Spring is in full bloom. I’ve always associated the season of spring with the word hope. Spring hasn’t quite gotten us to the full-blown joy that summer brings but that joy is within reach. The chill of winter has mostly passed but there’s still those cold days where we hope that the sun will come out tomorrow. Things aren’t perfect but there’s enough evidence to make hoping for summer justifiable.
It just so happens this is where we are right now in the Seattle sports scene. A few weeks ago we were able to enjoy one of the best weeks sports has to offer; The Masters, college basketball’s championship, and Opening day in baseball. But, this is a week where spring can turn to summer sports wise. Hope could turn joy. Cautious joy, but joy none the less. The Mariners, Seahawks, and Huskies all have significant events starting today and lasting through next weekend. If all goes well this city could be as excited about sports as we’ve seen in a long time.
Lets start with the Mariners because this is probably the most evident case of things turning golden quickly. The M’s had an outstanding homestand and are now tied in first place. You think things can’t get better? Ladies and gentleman, meet Cliff Lee. Next Friday, April 30th, the former cy young award winner will be making his Mariner debut. This is the moment Mariner fans have been dreaming of since mid-December. He’ll be thrown right into the fire against a pretty good Texas Rangers lineup. Will he be as sharp as he was in the world series his first start? Probably not, but this is still cause for celebration. And if this isn’t enough to get someone excited, Felix pitches the next day. Finally, what was billed as the best 1-2 punch in baseball is here.
The same night that Lee returns on his white horse, the Dawgs will take the field at Husky Stadium. Now, I know spring games aren’t going cause the excitement that upsetting USC brought but I truly think that after seeing this team play people will be buzzing about what could be next fall. The freshman running backs, Nick Montana, the emergence of the secondary, Mason Foster, and Jake Locker will provide the Dawgs with higher expectations than they’ve had in years. While a team has to fulfill expectations to be considered a success, high expectations is step is important for a program. The fact that those expectations are coming back is enough to bring a smile to my face and after April 30th I think Husky fans will have plenty of smiles going around.
By that same day we should know the fate of Terrance Jones and Terrance Ross. Both of these guys are mega recruits that the Husky basketball team would love to have. If these two commit the sky may be the limit for the Huskies next year. The dawgpack will be partying in the streets of Montlake and the basketball team would move up 5 or 10 spots in the “way too early” preseason rankings. The sun will be shining bright if Jones commits and if both commit then you might as well put on your swimming suit because it will be like we’re on a beach in July.
Then there’s the Seahawks. Few sporting events bring the amount of hope that the draft brings. Dan wrote about what he thinks the Hawks should do with their picks earlier today so I won’t get into that. A franchise is built on young talent and today is the start fo Seattle rebuilding their franchise. Unfortunately, this hope can’t translate to joy as soon as these other examples. The NFL draft can be really hit and miss and it will take a few years to fully judge these players. But that doesn’t take away from the hope there is in this day for the Seahawks. The last few years have been absolutely awful and today may be the start of that changing.
Yes, this could just be me getting excited about nothing too important (it wouldn’t be the first time). But it’s hard not to feel a sense of excitement and hope about the next week.
Meanwhile, Donald Butler, who just last year was an average linebacker playing for a terrible Husky defense, is sitting somewhere today waiting for a phone call that will tell him he’s going to receive money to play professional football for the first time in his life. 22 years of hard work will pay off for him today. His hope will turn to joy. His spring will turn to summer. As I sit here looking out the window at a sunny day, I can’t help but feel that summer might come a little bit early this year.