That’s How You Do It Right

If someone asked you to list 100 things wrong with the world, you’d probably respond, “Only 100?”

I’ve noticed that, as you get older, you have to compromise your expectations because things just aren’t done they way they use to do them. Expect a certain level of service or quality and you’ll hear catch phrases like, “supply chain issues”, “we can’t find people to do the job” and so on. You’ve heard ’em all.

So, when a company does something not only really right, but above and beyond the kind of service we settle for these days, I have to shout their praises to the rafters. Well, I don’t have rafters, so you’ll have to settle for it in writing.

It all began when I realized how corroded the burners were in my barbecue. The flames shot up unevenly, which made it really challenging to cook anything. One end of the steak would be black, while the other end was raw. It was time for new burners.

So, I did what any other red-blooded American does these days–I went to Amazon. I found some burners for my Char-Broil grill, placed the order and soon, the package arrived.

They sat patiently on a downstairs desk until I had the time to take on the barbecue. You can’t put new burners in a filthy barbecue, so I removed the old, corroded burners and threw them out. They I cleaned out the barbecue so it would be a welcome home for those new shiny burners. I went to install them and…..they didn’t fit. They were too thick at the bottom.

OK, Life Lesson #14,490–you need to make sure you order the correct burners for the model of your Char-Broil grill.

The good news, of course, is that I could just return the wrong ones. But the challenge came when I went to find replacement burners for my model and they were nowhere. I searched on and off Amazon, carefully comparing the ones for sale with the 9-digit model number and….nothing.

I reviewed my Amazon orders and discovered it wasn’t really THAT long ago I bought my barbecue. It was an Amazon “Best Buy” and I really liked the grill, but if all I get is 18 months of use before I have to buy a new barbecue…..well, then this is definitely going to be my last Char-Broil purchase.

Before biting the spatula and going out to buy a new barbecue (which I might add have gone up significantly in price in the last couple of years) I decided to take a couple of last swings. I would reach out to local appliance gurus Judd & Black, and also write to the manufacturer to say, “What’s up with this?”

Both responded quickly. Judd and Black told me that I would have to contact the manufacturer. Yes, the folks at Char-Broil. And this is where it started getting good.

Char-Broil actually called and emailed me. I missed the call, but when I called the number provided in the email, a friendly voice took my information, and let me know that the burners were actually covered by a warranty. I mentioned that I needed all the guts for my barbecue, and they said, “No problem. What other parts do you need?”

This couldn’t be happening.

In fact, when I was forwarded to their credit robot that would ring up my sale, I tried to punch in the credit card numbers on the phone and got disconnected. I called back, got the same person and he personally took me through the purchase.

Friendly. Treating you like a valued customer. Making sure you really were happy. It was numbing. All in one day, in a matter of minutes, really, and the matter was resolved. The barbecue I was perfectly happy with will live on and I won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for a new one.

But when that time comes, I guarantee it will be a Char-Broil, because they understand customer service.

That’s how you do it right.

Tim Hunter

 

An Amazon Christmas Miracle

There are so many reasons to not like Amazon. The impact it has on smaller businesses, the fact you can’t just talk to anyone there, etc.

I’m old enough to remember when they started back in 1995. They ran radio commercials, bragging how they were the largest bookstore in the world. Just as Nordstrom started out as a shoe store, then went full-on clothing, Amazon kept growing and growing and soon, started selling everything under the sun. As the New Year begins, they’re going to begin drone delivered in two U.S. cities, Lockeford, California and College Station, Texas.

I tend to be a steady Amazon shopper. Did you know that if you use them through the website smile.amazon.com, every time you buy something, they make a donation to a charity of your choice? I have my monetary fragments going towards the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle.

What really appeals to me about Amazon is that you can buy something and they take care of delivery. If you purchased something at a store, you’d have to wrap it for shipping, then take it to the post office. If you’re an Amazon member, shipping is free! For me, that more than pays for the annual membership.

But it’s not a perfect world, and that includes Amazon.

So, this year, for my mom’s Christmas present, I thought it would be cool to get her a new bird bath for the backyard. She currently has an ceramic, perhaps cement bird bath in the center of the backyard that, every year, she would paint again with this sky-blue paint I bought back in 1972 to paint the Senior Pond at Torrance High School, during a pond-cleaning party. After 50 years, the paint finally ran out. (God knows how much lead was in there) So, it’s definitely time for a new bird bath.

Being a fan of hummingbirds, I thought mom would like this one and so I ordered it for her.

Three days later, I was notified that it had been delivered. Yes, on the box, it said “Paper Towels” and I thought, “How clever? So she doesn’t know what it is, they put Paper Towels on the outside. Brilliant!!”

Then the big day finally arrived. And what should appear as my 94-year-old mother opened up this cherished gift from her eldest child and only son?

Friggin’ paper towels.

Well, that tainted Christmas and later in the day, I got online with Amazon to chat with one of their representatives working on the holiday. The first agent was great, apologetic and said mom could just keep the paper towels and they’d get her a new bird bath. Great!

But then he transferred me to a less sympathetic, pissed-off-they-were-working-on-Christmas-Day employee who told me, “Nope! You’ve got to return those paper towels or we can’t issue you a refund.”

I explained and re-explained what happened, that they had screwed up royally, but she said, “Return those paper towels or no refund.” Oh, sure, what could possibly go wrong with that? The UPS guy shows up to pick up a bird bath and the box says ‘Paper Towels’. Or, it gets all the way back to Amazon and they say, “This isn’t a bird bath! He’s trying to scam us!”

Now, it’s not like my mom doesn’t like paper towels. In fact, she said that she actually needed some.

