Early this year, the Seahawks lost a playoff game. No surprise there; they haven't won one in 21 years. But as 2005 comes to an end...

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Early this year, the Seahawks lost a playoff game. No surprise there; they haven’t won one in 21 years. But as 2005 comes to an end — can this be right? they look like a Super Bowl team.


And that’s not even the craziest thing going on around here.


Remember when the University of Washington was a football school, and the only reason anyone went to basketball or volleyball games was to get out of the rain?


Remember — oh, about seven months ago — when the Sonics were one of the best teams in the NBA?


Dan Wilson retired, Bret Boone forgot how to hit, and the Mariners lost more than 90 games. Again. Injured shortstop Pokey Reese was paid $900,000 and didn’t play a game, then was given another $300,000 to go away.


The Mariners’ new designated hitter/paleontologist, Carl Everett, doesn’t believe in dinosaurs, moon landings, gay marriage or, in recent years, a decent on-base percentage.


Seattle has become a hotbed for high-school hoops. One of the better players in the city this season is O’Dea junior Jamelle McMillan. His dad, the guy they call Mr. Sonic, coaches the Portland Trail Blazers. One of Nate McMillan’s players is Martell Webster, who was playing for Seattle Prep last spring.


Bellevue High didn’t win a football state title for a change, although it did knock off another California superpower at Qwest Field.


Dick Bennett, Washington State’s 62-year-old basketball coach, flipped off UW students at Hec Ed.


And Rick Neuheisel gave up his job as quarterbacks coach at Rainier Beach High School after settling up with UW and the NCAA.


Strange days, indeed.


Biggest stories of 2005


• The Seahawks look like the best team in the NFL, but before we start dumping Gatorade on each other, let’s see if they can win a playoff game for the first time since 1984.


• The Washington men’s basketball team was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament last spring. This season — even without Nate Robinson, who left early for the NBA — the Huskies haven’t lost a game.


• Nate McMillan guided Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and the rest of the surprising Sonics to the second round of the NBA playoffs, then left to coach the Portland Trail Blazers. So far, not so great for new Sonics coach Bob Weiss.


• Washington won the NCAA volleyball title, just like coach Jim McLaughlin said the Huskies could when he took over five years ago. Led by tournament MVP Christal Morrison and three other All-Americans — Sanja Tomasevic, Candace Lee and Courtney Thompson — the Huskies swept top-ranked Nebraska.


• Maybe it wasn’t Bob Melvin’s fault, after all. The Mariners were terrible again, led the majors in steroid suspensions, and have done nothing this offseason to make fans real excited about 2006.


• Speaking of the Mariners, this was the final season for Dan Wilson, who retired, and for Bret Boone, who lost his stroke, then his job. The good news? It was the first year for pitching phenom Felix Hernandez.


• Rick Neuheisel got a job with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens after his lawsuit against the UW and NCAA was settled.


• Tyrone Willingham, the un-Neuheisel, was hired as the Huskies’ new football coach. He doubled the Huskies’ 2004 win total with, um, two. Where have you gone, Steve Emtman?


• There hasn’t been much bad news for the Seahawks this year, but there was for their starting free safety, Ken Hamlin, whose season ended when he was injured in a fight outside a Pioneer Square nightclub.


• Again, we were able to watch some of the best high-school basketball players in the country. Last spring’s senior class featured Seattle Prep’s Martell Webster (taken by Portland with the sixth pick in the NBA draft), Snohomish’s Jon Brockman (playing at UW), Juanita’s Micah Downs (Kansas), Roosevelt’s Marcus Williams (Arizona), Rainier Beach’s Terrence Williams (Louisville) and O’Dea’s Mitch Johnson (Stanford).



Dazzling debuts


• Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez


• Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu


• UW basketball players Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon


• Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt


Not really so dazzling


• Mariners manager Mike Hargrove


• Sonics coach Bob Weiss


• UW football coach Tyrone Willingham


• Mariners shortstop Pokey Reese


Speaking of Pokey, these guys had as many hits as he did in 2005


• Elvis


• Ty Cobb


• Generalissimo Francisco Franco


• The Baja Men


Thanks for the memories


• Dan Wilson


• Nate Robinson


• Bret Boone


• Nate McMillan


Don’t let the door hit you on the way out


• Koren Robinson


• Rick Neuheisel


• Scott Spiezio


• Jerome James


Great games


• Feb. 26: Washington 93, Arizona 85. Huskies wrap up a perfect men’s basketball home season in the last game at Edmundson Pavilion for Nate Robinson, Will Conroy and Tre Simmons.


• April 4: Mariners 5, Twins 1. Richie Sexson hit two homers in the season opener at Safeco Field. Most of the following 161 games didn’t go as well.


• May 12: Sonics 92, Spurs 91. Sonics beat San Antonio in a playoff thriller at KeyArena. They eventually pushed the Spurs to six games, before losing to the team that won the NBA title. Ray Allen was sensational in the playoffs, averaging 26.5 points, with a high of 45 in a first-round win over Sacramento.


