Well, Here We Go

I debated as to whether I should tackle this particular topic in this rather intimate space. But I have tried to be an open book here, with my honest feelings, opinions, while also passing along the events and adventures that have gone on in my life, both good and bad.

So, yeah, it’s time to talk about a little bad.

Now, before I pass along the breaking news, this is not a plea for pity. I’ve known several people to go down this road and while we touched the surface of their experience, I’m finding out there’s a lot more when they move you to the front lines. It’s not going to be the only thing I talk about from now on, but there will probably a week or two where I share something that could be beneficial to know for someone fighting prostate cancer.

Up until my diagnosis 10 days ago or so, to me, prostate cancer was that, “Oh, it’s no big deal” cancer.

  • Sure, these days, they cure it all the time.
  • Yeah, a couple of rounds of radiation and it’ll all be behind you.
  • I know lots of people who have had it and they’re now cancer-free!

And so on….

It’s a bit more complicated than that, because no two diagnosis, patients, treatments and results are alike.

We’ve (that referring to me and my personal physician) have been keeping an eye on my situation because of my rising PSA numbers over the past 5 or so years. Since we’re making this an educational class and you may put in for college credit, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in a sample of your blood. They use the numbers as a measurement that may indicate if there is cancer present. If your doctor notices your number has exceeded X, he sends you to a urologist who tells you that an increased number is natural for men as they get older. That happens a couple of times, the PSA continues to go up, so then they do a prostate biopsy. Yes, the fun-filled task of taking a dozen plugs out of various parts of your prostate, to see if they can strike cancer. In recent years, I’ve had two of those with no cancer to be found.

But in my most recent blood work, I must have hit a magic number, which trigged getting an MRI and undergoing an “Artemis Biopsy”, which includes the traditional 12 plugs plus 3 bonus plugs that are taken out of the area where the MRI showed as suspicious. Once again, the 12 were fine, but the bonus plugs put me in that fast-growing club nobody wants to belong to.

The really good news: the cancer appeared to be confined to the prostate and I somehow managed to get the slowest growing cancer available. If you were going to have cancer, this is the one to get.

What’s next? Homework. My urologist ran through all of the treatment possibilities and instructed me to set up consults with two different doctors–one, in case I wanted to go the surgery route and the other, for radiation. Those are in the works.

An almost-relative and retired Seattle urologist graciously offered to look at my lab results and come to our home (yeah, a doctor making an actual house call), taking my wife and I through each possible procedure, the pro’s and con’s of each and answered all of our questions. I’m sure there will be more.

I also wanted to talk to people I knew who had been down this road before. I have a high school buddy that I’ve stayed in touch with, as well as another friend, all of us the same age, both who had to deal with this challenge. They each were diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer but, after Proton treatments, they appeared to have beaten it. Or, so I thought. After having lunch today with my high school buddy, even though he was zapped 6 years ago and considered cured, the cancer came back with a vengeance. Once again, he’s fighting stage 4.

I don’t need to go into details on what happens with the surgery or the radiation treatments, but as one friend said, “Things just aren’t going to be the same again.” The first couple of days after finding out I actually had it, I went from sad, to angry, to depressed, to overwhelmed. There are a lot of decisions to come over the next couple of weeks and then, whatever happens with treatment. Again, with having the slowest-growing variety, I don’t have to rush my decision. But when you’re hearing about the after-effects of which ever direction I go and hear things like “incontinence” and “impotence” and other i-words, frankly, it rattles your world.

My dad had prostate cancer very late in life. So late, the doctor said that he would die of something else before the prostate cancer took him and they were right. He was diagnosed in his late 80s, I’m in my late 60s. I don’t understand why my prostate was in such a hurry.

At this point, I’m going to do everything in my power to continue doing all the things I do and then deal with this in my spare time. It’s therapeutic to dive into my comedy-writing, advertising, video production and all the things I love to do because I actually forget this is even going on. Until I notice that piece of paper to my left which reminds me of the appointments I still need to set up.

I’ve still got a Julebord to emcee this Friday, an annual Christmas CD to put together and I’m working on another holiday parody song with Alana Baxter, plus getting out the annual Christmas letter, the Christmas cards, gotta grab a tree and do some shopping. There’s a lot of really good, fun, positive stuff coming and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

While also dealing with the elephant in my prostate.

Well, here we go!

Tim Hunter

AND WE ALL MOVE ON…

The best thing about getting older is that, of course, it’s better than the alternative.

But as I continue to rack up the years, I see others who don’t get to enjoy that good fortune. We’re all blessed with a certain amount of time on this planet, we just don’t know how much. The only consistent thing is that it’s never enough.

AUNT DORIS

Last weekend, we lost my Aunt Doris. She was the fourth of the six Brandner kids raised on the family farm just outside of Roscoe, South Dakota and in her lifetime, she didn’t get very far away. After getting married, she and her husband worked another nearby farm until he died at a young age and their oldest son, my cousin Clay, took over. Doris moved “into town” which is where she called home up until she passed at the age of 88 last weekend.

