October 27, 2008

Thoughts from Seattle

Quick hitting thoughts from my trip to Seattle this weekend:

It has already been said by many people, but let me reiterate that Seattle is an incredible town. In fact, the entire region seems quite picturesque and, at least in the downtown area, there is no shortage of great bars, restaurants and other great attractions.

Likewise, I was favorably impressed with the University of Washington and the whole University District. Beautiful campus, friendly people and plenty of quality drinking establishments.

From an aesthetics and atmosphere standpoint, Husky Stadium is an impressive and unique setting for college football. Although I was not fortunate enough to know any boat owners in Washington, I was enthralled with the sailgating phenomenon (and I assume that this is equally cool at Neyland Stadium). In addition, the parking lot, though somewhat small in area, was a quality setting for tailgating.

As opposed to the tailgating environment, the actual viewing experience inside the stadium was somewhat disappointing. Even if your seats are relatively close to the field, as were mine, the giant track around the outside of the field makes it difficult to follow the action. Consequently, I ended up having to watch a bunch of the plays on “Huskytron,” which was annoying.

I did appreciate the small “offense” and “defense” scoreboards containing pertinent team stats (e.g., passing and rushing yards, sacks, first downs). Then again, when I looked up and noticed that Notre Dame had gained 350 yards compared to 50 yards for Washington, it was hard not to be pleased.

The Husky faithful, much like Notre Dame supporters, are often labeled (usually pejoratively) as a “wine and cheese” crowd. While some Notre Dame fans can be tame by comparison to other schools, I have often felt that this reputation is somewhat overblown. By contrast, the Washington fans -or should I call them “patrons”- are quite befitting of this description. This could be a product of the miserable season, but I have never seen so many people drinking wine at tailgates. Even I, an admitted enthusiast of Washington Cabernets and Oregon Pinots, would never even entertain the thought of consuming wine before a game. Come on Husky fans: football is made for shotgunning beers and downing hard alcohol with reckless abandon, not quaffing a glass of Riesling.

As expected, Washington patrons were generally depressed about their team and angry about Ty. Accordingly, it did not take long for the boos to start raining down in Husky Stadium after things started to go south for Washington. My favorite shirt: “A Ty is as good as a loss.” Unfortunately, I could not find this shirt for sale.

In keeping with the Willingham theme, I assume that it is a happy day in Seattle now that Ty has officially “resigned.” Of course, given the Huskies’ 0-7 record, it was only a matter of time. On the other hand, because it was such a glorious and unexpected event, Notre Dame fans will never forget where they were when Willingham was fired. In fact, I still think November 30th should be a day of observance at Notre Dame.

I am a hardcore doughnut aficionado and I consider myself to be a tough grader, but my discriminating palate was no match for the fine pastries made at Top Pot Doughnuts on Fifth and Blanchard. If there are any other doughnut connoisseurs reading this blog who are located in the Pacific Northwest, you should strongly consider making the trip to Seattle to visit this place. After my experience at Top Pot on Saturday, I actually returned on Sunday to sample a more diverse range of doughnuts and I was not disappointed with any of my selections.

On a side note, why can’t I find an independently owned, homemade doughnut shop in Rochester? Since Donuts Delite closed in 2005, this city has been a doughnut ghost town outside of the boring chains like Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons. If things don’t improve in several years, I may pack up and head west in search of better times.

Finally, from personal experience, don’t pick a fight with the Seattle pavement. It hits back hard…and leaves a mark.


Doug said...

"In fact, I still think November 30th should be a day of observance at Notre Dame."

Amen, one of the more surreal and crazier days I can ever remember as a sports fan. I went from being incredibly depressed and down in the dumps to overjoyed and hopeful about the state of ND football.

Great stuff Mike. Enjoyed the review. I'm kicking myself for not hitting up Top Pot when I was out there last month. Seattle is a great city. Probably the most scenic city I've ever been to (although I've never been to San Fran). Also agree about the "UDUB" campus. Very nice area over there with some incredible views of the waterfront.

If Washington makes a good hire and gets their program back on the right foot, I hope ND signs on for another home and home with them. I'd love to get out there for the next game we play with them. They are a good fit for us as a program, and they've never shied away from playing a challenging schedule.

Mike said...

It's really a shame that Washington has fallen by the wayside. UW has great tradition, loyal fans and various recruiting advantages such as a vibrant campus and a prime location in a major metropolitan area with easy access to California football talent. In short, this is a great job that can be resurrected with a competent coach. I expect a homerun hire (Jim Mora, Jr., perhaps?) for the new AD at UW.