September 15, 2013 in Sports

Reasons to like hated Harbaugh

A Grip On Sports
 
Associated Press photo

Even Jim Harbaugh haters have to appreciate what he accomplished at Stanford.
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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.

Wednesday: (Regarding the Seahawks-49ers rivalry) Jim Harbaugh is 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 Kaepernick vs. 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.

Wilson epitomizes the underdog. 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.

Friday: It may still be 90 degrees out there, but the football season is already in full swing. Heck, with the right cable package and just a few gallons of gas in the pickup, you could watch football nearly continuously from about 5 tonight until 9 on Sunday night, taking off just a few hours to sleep. For some folks, that’s their definition of heaven. For some spouses, that’s their definition of hell.

Tuesday: Memory can be a funny thing. There are times when you can’t remember where you put the car keys when you walked through the door five minutes previously. And then there are faces from 40 years ago that you can’t forget.

“If you need a better car, go see Cal. For the best deal by far, go see Cal. If you want your payments low, if you want to save some dough, go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal.” 

If you liked watching late-night wrestling in the 1960s and ’70s in Southern California – and I did – then there was no way to escape Cal Worthington’s commercials. The guy was so uncool he was cool. A big white hat. A hard-to-place accent. And the shtick. Oh, the shtick. The car salesman as next-door neighbor. Cal and his dog Spot. Except Spot was never a dog. Nope. A hippo maybe. An ostrich, a llama, anything but a dog. Yep, Cal Worthington was a one-of-a-kind huckster, except there were guys like Cal all over America, selling cars through the medium of television in its early days. Now Cal is trying to get through the pearly gates, where only Noah has a menagerie of equal status. 

Cal Worthington died on Sunday at the age of 92. That means he lived a long, full life, which is the ultimate cool.

After all, he gave a lot of people a lot of laughs – and sold a whole bunch of cars – over the years. Cal used to do live spots on television during telecasts of Southern California sporting events and that led to some really outrageous situations.

My favorite was the time (I do believe it was during a Rams game) when Cal’s “dog” Spot was an elephant, an elephant with flatulence. Extreme flatulence. You could hear it on TV and you could almost smell it, because Cal’s facial expressions told the entire olfactory story. He could barely talk. He perched behind the elephants head, stuck up there as the clouds wafted by his head.

We laughed about it for a week at school. Did the Rams win the game? Who knows. But Cal, he won us over. So long, Cal. And thanks for the memories, one minute at a time.

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