The day before passing, my mom was able to have a nice chat over the phone with her. Doris was so excited about being driven over to Ipswich, a nearby town with an actual grocery store. When you’re confined to an apartment in a small town of 269 people, something like a trip to a real-live grocery store can be a big deal.

The next day, following all the excitement of Friday, Doris had a ticket for a performance of the Edmunds Central High School’s production of “Trouble in Tumbleweed,” featuring her granddaughter, Ember.

By the way, Edmunds Central serves 32 students, grades 9-12.

Aunt Doris enjoyed the play, but as it concluded, she went to applaud and couldn’t raise one of her arms. It was the beginning of a stroke and, of course, for an ambulance to get her to a hospital, it had to be summoned from another city. By the time it arrived and Doris made the 45-minute trek to the big city of Aberdeen where the hospital was, things did not look good. In the wee hours of the next morning, she went to her eternal reward.

The last time I got to see Aunt Doris was at a Brandner sisters reunion back in 2019, which seems like yesterday. Doris and her sister Virginia left the Dakotas to travel all the way to Portland, Oregon, where youngest sister Judy lived. My mom and sister Debbie headed north from L.A. and my wife Victoria and I headed south to the Rose City for a couple of days.

I’m sure I have video of that group, as pretty much, when one or more are gathered, it turns into a laugh-fest.

Even though I would only see Aunt Doris and the rest of the South Dakota clan every couple of 5 years or so, when we were together, we just picked up where we left off before. I had kept up on her life thanks to my mom’s updates on the phone, but one of the most endearing things about Aunt Doris: for most of my life, she would always take the time to send me a birthday card every September. And not just a “Happy birthday, Doris” signature, but a hand-written, detailed update on everything that had been going on in Roscoe and her life that sometimes would often spill over to the back side of the card.

I’m pretty sure I saved every one of those cards. I’m going to have to dig them out and read ’em again.

What a sweetheart. Enjoy your rest. You will be missed.

MR. SLATER

Say what you want about Facebook, and I know you will, but it does allow us to keep up with people from our long ago past. This morning, I saw a post announcing to the world that my high school drama teacher, Mr. Slater had passed away at the age of 90.

I call him Mr. Slater because that’s what you called teachers back in my high school days. His full name was Charles Slater, he was the head of the drama department at Torrance High, and while I wasn’t into the drama thing, there was a time when a friend had written a play and asked if I would try out for one of the parts in his production of, “Nuts!” (hold the wisecracks at least for a moment) I got the role, Mr. Slater oversaw the production and made me as good as I could have possibly been. Acting was not my forte, but being goofy was, and somehow, we pulled it off.

That was my only real connection with Mr. S, but of the drama students I knew, they loved the heck out of him. Picture a Gene Wilder type appearance, with the big eyes and the curly 70s perm, and you have Mr. Slater.

Man, the power teachers have to make a difference in their student’s lives. It’s been 50 years since I roamed the halls of Torrance High School and I still find myself relying on some of the lessons learned there.

To all the teachers at THS, thank you.

DWIGHT PERRY

Now, wait a minute–Dwight’s still with us! In fact, they held a retirement party for him last Sunday as he hangs up whatever you hang up after you’ve been a sportswriter in the Seattle area for an eternity. Dwight not only turned the big 7-0 last weekend, but his kids organized a retirement gathering for him (on a Seahawks bye week, I must point out) so friends and colleagues could gather in Kent to celebrate his contributions to multiple print media outlets in the area, including the Seattle PI and the Seattle Times. His weekly column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times was responsible for countless people saying, “Hey, Tim, I saw you in the newspaper.”

Years ago, I decided to add Dwight to my weekly Wacky Week joke list and once a month or so, one of my lines would tickle his funny bone and he would stick it into his column. I will be forever grateful. In fact, there were times that some of my jokes that Dwight included in his Seattle column would show up in other newspapers around the country, so he was apparently being watched. To that end, when his daughter sent me an invite to attend his retirement bash, I had to at least make an appearance to say thanks. While the gathering was heavy on newspaper types, I had a great chance to meet and chat with Dwight’s son Matt, and meet one of his colleagues, Justice Hill. Mr. Hill still writes a weekly column for Cleveland.com but you’ll want to check his main website and follow his travels. Getting around the globe is what he’s doing these days and posting about his adventures right here.

I had forgotten that Dwight suffered a series of strokes last year that set him back for a while, but he got back up on his Sideline Chatter horse and returned to putting out those fun, positive stories for sports fans. I’m sure hoping that someone takes over that column, but if and when that happens, Dwight Perry is going to be a tough act to follow.

Enjoy your downtime, Dwight! You can just see how thrilled he was to finally meet me in person.

And we all move on….

Tim Hunter

It Really Happened

I have to be honest, something like this has never happened to me before.

Oh, there was that time I went “ghost hunting” with my producer, Bryon, at a south end cemetery on Halloween years ago and we talked ourselves into believing we saw some misty figures off in the distance. I wouldn’t swear to it in a court of law, but for the sake of a bit on the radio, sure, I saw something.

And I’m still not totally convinced I saw an actual ghost a couple of weeks ago, but it’s probably the closest thing to it that I’ve experienced.

