Art Thiel's top five sports stories of 2018
KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel is out with his top five Seattle sports stories of 2018. He counted them down with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.
5. Seattle Storm wins third WNBA championship.
"Big year for the Storm," Thiel said.
"They did a marvelous job with Breanna Stewart, who was the Most Valuable Player in the WNBA, and Sue Bird just keeps going (after) 17 years. She led the league in assists. Stewart led it in scoring.
"It was a dominant performance by the two stars and a cohesive effort by a team that was put together, sort of, on the fly and came to ultimate success."
4. UW Huskies back to Rose Bowl for first time in 18 years.
"They're meeting Ohio State, a real powerhouse," Thiel said.
"Ohio State's a 6.5 favorite, but they have some vulnerabilities and the Huskies' defense is one of the best in the country. The Huskies are a formidable powerhouse, not only in the Pac-12, but nationally."
Thiel noted that the WSU Cougars also had a good season with a 10-2 record.
"They're in the Alamo Bowl, but they didn't win the Apple Cup. And until they get over the hump with the Huskies, it's hard to say they've had ultimate success in a season."
3. Seahawks' expected return to the playoffs.
"They're at 8-6 and I think almost no one forecasted this after all the changes Pete Carroll made to his coaching staff and the player roster," Thiel said.
"They've got a budding star in (running back) Chris Carson and they've also made punting sexy — who knew? — with Michael Dickson, their rookie from (the University of) Texas."
2. Mariners' collapse and teardown.
"This is just epic and ongoing," Thiel said.
"The Mariners started out the year wonderfully, and as late as July were almost a lock to make the playoffs. Then they had a second-half collapse where the pitching failed and the hitting dried up.
"The Mariners realized, 'You know what, we just can't do incremental improvements. We have to tear everything down.' And that's what general manager Jerry Dipoto has committed to in the offseason.
"He's calling it a step back, and some might say it's a step off the cliff."
1. NHL expansion team to Seattle/renovation of Key Arena.
"This has been an amazing story all year long," Theil said.
"They have an agreement to take everything under the roof out and put in a world-class arena underneath. It's extremely expensive and difficult but the project is underway.
"The city's been without hockey for, really, almost 100 years if you're talking about the top level of the game.
"This (32nd) franchise is going to start in 2021. That's a year later than they had hoped but it's going to allow them to do the job right."
Final note: It didn't make Art's top five list, but the Seattle Sounders clinching a playoff berth for the 10th consecutive season also was a big story this year. The Sounders lost to the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Semifinal series of the MLS Cup Playoffs.