.7 billion. All to an ignorant gasbag whose villainies had been covered over for 30 years by the despotic David Stern, only to be rewarded in the end. And see Seattle sports fans plead to jump into this pit of vipers.
  • The Mariners improve 16 games over the 2013 result to stay in contention not only past Memorial Day, but all the way to the fifth inning of the final game of the season. To reach the first real baseball race since 2001 took three more years than it took the European Space Agency to hit a comet moving 40,000 mph with a rocket after a four-billion mile trip. But, at a $1.75 billion cost for the rocket project, the Mariners spent $47 less in free agency to nearly reach their goal.
  • After eight games played for $18 million in salary and three draft choices, including a first-rounder, the Seahawks trade WR Percy Harvin for magic beans. Two months later, the biggest personnel mistake since the Dan Quayle vice presidency is virtually forgotten as the Seahawks replicate the regular-season feat of obtaining the No.1 playoff seed. So the Seahawks didn’t need him either season, and burned through $18 million just to show they could. What?
  • The Cougars scored 59 points in a football game — and lost. Regarding defense, coach Mike Leach would be more successful training a legless Corgi to fetch.
  • Washington football coach Chris Petersen, allegedly one of the sharpest minds in college football, failing to order the taking of three knees to run out the clock while ahead two points. Instead, he called a running play in which a fumble was lost and turned into the winning field goal. But in his defense, it must be said: At least he wasn’t wearing Denver Broncos gear.
  • A guy who starts every other sentence with “Lissen . . .” to be a captivating talker as well as savvy navigator of psychology. New Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon actually must be listened to.
  • The moribund University of Washington men’s basketball program explode out to an 11-0 start, then kill the streak with a home loss to Stony Brook, a school from Middle Earth whose Hobbit front line averaged 4-foot-3. Next loss: Ewok University.
  • A product pitch on a local TV commercial that did not feature Russell Wilson.
  • The phrase “moving forward” adopted by nearly the entire English-speaking world, from the president on down to sports executives and coaches, without anyone realizing its meaninglessness. We have three realms of time: Present, future and past. Not since Marty McFly have we been able to go back in time, so until that changes, all actions are understood in speech and in writing to be now or in the future. So stop offering directions to the only direction possible.

I did not mention the Seahawks seasons. That’s because the Seahawks did what I and most pro football followers expected: Preseason favorites, they took the No. 1 seed with a 13-3 record, won two home playoff games and then the Super Bowl in 2014 on the world’s biggest media stage.

Maybe that was the most bewildering thing of all: A Seattle sports team delivering on everything that was expected in front of much of the planet.


YourThoughts

  • RadioGuy

    Had to comment even before reading the story, Art. That photo beneath the header had me wondering whether that was either Ballmer or George Karl about to get T’d after Steve Javie whistled Payton for a walk. George could get a little scary to watch on the sideline at times, but imagine your OWNER going all bug-eyed like that…and without any provocation beyond himself.

    • art thiel

      When George went off, is was a majestic fury to behold. Ballmer is just unhinged.

      • Dave Mauro

        I gotta say Balmer is more Peter Boyle, circa Young Frankenstein. As a Microsoft shareholder I wish he had taken to woods chased by angry villagers much much sooner.

        • Jamo57

          Indeed. Thought the same thing. LOL.

        • art thiel

          Splendid pull, Dave. I like it. Now he’s on the LA stage, Puttin’ on the Ritz.

        • RadioGuy

          That totally WORKS. All that’s missing are the torches and pitchforks.

  • cowfarmerJoe

    As personnel mistakes go, Sarah Palin must trump Dan Quayle, no?

    • art thiel

      She was close, but never served. Quayle was a heartbeat away.

