A GRIP ON SPORTS
If there is one thing Kim loves, it is a good rivalry. Dodgers/Giants. Nicklaus/Palmer. Chevy/Ford. Yep, anytime two entities were pitted together as she was growing up, she got a lot more interested. It hasn't changed. There is a rivalry this weekend she's really interested in. Read on.
• No, we're not talking about Real Salt Lake coming to Seattle to play the Sounders, though that has piqued her interest. We're talking about the Hawks and the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh (pictured), the guy everyone in the Northwest hates (except me) vs. Pete Carroll, the guy with the white hat (these days). Frank Gore vs. Marshawn Lynch. The Smith Brothers vs. the Legion of Doom. And the biggest names of all, Colin Kaepernickvs. Russell Wilson. If anything illustrates the rise of these two franchises from the oblivion of just a few years ago – remember when the Hawks won the division with a losing record and got to host a playoff game – it is the two young quarterbacks. Kaepernick is the Goliath of the two, the quarterback who most fits the mold, physically, of the NFL signal caller. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Kaepernick is the size of a small tight end. But he's a bit too fast and has too strong an arm to play up front. He's a quarterback with a bright future, sure, but he's also part of the new wave in the NFL, quarterbacks who can win games with their feet as well as their arm. Wilson is also part of that wave, but his size (5-11, 206 pounds) is more of a second baseman, which he was in the minor leagues, than a power-hitting first baseman like Kaepernick. Which is better? It depends on whose fan base you ask. I know Kim is in Wilson's corner of the rivalry, not only because he plays for the Hawks, but mainly because of his size. She enjoys an underdog story, and Wilson epitomizes that. That's what I like about Harbaugh as well. Sure, he's abrasive. Sure, he's cocky. And, sure, he's a walking, breathing, well, I can't use the word here. But he also was the guy who turned Stanford's football fortunes around, mainly because he refused to let the Cardinal play the nerd role anymore. He stood up to Carroll's mighty USC Trojans and his teams did as well. I'll always remember that and give him a pass. Unless, of course, he does the same thing to Carroll's Seahawks and ticks my wife off. Then he's in trouble. Then it's no longer a rivalry. It's personal.
• WSU: We're starting today's Washington State section with a column on one of the two greatest media alums in the school's history, Keith Jackson. The voice of college football is still going strong at 84, though his golden tones are no longer part of the Saturday soundtrack. Too bad. There are also a couple of really good ideas near the bottom of this column. Rose Bowl folks, are you listening? ... Christian Caple doesn't have the vocal stylings of Jackson but he does have the flair for the written word, even when it's just used for the weekly Pac-12 notebook. He also has a blog post from after practice, conference power rankings and a morning post. He'll also hold a live chat later today. ... Don't worry about credit. Mike Leach just wants wins. ... The Cougar golf team won a tournament on its home course.
• Gonzaga: ESPN and GU will be together a lot again this year, as Jim Meehan's blog post shows.
• Hockey: When it comes to junior hockey around these parts (pictured), one name stands out. Chris Derrick lets you know what that name is in this feature.
• Preps: You like offense in your high school football? You'll see it Thursday afternoon if you are at Albi Stadium with Greg Lee.
• Mariners: Brendan Ryan is about to be labeled the greatest fielding shortstop of all-time. How do I know? The M's traded him to the Yankees yesterday and we all know when a Yankee does something spectacular – as Ryan does in the field about once a week – it's the greatest of all-time. So wait for the hype from New York. It will start in 3, 2, 1 ... As for last night's game, the M's lost again, 13-2 to the woeful Houston Astros. It was such a bad defeat, in front of about 10,000 folks, the veterans called a players-only meeting afterward. Expect the M's to now win the rest of their games and vault back into the playoff picture. Too late for that? My bad. ... Should Felix Hernandez pitch again this season? Taijuan Walker won't be. ... As for next year, the tentative schedule is out. Is there a day in May circled for when the Mariners will be out of the pennant chase? ... This story is for my friend Rick, who worships Joh Jaso.
• Seahawks: When the 49ers come to CenturyLink on Sunday night, the place will be packed (and expensive), it will be loud and the football should be excellent. These teams match up well, with the Hawks maybe having a little more to play for. With that in mind, I'll pass along the wisdom of Bob Oates, former long-time NFL writer for the L.A. Times. Oates used to believe in a matchup of two equal NFL teams, the one with the most to lose always won. So I guess Seattle will win then. ... Where does the 49ers' Harbaugh rank in the pantheon of Seattle's hated sports figures? Pretty high. ... Did you expect Chris Clemons back this early? I didn't. ... Hey, it's another Richard Sherman story.
• Sounders: With a couple Sounders playing a role (Eddie Johnson scored the deciding goal), the U.S. National Team clinched a spot in next year's World Cup with a 2-0 win over a reeling Mexico team. ... With the spot in hand, maybe the Sounders' stars can concentrate on the MLS title. They won't be available for this Friday's key matchup with Real Salt Lake, the top team in the MLS right now. ... The Sounders will play some friendlies next season.
• That's it for today. It's hump day – sorry, I can't use that term anymore without visualizing a camel saunter down an aisle in an office – and all that entails. At the base, it means we are one day closer to a football weekend. Until later ...