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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.

Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Sports With Art Thiel with iTunes or Google Play now. You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between historylink.org and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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