A GRIP ON SPORTS
It's hard to get excited again this quickly. After all, the Seahawks' big win over New England was what, 48 minutes ago? Seems like it. But, even though it's just Thursday, us NFL observers are expected to be raring to go tonight when the Hawks face division rival San Francisco in the Bay Area. If it's hard on folks like us, how do you think the players feel? Read on.
• Honestly, I have no idea, never having played football at that level. But it can't be easy to play an emotional, physical game on a Sunday afternoon and be ready to go again four days later – for either team. Seattle has the added burden of having to travel, which kind of kills a day of prep time. The quick turnaround will probably affect the quality of play tonight, but should hit both teams about equally, so the outcome may not be any different than it would be if the game were on Sunday. One thing I do know, I'll be watching, though, as a college football fan, I will have the remote handy so I can switch back-and-forth to the Oregon at Arizona State game.
• We get on officials here from time to time, but mainly for mistakes. And we recognize everyone makes mistakes. So they are excusable, though fun to poke fun about. However, on extremely rare occasions, an official shows up at an event, either pro or college, and issues a series of rulings that don't seem like mistakes made by ineptitude. They seem calculated to hurt one team's chances of success. Such is the case with Ricardo Salazar, the referee in last night's Sounders game with Real Salt Lake. Salazar and the Sounders have had a checkered past, a past that reached its low point in the U.S. Open Cup final in August. Even I, an unpolished soccer observer, could see Salazar's decisions were biased against the Seattle team. A call he made during the shootout seemed intended to ensure the Sounders' defeat, as it is one of those calls a referee could make anytime but rarely does. (As an analogy, think of offensive holding in football. It's a penalty that could be called on almost every play but isn't. But how would you feel if an official only through his flag when your team had a big gain? It would reek of unfairness, right, but is entirely defensible on film.) Last night, in a key MLS game with Real Salt Lake, Salazar sent a Sounder off early with two yellow cards, forcing Seattle to play a man down the rest of the way. Then he ignored a hand ball late in the first half and decided to give a Salt Lake player a yellow instead of a red (disqualification) on a penalty that took away a breakaway chance. The final straw was a corner kick well after time should have expired, giving Real Salt Lake one more chance to break a 0-0 tie. All decisions well within a referee's discretion. All against the Sounders. Odd.
• Washington State: From the world's game of football to America's. Christian Caple was at practice yesterday and was able to report it wasn't nearly as long as Tuesday's. But his day was. Besides his after-practice blog post, he also held a live chat, he put up his weekly pick 'em contest and he passed along the news four players have left the program. Then this morning he has his usual link-filled post. The Cougars will take the next two days off – as coaches hit the recruiting trail – before getting back on the practice field Saturday night. Christian also has his Pac-12 picks for the week. … Two WSU players were knocked out of Saturday's game against California and the guy who did the knocking out is feted in this story. Kind of odd the fact his hit against Marquess Wilson (above) was flagged for a well-deserved helmet-to-helmet personal foul is not mentioned until the end of the piece. Wilson, who obviously suffered a head injury, though WSU, as per its misguided policy, won't confirm or deny it, has not practiced since. Neither has Teondray Caldwell. … Jon Wilner would like to know what you think of the Pac-12 Network. He also has some midseason awards. … The guys over at ESPN.com have their picks for the week.
• Gonzaga: Former GU assistant Billy Grier is looking for a turnaround year in San Diego.
• EWU: Former Eastern Washington head coach Mike Kramer is under investigation for making contact with a player at practice recently. That's the lead piece in Jim Allen's weekly Big Sky notebook. … Weber State is struggling, though it seems it's the little things that are doing it in.
• Preps: It's Prep Page day with Greg Lee coming through with a notebook and this story on Gonzaga Prep's rushing attack (picture). … The CV girls won the GSL cross country title yesterday. Mike Vlahovich has the coverage. … The Mt. Spokane girls clinched a tie for the GSL soccer title. … Here are the Associated Press football polls for all levels this week.
• Chiefs: Nothing on the Chiefs, but Portland traded a goalie yesterday. Trading goalies seems to be the rage in the WHL right now.
• Sounders: Yes, the Sounders did not score against Real Salt Lake. Maybe part of the problem was their best offense player, Eddie Johnson, was not available after playing Tuesday for the U.S. national team. … But they did play exceptional defense down a man, which made goalkeeper Michael Gspurning happy.
• We'll be out at Northern Quest for the radio show this afternoon, so if you want to listen just click here. It runs from 3 to 6. Then it's time to head home and catch the rest of the games. Until then …