Monday, July 14, 2008

30 pieces of Silver: A City Betrayed

July 2, 2008. Remember this date as it will infamously go down as the day The Seattle SuperSonics were sold down river to Oklahoma City for a cool $45 mil. It will be remembered as the day professional basketball died in the fine city of Seattle.

July 2, 2008 was supposed to be the day the sporting world learned the fate of Seattle's oldest professional sports franchise as decreed by Judge Marsha Pechman. After two straight weeks of the circus that was the court case and the ups and downs that came along with it, it would all be over. Closure would finally be earned.

In 1925 T.S Eliot famously wrote "This is the way the world ends...Not with a bang but with a whimper." He may as well as have written those words about the conclusion of the Sonics tenure in Seattle in 2008. Before Judge Pechman could issue her decision an out of court settlement was reached. Instead hearing a much anticipated ruling on the case the only thing that was heard was a giant ripping sound coming from the rending hearts of Sonics fans as their team was violently torn from them.

The City of Seattle, whose argument throughout the trial was that no monetary value could be placed upon having the Sonics here, reached an agreement with the Professional Basketball Club(Bennet et al.) for $45 million, a monetary value if I have ever heard one. A sum that still doesn't fully pay for the Key Arena tab. An additional $30 mil will be granted to the city if a deal for a new arena or Key Arena remodel is passed sometime during the next session of the legislature and a team does not move into the facility by 2013. No team was promised to the city in return, unlike when The Hornets left Charlotte in 2002 and were granted the expansion Bobcats a mere 2 years later.

In accepting the $45 mil settlement being offered Greg Nickels might as well as have been Judas accepting 30 pieces of silver. The man testified that he had only attended 2(!!!) Sonics games in the past ten years. Why should he care about the team the put Seattle sports on the map? He seemed only interested in covering the remaining amount on the lease than actually trying to keep the team here. Mayor Nickels probably felt that all in all the team could add enough monetarily to the city to be worth the fight. Not like, say, his beloved condos and other soul stealing buildings, that add near countless funds to his coffers(perhaps I am overstating the financial impact of all this new housing but to me the massive influx of new people into the city combined with the tearing down of anything that resembles "old" Seattle dovetails nicely into Nickels' goal to rid Seattle of it's soul in a conquistadors quest for the loot, the Sonics being the latest victim unfortunate enough to be in the way)

Greg Nickels was tittering and giggling like a school girl with a secret during the press conference at which the settlement was announced to the public. On the most somber day in Seattle sports history he was acting as if he just found out the cutest boy in the class had a crush on him. This did not go unnoticed, however. It was a fact that the news media immediately picked up on and even the normally collected Kevin Calabro had something to say on this in a recent PI article "I suppose I should be muzzling myself and painting a rosy picture, but I can't do that, it's not honest." He then added "I was embarrassed for the city, I was enraged that our council members would sit up there and titter and laugh nervously and congratulate themselves over being part of a 41-year history being sold. I was deeply embarrassed and still am.

"I get incensed because people, particularly leadership in the town and the region, don't seem to have the same pride in the area that I do. They sold the legacy away for less monetarily than they should have for a promise down the road of an NBA team from a league run by a commissioner that disrespected them and the region.

"What you're doing now is going after a theoretical building for a hypothetical team. I find that failed logic."

When the voice of the Sonics says things like this with so much anger and disappointment, people listen. I agree whole heartedly with his statements. There is no guarantee that by going along with the NBA and their scorched earth policies that the city will ever get another team. A funding deal could be put together for a Key Arena remodel an upgrade and still no team could come.

This is all rather analogous to the chapter from Cannery Row where John Steinbeck lovingly tells the story of a male gopher who builds a mansion among gopher burrows, replete with a ransom on fresh mallow weeds, in attempts to woo a mate. The poor gopher finds out that despite a prime location away from predators, with readily available food, and a top-notch floor plan there are simply no females near to court. He eventually leaves his home, following a females scent down a another distant burrow only to find that she is already spoken for and her mate doesn't take too kindly to the bachelors advances. For his troubles the young gopher is mauled badly and forced to return to his den and lick his wounds, alone.

