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Archive for April 2007

This Monday is not mine

MONDAY MORNING NEWS

This may be all I’m posting today, as I’m off to do my civic duty – think a really bad Pauley Shore movie, though, is there any other kind?

Anyhow, I have to be across the river soon, so here’s a couple of links to get you through the morning:

• The NFL draft is over. WSU’s Jason Hill was picked Saturday, and a couple more local collegiate athletes were chosen Sunday. Jim Meehan has this story on the Cougars’ Eric Frampton and Whitworth’s Michael Allan. For you Seahawk fans, here is the News Tribune’s draft story and Art Thiel’s column. The Hawks also traded Darrell Jackson to the 49ers, with Dave Boling’s column here.

• The Mariners took two-of-three from Kansas City, with Sunday’s win coming mainly due to the pitching of Cha Seung Baek. Here is the Time’s story on the game. It look’s like Baek has answered our Mariner question from Sunday morning concerning who should replace Jeff Weaver in the rotation. And we don’t mean Roger Clemens (sorry Joey).

• The Lakeside High baseball team is ranked No. 1 in the state of Washington’s 1A classification, and Mike Vlahovich has a look at the Eagles’ undefeated season.

That’s it for now. If you have any questions or requests, feel free to leave them here. I’ll get to them when I can.

A couple Eagles fly during scrimmage

COLLEGES

The Eastern Eagles have another week left of spring football, but, as Dave Trimmer writes, a couple of players have really caught the coaching staff’s attention.

The Eagles will practice this week, then end the spring with the annual spring game next Saturday.

• Washington’s spring practice is over, and despite Carl Bonnell playing well, the quarterback had no chance to move redshirt freshman Jake Locker from the starting role.

• June Daugherty is settling in for the long haul in Pullman as this Glenn Kasses’ story shows.

• So is SID Rod Commons, if you stretch the definition of new to cover the past 30 years. Commons was recently elected to the SID Hall of Fame.

• The Gonzaga Bulldogs’ Clayton Mortensen shut out USF on Saturday, giving the Zags a chance to win the series with a victory today. … Records fell like javelins at the Duane Hartman Invitational at SFCC. … Idaho picked up another basketball signee. For more on the restocking going on in Moscow, check Jim Meehan’s blog. … PLU won the Northwest Conference baseball title, the schools first baseball crown in any league since 1954.

Weaver must have pitched his way out of the rotation

MARINERS

If Jeff Weaver makes his next scheduled start, I’ll be shocked. Shocked I tell you. After watching Saturday night’s first inning, wow.

Weaver was so hittable, I was sure he was tipping his pitches. You know, doing something different so the hitters knew when a breaking ball was coming. But, after a quick perusal, I couldn’t see anything, so I had to surmise he was just throwing B.P. And how about Emil Brown, the only guy Weaver got out? Is he headed to the minors today, or what?

Anyhow, this has to be why the M’s kept Brandon Morrow on the roster in the first place, doesn’t it? To take Weaver’s spot in the rotation? Well now’s the time.

They can’t throw Gil Meche in the breach, as he’s now the Royals’ No. 1 guy. Even though he’s got a winning record, his outing last night was so Meche. Given a big lead, he went through spells where he walked guys, fell behind others and yet his great stuff still pulled him through. It’s that stuff that made us fall in love with his potential and enticed the Royals to spend millions. But if he doesn’t get command some day, he’ll never reach the level he should have.

• The M’s finish the three-game series with the Royals today (1:05; FSN; 920-AM) with Cha Seung Baek (0-0, 8.31) facing Brian Bannister (0-0, 6.23).

Today’s hot list …

• Weaver’s “outstanding” outing was the lead of every game story, starting with the Times and including the News Tribune (with my favorite understated quote of the year from Hargrove: “Tonight was not a good outing for him.” You think?) and the Herald. From Kansas City, here is the story from the Star.

• As I said the last few days, Hargrove is managing the bullpen as if his job depends on winning every game (and, of course, something close to that is true). But it is wearing down the arms out there.

• I mentioned after Friday’s game the trainers visited J.J. Putz during his five-out save stint. Turns out, he wasn’t hurt. He was just angry.

• Larry Stone relates how the “hot seat” comment reminds him of some moves in the M’s past.

• Everett baseball beat writer Kirby Arnold is preaching patience with this Mariner team. Two things I noticed listening to fans at the park the other night: They were patient over the past three years; and that patience has run out. The booing of Weaver last night is just an outgrowth of that.

• With you M’s fans rooting a couple of products of the Japanese major leagues, this story about what the defections mean to the league might hold some interest.

• And our question of the day …

• Is Morrow the right choice to replace Weaver in the rotation? Or is there someone else you think might be better?

Weaver’s first inning was an ERA-buster

NEWS

Just a couple of things. The Shock are ahead of Stockton 37-34 at the end of three.

And Jeff Weaver faced nine batters, got one out and six scored (only because Sean White came in and doused the flames), in the first inning. The M’s are losing 8-3 to Gil Meche and the Royals. And, yes, the Safeco fans were booing Weaver as he left. Though, in reality they weren’t booing him as much as they were booing Bill Bavasi for signing him.

Winning streak lifts M’s back to .500

MARINERS

Four in a row. After six in a row in the loss column, the four consecutive wins brings the M’s back to .500 at 9-9. It’s not pennant-winning stuff but it’s a step in the right direction.

And, as Jack just said, it was nice to see a win.

A win built on effective starting pitching from Horacio Ramirez, some timely pop from Jose Lopez and Kenji Johjima and another five-out save from J.J. Putz.

The 7-4 final exposed one of the M’s weaknesses right now though. The lack of effective middle relief is galling. Tonight it was Chris Reitsma who, when handed a 5-1 lead to protect, gave up a three-run dinger to pinch-hitter Ross Gload in the eighth. That was proceeded by a walk to Alex Gordon, a rookie hitting a buck-and-a-half.

So Putz had to come in during the eighth for the second consecutive night. During the ninth, when he was protecting the final score, Putz had to be visited by trainer Rick Griffin and pitching coach Rafael Chavez. But Putz was OK, finishing the game with 4-6-3 double play.

