Tuesday, February 27, 2024

THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: A weekend in sports that just makes you go hmmm ...

| November 28, 2023 1:15 AM

It feels like forever since we’ve had a chat.

Yep, I realize that calendars have not changed, and the time between Friday and Tuesday remains the same.

It’s just that so many things happened right before Thanksgiving, on the holiday itself (while I was in a turkey coma) and in the few days since, it just feels like a long time since we’ve hung out.

There was also my birthday on Saturday, and EMTs had to be called when I tried to blow out all those candles.

You surely know the main sports news that’s come and gone in the past several days, so I’ve decided to share some opinions on some various topics.

Just for the hell of it, OK?

HMMM: Football and basketball polls are meaningless.

Just in case you had any doubt, Washington’s absurdly lucky win in the Apple Cup moved UW up to No. 3 in both the AP and the coaches polls this week.

(Yes, I’m still stunned and furious over that roughing-the-passer call against Ron Stone, Jr. Can’t believe I’m quoting goofball Terry Bradshaw, but he did once say: “Why don’t they dress up quarterbacks like ballet dancers?”)

Anyhow, back to the rankings.

Oregon is now No. 6.

Apparently the oddsmakers in Vegas didn’t get the memo about these two teams’ position in the polls.

The Ducks are a 10-point favorite in the Pac-12 title game.

HMMM: Speaking of the Apple Cup, all those pundits and podcasters who have been weeping over Wazzu’s last-ever Pac-12 game might want to hang on a second.

The Cougs and Oregon State almost certainly will play a season or two as independents — they have schedules basically locked down already — but after that, it’s a cinch that they’ll merge with all (or some) members of the Mountain West.

The thing is, though, the so-called Pac-2 are heavy favorites to win their legal battle against the Fleeing-10, and thus would control the decision-making of the Pac-12, no matter how many schools are left.

The NCAA allows you to keep a conference intact for two years, in order to rebuild in cases like this.

In other words, the Mountain West teams who merge with Oregon State and WSU will play under the banner of the Pac-12.

The down side for the current Pac-2 is obvious, however.

Beavers coach Jonathan Smith probably wouldn’t have scuttled off to Michigan State if the original Pac-12 had stayed intact.

Smith grasps what will become obvious: The Pac-2 ultimately will see revenues and budgets drop closer to the level of present Mountain West schools — no matter what their new conference is called.

So, so unfair.

HMMM: While you’re waiting for the Mariners to make that HUGE move to juice the lineup, Andy McCullough of The Athletic has weighed in with a suggestion.

Andy thinks Tommy Pham would be the answer to many of Seattle’s problems.


I wonder if he could match Geno Suarez’s 96 RBIs and undeniable club leadership.

Normally, I think McCullough is a fairly intelligent baseball guy, but Tommy Pham (outfielder/DH with seven clubs so far) is a spare part you bring along when you have everything else in place.


Pham has been a decent pro, but he’s just about to turn 36, and if he’s the key piece of the Mariners’ acquisition strategy this off season, incensed fans (or players) might set fire to T-Mobile Park.

Pham has played 10 seasons in the majors and managed a career WAR of 17.9 — and since I’m a math wizard, that works out to roughly 1.8 per year.

He’s averaged .259 and hit 13 home runs per year, with a bit more sock against left-handers.

In other words, he’s AJ Pollock.


HMMM: Pete Carroll and Geno Smith both used the same phase when doing post mortems of the Seahawks’ 31-13 pounding by the 49ers.

Each said: “We’ve got to clean it up.”

I’m honestly not sure what they intend to clean up, unless they’re talking about the roster.

Look, this cruel truth almost surely will be proven again and again over the next three games (Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia), but the Hawks do not have talent at the line of scrimmage to slug it out with the NFL’s elite teams.

Until they can beef up, they’ll remain in the league’s second tier — sometimes good enough for a wild card playoff spot, but never likely to make a deep run.

I’ve told you a story once before about taking a train trip with the legendary John Madden, but it’s worth repeating under the circumstances.

We were sitting in the lounge car, drawing up plays and formations on cocktail napkins — when Madden made a classic observation.

“You know, it doesn’t matter what clever play you’re scribbling,” John said.

“If they snap the ball, and my Xs knock all your Os on their ass, that play has no chance.”

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press four times each week, normally Tuesday through Friday unless, you know, stuff happens.

Steve suggests you take his opinions in the spirit of a Jimmy Buffett song: “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On.”