So, it was a Sunday afternoon. That morning, my wife and I made a rare cameo appearance at a service at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard. We had bumped into Pastor Gretchen at the grocery store the week before and she reminded us that All Saints’ Day was coming up, when everyone was invited to bring along a picture of someone they had lost and put it up in a window of the church. And so, we brought along a picture of my wife’s father, Ernie, who passed away last year.

After church, we enjoyed a rare day of not much to do, watching the Seahawks on TV and then after the game, running a couple of quick errands. As we headed home, we traveled west on 125th Street in Seattle, which happens to run right in front of the Evergreen-Washelli cemetery, where Ernie enjoys his eternal rest. I drive by that spot a lot and always look over his direction, just to make sure all is well. But this time, as I glanced over while I was driving, I immediately got chills. There, in the cemetery, not far from Ernie’s final resting place, was a man of his stature, in a blue oversized coat, just like the one he used to always wear, walking a big puffy white dog. Since I was driving, I’d check to make sure I wasn’t about to run into anything, then over to the cemetery, then back to the road and so forth until the cemetery was out of view. I didn’t stop, as I wasn’t really sure what I was seeing, plus, I didn’t want to say something that might freak out my wife.

But I was pretty damn sure that was Ernie.

I told Victoria about the sighting later and she found it “cool.” So, she didn’t freak out. If I had known that, I might have slammed on the breaks and yelled out, “Look!” But I didn’t.

I don’t know what’s in store for us in heaven or whatever awaits us after this life, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that wherever we end up, we get to spend eternity enjoying the things we loved. Ernie loved walking that dog, and people recognized him around his neighborhood as “that guy who walks the big, white, fluffy dog.”

And for probably 10-seconds, I got to see him again. Or, I think it was him. It had to be him.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget. And I know, one thing’s for sure–it really happened.

So, I thought I would share.

Tim Hunter

Let’s get political, political…

Yes, I’m going to take a gingerly stroll down this topic on the eve of those infamous mid-term elections.

No preaching, no secret agenda. You see, I’m old enough to remember when people could actually DISCUSS politics, without one thinking the other was a monster for having an opposite view. Flashing back 60 years ago when I was a kid, I recall my parents having friends over and them discussing the upcoming presidential election. (Gee, that would have made me 5-years-old) The phrase that stuck in my brain was, “Someone said that if Kennedy’s elected, he’ll have us all praying to Mary!” (Kennedy was a Roman Catholic. You know, the ones who wore togas)

Zip back a mere 40 years, and I can still see news coverage of President Ronald Reagan having beers with House Speaker “Tip” O’Neal. Yes, a Republican and Democrat, with serious political differences, but remembering the important thing: we’re all still Americans.

What the hell happened and why did we let it get this way?

I have my political beliefs, you have yours. I respect that. I’m not going to try to change your mind and I guarantee you won’t change mine, but that’s OK. Politics is only a part of who we are, it determines our future as a group and the kind of country we live in and will leave for the next generation. But it’s sad how it has become less about philosophy and debate, and more about marketing and manipulation.

As further proof I’m not trying to sway your vote, I’m posting this now. My ballot was filled out and mailed in two weeks ago. I have a feeling more and more people are getting it done early just to get it out of the way.

I’ve got a couple of videos I’d like to put on your radar. The first, this brilliant parody of a horror movie trailer about where the Democrats are when it comes to a future presidential candidate.

So much truth.

And another dose of truth for you here. This one touches on the blinders that some voters strap on and this preacher (yes, you will hear some preaching here) absolutely nails it. Thanks to sister Debbie for passing along.

But as I tell people I know who are freaking out about how these mid-term elections could go, we get the government we deserve. I hope for the best, but if we’re not bright enough to elect the right people, well, we’ll have to live with it.

So much more I could say, but for now, that’s enough.

Know WHY you’re voting the way you’re voting. Is it because of things you believe, or the marketing fears that they’re capitalizing on? Is it conviction on the candidate’s platform, or the talking points sent to them to repeat over and over because of what they found out in focus groups?

But here’s hoping you do vote so you can at least share the credit or the blame.

Tim Hunter

I’m Giving Up

I know at least twice over the weekend, I told someone that Halloween was my favorite holiday. People dressing up, acting like kids again, trick or treaters coming to the door and because I loved that holiday so much, I go all in decorating the walkway at our house.

Here’s a quick tour.

Most of my adult life, I’ve enjoyed decorating my house and/or porch for Halloween, going back to my Bothell days when I filled my yard with funny headstones. At this year’s Bothell Cougar auction where I was the emcee, one of the parents actually came up to me and said that she used to love coming to my home every year, to see the decorations, back when she was a kid. To me, it’s about making the holiday a little bit more special, especially in the eyes of a child. It’s scary but safe. Nothing’s going to reach out and grab them. It’s just fun stuff to walk by as they head to our door to get their candy.