He better be OK, because Mike Hargrove is using him like Hargrove thinks Putz is either Mariano Rivera or it’s the last week of the season. Either way, if Putz has to pitch like this for long, his arm won’t last the year.

Well that’s it from Seattle other than to report we were bombarded by mayo and relish from the upper deck midway through the eighth inning. The rude fans sitting in the 200 level ruined Jack’s new M’s hat, stained his jacket and nailed the woman behind us.

They were ejected, I think, but not before making the trip a little less enjoyable. And that’s too bad.

Off to Seattle

MARINERS

After Jack and I get to Seattle this afternoon, I’ll check in with news and notes. For example, did you know I was in third place in my Rotisserie league? Now that’s news you can use.

Actually, I’ll post before heading over to Safeco and after the game. If I see anything new about the park, I’ll pass it on. We’ll talk then.

While your waiting, read this SI piece about the chances of Ichiro staying in Seattle. It will bum you out.

Elisara to put shot then put in time on d-line

COLLEGES

Former Ferris standout Cameron Elisara is battling this spring for a job on the defensive line at the University of Washington as a redshirt freshman.

But the former state shot put champion already has earned a spot in the NCAA West Regional in track, thanks a to 55-foot, 2-inch throw earlier this season.

His double duty this weekend (he’ll be competing in a track meet tonight) is part of this Bob Condotta story on the Huskies spring-ending scrimmage tomorrow.

• Fans going to the scrimmage will be able to view new murals designed to highlight UW’s athletic history.

• Senior Joe DiPietro is trying to pitch Pacific Lutheran to its first conference title since 1954.

Daugherty is buying what Bennett was selling

COUGARS, VANDALS

The newest Cougar basketball coach is moving into a house with a history. A short history, but one with roots.

New women’s basketball coach June Daugherty is buying Dick Bennett’s house in Pullman. A solid house, with a deep Midwestern foundation, we presume.

Now Cougar fans are hoping she can bring the same values, and the same success in building a program, that Bennett brought to the men’s team.

••••••••••

• Robb Akey wants just one thing in tonight’s Silver and Gold Game, ending spring football at the University of Idaho. He wants balance. The first-year head coach wants a balance between the offense, which dominated one scrimmage, and the defense, which did the same in the other.

Jim Meehan shares Akey’s thoughts in the story linked above and on his blog.

• The Vandal women moved into the Western Athletic Conference tennis semifinals, while WSU golfer Amy Eneroth was a second-team All-Pac-10 pick. Both are covered in this roundup.

Idaho goes 2-1 Wednesday

COLLEGE SPORTS

The revolving door that is Idaho basketball spun a little more yesterday, with two players coming in – including former Cougar Mac Hopson – and one leaving – David Jackson. Jim Meehan had the news on his blog and in this story.

• The Idaho women’s golf team, led by Renee Skidmore, won the WAC title and an automatic berth in the NCAA regional.

• The Pac-10 golf championships finished Wednesday.

• Former UI player and Vandal and WSU coach Kasey Dunn has been promoted already at Baylor to assistant head coach.

• Jim Moore’s column in the P-I is on Carl Bonnell, who lost UW’s No. 1 quarterback job despite beating the Cougars in the Apple Cup.

• Vancouver’s Nick Daschel has the right attitude about spring football.

• The Pac-10 Conference has released its football prospectus.

• Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News blames all the college basketball coaching changes on Gonzaga. Yah, right. And Andy Katz is going to write that other coaches don’t understand why they can’t get people to play them home-and-home like Gonzaga does. Oh, he did. Sorry.

Washburn won’t let A’s or Hargrove take him out

MARINERS

NOTE: This is the only post we are going to put up for a while today, because of we want you to be able to easily access the NFL draft and the Rodney Stuckey posts below. We’ll add other posts later this morning.

Did you watch the game last night? Was that the best non-Felix pitching performance of the year for the M’s? Was that that worse call you’ve ever seen by an umpire at first base to end a game? For me, the answer to all those questions is yes.

Last night’s 2-0 Jarrod Washburn complete-game win over the A’s went by so quick it was easy to miss something. Even the between-inning breaks seemed to be fast, meaning faster than normal kitchen and bathroom runs.

Washburn was in complete command, throwing first-pitch strikes to most hitters, throwing his breaking ball off the plate when he wanted and for strikes when he needed, and spotting his 88-mph fastball on both sides of the plate.

With pitching like that, even the Mariners’ usual anemic offense against Joe Blanton – two solo home runs – was enough.

And Eric Chavez’s last ground ball? After running the slow motion replay through the DVR in slow motion, it was “easy” to see he was safe by a half a step. You know how your Little League coach always told you to never worry about umpire’s calls because, over time, they all even out? And how, since you were 10, you’ve never felt your team has gotten the benefit of even one missed call? Well, if you are a Mariner fan, you got one last night. Maybe that coach was right.

Today’s hot list …

• Washburn’s shutout was the focus of today’s game stories, starting with the News Tribune, the P-I and the Times. The A’s perspective can be found in the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle (a great game story by John Shea I might add).

• The re-scheduling of the Cleveland series has yet to work out. This Times’ story explains why. And this P-I story explains why the M’s are playing so many two-game series right now.

• Horacio Ramirez does bullpen work without a baseball. It’s called dry-work and the idea is to work on his pitching mechanics. It’s also good for the confidence, because no one, not even Barry Bonds, can hit an imaginary baseball out of the ballpark.

• If Ichiro leaves at the end of the season as a free agent, who will replace him on top of the lineup in 2008?

• Larry Dobrow of CBS Sportsline writes the M’s are no longer the dumbest franchise in baseball; the Phillies are. Yeah.

• And our question of the day …

• Other than Don Dekinger’s call that cost the Cardinals the 1985 World Series, can you remember a worse call at first base than last night’s?

Just what is it with the draft?

NFL

I don’t get it. What am I missing?

All I hear all day long on ESPN and sports radio is the NFL draft this, the NFL draft that.

Who is going where? Who is the best player? Why is Al Davis such an idiot?

It’s just a draft for goodness sakes. But there are stories everywhere (here’s a Seahawks’ one from the Seattle Times and a Calvin Johnson one from USA Today). There are mock drafts on every website, including one on a site called junkyardjake.com. Hell, type in 2007 mock NFL draft in Google and there are 2.8 million results. I think my aunt has one.