Seattle is not the only city on the prowl for an NBA franchise. Las Vegas, Kansas City, and San Diego are hoping to lure a team away from floundering market and give it a shiny new home. Like a sad Vh1 reality TV show, Seattle will have to compete against the rest of the contestant/cities in order to impress a team enough to be chose as said franchises new home. I can envision Seattle losing every shred of dignity as it grovels to the NBA for a new team. We could call the show "I love David Stern". Challenges could include cooking Stern's favorite meal(liver and fava beans with a nice chianti) and getting into a hot tub with sexy Davey while whispering into his ear all the nasty things our city would do for him if he were to choose Seattle. If the city were lucky it'd be the last one standing and we would get to hear those beautiful words "Seattle, you get to have the Memphis Grizzlies!"

This brings me to another point that Art Thiel brought up. Namely, can the city of Seattle and it's sports fans feel good about themselves if they turn around and steal a team from some other struggling city? For once I totally agree with Mr.Curmudgeon. As a Seattle sports fan I can't hope to subject another city to the BS Seattle just had to endure.

Already I've tried to reconcile my misgivings about stealing another team like a Memphis. I've tried to rationalize that Memphis s a college sports town, that the Grizzlies were moved there from Vancouver, BC not too long ago, and even then it was on a billionaire's whim not due to any huge groundswell of fans begging for an NBA franchise. But it doesn't matter, you can't have a list of caveats wherein it is alright to steal a team from another city. You have to either not care and plunder away with glee or not do it at all. To try to talk oneself into such a theft is what the NBA is counting on. It will only embolden them to let established teams leave in search of "greener pastures". If the city scorned wants a team back bad enough they will steal another franchise from elsewhere.

If this stolen team were to come here and play the current best option is a renovated Key Arena. It is interesting to note that, now, David Stern says a remodel of Key Arena is good enough to receive a team. With these latest statements Stern has done a complete 360 on The Key's viability. In 1995, during a Sonics/Lakers game, The Commish was on the local broadcast stating he thought the former Seattle Center Colosseum was a world class facility. Then, some12 years later, he says that a remodeled Key Arena is a "non-starter" as far as a viable place for the Sonics to continue to play and thus won't be accepted as a means to keep the Sonics here. Now, with our 41 years of history out the door, Stern is back to claiming a remodeled Key is a perfectly fine place for the new team to play. How is anyone expected to trust a single word that comes out of Stern's mouth? I sure don't.

One of the other things that really pisses me off about this whole mess is, as I stated in my previous sonics posts, this: The Sonics organization, for the first time in years, is positioned to become of of the best young franchises in the NBA. We have two young Stars in Kevin Durant and Jeff Green...Their season-long growth was given it's true test in the last two games of the season against the Nuggets and Mavs in which they both posted career highs and made countless big shots in games that were must-wins for the opponent. The idea of these two playing alongside each other and getting only better in the coming years is exciting enough as it is but throw in the fact that we have 6!!!!! first round draft picks in the next 3 years. That includes two this year in one of the more loaded drafts of recent memory.

This was written well before we drafted the point guard of the future, Russel Westbrook, from point guard U, UCLA. His drafting only adds to the sting. Another solid young player to build around, a component that will help out both Jeff Green and Kevin Durant but Seattle doesn't get to reap the rewards. I want so desperately to root for these guys, it kills me. They belong to the enemy now. They no longer play for my Seattle Sonics because that team no longer exists. When I read article saying that Westbrook is the best player not named Kevin Durant in the summer league, it makes me extremely bitter. And I'm already like goddamned lemon. Clay Bennett should just punch me in the face, just to really rub it in.

I feel sorry for the fans, for losing the only mens pro sports team to have ever won a title. I feel sorry that we never got to give The Glove a proper send off and retire his jersey as a way to thank him for all he did for this town. I feel sorry for the city of Seattle, it is less of a place without the Sonics here. I feel sorry for Kevin Calabro, he can longer engage in his love of calling Sonics basketball.

Mostly I feel sorry for KD and Jeff Green. Kevin Durant bought a $2.8 mil house on Mercer Island when he was drafted here last year. He got to enjoy living in a small quiet neighborhood only minutes from downtown. He was surrounded by Lake Washington and as any Seattlite who has been on the lake in a boat on a beautiful summer's day can tell you, there are few better places in the world to be. I've never been to OKC so I can't say what they do on their hot summer days, but I can tell you it's nothing like lamping beachside on mercer island or boating out on the lake. I'm sorry the KD and Jeff only got a small, albeit delicious, taste of Seattle life. I'm sorry that they will now have to call OKC home, no knock on OKC but I doubt there is a soul north from Everett south down to Tacoma that would rather live in Oklahoma. Sorry guys, I wish you could stay and grow in this beautiful northwest haven but David Stern, Clay Bennett, Mayor Nichols, Gov.Gregoire, et al. all didn't see it that way. They fucked up, so you two, like all us fans, have to live with that fuck-up. As much as that may suck. Sorry, again.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Real Men, DO Cry

Our city just folded before a decision. Before the trial, we were assured this was all about enforcing a lease - that dollars could not be put on our love for the oldest professional team in City. Maybe they knew something we didn't, I wouldn't bet on it.