Halloween is just simply a great day to be a kid! And, as adults, the day tends to bring out the kid in all of us. Maybe it reminds you of those cheesy costumes your parents would buy with the plastic masks that you couldn’t breathe out of, and that had the elastic band that would always break before you were done collecting candy. I remember one time, going to one of the homes in our neighborhood where they had what appeared to be a Halloween character on a bench…when he suddenly moved and said, “Boo!”

That feeling of being scared, just for a moment, is part of growing up. You’re talking to a kid who loved monsters and watched every Universal Frankenstein, Wolfman and Mummy movie over and over. I even collected those models you’d glue together.

As I got older, I would anxiously await Friday Nights when LA’s channel 9 would feature a different scary movie each week on their “Strange Tales of Science Fiction” that opened with this theme song.

It’s where I was introduced to such classics as “The Blob”, “Man from Planet X”, “The Crawling Eye” and “Frankenstein’s Daughter.” Back in those years, there weren’t a lot of haunted houses to go to, so we turned to our black & white TV’s to provide the scare.

Fast-forward to Halloween, 2022.

As you saw in the video above, I put up a bunch of silly Halloween-themed signs, a fake mummy, some plastic skeletons and so forth. It looks like friggin’ Halloween!

But I now live in Seattle, the Mecca for PC, non-offensive, safe, non-disturbing, the-fact-I-even-typed-those-words-offends-me surroundings. Last night, I was instructed not to turn on one of my Halloween decorations because it might scare the younger trick or treaters. Even with that turned off, there was one parent who came to the door to say that his 3-year-old was afraid to go to the house, so could he have his candy.

Back in my parenting days, what a perfect occasion to show that young, forming mind that it’s all just pretend. Look, it’s just a piece of plastic or a decoration. But I guess parents don’t do that these days. Rather than rationalize and explain, parents feed on whatever their kids give them and use it as an occasion to further shelter them. Over time, they’ll only know a safe and protected world, as long as mommy or daddy can helicopter nearby. My guess is the scariest books they have at home are the terrifying Halloween tales, “The Story of the Moldy Pumpkin”, and “Barbie’s Snickers Breaks.”

It not my goal to frighten young kids, but to maybe inspire some childhood Halloween fun like I enjoyed while growing up. Something they’ll remember when they get older. But I guess those days are done, at least where we live.

So, this afternoon, I’ll take down the decorations and at this point, I may not even put them back up next Halloween. For the twenty or so trick or treaters we had, and for all that effort I put in, to be told it’s harmful or too scary or psychologically damaging to a kid….yeah, I’m done.

One thing about the aging process: It really helps you prioritize the things you spend time on, as you realize that time is a precious commodity and so why would you waste any of it on something that is not personally rewarding or appreciated? Not that there weren’t several kids that said, “Cool decorations” last night, but that’s not the part that stuck with me.

Yes, Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, but I’m ready to move on. It was fun while it lasted, it truly was.

But I’m done. I’m giving up.

It’s all yours.

Tim Hunter

That Guy Next Door

Back when my wife and I first met and we decided to merge our lives into a single home, she sold her Ballard place, I gave up my Bothell residence and we pooled our money to land a place on a private lane in North Seattle.

We love the street, the neighbors, over the years watching young families move in and having kids, getting together occasionally for the “National Night Out” in August and so on. But outside of a couple of organized gatherings, the bulk of our communication with the neighbors tends to be a quick banter in the street or by the mailbox and then we return to our busy lives.

On one side of our house is a guy named Carl, whose parents owned the place until they were gone and he took over. These days, he spends most of his time at his girlfriend’s house, but I have been in his home a couple of times and he has kept it very retro-true to the late 1950s when it was built. Shag carpet, the works.

On the north side of our house was a home not very well kept up, where a guy named Mervyn resided. I knew that from occasionally getting a piece of his mail. My first encounter with him was indirect. The phone rang, and it was one of the utilities asking if I knew my next-door neighbor, Mervyn. I mentioned that we had recently moved in when the woman on the other end of the phone said, “Well, he hasn’t paid his bill for several months and so we’re getting ready to shut off his service.” I told her thanks for the notice, I would try to reach him.

I wandered next door, planning to introduce myself as his new neighbor and to let him know about the call. I knocked and rang the doorbell and nothing. Did it again, waited a few minutes and then walked home. Now my mind is reeling. What if this guy had died in his home and that was the reason he wasn’t paying his bills? That’s a fine “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

So, I called up the Seattle Police non-emergency number, explained the situation and they said they would do a welfare check. Eventually they came, pounded on his door, he answered, they explained what was going on, and it turned out he was just fine. Just a bit of a recluse.

In the 15 years we’ve lived next door to him, I’ve maybe talked with him three times. We swapped phone numbers one time, just in case anything were to go wrong and he needed help. He never called. A couple of years ago, another neighbor who was checking on him didn’t get a response, called the police and they even broke the door down to get in. It turned out he was in his bedroom and didn’t hear the pounding.

Or so he said.

Apparently, on September 29th, Mervyn actually did pass away. We didn’t find out until this week. Draw your own conclusions.

But in reading neighbor’s emails and doing a little online sleuthing, I’ve managed to piece together this collection of facts.

He lived in the house his parents owned. They must have been original owners in our neighborhood.

