A GRIP ON SPORTS
You know, devoted fans of books should never get too excited when they are turned into movies. There are too many differences in the visual elements of film vs. the imaginary vision of each reader. It's as simple as that. So today I sit at my computer ready to churn out the screenplay for the upcoming "A Grip on Sports" movie. I promise it will stay true to the "artistry" of the written word. Read on.
• If you're wondering, the Coen Brothers are attached. They are still searching, however, for a Hollywood actor with the bonafides to play the lead role. Resume is important but, to keep in the spirit of the daily column, build is as well. All the great actors with my profile – William Conrad, Burl Ives, James Gandolfini, John Candy – have a tendency to leave us way too early. (Note to self: Good New Year's resolution, lose weight.) So finding someone talented enough to play a stout guy sitting at a computer every morning – and make it exciting – won't be easy. But nothing special ever is. Which brings us to our true subject this morning. Building a championship team. We are lucky because there are two professional organizations in Seattle who are trying really hard to build a winner – and a third (you know who I am talking about) that has just gone through the motions recently. The Seahawks are in the early stages, when all the planning, scheming and lucky moves have come together to develop a team that is the best in its league and the favorite to win the title. We'll see in the next couple months whether they can get it done. My money is on yes, but it isn't going to be easy. Every contender has flaws and the Hawks' seem to be upfront offensively. They are trying to do things to cover up the problem but, in the end, it might prove to be too much. The other organization, the Sounders, felt it was within a final push of the brass ring last summer, so they made a move they thought would get them over the top. It didn't. In fact, you might say bringing in Clint Dempsey may have backfired a bit, causing some dissension in the ranks and putting the books out of whack. Which is what the organization is dealing with right now. The Sounders were bumping up against the MLS salary cap, which has forced them to make some changes. The most high profile one came yesterday when they dealt in-his-prime scoring star – and bent-out-of-shape-by-Dempsey's-contract forward – Eddie Johnson to D.C. United for allocation money. (If you are wondering what allocation money is, just think chips you can turn into players down the road and you should be good.) Johnson joins a list of long-time Sounders who won't return next year as the club rebuilds around Dempsey and a couple of other stars (Brad Evans, Ozzie Alonzo and possibly Obafemi Martins). The changes are hard to understand in some ways, as Seattle seemed, at midseason, to be the team to beat in the MLS. But that's how quickly things can fall apart for a professional franchise. One day you are on top of the mountain, the next a landslide has tumbled you into a canyon. Digging out isn't easy. Which is why it seems like a good idea to celebrate the high points. The Hawks are at one right now. The NFL is their oyster. Instead of wondering what bad things could happen in the next two weeks or in the playoffs, put on the rose-colored glasses and look forward to the Super Bowl. Sure, it may not happen. But if you enjoy the ride at least you'll have those memories. (For example, we should all remember how cool the 2001 Mariners regular season was, not how bad the ALCS turned out.) And if the Hawks win the Super Bowl and hoist the trophy? Icing on the cake. And a warm memory to hold onto when they have to enter the inevitable rebuilding mode.
• WSU: The Cougars are in Albuquerque already and today will begin the New Mexico portion of their prep for Saturday bowl game. Jacob Thorpe is en route to the Southwest so he won't have a live chat today. He does have, however, a feature on Colorado State's quarterback, Garrett Grayson (pictured), who was recruited as a safety by WSU. Jacob also adds a look at the 1994 Alamo Bowl along with a blog post on Deone Bucannon earning first-team AP All-American honors. Of course, there are links as well. ... Jim Allen has more on the Cougars searching for a new soccer coach. ... CSU's kicker feels at home in Albuquerque, where the Rams will be soon. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has its midweek mailbag. ... Oregon is now on my naughty list after blowing out UC Irvine last night.
• Gonzaga: Kevin Pangos is still dealing with a bad toe, one that is bad enough to keep him out of practice. That's the main element of Jim Meehan's Gonzaga notebook today. ... Thomas Clouse has a blog post from yesterday on the GU women preparing for Washington State.
• EWU: Monday was not completely happy day for Eastern's football team as safety Allen Brown received word of a death in the family. Jim Allen has more on his tragic loss. ... Jim also has more on Saturday's opponent Towson State in this story and links in today's morning post. ... The Eagle women rolled to an easy win last night. ... So did the Weber State men.
• Idaho: Josh Wright has a blog post for you with more Vandal football news.
• Whitworth: The Pirates officially announced their new football coach, Rod Sandberg. Thomas Clouse was there and has this story.
• Shock: Erik Meyer returns as the Shock's quarterback. The AFL signs a television deal with ESPN. Coincidence? Sure.
• Preps: The Gonzaga Prep girls ran away from Mead in GSL action last night. Greg Lee has the story and Jesse Tinsley has the photographs. ... We also can pass along a GSL boys roundup and roundups from boys and girls basketball action from around the area.
• Chiefs: It's Wednesday, so Chris Derrick has his pre-Christmas break WHL notebook. ... Spokane can't handle Portland. Portland can't deal with Everett. Everett can't play with Spokane. So much for the transitive property. ... Seattle had little trouble with Tri-City last night.
• Seahawks: Arizona may be a double-digit underdog, but the Cardinals have given the Hawks trouble before. Not last year in Seattle, but other times. The Seahawks expect more of the same this time. ... Is field goal kicking too easy now? ... The Hawk fans rented an airborne banner. The 49er fans may rent a billboard. ... There is more to a football player than what happens on the field. And you can reap the benefits. ... The Hawks may be one of the best teams in recent NFL memory and Richard Sherman is part of the reason why.
• Sounders: Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer talked with the media yesterday about all the changes the club has made recently, explaining the why behind them and saying the team is not done making moves.
• Mariners: The Giants and Mike Morse made their marriage official yesterday. Wonder when the divorce will happen.
• In case you were wondering (and I'm sure none of you were), the movie stuff at the beginning of the column was all fantasy. After doing the radio show last night, Kim and I watched "The Desolation of Smaug" and I was hit once again with how different a filmmaker's version of a story can be from the vision of the book's author. And both can be entertaining. ... Speaking of the radio show, we're back on the Patchin, Lukens and Osso show today between 3 and 6 p.m. If you want to listen, here's a link. Until then ...