A GRIP ON SPORTS • What is your favorite October sport? Is it baseball, finishing off its season with its playoffs? Basketball, about to begin its interminably long NBA season and the way-too-short college one? Football, in the midst of every season, from Pee-Wee to the pro ranks? Hockey, getting its first games in before the snow flies? Or soccer or golf or, seemingly, every sport ever invented?
• October is weird, man. Every day has a different type of game vying for our attention. Can any other month say that?
If months were people, October would be just sitting in a corner, relaxed, regal, wearing the crown as the best sports month of the year (and not just because Adam Sandler visited GU’s women this month). Better than April, even, though we love what that month offers, from the NCAA Final Four to the Masters to baseball’s opening days.
The two months that somewhat bookend the summer are the only ones in the running for king of the sports calendar. Two brothers who fought for the throne until the one that also includes fall foliage pulled away in recent years from its flowering sibling.
How? Season expansion.
College basketball didn’t really begin in October until recently. Major League Baseball rarely started in March, as it consistently does now, stealing some of April’s thunder. Winter’s sports are firmly established in fall’s first full month these days. Summer’s sports have creeped into the month that ushers out winter. Such is life. And the death of our free time.
• You want to know what also happens this month? College basketball’s preseason polls. Anger season, as we like to call it.
Why? Because everyone, from A (Arizona) to Z (uh, OK, Y, as in Yale), have something to moan about. Today’s complaint: The women’s preseason polls.
Sure, it’s really cool Washington State is in its first preseason A.P. poll ever, but 24th? For the defending Pac-12 Tournament champions returning its top two players and its coach – a key component of success in the college version of the sport?
Too low. We know USC recruited well and Louisville has a name but neither were ranked at the end of the last season and leapfrogged the Cougars. That’s pretty silly.
Almost as silly as Gonzaga, which won 28 games last season and returns everyone of consequence, not being ranked. The Bulldogs, who were ranked as high as 15th last season – before a late losing streak – have so much experience they were sure to be included in the opening poll. But they aren’t.
Oh, well. Part of what bothers us is how the game in Pullman Nov. 9 between the two won’t hold the value – nationally, not in our region – it should. But both have a chance in the nonconference to show their worth after that, with Gonzaga meeting 17th-ranked Louisville in Texas and WSU meeting No. 14 Maryland in Cancun on Thanksgiving.
• October’s king? Football, of course. The region’s top draws are regrouping this week, from Seattle – the Seahawks have to bounce back from a loss while UW has to put its showdown with Oregon in the rearview mirror – to Moscow – the Vandals are using their bye week to cleanse their Montana-ravaged palate.
In between, Eastern Washington is dealing with a come-from-ahead loss for the ages and Washington State must regroup quickly after its disappearing act against Arizona.
Not the best weekend we’ve seen in these parts. But not the worst either. After all, everyone but the Eagles still boast winning records. And can see their goals as attainable even with the potholes they just hit.
Before the month is out, however, they better get back on the winning track. Or winter will come early.
WSU: How are the Cougars going to bounce back? Well, Jake Dickert laid out something of a road map for his team before the weekend ended. Greg Woods relayed that information then today covers how the players felt about it. … Greg also shares the news of George Reed’s recent death at age 83. … We linked the women’s basketball news above and do so here again in case you missed it. (That’s our not-so-subtle way of saying “read the column!”) … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his midway-point awards, with WSU mentioned in one regard. … He also has his bowl projections on the Mercury News website. … Possible playoff participants are becoming clearer as the field seems to winnow down each week. … Kalen DeBoer’s success with Michael Penix Jr. and the Washington passing attack doesn’t seem to be predicated on star power. Which makes the Huskies’ newest quarterback recruit seemingly a perfect fit. … When will Oregon and UW play when they become members of the Big Ten? The date of the Northwest showdown might not change much. … OK, sure. Colorado hasn’t given formal notice of leaving the Pac-12, as it and the others who are out the door are saying. But the Big 12 commissioner was just in Boulder talking about the Buffs’ future. The leaving 10’s legal arguments defy common sense. … The “Saturday Night Live” portrayal of Deion Sanders was an exaggeration, sure, but a funny one. … USC and Utah have put on some great games over the years. Mainly because both have great defensive talent. … UCLA has yet to win on the road this season. … Arizona State faces a tough end to its season of despair. … The Arizona defense is on hiatus for the week but it hasn’t taken plays off during games. … In basketball news, the Oregon State women hope to return to prominence this season. … Utah and Colorado are happy about their ranking. Stanford, on the other hand, hasn’t been ranked this low to start a season in years. … The Oregon men have an exhibition game this Saturday.
Gonzaga: You know what also happens in October? We parse the Bulldogs’ nonconference schedule. The men are playing another interesting one, with one key attraction in the Kennel and a bunch of neutral-site games TV loves. Jim Meehan has more in this story. … Brynna Maxwell is on the shooting-guard awards list to start the season. … Elsewhere in the West Coast Conference, Saint Mary’s has a new leader, one who is living up to his last name.
EWU and Idaho: Every football season has its disappointments. Dan Thompson delves into the Big Sky’s surprise teams in that regard in his weekly conference notebook. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, the Hawkins family is having an impact on the conference this year. … Sacramento State has attracted local kids recently. … Northern Colorado hopes to use Cal Poly to break its losing streak. … In basketball news, Montana State’s final conference game will air on ESPNU.
Preps: Dave Nichols has some big stories today but in the high school ranks all he offers is this roundup of Tuesday’s action. Though that is always important.
Chiefs: In most years when a Spokane player heads off to NHL camp there is some worry he won’t be coming back. There was that this season concerning 20-year-old Ty Cheveldayoff, but he did bounce back to Spokane. And is better because of the experience, as Dave documents in this story.
Indians: The offseason is going to be a productive one for the franchise and the place it calls home. An agreement between a whole bunch of folks will modernize Avista Stadium with an eye on getting the venerable facility up to MLB’s new standards in time to meet the billionaires’ arbitrary deadline. We’re happy the groups were able to come together, we’re still confounded how the richest folks in America can get away with holding towns across the country hostage. It is a reality, however, and Dave delves into the process that led to ensuring baseball’s future in Spokane. (Of course, don’t be surprised of the MLB owners don’t come up with another demand or two someday soon.)
Seahawks: We were going to devote a bunch of space in the main body of our column today to some good news, but we decided Alexandra Duggan’s story covered that well enough in today’s S-R. The crux of the matter is Comcast and the parent company of KAYU 28 have reached a new carriage agreement. The Fox station is back on Spokane TV’s hooked to cable. The Hawks, baseball playoffs and the like are back on Comcast. … DK Metcalf gets the dumbest penalties. It has to stop. … Up this week, Arizona. Up this week in 2013? It was Tennessee.
Storm: The defending champ Aces are down two key players for tonight’s game in New York. Despite their 2-1 Finals’ lead, the series seems wide open.
Mariners: Would you be for the M’s trading one of their young pitchers and a coveted prospect for a year of Juan Soto? That may be a question you will have to answer this offseason.
• Being in the East means not being able to see late-night sports. But it also means we’re done with our morning work early. A good trade? Not really. But you get to start your day earlier. And we want you to start it wondering if the agreement between the PGA and LIV will ever come to fruition. Why? No reason for us to pass this along other than we thought it was interesting after all the angst. Until later …