A Grip on Sports: Today we travel from the Crime Dog in the Hall to L.A. for a bowl and the Hawks bowling over the Rams

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Ready for some more football? Sure you are. Bowl season is upon us. The NFL’s stretch run. The Seahawks hoping for more losses from the Broncos. It’s the holiday – and Holiday Bowl – season. So, we will start with baseball this morning.

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• Tom Emanski must be beaming this morning. His star pupil (read: endorser), Fred McGriff, was voted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday night. The Crime Dog will enter Cooperstown courtesy of his peers on the contemporary era committee.

That the former Atlanta Braves star has finally overcome the stigma of appearing in Emanski’s commercials back in the 1990s – they were on ESPN so often then every 30-something baseball fan knows the dialogue by heart – is not nearly as important as the other news coming from the committee’s vote yesterday.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro were treated the same way by their peers as they were by baseball writers in the 10 years on the regular Hall of Fame ballot. Actually, a bit worse. And it proves one thing.

The steroid stigma is not going away.

Guys like Spokane’s Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Lee Smith and Frank Thomas (he of the ubiquitous supplement commercials of 2022) decide to go in another direction. Steroid use, and its subsequent inflation of accomplishments, remains too much of a hot potato to touch.

There were some other politics involved, sure. But for now, guys who cheated so blatantly as to be identified easily are not getting in the Hall.

• The Cougars knew their bowl destination weeks ago. It was just a matter of making it official. That happened yesterday. Expect to hear jokes at Pullman’s expense – and Fresno’s – for the next couple weeks on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. If, unlike us, you stay up late enough to watch.

Kimmel’s name is on the Los Angeles Bowl, one of the first of the season. WSU will play Fresno State in less than two weeks, which makes it more like a regular season game coming off a bye week than a bowl game. Other than it is played in SoFi Stadium, the newest Taj Mahal of the NFL.

And the swag should be outstanding.

• Speaking of SoFi, the Seahawks rallied to win their second game of the season there Sunday. That’s as many as the two home teams, the Los Angeles Rams and the Chargers, each have.

This one seemed in doubt from the opening possession.

The Rams, playing without their three biggest stars, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford, still dominated the line of scrimmage. They rushed for one billion yards – OK, only 171 on 31 carries but that’s still way too many – and put pressure on Geno Smith all day. Until the end. When Seattle needed a relatively clean pocket to put together a game-winning drive, the offensive line did enough to allow Smith to drive them 75 yards in 10 plays.

That it culminated in an 8-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf at the expense of All-World talker Jalen Ramsey made it all that much sweeter.

The 27-23 win keeps the Hawks’ playoff hopes alive. It also keeps them in the NFC West race, especially considering division leading San Francisco just lost quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo for the season with a broken foot.

• No matter what happens with the rest of the Seahawks’ season, their fans have plenty to keep track of each week. Mainly, what’s happening in Denver.

The Broncos have become experts at finding a way to lose. That’s a good thing for the Hawks.

After leading most of Sunday’s game with the Lamar Jackson-less Ravens (the All-Pro quarterback was injured early on and did not return), Denver gave up a late touchdown to fall 10-9. The loss dropped its record to 3-9 and kept the team in line for the third pick in April’s draft.

Which, of course, is actually Seattle’s pick.

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WSU: A lot happened in Pullman yesterday – take that Jimmy – and Colton Clark is on top of it. He has a story on the L.A. Bowl. He has another on the report one more football assistant is headed to Arizona State. And he has the coverage of the Cougars’ overtime basketball loss to Utah. The latter is heartbreaking, considering Washington State held a three-point lead with seconds remaining. … Geoff Crimmins also has a photo gallery from the basketball game. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, all the bowl scenarios were revealed Sunday, from the playoff field to the New Year’s Six to everything else. Jon Wilner covers all of it in the Mercury News. … Washington is headed to San Antonio for an Alamo Bowl reunion with former coach Steve Sarkisian and Texas. Michael Penix Jr. will be the Huskies quarterback there and next year as well. … Oregon State gets to spend its bowl time in Las Vegas where the Beavers will face Florida. … Oregon is headed to San Diego and the Holiday Bowl. The Ducks, who will have Bo Nix but be without some starters, face North Carolina. … The Rose Bowl? That will pit Utah against Penn State. Will the Utes finally win their first Rose? … USC still made a decent bowl. It is headed to the Cotton to play upstart Tulane. … UCLA? The Bruins got the worst of it, playing in the Sun Bowl against Pittsburgh. … Deion Sanders introduced himself to the Colorado players yesterday. We wonder how many packed their bags afterward. We also wonder how long before the NCAA comes calling. … A lot of players seem to be on their way out at Arizona. … In basketball news, the second round of early December conference games included Washington clamping down defensively to claim a 73-63 home win over Colorado. … Oregon State led until the final minutes in a loss at USC. … Oregon also faded down the stretch against UCLA in Pauley. … Arizona State put its issues behind and defeated Stanford. … Though Arizona struggled shooting from outside, it handled California easily, 81-68.

Gonzaga: Don’t be surprised if Gonzaga is pushed to the limit tonight by visiting Kent State. The Golden Flashes are better than most fans might realize. Jim Meehan has a preview of the contest and the key matchup. … The women traveled to No. 2 Stanford yesterday and, predictably with just seven players available, faded down the stretch in an 84-63 loss. Jim Allen has the story. … Elsewhere in the WCC, San Francisco’s hot start to the season dissipated a bit as it lost at home to Utah State.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky Conference, this was Montana coach Bobby Hauck’s favorite team. There are lots of reasons for that.

Seahawks: We have our thoughts above on the Hawks’ win. Dave Boling had his in the S-R this morning. His are smarter. … The rest of the stories kind of revolve around Geno Smith, which is appropriate, sure, as quarterbacks are always the story. But the defensive issues seemed pretty darn crucial. As does the recent regression with the running game. … Bobby Wagner played well. … There are always grades and takeaways. … Injuries as well.

Mariners: Baseball’s Winter Meeting are this week. Will the M’s be active or have they pretty much reached their limit in that regard? We think the latter but are hoping for just enough of the former to stay interested.

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• More snow? Great. By the way, watched a classic movie last night. More precisely, an old one. City Slickers. Mainly because we were hoping to catch a glimpse of our dad, who was in the playing-crowd-extras-in Hollywood-movies phase of his life in 1991. We saw his arm and the back of his head, though you have to find the extended version to see his face. Still, it was good to see him. Until later …

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