Jim Moore: The turd in the Husky punch bowl

TO SAY JIM MOORE IS an iconoclast is like calling Jerome Harrison a decent running back. The witty "Go 2 Guy" for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer takes the game to a whole new level. As columnists go, he lets the other guys salute Olympic heroes, dissect the virtues of the pick-and-roll and talk up Mike Holmgren's redemption. He also does something unheard of in a city with a long tradition of sports scribes serving as unflinching homers for the Huskies: He pees on the Dawgs early and often.

Consider the following from one of his January missives:

Pick the one that doesn't belong -- filet mignon, lobster, caviar, Spam. Easy, right? Now this -- USC, Michigan, Cal, Washington. One of the most highly recruited offensive linemen in the country, Bellevue's Stephen Schilling, has narrowed his list of choices to these schools. The Go 2 Guy is astounded for two reasons -- that Schilling long ago eliminated Washington State, and that he still has canned meat in his Final Four.
The hate mail on that one dwarfed anything else Moore has written since the Go 2 Guy became a fixture 3 1/2 years ago.

"I interviewed Schilling at a Starbucks and played it straight but later thought, ‘Why in the world would he have Washington in his final four when the other schools are such clearly better choices?' I took more heat for that column than you can imagine."

THE FILE ON
Jim Moore
HOMETOWN:
Redmond, Wash. (Redmond High '74)

STATURE:
6-1, 225

PREP CAREER:
Pulled down a 3.6 GPA while lettering in baseball and basketball and perfecting his slice on the deep bench of the golf team. Aspired to be a veterinarian, sports writer or teacher/coach.

WSU ACADEMIC CAREER:
Graduated in 1978. Majored in communications and kept up the solid grades until his junior year. "Fall semester I got a 1.8 and flunked advanced reporting. Talk about embarrassing," he says. "Oh, and I should probably mention that my unrivaled work ethic got me fired from my $10-a-week job with the Daily Evergreen."

WSU ATHLETIC CAREER:
"I tried out for the baseball team as a catcher. I'm at practice one day in all my gear with all the other catchers and Bobo Brayton walks over and says, ‘I posted a cut list yesterday. Some of you guys might want to go in there and take a look at it'."

PRO CAREER:
Broke in with the Ketchikan Daily News and then moved to the Anchorage Daily News before settling at the Seattle P-I in 1983.

FAVORITE COUGAR MOMENT:
The 41-35 victory over Washington at Husky Stadium in 1997 to secure WSU's first Rose Bowl berth in 67 years. "Being on the field afterward -- I was in disbelief -- we were going to the Rose Bowl after all those years of struggling. My friends and I had dreamed of getting there once in our lifetime and now it was happening. That was magical."

FAST FACT:
Has a very patient wife, Kathie, and three kids -- a daughter, 14, and twin boys, age 2.

A proud graduate of WSU's Edward R. Murrow School of Communication, Moore makes no secret about his allegiances --- or the fact he's no Ed Murrow.

He writes where the proverbial wind blows his keyboard. The Westminster Dog Show. The curious career of Bobby Ayala. Amber the Seahawks cheerleader.

The most touching column he ever did was an obituary about his beloved dog Murphy -– but written in the voice of the dog.

There's a certain David Letterman quirkiness about Mr. Moore.

His following among the crimson faithful borders on idolatry. Among the Montlake types, who make up a gigantic share of his paper's readership, he is an agitator so entertaining in his barbs that they can't help but peek to see what he has to say next.

Not that he focuses exclusively on Cougars and Huskies.

At spring training, while others ponder Jamie Moyer's age or Gil Meche's two-seam fastball, Jim brings us to the recesses of Carl Everett's head, where lurks a jumble of weird ideas on everything from dinosaurs (they never existed) to Tiger Woods (he's no athlete).

With the meltdown of the Sonics complete, Jim turns our basketball attention to the types of intrigue you just won't find in a Steve Kelley column – namely, the thinking that compelled Masha Lopatova to give her husband, Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, permission to be unfaithful one night per year.

Jim is the proverbial Everyman with a press pass and a laptop

When he goes to the Super Bowl, forget the perfunctory analysis of the competing quarterbacks. Jim writes about the parties with scantily-clad models. Of course, with the Cougs never far from mind, he also managed to break the news that All-World Steelers safety Troy Polamalu came within an eyelash of playing his college ball at WSU.