• Sept. 16: Bellevue 30, Long Beach Poly 16. For the second year in a row, Bellevue knocked off a high-school football powerhouse at Qwest Field.


• Nov. 27: Seahawks 27, Giants 24 (overtime). Coach Mike Holmgren awarded a game ball to the 67,102 Seahawks fans at Qwest Field. He should have given one to the Giants kicker, too.


• Dec. 4: Washington 99, Gonzaga 95. Students who camped out for good seats got a game that lived up to the hype.


• Dec. 22: Washington 77, Stanford 72: Surprising Huskies women upset No. 10 Cardinal.


Biggest gambles


• Vladimir Radmanovic says no thanks to $42 million.


• Mariners sign Carl Everett, a colorful (loony), veteran (aging) DH (can’t run anymore).


• Shouldn’t the Seahawks be locking up Shaun Alexander with a long-term deal?


• No Giveaway went off at 60 to 1 in the Longacres Mile. And won.


Notable individual performances


• Uli Steidl won his seventh straight Seattle Marathon.


• Ed Viesturs became the first American to climb all 14 of the world’s highest peaks.


• UW golfer James Lepp won the NCAA title, leading Huskies to a third-place finish.


• Quarterback Jake Locker, future UW football savior (the Huskies hope, anyway), led Ferndale to the Class 3A high-school state football title, usually won by Bellevue.


• Ryan Moore wrapped up a brilliant college career and earned his PGA tour card.


• A slightly older golfer, Wayne Estby of Mount Vernon, turned 100 and shot less than his age again.


• Apolo Ohno warmed up for the Olympics by dominating the U.S. short-track speedskating championships.


• Peter Kung of Lakeside High School won his fourth straight Class 3A state tennis title.


• Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne won his first NASCAR Nextel Cup race.


• UW catcher Kristen Rivera was a softball All-American for the fourth year in a row.


Best comebacks


• UW did Keith Gilbertson the favor of firing him, making him free to accept a job with the Seahawks, where he was able to get back to coaching and no one will care if he plays in a $3 NCAA pool.


• Pro golf returned, with a Seniors — uh, make that Champions — event, the Boeing Greater Seattle Classic at Snoqualmie Ridge.


• Brandon Roy decided to return to Washington for his senior season, rather than enter the NBA draft.


• The Sounders finished fourth in the United Soccer League First Division regular season, but stormed through the playoffs to win the championship. They were led by goalkeeper Preston Burpo, who was voted MVP of the playoffs and Seattle athlete with the coolest name.


Name the person who did NOT catch a game for the Mariners last season


• Dan Wilson


• Yorvit Torrealba


• Wiki Gonzalez


• Rene Rivera


• Miguel Olivo


• Pat Borders


• Miguel Ojeda


• Yogi Berra


On the rise


• Ticket prices at UW


• The Seahawks’ chances of winning a playoff game


• Shaun Alexander’s salary


On the decline


• Demand for Apple Cup tickets


• Next year’s purses and live racing dates at Emerald Downs


• Hydros, continuing a decades-long trend


Nothing “minor” about their accomplishments


• Seattle Pacific women’s basketball and soccer teams advanced to Div. II title games.


Enough, already


• Televised poker


• Big Lo action figures


• Howard Schultz and Wally Walker complaining about the KeyArena lease


Weird and wacky


• The Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League were without coach Rob Sumner for 41 days because his visa to work in the U.S. was not approved and he was stuck in Canada. Sumner, a Canadian citizen, eventually got through the red tape and back onto the T-birds’ bench.


• The Lynnwood High School baseball team was 0-20 before it beat Cedarcrest in a winner-to-district, loser-out game to advance to the postseason. Sadly, the magic run ended there.


• The Seattle Prep boys basketball team, with Martell Webster (first-round NBA pick) and Spencer Hawes (future first-round NBA pick), managed to not make the Class 3A state tournament.


• Bethel captured the 4A boys state title — and set basketball back about 50 years — when it beat Kentwood, 33-29.


10 predictions for 2006


1. Beer will be really expensive at Safeco Field.


2. Squatch, the Sonics mascot, will scare a small child.


3. The Mariners will not lose 90 games again (85 remains a solid possibility, however).


4. Dozens of drunken Seahawks fans will throw up and/or pass out at Qwest Field during the Seahawks’ first playoff game.


5. Dave Niehaus will scream, “Swung on and belted!” on a ball that will be caught by the shortstop.


6. The Sonics will draft a European teenager you’ve never heard of.


7. UW athletic director Todd Turner will raise ticket prices for something.


8. Next season at KeyArena: Lauren Jackson? Yes. Bob Weiss? No.


9. Another minor-league team will begin play in Everett, Tacoma or Bellevue.


10. No hockey. No NASCAR. No new Sonics arena. Put a sock in it.


Bill Reader