There is a din I can’t avoid.

So you tell me, what am I missing? Should I be covering it more here on SportsLink? Is it that important in the grand scheme of things globally and to you personally?

Let me know.

Badgers already thinking about WSU

COUGAR FOOTBALL

Two subjects to cover here.

The first is the Cougars’ opening opponent next season: The University of Wisconsin. The Badgers expect WSU to offer a stern test to their defense.

The next has to do with the draft, with Jason Hill and Mkristo Bruce listed here as hidden gems.

This season has been all wet

MARINERS

Remember that old ditty you may have sung as a child? Rain, rain, go away; come again some other day.

Well the M’s need to revise it a little. Rain, rain, go away … and don’t ever come back!

The M’s lost their sixth game (it is only April 25) to bad weather Tuesday, meaning the off days later in the season are disappearing fast and doubleheaders are inevitable.

For a team with a suspect pitching staff, that’s not the best news in the world.

Today’s hot list …

• Of course the game stories are not game stories, they are pieces on the rain outs. Here they are from the News Tribune, the P-I and the Times. There is the Texas perspective from the Dallas Morning News and the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

• Instead of focusing on the rainout (the story above is really a notebook), the Times had a feature on backup catcher Jamie Burke, who has played a lot lately.

• One of the stated goals this season for Seattle was to be more patient at the plate, to draw more walks and improve the on-base percentage. Hasn’t happened yet, according to this P-I notebook.

• The M’s are in Oakland tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM) with Jarrod Washburn (0-2, 4.42 ERA) on the mound against Mariner killer Joe Blanton (2-0, 4.13).

• Today’s question …

• If you were making up the lineup, how would you change the order to make it more productive?

Stuckey ready to announce plans

EAGLES • UPDATED 1:30 P.M.

UPDATE: Nothing on Stuckey yet, but guard Michael Taylor has decided to leave EWU. I heard rumblings about Taylor transferring weeks ago, but couldn’t get it confirmed. Tayor’s father, Tim, confirmed the news to Dave Trimmer today and Dave has the news on his blog.

••••••••••

Today seems to be the day. The day when Rodney Stuckey lets us know what he’s going to do. What his future holds. Where he will be tomorrow.

Dave Trimmer advanced Stuckey’s decision in today’s S-R. He’ll also be right on top of the news on his blog.

The smart money seems to be on Stuckey declaring for the draft but not hiring an agent. If it looks like he’ll be a first-round choice, he’ll stay in.

What do you think?

• The football team continues spring practice, and Dave has some notes about the progress on his blog.

M’s lose sixth game to bad weather

 MARINERS

Another washout.

The M’s game with Texas today was rained out and no makeup date has been set. As a matter of fact, no makeup dates have been set for the Cleveland games yet either. Wonder when that’s coming down?

Seattle moves on to Oakland for a two-game set before returning home to host the Kansas City Royals.

A different focus for budget cuts

PREPS

It seems the battle to save ninth-grade sports in the Spokane Public Schools has been won.

Now there may be one ahead to save gymnastics and golf.

According to multiple sources within the school district, administrators were surprised to discover how many high school ninth graders participate in sports (more than 80 percent at some schools). This news may have played a part in the decision to take ninth-grade sports off the budget-cutting menu.

But cuts in sports must be made because, well everyone is being hit. So an old standby was brought up again: eliminate gymnastics and golf, the sports of the supposedly well-to-do. As these sports aren’t practiced on high school campuses – gymnastics moved to clubs a few years back to save money – then they really aren’t part of the high school experience, are they? At least that’s how the arguments go.

So for the second time in two years, they are on the chopping block. Last year they staved off elimination, partially due to Title IX concerns (gymnastics in high school is a girls-only sport). But slowpitch softball has blossomed so thoroughly, those concerns have been alleviated.

There will be budget cuts in athletics, that’s certain. You can’t cut as deeply into the overall budget as the district has to do and spare athletics completely. But remember, the levies we pass are intended to fund such things. If you don’t feel you’re getting your money’s worth, or that the money is being funneled to other uses, let your elected representatives know.

•••••••••••

Speaking of representatives, the WIAA held its Rep Assembly on Monday. The Rep Assembly, made up of principals, athletic directors and the like, sets the high school organization’s rules.

Monday the assembly enacted rules concerning booster clubs and coach’s pay, forcing clubs to get school board approval before giving large monetary rewards to coaches. The changes are covered in stories in the News Tribune, the Times and the P-I.

• Mt. Spokane is still ranked second in state 3A baseball.

• Sideline Smitty looks at former state athletes who attended Virginia Tech, including former Pullman quarterback Will Furrer.

David Halberstam killed in crash

NEWS • UPDATED: 7:45 A.M.; 9:10 A.M. TUESDAY

One of the great writers of our time, David Halberstam, was tribute to Halberstam today.

• UPDATE NO. 2: ESPN is re-posting some of Halberstam’s columns, including this one from 2001 about the M’s and why no one will ever love Barry Bonds.

Morrison faces important off-season

MORRISON WATCH

With his first year in the NBA complete, expect to see Adam Morrison in Spokane soon as he prepares for probably the most important off-season of his NBA career.

Like most rookies, Morrison discovered the tough nature of the NBA – physically and mentally. This discovery process had its ups and downs, especially near the end of the season when injuries and the emergence of Walter Herrmann combined to limit Morrison’s playing time. (The picture at right shows Morrison double-teaming Washington’s Darius Songaila with Brevin Knight; AP photo.)

Morrison will spend the off-season preparing for the rigors of the NBA season, making getting stronger (see this Charlotte piece from beat writer Rick Bonnell) his top priority.

The Bobcats weren’t that far from the playoffs this season and, with a new coach on the horizon, next year could be pivotal for the team and Morrison. Charlotte has two picks in the first round, Toronto’s 22nd for sure and more than likely the eighth, though that spot could improve through the draft lottery May 22.

The emergence of Herrmann gave the Bobcats another 6-foot-9 scoring option, and he is under club option for next season. Another scorer who also played more minutes than expected this season, Matt Carroll, can become a free agent and may just do that, clearing a logjam of sorts at the three. If he doesn’t and if Gerald Wallace, another free agent, returns, the crunch for playing time might be tight.

