A GRIP ON SPORTS
There was a priest at my high school with a deep Irish brogue. Well, there were a lot of them, but the one I'm thinking of was Fr. Cyril. The first quarter of my freshman year he came into our classroom – he was the principal then – to warn us not to get too cocky about our quarter grades. “It's only a halftime score,” he said, though, because of the accent, it was a bit hard to understand. But the sentiment, that halftime scores can have nothing to do with the final one, has stayed with me. It's just too bad he's no longer with us. He could walk the halls of CenturyLink right now and say the same thing to the Sounders and Seahawks. Read on.
• The Sounders lost 2-1 to the – is it too harsh to use the word hated as an adjective here? – Portland Timbers at the Clink last night, the first leg of a two-match series the MLS uses in the playoffs. But as Fr. Cyril would say – and coach Sigi Schmid, who I'm sure attended Catholic school, echoed – it's only a halftime score. The MLS's quaint playoff formula means the Sounders could go into Portland on Thursday night, win 3-1 and move on. But I doubt it. The last month or so of soccer in Seattle has been as big a disappointment as, I don't know, ever July the M's have played in the past decade or so. Except we had hope with this Sounder team. When the organization dipped into its pockets and brought Clint Dempsey (pictured) home from overseas, visions of an MLS title danced in our heads. After all, the Sounders were all ready one of the league's best. Adding a great player was the impetus needed to put them over the top. It hasn't worked. Not yet anyway. The late-season swoon continued through 90 minutes of last night's game, with only a late Osvaldo Alonso goal giving Seattle any hope. I have another sliver, if you care to hear. Thursday night's game in Portland goes up against the Ducks showdown with Stanford in American football. You know, the thing most Oregon folks are nuts about. It should cut into the focus of the Timber fans, if only a bit. And, yes, right now we'll grasp at any straw.
• The Hawks are at the halfway point as well. Halfway through what could be a special NFL regular season. They start the second half today with seemingly overmatched Tampa Bay. But this is professional football and overmatched is a relative term. No, I don't expect the Bucs to upset Seattle. And, no, I don't really expect a close game. But you never know what can happen. Just because one team has won seven of its eight first-half games and the other has yet to win in seven chances doesn't ensure this will be a walkover. OK, even I don't believe that. The Hawks, a 16-point favorite, will win easily. Let's just hope no one gets hurt. We've had enough already.
• WSU: We'll leave the Pac-12 football links to Jacob Thorpe, as it's his beat, but we thought we would pass along a couple things, mainly from the basketball court. Oregon is expected to be one of the conference's best teams, and it will be. But the Ducks struggled last night (pictured). As did Utah, at least at the free-throw line. But both won. … One football link. It's to the Pac-12 blog on ESPN.com. It's the site's weekly awards.
• Gonzaga: As we have said many times, it is basketball exhibition season. BYU played yesterday and handled Alaska-Anchorage.
• EWU: The Eagles wanted to accomplish two things yesterday: defeat Idaho State on the road and keep everyone healthy for next Saturday's showdown with Montana State. They were successful with one out of two. Third-ranked Eastern defeated the Bengals 55-34, setting a school total offense record in the process. But the Eagles lost starting safety Tevin McDonald to a broken leg and that could be big next week when fifth-ranked MSU comes to Cheney. … I pass along this story from Weber State's loss yesterday mainly because the headline is so incorrect – if it's fixed before you get to it, it says Weber lost to Montana State, not Portland State – it's a bit funny. … There was one basketball exhibition in the Big Sky I could find.
• Idaho: The Vandals are also pretty beat up – a consequence of playing a tough independent schedule perhaps? – but they hung in with Texas State until the second half yesterday. Josh Wright was in the Kibbie Dome and has a game story and blog post following the Vandals' 37-21 defeat. He also had an advance yesterday on the blog.
• Chiefs: Major league baseball players will tell you the first game home after a long road trip is just like another road game. The body hasn't adjusted just yet. It must have seemed that way for the Chiefs last night, playing in the Arena for the first time in a while. And playing red-hot Portland didn't help. Thomas Clouse has the coverage. … Everett shut out Seattle last night.
• Preps: The GSL football regular season is over and Greg Lee has some thoughts on the idea of co-champions. … Yesterday was a busy prep day, with Greg covering Coeur d'Alene's girl's state 5A cross country title, Mike Vlahovich doing the same with the regionals on this side of the border, Jim Meehan documenting Lewiston's second consecutive Idaho 5A volleyball title and Chris Derrick covering the 4A district volleyball in Washington. … We also can pass along a roundup of other prep action from Saturday.
• Seahawks: What are the keys to the game today, other than making sure the bus from the hotel doesn't break down? There is either five or three keys, depending on which story you read. … The two quarterbacks have a history that reaches back long before they got to the NFL. … How did the Rams sack Russell Wilson seven times? … The second half of the season should see the return of some important parts of the offensive line.
• Sounders: We covered our thoughts about the Sounders above along with a few links. Now we have the rest of them, the links at least. No more thoughts. … The end of the season is turning into the Sounders nightmare. … The late goal seemingly gave Seattle some confidence they can go into Portland and pick up a win.
• Woke up this morning to some strange white stuff on the ground. I'm not quite sure what it was. I didn't like it. Thank goodness it is gone now. It better stay away or I might just get angry. And, like Dr. David Banner, I wear a lot of ripped clothes. And you don't want to make me angry. Until later …