In one spot, your semi-complete guide to just what the hell has happened, and is happening, in Seattle sports lately, thanks to random calamities, perfidies and ironies.
I wish there was the equivalent of an air quality index meter for this sort of thing. Or maybe something like an antigen test. But there is no plausible marker to measure what’s happening. So in the absence of a quantifier, I’m going to give it at least an identifier.
The Foghorn Leghorn Seattle Sports Week: A Set of the Most Unheard of Things I’ve Ever Heard Of.
We begin with the Mariners.
Already down to 30 scheduled home games by dint of COVID-19’s wreckage of the MLB schedule, the Mariners this week had to shift five games from T-ball Park to San Francisco and San Diego because of smoke from wildfires that were largely from — wait for it — California.
And that was after playing a doubleheader with the Oakland A’s Monday at T-ball with the worst air-quality conditions of the week. According to my AQI meter, the needle landed that day on “Siberian coal-mine explosion.”
This comes after one game was postponed by a racial-injustice protest, and two games were pushed back by a false positive among the visiting Oakland A’s. On Commissioner Rob Manfred’s schedule blender, there’s now a speed called “warp.”
All of this happened while the Mariners, against all hit-the-moon-with-an-arrow odds, are in modest contention for a playoff spot. The 22-28 Seattles (have you heard? “The youngest team in baseball!”) are three games behind the cheatin’, lyin’, scumbaggin’ Houston Astros (25-25) after Thursday’s games for the nearest available spot. Jeez, would the Mariners be national ball heroes if they eliminated the Astros, or what?
It’s true the MLB playoffs have been devalued below penny stocks. But when there’s been a 20-year void, this is no time for arrogant dismissal. A crumb to some can be a meal for real.
We move to the Seahawks.
The NFL schedule-makers leaped at the early season chance to match the re-made Patriots and legendary tombstone-faced coach Bill Belichick in the Sunday night national showcase against the Seahawks, Russell Wilson and the slobbering hordes of “Mad Max” wannabes at the Clink.
Instead, it will be so quiet you’ll be able to hear a DK Metcalf reception drop.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said an “unbelievable amount” of juice will be drained Sunday from the joint by the prohibition of fans until COVID-19 “magically goes away,” per President Trump.
“This is one of the great spectacles in sport, playing here in front of our fans, notably the loudest venue that you could find,” Carroll said. “The excitement level in the energy, and the connection, with the people of this area has been unique, extraordinary and nothing but a spectacle.
“So that’s not gonna happen.”
Fans nevertheless are grateful that the game is happening at all. If it happens.
Remember, the Mariners just abandoned the sports shop next door for the weekend because of the lingering smoke. But Carroll claims a change in the weather likely will bring relief.
“We see a turn in the weather pattern coming before the weekend that should help us out,’’ he told inquiring reporters from the Boston area.
Ah, but as we weather hounds have noticed, our local meteorologists this week have been stumped by smoke clouds this large and dense. They haven’t been right in awhile.
I didn’t think the satellite images of the West Coast fires could get more jaw-dropping and alarming. I was wrong. The smoke has been wrapped at least 1,000 miles west into a cyclone, and also is wafting far southeast, over Ariz. pic.twitter.com/U1fQqaX0MG
— Andrew Freedman (@afreedma) September 11, 2020
When come it comes to forecasting, they would have an easier time predicting Earl Thomas.
If rain and wind do preserve the game Sunday, Carroll called upon the 12s to make robust audio amid their dwellings.
“People can go out on their front steps and start screaming . . . and yell out the windows,” he said. “We’re sorry that we aren’t able to play in front of our fans, but it will get back to it. In the meantime, be creative. Figure it out. Let’s go. Rock the house in the neighborhood . . . make it fun.”
Imagine thousands of fans around Puget Sound stepping though doors and to windows at the moment of triumph, drawing a deep breath and . . . coughing. Not what Dr. Anthony Fauci had in mind.