• Will Morrison be part of it? One magazine says there have been rumors he’ll be part of a trade package, but doesn’t go into any details or actually share any credence with the rumors. So more than likely Morrison will play another year in the South. There is, however, this from Bonnell who said, “he could be gone.”

• One of the ups came early for Morrison, and Bonnell included it in his list of the Bobcats’ five most memorable games.

As M’s sink, questions arise about future

MARINERS • UPDATED 3 P.M.

Remember that off-season term, the hot seat? Well, after a three-game sweep at home by Minnesota and a three-game sweep on the road at Anaheim – with the quick hook of the 8.3 million-dollar-man Jeff Weaver to boot – Mike Hargrove (and Bill Bavasi) are officially on the hot seat – and there’s no Budweiser involved.

Going into tonight’s game with Texas (5; FSN; 920-AM), the M’s are in last place in the AL West, they have a six-game losing streak, their best pitcher is on the sidelines and the rest of the starting staff has an ERA somewhere south of terrible.

Is it time to panic yet? With the pitching staff Seattle assembled in the off-season, I would have to say yes. After all, it looks like Hargrove has.

He changed the lineup a little Sunday, playing Willie Bloomquist at second and hitting him second. He dropped Adrian Beltre down to seventh. He caught Jamie Burke, giving the hot-hitting Kenji Johjima a well-deserved day of rest. And, as he told the News Tribune, “nothing worked.”

Maybe it’s time for an evern bigger change. Though, with the pitching staff available for work this week, I’m not sure Casey Stengel could be successful. But at least the quotes would be better.

Today’s hot list …

• Hargrove’s decision to pull Weaver, who actually lowered his ERA yesterday to 13.91 when he yielded three runs in three innings, seems to be the focus of today’s game stories, starting with the Times, News Tribune and the P-I. The Angels’ end of things can be found in the LA Times and the Orange County Register.

• The P-I’s Art Thiel is usually insightful and measured. Today’s column is no exception. By paraphrasing the great thespian Yogi Berra, he makes it clear, for the M’s, it’s getting late early. And he tells us why.

• Will Hargrove last until May? John McGrath writes the manager needs to win three of the seven games prior to then if he wants to survive. And McGrath had this thought concerning the Weaver’s early hook: “The call to the bullpen in the bottom of the fourth screamed of panic, the kind of panic associated with a playoff team facing elimination.” Or a manager on the verge of elimination.

• UPDATE: The Times’ Geoff Baker is also on the “change-may-be-coming-soon” bandwagon with this blog post.

• Willie Bloomquist wants a piece of Ben Broussard’s pinch-hit grand slam Friday. According to notebook pieces in the News Tribune and the Times, Bloomquist is taking partial credit, facetiously of course, for Broussard’s success, because Bloomquist is throwing him in-game batting practice. I will refrain from making a comment about the M’s starters and the recent in-game batting practice.

• The Weaver situation was covered in this P-I sidebar with comments from Weaver.

• And our question for the day …

• How much longer should the ownership wait before pulling the plug on Hargrove and Bavasi? Or should they pull the plug at all?

Deja vu needs to be out of view

MARINERS

Being that it’s Sunday, and being that Saturday night’s game was a lot like the last four and last year and the year before that and the year before that, we’re not going to go into a lot of deep analysis.

This crud has to stop.

It’s one thing to hit the crap out of the ball when you’re down six runs, but it’s quite another to come through with a clutch two-out hit with a runner in scoring position and the game tied.

There’s been way too much of the former and not enough of the latter lately. Let’s see if it changes starting today (12:30 p.m.; FSN; 920-AM).

Today’s hot list …

• Another late rally, another loss. That seems to be the gist of the game stories from everyone, including the News Tribune and the Times. The Angels’ perspective, or as Rick Rizz would say, “the happy totals,” is covered by the LA Times and the Orange County Register.

• The tight, short swing of Richie Sexson isn’t what you call a classic home run hitter’s stroke, but it’s often effective and it’s also the subject of this Larry LaRue notebook.

• Brandon Morrow is spending his first weeks in the bigs learning how to pitch to major league hitters.

• Dave Boling thinks Mike Blowers is doing well as a first-year baseball analyst.

• Felix’s arm injury hasn’t just affected the M’s. The Tacoma Rainiers are feeling it as well.

• The Chicago Tribune’s Bob Verdi takes baseball to the woodshed over its early season scheduling.

• And our question for the day …

• Does this feel like the past three years to you?

Shock routs Lubbock to break losing streak

SHOCK

Spokane snapped its two-game losing streak in style Saturday with a 63-26 blasting of an overmatched Lubbock Renegade team.

Here’s the link to the game story.

As I said before the game, I kept on eye on the Shock defense and its tackling. As far as I could tell, there were no, none, nada, missed tackles. Which would be, if I can count, an improvement of 32 from last week.

That’s why, until a coverage mixup late in the third quarter, the longest Lubbock play was for 14 yards. In case you didn’t hear me, I said 14 yards.

And the Spokane offense exhibited more complexity than it did two weeks ago, though Andrico Hines is still seeing some receivers about two seconds too late. I counted a handful of balls which, if delivered a count or two earlier, would have resulted in long gains.

But he’s still learning, and he’s getting better. Which means the Spokane offense is improving.

The defense showed Saturday that it already has. Especially when it comes to tackling.

Three in a row isn’t what the Shock wants

SHOCK

For the first time in the franchise’s history, the Shock will be trying to avoid a three-game losing streak tonight (5; KHQ-6; 105.7-FM).

Jessica Brown covered the buildup to tonight’s contest with this preview. In there coach Adam Shackleford pointed out the Shock missed, by his count, 32 tackles last week.

Now 32 is a great number when on the back of Jim Brown or O.J., but as a number of missed tackles, it’s not good.

That’s something we will be focusing on that tonight, and we’ll let you know how Spokane is doing in that department against Lubbock.

The Renegades are 0-2 in their expansion year, having lost at Amarillo (scoring just 26 points) and at home vs. Arkansas. They are the only winless team in the Northern Conference’s Central Division.

We’ll be back later. The lights are about to go out.

Knights move closer to title

PREPS

The third consecutive Greater Spokane League soccer title is within East Valley’s sites after the Knights shut out Mead 3-0 Friday.

