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The calm before another storm

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We are only a couple of days removed from the NFL's most recent "Game of the Century." And just a couple of days from the next one. Read on.

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• No matter how excited you were the Hawks were facing New Orleans with (more-than-likely) home-field advantage in the NFC on the line, you have to be even more excited Seattle is headed to San Francisco this week with a chance to clinch the NFC West, right? After all, the Saints are a good team but the 49ers, they are the Hawks' rival. And rivalry games are always more fun, right? Sure they are, but there is one little fact that takes away from this rivalry game. No matter what happens – baring a major injury to a key player – the Hawks are going to win the West. Even if the 49ers win Sunday – and they are favored by 3 points – they will still be two games behind the Hawks with three games to play – and Seattle will have two of them at home. So even if San Francisco wins, it is not going to catch the Hawks. But a win would help the 49ers hold off the Cardinals and anyone else hoping to make the playoffs as a wild card team. Isn't that priceless? After starting the season as the defending NFC champs, the Hawks' rival to the south now is left with battling for wild-card scraps. I'm sure there are more than a few Seattle fans who would say it couldn't have happened to a better team.

• We thought the Hot Stove League was fully stoked yesterday morning. Little did we know it would be given a propane blast during the day. The news from Seattle the M's and Tampa Bay Rays are discussing a trade for David Price really heated things up. The question is, will the price be too high? It seems Tajuan Walker and/or James Paxton, two of the M's highly prized pitching prospects, are being included in the talks. The question I have for you: Would you be OK with the M's trading one of those young arms for a dominating left-handed starter that only has two years left on his contract? The answer just may make or break general manager Jack Zduriencik's tenure in Seattle.

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• WSU: "Bowl Wait 2013: Cougar fans held hostage, day 13. Still no resolution to the bowl crisis, Jim, but we stand vigil outside Bohler Gym waiting for the smoke to emerge from the chimney. I've been told if the smoke is white, the Cougars will be headed to the New Mexico Bowl, crimson means the Heart of Dallas Bowl and gray will signify staying home. As soon as we see something, we'll get back to you." Or so it seems. Jacob Thorpe has more in this story and in a late-afternoon blog post from yesterday. ... He also has morning links today from around the Pac-12. ... By the way, I listened to new USC coach Steve Sarkisian on both the Colin Cowherd and Doug Gottlieb shows yesterday and he finished both interviews with this line: "You're the best (insert host's first name here)." How can both of them be the best? Which is better, Colin or Doug? Or is Sark blowing smoke? A college football coach blowing smoke? No way. ... Speaking of Sark, Art Thiel has some thoughts. ... The Pac-12 title game is Saturday and we have predictions, including an exceptionally well-reasoned one. ... There may just be a couple of front-runners in UW's coaching search. ... The WSU women handled Cal State Northridge last night.

• Gonzaga: Now we know why the Lakers cut Elias Harris. It was about the money.

• EWU: In the continuing quest to help Eagle fans know the enemy, Jim Allen has a feature on a South Dakota State running back. ... Jim will be back later today with a live chat. But before then, he has links. ... Southern Utah lost on the basketball court again last night.

• Idaho: Austin Rehkow played football and basketball in high school. He may just do both in college as well. Josh Wright has more in this story and blog post.

• Chiefs: Power plays are supposed to help the team with one more skater on the ice. That's why they action that leads to one is called a penalty. But Mitch Holmberg (pictured) made that designation moot last night, scoring two short-handed goals in the Chiefs' 2-1 win over Saskatoon. Chris Derrick has the story and a blog post while Jesse Tinsley adds the photographs.

• Preps: Not much in the way of high school action last night but we do have a basketball roundup.

• Seahawks: Did you know the 49ers have the Seahawks right where they want them? Beware of what you wish for. ... Three-quarters of the way through the season, the Hawks are receiving straight-As. ... Rumors or not, Brandon Browner returned to practice yesterday as Seattle has no news on whether the cornerback, coming back from a groin injury, will be suspended. ... One thing you can be sure of this Sunday: It will be a physical game. These teams don't like each other. And we know that physicality will mean the injury lists, which are already pretty long, may get longer. ... Pete Carroll knows this and he also knows the 49ers will be ready.

• Mariners: So we have the Price rumors. And the Cano rumors. The M's are winning rumor season again. What is that, a seven-year winning streak? ... This is no rumor, though I missed it yesterday. Dan Wilson is coming back as an instructor.

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• Do you know it got to minus-2 in Pullman yesterday? Seems like it would have been a good day to play Arizona State. Or USC. Or UCLA. Maybe someday the Pac-12 title game will be in Pullman in early December. Now that would be fun. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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