We begin tonight with a street and a statue. The street – to be named after NBA legend Lenny Wilkens. The statue – depicting baseball Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez. Both fitting honors that have multiple impacts.
Let me preface this by commending the Mariners for capping Edgar’s Hall of Fame induction with a memorable celebration weekend, including a ceremony fit for a king. I can’t imagine anything more appropriate than the statue of Ken Griffey Junior now being joined by another legendary Mariner, commemorating a moment that helped save baseball in Seattle.
Let me also say that I’m thrilled NHL Seattle approached the mayor about commemorating a street in Lenny Wilkens’ honor outside the new Seattle Center Arena. It’s the least we can do, given his legendary career coupled with 40 years of giving more than nine million dollars to the Odessa Brown Clinic in the Central District through his foundation.
But both moves come with an added spotlight and responsibility. For the foreseeable future, Lenny Wilkens Way will be running alongside an arena that only houses an NHL team. Making a move like this reflects the commitment Oak View Group says it has toward bringing the Sonics back to Seattle, but it also puts extra pressure on them to make it happen when the opportunity arises.
In a similar fashion, I love Edgar getting the statue – not because he totally deserves it – but because another reminder of the Mariners “Golden Age” only puts this franchise on notice that this new plan better work!
After all, it’s great when we get news of first-round draft pick Jarred Kelenic being promoted to Double-A baseball this weekend (Who knows? He could be the next Griffey or Edgar), but if this three-year or five-year or whatever long-term project doesn’t pan out, then we’re left back at square one with another bronze statue to remind us of where we currently are.
Again, Edgar deserves this. But honoring the Mariners past has been one of the ONLY things the franchise has done right for close to two decades.
So yes, on the surface, these two honors – a street for Lenny and a statue for Edgar – are fantastic. Both men are highly deserving of the praise and the honors.
But the commemoration of their careers indirectly shines a spotlight on current status – and places an even larger responsibility on those handing out the honors to fulfill their respective commitments to the sports fanbase in Seattle.