A GRIP ON SPORTS
I got up a bit before 5:30 this morning to watch the Ryder Cup and I haven't been disappointed. Sure the golf has been great – Rory McIlroy just chipped in a nearly impossible shot and Tiger Woods has already put a drive into no-man's land – but the best part is how the players actually get excited about their shots and contentious with each other. Read on.
• Call me a nerd or whatever, but I've always loved the Ryder Cup, even when it wasn't a TV spectacle. Back when Jack Nicklaus would concede a decent-length putt so that his opponent wouldn't have to live with the infamy of losing the Cup. Not sure such things would happen today (and to be fair, the U.S. would win that Cup with a push anyway and they usually made the British team – this was before it became Europe's team – their drum anyway) but it doesn't matter. The team competition is the thing, guys who each week try to focus about one thing – their own play – have to change gears and worry how their play affects a bunch of other guys – and their fans. The different type of pressure affects different guys different ways. The second- or third-greatest player of all time – Woods, depending on where you rank Bobby Jones – has never really played well in this competition whereas Ian Poulter, a journeyman if there ever was one, seems to thrive in the spotlight. Which brings me to my point this morning. For one of the few times in my life, I'm rooting for Tiger Woods (above left). I've always felt Woods has been way too cocky for my tastes. He was so good, so dominant, he never needed to rub it in. But he always did anyway, whether on or off the course. But the past few years has whittled away that cockiness, destroyed his confidence and made him basically mortal. And like a hero in a Greek tragedy, that fall from grace makes him more identifiable, more of an everyman. We've all had troubles, had tough times. We've all had to wade through a river of waste at times and have come out on the other side. Woods is on the other side. He still is who he is, but different if you get my drift. And I would like to see that guy enjoy some joy, not just individually but as part of a group. To understand that true happiness can come from the excitement of others.
• Washington State: The Huskies knocked the Pac-12 North on its ear last night with the upset win at CenturyLink, but we leave the links to the news stories from that game in the capable hands of Christian Caple as part of his morning post. Christian also had a post last night after practice and a story on Xavier Cooper this morning. … As for commentary from Seattle, we give you Steve Kelley, Art Thiel, Jerry Brewer and John McGrath. We also pass along a couple of sidebars from the Times, including one on the great game of Spokane's Bishop Sankey.
• Idaho: The class of the WAC this season? More than likely Utah State, who has played a tough early season schedule.
• Preps: Greg Lee was at the showdown for the Greater Spokane League lead last night at Albi, a matchup of unbeaten Mead and Gonzaga Prep. After it was done, the Bullpups were still undefeated, thanks to a 33-27 win over the Panthers. … Jess Brown was at the volleyball matchup between Mt. Spokane and Shadle Park. Here is her story.
• Seahawks: We'll take just one last look back at the Packer game, but it is Friday and about time (or past time) to look forward to Sunday's game with the Rams. OK, one more. We also pass along this Thiel column. It's really good. … Pete Carroll says to pin the lack of a passing game on his shoulders. … One player comes back and another hopes to be available.
• Mariners: There isn't much the M's are playing for right now while the Angels are playing for their postseason life. So what happens last night? The M's play loose, the Angels play tight and Seattle comes away with a 9-4 win. The best play of the game is easy to pinpoint. It was a catch by Franklin Gutierrez, a catch made as he ran full-speed into the fence. Of course, it knocked him from the game but he says he's OK. That means he'll only be out five games. … Does Justin Smoak's solid September mean he should be given another shot next season? Larry Stone thinks so.
• It's time for me to give the Ryder Cup my undivided attention. We'll be back tomorrow, which should be one of the better Saturdays of the fall, with a television lineup that is unbeatable. Until then …