Or should we say the title is headed their way? After all EV scored two goals with headers and Cole Abramson has three headers for score in the last two matches.

• Pitching dominated in the GSL softball games Friday, with two no-hitters, one from Mead’s Taneesha Pounder and the other from Shadle Park’s Sam Skillingstad.

• For more on the local prep scene, check Greg Lee’s blog and Mike Vlahovich’s blog.

There’s a buzz around WSU

COUGARS

As we promised yesterday, here’s a link to Glenn Kasses’ story concerning June Daugherty’s hire. Don’ forget, you can listen to the entire press conference, dividing into segments, on this post below. And there will be more on Glenn’s blog.

Also, John Blanchette weighed in on Daugherty’s hire with this column in today’s S-R.

I usually agree with John on most things, but I disagree with some of his assessments here.

Daugherty is a tremendous recruiter, and if you are wondering, “If she’s so good, why did all the Inland Northwest’s best players get away?” I’ll tell you. There was a long-held belief – especially prevalent with former Cougar coach Harold Rhodes – that you can’t win in the Pac-10 with Washington – especially Eastern Washington – kids. You have to recruit California to be a power.

Even if Daugherty bought that – I have no idea whether she did or didn’t – at UW, it’s almost certain the athletic administration did. After all, that’s the way it’s been done for years. But the success of Emily Westerberg and Aubree Johnson has changed that – and that’s those two’s most enduring legacy to ASU and the Pac-10. When they were being recruited, however, few in the conference really knew the depth of the talent they would bring.

Now everyone knows what type of player comes from this area, including the powers-that-be around the conference.

So who is the second-best player in the Inland Northwest this year? Lewis and Clark’s Katelan Redmon. And where was she going? To UW to play for Daugherty. Along with one of the top five players in Seattle, Roosevelt’s Mackenzie Argens. Though she may have been late to the game, Daugherty adapted.

And she’ll adapt to Pullman. Kids will want to play there, because they will want to play for her. It won’t take long, and the Cougars will be moving up the Pac-10 ladder.

Will they win the conference? Probably not. Stanford, ASU, UCLA, USC have the advantage for the next five years at least. But the top half is a possibility in the same time period.

• The hire was covered on the West Side as well, with stories from the Times, the P-I and the News Tribune. If Puget Sound publicity was what athletic director Jim Sterk wanted, he got it Saturday.

Long-time Whit record falls

COLLEGE SPORTS

For 42 years, Loren McKnight’s record in the 800 meters had graced Whitworth’s track record book, challenged but never passed.

Until Brandon Howell came along. The redshirt sophomore from Clarkston High ran a 1 minute, 51.34 seconds in the college’s Sam Adams Classic to shave .14 seconds off McKnight’s record.

John Blanchette covers that and all the local college’s track news in this notebook from today’s S-R.

••••••••••

• The Gonzaga baseball team will officially dedicate the new Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field this evening starting at 5:45. The ceremony will be followed by the first of a three-game West Coast Conference series with St. Mary’s. You can find more in this roundup.

••••••••••

• Gonzaga’s Theo Davis worked out a deal in Cheney’s Municipal Court on Thursday that could result in the misdemeanor marijuana possession charge being expunged from his record.

• Idaho and Eastern Washington announced a few women’s basketball signings.

••••••••••

• The Huskies are halfway through spring football, with stories from the P-I, the Times (looking at each position that has questions) and the News Tribune

Daugherty to be officially introduced this afternoon

COUGARS

The choice of June Daugherty as the next WSU women’s basketball coach will be officially announced today in a 1:30 press conference. But the pick has been known for about 24 hours.

Glenn Kasses had the decision on his blog and the news in this story from this morning’s S-R.

The first interview Daugherty gave about her new job was to the P-I’s Jim Moore, who found out the former UW coach has jettisoned all her Husky clothing and purchased all new Cougar gear.

The Times also has this story about the hire.

Two teams battling for GSL crown

PREPS • UPDATED: 11:10 A.M.

It seems like the Greater Spokane League baseball race is going to come down to two schools: 3A Mt. Spokane and 4A University.

Those two put some space between themselves and the rest of the field Thursday when the Titans rallied to defeat Mead and the Wildcats defeated Ferris. Mt. Spokane is two games up on U-HI, with the Titans another two ahead of Mead.

In other sports’ action Thursday, the Shadle Park Highlanders, ranked 21st in the nation, won again, and the rout of Mt. Spokane is included in this roundup.

From Idaho, Jenna DeLong struck out 12 in Coeur d’Alene’s 18-1 victory over Post Falls.

• There are a couple of big invitational track meets on the West Side this weekend. UPDATE: There is also one in Kitsap County.

• Monroe’s softball team remained undefeated behind the pitching of junior Jordan Birch.

Good news on the elbow front

MARINERS

Sounds like decent news about Felix Hernandez. According to Fox Sports Northwest on the pregame show, the injury to his right elbow is minor, he won’t throw for five days and then be reexamined. But it looks like, right now, he may miss just one start.

It seems Felix did the right thing last night walking off the mound, saving himself the risk of further injury.

Vandals figuring out who is under center

VANDALS

The battle to be the starting quarterback for the University of Idaho is heating up and the front-runner might surprise you.

Find out who it is – along with more – in this Jim Meehan story. You can also find more on Jim’s blog.

• When you send in your season-ticket renewal form, and have to write that check, just be thankful you are not paying Boise State prices.

Horace Greeley had it right for this guard

BULLDOGS

There’s a junior point guard at Paterson Catholic in New Jersey named Jordan Theodore.

The 6-foot Theodore is considered the top point guard in the nation from his class. He’ll be playing all over the nation this summer, including an invitation to the highly respected Steve Nash Point Guard Academy.

And he’s got Gonzaga on his short list. So much so, he and his mother are expected to make a trip to Spokane in the fall.

For more on this player and his thoughts, check Herald News sports writer Adam Zagoria’s (now that’s an interesting name considering he’s writing about the Zags) blog post.

Felix walks off the mound

MARINERS

I don’t know if you are watching the M’s game right now, but the future just walked off the mound and into the dugout.

After having yielding two runs and getting an out in the first inning, Felix Hernandez threw a pitch and walked off the field.

