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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: The Seahawks could use a win tonight but it won’t be easy, even if Taylor Swift has left the building

A GRIP ON SPORTS • What’s on the agenda for the first Monday in October? Maybe it’s appropriate the Supreme Court begins its term the same day Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are on the East Coast to play the Giants. After all, Carroll fits the Court’s age demographic.  

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• We jest, of course, mainly because Carroll rarely acts his age. Heck, the other day he threw his gum in the general direction of an NFL official, showing the petulance of someone a 10th his 72 years. And reflecting the general feelings of many Seahawk fans at the time.

How will they feel tonight, when the game is over? If it’s a loss, then ticked off – at the schedule makers. Let’s get this right. New York last played on Thursday, Sept. 21, a 30-12 loss at San Francisco. The Giants have basically had a bye before facing a Seahawk team that had to travel across the country to play. Seems fair.

Then again, nothing is fair in a league that values drama and entertainment over everything. Oh, and ratings. If you don’t think so, then you weren’t paying attention Sunday night. They only thing that shocked us about the attention paid to Taylor Swift was Aaron Rodgers not finding his way to the suite at some point. Maybe hidden in a popcorn machine.

But back to the Hawks. A win tonight seems somewhat necessary, considering their schedule has taken a turn for the harder as the season’s unfolded. Oh, the next three weeks are easier than expected, with a bye followed by a visit to Cincinnati – the Bengals are reeling – and the tank-for-Caleb Cardinals in town right after.

The next eight games are a gantlet, though. The Browns, Ravens, Commanders, Rams, Cowboys, Eagles and both games against the 49ers in that stretch. None of those teams have losing records right now. A quartet of Super Bowl contenders. Heck, Washington was supposed to be a bye-like day and even that seems to have changed.

It sure seems crucial for Carroll’s team to leave the Meadowlands with a victory.

• The Mariners left the ballpark this season with a victory 88 times. That was two fewer times than they needed. Ninety wins seems to be the gold standard in the American League these days and Seattle ended up settling for silver.

Why? Many reasons, for sure, but a couple things were clear Sunday. His teammates felt Cal Raleigh’s post-game comments Saturday night – after the team was eliminated – were golden and George Kirby is setting a standard for their young pitchers.

Add them together and the future is bright. If the ownership cabal invests in, you know, actually filling the holes in the roster. There are a few glaring ones that put the team at a disadvantage no matter how strong the starting pitching will be. And make no mistake, next season the M’s pitching could be Atlanta, circa the 1990s, strong.

The M’s have a trio of starters that stacks up with everyone. Kirby, Logan Gilbert and Luis Castillo showed that almost all season. Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo showed flashes of excellence, though both need to expand their repertoire a bit to be successful big league starters.

There are also three arms lost to injury that have to be taken into account. Robbie Ray is under contract for next season but won’t be ready until June or July. If he can return from Tommy John surgery with a semblance of his 2021 form, the M’s have the lefty starter they need. It won’t be Marco Gonzales, though, as Gonzales’ arm injury cost him what probably would have been his final year in a Seattle uniform. An injury also cost Emerson Hancock most of his first, though the righty’s shoulder is healing and he is expected back for spring training.

The bullpen could use a veteran arm or two, sure, like, say, a Paul Sewald. (Too soon? Sorry.) Anyhow, the pitching is OK. The lineup? That’s where, as Raleigh said, the team needs to make a commitment. Of money, not trade capital. Will it?

Let’s talk again in, say, February.

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WSU: Sundays are for poll talk, especially after an off-day. The Cougars will come back this weekend and face UCLA in the Rose Bowl as the nation’s 13th-ranked squad. Greg Woods has more on the Associated Press rankings in this story. … The seventh-ranked volleyball team handled No. 6 Oregon fairly easily in Eugene. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his recap of the weekend in the S-R this morning. … This a nice recap of the conference’s defenses from The Athletic. … Washington’s defense was tested in Tucson on Saturday and the seventh-ranked Huskies survived. But they need to pressure the quarterback more consistently if they want to win against the Ducks. … John Canzano has a great column on Friday night’s Oregon State win over Utah and it has little to do with the game action. As for the Beavers, the win boosted them to 15th in the nation headed into a road game at California. … Oregon is 5-0 and up to eighth nationally, headed into its pre-Seattle-showdown bye week. The Ducks also have some things to clean up. … There is another star emerging in Boulder, even as Colorado has to bounce back from a second consecutive defeat. … No. 9 USC is also seeing stars emerge. But Caleb Williams is still the Trojans’ key.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, we took a look at the FCS top 25 results over the weekend. Eight teams lost, with only two (No. 19 Eastern’s to No. 4 Idaho and No. 12 North Dakota’s to No. 1 South Dakota State) not upsets. Three top-10 teams lost. Ten games were one-score affairs, though some of the upsets were routs. The Big Sky didn’t have any upsets but there were a lot of tight games. Which makes third-ranked Montana State’s 16-point win over Portland State look a bit better. … The same can be said of eighth-ranked Sacramento State’s win over Northern Arizona.

Preps: Dave Nichols has put together a user’s guide to the new downtown stadium.

Seahawks: No one is better on Monday nights than the Hawks. Ever. Will it continue? … If it comes down to a kick, Jason Myers will take it.

Mariners: The Times’ Larry Stone, who is retiring in November, has some thoughts on what Seattle must do in the offseason. Let’s just say they parallel those of Raleigh, the fanbase and yours truly. … Which major league staff spun the most shutouts in 2023? Atlanta? Los Angeles? Oakland? Nope. The Mariners, who combined on their 18th of the season yesterday, a 1-0 win over Texas that cost the Rangers the American League West title. … Kirby used one pitch as an homage to Tim Wakefield, who died over the weekend.

Kraken: Team bonding at a golf course. Who hasn’t been a part of that?

Reign: Megan Rapinoe is retiring from playing. Nothing else.

Golf: It’s is really too bad the Ryder Cup, when it is in Europe, plays overnight in the U.S. Especially on the West Coast. This year we missed not just Europe playing winning golf – again – but a bunch of hat-waving, caddie-bashing controversy. And we can’t blame all the bad blood on Patrick Reed. But Rory McIlroy was involved in a lot of it. Who would have thought?

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• Hope your work week begins well. Take an umbrella. It could be raining this evening. Until later …