Nichols said the NBA told him that a renovated Key would be a viable stadium in the league. That comes as a surprise. I thought only 100% publicly financed 500 million dollar stadiums were necessary for a team to make a living in today's NBA.

Nichol's can't save face in this, he can't act like he gives a rats ass. I'm not buying it, he himself admitted to only going to two games in the last decade! He's the goddamn mayor of the City, and he probably only made it out to 1 game in 2004. It's really surprising that for a mayor notorious for pandering to developers like no other, he didn't rally harder for this team and a new world class facility. But then again, he never gave a shit to begin with.

I'm really stoked that Starbucks is closing 600 stores, a very good start indeed. Every time I see a Dunkin Donuts commercial, I say to myself "build it, I will go." Tully's is my option now, that and little underground coffee stands. Schultz, you chicken fat spineless fakest wannabe owner there ever was, you suck! You're one of the bad guys here! I remember feeling good after you first purchased the team, you'd pacing the courtside in your ivy league sweater vests, high fiving fans - I bought it all. Then when it was bad times a few years in a row, you sold the team! The only person that knew this team was leaving more than us, was you... YOU! Kahhhhhhhhhn!!!!!!!

Only now, can we make a decision - because the band-aid has been ripped off. You have a couple of options.
  1. Sit at home and cry jinks hoping that Stern plants another team here once we come up with our arena solution.
  2. Ignore the fucking NBA altogather.
  3. Or the worst of the worst, become a Blazers fan. They deserve more than that, this was a true rivalry we had going, you can't root for them, its not right!
Lets look at the bigger picture my friends, the NBA model is busted. Plain and simple. And the precedent set with the Supes is a dangerous move for the league. If large market teams keep moving to small market cities, where the owners don't have to compete with the NFL and MLB, the league will die. Imagine the LA v Boston rivalry, now imagine that were the Oklahoma City v Omaha rivalry. Yep, its one busted model if the trend continues.

I'm for choice two out of pure spite. Lets put the choke hold on the league and deny them the luxury of putting their product in our city again. The good times I've had, those were good times. Let's not make the same mistake twice.

As my grandfather once put it, "I've been married three times, and divorced three times. Either I'm a bad husband or a piss poor judge of character. I dont need a fourth wife to find out which."

Teamsters Unite! Come Align For The Big Fight

In my previous post I extolled the virtues of Shawn Chacon for living every working Americans dream by beating down his boss, Astros GM, Ed Wade. I still stand behind these sentiments. But I fully expected for Chacon to lose his job after the incident. Chances are that if you grab your boss by his neck and proceed to slam him to the ground you are going to lose your job, regardless of if you are a highly paid professional athlete. So when Chacon was released by the 'Stros I barely even blinked.

Yesterday, as I was browsing, I came across an article that said the union was grieving Chacon's release as an "unlawful termination". I had to do a double take, and slam my head into the wall to make sure my optics were functioning properly. They were. The players association was really grieving one of the more lawful terminations I'd ever heard of. If pretending that you are on an episode of WWE's Monday Night Raw and chokeslamming your boss to the ground isn't grounds for termination, well, I have no idea what the fuck is.

This brings me to the point of this point of this post. What the fuck good are unions? Don't get me wrong, I understand the history of the unions. I know the struggle the unions went through in their early days fighting for workers rights. Many of the perks I enjoy at my job, like seniority and guaranteed pay, are the products of the groundwork the union laid down years prior. But it seems like the union of today is a joke.

I know my union rep, kind of. He shows up at my work maybe once a month walks around, makes small talk with some people, then leaves. I once tried to file a grievance due to highly inappropriate racial comments made to me by my boss and his 'stache. After I got done explaining to my rep what happened and made clear to him that this really pissed me off, I was expecting some solid advice on my next move. His response to my fuming recounting of the story was"Well, how far do you want to take this? I mean, we can file a grievance but they may very well make life harder for you because you did. I'd say just give him a warning and if it happens again we can think of filing a grievance."

I was shocked. Every paycheck the union bops me for my dues, whether I want to pay or not. When I actually need the union's help this is the type of help I get? So, what good is the union exactly?

