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Grip on Sports: It’s time to pick a side in this football rivalry

Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (17) celebrates his touchdown with teammates in the second half of the Army-Navy game in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (17) celebrates his touchdown with teammates in the second half of the Army-Navy game in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It may be a relatively quiet day, locally, in the collegiate sports arena, but there is no letup in the drama for this Saturday. Read on.

••••••••••

• No Saturday with the Army/Navy game is without drama. At least there never has been in my lifetime.

Take all your rivalries, meld them together into one pot and you may come close to the aroma of the service academies’ one. It’s like Washington/Washington State or Montana/Montana State but spread all over the world.

And lately it’s been about as one-sided, which makes me happy. See, my father was a Navy man. Always was, since that day in 1942 when he enlisted. Throughout his service time, whether he was in the South Pacific or in Virginia or San Francisco, when the academies met, he would listen.

And when he was older, many years removed from the days in uniform, he still would plant his behind in front of the TV set in December, rooting against those bums from Army as much as he would be rooting for the Navy and its goat.

I didn’t have a dog in the hunt, ever, but, thanks to his devotion – maybe bred through many a brawl on Guam or wherever during the war – I always root for the midshipmen. Doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. I want to know the score.

For 14 consecutive years, after I heard it, I smiled, knowing no matter where dad was, he was smiling. Navy won ever game between 2002 and 2015, building an 11-game lead in the series. Midway through that run my dad saw his final Navy victory. He wasn’t around last year when Army got lucky and cut the lead to 60-50-7, but all will be right with the world after today’s game. Has to be.

• Being a sports fan means being up one minute and down the next.

Such was the case yesterday for Mariner fans. The morning was dominated by the trade for Dee Gordon, the afternoon by the news Shohei Ohtani signed with the Angels.

Not with the M’s, which was bad enough. But with a division rival. There ought to be an investigation. Actually, considering what’s happened recently in major league baseball with international signings, there probably will be. But the Angels have won this one.

• Soccer may not be the biggest story nationally today, but it’s pretty important to this region. The Sounders, Seattle MLS team, has a chance to repeat as league champion. And, for the Northwest, it’s a chance for three consecutive MLS Cup wins, what with the Timbers winning in 2015.

All that stands in Seattle’s way is the same opponent that stood there last season, Toronto.

Can the Sounders win again? We find out this afternoon.

•••

WSU: The first bowl practice of the year went off last evening. But the head coach and a couple of assistants were not in attendance. They couldn’t fly into Pullman due to foggy conditions at the airport. Theo Lawson was in town already and has a story from after practice and a whole bunch of interviews on our WSU football page. … The Times Stefanie Loh spoke with WSU president Kirk Schulz and has this piece.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, though the bowl games are around the corner, the biggest football news may be the new early signing period, which is less than two weeks away. … Another coaching vacancy was filled yesterday when Oregon decided to promote someone it knew, interim coach Mario Cristobal. It’s the same path the school took when Chip Kelly left. … Jon Wilner lists the top former walk-ons in the conference this season. … Arizona State is trying to figure out who will coach its defense. … The top basketball game this weekend is in Seattle, where the Huskies will host Gonzaga. … Oregon won last night against visiting Colorado State. … Utah and Utah State will renew a long-dormant rivalry. … USC has lost three consecutive games. … Arizona State remains undefeated after beating St. John’s in Los Angeles. … Arizona is trying to claw its way back into the top 25. … Oregon State is trying to improve.

Gonzaga: There is more intrigue with Sunday’s Washington matchup, especially after the Huskies upset No. 2-ranked Kansas this week. Jim Meehan looks back at five classic games between the schools. … There is history between Weber State and BYU, which meet tonight.

EWU: Alvin Snow was once the player everyone on Eastern’s basketball team looked to for a big play. Now Snow is an agent. The roles are similar. Jim Allen has the story. … Weber State led by eight late in its FCS matchup with top-ranked James Madison, only to lose on a late field goal.

Chiefs: Everett has one of the best goalies in junior hockey. And Carter Hart showed why again last night in the Silvertips’ 3-0 win over visiting Spokane.

Preps: Friday nights are now full of basketball and we can pass along roundups from the boys and girls. … In the more than 30 years we’ve lived in this area, this might be the fifth or sixth plan floated to deal with Albi Stadium. Amy Edelen has the story in this morning’s S-R.

Seahawks: If you thought Chris Carson was close to returning, this news should change your mind. … Why is Kam Chancellor still on the active roster?

Mariners: The M’s thought they were in the driver’s seat. They had amassed the most money, had a history with Japan and had a motivated organization. But Ohtani decided to sign elsewhere. … The worst part of the Ohtani news is where he signed. The M’s will play the Angels 19 times.

Sounders: Last year Seattle won the Cup without taking a shot on goal in the final, winning in a shootout. This year should be different, in more than one way. … Clint Dempsey didn’t take part in last year’s match as he was dealing with his heart issue.

•••       

• You ready for the weekend? Enjoy yourself. We will be back here tomorrow. Until then … 

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