Groz: How Seahawks, Sonics and Mariners responded to their most high-profile losses
When Kam Chancellor ripped the scab off the bandage of the Super Bowl XLIX loss to the Patriots in a piece for The Players Tribune this week, he verbalized what most Seahawks fans have felt for six years – a sense of anger and frustration about how the game ended that hasn’t abated.
It made me think of two other significant losses a pair of other Seattle major franchises suffered and how they responded.
On May 7, 1994, the unthinkable happened to the Seattle SuperSonics. It was Michael Jordan’s first year playing minor league baseball in Birmingham, Ala., and the Supes had the NBA’s best record yet became the first team to lose as a top seed to a No. 8 seed. Every Sonics fan knows the agony of Dikembe Mutombo lying on the floor at the old Seattle Coliseum holding the ball in the air.
Though Seattle wasn’t as good the next season, it was still a No. 4 seed losing to a No. 5 as Nick Van Exel and the Lakers knocked the Sonics out again in round one. They regrouped, though, putting together their best season under George Karl the following year to make it to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, Jordan was back and the Bulls won in six, but it took away some of the pain.
On Oct. 20, 2001, the Mariners were on the ropes in New York. They had won an American League-record 116 games during the season but were ominously pushed to five games by Cleveland in the Division Series. Next up were the Yankees, America’s team just over a month removed from 9/11 in the ALCS.
The M’s stumbled at home, losing two straight, but they crushed the Yanks in New York in Game 3 and had a chance to tie the series in Game 4.
It was the most excruciating loss in Mariners’ history.
The game was a classic for five innings. Seattle starter Paul Abbott matched Roger Clemens in not allowing a run, and he didn’t even allow a hit but walked eight. In the eighth inning, a Bret Boone homer off Ramiro Mendoza put the M’s six outs away from tying the series. But Bernie Williams homered off Arthur Rhodes in the bottom of the eighth and Alfonso Soriano delivered the crushing bow with a two-run home in the bottom of the ninth to put the M’s down 3-1 in the series.
The next night, the Yankees rolled 12-3 and the Mariners’ season was over. They still haven’t been to the playoffs since.
The Pete Carroll-era Seahawks reached the pinnacle in the 2013 season, but at this time every year the agonizing loss to the Patriots in February 2015 pops up in memories, likely too strong and emotional to ever be washed away.
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