National media “sleeps” on Seattle sports

By Brandon Cline, Contributing Writer

A Lombardi Trophy and a baseball team that has produced multiple perennial hall of fame players call the state of Washington and the city of Seattle home, yet when it comes to getting recognition from the national media, Seattle sports are treated as the runt of the litter.

One would think winning the most-watched television event in American sports history would garner some respect and acknowledgement. But for the Seattle Seahawks, it’s like they missed the playoffs last season. Coming off  a 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII victory over the favored Denver Broncos led by Peyton Manning, who many consider to be the greatest quarterback to ever set foot on a football field, Seattle took the football world by storm.

Many well-respected people in the game, including hall of fame quarterback Joe Montana, are throwing around phrases such as “dynasty” thanks to a mix of a young team (the youngest to win a Super Bowl), a savvy but exciting young quarterback in Russell Wilson and a defense that drew comparisons to the 1985 Chicago Bears.

Yet when the 2014 NFL schedule was released, the Seahawks were slotted for just four prime-time games, which is the same amount they had last season when they were not coming off a championship season.

To add insult to injury, the Seahawks were also given just one prime-time home game. It was the first game of the season, a game all Super Bowl champions host the following season. Ten other teams have more prime-time games than the reigning champions; three of those teams — the Bears, Cowboys and Steelers — failed to make the postseason last year.

Seattle is still in the upper-third tier of teams appearing in prime time, barely, but when a team eases their way to a title like they did last season, and is likely to compete for another title this season, it’s mind-boggling to understand why the networks who air prime-time games are not trying to air as many of their games as possible.

At the halfway point of the 2014 season, the Seahawks participated in three of the five most-watched NFL games of the season, according to The Nielsen Company, including the most-watched game when they faced the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 12, which reeled in 30 million viewers. Those numbers indicate that even though the Seahawks don’t have a market the size of New York, Chicago or Philadelphia, their games are still among the most-watched in the NFL.

Don’t tell the networks who air prime-time games about those numbers though, as they still believe there’s no benefits to airing games from the team that resides in ‘Southern Alaska’, a name that former coach and current Fox Sports analyst Jimmy Johnson gave Seattle during the 2005 season, citing geography as the reason Seattle was getting little attention.

The Southern Alaska stigma may have also hurt Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez’s bid for a second American League Cy Young award when he shockingly finished second to Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber. According to and ESPN, “King Felix” led the AL in ERA (earned run average), WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) and batting average against, was second in innings pitched and in WAR (wins above replacement), fourth in strikeouts and strikeouts per walk, and eighth in wins with 15. Hernandez also set an MLB record with 16 ultra-plus quality starts in a row (pitching at least seven innings and allowing two or fewer runs), breaking Gaylord Perry’s streak of 15 set in 1974.

When it was time to vote, though, baseball writers, particularly in non-West Coast cities, snubbed the King. Outside of Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle, the three true West Coast cities in the AL, Kluber received 15 of 24 first-place votes, 62.5 percent while Hernandez received the other nine. In the three West Coast cities, Hernandez was awarded four of six first-place votes, 66 percent.

Kluber played in Cleveland, meaning his home games started two hours earlier than Hernandez’s, which obviously suited him well as East Coast writers were much more likely to watch his games than Hernandez’s, whose games didn’t start until 10 p.m. EST and ended around 1 a.m. EST.

Seattle has gotten and will continue to get the short end of the stick when it comes to respect and attention because it is not an overly large market and is isolated in the Pacific Northwest. And it seems like not even a championship in America’s most popular sport can keep them in the national spotlight.