"Think Seattle will make the playoffs this year?"
It was an idle sports question posed at a weekend reunion by an out-of-state member of the extended family.
"Already in," I smiled.
"Jeez," he said, "pretty confident, aren't you? Season isn't even over. Taking bets?"
"Sure," I said, "but they've clinched, so I wouldn't wanna take advantage of you, family and all."
It might not be widely known outside of Greater Seattle (and to a lot of locals, for that matter) that the region harbors playoff-level pro women's basketball and minor-league men's soccer. But skim the sports-page agate and there they are. The WNBA schedule ends today, Aug. 20, with the 17-17 Storm not exactly Category 5-caliber blowing into the postseason. The Sounders of the United Soccer League will have to wait until later this summer for championship action, but the team is 12-5 (another half dozen ended in ties). They led the First Division after a (bet you'd never guess the final score) 1-0 win in San Francisco Aug. 18. Attendance to the latter was given as 1,377, with no breakdown as to how many were relatives of players.
Anyway, having immediately exhausted talking points about the Storm and Sounders, the extended-family guy and I bee-essed about America's apparent favorite sports (Michael Vick's peculiar ideas to the contrary).
"Seahawks oughta be great this year," he observed.
"Yeah," I nodded, "but you wouldn't really know it after they lost their practice game at Green Bay, 48-13, last night."
"Good thing preseason games don't count," he noted.
"Neither do postseason games if you don't make the playoffs," I suggested. "Anyway, the Hawks always seem to get flattened the second preseason game. Gives Coach Mike Holmgren something to go Snappy Tom about. He plays all the guys who won't start during the regular season then bitches when they lose big. But Holmy's much more interesting when he's pissed off. He's that rare coach who, when he's photographed arguing with officials, actually can look scarlet in black-and-white photos."
"But Husky football will be better this season," the relative said.
"Depends on who plays," I answered. "It's a little unclear to followers as to the team personnel this season."
"Lotsa new guys, eh?"
"Sure, but apparently a few old ones, too," I said. "Season-ticket holders just got our ducats last week. Imagine my surprise when, instead of pictures of wunderkind QB Jake Locker and the other '07 starters, the tix pix were of famous Huskies from the glory years."
"Like Steve Emtman," he supposed.
"Uh huh, but for some reason they left out Billy Joe Hobert."
"All right, but what about the M's?" the relative wondered.
"Let's check," I said as I flipped on the flat-screen nearly two hours after Sunday's home-stand finale had started. I figured the game might be over already but it was still the middle of the fifth, with Seattle up an impressive 10-5. It became a little less impressive when I went online to discover that the score had actually been 10-2 before the M's defense and pitching got a little casual. In fact, Richie Sexson had left the bases loaded in the third after the M's had scored five against a pitching-deprived White Sox team.
"This is just the game they could lose," I said. "Up by eight early, down by a run or two late."
"Never happen," the relative predicted, later proving that he knows a little about Seattle sports. Even as he spoke, Ichiro Suzuki led off the home half of the fifth with a stand-up triple, quickly scoring and adding to what would be 12 team hits (including Yuniesky Betancourt's triple) in the 11-5 win.
"I'm bettin' they make the playoffs," the relative said, noting the 4-2 home stand and series sweep.
"I might take it," I said. "But not for money."