I told a co-worker the story who is actually kind of friends with the rep. His advice, you have to engage him in conversation about something he likes. They always discuss hockey. He loves hockey.

Well, that's just fucking great! As I mentioned in my first post all I know about hockey I learned from Blades of Steel. And even if I did know anything about that bastard child 4th sport, why should that even matter? Why do I have to placate the man whose salary I help pay just to get some real advice? That seems to go against what the union is all about.

I get the union making sure I can't get fired for not restocking the beer fridge one time. I'm glad they ensure my job security. At the same time, that job security allows some of my less work inclined co-workers to skate by without fear of reprisal, being fired. Not having to pull your weight but still getting paid the same amount as those that do is Un-American. In fact, that's commie talk right there. Let's just set up breadlines instead of our normal employee meal while we are at it.

I appreciate the union protects me from undue discrimination. I'm glad that i can't get canned after my first minor offense. At the same time the union makes it hard to trim the fat off the workforce.

Case in point, a few years back I had a co-worker who was a notorious flake. In my mind he already had one strike against him because he was hired over me for a position that was never offered to me. This despite the union contract mandating I be given a fair chance at said position. Combine that with the fact I could do his job with my eyes closed where as he needed his hand held the entire time, I yearned to see him get the ax.

For the sake of anonymity we'll call him "Dupey-Doo" or "Dupey" for short. Dupey was constantly struggling to get food out to his suites. He had to be constantly reminded on the smallest things like putting out condiments for his food. His general incompetence would have him shit-canned in no time at a non-union workplace. Lucky for ol' Dupes he had the union safety net to prevent his much deserved dismissal.

Eventually he did get fired. Granted it took one of the more egregious fuck-ups I've witnessed at that place to get it done.

Dupey managed to steal the fruit tray that was destined for the Press Box Suite. He then hid it in the cupboard of one of his suites, a suite that had customers in it. Eventually the customers noticed him sneaking to the cupboard and apparently eating something. They complained to management, who came to his suite for a sit-rep and found him with a mouthful of contraband fruit. After that he got the long overdue boot.

Sadly that was not the end of the Dupester. He managed to mobilize the union to get him his job back, much to everyones chagrin. Bobby Ayala-esque rumors swirled. Did he possess photos of our boss with a goat? Was he connected with the mob and had trigger-men outside someones house?

In reality he just managed to find some loophole and forced the union to act on it. The worst part was that the union heralded his re-hiring as a major win. A real stick in the eye of corporate America. a win for the working man

So I ask, What good is a union? If people like Dupey and Shawn Chacon, who are rightly fired, can get their jobs back via the union, does that mean the union is broken? If there is no motivation in a workplace to go above and beyond, or hell even put forth par effort, is that a sign the union has failed us?

All we ever hear bout steroids these days is "Steroids are bad!" and "So and so did 'roids that means they're bad!". One of the many glossed over parts of the steroid saga is no one wanted steroids out of baseball. The MLB players union fought hard to make sure steroid testing was not in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. They held so much power that neither the Commissioners Office nor the Owners wanted to fight the Union on 'roid testing for fear of another strike. Not that either the Owners or the commissioner wanted to stop the gravy train of the longball era.

So I ask, again, What good is the union?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

No drinking, no standing, no heckling the outa towners pretty please

• Foul, obscene, offensive or abusive language or actions
• Standing and/or obstructing the view of other fans
• Intoxication or other signs of impairment
• Smoking except in designated areas
• Fighting and unruly or inconsiderate behavior
• Obscene or indecent clothing or signs
• Harassment of visiting team fans
• Selling items or tickets in the stadium or on sports complex grounds
• Attempting to sit in a location other than the guest’s ticketed seat

This aint the poster at your local high-school debate club folks! Thems is the rules and secondary cause of why it sucks ass to go to a Kansas City Chiefs game. The first reason is obviously because they suck and lost the best offensive line coach to ever hold the whistle, our very own Mike Solari. No standing!! Are you freaking serious!! Who came up with these goddamn rules, Tipper Gore? Ya gotta be joking! And to think, I thought they had a great tailgating scene, I'd rather shotgun beers in a Sodo alley than go to a tailgate at Arrowhead!

Its about these times that Washington voters always seem to ask themselves, "are we liberal enough? Its time we outdo those do-gooders!"

I'm afraid within 10 years, I wont be able to drink and yell at players who drop passes, even from my own living room.