In Seattle, Larry Stone writes the Seahawks organization "owns the town," while the Mariners "are at best an afterthought, at worst the whipping boys of a frustrated fan base." The "best-case scenario is that the Seahawks' success provides a nudge, or even a shove, to the Mariners, ratcheting up the urgency to put their losing stretch behind them." Mariners 3B Willie Bloomquist said, "Hopefully we as a baseball team can ride that Seahawks momentum, and hopefully the fans can keep the excitement going. And hopefully we give them something to be excited about" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/21).
THE SUN ALSO RISES: In Phoenix, Paul Coro writes it "took a while to clear the wreckage" from the Suns' 25-57 finish last season, but the team has "earned the fans' attention again." Five of the Suns' seven most-watched games this season "have come in February, when the average rating on Fox Sports Arizona broadcasts has been 2.8." The Suns also "have seen the crowds improve since mid-January." The team "went from an average of 14,352 fans over the first 17 home games to an average of 16,617 in the past 10" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/21).
MINI APPLE MISCELLANY: In St. Paul, Charley Walters reported there are "between 5,000 and 7,000 seats remaining for the Twins' season opener" against the A's at Target Field. The Twins "are closely watching" the Sochi Games for local athletes to consider for the ceremonial first pitch for their first game, while local connections to this year's MLB All-Star Game at Target Field "also will be considered." Meanwhile, there likely will be "a significant tribute" to late "Peanuts" cartoonist and St. Paul native Charles Schulz during All-Star Week (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/20).
SEEING RED IN FLORIDA: In Tampa, Damian Cristodero writes, "The Lightning is operating in the red, but that won't stop owner Jeff Vinik from continuing to spend to the salary cap." Vinik said, "I don't want to predict out because things can change. But for the foreseeable future our strategy is to have a great team on the ice and spend at or near the salary cap." Vinik declined to say how much money the team is losing, but said losses "have come down dramatically" from when he bought the team in '10 (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/19).