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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Monday, December 10, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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We don’t always do the easy thing around here – but sometimes we do

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The easiest thing to do today is write a column based on the holiday. But we never do the easy thing, do we? Read on.

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• Pretty nice of every one in this country to say thanks for my son’s 28th birthday. Wait, what? That’s not why there is a party in just about every house in America? Don’t tell him. Whenever the holiday fell on his birthday, we would tell the young Jack everyone was celebrating with him. A cute tradition that, like a lot of cute traditions, lost its cuteness after about, I don’t know, age 6? So here we are, stuck with a “what-I’m-thankful-for” column. They are so many things, really, there isn’t enough time here to delve into them. So we’ll keep our musings based on this space – and the folks who make it happen. Yes, I’m thankful so many of you get up each day and read the drivel I post here, whether it’s for my thoughts or just the links we provide. (Before we go any further, let me thank the writers and reporters whose work I also aggregate. Without them, none of this would be possible.) And, in a hand-to-hand moment, I’m also thankful so many of you have mentioned to me over the years how you begin your day with this space. Talk about gratifying. And what would this space be without the newsmakers that give it its heft? I’m thankful our area is full of interesting, if not easy-to-understand-at-times, folks. Guys like Mike Leach, who will expound deeper on dating advice than a rub route. Or Mark Few, who may just be in the top five of all-time college basketball coaches as long as you don’t use national titles as the main element of the criteria. Or a myriad of other college and high school coaches who have become more than acquaintances over the years. See, it’s hard to be part of the sporting community in the Inland Northwest and not have connections to the people you cover outside of the work. Over the years I’ve gotten to know athletic directors and coaches in a lot of different ways, but more often than not as parents of kids I’ve coached. They’ve earned the opportunity to criticize my work on that front, which is only fair as I have to do the same in this space – and the newspaper – from time to time. I’m thankful for the relationships I’ve developed with each and every one. Speaking of relationships, the ones you build with the athletes you cover are important as well. They can be friendly or adversarial, but they grow no matter what. And as the years go by and the rough edges wear off, they oftentimes become more than they were. I’m thankful for them. But I’m also thankful for the friendships that developed with the behind-the-scenes folks at all levels. There are always behind-the-scenes folks everywhere, the offensive linemen, if you will, of professional and college and high school and youth sports, who do the work without fanfare and little in the way of recognition. But if they weren’t there, doing their job – paid or volunteer – every day, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I won’t name names, not because I don’t want to out them or anything but because if I began listing them, I would fill the space – and be guaranteed to miss one or two I shouldn’t. And that wouldn’t be right. They know who they are. And they know I’m thankful for all they have done for me over the years. Let’s admit it. Life can be tough. Everyday. If it weren’t for the people we encounter throughout our journey, it would be even tougher. Friends – and family, of course – make the journey easier. And I consider everyone who reads this space each day a friend. I may not have ever met you, but you are my mates, as Brock or Aron would have termed you. Each morning, I get up and pretend I’m Norm Peterson and each of you are Cliff Clavin – wait, do I have that backward? – and we’re talking about the day’s events at Cheers. You all know my name (however, if you are under the age of 35, you probably don’t get that reference) and I know yours, though I may not have learned it just yet. Someday I will. And, for that, I’m thankful.

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• WSU: Jacob Thorpe continues his march to Seattle with more in the way of Apple Cup preparation, including a feature on Gabe Marks and how his teammates perceived him when he arrived in Pullman. Jacob also has Pac-12 picks, a blog post on Alex Grinch, another blog post on academics and his morning post with links. ... John Blanchette doesn’t try to play doctor in his column this morning, he just serves as a conduit for one with impeccable credentials. ... Stefanie Loh has a feature on Peyton Bender in the Times. ... The volleyball team fell in five sets in Colorado. ... It’s the second coming of rivalry week, so the Pac-12 picks are interesting, no matter the source. There is also a lot to watch and a mailbag to share. ... Basketball is going on, with UCLA losing in Hawaii and Oregon winning at home.

• Gonzaga: The Zags will be back in action in the Bahamas this morning (our time). They demolished Washington, 80-64, in the opening Battle for Atlantis game. Jim Meehan is there and has this game story and a notebook. The renewal of the series with UW is not getting off to a great start. ... BYU struggled by got back on the winning track.

• EWU: Portland State dropped a tight game to Nevada at home.

• Idaho: The Vandals' chances for a perfect Mean Green Challenge were knocked around by Samford. The Bulldogs won the tourney with a 75-58 win over UI.

• Whitworth: The women's basketball team fell to Central Washington.

• Shock: OK, we know they won’t be called the Shock. But we have to label this section something. We now know Spokane won’t be playing in Minnesota this season either.

• Chiefs: Spokane led by three goals with less than four minutes remaining. Two goals later it was hang-on time at the Arena. The Chiefs did, defeating Vancouver 3-2. Tom Clouse has the details. ... Everett got back on the winning track with a 5-0 rout of Tri-City at home.

• Preps: Three local teams have state semifinal football games this weekend and Greg Lee has a story on each. Let's start with Greg's feature on Gonzaga Prep's Evan Weaver and then move on to his detailed look at Northwest Christian's still-young program. We finish with Greg's feature on ACH's senior quarterback Dallas Isaak. ... It's the final time for football picks.

• Seahawks: The big news from this week is Marshawn Lynch’s abdominal surgery. It was the first surgery Lynch has ever undergone in his pro football career. The timetable for his return has varied some depending on the source. And what that future holds, even his close friends are not sure. ... Beating Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger won’t be easy, but the Hawks probably need to if they want to ease their road to the playoffs. The odds of making them got better this week. ... Patrick Lewis is getting healthier.

• Mariners: Just like everyone thought, Danny Hultzen cleared waivers and the M’s sent him to Tacoma.

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• Time for a holiday nap. But not until I thank each of every one of you for overlooking my mistakes, missteps and foibles the past year. I know I make a lot. By the way, when I retired, I wish I could have written something close to this. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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