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Originally published Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 8:00 PM

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It's a good weekend to be a Seattle sports fan

The Huskies play in a bowl game Saturday. The streaking Seahawks face NFC West rival San Francisco on Sunday. Even the Mariners did something right, trading for Kendrys Morales. Enjoy, it's been a while since we had a weekend this good.

Times staff columnist

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LAS VEGAS — Now this is a weekend, sports fans.

This is why you suffered through the Tyrone Willingham years at Washington. You knew that some day he would be gone and the future would seem as bright as the Sonoran Desert sun.

This is why you stayed loyal to the Seahawks even when Tim Ruskell was systematically destroying the franchise with head-scratching drafts and miscast free agents. How about that Aaron Curry!

You endure the bad times so you can truly appreciate the good.

Think of this weekend as an early Christmas present that you've been waiting for since, I don't know, 2006? It is the kind of weekend that we usually watch with envy from a distance as fans from the Bay Area or Boston's Back Bay celebrate.

On Saturday, UW meets Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. No, it's not exactly a BCS Bowl and, yes, every bowl played before Christmas is a little suspect. But this is a perfect test for the Huskies, a chance to slosh away the bad taste of a blown 18-point lead in the Apple Cup, an opportunity to win an eighth game for the first time since 2001.

I've always believed this is the year-before-the-year for Washington.

Next season could be memorable, with the young offensive line a year older and the defense seasoned with another spring under Justin Wilcox; with quarterback Keith Price, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, receiver Kasen Williams, running back Bishop Sankey and linebackers Shaq Thompson and John Timu returning; and another good recruiting class arriving.

Beating Boise State would be a welcomed add-on to the Huskies' 2012 résumé, alongside its wins over Stanford and Oregon State. It would be a sign that, although this team still has an annoying habit of losing its way in road games (Washington State, Oregon, LSU and Arizona), it is making progress.

Sunday, of course, is the Almost-Game-of-the-Century between the Seahawks and San Francisco at CenturyLink Field.

Games like this are why we're sports fans. Games this good have a way of briefly galvanizing communities, which is part of why we build stadiums to house them.

Sure, the Niners took some of the starch out of it with their win over New England in Foxborough last week, virtually assuring their second straight NFC West title, but this night still will have all the heat, passion and noise of a playoff game.

CenturyLink will be lit up.

No team in the NFL has played better than the Hawks this month. They are playing freely and confidently. They have been dominant. Everything is working, including the fake-punt-in-the-fourth-quarter-when-you're-up-by-30 play.

A Hawks trip to the Super Bowl this season might feel like a bit of a stretch now, but they are going to be contenders for a long, long time.

How good does the buildup to this weekend feel?

Even the Mariners did something right. They got Los Angeles Angels first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales in a trade for No. 2 starter Jason Vargas.

It is a trade that will make the Mariners better. Morales isn't the next incarnation of Milton Bradley, Chone Figgins or Jack Cust. His on-base-plus-slugging percentage in August was .900. John Jaso led the Mariners last season with an .850 OPS.

Morales has recovered from the broken leg he freakishly suffered in 2010 while celebrating a walkoff home run against the Mariners. After missing the entire 2011 season, his numbers got better as the 2012 season progressed.

The shorter Safeco Field fences will benefit Morales in the same way they would have handicapped Vargas, who allowed 35 homers last season.

This trade doesn't make the Mariners better than the three teams in front of them in the AL West, but it gives them a hitter they desperately needed. And because Morales will be a free agent at the end of the season, the Mariners should benefit from his salary drive.

The trade was another piece of good news for Seattle sports fans in the buildup to a blockbuster weekend.

A bowl game on Saturday afternoon. An Almost-Game-of-the-Century on Sunday night. It has been a while since Seattle has had a weekend this good.

Enjoy.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com.

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