But enough of all that.

Jim Moore is best when he's speaking for himself. Without further ado ...

Q. So what's the earliest hour you've cracked open a Bud?

A. Between 6:15 and 6:30 (in the morning). That's pretty much one day every year. Down in Bend at the Pacific Amateur Golf Tournament we have one or two before the first tee.

Q. Any thoughts as to why Ty Willingham only refers to Ty Willingham in the third person?

A. Willingham doesn't refer to himself in the third person all the time, just enough to be annoying. Why he does it, I have no idea, but it amuses me every time he does.

Q. Have you ever seen Barbara Hedges and Dick Cheney in the same room at the same time?

A. Haven't seen them in the same room at the same time, which apparently is good news for Hedges.

Q. As a child, did you aspire to write for a big city newspaper and become the quintessential turd in the punch bowl for fans of the local college team?

A. Hard to believe, but I grew up a Husky fan. I went to games with my mom for several years -- sat in section 7. I loved Sonny Sixkiller. That all changed when I began thinking -– clearly -- for myself.

Q. The 1975 Apple Cup (in which the Cougs blew a 27-14 lead with two minutes left) was once voted by a panel of WSU fans as the most excruciating loss of the modern era. Were you there?

A. That was my sophomore year at WSU. I remember leaving Husky Stadium drenched and was supposed to go to my girlfriend's sister's wedding that night. I was too depressed to go and didn't even call her, just went to bed. She called the next morning wondering what happened and I remember saying, "Did you hear about the Cougs?" She didn't understand how an outcome like that could be so damn devastating and broke up with me on the spot. So I lost one of my first girlfriends because John Hopkins convinced Jim Sweeney to try that fateful pass when a run would have sealed it.

Q. Let's stick with the sadist theme for a moment. What was more painful: The final two seconds of the 1998 Rose Bowl; Kegel's "backward pass" in the 2002 Apple Cup; or Dunning's missed field goal try in OT at Notre Dame?

A. Far and away, Kegel's backward pass. I wasn't disturbed by the ending as much as my perception of Kegel. I know it was a tough spot for him to be thrown into the game in the last quarter, but I wanted him to seize the moment. He was a fourth-year junior, not a freshman. I think I wrote a scathing column about his play, then retracted the whole thing because I felt bad for coming down so hard on a college kid and fellow Coug.

Q. What's the nicest thing a Husky fan has said to you?

A. I really haven't had a single nice thing said to me by Husky fan. I think people know I enjoy seeing the Huskies struggle and just take it for what it is.

Q. Clock's ticking, no timeouts left, 15 yards from paydirt. Of all the great Cougar QBs over the years, who would you want at the helm?

A. Though he wasn't nearly as talented as so many other Cougar greats, Jason Gesser hands down. The kid just had it -- a winner all the way. Similarly talented QBs without his intangibles have floundered, but he just had that indefinable it. Loved that kid. I've got him on my laptop screensaver after he limped around and beat UCLA so we could go to the Rose Bowl again. Makes me happy just thinking about it.

Q. Let's do a little word association. Say the first thing that comes into your mind. Here we go --- Dick Baird ...

A. Traitor. Can I have more words than one?

Q. Rick Neuheisel ...

A. Shifty.

Q. Jim Sweeney ...

A. '75 Apple Cup.

Q. Jeff Cirillo ...

A. Misunderstood.

Q. Speaking of Cirillo, why the fascination with him?

A. Actually, I haven't written about him since spring training last year. At first I found him irritating because he blamed Lou Piniella, Safeco Field and everything under the sun for his own batting struggles. I took him to task for that, then he called and turned out to be pretty cool. We made a bet that he wouldn't hit .280 in the 2003 season. He put up $20,000 and I think I countered with $500. He fell way short but honored his bet, donating $10,000 to Alpine Animal Hospital in Issaquah (a stone's throw from Joker's Pub) and $10,000 to the Kitsap Humane Society.

Q. Who do you consider the bigger boor, Bret Boone or Jerramy Stevens?

A. Boone is the biggest boor by a longshot. Stevens hasn't gotten into any trouble for quite some time, whereas Boone has been said to be a repeated boor at golf courses. I think he has played us for a fool for a long time, but in the end he strikes me as being a phony. He always liked to refer to himself as "The Boone." "The Buffoon" is more like it.

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