A GRIP ON SPORTS
I can't wait until the NFL and its usual officials finally settle. When I can sit here at my computer and type “our long national nightmare is finally over.” And then, just a few days later, make fun of some blown call. Read on.
• The fallout from the final play of Monday's Seahawk win over Green Bay continues to contaminate the national sports scene, with ESPN seemingly in all-NFL-screw-up coverage mode 24/7. But the worldwide leader isn't the only one, so we cruised around the web and pulled columns and stories from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Miami Herald and others just for the heck of it (and they are linked throughout the rest of this paragraph). The theme seems to be the same. The NFL is screwing this up over $3.2 million dollars. Though the New York Times points out it may not be Roger Goodell's fault, that hard-line owners (his bosses) are telling him what to do. Though some have stated Monday night's fiasco – whether you agree with the call or not, you have to admit it was a fiasco – might be the decision we look back upon and decide was the league's “jump-the-shark” moment, I don't think so. The lockout will get settled, the regular officials will return, the NFL will develop better contingency plans for the next time and we'll get back to staring at RedZone for 10 hours each Sunday. And we'll still bitch about the bad calls. Because there will be some. No game is perfectly officiated, because perfect is a subjective word when dealing with sports. My idea of a good call might just be your idea of the worst whistle of the year. So don't expect a settlement to fix everything. It will be, however, good to get back to the incompetency we know as opposed to this whole new level of crud.
• As I was writing today's post, the news broke that UCLA coach Jim Mora kicked the media out of this morning's practice. As far as I can tell, there was a problem with a TV crew and he cleared out everyone. That seems to have been the final straw for the Los Angeles Times, which announced quickly its reporters would no longer cover UCLA or USC practices. The loser in this pissing match: You folks. Because honestly, take it from someone who knows, in a lot of ways covering football practice is a big waste of time. But there is one huge benefit for readers. By being at practice every day, reporters build relationships with players, coaches, support personnel and others connected to the program. And that builds trust. Players, coaches and others get to know the person behind the words on the Internet or in the paper, that they are people just like them. There are good folks and bad folks doing that job just like in their sport. And with trust comes better coverage for the readers, as players will share more of their true feelings. When a WSU receiver told me about his mother's death, a fact he hadn't shared with most of his teammates or coaches, I was able to let you know how hard it had been for him to play football the past couple years, letting you behind the scenes a bit more. Or when a player is willing to talk about his learning disability and the people who helped him overcome it, it allows you to understand how tough this experience is for some of the guys you cheer and boo. That's why I wanted to be on the field, not to watch cornerbacks practice planting and cutting for the 2.7-millionth time. I wanted them to understand I was no different than their dad (OK, granddad). I just wrote about their exploits for a living. If you are not at practice day in and day out, that trust is harder to build.
• Washington State: Christian Caple is at practice every day, albeit a bit farther from the action than I was afforded under to the two previous football coaches. He also was on the Pac-12 conference call yesterday, which led to this blog post and this notebook. He also had a practice report, his pick 'em contest and a morning blog post. He will hold a live chat today at noon.
• Gonzaga: I meant to link this yesterday when I first saw it, but forgot. Then Jim Meehan put together a blog post on the trick-shot video done by some GU players (most notably starting guard Kevin Pangos), so I'll just link Jim's post. Some of the shots are incredible.
• EWU: Jim Allen was back at practice yesterday, though, as this story shows, he has no more idea who will start at quarterback against Montana than you or I do. … Jim also has an update on the new scoreboard and a blog post this morning with links to other Big Sky stories.
• Seahawks: Of course much of the chatter today is about the ending of the game (you can watch the raw pictures of the catch/interception here if you want, which is kind of cool, and read about the final play here) though that's a bit sad. The way the Seahawks pressured Aaron Rodgers in the first half and why it ended in the second (my thought: the officials just decided to stop calling holding, leading to more time for Rodgers), the lack of offense, the overall defensive effort, I would have liked more on all those things.
• Mariners: After six months of playing big league baseball, you would have thought the M's young hitters would have mastered the art of putting the bat on the ball a bit better by now. Nope. They struck out a major-league-record-tying 20 times in their 5-4 loss at the Angels. Twenty strikeouts and Miguel Olivo and Justin Smoak didn't really contribute. No, they were hitting the ball. … You can't blame this loss on Ichiro - or Michael Saunders, who is a new dad.
• Sounders: If you want to vote on the future of general manager Adrian Hanauer, you can. Just don't let the Sounders' decision to drop a friendly from the season-ticket package next season cloud your mind. … The Sounders have some time to practice for the stretch run. … One man's power rankings.
• That's it for this Wednesday morning. I went on a bit of a rant, so if you like it, you're welcome. If you don't, sorry. Maybe I should get a replacement writer in here for the next few days, just so you will appreciate my work more after he drops a few grammatical errors and punctuation marks. Until later …