SEATTLE -- Here in Seattle, we manage our sports enthusiasm the way we manage our sunshine: We live off the interest. We go crazy as long as it lasts, and when it's gone, we go dormant for nine months or so.
Sandwiched between Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains, and ... well, another country that mostly likes hockey, there's only so much buzz to go around for sports teams up here. And we have managed that very nicely over the years: There was the Washington Huskies in the early '90s, then the Sonics got hot, the Mariners had a few good years highlighted by a 116-win season in 2001 and eight years ago the Seahawks reached the Super Bowl ... each dutifully taking a turn as "our team," giving Northwesterners the joy of sharing an acute, intense rooting interest with neighbors and people we don't know. You know, like the way people in Boston or New York watch sports.
So we let it all out in great, intense bursts, but it is usually compartmentalized. And it is always short-lived. We know full well that we don't win for real here, so we don't get carried away with expectations. When it comes right down to it, we don't need good sports teams to remind us that this is the best place to live in America ... right? We have the mountains, the tech industry, the coffee, Boeing (for the moment), and the proud tag of "the most literate" major city in the country (mostly because we stay in and read when it rains).
And so now that the Seahawks are roaring in Beast Mode, we're getting giddy. That Monday night game against the Saints was really fun, and even a hard-fought loss in San Francisco on Sunday can't dampen the fans' enthusiasm. And this thing that coach Pete Carroll seems to have control of can have legs all the way into February.
Foolishly, against all logic, it feels like a foregone conclusion mostly because we have never been here before, so we don't realize that even an overwhelming 3-1 favorite (which we are) loses 67 percent of the time. We're so new at this, we simplify it to, "We have the best team - we're 11-2, this is how it must feel when teams win the Super Bowl." The buzz needle has flipped right through the glass.
And amidst the fever pitch surrounding the 2013 Seahawks, we somehow saw our other teams show up on "SportsCenter" over the past week.
The Mariners gave us reason for hope, getting the big bat we have long given up on seeing in the lineup, luring second baseman Robbie Cano away from the vaunted New York Yankees with one of the richest contracts in baseball history.
The Huskies also gave us reason for hope by bringing in a coach with the proven record and who everybody else has wanted, when Chris Peterson chose Seattle over previous opportunities for Los Angeles, San Francisco, and elsewhere.
Wow! Do we have a chance to have real, unbridled optimism beyond one team at a time?
What would that be like? Would our voices be hoarse forever?
Suddenly, there's good news all around the Seattle sports landscape. And even when we got our customary backhanded slap to end another of our various seasons, we still turned on the TV this week to see "our own" Clint Dempsey of the Sounders -- the face of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team -- telling us that Group G isn't necessarily the Group of Death in the World Cup, after all.
That there's hope.
Suddenly, we've got hope, hope and more hope.
Remember, with Oklahoma City absconding with our NBA team in 2008, this city's only modern major sports championship was won 38 years ago by a team that currently ceases to exist.
By most Seattle sports fans' measure, the greatest moment ever for one of our teams has Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus positively squealing ... "there's Junior to third base, they're going to wave him in! ... The throw is late ... the Mariners are going to play for the American League Championship ... I don't believe it! My oh, my!"
A wonderful moment. A memorable call. And as he said, it was to get to play in the ALCS.
But with Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch and the boys, we can book tickets to the Super Bowl. And when Cano gets more offseason help soon, the Mariners will be viable again. And Peterson has won BCS bowls before, so here we go! And a full season of The Deuce in a Sounders uniform will get us an MLS Cup.
OK, so we're putting on our Christmas list a Cano #22 jersey to go with our #3 Wilson. And a #2 Dempsey. And why not a nice, Huskies sweatshirt, like the one Coach Pete will be wearing?
The hell with spending just the interest. We're ready to go all in.