I had heard when we first moved in that he was working up in Shoreline at Prosser Piano. It turns out, he was an English teacher up north in the Everett School district for 30 years, as well as a music teacher. As one of my neighbors commented, “Merv was quite a musician, player & teacher.”

He passed away shortly before his 86th birthday, living on a teacher’s pension, which explained the low-quality toupee he wore. The last time the police were called and had to break-in, they noticed that his roof had been leaking in the house. His carport was a collection of clutter and two vehicles–one he still drove from the 1970s, the other, I don’t think I ever saw it run.

He had a routine of letting his yard completely go, allowing weeds to soar above the fences. Then, come October, he’d hire some laborers and have them tear out everything down to the dirt. This process happened year after year.

Then was that light on the side of the house that hung there from the day we moved in.

He apparently didn’t have any family left, just a couple of friends who showed up to his home a couple of days ago, saying they were about as close as family to him as anyone.

Searching online, I found that he was a graduate of Ballard High School, class of 1954. Another click, and I see that his full name was Mervyn Dewey Vaught.

In his online obituary, there is nothing. Just his name, date of birth, and when he passed.

We all get to choose how we spend every moment of our lives on this earth. I can’t imagine spending the bulk of my life inside a home, just existing. But that was Mervyn’s choice. I hope he enjoyed some happiness along the way.

And now he’s gone. That guy next door.

Tim Hunter

Just do the smart stuff and ride it out

We were just humming along, life was good and then all of a sudden, a pandemic hit. Besides the health effects, it also gave our divided world two sides to take, as other problems began to emerge like supply-chain issues, empty store shelves, and people began to panic.
With the same political thinking of “It’s the economy, stupid” that helped Bill Clinton defeat the older President Bush, once again, all of the country’s problems fall at the feet of the President, whether he is fully responsible or not.

It’s easy to say, “Oh, Joe Biden caused all this inflation and steered us into a recession with all that reckless spending.” Gee, it must have been pretty reckless because it also caused the entire world to also go into a recession. Economists say that, in England next year, inflation could hit 25%. How did Joe do that?

The bottom line is, there are a zillion factors that go into what makes an economy hum and what sends it into the tank. The trendy thing is to run around and yell, “The sky is falling” and once you do that, you’ll be on the news at 5 o’clock. Just today, a new Bloomberg Economics model is now predicting a 100% chance that the U.S. will be in a recession next year. In fact, with inflation, it’s actually 110%!

Having lived the decades that I’ve put in on this rock, I’ve seen stuff like this before. Picture us sitting around the campfire, a harmonica playing in the background and me saying, “You know, back when I bought my first house in the early 80s, it came with a 14% mortgage.”

Yet, somehow, I lived.

You just make adjustments, keep level-headed, try to think ahead (for example, stocking up on food and things you can store at today’s prices) and you’ll come out on the other end stronger than ever.

There was another financial time I remember when the unemployment rate was really high and it seemed like a lot of people I knew were getting laid off. They would say, “Tim, you don’t seem to be worried about the economy” and I would reply that they were just now living in my world. In the radio biz, jobs come and go with the drop of a hat and if you don’t have a hat, a visor.

It doesn’t mean there won’t be tough times in the months ahead. Every $80 fill up at the gas station is a punch to the stomach. A trip to the grocery store usually results in me saying, “Those cost that much now?”

What one side says is over-spending is the other side’s investing in America. Is it a smart move? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we need to bring it all home and do what we can to make it through the latest economic bump. I guarantee, this won’t be the last one and you younger readers, by the time you reach my age, you’ll have that experience under your belt to better handle things.

Have a good financial advisor, don’t get caught up in the headlines and daily panic, as those are designed to make you stick around and hear what’s now wrong. Inflation is high, but unemployment is low, we’re not being targeted by suicide drones, and even though the Mariners got knocked out of the playoffs, they’ve got a competitive team and a brighter future.

If you have to cut back here, or reduce spending there, do it and get back to the important stuff. To be honest, you don’t really need 8 streaming services.

Just do the smart stuff and ride it out. Be strong.

Tim Hunter

I Stand Corrected

To be honest, in recent years, I’ve been paying attention more to my original Major League Baseball team than our local one.

After all, I grew up in the Los Angeles area where, during the first 10 years of my life, my team–the Brooklyn and then Los Angeles Dodgers–won four World Series. When I was just 14 days old, the Dodgers put away the New York Yankees in a game 7 at Yankee Stadium.

I grew up with heroes like Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, John Roseboro, Maury Wills, Willie Davis, his brother Tommy and on and on. Put me on a game show and ask me to name as many of those players from that day and I know I’d get most of them.

I grew up at a time when baseball games on TV were a rarity and a treat. The Dodgers were never on unless they were on the Saturday Game of the Week, or occasionally, when they headed north to play their rivals, the San Francisco Giants. That was a big deal in southern California. The rest of the season, most evenings around our house were spent listening to Vin Scully on the radio, so we could follow what those Bums were up to.

