BY Art Thiel 11:47PM 12/29/2010

Water Cooler Cool, Dec. 30

Sportspress Northwest columnist Art Thiel weighs in on the weekend sports scene in order to provide the casual fan with plenty of ammunition to start a conversational conflagration

Each Thursday, Art Thiel checks out the weekend sports scene locally and offers more casual sports fans some observations that can get them in and out of conversations without anyone catching on to your, ahem, casualness.

Whether at the water cooler, bus, lunchroom,  frat kegger or cocktail party, you can drop in a riposte, bon mot or bit o’ wit to start a conversational conflagration, or put one out.  Then walk away.


College football: Holiday Bowl in San Diego, Washington (6-6) vs. Nebraska (9-3), 7 p.m. (ESPN) — Washington fans are so excited about this event there is an epidemic of sprained tails. Nebraska fans are so disappointed that many would rather stay in a Midwest snowstorm than to come to rain-drenched San Diego.

Through the Byzantine world of college-football politics too arcane to explain here, the powers dictated that these teams play again this season despite the fact that the Cornhuskers (yes, that’s the nickname because “Metropolitans” somehow didn’t seem to fit) beat Washington 56-21 on Sept. 18. The game was so one-sided it developed a limp. Washington has zero chance to win the rematch, and Nebraska has zero incentive to play what it views as a consolation opponent from a Hobbit conference (in the same bowl a year ago, they beat Pac-10 entry Arizona 33-0). Nevertheless, the game is set to happen despite national boredom so powerful it can bend light waves.

You can console your Dawg-loving significant other after the inevitable thrashing by saying that you know the teams will be playing AGAIN next September: “I’m sure it will be all right the third time, honey, once they get rid of Jake Locker.”


College basketball: Washington (9-3) at UCLA, (9-4) 1 p.m. (FSN) –  The UCLA starting lineup includes these first names: Tyler, Reeves, Malcolm and Lazeric. The university with West Coast’s most prestigious collegiate basketball reputation is now in the hands of guys who sound like they were first-round losers on Food Channel’s “Iron Chef.” You impress those who know the UCLA tradition by saying in a wistful tone, “Whatever happened to Lew and Bill? And for that matter, what happened to short shorts? Hey, I’m even starting to miss corn rows.”

The fifth member of UCLA starting lineup is the blandly named Josh Smith. But the cool thing is that this Kentwood High School grad was probably the best high school player in Washington last year. He lost 30 pounds, grew to 6-foot-10 and now averages 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds as a freshman starter. So when the Bruins beat Washington by 10 or 15 points, you  say, “Right under your nose at Kentwood, Romar. Right under your nose.”


NFL football: St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (6-9) 5:20 p.m. (NBC) — This game was deemed so important that with a week’s notice, the start was moved from 1 p.m. to 5:20 and from Fox to NBC to accommodate its featured, prime-time TV slot. The best explanation is that the match-up has a NASCAR-like appeal in that many people tune in to watch for things flying upside down and backward at high speed.

The Rams actually are the hotter team, having won a game recently. The Seahawks are not hot, having lost seven of their last nine games and forced, because of injury, to play their backup quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst. He appears as ready for the job as Donkey is to play Shrek.

Nevertheless, both teams are in the NFC West, where up is down and yesterday is tomorrow. The division championship is at stake, the winner hosting a playoff game next weekend. The Seahawks could win simply because the odds are so preposterously against them.

In that event, say to those in your company who are gesticulating wildly and spilling beer: “If bad football is so exciting, why does anyone care about good football? Mozart and Shakespeare could never get away with that. Why should Pete Carroll?”

There is no comeback. Go fetch the mop with a smile.


  • Gc Rolander

    Art, you are the prototypical downer Seattle sports fan. I’m glad you’ve been banished to this dark corner of the internet.

    • spudzDP

      I think you meant “typical” rather than “prototypical,” which implies that Art is the prototype of the “downer Seattle sports fan.”  I am sure there were downer Seattle sports fans before Mr. Thiel.  Now go back to your brightly lighted corner of the internet, and leave us alone here in the darkness.

  • spudzDP

    Oh Husky fans, why do you need constant ass kissing.  Why does Art have to praise the Udub’s football program to the heavens in order to satisfy your Taliban like fanaticism?  I mean this team has sucked for quite a while now, and last year they finally made it to average.  So what?  
    This reminds of the time Oregon kicked the Dawg’s ass in Husky Stadium a few years ago, and a reporter asked one of Ducks how it felt to beat the Huskies on the Huskies’ home field, and the player (can’t remember who) said something nonchalant, like,”We try to play as good away as we do at our place.”  The reporter appeared a bit taken back with the player’s lack of excitement after beating their “arch rival” and all.  But the truth was that the rivalry between the two teams had become a one sided affair.  That train had left the station several years ago. The Ducks real rivals were now USC or Stanford or even the Beavers – anyone but Washington (well – and WSU.)  
    Oh Husky Fans, why does your arrogance linger so?

  • Btickle27

    Uhmmm… I don’t know what delusional world you live in duckie, but enjoy it while you can.  This past decade that you’ve enjoyed without a lot of success bowl wise is laughable even with daddy Phil’s money.  You can’t buy tradition or respect, which the ducks have none.  You’re more known for your outrageous uniforms and now Willie Lyles than your play on the field.   Oh, Duck Fans, why do your delusions of grandeur linger so?

  • Sales

    No arrogance here Spudz, simply a strong fan following who watched a string of crappy coaches run (what was) arguably the dominant program in the Pac10/12 into the ground… sooo should we not want to bounce back or be excited about what appears to be th beggining of that bounceback? should we not want to get back to stomping a mudhole in the ducks year after year? I think not, to the best of my knowledge the ducks have a losing record against the huskies… so perhaps, just maybe you should stop worrying about what we’re doing and excitd about up here in Seattle, and focus moreso on keeping your players out of jail, off suspension or just getting straight booted off your squad… oh ya, arogance comes in many forms, just like the 213 different uniforms you have, half of which don’t even rep your schools colors. must be fun to play dress up, unless your uni’s have fake diamond plating and robofeathers on them that is.

  • spudzDP

    I hate to burst your bubble, but I am not a Duck nor am I a Duck fan.  I am an objective Husky supporter who has been following them for several years.  What I trying to say wass that many Husky Nation folks cannot stand any honest criticism of their program.   They believe this is disloyal.  They act like an army of Tyrone Willinghams – frozen paranoid and unable to break free from their rigid routine.
    You see, I was just using an interview with a Duck player to make the point that many Husky fans were so full of themselves that they believed the old rivalry between the Huskies and the Ducks was still going strong.  You guys read this and just saw the word “Duck.”  Your reptilian brain took over and you turned into a little Tyrone —  yapping like a pissed off little pug.  Come on, now.  Calm down.  Who’s a good dawg?  Whooo’s a good dawg?  That’s right.  Yooouuuu are — feel better?

  • spudzDP

    See reply to Btickle27