No word yet about an injury or if it just hit him that he was following Jeff Weaver in the rotation. If something comes up, we’ll let you know.

You can find out more at Geoff Baker’s M’s blog.

Weaver’s questionable starts add more questions

MARINERS • UPDATED: 12:15 P.M.

We’re back.

Now on to last night’s debacle. As I was saying before I had to go, if Joe West had called that one fastball a strike … well, as my dad used to say, if frogs had wings, they wouldn’t hit their butt every time they jumped.

Which is an almost incomprehensible way to say life is what it is. He didn’t call it a strike, the next pitch hung like a horse thief and the game was over.

As is the case with every major league team, the M’s are going to be as good as their pitching, especially their starting pitching.

We don’t know if Felix is going to continue to dominate – the guess is yes, but of course he’ll have ups and downs – or if Jarrod Washburn will be more than a .500 starter – the guess is yes, but not by much – or if any of the three new starters will excel – the guess is no, but Miguel Batista and Horacio Ramirez will be serviceable, which just leaves us with the Jeff Weaver question.

Last night, again, wasn’t the right answer.

Today’s hot list …

• The game stories revolve around Weaver’s outing with this from the Herald, the Times and the P-I. There are also these two stories from the Twin Cities, one from the Star-Tribune and the other from the Pioneer-Press.

• It’s probably no surprise to find out Felix Hernandez’s idol, pitching-wise, is the Twins’ Johan Santana.

• Jose Guillen wasn’t sure he’d be ready to play when the season started. He was. And he gives the credit to the M’s trainers.

• Back when I was playing in college, we had a summer rivalry with Golden West College, a JC in Orange County that had a strong group of major-league caliber players, including Houston Astros’ coach Doug Mansolino. But the star of the team was Johnny Moses, soon to move on to the University of Arizona and the bigs, most notably with the Mariners. The fleet-footed outfielder was a great guy, quiet but accessible as we talked after our games.

Moses has coached for years in the M’s organization and elsewhere, before calling it quits last season to spend more time with his family. But he’s back, throwing batting practice and helping out in other ways.

• UPDATE: The Washington Post has an interesting story on Felix.

And now today’s question …

• If Jeff Weaver can’t cut it as the fifth starter, what should the Mariners do?

Huskies spring practice is about answering questions

PAC-10 SPORTS

The Huskies football spring practice continues, with UW trying to find answers like every team in America.

One of the biggest questions is who will play guard after both starters graduated. One guy who should start is 6-foot-6, 370-pound sophomore Morgan Rosborough, who wants to lose a little more weight before next season.

The new quarterback, Jake Locker, teamed with receiver Marcel Reese on the best play of practice Tuesday. Despite the play, News Tribune writer Don Ruiz feels quarterback Carl Bonnell was sharper than Locker.

• USC junior guard Nick Young is hiring an agent and entering the NBA draft, so he won’t be back next season.

Football goes on hiatus until August

COUGARS

You’ve had a chance to hear coach Bill Doba’s thoughts concerning the just-completed spring football practices and the upcoming fall season. Now you can read Glenn Kasses’s story about Doba’s press conference.

• Doba’s press conference was covered in detail by the Times, with the injury suffered by Lance Broadus, and the ensuing surgery, the lead from its story.

• The Cougars filled one of two open scholarship spots on the basketball team, announcing German high schooler Fabian Boeke has signed a letter of intent. The 6-foot-10 forward will be a 20-year-old freshman.

• For the best coverage on football and basketball, check Glenn’s blog.

WSU coach Doba sums up spring practice

COUGARS

As promised, here are a few sound bites from Bill Doba’s press conference today. There are a couple of ups and downs in the quality, but, if you want to know what Doba said in answer to specific questions, you can hear them here.

• On the running back situation, the head coach praised Chris Ivory and said Dwight Tardy is heading into the fall No. 1 at the position. Listen.

• Cornerback was a spot the Cougs concentrated on this spring and Doba feels strides were made. Listen.

• Doba is currently meeting with players to help them set goals for the summer and fall. Listen.

• There was play at certain positions this spring that really impressed the veteran coach. Listen.

• The Cougars have already voted on next fall’s captains, and Doba explains why he lets the players pick. Listen.

• Next season’s Apple Cup will be the week after Thanksgiving, and Doba gives his reasons why he’s not a fan. Listen.

For more don’t forget to check Glenn Kasses’ blog and to check back here in the morning for a link to Glenn’s story.

Altidor-Cespedes, Burgess leaving GU

BULLDOGS • UPDATED 1:25 P.M.

Steve Bergum has confirmed a report on FoxSports.com that Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes and David Burgess are leaving Gonzaga.

However, Fox’s Jeff Goodman, had it wrong when he reported Altidor-Cespedes would be able to play next year if he graduates this spring. Goodman reported that Altidor-Cespedes was grandfathered into the NCAA rule allowing that, a rule that was changed recently. According to GU, that’s incorrect. The rule no longer exists, and P-Mac will have to sit if he wants to play Division I hoops.

For more on the departures, check Bergum’s Gonzaga blog.

The Bulldogs had recruited more players than there were scholarships available, so the two defections are already filled.

Motivation is an art

PREPS

There were a few events Monday in the preps, a rarity partially brought about by rain over the weekend. Here is our roundup.

But Tuesday always has a few fun reads, thanks in large part to Craig Smith’s column in the Times. This week Sideline Smitty writes about great motivational moments in prep sports.

• A couple of football coaches were hired in the Tacoma area.

Idaho signs recruit; more on the way

VANDALS

There have been quite a few defections from the University of Idaho men’s basketball team recently, from an assistant coach to a trio of players.

Head coach George Pfeifer is beginning to restock the roster, though, as this Jim Meehan story relates.

The Vandals have signed a junior college recruit and expect to sign at least one more athlete and possible announce a new assistant this week.

For more, check Jim’s blog.

• The opening of the Akey Era in Moscow is the subject of this Times-News story.

Everett bows out of playoffs

WHL PLAYOFFS

There are no more U.S. Division teams alive in the WHL playoffs.

Division champion, and WHL regular-season points leader, Everett made an ignominious exit from the postseason Monday night, losing 8-2 at Prince George, dropping the series in six games.

