Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I empathize with Joe Lieberman. Because I am a Seattle sports fan.

Lieberman is a smart well-respected guy, who came close, but not all that close, to getting the Democratic nomination this year. The Seattle Seahawks, Mariners, and Sonics usually field decent teams that sometimes get into the playoffs where they generally lose.

John Kerry is authentically Bostonian. Like the Celtics, he seemed destined a year or so ago to be triumphant in the primaries and coast to the nomination. Like the Red Sox, he then seemed to have all the ingredients but none of the luck, destined to flop. Then, like the Patriots, he started piling up wins and heading for the Super Bowl. Big ups, crushing downs.

In Seattle, we watch this ecstasy and agony and wish we could be a part of it. Instead, we never win it all or end up as colossally glorious failures. The Seahawks made the NFL playoffs this year but lost in the first round to Green Bay. The Mariners had a winning season but failed to qualify for the post-season. The Sonics, lead by players regarded as pretty good, win about as many games as they lose and don’t seem likely to change that pattern in my lifetime. Having followed these teams my whole life, the candidacy of Joe Lieberman makes perfect sense to me. Like Lieberman, Seattle sports teams show up, do okay, and then just sort of wither. It’s the curse of mediocrity.

Lieberman and my teams are not alone in this cursed position. You could find tons of examples of things and people that fit this mold: the movie career of Jeff Goldblum. Celery. Any Cheap Trick album after Live at Budokan. The Mariners, Sonics, Seahawks, and Lieberman fit this oeuvre nicely. Corduroy fabric, Dabney Coleman, Fresca, a 9:30 CBS sitcom, Lime flavored anything, Art Garfunkel. It’s no coincidence that Lieberman staked his candidacy on doing well in Delaware. Delaware is so Lieberman.

What makes this purgatory so hard for Seattle fans and Liebermaniacs – I doubt they really call themselves that but they should—is that drama is the one thing you really want in sports and presidential politics. I mean, why else watch?

So now Lieberman is out and he goes back to his position of pretty good Senator from Connecticut. And I’m through rooting for my teams to either win it all or fail in spectacular appalling entertaining ways because that’s just not going to happen. I think I’ll start referring to the Sonics, Mariners, and Seahawks as, collectively, the Seattle Liebermans. Or Liebermen. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even pick up some Joe-mentum.

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