By Ron Johnson
As the newest resident of Washington, I can say that I agree with Dr. Derek Shepherd of Grey’s Anatomy fame: I love ferry boats. The natural beauty of Seattle draws all walks of life, and being able to enjoy that scenery while watching the Seahawks, Storm, Sea Dragons or Kraken makes it so much better.
To say that the sports world has been paying attention is an understatement.
For the first time ever I believe, Seattle, Washington is about to host two of the biggest sports moments in history as they will not only host the 2023 MLB All Star Game, but the city will also host the 2024 NHL Winter Classic.
2023 MLB All Star Game – Seattle
Starting this weekend, Seattle will host the All-Star Game for the third time in history and its first in 22 years. “The first time the city hosted the game was in 1979, and the second was back in 2001.” (Board, 2023) Baseball has always been a mainstay in Seattle. From its humble beginnings to one of the first and best father-son duos in history to the arrival of the one known as ‘Kid Dynamite,’ the Seattle Mariners have brought a fire out of the city like the Sonics of old.
The festivities start on Friday night as it will be the Inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic. This annual All-Star experience will not only highlight the history, legacy and prestige of programs at every Historically Black Colleges and Universities, but it will also be providing up to 50 HBCU Division I players an opportunity to showcase their talents on a national stage for a chance to possibly join the ranks of the majors.
It also helps that Seattle is hosting this event, AND one of the judges will be ‘Kid Dynamite’ himself, Ken Griffey, Jr.
On Saturday, it is the annual Celebrity Softball Game, which will feature Chloe Kim, Zach Lavine and Adam Devine followed by the All-Star Futures Game, where the top prospects in MLB against the best young stars in The Show today such as Harry Ford and Jonatan Clase. The game itself will be managed by Mariners Legends Harold Reynolds (AL Futures) and Raul Ibanez (NL Futures). Starting Sunday and going into Tuesday, MLB will feature the 2023 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
On Monday, it will be the Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, which is always a delight for fans of all ages as they will get to see the All Stars get their practice on before Tuesday’s finale. The Workout Day ends with the greatest tradition of the All Star Game in my opinion, the T-Mobile Home Run Derby! This year, Julio Rodriguez will have a chance to bring home the coveted trophy in front of his raucous hometown crowd and possibly make a little history as well as he could be the first Seattle star since Griffey to win the Derby.
This all culminates with The Showcase, also known as The Major League Baseball All Star Game. Now while this may not seem like a big deal, the last time the All Star Game was in Seattle, it was Cal Ripken, Jr. going on his last ride before hanging it up for good. Also, that was the game in which Ripken, Ichiro and the American League snatched a 4-1 victory over the National League.
If all this excitement does not get you feeling Seattle, maybe a little ‘flow-n-snow’ will help you.
2024 NHL Winter Classic
On New Years’ Day 2024, MJF will not be the only one excited for the new year. Six months after giving the people what they want, Seattle is not done yet. For the first time in NHL history, the last two expansion teams in the league take the battle outside as fresh off their first magical postseason run, the Seattle Kraken will face off against the Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights.
Vegas arrived on the scene in epic fashion six years ago when they finished their first-year campaign as Stanley Cup Runner-Up. Fast forward to 2023, and the Knights can finally call themselves champions after beating, victimizing and conquering the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final. But do not be surprised if they sent a massive gift basket to the Kraken in the process.
The reason they would have sent that basket to the Kraken? Because Seattle is coming off its first postseason in franchise history, and it was indeed a major one as they upset the former champions, the Colorado Avalanche in seven games. And while these two teams did not get the chance to unleash anarchy in the postseason due to Dallas knocking Seattle out of the playoffs, the rivalry is indeed real between these two teams and so is the excitement of the event.
“’We’re pretty excited,’ Kraken CEO Tod Lewieke said. ‘I think in some regards these things we hoped would happen, these are the things we dreamed would happen. But it’s a great honor that in our third season, we’re going to host, really, an international event.’” (Rosen, 2023) For most of the players on both teams, this will not be their first rodeo in the Winter Classic. In fact, since its arrival in 2008, it has been one of the many highlights of the NHL season.
Pittsburgh, Detroit, Boston, Washington, New York Rangers, Toronto, Montreal, Dallas and St. Louis have all captured wins in the Classic with Boston, the Rangers and St. Louis are garnering multiple wins. There were two times that the Classic did not happen, with one being due to the NHL lockout and the other being due to the COVID Pandemic. But these two events were made up for the following season. When it comes to the Classic, only the Rangers, Capitals and Blues have managed to stay undefeated.
The Winter Classic is not only a lot of fun for the players, but it is also fun for the fans as this game not only leads to the NHL Outdoor Games or culminates from them, but they also give fans the advantage of being as loud as possible with the elimination of the roof.
Now everyone knows how loud Seahawks games can get. Can you imagine what it will feel like with two of the wildest hockey fanbases under one outdoor roof?
In any event, Seattle is a magical place to visit, to live or just to be. Between the amazing views of the islands and the Pacific Ocean, the awe of those aforementioned ferry boats and the constant welcoming from residents and staff of Pike Place, you cannot go wrong with the bliss and glamour of Seattle, especially at night. From visiting the World-Famous Space Needle to its red hot night life, Seattle already knows that it is ready to welcome fans of both baseball and hockey as well as those fanbases of the teams.
And considering where Seattle was versus where it is, it is best to enjoy these events before they are, as the great Chris Berman would say, ‘BA-BA-BA-BACK, BACK, BACK…GONE!’
Board, C. (2023, June 30). How Seattle became host of MLB All-Star Game for third time in city’s history. Retrieved from King 5: https://www.king5.com/article/sports/mlb/mariners/how-seattle-became-host-of-mlb-all-star-game-for-third-time-in-citys-history/281-7c45ce9a-4354-4398-9dce-b2407f034dda
Rosen, D. (2023, January 3). Kraken to host 2024 Winter Classic, face Golden Knights at Mariners home. Retrieved from NHL: https://www.nhl.com/news/2024-nhl-winter-classic-kraken-golden-knights-in-seattle/c-339420522