I didn’t see this coming.
We asked readers who the biggest addition to the Seattle sports scene is in 2013. After a week when Chris Petersen was introduced as the next Washington coach and Robinson Cano’s $240 million deal with the Mariners was announced, I wondered who would win. Add in Clint Dempsey of the Sounders FC, new Seahawks arrivals Cliff Avril and Percy Harvin and new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, and we had a poll with some interesting choices.
I thought it would be a tight race between Petersen and Cano, with Harvin receiving strong support. I was wrong.
Petersen ran away with it, drawing 41.6 percent of nearly 4,500 votes through Friday morning. Cano was a distant second, with 26.1 percent. Dempsey was a strong third, with 14.9 percent. The Seahawks’ choices, Avril (9.3) and Harvin (7.4) were next, with McClendon (0.6) last.
What do you make of it? Realizing, of course, that this is a survey of our sports readers and not a scientific poll, I take six things away from the voting:
1) Seattle is still a Husky town: Sure, the Seahawks are a Super Bowl contender, but Washington football remains a big deal around here. Purple and gold is deeply embedded in this city’s sports psyche. If we needed proof, the reaction to three events in 2013 prove it: 1) Don James’ death; 2) Steve Sarkisian’s exit; 3) Chris Petersen’s hiring. The outpouring of emotions from my chair through emails, phone calls, letters and online readership was remarkable to all three events.
2) Send Sark a thank you: Sarkisian didn’t exactly endear himself to Husky fans with his messy exit, but there’s no doubt he brought the program back from its darkest days of 2008. After four seven-win seasons, Washington seems poised to take a big step forward. In fact, Sarkisian probably did UW a favor by leaving for USC, allowing Washington to hire someone who may be better suited to finish the rebuilding process. Nine wins is a strong possibility this season, and if running back Bishop Sankey stays for his senior year, who knows what can happen in 2014?
3) Chris Petersen’s hiring has a chance to be a home run: Athletic director Scott Woodward struck gold with Petersen. The high expectations that arrived with him from Boise State are only part of the reason. Woodward moved quickly and decisively, and was able to leverage Huskies hopes, vastly improved facilities and a program flush with Pac-12 TV money to land one of the bright young coaches in college football. It could be the perfect hire at the perfect moment, when the Oregon Ducks even may be vulnerable.
4) The Mariners have a lot of work ahead: Landing Cano is a huge accomplishment, but fans are angry and skeptical. Ten years of rebuilding has left them wary of anything this team does until it wins. Even an introductory news conference that seemed more like the launch of a Jay Z national tour was viewed by some as contrived and greeted by a collective yawn. Manager Eric Wedge’s sudden exit, and the revelations of front-office meddling and dysfunction detailed in Geoff Baker’s investigative story published Sunday points to a sobering reality: The team that once owned Seattle sports won’t win back its fans quickly or easily.
5) Yes, this really is a soccer town: Dempsey’s strong poll showing, months after his arrival, confirms that Sounders fans are a force in Seattle. Attendance figures – the Sounders break MLS records every year and ranked 22nd in the world – prove it.
Those are my thoughts. I’d like to hear what you think.
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