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A Grip on Sports: Sure, there is a lot of football (and baseball) available this weekend, but the Ryder Cup is the best competition

Team Europe's Lee Westwood, Team Europe's Paul Casey and Team Europe's Ian Poulter walk on the sixth hole during a practice day at the Ryder Cup at the Whistling Straits Golf Course Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, in Sheboygan, Wis.  (Jeff Roberson)
Team Europe's Lee Westwood, Team Europe's Paul Casey and Team Europe's Ian Poulter walk on the sixth hole during a practice day at the Ryder Cup at the Whistling Straits Golf Course Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, in Sheboygan, Wis. (Jeff Roberson)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Sports on television is better on the West Coast. Always. Well, most of the time. Today is one of the exceptions. Tomorrow too. It must be Ryder Cup weekend.


• The Ryder Cup is about the only team competition in golf that really matters. Not that there are a lot of them for the pros, but those there are pale in comparison to the eldest of them, the battle between Europe and the United States.

And battle is the right noun these days. Many of the recent matches have turned ugly, or as ugly as the staid sport gets.

Anyhow, being a team competition, there is the necessity of playing two rounds the first two days. In September, with the sun out only for about 12 hours a day, an early start is a must. In the U.S., with the matches being contested in the Eastern time zone – at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc. – it means a 5 a.m. start here.

That’s early. Even for someone of our, shall we say, advanced years.

So here we are, the matches on our computer – you can watch at or on the Golf Channel and NBC – in a little box while we peruse the Net and bloviate via our fingers.

• A couple of other Ryder Cup notes. It continues on Saturday, also starting at 5 a.m. and Sunday, a day in which you can sleep in a bit. With singles matches only, it doesn’t begin until 9 a.m. That’s almost akin to sleeping-in-on-vacation good.

With Europe having won just two of the last nine competitions, Nick Faldo has been able to enjoy bragging rights among his announcing brethren. His allegiance is pretty obvious, which is actually a good thing in this setting. It mirrors those watching at home, whether you live in Sandwich, England or are eating a sandwich in your Los Angeles living room.

For one week every two years, the golf fan is rooting for a color, not a name. So is Faldo. And that’s OK.

• Don’t like golf? We understand. (We judge, but we also understand.) Luckily, there is a lot more to watch this weekend. Starting with the Mariners.

After sweeping the A’s in Oakland this week – the first time Seattle has done that in a four-game series – they have faint postseason hopes with nine games remaining. Which means this weekend’s series in Anaheim is crucial if they hope to close the two-game gap they face.

Over the past two decades, the M’s have only had a couple times in which they have been in such a situation, competing for a postseason spot in the last few days. We need to enjoy them.

And we need to enjoy football played in fine weather. That should continue this weekend but the days are growing – if that’s the right word – shorter.

The Cougars play in Salt Lake City in another of the middle-of-the-day games. They also face another of those better-win-or-your-fanbase-is-going-to-grumble games, but that’s pretty much every week.

This week the kickoff is at 11:30 a.m. in the Pacific time zone, with the game on the Pac-12 Networks.

It’s all part of a decent Saturday, beginning with Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin in Chicago at 9 on Fox and continuing until Oregon blows out Arizona in Eugene on ESPN (a 7:30 p.m. start).

The Seahawks play in Minnesota on Sunday so that must mean an early start, right? No. In the season’s first upset, the game has a 1:25 p.m. kick, meaning you don’t have to make breakfast to accompany another Seattle nailbiter. We’re not. We have a Hot Dish casserole planned. It’s our opponent-meal-of-the-week.


WSU: We passed along the news yesterday of Kamie Ethridge’s contract extension. Today we drop the other basketball shoe. Kyle Smith agreed to an extension that secures his future through the 2026-27 season. Notice we didn’t write that it will keep him in Pullman that long. We all know coaching contracts are only as limiting as the buyouts written into them. And even huge ones don’t always ensure loyalty. Colton Clark has the details, at least the details we know now. … To those of us who live in Spokane, the name Armani Marsh is easy to remember. After all, he played his high school football at Gonzaga Prep. But for those Cougar fans who live elsewhere, his name is just entering their consciousness in a key way. Colton has more in this feature. … Colton is en route to Utah but he left us this mailbag to enjoy. … Cam Rising is ready to step in as the Utes starting quarterback. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, wonder why there are so many games on the Pac-12 Networks right now? Jon Wilner explains in today’s Mercury News that frees up the games late for the broadcast networks. … Washington will be better offensively at some point this season. Will it happen against California?… The guy who led USC past WSU, Jaxson Dart? He had surgery this week. He won’t be playing against Oregon State this weekend in Los Angeles, as Jonathan Smith returns home again. … The return of a decent run game would sure help Colorado against Arizona State. … Four weeks into the season, Arizona still hasn’t settled on a starting quarterback. But the Wildcats have their defensive identity established as they will try to disrupt Oregon’s offense with blitzes. … In basketball news, a Colorado freshman will miss the season due to a hip injury.

EWU: The Eagles are in Cedar City, Utah for the last time. Luckily. Though most years in the football sense it hasn’t been a huge deal. The same could be said for this Saturday’s game, as Eastern is a prohibitive favorite. It’s just the last trip to Southern Utah before the school skips to the resurrected WAC. That’s the first note in Dan Thompson’s Big Sky notebook. … Around the Big Sky, a Montana safety has rediscovered his love of the game. He will face Cal Poly tomorrow. … A Weber State walk-on has made his mark through hard work. … UC Davis will face the Wildcats in their conference opener. … Montana State is ready to face Portland State.

Idaho: Larry Weir checked in with the Vandals via a conversation with their football radio play-by-play voice Chris King. It’s part of the latest Press Box podcast.

Preps: The battle of the South Hill occurred in Mead last night, with Lewis and Clark topping Ferris 28-6. Taylor Newquist has this story as the Tigers rolled. … Former Central Valley kicker Ryan Rehkow is doing big things for BYU.

Indians: Spokane is back in survival mode, which seems to fit the Indians this season. They struggled early on and then were lights-out down the stretch, earning a postseason berth. They lost the first two in the best-of-five championship series and faced three must-wins. They got the first one last night. Dave Nichols has the details of their 6-1 victory at Avista Stadium.

Mariners: It didn’t look good for the M’s yesterday as they trailed Oakland 3-0 and 4-1. But they rallied for a 6-5 win to pick up ground in the wild card race. Their series sweep dealt a near-fatal blow to Oakland’s hopes. … Cal Raleigh started and helped in the comeback.

Seahawks: It seems as if the contentiousness over the offense between Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll hasn’t dissipated completely. It only took a loss to bring it back to the forefront. … The run game isn’t as established as the Hawks expected. … DK Metcalf has to adjust if he wants to contribute big plays again. … How should the Seahawks use Jamal Adams? … The Vikings will show Seattle a few different looks Sunday.

Storm: Seattle will open the WNBA playoffs against Phoenix.

Kraken: Thanks to Tod Leiweke, the NHL is part of the Seattle sports scene. The Kraken opened training camp yesterday. And their first exhibition game will be in the Spokane Arena. Garrett Cabeza has this story on Sunday’s matchup.


• The most notable achievement in this Ryder Cup thus far? How many ads the Golf Channel salespeople were able to sell. Man, there are a lot. They are three-up with two to play, that’s for sure. Until later …

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