A GRIP ON SPORTS
It's another New Year's Day. Another Rose Bowl game. And, I'm sure, another perfect afternoon in Pasadena. Before the week is done, another 10,000 folks from the Midwest will make plans to move to Southern California. Read on.
• If there is a favorite memory of New Year's Day, it's not the many short trips to watch the Rose Parade (we lived less than three miles from the parade route; I could walk if I was feeling energetic) or the games themselves. It was my father, waking up midway through the parade, giving my mom a hard time for all her oohing and aahing about the floats and then, like clockwork, using the above line about the weather. Usually he used the term farmers and substituted the Big Ten state represented by its football team, but you get the picture. He was right, of course. The Rose Parade and bowl game was not started more than 100 years ago as more than a tourist attraction. They were begun by the Chamber of Commerce as a way to entice people to move to the Los Angeles area, the land of the perfect winter. It worked. Now the LA Basin is so overcrowded its' a wonder there aren't folks living in the Rose Bowl's tunnels. It's funny. Stanford University played in that first Rose Bowl game in 1902 (pictured below) and the Cardinal will play again this afternoon, in the 100th version of the game. The basic Stanford offense of today – the elephant or ogre or jumbo formation (I've heard it called all three this season) – isn't all that different from the flying wing the team used back then. Which makes today's matchup with Michigan State, another physical football team, all the better. Can't you just hear Keith Jackson using the term “slobberknocker” or some-such phrase to describe the action? Can't you just envision your father telling you about the 1937 game when the guys really hit – and didn't wear nearly as much equipment? Can't you smell the freshly-cut grass, see the song girls in their alluring white outfits and marvel at the size of the linemen? That last memory is mine, built piecemeal from all the Rose Bowls I attended as a youth. Those days of watching in person from the seventh row are gone, replaced by an easy chair and a remote. But, in a sense, the day will be spent the same way. Watching the parade, eating lightly and waiting for the Rose Bowl game to start. And wondering if my dad is going to put our house up for sale.
• WSU: The Cougars are not a part of the Rose Bowl this year but the faithful probably greet each other with the line “next year in Pasadena.” This year was Albuquerque, a steppingstone, perhaps, after years of wandering in the bowl-less desert. As Jacob Thorpe points out in his morning post today, the bowl success of the Pac-12 is getting to a ridiculous level. Everyone but the Cougars and ASU have won and most have won fairly easily. … The Rose Bowl may not be the boring affair (and Stanford win) everyone expects, not with Mark Dantonio at the helm of the Spartans. He's somewhat of a gambler who is not afraid to use a trick play or two. … Found this John McGrath column on the News Tribune website this morning. What is Twitter going to do next year without Glasses Ref to kick around? … The Pac-12 basketball season opens tomorrow, with No. 1 Arizona the presumptive favorite.
• Seahawks: What, no Percy Harvin news? Dang it. … The Seahawks have given the Northwest a lot of exciting moments this season but their biggest gift, Jerry Brewer writes, is the gift of ego. … That gift might just help turn Seattle into a sports mecca. Maybe. … OK, I did find a Harvin story. You're welcome or sorry, whichever way you look at it. … The playoff tickets didn't last long. … Looking back at the Ram game, the snap counts are pretty revealing. … The defense has survived some big hits this season. … The coordinators are getting interest as head coaches.
• Sounders: Of all the interesting terms used in soccer, “friendly” might be the most fascinating. When is a professional athletic event ever really friendly? Anyhow, the Sounders will host Tottenham next summer in a “friendly.”
• That's it for today. I have to turn on the parade and watch until the Sierra Madre float passes by. It's another New Year's Day tradition. Until later …