Now that anything is possible — OK, monetarily possible — in Seattle sports, let’s make one final deal.
Rescind the Sonics departure, sports world, and maybe the city will consider easing up on you. But only after the Super Bowl.
Think about it, sports world. You know where to find Seattle right now — at the height of relevance, finally.
On Monday, the Seahawks proved they’re the NFL’s best team by crushing New Orleans, but that’s secondary news to all that happened before 8 a.m. Friday. First, Washington landed Chris Petersen, one of the most coveted coaches in college football, to replace Steve Sarkisian. Then the financially responsible Mariners reportedly agreed to give Robinson Cano the third-richest contract in American team sports history.
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We pause now for a moment of silence. The plague of small thinking and risk aversion is over for teams in this city.
Seattle isn’t a secret tucked away in the Northwest any more. ESPN’s “SportsCenter” should be changed to “Seattle presents SportsCenter” for the weekend.
It’s amazing what a lot of money and a little nerve can do. The Huskies were able to go to Boise State and poach Petersen, once considered the impossible hire. The only thing more impressive than Petersen’s 92-12 career record is the number of good jobs he has turned down. The list of unsuccessful flirts includes USC, UCLA, Stanford and Penn State. Oregon had long been rumored as the only place he would leave Boise State for, but that job came open before this season, and Petersen stayed. He was content to slay giants and be the anomaly that disrupted the sport’s inequitable BCS system.
But Washington came after Petersen at the perfect time, made the perfect pitch and put the perfect offer on the table. His five-year contract will be worth $3.6 million a year, according to a CBSSports.com report. And while the arms race has gotten ridiculous in college sports, Petersen is worth the investment. Shake your head at the crazy market, but Petersen, 49, is the kind of veteran tactician and polished head coach the Huskies need to finish the solid job Sarkisian did to resuscitate the program.
Now, Petersen must prove his coaching translates to the Pac-12. If it does, the Huskies lost Sarkisian to USC, only to find a better coach.
The Mariners pulled off the shock of the year, however. Cano’s deal is a monster: 10 years, $240 million, according to multiple reports. That’s what it took to take the New York Yankees’ best player. The Yankees losing to the Mariners in free agency? The only story line crazier would be if a rapper helped negotiate the deal.
Actually, that’s what happened. Jay Z, aka “the Mike Jordan of recording,” is also a newly established sports agent. Cano is one of his agency’s biggest clients. The second baseman’s free agency was billed as the ultimate test of the rapper’s competency in this new game. Jay Z, the Beyonce-marrying mogul, flew to Seattle to join in the conversation, and after a tough negotiation, Cano appears to have his money. And the Mariners opened their wallet to acquire one of the best offensive and defensive players in baseball.
But this gigantic deal is about more than talent acquisition. It’s about regaining credibility, within baseball and the local community. It’s about proving Seattle is an attractive place for free agents. It’s about trying to win, which the Mariners have been accused of not caring about over the past 12 years.
Is Cano worth $240 million? In an ideal world, no. But do you want to preach about the way it should be or watch a competitive team? The Mariners have the money to take the risk, and for once, they went for it. It won’t mean much if other significant moves don’t follow. The notion that the Mariners are rebuilding is done. Jack Zduriencik must put together a good team as soon as possible. Otherwise, the Mariners will have a $240 million Cano, a $175 million Felix Hernandez, and nothing but empty seats at Safeco Field to show for it.
Consider the past week the Seahawks Effect. The Seahawks are dominating the attention and reminding long-suffering Seattle sports fans that it’s OK to demand more. The rest of the major teams had better follow the Seahawks’ example or turn green permanently from envy.
This is no time to settle. This is no time to succumb to historical limitations. This is no time to be meek and milquetoast.
Bold is the order. If you include the Sounders FC’s signing of Clint Dempsey this past summer, this is the year of the luxury sports star in Seattle sports.
Only the finest for a city that has endured too much pain.
Misery yields to possibility (and money) now, though. Seattle is getting generous — and greedy. It’s wonderful. It’s ridiculous.
It’s about time.
erry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @JerryBrewer