Wilson throws out first pitch during pregame festivities at Safeco Field
SEATTLE -- The mantra was one of many rallying cries during the Seattle Seahawks dominant run to Super Bowl XLVIII. It reemerged on a Mariners fan's sign a couple of hours before Seattle began its home opener Tuesday night against the Angels at Safeco Field.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson famously asked his teammates the same question before the Seahawks marched to a 13-3 regular season, then beat the Saints, 49ers and finally the Broncos, 43-8, to give Seattle its first professional championship in a major sport since the Seattle SuperSonics won an NBA title in 1979.
Wilson intimated he wouldn't mind letting the team that plays across the street at Safeco Field borrow his slogan during his offseason.
"I think the 'Why Not Us' idea is a good idea [for the Mariners]," said Wilson, who threw out the first pitch for the Mariners on Tuesday and received one of the loudest individual ovations of the night from a hyped sellout crowd of 45,661. "It worked for us a for a little bit. The biggest thing is just having the belief that you can win a lot of games. Baseball is a long season. They've done a great job so far. They've got the players to do it. Getting [Robinson] Cano really helps, too. I'm excited for seeing how far they go."
Wilson was drafted by the Rockies as a second baseman out of North Carolina State in 2010 and spent two years in Colorado's Minor League system before moving on from baseball to play his final collegiate football season at Wisconsin. In December, he was plucked by Texas with the 15th pick in the Rule 5 Draft, and he participated in a Rangers Spring Training workout in March.
Did the fans mind him suiting up for an American League West foe?
"No, I don't think so," Wilson said. "I don't pay attention to all that. I'm blessed to be drafted by the Rangers. It was a great experience for me. It's the third time I got drafted. That doesn't happen too often. It's one of those things. It's a great organization. I love coming to the Mariners games, too, and supporting my city."
As part of the Mariners' Opening Night ceremony, Wilson, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, Jermaine Kearse, Mike Morgan, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were honored before Wilson wound up and tossed the first pitch to Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. It was a bit high and off the plate.
There were other Seahawks accents: The Lombardi Trophy was placed on a black podium on the infield. A blue Seahawks banner hung briefly from the center-field backdrop. A video montage of highlights from their season played on the center-field scoreboard.
When Carroll, Wilson and Co., walked in from the outfield, Safeco Field sounded a bit like CenturyLink Field. The 12th Man set a Guiness World Record for crowd noise by registering 137.6 decibels in a game last season against the Saints.
"I think it's great. I think it's fabulous. I'm a big fan," said first-year Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon of the Seahawks before the game. "I had the opportunity to go out to a practice and talk with coach [Carroll]. I thought that was outstanding. I love their energy. I love what they're doing. Hopefully, that'll rub off on us a little bit."
That is the hope for a Mariners that followed up a 4-2 road trip to begin the season with a 5-3 win over the Angels on Tuesday night.
"Just to see them win, see what they did for the city, see what they did for the fans, not only for them but for the sports teams around them -- the Sounders, the Mariners -- we were talking about it in Spring Training that we are kind of feeding off their energy," said right fielder Michael Saunders. "We see how much fun it would be to win a championship, and we're trying to ride that train as well."
Saunders admitted he wasn't an ardent football fan but followed the Seahawks from a distance while growing up in Victoria, B.C. His attitude toward the sport changed when he attended junior college in Tallahassee, Fla. An adopted Nebraska fan because his wife attended college in Lincoln, Saunders during his latest offseason rooted for the Seahawks and Broncos while making his home in Denver. Yes, Denver.
"It was a win-win for me, to be honest," Saunders said. "I'm not going to hide, I just enjoy watching the Broncos and they're my hometown team now, but I grew up a Seahawks fan and I'll always be a Seahawks fan because of it."