Art Thiel offers fuel to start, or douse, 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.
NFL playoffs: Seahawks vs. Bears in Chicago, 10 a.m., (Fox, Ch. 13) — For the fourth time in 18 days (starting with the University of Washington’s win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl), a local football team gets the opportunity to astound the gridiron world. After two upsets of favored teams at home, the Seahawks take on the road their inexplicable act, which has so delighted the community that delirium has set in.
In his weekly press conference, someone actually asked head coach Pete Carroll whether over-confidence was a concern. Carroll nearly swallowed his own head.
“Oh man, no,” he said, laughing. “Have you watched our season? The last thing were going to be is over-confident. We need to be right and fundamentally sound and right on our game precisely. I dont think (over-confidence) going to happen.”
The Seahawks are indeed just three weeks beyond losing 38-15 to Tampa Bay, a team that did not make the playoffs. While it is a great point of team and civic pride to have rallied to such a crescendo, there are certain immutable laws of physics that come together to thwart the most valiant of efforts. Otherwise Dino Rossi would have been elected to something and Danny DeVito would always get the girl.
So to your friends giddy with anticipation, you say, “Road teams in the playoffs win 20 percent of the time, and the Seahawks have more advantage at home than any team in the NFL. Sunday, they will shiver like an indoor cat left out all night.”
Then quickly pick up your things, duck your head and zip through the door. Take public transportation, because you don’t want to be the next person to start your car.
College basketball: Thursday, Washington (4-0, 12-3) at Stanford (2-1, 9-5), 7 p.m. (no TV); Sunday, Washington at California (1-2,8-7), 7 p.m. (FSN) — At 4-0 and off to their best start in conference play since 1984, the 17th-ranked Huskies go to the Bay Area with a grim outlook because of a police investigation into an allegation of rape against a member of the team. The player’s identity remains publicly undisclosed, but the team and coaches have known of the incident since early Sunday.
Neither university nor prosecutors can take any action until the police make an arrest or drop the investigation, so the team must attempt to play normally knowing that one among them either did a terrible thing or has been misidentified or set up.
All of which adds up to the worst distraction coach Lorenzo Romar has faced in his tenure at UW. A filing of charges would have a devastating impact all involved, but would be a trifle compared to the grief of the 16-year-old girl if her allegations are true.
When the inevitable is brought up, raise a palm and say, “Talk to the hand. Take any sweeping generalizations about college sports, young men and young women out with the trash until all of us know the truth. And if truth takes a long time to find, who’s in that big a hurry here?”
“Water Cooler Cool” is published every Thursday as part of Sportspress Northwests package of home-page features collectively titled, The Rotation.
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