One caution Carroll failed to mention, but I’m happy to cover for him.
No fireworks. Please.
We move to the Pac-12 Conference.
After being steadfast in its righteousness on Aug. 11, voting unanimously to not play football until 2021 because of the health and liability consequences of COVID-19 to the beleaguered student athletes, the conference leaders backpedaled furiously this week when their partners in conscience, the Big Ten Conference, caved to public pressure to play a season.
The Pac-12 bosses could vote at a meeting Friday to begin perhaps as soon as Oct. 31 a season that they hope would be legit enough to qualify for the industry’s four-team playoffs.
“(Friday) is a chance to get everyone caught up on what’s been a very dynamic and rapidly changing series of events over the last 24 to 48 hours,” Commissioner Larry Scott told The Associated Press Thursday. “We’ll obviously have to decide soon, but I’m not necessarily expecting a decision (Friday).”
The main thing that changed since the first vote was the development of an antigen test that has a rapid turnaround, but is less accurate than the PCR test that takes days to report.
Oh, one other thing changed — campuses opened. The coronavirus was thrilled.
More than 90,000 new cases have been reported among students, most of whom were engaged in online learning, which has the virtue of being closer to the keg.
Deadspin surveyed all 14 schools in the Big Ten, and discovered COVID-19 breakouts everywhere, including the athletic departments. None of this information appeared in the frenzy about starting a new football season. We can assume Scott, Mr. Tagalong, also didn’t see it.
And even if he did, he would likely use the tired retort that that students are different than athletes. Which is, of course, what critics of big-time college athletics have said for more than 100 years.
So the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars appear on the verge of some sort of a season, as long as players can disassociate as much as possible from the schools and students they represent. Fight songs, anyone?
We move to the WNBA.
The WNBA has nothing to do with Seattle and its sports mayhem. Which is the point: The WNBA and its teams this year have nothing but post-office boxes to do with their home cities.
The WNBA played its regular season (22 games instead of 34) entirely in the bubble of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, and will finish its playoffs there by no later than Oct. 11.
In the final four is the Seattle Storm (18-4), the No. 2 seed, who will face the Minnesota Lynx in best-of-five semifinal starting Sunday. If they advance the finals and win it all, the Storm figures to be the first pro sports team in history to win a championship without a game at home.
Talk about social distancing. They put an entire continent between themselves and hugs from strangers.
Another title could also become the first civic championship parade to be on the otherwise useless West Seattle Bridge, where thousands of fans can stand, distant and masked, and cheer as the players pass beneath on the Duwamish in separate watercraft.
How weirdly Seattle would THAT party be?
Finally, we move to the MLS.
On Sept. 10, while the rest of Seattle was hacking, red-eyed and headachy, the Sounders beat San Jose 7-1 at the Clink, the largest margin of victory in the club’s MLS history, the most goals in a match and the quickest team to get to five goals in MLS annals (33 minutes).
Sounders? How about the Seattle Smokers? The sub-nickname works on multiple levels, and perhaps again Friday when they host LAFC.
Smoke from the wildfires in the West will continue to cause hazy skies, even in some areas that are thousands of miles away from where the blazes are burning: https://t.co/1a2O4Puzby pic.twitter.com/lOGJvxice9
— AccuWeather (@breakingweather) September 17, 2020
To summarize: If conditions remain stable, the Sounders will play at the Clink Friday, followed by the Seahawks Sunday. But the Mariners, citing unhealthy conditions at T-ball, are playing five consecutive “home” games in California, where much of the smoke originated.
And the Huskies and Cougars postponed their entire 2020 football seasons on Aug. 11, when campus infections were negligible. But when campus infections spiked with the return of students, the teams and the rest of the Pac-12 re trying to claw back most of the season they tossed.
Look, no one’s at fault fo this chaos. Everyone is trying their best. I thought I’d lay out what “unheard of” looks like. Now that I have, my eyes and head hurt.
My Scotch bottle just texted me: “Meet u in 5.”