A friend suggested that it stacks up as a terrific sports weekend, what with opening home games for the Huskies and Seahawks. I checked the calendar. It’s actually a six-day weekend, featuring at least one event to please just about any imaginable fan.
It started Thursday morning (Sept. 9) with an unexpected second-place performance by Ryan Moore in the opening round of the Chicago-area BMW Championship, part of the P.G.A. FedEx Cup playoff system. Moore, the Puyallup prodigy, shot a six-under 65 to position himself a stroke off the lead going into Friday’s second round.
Thursday night it was soccer (Sounders in front of 36,000 for a scoreless tie at Qwest Field against Real Salt Lake in a televised match) vying for attention with baseball, minor-league, yet. The Tacoma Rainiers beat Sacramento for the second time in the triple-A playoffs and will play a third and possibly fourth and fifth games Friday through Sunday at Safeco Field while Cheney Stadium, the club’s home ballpark, gets fixed up.
Baseball followers will be eager to see what promises to be the right side of the 2011 Mariners’ infield, AKA the Dustin (second-baseman Ackley) and Justin (first-baseman Smoak) Show. Sacramento fans have seen plenty of both. Smoak is four for five in the series; Ackley is five for nine, including a grand slam in five RBI in Thursday’s win.
Saturday the Huskies play Syracuse at 4 p.m. It’s critical in that a loss not only would belie the preseason hype about Steve Sarkisian’s legions. It also would set up the prospect of four straight losses (BYU, Syracuse, Nebraska, and USC) going into an Oct. 9 home game against Arizona State.
The Seahawks are considered by many to be the long weekend’s big draw. This obviously owes more to the popularity of the National Football League than any anticipation of success by the Hawks this season. Late this week, however, Seattle is considered just a three-point underdog at Qwest Field against the 49ers, considered by many to be the NFC West favorite and projected by some experts as a 2011 Super Bowl team.
In a more balanced world as far as sports priorities, the fact that the Seattle Storm is, after all, playing Atlanta in a national championship series starting at home at noon Sunday no doubt would reign supreme. But the ongoing gag among male-sports supremacists remains: Would you rather have the Storm win a championship or find a 10-dollar bill on the sidewalk? In any case, the Storm plays a televised second game against Atlanta Tuesday toward the end of the “weekend.”
Results from the protracted six-day span could actually get better for spectators. If Moore is still in the hunt on Sunday, sports omnivores may find themselves risking carpal-tunnel syndrome with the channel-changer.
Also worth noting: the two remaining aspects of suspense facing what’s left of the Seattle Mariners, which is to say their best pitcher and greatest position player. By end of day Tuesday the M’s will have played three in Anaheim and a pair against Boston at Safeco Field. A Felix Hernandez Saturday win would put him at 12-10, with hyper-impressive stats beyond a win-loss record largely based on poor run support. Many speculate he still could be in the discussion for the Cy Young Award.
Then there’s the region’s other world-class athlete, Ichiro Suzuki (Hernandez and the Storm’s Lauren Jackson are the others). Going into Friday Ich needs just 17 hits in the remaining 22 games to join Pete Rose as the only player to amass 200 hits 10 times, though Rose’s didn’t come in consecutive years. Somehow it doesn’t quite seem likely that Number 51 would be in position to post his 200th hit by Tuesday night but with Ichiro anything seems possible.
As to possibilities, it could be that the locals will mostly lose and a week from now we’ll be observing how so much went wrong during the six-day blur. Win, lose or (as with the Sounders) draw, though, the reality remains that Greater Seattle sports scene won’t have been uneventful during early September 2010.