I am not a Seahawks fan. I should get that out of the way right now. I rooted for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl and I'll skip out for a bit soon watch the parade, but I'm not one of you—unfortunately. They're just not my team.
I actually went over to my parents' house to watch the big game with family, calmly pulling for the hometown team. But when it was over, and the Seahawks won, I just went home. I rode the ferry back across from Bainbridge Island, and instead of heading for the chaos that awaited in Pioneer Square, I caught a cab home. I was glad, but it didn't feel right to partake.
But in getting off the ferry, and while waiting for the mini-crane to lower the little bridge down so everyone could walk off, a woman said something that caught my attention as everyone else snapped pictures of the ferris wheel and the 12-adorned skyline.
"I knew we were going to win it. Back in August, I called it."
Who says that?
A man standing next to her, probably her husband, was too polite to hit her with "Well yeah. Bold choice there, hon'" and instead said "Yeah, sure, Pete Carroll really has you to thank." It wasn't worth it to him to point out that the Seahawks were, if not the prohibitive favorites to win the title coming into the season, certainly among the two or three teams most likely to do so. And really, it wasn't his place to quell what she was feeling.
She bought in. She believed she'd see the Seahawks win the Super Bowl before she knew they would. It didn't matter that the likelihood of Seattle winning it all was above most other teams. She didn't know, she thought it was worth calling—worth emotionally investing in. And she was rewarded.
Seahawks fans across the city, state, country and world surely had similar experiences, similar validations for putting themselves out there with the belief that they'd see the Hawks bring a Lombardi to the Pacific Northwest. For some, it might have been back in training camp. For others, maybe it was the game against the Bills in Toronto last year. Then I'm sure there are some who had the thought that someday they'd be rewarded when they made that first deposit on season tickets for the Hawks' inaugural season in 1976.
While Seahawks fans will celebrate en masse today, hundreds of thousands of people rejoicing as one, each individual has their own narrative—their own inner-"I told you so." As hard as it was at times, and as likely as it seemed at others, those fans now know that things can go right. You can be rewarded, and it is a beautiful feeling.
And for the Mariners fans among that throng of 12s, that's what I want them to know. It can work out.
As I mentioned, I’m not a Seahawks fan. No, I follow the Packers. And on most Sundays in the fall and winter of 2010 I took the ferry over to Bainbridge to watch the games with my parents, my two brothers and, if they were home from school, my two sisters. Despite being a supremely talented team, it was an up-and-down year. They put more players on injured reserve than any other squad and only made the playoffs because an idiot punter kicked the ball to DeSean Jackson.
But at no point in the season did I not think they were going to win the Super Bowl. They lost some bad games, some frustrating games, but I knew that if they played to their capabilities, they’d win it. And they did.
I was right that time, and it felt great. I tell my family to this day "Even when we were middling around at 3-3 after a loss to the Dolphins, I knew we were as good as anyone." And for me, it only takes being right once to take the chance on wanting to be right again. Honestly, I enjoy being right more than I hate being wrong. That’s probably a terrible trait, but I digress.
That was one of the times I was right, one of the very few times I thought "I think this team has something" and was rewarded. And that feeling is addictive.
Every year since 2010 I’ve thought the Mariners had a shot at the playoffs. 2010, of course, was somewhat-justified—but the rest? Yeesh. And that’s how sports go, you’re going to be wrong so much more often than you’re right, but to know it’s possible to be right—to have experienced the feeling—is crucial.
I hate the direct comparisons between the Seahawks and the Mariners, because the former’s sport is more prone to rapid rises and precipitous declines—but you need not look further back than 2009 for a time when the M’s’ future shone brighter than the Hawks’.
The Seahawks went 5-11 in 2009 and fired Head Coach Jim Mora, Jr. after a single season on the job. They hired Pete Carroll who, despite his success at USC, looked like a guy trying to escape sanctions and cash in on his success at Southern Cal before it was too late. There were national pundits who questioned the hire.
Over the next few years, the Hawks' draft classes were viewed as being, if not poor, highly questionable. Heading into just last season, their options at the most important position in sports were a guy they paid a bunch of money to for two professional starts, and a 5’9" rookie.
Had you "called" where they’d be now, no one would’ve believe you.
What's the lesson? For the people out there trumpeting the success of the Seahawks at the expense of the Mariners, saying "the Seahawks will have only sellout at Safeco this year!", just know that success can be right around the corner, even when it looks like it isn't.
And even if it looks like it isn't, even if you're the only one to do so, you can genuinely believe that you'll see better days, that you'll see your team win—that you'll see the Mariners win. Does what the Seahawks have done have any direct bearing on the M's? Does it mean expectations are raised and we're bound to see some kind of sports renaissance in Seattle? No, there's no direct impact.
But just remember this feeling, this knowledge that you were right and that this city can win a championship.
For the Mariners, maybe all it takes is a catalyst in the lineup, a new leader in the clubhouse and a man up top with a different vision for the organization. I don't know, but I believe it's possible—no, screw that—right now, I believe that's the case. I believe the Mariners will someday soon capture this city the way the Seahawks have.
Will I be wrong? Probably, but that's how sports go. I'd rather risk it and take the chance on being right.
All I know is that Seattle is having a parade today, and pitchers and catchers report in a week. If you can't be optimistic now, if you can't imagine the range of possibilities when one of them is cruising down Fourth Avenue—when can you?