The most famous Seattle athlete in sports history is a dead horse (Seattle Slew, stud fee: $300,000) who actually hailed from Yakima. Nine people in town vividly recall the Sonics' 1979 march to glory. Our fondest baseball memory involves a triumph in a five-game wild card series. The only local football moment tattooed on the national consciousness is Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth getting steamrolled ࠬa Wile E. Coyote by Bo Jackson. And unlike hockey hotbeds such as Phoenix, Columbus, and Tampa Bay, we boast no NHL franchise. According to most traditional measures, Seattle is a decidedly second-rate sports town. Sure, a few championship banners in the rafters would be great, but I still say: "We're No. 1!"
Collectively, our pro teams now don the snazziest uniforms in sportsdom. Thanks to the handsome redesigns (and as a Seattle Weekly veteran, I know a thing or two about redesigns) by the Sonics and Seahawks this year, all our teams have managed the rare combination of modern and tasteful jock attire. It's simply unfathomable that the Sonics can remain mediocre wearing outfits that so seamlessly combine bold classic lines with 21st-century attitude and fabrics. And watch out, NFC—the old Seahawk logo was merely regal, but the new bird looks perched to peck some eyes out (Seahawks End Zone Store, 88 S. King, 682-2900; Sonics Team Store, 312 First N., 269-7467; Mariners Clubhouse, 1800 Fourth, 346-4327 and 2077 Bellevue Square, 425-455-3484).
While he's no comic master, Squatch is a refreshing alternative to the standard lumbering doofus model of mascot (step it up, Moose!), standing near the top of his profession; he's more athletic than half the Sonic players, plus he can dance the mutha out. Squatch: Rent him out for parties! (272-2698). Speaking of mascots, a special commendation goes to our minor-league Seattle Thunderbirds, who've discovered a special promo night so special they ran it twice last season. I'm referring, of course, to the T-Birds' Mascot Night (KeyArena, dates TBA), a free-for-all hockey game featuring a grand assemblage of kooky anthropomorphic characters (Squatch rules on ice, too!). You haven't really lived until you've seen the Kool-Aid pitcher and a giant slice of Papa John's pizza on ice skates whiz by the Hooters owl for a breakaway.
After a season and a half, it's official: The lovable Ichiro is the best all-around player in baseball. That's plenty exciting, but the bigger story is that he and the Mariners are perpetrating the No. 1 scandal in all of sports—our Japanese superstar apparently speaks perfect English, just hates to be distracted (Ichiro: You cannot rent him out for parties). Nearly as scandalous are the mostly top-notch ballpark concessions at Safeco. Nothing comes cheap, but the range and quality of fare is truly remarkable. All the good ole favorites are well- represented, but Safeco is most notable for being the ultimate stadium for healthy eaters; not only is it easy to eat well there, it's lots of fun, courtesy of whimsically named treasures like The Intentional Wok (Home Plate Food Court). The new Seahawk Stadium will hopefully follow suit (The Line of Spinach? First and Sole?).
All this evidence of greatness may seem frivolous, but a very special best-of award goes to the fans of Seattle for their healthy indifference. Pro sports are fun, but they need to be enjoyed in moderation. I've been to bars in Cleveland where nine out of every 10 people were wearing officially licensed team gear. I've stood in a parking lot five hours before kickoff in the blistering Philadelphia cold with thousands of drunken sausage-eaters. I've been in the bleachers in New York where epithets and small metal objects fell in droves. This behavior is nothing to aspire to. We like to play sports ourselves more than people in these so-called sports meccas, which is a major reason we can flaunt the most attractive sports fans. Oh, and we also like to read here, too. A fine selection of books about pro sports, particularly baseball, can be found at the Elliott Bay Book Co. (101 S. Main, 624-6600) and the University Bookstore (4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400).
I could go on, but I think the case has been made—Seattle: best sports town ever. We really are No. 1!