Cascadian Futility

1979 was the year that the Seattle Supersonics (RIP) won their first NBA championship. 1979 was the year the Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League got a parade through their city, 100,000 strong, celebrating their first and only North American championship. Only two years previously, the Portland Trailblazers had taken the NBA’s most prestigious trophy, making the late 70’s a period of great success for the great northwest.
It was also the beginning of what can only be called a curse.
Since 1979, top-flight teams in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia have gone a combined 170 seasons without lifting their league’s biggest trophy, without putting on their rings. More than 14 dozen seasons of futility. For comparison, the city of Boston has won 7 championships across 4 sports in the last decade alone.
And like the Vancouver Canucks this year who lost their shot at glory in 7 games to the Boston Bruins, our teams sure have come close. Vancouver is now 0—3 in their 40 year history in Stanley Cup Finals series, after dominating the league and making whale meat of playoff opponents.
The Seattle Seahawks picked apart their opponents in the 2005 season on the way to the Super Bowl, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game even the ref admitted was poorly officiated.
In 1996, The Sonics met up with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, losing in six games to what might have been the best team in NBA history. The Trailblazers also ran afoul of the Bulls in 1992, after losing the Championship game to the Detroit Pistons in 1990.
The Seattle Mariners, despite a couple of storybook seasons over the last two decades, have been unable to spin their regular season magic in to playoff victories. Today, they are one of only two teams in major league baseball to never reach the World Series.
Generations of sports fans in the northwest have grown up without knowing what it feels like for their team to be the best. The dominance of the Seattle Storm (two championships) and Washington Stealth (1 championship, two appearances in the last two years) as well as some marginal success from Seattle Sounders FC (2 Open Cup victories) haven’t soothed the desire for a winner in the upper-left. While fans have every reason to be proud of these accomplishments, they get about as much recognition nationally as Seattle’s nice days.
The end doesn’t appear to be in sight. In fact, it might as well be hanging out on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. The Canucks are poised for a letdown as Vancouver curses their name. Portland’s Trailblazers are perennial underachievers, ruing the day they picked Greg “Ow” Oden over Kevin Durant.
The Seahawks and Mariners, as always, are in rebuilding modes, though both have bright futures ahead. And the Cascadian Soccer Revival of the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps, all young, see themselves pitted against markets the league needs to see win (New York, LA).
And so, we continue to wait, continuing to treat each successive season as the one to end our suffering. I don’t blame Vancouver for the riots: I’m just wish I had been raging up there with them.