August 11, 2013 in Sports

Tough to beat Dempsey signing

A Grip On Sports
 
Associated Press photo

The signing of Clint Dempsey made the dog days of August a little more exciting.
(Full-size photo)

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Vince Grippi has an opinion about everything local, especially sports. Every Sunday we provide samples of his daily riffs. Read him daily at spokesman.com/sportslink.

Thursday: How often in the recent years have the first few days of August been as exciting as they’ve been around here this year?

Not very.

I’m not one of those guys who believe the most recent occurrence of something is “the greatest of all time.” Far from it. I always try to add perspective to recent occurrences, whether it be a catch by a center fielder (how does that rate compared to the best Willie Mays or Ken Griffey Jr. had?) or a championship run (the Heat are exceptional but does a couple of titles pale in comparison to the Celtics’ stretch in the ’60s or the Bulls with Michael Jordan?).

But this last week around here has been hard to match. There is more-than-the-usual optimism surrounding the opening of college football preseason practices, what with Eastern ranked among the FCS’ best, Washington State looking to turn a corner, Idaho with a new coach and Washington opening a remodeled Husky Stadium.

There is a chance this could be the most interesting college football season around here in a while. There is the more-than-usual optimism surrounding the beginning of the Seahawks’ season, with the potential of a Super Bowl looming. There is the more-than-usual optimism surrounding the Mariners’ future, though, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

But the news that pushed this week ahead of most others comes from the world of soccer. It’s the Clint Dempsey signing news, of course, which put the Sounders on the world soccer map and the front pages of many publishing entities that usually ignore the sport.

We all know Seattle is little soccer-mad, anyway, but Dempsey’s signing has even tipped that coffee-swilling, rain-loving, tree-hugging metro area over the edge.

The Sounders announced they would be bringing in extra seating for the next home game against the hated Portland Timbers. Now, a Timbers game was going to draw 50,000-plus anyway, with a bunch of flannel shirt-wearing, bearded Timber fans making the trek up Interstate 5 to cheer on their team. But with Dempsey’s signing, CenturyLink will be overflowing.

The only thing that could make this week any better – remember, it is early August, usually a pretty dry time for sports – would be an announcement from the NBA that it was expanding and Seattle would be awarded a franchise. Or maybe the news the M’s had been sold to the Sounders’ management team.

Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

Wednesday: What do all these drug suspensions in baseball really mean? I don’t know. And I’m not sure anyone does.

Does baseball’s actions yesterday, in which it suspended 13 players either for the rest of the season – the non-Alex-Rodriguez dozen – or for the rest of this season and all of next – Rodriguez – mean the sport is now clean? Heck no.

That’s the only thing I’m sure of. There are still guys out there – stars, average players, guys just trying to get by – who are using some sort of PEDs to get an edge. There is too much money at stake, the consequences too minimal – yesterday’s actions included – not to push the envelope.

These guys, along with Ryan Braun earlier this season, were only caught because the place where they received their fix was brought down by a disgruntled employee or two. If not for a story in Miami’s New Times newspaper the dozen or so guys hit with penalties yesterday very well could still be using and playing. Posting bogus numbers. Earning a ton of money. And costing others, quite possibly guys who aren’t cheating, jobs.

The problem isn’t going away. When a guy like Braun can juice then sign a multimillion-dollar contract, then take a less than 10 percent pay cut as penalty, others are going to see PEDs as a road to a lifetime of riches.

Let’s be clear here. The game will never be clean until the players, as a group, decide it must be clean. Until they band together and allow the penalties for cheating to be so horrendous no one would want to risk it. Lifetime bans. Forfeiture of contract money, including any money earned while using. Only then will the drugs go away. And that is never going to happen.


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