This writer ponders a half-century in the city he loves as he prepares to pack up and move to enemy territory…… Arizona.
There was a time I never thought I could never leave Seattle, not for good anyway. This is home. Always has been…always will be. I was born in Mt. Vernon, schooled in Bellevue and Auburn. I love the evergreen trees, the water, that mountain. I swear Mt. Rainier still gives me goosebumps on those days where she reappears after hiding behind so many grey clouds every winter. It’s as if I forget she’s there and get the miracle of rediscovery every time she returns.
And I’ve tried living in other places. I once took a job in Orange County thinking I had hit the mother lode. Biggest salary I’ve ever made, sunshine, beaches, California girls.
It lasted 3 months. I hated it. I couldn’t wait to come back.
And at that time I swore I would never leave again.
But things change. People change. The city itself has changed. The massive influx of outsiders has forced the culture of the metropolitan area to evolve, and not in ways I’m all that happy about.
But that’s not why I’m leaving the city I adore, packing up my 2010 Ford Escape (with WSU plates) and heading south to the desert. It’s time to shake things up. From a personal standpoint, 2016 was a challenging year for me. Divorce, work challenges, a bit of career burnout, another breakup, losing my dogs….. I hid it all well from those around me (or most of them anyway, there were a couple who saw through it), but it took it’s toll.
I didn’t just choose Arizona randomly, I mean…who ever would right? My best friend lives there. He’s a partner in a sports bar in Peoria. Needs good people to help build the business. I’ll be stepping away from management for the first time in 14 years. If you head down to check out the Mariners next Spring, stumble into Legends Sports Club and you’ll see me pouring suds and muddling lemon drops.
But that’s inconsequential. The emotions I’m having now are those of a half-decade in what I view as the most beautiful place on earth. And one of the things I’ll remember most are the connections I made through sports. Covering sports in the Tri-Cities in the mid 90’s, I got to attend Seahawk training camps. I’ll never forget the time I took a dip while waiting to interview Dave Krieg. My camera guy chewed, and I guess right there in that moment I thought it was good time to do something “cool.” I made it through the Krieg interview without puking on his shoes, but it was touch and go.
There was the time I was in the Kingdome for Ken Griffey Jr’s first major league home run, on the first pitch he ever saw at home. I say “in the Kingdome” because I didn’t get to see it. I love my Dad, but punctuality to sporting events was never his strong suit. We were walking up the outside ramp when we heard the roar of the crowd.
Obviously, most of my great sports memories are Seahawk-centric. The intensity of the wave at the old Kingdome was something i thought would never be duplicated in sports again, until the 2005 NFC Championship Game. I had never, and will never again, experience a crowd like that. From the opening anthem to the final gun and beyond, that crowd stood and yelled at the top of their lungs. Non stop. Unrelenting. My ears are still ringing.
“The tip” by Richard Sherman…the Green Bay playoff comeback…the Matt Hasselbeck slide-and-hold-the-ball-up rushing TD against the Redskins in a home playoff game…watching Russell Wilson blossom right in front of our eyes…Cortez Kennedy playing his way into the Hall Of Fame despite being on bad team after bad team.
And that Super Bowl win. Finally, a Super Bowl. I was working that day, managing a wing joint near UW. For me, the tears came after Kearse’s late TD, and I’m glad that’s when it happened. Because while everyone else was enjoying the Gatorade bath and final seconds ticking down, I was running around dealing with a total crash of our computer system, just as everyone was trying to close their checks and head out into the streets to celebrate together.
(Just another one of those moments that remind me why it’s time to leave management behind…)
That other Super Bowl? There’s a specific spot I was standing at Ozzie’s when the interception was thrown. I think about that game…that moment…every day, every time I pass by that spot. The pain of that moment will never pass.
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And now I’m moving to the very place that moment happened, or at least very near. In fact, I plan to be at the SNF game in Glendale October 23rd. Being a Seahawk fan in an opponents stadium will be surreal. Being a Seahawk fan living in enemy territory ought to be quite the experience as well. But don’t worry, I’m taking all 30 of my Seahawk hats with me.
People have asked me “Are you going to be a Cardinal fan now?” Clearly, none of these people know me very well. It doesn’t work that way, at least not with me. I may not have a great track record of devotion to such things as wives and girlfriends, but I do NOT waver on my teams!
Seahawk for life. Mariner for life. Coug for life.
I get to be an NHL fan now, which is kind of cool, and I’ll probably follow the NBA once again. If the Sonics ever return to Seattle I’m right back on board, but I’ll probably attach myself to the Suns while I’m there.
And what’s the rule on opposing leagues? Can I “follow” the D-Backs since they’re a National League squad? Regardless, they suck, so no one should be too offended if I take an interest in them.
Most of all, after decades of wanting to attend Mariners spring training and being disappointed…now it’s in my back yard.
I will continue to write and serve as co-editor of this site. And in fact it will likely take on even deeper meaning for me now. Since I won’t be here, not attending the games, not intimately immersed in the local culture surrounding the team, this will be my way of staying engaged.
Will I be back someday? Probably, but I’m going down there with the mindset of it being a permanent move. The cost of living is something I’ll never be able to enjoy here (have you seen the price of houses in the Phoenix area?) But whether I come back in 2 y ears, 5 years, or never, I will forever be connected with this amazing area, much of it through the experiences I’ve had growing up a Seattle sports fans.
I love this city, and that will never change.