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A Grip on Sports: Whatever its historical significance, tonight’s baseball game is, at the least, can’t-miss TV

San Francisco Giants pitcher Logan Webb waves as he walks toward the dugout after being relieved during the eighth inning of Game 1 of a baseball National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in San Francisco.  (John Hefti)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Logan Webb waves as he walks toward the dugout after being relieved during the eighth inning of Game 1 of a baseball National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in San Francisco. (John Hefti)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Don’t call us after 6 tonight. No, we won’t be in bed (though that’s the usual reason). We’ll be preoccupied. We’ll be watching the most important Dodgers/Giants game since Bobby Thompson hit the shot heard ’round the world (though we’re guessing millions of folks in China were asleep then too).

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• We read a column this week postulating tonight’s showdown in Frisco – yes, we know that ticks off Bay Area folks; why else would a Dodger fan use it? – is the most important game ever between the more-than-a-century-old franchises.

Really? You mean the game between the Giants and Dodgers on Oct. 3, 1951 has to be content with second-best?

It shouldn’t. And no matter what happens tonight, it won’t. That game decided the National League pennant and sent the cheating winners – read this if you don’t believe me; the Giants were the trash-can banging Astros 50 years before the Astros – into the World Series against the Yankees.

Tonight’s game, while pitting two teams that have each won 109 games since Opening Day, will send the winner into … the National League Championship Series. Woohoo.

Tonight’s game is incredible. It’s the type of October baseball no one should ever miss. Two historically great teams meeting in a loser-heads-home game. But it still won’t determine anything more than California bragging rights.

Oh, wait. Maybe it is the most important matchup between the franchises. After all, California.

• We know Saturday’s matchup between Idaho and Eastern Washington isn’t the most important ever between those two rivals. But it is the most important this year and that’s all that matters, right?

Eastern is having a historically great season. The second-ranked Eagles are 6-0, the first time they have started with six consecutive wins since 1967. And if they can protect the red turf, they have a chance to be 9-0. Starting this weekend against the Vandals, Eastern plays the next three at Roos Field.

What does the game mean to Idaho? As always, everything. Idaho may be 2-3 overall but the Vandals are coming off a win over Portland State and, a week before that, led highly ranked UC Davis until late in the fourth quarter.

A win Saturday – the game kicks at 11:30 a.m. on ROOT – not only give them rivalry bragging rights, it may just propel the Vandals on an end-of-the-season run.

Can it happen? Sure. Just last weekend UC Davis took an undefeated record into its game with winless Idaho State. The Bengals won. It’s the Big Sky, after all. Strange things happen all the time.

• The Pac-12 held its men’s basketball media day yesterday in San Francisco. One would expect, after all the preseason hype for Washington State, the Cougars would have picked for an upper-division finish. One would be wrong.

The Cougs were tabbed to finish eighth by the media.

Why does that seem low? Maybe because WSU has most of the squad from its 14-13 season returning. The main loss is guard Isaac Bonton, who was exceptional at times – and less-than so-so at others. That is a description that fits many of the younger Cougars, thus, maybe, explains the eighth-place pick.

But youth ages and matures. Washington State will be better this season. In the Pac-12, though, climbing the ladder is hard.

UCLA deserved its No. 1 spot. Just about everyone is back from the Bruins’ Final Four team. After that, though, Oregon, USC, Arizona, Oregon State, Colorado and Arizona State – the next six choices – all lose key components. Lose more, actually, than WSU.

It will surprise me if the Cougars don’t finish in the top half of the conference standings. Maybe even in the top four.

•••

WSU: Colton Clark watched Kyle Smith’s session from the media day and wrote this story. … But his main emphasis this time of year is football. Colton also has a story on the Cougar’s ever-growing list of receivers they can count on. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, Jon Wilner picks this week’s games in the Mercury News. … If you have questions about Washington football, we’ll pass along these answers. … UCLA wants to grind it out in Seattle. … The biggest game this weekend? That may just be Arizona State, which is in control in the South behind the play of Jayden Daniels, at Utah, which wants to get back in the race with a win. … Oregon expects to be healthy on defense against California. … The Ducks’ corners need to get over what happened last time they played. … Oregon State is halfway through its season. … Colorado wants to get its defense back on track against winless Arizona. The Wildcats have had a problem with penalties. … USC has six freshmen who can supply some optimism for the future. … In basketball news, yes, there is a lot more coverage of the men’s media day than there was for the women’s. We can pass along stories from Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Colorado, Utah, UCLA and USC, Arizona State and Arizona. That’s just about everyone.

Gonzaga: The Zag women will be chasing BYU this WCC basketball season. That’s the consensus of the conference’s coaches, as they picked the Cougars to win in the preseason poll. Jim Allen takes a look at the voting, Lisa Fortier’s thoughts about not being picked atop the poll for the first time in a decade and more in this story. … If you want to watch the NCAA women’s regional next March in Spokane, tickets go on sale Tuesday. Jim also has that story.

EWU: Yes, it is a rivalry week. The second-ranked Eagles are looking to their defense to supply the difference against the Vandals. Dan Thompson has this preview. … Dan also has a notebook from around the Big Sky. … Elsewhere in the conference, Weber State is ready to be a rude host for Montana State. … In the past, Sacramento State has made Montana work for home wins, but the Grizzlies picked them up. … Northern Colorado is still working through some issues as it heads to UC Davis. … Punting is not an issue for Northern Arizona.

Idaho: The Vandal defense wants to make Eric Barriere uncomfortable Saturday. That’s the thrust of Peter Harriman’s preview.

Preps: When Teagan Webster needed her Shadle Park High volleyball family for support, they were there for her. Dave Nichols tells her story in words and James Snook tells another with these photographs. … Dave previews the games ahead for area teams this week. … Dave also has a roundup of Wednesday’s action.

Seahawks: Are the Hawks flunking their test at cornerback? Yes. … That means there probably won’t be a turnaround defensively like last season. … Whatever Russell Wilson can do at practice he will do. Mainly that means helping Geno Smith. … Jon Gruden’s emails didn’t shock any of the Hawks that talked about them. … The Seahawks could use Chris Carson on Sunday night.

Mariners: Can the M’s really make the postseason next season. A couple moves may just make it happen. … Most people my age remember Ray Fosse as the guy Pete Rose ran over at home plate in the 1970 All-Star game. Folks from around here might remember his short stint with the M’s. Those who grew up in the Bay Area recall his time on A’s radio and TV. He died Wednesday at age 74. … Of all the stories I read this morning (and I read a bunch), this one was the best. It’s about a Twitter feed that rates umpires but it’s really about much more. And there is a small political component as well.

Kraken: Just what is the rule about kicking a puck into the net? … Seattle is still trying to fit the new pieces into the lineup. … ROOT Sports and DirecTV have reached an agreement.

•••       

• We admire Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano. We pass along his column regularly. Most of the time we give them an enthusiastic thumbs up. But not this one. Don’t root for the Kraken (or the M’s or Seahawks) because of a man-made creation like a state line? Portland is so much closer to Seattle than Spokane is, not only in miles but ease of travel. And yet no one in their right mind would encourage folks in these parts to quit rooting for Seattle’s teams. The closest professional sports teams are just that, the closest professional sports teams. Root for the them or not, but don’t make the decision because they are the other side of the river or mountains – or a state line. Until later …

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