Each Thursday, Art Thiel checks out the weekend sports scene 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.
UW basketball — Huskies at Texas A & M 1:30p.m. (ESPN2): If you are a Seattle person, you have every right to be mystified by this non-conference opponent. The university is not a member of the more familiar Pac-10 Conference, and because it is also the home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library (insert standard joke about one or no books), it could not be more foreign to the typical Seattle sensibility than if it were made of chocolate chipotle. But at 49,000 students, it is the nation’s seventh-largest university on a campus of 5,200 acres (think Rhode Island), so podunk it is not.
Nevertheless, eight of out 10 Northwest sports fans could not tell you that A&M stands for Agricultural and Mechanical, which were really important at the university’s founding in 1876, back when the Americans grew things and made things instead of staring into their phones without speaking.
Even though A&M is no longer meaningful to the school’s agenda, tradition keeps the name in place, much in the way the Big 10 Conference has 11 members going on 12. Colleges are often surprisingly stupid.
The school’s athletic nickname is the Aggies, a diminutive of Agricultural, which is not important except that it is among the worst nicknames in sports. So should the Huskies lose, you say, “Saggies?” When corrected, you say, “No. I meant your gut/chest/breasts,” then tell them all the swell stuff you now know about the school. Yee. Hah.
Seahawks football — at San Francisco 49ers, 1:05 p.m. Channel 13: At 6-6, the Seahawks are tied for the division lead of the NFC West, the same division where the 49ers are 4-8. Yet the oddsmakers have made the 49ers, who have lost their best player, Frank Gore, for the year, and have a quarterback, Alex Smith, who played so poorly against Seattle in the season opener that he had to register as toxic substance with the Center for Disease Control, a four-point favorite.
You say, “Does this mean the Seahawks are the weakest leaders since Neville Chamberlain, ABBA and Bud Selig?” Drinks will be bought for you cross-culturally.