Dan Shaughnessy

The lost city of the Northwest

University of Washington coach Ty Willingham went 0-12 in this, his last season. University of Washington coach Ty Willingham went 0-12 in this, his last season. (Ted s. warren/Associated Press)
By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / December 7, 2008
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SEATTLE - Welcome to Bizarro Boston. Come see how the other half lives here in Loserville, capital of the Pacific Northwest.

Let's admit up front that there was a time in the Hub of the Universe when Boston teams did not win championships. We longed for a parade at City Hall Plaza. It felt like there never would be a reason to celebrate.

But even in the lean years, our town never had a stretch like this. This is cruel and unusual. Seattle stinks. At everything. It is the sports opposite of Boston.

The Patriots hope to keep their playoff hopes alive today when they play the Seahawks at Qwest Field. Bill Belichick's boys could not be in a better place. The Seahawks - Super Bowl participants just three years ago - are awful. They are 2-10 under lame-duck coach Mike Holmgren. In the NFL today, only the Bengals and Lions are worse than the Hawks.

Seattle fans can be excused if they show up with paper bags on their heads this afternoon. Losing has become a way of life here in the land of Boeing and Microsoft. Dr. Frasier Crane doesn't have enough hours in a day to soothe the fears and frustrations of the fandom.

Remember the once-mighty Mariners? They won 116 games in 2001. They were the Rolling Stones of baseball. They had Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., and Alex Rodriguez. They participated in a classic playoff series against the Yankees in 1995. They play in a spectacular ballpark with a retractable roof.

But the baseball glory days are long gone. The Mariners still have Ichiro Suzuki (who makes Terrell Owens look like a team player), but fans would rather watch the Moose on his motorcycle. The Mariners lost 101 games last year, second-most in baseball. They did it with a payroll of $118 million. It's one thing to be bad, like the Pirates; it's something else to be bad and overpaid.

What about the Sonics, you ask? Don't. It's even worse. The Sonics, who won the city's only major championship in 1979 and made it to the NBA Finals as recently as 1996, have left the building (Key Arena). They have left the city. Yesterday's Seattle SuperSonics are today's Oklahoma City Thunder. The Sonics bolted after 41 years and still they are terrible. The old Sonics/new Thunder are 2-19 after last night's 105-99 loss in Miami. They are the worst team in the NBA. And Seattle misses them madly.

College football? You don't even want to know. Washington, a Rose Bowl participant in 2001, finished 0-12 with yesterday's loss to Cal, coach Tyrone Willingham's final game. Willingham went 11-37 since coming to Washington in 2005. Washington State went 2-11 this year, including losses of 58-0, 69-0, and 66-3. When the Huskies and Cougars met in the famed Apple Cup Nov. 22, it took two overtimes to decide who was worse. State won the Crabapple Cup, 16-13.

The NHL? Doesn't live here. Never has.

"It's so bad around here that people turn from sports to financial pages to cheer up," wrote Art Thiel, the estimable Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist.

Sadly, the malaise is not limited to sports. Grunge has gone the way of the rotary telephone. Meanwhile, high-priced coffee houses are the first thing to go in rough economic times.

Seattle is to java what New Orleans is to jazz, and Starbucks are closing all over the country. Seattle's Best has become a luxury many no longer can afford.

The local weather is not likely to improve spirits. In Miami, if the Marlins, Heat, and Dolphins are all in last place, folks still can go to the beach and take comfort in the knowledge that they're living better than fans in title towns like Detroit, New York, and Boston. Seattle gets none of that, especially this time of year. Forecast for today through April: mostly cloudy, showers.

"They have very enthusiastic fans and crowds," Belichick said when asked about Seattle. "The Kingdome was a tough place to play and very loud. This will be an interesting one in their new stadium, playing outside. I think this is a good football team."

No. It was a good football team. Now the Hawks are one more layup in a Patriot schedule littered with easy games. The Seahawks are not a good team this year. They are exactly the kind of team the Patriots need to play right now. Today's game should be Seattle's greatest gift to Boston since Ray Allen.

Sleepless? In Seattle?

Try winless.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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