The Tips led game five at home 3-0 in the third period and lost. That reverse momentum carried over into game six and now the U.S. Division will not be represented in the chase for the Memorial Cup.

Last pass fails and Shock falls

SHOCK

There’s a lot of talk about the Shock as the defending af2 champions. But it’s just that, talk.

Honestly, there isn’t a lot of resemblance between the 2007 Shock team and the 2006 version. The coaching staff is different and so are most of the players.

And right now so is the record. This version of the Shock dropped to 1-2 after the 63-56 loss to the expansion Fort Wayne (Ind.) Fusion on Sunday.

The Shock return to the Arena on Saturday night when they host Lubbock (5 p.m.; KHQ-6).

• Here are the game stories from the Fort Wayne Papers. The two share a website. This is the Journal Gazette story and this is the News-Sentinel piece.

Daye first team all-state in California

BULLDOGS • UPDATED: 1:15 P.M.

We’ve mentioned the exploits of recruit Austin Daye at this weekend’s adidas Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall in Louisville, so we won’t go into that any more.

But there is something else to mention. Daye earned a prestigious honor over the weekend, being named first-team all-state in California. He was one of 10 players honored in what may be the best high school basketball state in the nation.

The 6-foot-10 Daye averaged 30.9 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.4 blocked shots for Woodbridge High in Irvine.

UPDATE: Derek Raivio played at the Portsmouth evaluation tournament this weekend, as was mentioned in this post on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ website.

First-place Mariners hope hot bats don’t cool off

MARINERS • UPDATED 1:20 P.M.

After taking both games this weekend against the Texas Rangers, and doing it by scoring 22 runs, the M’s earned the leadoff role today at SportsLink.

Yes, we all know the Rangers’ pitching isn’t the best. But it’s not worst in the American League either, is it? Texas’ defense basically sucks, and contributed at least four runs to the tally, but even without the help of their brick-like gloves, the M’s would have handled the Rangers this weekend.

So let’s examine what went right. Ichiro started hitting. Adrian Beltre hit. Jose Vidro hit home runs. Kenji Johjima hit. Miguel Batista threw strikes. Horacio Ramirez pitched through some shoddy Seattle defense.

How is this possible? The best explanation came from Ichiro.

“Hits don’t fall from heaven, you have to work for them,” he told the Seattle writers. Sounds like a saying from that faux best-selling self-help book, “The Zen of Ichiro.”

But right now, with today off and Minnesota coming to Seattle on Tuesday for a three-game set, the M’s are in first place for a while. And that does seem like a gift from heaven.

Today’s hot list …

• The game stories talk about Ichiro’s resurgence, and his joke about eating two ice cream cones Saturday. They also talk about the hitting of Jose Vidro. Here are the stories from the P-I, the Herald, the News Tribune and the Times. We also offer links to the Dallas Morning News and the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram stories, both of which have a negative bent, not surprising considering the Rangers are 1-5 against AL West opponents.

• UPDATE: I know most of you have seen this, but I had to link to former Mariner’s manager Lou Pinella’s meltdown after Saturday’s loss. It is vintage Lou. Boy, I miss the guy.

• With Sunday being the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, there were events all over the major leagues. Four Mariner players wore No. 42 in honor of Robinson.

• Vidro’s offensive explosion was the subject of John McGrath’s column.

• Ichiro is seemingly so important to the M’s attack that his big game was also the lead to the Times’ notebook.

And our question for the day …

• This is your last chance. Look at the M’s schedule and try to fit in the four games with Cleveland. Where would you put them?

Have a few links with your Sunday brunch

SUNDAY MORNING NEWS

Not a lot of time this morning, so I want to post eight links to items for you to read. We’ll be back this evening with some more.

• Glenn Kasses did his definitive piece on WSU quarterback Alex Brink. This is worth spending time with. Also, Glenn covered spring’s final scrimmage. He also had this on the search for a new women’s basketball coach. Check out his blog for more.

• Idaho’s basketball team seems to be cleaning house. Jim Meehan has this story on the latest defection. There is also more on his blog. The Vandals’ football team scrimmage Saturday.

• The Spokane Shock plays today (1; 105.7-FM), trying to bounce back from last week’s defeat.

Rusty M’s leave everyone stranded

MARINERS

The biggest problem, the Mariners say, is rust.

The biggest problem, the rest of us say, is they aren’t hitting – especially with runners in scoring position – and the starting pitching is suspect.

Here’s the hot list…

• The game stories from the Times, the P-I, the News Tribune and the Herald are here. Here is the Dallas Morning News here as well.

• The loss left the M’s pretty damn unhappy. The scheduling crud isn’t making them happy either.

• Today’s question …

• This might take a little work, so we’ll have it up through Monday. Look at the M’s schedule and try to fit in the four games with Cleveland. Where would you put them?

Mariners go down to defeat

LATE NEWS

Well, Felix couldn’t pitch and the M’s struggled to get a timely hit - and Ichiro? He’s not hitting at all - so the Mariners went down to defeat 5-2 to Texas in Seattle.

The save went to Eric Gagne, the former Dodger superstar who is bouncing back from arm troubles.

Your thoughts are encouraged.

••••••••••

Saw this just now, so I thought it was worth sharing.

The Portland Winter Hawks are having lease problems and may be for sell. This Oregonian story tells all.

The schedule maker needs to be fired

MARINERS

The rains came and another game was washed out, this one to be made up May 3.

Quickly now, let’s review: Major League baseball schedules the Mariners one trip each all season to Cleveland and Boston. The trips are scheduled for the first week of the season, when bad weather is not only a possibility, it should be expected. Of the seven games, the M’s play two. Already five games have to be made up during the season.

Whoever put together this asinine schedule should be Imused.

At least they are home tonight (7; FSN; 920-AM), where a roof assures the game will be played.

Today’s water-downed list …

• Of course the weather was the main topic, with stories from the News Tribune, the Times and the P-I. Also, there were these stories from the Boston Globe and Herald. By the way, the Red Sox were honoring the Celtics on Thursday, with the teams’ NBA championship banners hanging from the Green Monster – until the rain started to soak them.

• The most interesting piece (see question below), which also ran in the S-R, was this story from Larry Stone concerning Felix’s near no-hitter. Some people are upset because new broadcaster Dave Sims mentioned it during the game. The Mariners spent the rainout Thursday discussing Felix’s gem, including information from Joel Pineiro.

