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This is the year

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We have a bit of a sports-related inferiority complex here in the Northwest. Year after year of losing will do that to you. But, in the professional ranks at least, we may be able to kick that this season. Read on.


••••••••••

• Oh sure, the Mariners are still the Mariners. No help there. But with the Seahawks and the Sounders, the Northwest may just be able to reach New England-ish heights. Remember when the Boston area won the baseball and football titles in one year? Well, there is a chance, a healthy chance, Seattle could claim a couple titles over the next few months. With their 1-0 win over Chivas USA last night, the Sounders surged atop the MLS' points-per-game standings. And they won with half their starting lineup waylaid for a variety of reasons. There is no one in the MLS playing better right now, so there is every reason to hope they can win a title. The same can be said of the Seahawks. There is every reason to hope they can win a title. And hope is what it is. Nothing has occurred on the field just yet. The NFL season kicks off tonight, with the Hawks taking the field in Carolina at 10 a.m. PDT Sunday. And though the Panthers are not expected to be part of the NFL elite, we all know how early games in the Eastern time zone have treated the Hawks in the past (for the uninitiated, not well). So a win Sunday, especially a dominating win on both sides of the ball, will go a long way toward justifying all those preseason hopes – and the hype. Anything else and that inferiority complex will probably kick in. And nobody wants that.

•••

• WSU: The Cougars have a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to USC. Maybe that's what comes of losing to the Trojans so often over the years. Or maybe it's because USC's horse is just so, well, clean. Whatever, the Trojans are favored by more than two touchdowns again this Saturday in Los Angeles. But Christian Caple, in his weekly Pac-12 picks, doesn't see USC covering. (And, I might add, neither do the ESPN.com Pac-12 guys.) … Picking who will be the Trojans' starting quarterback is not as easy, as Christian's story shows. That story is part of his coverage package today which includes a blog post following practice, a summary of yesterday's live chat and today's morning post. … What should you be watching this weekend? Well, seeing that Connor Halliday is on the spot, I guess the WSU game. … Stanford coach David Shaw wasn't too happy to have his Cardinal team compared to an SEC group. I think it had something to do with academics.

• EWU: Mea culpa. Today is the day Jim Allen will hold his live chat at noon. Not yesterday. My bad. … Jim also has a story on Western Oregon playing Eastern's role from last week, ie., underdog, and some links in today's morning post. … Portland State is going to turn up the marketing heat. … Weber State has lost one of its starting guards in basketball.

• Idaho: Paul Petrino is not one to gush. If you read Josh Wright's notebook today about the matchup with Wyoming, you learn that pretty quickly. … Former Vandal head coach John L. Smith is back at it.

• Preps: The GSL football season kicks off tonight at Joe Albi Stadium, which means it’s a perfect day to check out the Review's new prep website, NWPrepsNow, put together in conjunction with SWX and KHQ. … Greg Lee has his weekly picks. What's different this year is the guest picker will be the same every week. … Greg tried to figure out five must-see games this season. It wasn't easy paring down the list. … Mt. Spokane quarterback Stu Stiles will be suspended for the first two games for a self-reported violation.

• Mariners: Kendrys Morales made a case for the Mariners to re-sign him Wednesday and he did it in a very loud manner: A two-run, two-out, two-strike, ninth-inning home run that lifted the M's to a 6-4 win at Kansas City. Not many guys in the Seattle lineup can crush a ball the way Morales did last night. … Chance Ruffin has filled a couple of pitching roles this season.

• Seahawks: Want to fuel that inferiority complex? How's this? Brandon Browner didn't practice hard Wednesday because his hamstring is bothering him. Cue the panic. But the one thing Seattle has going for it – along with one of the best running backs in the NFL in Marshawn Lynch (pictured above) – is depth. If any team can overcome injuries – and the Hawks have had their fair share this preseason – it is Seattle. … Cam Newton and a simplified offense await the Hawks in Carolina. … Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is confident in his group, especially with the return of dynamic wide receiver Sidney Rice(pictured). … Chris Maragos took less money to stay in Seattle. … The Hawks made some minor roster adjustments.

• Sounders: The 1-0 win over Chivas USA wasn't easy, not with most of the Sounders' scoring threats sidelined by national duty or injury. That group included Obafemi Martins, who was expected to play earlier in the week but wasn't cleared after the pregame. Still, Lamar Neagle knocked in a first-half goal and Seattle held on for the three points. Considering the circumstances, just about everyone connected to the Sounders was happy. Come to think of it, Chivas wasn't all that upset either.

•••

• Golf is a funny sport. Played some of my best holes of the year yesterday, with a birdie and three pars. Hey, for me that's really good. But I also had some of my worst. It added up to a … wait, I'm not telling you. And besides, no one wants to hear. Let's just say it was a fun time, because it was. And I can cross “play Spokane Country Club” off my bucket list. And the good folks there can cross “never allow that creep Vince Grippi on our course again” off theirs. Until later …


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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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