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

A Grip on Sports: There has been a lot going on recently and we decided today was a good day to look at most of it

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We’re pretty exhausted. Flying the red-eye to D.C. will do that for you, if you can’t sleep. And we couldn’t. Not much anyway. So please excuse any mistakes. As you do the mistakes of your favorite athletes.


• OK, we’re in trouble. Which is why we are producing, in our business’ parlance, a notes column. A little of this, a little of that. Sort of like a buffet without the salmonella.

• The horror. Gonzaga wasn’t ranked in the Associated Press’ preseason top 10 when it was released Monday. Wait, what? The Zags are always ranked in the top 10 to kick off the season. They have been since … OK, it’s only been since 2018. But that’s long enough to give GU fans the feeling of entitlement. Well, a deeper sense of entitlement.

Sorry, but it had to end sometime. And being ranked 11th, with just two starters back and without the best scorer in school history, Drew Timme, for the first time since the Stone Age, it seems to be about right.

Besides, once again Mark Few is right about something. He dismisses preseason rankings for what they are, guesses. Sometimes educated, sometimes not so much.

There is one ranking that really matters. Some year, on the first Monday of April, the Zags will secure that one. When? Probably when you least expect it.

• We received an email Monday concerning Comcast and Root. The upcoming price increase in many areas, especially around Puget Sound. It seems the cable giant, and owner of more companies than Mel Brooks’ Engulf & Devour, has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The standoff with KAYU 28 is still ongoing – or at least it was as we left town. The Seahawks are one thing. Baseball’s playoffs are another. Now we’re ticked. We’re going to be hitting Comcast up for a refund when we get back into town. If we’re successful, we’ll let you know.

The Root increase – Comcast is moving the M’s (and Kraken and GU) cable channel into a higher tier of service, with an increased base cost – is inflation of a different type. A move that could inflate the move to streaming. And accelerate the cable company’s decline. Doesn’t sound like good business to us.

• If the Texas Rangers continue what seems to be an inevitable American League title and a berth in the World Series, it just twists another knife in the backs of Mariner fans. Texas was Oakland bad two years ago. Now the Rangers may just win its first World Series.

Thank goodness those folks who root for the M’s with their heart, their soul and their pocketbook, have something for which to be grateful. The Mariners are going to continue to win 54% of the time.

Thank you, lord. Or is it Jerry Dipoto? We get those two mixed up occasionally.

• The timing isn’t ideal, is it? We’re talking about Washington State and the need for a speedy recovery from a 44-6 shellacking at the hands of Arizona.

A trip to Eugene, to face a bunch of ticked-off Ducks, doesn’t seem like the opportune moment for an about-face. Maybe Oregon will be hungover from their second consecutive close loss to the Huskies. Maybe. But more than likely they’ll be focused and ready to prove that was a fluke. It just so happens the Cougars are in the way.

The key Saturday for the visitors? Play tough. Get the offensive line figured out. Build a foundation – maybe rebuild would be the better word – and get ready for a four-game stretch that will decide the Cougars’ bowl fate.

• Are you worried about Geno Smith? The Times’ Matt Calkins seems to be. He has a column today looking at Smith’s most recent 11 games and how he’s regressed since his hot start to last season.

He wasn’t good against the Bengals. He’s had other poor games. But when he’s on, as he was against the now 4-1 Detroit Lions, he’s been very good. As is the Seahawks’ offense.

That’s the results Seattle needs, especially considering the effort the defense has been showing – and the group’s results. If good Geno shows up, this is a good team. If not? We’ve seen that recently. Too often.


WSU: The Ducks would present a formidable challenge, even if Washington State was on the top of its game. It isn’t. Greg Woods has his first look at the game. … He also shares the news of next Saturday’s game time in Tempe. It’s early evening in the desert. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his power rankings. The Cougars dropped, of course. … They still are on track for a bowl game, though. … Wilner also has his Mountain West power rankings in the Mercury News. … John Canzano posted a mailbag Monday. … If you watched Washington play Saturday, you probably noticed how much distress Michael Penix Jr. looked to be in during the second half. It was touch and go there for a while. … Dan Lanning faced the music yesterday, even though some folks thought his conducting was disjointed on Saturday night. The Ducks began to prep for the Cougars. … Oregon State heads off into its bye week toting a bunch of awards. … Stanford’s comeback Friday night in Boulder not only ruined Colorado’s night but it also gave the Cardinal a needed boost. … Utah heads to USC and some folks are already thinking about next season. … The Trojans’ offensive line is struggling. … Just because his UCLA players receive NIL, Chip Kelly doesn’t think that means fans should criticize their performances with more vitriol. … Arizona State comes off its bye week with a bit better health. … Noah Fifita won another award this week but may not be Arizona’s starting quarterback after the school’s bye week. … In basketball news, the conference schools are going to have to adapt to a new reality next season. All of them.

Gonzaga: Jim Meehan has this story on the preseason poll. … Kaylynne Truong is on the Nancy Lieberman Award watch list. The award is given to the nation’s best point guard. Greg Lee has the story. … Former GU assistant Tommy Lloyd took his Arizona team to the Middle East in the summer and now has to confront and put into context what’s happening there.

EWU: A healthy Cooper Kupp meant everything for the L.A. Rams. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana is still basking in the glow of the win in Moscow. … Idaho State is doing the same after its comeback against Eastern. … The big game this week pits No. 2 Montana State against No. 3 Sacramento State. … Northern Colorado has played one of the FCS’ toughest schedules. … That’s part of why the Bears are winless. The conference is really good.

Preps: Dave Nichols has a roundup of Monday’s prep action. … Former Mead golfer Bradley Mulder is making his presence felt at the collegiate level. That news leads off the S-R’s most recent local briefs column.

Horse racing: Former Playfair trainer Ray McCanna died recently. Jim Price has his obituary in today’s S-R.

Seahawks: The defense feels it hasn’t even scratched the surface of what it can do.

Kraken: A shorthanded Seattle team will start its home schedule tonight, welcoming last year’s first-round playoff opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, to Climate Pledge Arena.

Mariners: Bryce Harper is something, isn’t he? He and the Phillies continue to bash the ball and put an N.L. Championship Series-opening loss on Arizona.


• That’s it. We’re running out of gas. High-octane coffee can only take one so far. It’s time for a nap. Until later …