A GRIP ON SPORTS
We are starting a new feature this morning in this space. It's a look back at the weekend around these here parts. And, because the Internet would not exist if not for lists, we use numbers. Read on.
• Yep, we're going to rank the top five stories of the just finished weekend. We'll stay local, for the most part, though some national items might make the list, as one does today.
• No. 5: Pitching dominates the playoffs until late Sunday night. What a meltdown last night in Boston. As I listened to manager Jim Leyland bring in his right-handed closer to face left-handed hitting David Ortiz with the bases loaded in the eighth, I had a sense of foreboding. And when Ortiz hit a game-tying grand slam, it wasn't foreboding I was feeling, it was full-blown heartburn. The Sox won 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth.
No. 4: Shadle Park moves closer to a Greater Spokane League football title. This is important because a) it hasn't happened since the 1990s, and b) the Highlanders were not very good just a few years ago. Their rise shows how quickly a few talented players and a young coach can turn around a high school program.
No. 3: Sounders meltdown slows, but continues. Just a week ago Seattle had the MLS in the palm of its hand, if I can be excused for the bad anamorphic metaphor. But two blowout losses and last night's tight-fought 1-0 defeat in Portland probably cost the Sounders home-field advantage in the playoffs but certainly cost them the Cascadia Cup.
No. 2: The Cougars melt down down the stretch. This isn't No. 1 for one simple reason. I am a positive guy. No, really, I am. But Saturday night's last 16 minutes or so of the loss to Oregon State might have been the worse stretch of football around these parts since 2007 or so.
No. 1: Russell Wilson finds a way to lift the Seahawks to another victory. The second-year quarterback is a marvel. And he's been marvelous since the Hawks' offensive line has broken down. Yesterday was no exception as he kept play after play – and drive after drive – alive with his feet. And, lest we forget, Richard Sherman's interception didn't hurt either.
• That's our list. You can rank them in any order you want, or add other items. We won't be cranky about it. Unless, of course, you begin a comment with, "Vince, you ignorant $@&^ ..." And, if you are over 45 and watched Saturday Night Live, you know what that last word is.
• WSU: The Cougars went a little later than usual with their Sunday night practice and, because most of the team leaders were even later, one can assume the time before was filled up with a meeting. One can also speculate the subject was the final quarter against Oregon State and how to get over it, but that would be just speculation. What's for sure is No. 2-ranked Oregon is on the schedule for Saturday night (yep, a 7 p.m. start in Eugene; that should be a bit raucous, sort of like a scene from Animal House). Jacob Thorpe looks ahead to the Ducks in this piece and covers the scene from practice in this blog post. ... Jacob also posted some videos from the post-game interview room yesterday, with Mike Leach, Deone Bucannon and Jeremiah Laufasa representing the Cougars. ... We're basically halfway through the season, so ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has a midseason report and its weekly power ranking. ... The Ducks win over a tough Washington team didn't move them up in the polls, but there is only one team to vault over. ... Stanford's loss at Utah dropped the Cardinal well down the rankings.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan had a really interesting blog post on the Zags yesterday so we pass it along in case you missed it.
• Seahawks: OK, we get to the best story of the weekend (as ranked by, well, me). The Hawks played poorly in stretches. They played stupidly in other parts. They didn't get a bunch of breaks. And yet they won, 20-13. They won because, well, they were a much better team than Tennessee, especially with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback for the Titans. And they won because Russell Wilson is their quarterback. Yes, he's good. Real good. As was Marshawn Lynch, except for one fumble that Wilson happened to recover. ... Afterward, guys like Wilson, coach Pete Carroll, Sherman and others all spoke on the win. ... The botched field goal at the end of the half? Blame it on Carroll. At least he wants you to. I, however, blame it on Steven Hauschka, who thought he was linebacker for a couple seconds (pictured). That fleeting thought – it was knocked from his head by a Titan ball carrier – cost the kicker a bloody nose, a concussion test and his team seven points. Just fall at the ball carriers feet and hope he trips, will ya, just like all other kickers. ... Guess what? The Hawks are 5-1.
• Sounders: When you play the Timbers, you can expect a physical game. And if the official allows it to get too physical, then there will be complaints afterward. There were. But the bottom line is Portland won 1-0 and moved into first place in the Western Conference. The Sounders dropped to third. ... Yes Sigi Schmid wasn't happy with the officiating and he was joined by his players. But such complaints are pretty common occurrences in the sport. ... The Sounders will be missing some players next week and no one knows if that will include Dempsey, who left with a shoulder injury.
• That's it for now. We'll be back tomorrow without a list. I promise. And you may have noticed something I wrote in the baseball paragraph above. Yes, I took in the baseball game last night on the radio, the way God and Guglielmo Marconi intended. Until later ...