      • Jamo57

        Gotta vote for Chone Figgins on this one. Harvin didn’t take down his head coach or set the team back much more than the draft picks and Paul Allen’s Benjamins. Harvin was simply a speed bump. Or perhaps a mid-life crush that Carroll had to apologize for, behind closed doors in Renton.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Figgins~like a bad recurring dream for you?This article is about things Art didnt expect in 2014. Thankfully, Chone wasnt riding the bench last season. Egads,there wouldnt have been an “almost” play off berth on the line I suspect.Meanwhile Figgy is sitting somewhere enjoying his millions he pilfered from the Org. enjoying the new year.

          • Jamo57

            The reference was to the worst personnel decision since Dan Quayle. Always scored well in reading comprehension. Now a Quayle Iowa exploratory committee in 2014 would certainly be something no one would expect to see.

          • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

            No you are right… and for the record I too am glad we don’t have to deal with our daily dose of Figgins. That was the nightmare with our eyes open.

          • Jamo57

            Well, truth be told, until ground gets broken on Seattle Arena I will always look for opportunities to take shots at the Ms. LOL. Flogging the Ms for a bad personnel decision was merely the latest opportunity. ;-)

        • art thiel

          Chone Figgins was so 2012. But I do like the crush analogy.

      • cowfarmerJoe

        True that. A heartbeat away renders mute this old parable: there were once two brothers. One went to sea, and the other became Vice President. Neither were heard from again.

    • RadioGuy

      I dunno, Joe. I’m not convinced Biden is much better than Palin, just better on the delivery. Quayle WAS hapless.

      • cowfarmerJoe

        Biden is the only Beltway politico, not enrolled in the KKK who really speaks his mind. Quayle wasn’t insane, at least…or related to Einstein.

      • Jeff Shope

        biden is a communist nut and quayle was just an idiot

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Potatoe….Patahto (potato)….six of one…half dozen the other. Sarah did have a better hairdo than Dan. Quayle,,,reminds me of the real life raptor(bird).

      • art thiel

        I knew I shouldn’t have used a political analogy. Resolved: Try not to do that in 2015.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Politics and sports…not the best of bed partners. My point was like a dying quail anyway.

  • jafabian

    The Harvin trade has to be the biggest shocker of Seattle sports for 2014. After what the Seahawks gave up for him and the splash the news made, plus his Super Bowl performance, it seemed like he was the key to a dynasty run. To give him up for a middle round pick is an eye brow raiser. Not sure if Ballmer shelling out $2 billion for the Clippers is shocking or disappointing. Wish he pulled out that card to buy the Kings.

    • eYeDEF

      Not sure I would call a sixth round pick “mid round”. More bargain basement fire sale. Was worth it though.

      • jafabian

        Thought it was a fourth rounder?

        • eYeDEF

          Only if he’s on the roster next year. At a 10 mil cap hit I don’t see how his production this year would justify the price. With their front office in limbo it’s anyone’s guess but we can be sure that if they hire away any seahawks coaches or front office personnel that he won’t be on the roster.

  • Big

    Corgi low blow Thiel. PETA will contact you.

    • art thiel

      Really like Corgis. Really like making fun.

  • westsydemariner

    “You got this” – is there a working frontal lobe anywhere in Madison Ave/Ivory Tower Land?

    Yes, I have replayed the superbowl over a dozen times. Still get giddy watching every play. That’s gotta be the 2014 story. Re-Pete for 2015. Still waiting for Howie to get canned. Newsflash: T LaRussa gets the DBacks back in the WS, and we’re still holding our junk.

    • art thiel

      Again, I expected the Seahawks to get there. The unexpected also keeps the sports stew on boil.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    The magic beans are still better than that moment in the Dallas game where a pouting Harvin was making a spectacle of himself and his 11million a year paycheck by hissing that I refuse to go back in “coach asshole”. Who was the human derriere?He is in NY watching the play offs this year. Great Article Art although Vipers do have their genetic purpose whereas Vermin like the NBA Henchmen do not.

    • art thiel

      I wasn’t denying vipers their place on the food chain, just lamenting Seattle’s proximity to being bitten again.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        Yes sir… I read the bitten part loud and clear…vipers would be preferable.