Hey, what about those Seahawks?

As the regular football season draws to a close and the playoffs begin, diehard Seattle Seahawks fans have a distinct advantage over followers of more commonplace NFL teams.

While fans of the ho-hum Raiders, ‘Niners and Packers are hoping soon to celebrate playoff victories or – dare they hope? – a shot at the Super Bowl, canny Seahawks fans have already observed their big event of the season.

You may have heard us proudly shouting out our celebratory mantra just last month when the Seahawks entered what fans reverently refer to as the “Gold Zone.”

In sheep camps, county jails, auto-wrecking yards and better soup kitchens from coast to coast, Seahawks fans were enthusiastically chanting “Second to last! Second to last! We’re second to last in the NFC West!”

Forget the playoffs, forget the Super Bowl, because the Seahawks somehow managed to dig their way out of the divisional basement for one more season and that makes Seahawks fans – all 382 of us – happier than pop-eyed pelicans in a mackerel barrel.

Yes, for a few brief moments this season, Seahawks fans from Tukwila to Tullahoma could once again bask in the glow of a well-deserved and long sought after second-to-last position.

(When this happens, in fact, many fans painstakingly clip the team standings out of the newspaper, laminate them and carry them around in their wallets for the rest of the year as good luck talismans or to win stupid bets in seedy waterfront taverns.)

“We are, like, sooooo much cooler than Detroit or Cincinnati,” a fellow Seahawks fan proudly informed me shortly before accidentally setting fire to his T-shirt while trying to ignite a celebratory Seahawks’ bonfire in his hibachi.

“Gah!” he added, no less proudly.

And can you blame him?

All season, hardy Seahawks fans – at least those who are out on bail – sit patiently through game after game as passes are fumbled, penalties are assessed and interceptions are thrown. It ain’t easy – even when the quarterback does something really cool, like throwing a bullet pass into the center’s helmet.

Admittedly, the quarterback’s not supposed to do that under normal circumstances, but it looks and sounds truly awesome when it happens.

“Whumpf!”

It’s what we fans like to think of as a genuine Seahawks’ moment, a split-second frozen forever in time that we can claim as ours and ours alone.

For each and every battered Seahawks devotee out there who’s ever endured the slings and arrows of outrageous Steelers and Cowboys fans, this is the vindicating moment when we can show – however briefly – that the Seahawks weren’t always in last place.

The season may be drawing to a close, but I can still hear those cries of Seahawk support echoing across America.

“Second to last! Second to last! Second to last in the NFC West!”

Say it loud and say it proud, amigos…

Originally published January 5, 2003

Flood, fire, famine – and bat infestations

El Nino’s back – we think.

Remember El Nino? That’s the quirky climatic condition that surfaces every three or four years and is blamed for everything from floods to bat infestations and former president Bill Clinton’s libido.

Peering out from their caves after reading some fresh sheep entrails and engaging in several spirited rounds of liar’s dice, meteorologists from Tukwila to Tughlakabad have almost unanimously declared that El Nino has returned and will soon be doing lots of different stuff in many places.

There is a small holdout group of weather people who believe that we’re actually about to experience La Nina, but most of them have really goofy-looking pocket protectors and hang out at REO Speedwagon concerts.

So what, exactly, are we in for when El Nino blows ashore?

The phenomenon is generally described as an unexpected warming over large areas of the Pacific Ocean which completely jumbles weather conditions everywhere else.

(Except for a small area encompassing Firebaugh, where nothing has happened since 1946.)

El Nino was last believed to have stormed across the United States in 1994 and-or 1997, depending on which meteorologist and-or bartender you’re talking to.

Solano County residents probably best remember the 1982 El Nino event when floodwaters forced hardy Allendale residents to launch every available metal flake ski boat in the area to rescue the rural region’s free-range pit bull population.

Others may remember the 1987 El Nino, when everyone prepared for more floods and, instead, were hit with six years of drought and an unusually large number of South American coastal fish migrating to the waters of Northern California (except, of course, the waters around the aforementioned community of Firebaugh, which doesn’t have a whole helluva lot of beachfront property …).

What can we expect from this latest El Nino prediction?

Probably a lot of rain, unless there’s a drought.

Residents of S’lano County should start patching the bullet holes in their ski boats now, both for emergency pit bull rescue and for the opportunity to hook some whoppin’ big South American tuna in the coastal waters off Davenport.

Not that it’s necessarily going to rain here. Or near Davenport, either. Sometimes El Nino just dances around in the unseasonably warm waters of the Pacific, dries out every inviting hog wallow in Tulare County and then spins off to flood Iowa.

Some forecasters believe that this is exactly what’s going to happen with the 2002-03 El Nino. 

Others believe that this is exactly what’s not going to happen with the 2002-03 El Nino.

As for me, I’d recommend packing up the family and moving to Firebaugh – at least until El Nino’s over. The town’s within easy commute distance of Mendota and you can always tow the old ski boat up to Los Banos for a quick spin around San Luis Reservoir on the weekends.

Really. I wouldn’t steer you wrong, amigos …

Originally published November 10, 2002