On Wednesday morning, I had a random thought about how many managers the Mariners have had since Lou Piniella left in 2002. For what it's worth, the answer is nine, but beyond that, it got me going down a rabbit hole of grim sports memories as a Seattle sports fan.
So cheery, right? You honestly can't blame me as the Mariners will have that effect on you. Anyway, misery loves company, and I figured some of you might enjoy commiserating with me.
Before I get into the list of my seven most haunting memories as a Seattle sports fan, I have to go through a few disclaimers.
-- When I think "most haunting," I tried to come up with responses beyond game-specific moments. Luckily, it wasn't that hard. Please find me on Twitter and let me know where you agree or disagree.
-- I was born in 1989, so you may have some that pre-date my existence. I'm also curious to know what those are.
-- The Mariners were my far and away favorite team growing up. I remember the 1995 season but don't have many intense Sonics memories from the 90s (sad, I know) ((or maybe happy given they never won a ring?)). I also didn't really dive into the Seahawks until the Matt Hasselbeck era.
-- My NFL fandom ended in 2014, when I began covering the NFL full time. I spent that season covering the Titans, and while I kept tabs on the Seahawks, there was an immediate disconnect once I got on the reporting side. I tell you this because you'll notice the Seahawks-Patriots Super Bowl isn't included.
Alright, *takes a deep breath* let's do this.
7. Any mention of the New York Yankees
Sure, Edgar's double in 1995 was incredible. It remains one of the most iconic moments in Seattle sports history. Unfortunately, New York got payback with back-to-back ALCS series wins over the Mariners in 2000 and 2001. Seattle hardly challenged New York in either series, losing in six games and five games, respectively.
The 2000 campaign marked the end of the Alex Rodriguez era in Seattle, and the 2001 series loss offered an uninspiring end to an otherwise historic 116-win season. Since then, the Mariners have endured a near two-decade long playoff drought that stands as the longest in the four major male professional sports.
The Yankees were the villain of my childhood, and there wasn't a close No. 2.
6. Seahawk losing to Steelers in Super Bowl XL
This one would have been higher on the list had I not been able to celebrate the Seahawks Super Bowl win over the Broncos.
I remember Seattle cruising through the NFC playoffs with ease. My high school Spanish teacher offered our class a point of extra credit on our final exam for every four points the Seahawks beat the Panthers by in the NFC Championship Game. He ended up having to go back on his word because Seattle drubbed Carolina by 20 (he still gave us three points of extra credit instead of five). That was a whole lot of fun.
The Super Bowl, as you well remember, was markedly less fun. Between Jerramy Stevens' three drops, Ben Roethlisberger's non-touchdown being called a touchdown and a number of other egregious calls in favor of Pittsburgh, it was tough to handle missing out on my first chance to see one of my teams win a championship.
5. Sonics drafting unproven 7-footers in three-straight drafts
I remain mystified how an NBA general manager could pull off three of the worst drafts in NBA history in succession. That's what Rick Sund accomplished from 2004-06. It's a mix of misery and rage when I think about Robert Swift (12th overall), Johan Petro (25th overall) and Mouhamed Sene (10th overall). Swift and Sene never reached 100 games played in the NBA while Petro was never more than a backend-of-the-bench player in his eight-year career.
Al Jefferson was selected two picks after Swift and J.J. Reddick was the pick that immediately followed the Sene nightmare.
In those three drafts, Seattle came away with Swift, Petro, Mickael Gelabale, Sene and Yotam Halperin. That's it. *switches to extreme sarcasm voice* It's shocking that none of those guys were able to help keep the Sonics from moving to Oklahoma City.
The shame is that those three monstrosities were bookended by two fantastic drafts. Seattle grabbed Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour in the first round in 2003 and Kevin Durant second overall in 2007.
4. The Mariners inability to hit on a first-round pick from 2005-14
It's easy to poke fun at draft misfires, but I understand that it's an imperfect science. That's especially true in baseball, where we usually have to wait at least three seasons for top prospects to make it to the bigs.
But the Mariners still have some gut-wrenching misses: Jeff Clement third overall in 2005 (Ryan Zimmerman went 4th, Ryan Braun went 5th, Troy Tulowitzki went 7th, Andrew McCutchen went 11th and Jay Bruce went 12th), Brandon Morrow 5th overall in 2006 (Andrew Miller went 6th, Clayton Kershaw went 7th, Tim Lincecum went 10th and Max Scherzer went 11th), Dustin Ackley 2nd overall in 2009 (Mike Trout went 25th), Danny Hultzen 2nd overall in 2011 (Trevor Bauer went 3rd, Anthony Rendon went 6th, Francisco Lindor went 8th, Javier Baez went 9th and George Springer went 11th) and Alex Jackson 6th overall in 2014 (Aaron Nola went 7th).
Woof. I mean woooooof. I needn't say more. And yet, there's another Mariners front office blunder that is the worst of all, and that's…
3. Mariners trading for Erik Bedard in 2008
Bill Bavasi is responsible for one of the worst trades in baseball history. He effectively traded Seattle's entire farm system in order to acquire a grouchy starting pitcher who is still unaware that games do in fact continue beyond the sixth inning.
Everything about the Bedard trade makes my blood boil. Adam Jones should have been the face of the Mariners franchise for a decade. Instead he made five All-Star Games for the Orioles. George Sherrill and Chris Tillman also made an All-Star appearance in what was a comprehensive robbery in favor of Baltimore.
Between Nos. 3 and 4 on this list, it gets pretty easy to understand why the Mariners are still in search of their first playoff appearance since 2001.
2. Sonics moving to Oklahoma City
I, sadly, am not an NBA fan any longer. I enjoy watching playoff hoops, but I'm not emotionally invested in any capacity. However, there is one exception: I root for whichever team is playing the Thunder in the postseason.
I celebrated LeBron James' first Finals win in Miami in 2012. I paced back-and-forth until the Warriors ultimately came back from a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. I pumped my fist like Tiger Woods and roared when Damien Lillard hit the walk-off, series-winning buzzer beater just last spring.
Let me put this as simply as I can: I hope Clay Bennett's hands remain void of an NBA championship ring for the rest of time.
I miss the Sonics dearly. But the pain of losing our team is topped only by the false hope of getting one back. That's what we endured back in 2013, which leads us to...
1. NBA vetoing the Kings move to Seattle
For as much as I love sports, I'm pretty good about avoiding heated debates and hot takes. I don't have many opinions that I believe should be universal, and I'm happy to agree to disagree in most instances.
Any conversation regarding the Sonics is an exception, especially in terms of what transpired back in 2013. People forget that the Maloof family sold the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. I vividly remember Dave "Softy" Mahler driving into the KJR studios to jump on the radio late one night to celebrate that the Sonics were coming home. The entire city was elated in a collective naivety thinking it was a done deal.
The NBA gave Sacramento every opportunity to save its team, a grace not afforded to Seattle back in 2008, and ultimately vetoed the deal between the Maloofs and Hansen/Ballmer. The cherry on top of that sh-- sundae was that Clay Bennett was somehow, inexplicably the chairman of the NBA's relocation committee. Clay Bennett, the man responsible for stealing 40 years of NBA history away from Seattle, was in prime position to ensure that professional basketball wouldn't return to the Emerald City.
Are you kidding me?
OK that's probably a good place to stop before I get too carried away. That was a frustrating, yet therapeutic walk down memory lane. Let me know what resonated with you and what I missed that might haunt your sports nightmares.
With that, I think it's time for happy hour in the Fann residence.
Fann: My 7 most haunting memories as a Seattle sports fan originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest