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.