Shortly after I moved to Seattle, the city was awarded a team to replace the Seattle Pilots, who left for Milwaukee after just one year here. In putting together a brand-new Major League franchise, we landed Dick Enberg’s sidekick on the Los Angeles Angels broadcasts, a guy by the name of Dave Niehaus.

How lucky we were.

So, over time, I learned to cheer on the local team, despite their record. We would always have brief glimmers of hope, only to see them wither away, season after season. That is, until 1995 when the Mariners took fans on the ride of our lives. For the first time, Seattle got to feel what it was like to be in a pennant race, to host playoff games, to have last second-dramatic finishes. But unfortunately, the ride ended short.

In 2001, one of America’s most tragic years in my lifetime, the Mariners managed to win 116 games in a single season. We thought for sure this was the year. It wasn’t.

21 years later, I’ll be the first to admit, I was slow getting to the party. I wanted to believe, but after two decades of frustration and my childhood team putting a winning team on the field, it made it too easy to not take this year’s Seattle Mariners seriously. We had just missed the playoffs last year and of course, the mantra is always, “Yeah, wait until next year.”

But it finally happened.

I’ll be honest. Some of my baseball buddies would tell you that I was running around saying that Mariners Manager Scott Servais would probably be gone by the 4th of July. Once again, we started strong and then had a late-June crash and burn. In my mind, when we needed a new manager sevenf years ago, we hired some assistant coach from the Angels and saved a few bucks.

However, team President Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais had a vision and where so many had failed before, they did those pain-staking, not-gonna-happen-overnight things that get you a competitive team for now and for the future. Not just dragging in a big name or two on the edge of retirement, but bringing in the right position players. It’s that rare crescendo of good scouting, good gut instincts, making a killer trade-deadline deal and locking in some of those key players so they’ll be here for years to come.

The 2022 Seattle Mariners are real, they’re the team I’ve been waiting to cheer for, and I’m now a born-again baseball fan.

Apologies for my lack of faith in this team. And thanks for bringing back baseball fever again throughout the Pacific Northwest.

I stand corrected.

Tim Hunter

Oh, wait.

So, I had finished writing this prior to the Mariners’ first game against the Houston Astro’s. Yes, the one where we had a 4-0 lead and a 7-5 lead as we headed into the bottom of the 9th.

For some God-forsaken reason, for the final batter of the game, Scott Servais chose to bring in struggling Mariners starter Robbie Ray to get the last out. For the Dodger fans reading this, yes, he Kimbrel’d it.

Why in God’s name he chose to give the ball to Ray baffles even the newest baseball fan. Yes, Robbie won the Cy Young in 2021, but this year, it frankly hasn’t been pretty, including recently. A week ago, I watched him give up 6 runs to the lowly last-place Oakland A’s in one of the last regular season games of the year. Then, last Saturday, we saw him melt down against the Toronto Blue Jays and give up 4 runs. Now, you’re going to let him pitch to Yordan Alvarez, who has terrorized pitchers all season long? We had room on the bases. Why not intentionally walk him? This was not a wise decision.

Don’t tell me about statistics, just go with common sense.

But instead, we all watched, we waited and we saw what we expected. Alvarez walked up and knocked out a 3-run home run, stealing a win from the Mariners and the fans who had poured their hearts into that game.

Even psychics say that one was too easy to call.

The disappointment was equal to a certain Seahawks Super Bowl a few years ago when Russell Wilson threw an interception, instead of the team just running the ball a yard.

Robbie Ray? Really? (wow, I sound like Scoobie Doo) Was Bobby Ayala not available? For that matter, maybe the Mariners should have given the ball to Marshawn Lynch. Oh, there goes my blood pressure again. Well, perhaps we can right the ship tomorrow.

So, I now sit corrected.

 

And now, I’m sitting up straight.

Mariners manager Scott Servais said that the reason he went with Robbie Ray was due to the process that got them to the playoffs that they used all year.  His words:

“Obviously, it didn’t work yesterday, but that has nothing to do with our process,” Servais said Wednesday. “We have a really good process. It’s something that we have developed over time, specifically the last couple years, in our decision-making. … We made the decision we made based on the players we had available, based on the numbers and the information I had available — and stand by it.”

OK, so you’re saying you’re removing the thinking portion of managing and using basically a computer-style model and letting it make the decisions.

Yeah, that’s great. But I will point out, this is why we don’t have self-driving cars yet.  After your car runs over a couple of people, you might want to take the wheel.

Just sayin’. 

 

OK, I’m done.

 

For now.

Yeah, It’s Been A While

This pretty much sums it all up.

But I’ll keep going.

In a city starved for a winning team, the magic that comes with making baseball’s playoffs is alive and well again in Seattle. This after 21 long, too many to remember “I thought this was going to be the season” years.

When you figure it out in days, it’s been 7,665 24-hour segments that Northwest baseball fans have endured, hoping beyond hope that we’d be playing some October baseball. And I mean the playoff kind, not facing Detroit to make up some games due to a strike to start the season.

My world was so much different back in 2001. It was the year of the 9-11 attack, a morning I’ll never forget. It was back in my Murdock, Hunter & Alice Days on KLSY. I didn’t know it at the time, but the show had less than two years to go when those M’s went to the playoffs that year.