Thanks to sage advice from my youngest sibling, Debbie, I reached out to Amazon again this morning. Debbie’s thought is that when you’re talking Christmas Day, you’re going to get a member of the Customer Service B-team and she was right. Her theory continues that, the later in the day, the lower the grade and by 5pm you’re chatting with the D- or E-Team.

Well, this morning, the Tuesday after Christmas, I was connected with Ashish, who apparently has a Master’s Degree in customer service and by the time we were done chatting, she had fixed everything. My refund was on the way, mom gets to keep her paper towels, and mom’s actual bird bath will arrive on Friday.

It was an Amazon Christmas miracle.

And to all, a good night!

Tim Hunter

The Tradition Continues

Some people have normal holiday traditions, like making home-made eggnog or having prime rib for Christmas dinner.

I make a music video.

With my career in radio, I’ve always created just the audio portion of parody songs and around the time the holiday season arrives, I start thinking that way. What could I do this year?

A lot of times, that would result in me writing up the lyrics, creating the necessary music bed, and then singing it myself. I’m not awful, I’ll hit most of the notes and it’s all for the sake of being silly. Here are a couple of early gems from back in my KLSY days, “Snow Rider” and “Tired of the Snow.”

Yeah, I have fun.

Then, 11 years ago, my buddy at Destination Market, radio brother Scott Burns introduced me to a young lady named Alana Baxter. She was in to do a commercial voice, but it eventually leaked out that she was a singer. A real, on-key singer. I asked if she would be up for working together and suddenly, I had a partner.

In the past 11 years, we’ve created 10 gems that you can view here on my YouTube channel. I’ve created a playlist just for them. In those early years, I was filming with a Flip camera (remember those?), I then switched to a Canon 70D SLR camera but eventually, I just started using the technology available from my iPhone and it worked just fine. I mean, we’re not creating feature films here.

They’re good enough for a laugh.

And that’s the goal of each of those videos. But before I share with you this year’s triumph, while out scouting out scenes to use as a background, we came upon the Nutcracker House in Ballard. Someone actually bought all the props from a previous Pacific Northwest Ballet production of The Nutcracker and they put them up every year for the holiday season. Talk about your ultimate display!

But as we got out of the car, Alana experienced a rush of memories because she, as a young girl, was in many of those productions. When she started telling me stories I said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s not waste this.”

So here is Alana’s personal tour of the Nutcracker house display.

So, after filming this tour and a few scenes for this year’s video, “Do You Have What I Have?”, we continued hopping around to various places like Swanson’s Nursery and a newer Seattle holiday attraction, Kringle’s Filling Station and in two hours, we had all the footage we needed to complete the music video.

After six hours of “grabbing edit time when it’s available”, I managed to put together this year’s song and I’m proud. Actually, I’m proud of each of the treasures we’ve produced over the years. To see the complete collection of Alana song videos, just click here.

After you’ve enjoyed this year’s achievement. Have a merry one.

And the tradition continues.

Tim Hunter

A Thought Salad

Yeah, each week, I try to focus on one thing and take a deep dive, but I got a bunch of topics rattling through my brain this week, so here goes.

A SUCCESSFUL JULEBORD

That’s the Nordic Christmas I emcee every year for the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce at the Seattle Golf Club, pronounced YOOL-uh-bord. Last Friday was the big day and really, the kickoff to my holiday season activities. I went in, armed with jokes for my monologue and another Christmas parody song I had worked up. I took “Whoomp! There it is!” and changed it to “Whoomp! Julebord.”

I started up the music, yelled out, “Nordic people. It’s me, your emcee, back here at SGC, with just the right song for our Julebord today…that goes a little like this…..”

CLICK THIS TO HEAR IT

Adding to the fun, I had my musical partner in Christmas music crime, Alana Baxter, join me to rap, and then dance while I wrapped it up.

Oh, and that’s “Shot ‘o Linie”.

The sad part is that I don’t think there’s any video of that performance, but it worked out better than we could have planned. First, to go from a formal dinner to “Whoomp! Julebord!” in less than a couple of minutes and two, we had Alana dress up like part of the wait-staff, so when I handed her the microphone as if to challenge her, she took off. Just awesome.

NO IT ISN’T

Yes, I order way too much from Amazon. So, having my Alexa say, “You have a package delivered” is not unusual. But then, I got photo confirmation, and it looked like this:

I see the package and think to myself, “Oh, cool! It arrived.” But then I took a more careful look and had to ask, “Uh, whose front door is that?”

So, I thought I would stroll the neighborhood and I didn’t have to go far. Keeping my eyes peeled for some orange doors, I found the above scene at my next-door neighbor Carl’s house.

Seriously, how hard is it to match up address numbers?

LUTEFISK AND MEATBALLS

So, Saturday afternoon, we attended the Bothell Sons of Norway’s annual Lutefisk and Meatballs dinner at their lodge on Bothell-Everett Highway. Being in that neighborhood the first weekend of December was not unusual for me, as for most of 16 years, I was the town crier across the street at the now-defunct Country Village Shopping Center.

I used to crack jokes to the crowd gathered at the Village about the Lutefisk dinner across the street and how the Haz-Mat team was over there cleaning up. But now, I’m over on the other side of the highway.

And man, what a treat!

The amazing crew of volunteers there cooks up enough meals for over 500 people in one day, at $35 a pop. And every year–sold out.

I can understand why. It was delicious. The much-maligned cod, when prepared properly, is delicious. I had two helpings, some of the people we were with went back for thirds.

And we were stuffed.

EVENTUALLY, WE’LL ALL BE CONNECTED

So, you’re aware of this blog. Checking the date, my very first entry goes back to Veterans Day of 2008. So, a new blog once a week, 52 weeks in a year times 14 years and you have well over 100 blogs and counting. (I didn’t want to do the math)

Thanks for the read.

Tim Hunter

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 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.

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