If you look at the right sidebar on my main page, you’ll notice a few things. I try to update and keep track of the teams that are in-season with their current records and their next scheduled games. I’ve got a list of categories, if you’d rather just read about one particular team. I’ve got links to my Twitter and Facebook pages. And, below that, I’ve got a list of the last five years’ worth of records for each of the teams I cover on this blog.
From time to time, I’ll refer to this list. Sometimes, I need to know exactly how many wins a certain team had in a specific recent year; sometimes, I just like to marvel at how long it’s been since a team has made the postseason. I chose five years because I think that’s a good barometer as to where a team is headed. You can take a quick glance and see if things are trending upward, downward, or in the case of Husky Football, maddeningly the same.
The first thing I notice is that the Seattle Supersonics have been missing from this list for quite some time. Six-plus years, which is a fucking travesty. Let’s get on this, NBA! As for everyone else, let’s separate them by heading.
Clearly trending downward. Once the Mariners make the playoffs this year, the Husky men’s basketball team will have the longest postseason drought in the area, which is just impossible to comprehend.
The great thing about looking back at just the last five years is, it’s usually a good indicator as to a coach’s job security. Lorenzo Romar has just finished year 4 without an NCAA Tournament appearance. Gotta figure one more of those and he’s out on his ass.
As I said before, clearly trending even. 2010 was our first year playing in a bowl game since we bottomed out in 2008. At this point last year, you’d have an argument that the program was trending upward, but with 2014’s uneven performance – punctuated by the dud of a Cactus Bowl – I might even make the argument things are starting to go south.
The Huskies lose some really good players on defense to the NFL draft this year. Compound that with their most experienced quarterback – Cyler Miles – stepping away from the team (maybe forever?), and I have to wonder where our wins are going to come from in conference play. 2015 is certainly going to be a step back, but hopefully it’s a productive step back, where we find a quality replacement at quarterback who’ll be ready to help this team pop in 2016. There’s still reason for optimism, but it’s going to be difficult to see through the thick layer of shit that’s right in front of us.
Trending even, but it’s not like things could get much better than the 2013 season. I’m not ready to proclaim the Seahawks on a downward trend – as we’ve still got the pieces in place for an extended run at Super Bowls – but it’s hard to say things are going to get much better. Back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, one boneheaded playcall from winning them both, I’d say this team is still at its peak level of dominance.
Still, 2015 is a key pivot point in this organization’s trajectory. Guys aren’t getting old, necessarily, but they’re getting older. Combine that with three consecutive playoff runs for the pillars of this team and you’re talking a lot of mileage. If we can’t figure out a way to re-stock our depth with this year’s draft (combined with the IR players from last year’s draft who’ve had a full year to acclimate to being a professional), things could start to get hairy in a hurry. We’re always going to be great as long as our great players remain healthy; but how long this championship run lasts will depend on the quality of players who step up when the greats get hurt.
Trending upward! Hurrah! Last year, we were one game out from a play-in game for the playoffs. We dumped our crap – Smoak, Hart, Morales, Denorfia, Beavan, soon-to-be Ramirez – and what useful pieces we lost aren’t devastating to our overall outlook in 2015 (Saunders, Young, Maurer, Beimel). The important thing is who we’ve brought in to replace them. Nelson Cruz is a MAMMOTH upgrade at DH. Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano should be moderate upgrades in the outfield (over Saunders and Jones, particularly). Rickie Weeks could be a boon for our bench (over someone like Romero). And, healthy seasons out of Walker and Paxton should alleviate some of the burden the team had to endure with the likes of Maurer, Beavan, and Ramirez (who were absolute disasters when they had to spot start last year).
Obviously, it’s a long season, and anything can happen. But, it’s good to know that the Mariners have as good a shot as anyone to not only make the postseason, but win the whole thing. If you think about it, this is a team BUILT for the playoffs. Felix is the best pitcher in baseball. Iwakuma is a rock solid #2. Paxton and Walker both have the potential to be #1 or #2 pitchers. Then, with the lineup, we’ve got a 3-4-5 that rivals any team’s with Cano-Cruz-Seager. Combine that with enough role players around them who should keep this offense afloat in the lean times, and top it all off with a bullpen that could be in the top 5 in all of baseball, and you’ve got a team where it wouldn’t be crazy to see it go all the way.
The overall sports atmosphere in Seattle is one of Encouraging Optimism, which is a huge step up from Cautious Optimism (which is usually as high as things get around here). The Seahawks obviously busted through the gates with their championship last year, but with the Mariners surging, we’re really in some glorious days. Of course, it’s not perfect. We’re probably looking at a total rebuild after next year’s Husky basketball team once again fails to make the Tourney. But, in general, I’d say this is the best time to be a fan of Seattle sports teams.
Now, all we need is a clear plan to bring our Sonics back, and maybe a lead on an expansion hockey franchise, and we’ll be all set.