And you may or may not remember, that was the year that we were so incredible during the regular season. We won 116-friggin’ games (which are much harder than regular games), and then took the then-Cleveland Indians in 5 games, only to lose to the New York Yankees, 4 games to 1. We simply ran out of gas. You take those 116 wins, add in the playoff victories and the Mariners won 121 games in one season…and still didn’t get to the World Series.

For me, the buzz in the city, the excitement of the playoffs, being a part of the most magical part of baseball in the Emerald City, will never be forgotten. If you were there, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Somewhere in my archives which I plan to inventory when I retire (Ha! that’s funny!) are photos of KLSY’s involvement at those playoff games. We rented a flatbed truck and set up in the parking lot of that brewery across from the stadium. However, at the time, it was just a parking lot. And we hired “Rick the Peanut Guy” to stand on the truck and toss peanuts to the Mariners fans on the way to the game.

While 2022 continued to look promising all season long, we didn’t make it to our first Mariners game of the season until this past Sunday. Since I’m a big believer in sharing experiences for your benefit, I thought I’d pass along a few tips if you’re planning to head to any of the post-season games.

PARKING

This is obvious and a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how you get caught up in the excitement of actually going to the game and your dumb-brain takes over. This past Sunday wasn’t even a playoff game, but we knew it was going to be a pretty full game. Yet, somehow it seemed like a good idea to leave 90-minutes before game time. This could easily be the plot of “Dumb and Dumber 3” if they ever make it.  By the time we got there, everything in the stadium lots was taken unless you had reserved a parking spot. So, we went wide and re-entered the stadium district, grabbing the first $60 space we could find which, after fees and taxes, shot up to $75.
Yes, our parking cost more than our game tickets.

TAKE THE TRAIN

Sound Transit spent billions of dollars to build a train that runs not far from our house to an easy walk to the stadium. We didn’t take it because “we didn’t want to do a lot of walking.” The $75 parking lot was as far south of the stadium as the train would have dropped us off on the north side. And, had we taken the sensible mass transit, it would have cost us $2 each. That could have allowed us to spend the remaining $71 on food and beverages.

Friends from the east side came across the bridge and then parked in a neighborhood by one of the train’s stops. It made for an easy in and out and I swear, if I ever try to drive down there again and pay for parking, I’m getting a tattoo on my right forearm that says, “Take the train, Dummy!”

OR JUST STAY HOME

I realize that we have it in our heads how cool it would be to actually be there, to say we were there. But if you add up the cost of the parking, tickets, food and drink, this afternoon at the ballpark cost us over $250. I’m pretty sure I could hire a cook to come in, whip up some steak and lobster as I sit in my living room, watching my 70-inch TV with the sound up for less than that. At one point, my wife decided to wander up and buy a pre-made Margarita. I didn’t see her for three innings. Thankfully, she didn’t miss much. By the time she had gotten back, the Mariners were down 7-0 and I needed a drink. We left after a listless 7th inning and missed the Mariners coming back with three runs. The final score was an ugly 10-3 loss to the 47 games behind first place Oakland A’s. 

ENJOY THE RIDE

As baseball fans in Seattle know all too well, playoff baseball doesn’t come along very often, so make sure you grab this adventure while you can. Baseball is such a tiered sport, that once you get into it, there are so many intricacies and nuances to watch for. I was blessed to grow up up in a baseball home, with a Los Angeles Dodgers team full of players to admire and enjoy for as long as I remember. In recent years, I’ve gotten back to following them and now, there’s the slightest  of chances that they could actually face each other in the World Series. That network nightmare would be a dream come true for me, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

The playoffs start on Friday. This just possibly could be the year, which is always true in baseball, every year. This is really happening, so get on board.

How fun! Yeah, it’s been a while.

Tim Hunter

 

Mr. Voice of Reason Returns

 

 

Alright, alright, everybody, just calm down.

Yes, we’ve got a bit of chaos going on in the Seattle sports world, but tell me when we didn’t. It just seems like it’s happening all at once and on several fronts, so I’m raising my hands to the crowd and asking it to take some deep breaths while I conduct a quick class of what the heck is going on.

THE SEAHAWKS

Come on, be honest, you had your doubts about this season. After a lackluster pre-season which you dismissed because, after all, it was pre-season, you got your hopes way up after the Hawks somehow beat their ex, Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. I think we’d all agree that was a pretty sweet way to start out a season. However, the following week, reality sank in, and frankly, the prognosis for the rest of the season isn’t so good.

Look, when you’re an NFL team, you need an NFL star quarterback, not the guy that sits backstage hoping that the Phantom has a sore throat. I think the world of Pete Carroll and Seahawks General Manager John Schneider (NOT the guy from Dukes of Hazzard), the folks who brought Seattle’s first-ever Super Bowl trophy to town. The way they assembled a championship team that year with a bunch of overlooked talent that was molded into the “Legion of Boom” and turned a quick, undersized quarterback out of Wisconsin into a scrambling MVP you could love, I will be forever grateful.

