Influenced by the apparent absence of creative thinking going on during the Seattle Seahawks 24-19 lucky "W" over the stumbling Rams Sunday, Nov. 25, I summoned a few uninspired thoughts of my own. I harked back to a newspaper that carried the term "mediocrisy" in a headline pertaining to the prevailing level of performance of local sports teams.
Some who saw the non-word may have taken it for either a typo or an inventive way to make a new word out of "mediocrity" and "hypocrisy." The irony may not have escaped readers that, were it actually a typographical error, the screw-up would have said as much about the newspaper as it did about the sports milieu.
It turns out that mediocracy is a word. It means "a government by mediocre rulers." The United States would fit the description but only if the level of leadership in D.C. were ever to rise significantly.
When you broaden the term to "sports mediocracy," it becomes a synonym for "Seattle." It refers to a place where, when you add up all the wins and losses of the main local teams during their current or most recent seasons, success is about a 50-50 proposition.
The only locals with postseason potential, the Seahawks, are 7-4 after Sunday's gift win over the Rams. Mix that record with the Sonics (2-11 as Sunday dawned), Husky football (4-8 after a sour Apple Cup loss the day before), and the 2007 Mariners (88-74), and you'll have a combined mark of 101-101 – as soon as the Sonics lose their next four. Vanilla ice cream, Chevy sedans, and movies featuring Saturday Night Live alums aren't this mediocre, even on their most lackluster.
A mediocracy often is sustained by zero-sum weekends: Huskies lose to Wazzu (42-35); Hawks beat Rams. Other times it's what could be called less-than-zero sum: Sonics lose on the road; Sonics lose at home. A corollary to the latter could be observed in St. Louis: Rams win first half, Rams win second half; Hawks win game.
The Hawks started their sixth straight win over the Rams by going three-and-out during their first possession. The backward "drive" featured a pair of sacks of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, mostly due to the mediocrity of the Seattle offensive line.
Then the Ram quarterback, Marc Bulger, quickly completed a couple of passes by throwing into Seattle's mediocre secondary. When the Hawks got the ball back, it was at their own one-inch line, whereupon the mediocre play-calling and running games took over and yielded a safety: Rams 2, Hawks 0. (Editor's note: the most mediocre possible score in football.)
Though the Rams supposedly were handicapped by the early loss of Bulger (concussion), the Hawks' first-half performance still looked like a lowlight montage from their 2-14 season. Even a kickoff return for Seattle's only first-half score was a mistake play, with Josh Wilson taking a ball that was supposed to go to Nate Burleson (who later would fumble after fielding a punt).
Much was made by game announcers of Seattle's enviable paucity of penalties this season. Maybe our guys are polite; maybe they're actually just lacking aggressiveness. About the only example of playing with abandon once again came from Patrick Kerney (three sacks, seven tackles), the monster defensive end who, with apologies to comic-book-character aficionados, has morphed this season into the Incredible Hawk.
Hasselbeck was stale as last week's stuffing because a sore muscle kept him away from anything more stressful than Thanksgiving with the relatives during the abbreviated practice week. For much of the game, his main labors were vain attempts to shed the presence of Will Witherspoon, part Ram linebacker, part one-man wasp swarm.
Arizona somehow lost to the San Francisco "Nein-ers" Sunday, so Seattle leads the division by two games with five to play. What matters for the short term is that the Hawks took and (barely) kept the lead with about six minutes left in the game. The Rams needed but to punch it in from short yardage during their final possession, but sub QB Gus Frerotte fumbled a fourth-and-goal snap during the waning seconds.
Barely putting away a nothing club doesn't bode well, given a Seahawks team that hits the road with all the prospects of a possum crossing a freeway. If Seattle needs luck to beat a bunged-up 2-8 (now 2-9) St. Louis club, what evidence is there that the Hawks will play any better at Philadelphia next week, or later at Carolina and Atlanta? It would take a great leap of faith, to say nothing of unforeseen improvements. For whatever reason (time-zone fatigue has been cited), on the road the Hawk defense is middlin', the offense is piddlin', and the coaching needs fiddlin'. Special teams? They're actually mediocre teams, which is perfect only if you live in a sports mediocracy. And you do.