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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: By the time the snow covers up last summer’s weeds, the sports landscape will change a bit too

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, top, is tackled by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Los Angeles. Wilson has been hit 43 times this season, sixth most in the NFL through Week 6. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, top, is tackled by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Los Angeles. Wilson has been hit 43 times this season, sixth most in the NFL through Week 6. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Seems awfully calm out there today. There must be a storm on the horizon. We are being figurative here, but also a bit literal. Read on.


• The literal part is simple. The inversion layer that has wrapped Spokane in a blanket of cold air will be tossed aside on Friday. According to the Weather Channel, there is a 70 percent chance of snow before the weekend.

The figurative part is more nebulous.

There is Sunday’s showdown with the Rams, of course. The Seahawks, playing a guy at linebacker who was driving an Uber a few weeks ago (we exaggerate, but only slightly), will try to earn the NFC West’s inside position with a home win over this year’s threat to their crown.

If the Hawks fall short, there is a good chance they won’t make the playoffs. Talk about an imperfect storm.

But there is more.

The bowls begin this weekend, with the first Pac-12 team, Oregon, as part of the early flurry Saturday. The real heavy stuff, as per usual, doesn’t hit until after Christmas of course, but we’re getting a taste this week.

High school’s winter sports are off and running, even if it isn’t winter yet. Heck, the WIAA will release its computerized rankings this morning, which means about 50 percent of the fans will be howling about something this afternoon. I blame Hal.

And the Portland Winterhawks defeated the Chiefs again. This year, that has been as predictable as the lows dipping into the teens around here in December. Or the roads being tough to navigate during Christmas shopping.


WSU: Hercules Mata’afa’s season wasn’t good enough to earn him the Pac-12 defensive player of the year award from the league’s often out-of-touch coaches (or whoever votes for them), but every other award? He’s earned those. He’s a consensus All-American. And a panel of distinguish judges decided he was the best Polynesian player in the nation this year. Theo Lawson has both stories. … The next great Cougar pass rusher might be in the pipeline. Theo also has that story. … Michigan State is prepping for the Air Raid. Maybe the Cougars will run it 50 times in the Holiday Bowl.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, we can pass along a history lesson. … As teams get ready for bowl games, some, like USC, will do it with a different looking coaching staff. … Washington has another consensus All-American, Dante Pettis. … Arizona State is in the market for a new defensive coordinator. … Oregon is in Las Vegas already. … On the basketball courts, Oregon State won last night, defeating Jacksonville State 70-69. … Colorado had trouble scoring against USD and lost. … Utah and Arizona State have experienced success. … Oregon hosts revitalized Portland State.

Gonzaga: The recently remodeled Gonzaga locker room is something to behold. Jim Meehan, with the story, and Jesse Tinsley, with a whole bunch of photographs, take us all on a tour. You know, when you are not paying a football coach $12 million to go away, there is some money available for the athletes. … Around the WCC, there is a buildup the Salt Lake City area for this weekend’s rivalry game. … The Toreros are having a good season.

EWU: Eastern’s long string of road games is finally over. It ended with another loss, this one in overtime at Wyoming. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, South Dakota State blew out North Dakota.

Preps: Dave Nichols headed out to the Valley last night and covered Central Valley’s two wins over rival University. The boys held off the Titans and the Bear girls romped. … We also can pass along roundups of boys and girls games from around the area.

Chiefs: As we said above, Portland won again last night. The Winterhawks are 5-0 against Spokane this season. Kevin Dudley has the story on last night’s 4-2 decision.

Seahawks: As the season winds down, one has to wonder if Jimmy Graham is not long for Seattle. … Let’s hope Duane Brown sticks around a while. … There were roster moves yesterday as the Hawks try to deal with the mess that is their injury list.

Mariners: Larry Stone is an astute baseball writer. He sees the M’s success next year balancing on Felix Hernandez’s aging right arm. That scares me. … Maybe this story means Jerry Dipoto is of a like mind. … Hisashi Iwakuma may return but it won’t be until he is recovered from shoulder surgery.

Sounders: If Brad Evans is done, that means I lose a connection to the Sounders. (We both are UC Irvine graduates.)


• We had a visitor from sunny California this week. She was hoping for snow. She leaves Thursday. It is supposed to snow Friday. Missed it by that much. Until later … 

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