But the entire time Russell was with the Seahawks, for some unexplained, God-forsaken reason, Pete did not hire an offensive line. He had this thing about creating one. Taking guys who didn’t normally play that position, and who had to learn on the job. And while he watched from the sidelines, Russell spent way too much time out on the field having to run for his life. When he was younger, very doable. But as he slowed down, the defense sped up and the magic began to fade away. I can’t help but wonder how many championships that team might have won if Wilson had the protection that Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers enjoy every week.

Bottom line–you need a major talent in the quarterback slot, one of the elite, a guy married to a Super Model or that does State Farm commercials, not a career backup quarterback who hadn’t started a season in 8 years. It’s the opinion of this armchair quarterback that we’re biting the bullet so we get a high draft pick next season and nab one of the young arms coming out of college. That’s the only thing that makes sense.

In the meantime, think of how much you’ll actually get done around the house this fall on Sunday afternoons.

THE SOUNDERS

They’ve spoiled us over the years. Start strong, have a slump, then, just as the playoffs approach, rally and grab one of those spots. I just don’t feel like that’s going to happen this time around, which is amazing considering the Sounders became the first American soccer club to win the ConcaCaf Championship earlier this year, earning a spot to play on a global stage in the months ahead.

But compare this season to the last 10 and it’s just not the same. it just feels different. We’ve got some great players, but the chemistry just isn’t there. Oh, there are moments, but with only two regular season matches left as of this writing, I’m just not feeling it. But, to keep us busy this fall……

THE MARINERS

I’ll admit I’ve been among their harshest critics in recent years, due to two decades of promising us a competitive team, only to get the same disappointing result year after year. But this 2022 collection of players seems like they just might have the mojo to make something happen. Maybe not a championship, but at least going to the dance and maybe go up a rung or two and take a big step in the right direction.
I’ve been a baseball fan longer than any other sport, and one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that every championship team will have a slump or two during the season. If you remember that 2001 season when the Mariners won 116 games, they came in blazing hot and then crashed in the first round. The key is to get that slump out of the way late in the season, late August or early September, and then hit the playoffs running. By then, some of the better teams are getting tired, the veteran players falling by the wayside with injuries and so on. Over the last week, the M’s have had some pretty poor performances, none worse than blowing a 9-run lead on Sunday and losing 13-12 to the Kansas City Doormats.

With us being set to welcome back some injured players and a team due to get hot, I’m thinking, “You know, this just might be the year.” Stranger things have happened.

MY HUSKIES

This is my team. Of all the sports, of all the teams, if I could only have one, this is it. I don’t have a single tattoo on my body but if I ever were to make that commitment, it would be a Husky logo on my left arm, up by the shoulder.

It’s the team I watched with my buddies in college. For the four years of working at KOMO Radio, it’s where I got to hang out with the likes of Bob Rondeau, Gary Johnson, Keith Shipman, Don James, Jim Lambright, and so many others. Going to a game at Husky Stadium still feels special. I was actually a season ticket holder for a few years (thanks to a friend who let me buy her tickets) but after that 0-12 year, I said, “Enough abuse.” Yes, we’ve experienced some dark times in recent years, with mysteries thrown in. Why did Peterson suddenly leave? Why did he leave the team in the hands of someone who should have continued the upward trend, only to crash and burn in record time? And how did we get so lucky to land Coach DeBoer and his program, providing us a creative offense and defensive toughness that is Husky football.

For God’s sake, he’s only four games in, but there is a lot of good stuff going on. The temptation is to leap to, “Oh, we’re going to be National Champs” or “It’s going to be the greatest Husky football team ever!” Look, I remember that ’91 Championship team and even though they had to share the Championship due to the continuing west coast bias, that was one great team. 12-0, baby.

We didn’t set out to be National Champs that year, but it just happened. For now, I’m just going to enjoy having a front row seat to the building of an incredible new program and when we win a game, that’s great. But then, focus on who’s next and who’s next only. One game at a time. One win at a time.

And maybe, just maybe…..

THE KRAKEN

The NHL’s latest expansion team is heading into its second season and I am having a blast. Expectations are in check, as we build a team and a new tradition in the Seattle area, but the more I watch NHL hockey, the more I realize it’s the only sport I observe on TV where I’m constantly yelling things, as if they can hear me. Dang, it’s fast.

I was growing up in Southern California when Los Angeles got the Kings and eventually, the Mighty Ducks, but my hockey viewing was pretty limited to occasionally getting caught up in a Stanley Cup playoff game. I’ve been to some Thunderbirds and Silver Tips games, I even got to take part in a Microsoft challenge one time, getting my own Thunderbirds jersey with my name on it and watching Kiefer Sutherland up close play on a celebrity team. 

I don’t know all the Kraken players names, but I’m trying to learn the rules, loving the fans, the enthusiasm, and the 100% carbon neutral Climate Pledge arena where they play. I’ve yet to take in a game in person, that’s on my bucket list for this season, but it’s just so awesome to have the big game in town. And ownership seems to be doing things right. It just takes time. Go Kraken!

And with that, Sports Fans, Mr. Voice of Reason has spoken. Class dismissed.

Tim Hunter