• There’s a story on NBC sports’ website that asserts if Felix Hernandez has really come of age, the balance of power in the AL West has moved north to Seattle. The story goes on to talk about the importance of a dominating ace, which we’ve talked about here before.

• Every two weeks the P-I takes a look at the Mariners’ farm system. Here is today’s report on its improved depth, and a piece on the familiar faces in Tacoma.

• And our question for the day …

• Should announcers talk about no-hitters during the game? Or should they follow the dugout’s code of silence?

Lake City avenges earlier defeat

PREPS

The Coeur d’Alene High softball team went into Thursday’s game with archrival Lake City undefeated. They left the first inning down 3-0 before finally succumbing 5-3 to the Timberwolves, highlight North Idaho’s prep action.

We have a roundup of the rest of the play Thursday, along with a preview of Saturday’s fourth annual Idaho High School All-Star basketball doubleheader at NIC.

• In Washington, Mt. Spokane’s baseball team continued to roll in the Greater Spokane League, sweeping away archrival Mead on Thursday with a 2-1 home victory. The Wildcats lead the GSL by two games.

We also have the rest of the action in a roundup, led by track and field news. In other news from yesterday, the GSL-leading Shadle Park softball team was ranked 22nd in the nation.

Sad news on the Prep Page

PREPS

It’s Thursday and you know what happens on Thursday, don’t you?

Yes, it’s Prep Page day in The Spokesman-Review.

In Washington, Mike Vlahovich has one of those columns no sports writer ever wants to write, but knows they have to, about a death of a young athlete. Thanks Mike.

There is also our Greater Spokane League golf preview, a feature on Lewis and Clark tennis player Elise Otto and a Prep Profile of Freeman’s Josh Altmeyer. In Quick Hits there is lots of news, including three Spokane girls committing to play Division I softball in the Midwest. We also have our prep roundup of Wednesday’s action.

In Idaho, Greg Lee has a feature on Timberlake softball pitcher Kala Allred. There is also a Prep Profile on Priest River’s Lacy Hopkins, the North Idaho track honor roll and the roundup of Wednesday’s play.

Of course, there is more on Greg’s blog and Mike’s blog.

Howell heads back to Tacoma

EAGLES, VANDALS, COLLEGES

Eastern Washington assistant basketball coach Carl Howell, who has been in Cheney for the past four years, is leaving to head back to Tacoma Community College.

Howell, who was the head basketball coach at TCC until joining EWU’s staff four years ago, will now be the school’s athletic director.

You can read more about the change – and Rodney Stuckey’s plans – on Dave Trimmer’s blog.

••••••••••

• Halfway through spring practice, new UI coach Robb Akey has seen some good thing and some bad things.

No. 1 on his list of needed improvements: more consistency.

You can read what Akey has to say in Jim Meehan’s story from this morning’s S-R and on his blog.

••••••••••

• CCS split a doubleheader Wednesday with Wenatchee Valley.

••••••••••

• Gonzaga recruit Austin Daye is one of only two West Coast recruits playing in the 35th annual Adidas Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall in Louisville on Saturday. The all-star game for college seniors includes recruits from all the top universities.

••••••••••

• Freshman forward Phil Nelson has decided to transfer, more than likely to Portland State.

King of the Fens

MARINERS

It was Dice-K this and Dice-K that going in, but Wednesday evening there was only one King for this day, and his name was Felix.

Felix Hernandez threw seven no-hit innings before finishing with a complete game one-hitter in the M’s 3-0 win over Boston. The losing pitcher? Daisuke Matsuzaka, who didn’t pitch badly himself, giving up a single run in the second and two in the fifth.

We’ll have more tomorrow morning, but I would love to hear what you think of Felix’s performance. Just click the comment link and let me know.

From fields to the Supreme Court, stories abound

PREPS

A lot of action Tuesday, above and beyond what I wrote about last night in the post below. Also, if you have any more thoughts on the ninth-grade sports budget-cutting issue in the Spokane schools, feel free to add them here.

Our Washington roundup is here, with the Idaho roundup here.

For more, check out Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog and Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog.

• The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on a case that may affect high school sports organizations throughout the country. Actually, it already has, when the court ruled in 2001 that high school sports organizations like the WIAA are “state actors,” effectively having government authority to enforce rules.

• Jackson, Washington’s defending 4A baseball champions, lost Tuesday, ending a 36-game (or 35, depending on which paper you trust) winning streak.

Brayton and Olerud get hall call

COLLEGE SPORTS

It’s not often when a school has a person elected to any college hall of fame. But it is a true rarity when two people from the same school are elected the same year.

Such is the case with Washington State. In only the second year of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, the Cougars’ John Olerud and coach Bobo Brayton were both selected for induction, it was announced Tuesday.

Here’s a link to the College Baseball Foundation’s press release concerning the class of 2007 and this P-I story.

• Olerud and Brayton must not be too happy after this year’s Cougs lost 12-6 to Gonzaga on Tuesday night.

• Steve Bergum’s college baseball notebook leads with the Whitworth Pirates’ season thus far.

••••••••••

• WSU defensive coordinator – and head coach – Bill Doba addressed his hopes for the defense on Tuesday and a lot of what the Cougs can do revolves around the cornerbacks, according to Glenn Kasses’ story.

Check out Glenn’s blog for more Cougar news.

• The Times’ Craig Smith also filed this story on the Coug defense and Todd Milles of Tacoma had this.

Play continues for a couple Chiefs

WHL

Two Chiefs are continuing to play hockey even after Spokane’s season has ended.

Sean Zimmerman is playing for the Lowell, Mass., the New Jersey Devils’ American Hockey League affiliate.

Center Ondrej Roman will be at the Under-18 World Championships in Finland, playing for the Czech Republic.

••••••••••

The Everett Silvertips are up two games on Prince George, and PG is now missing its captain for the rest of the season. The Tips are in Prince George for a game tonight.

The Seattle Thunderbirds are tied with Vancouver after the first two games north of the border.

M’s have stayed above .500 for a long time

MARINERS

The M’s have been playing .667 baseball since the season began (and if you win two-third of your games, you will win a lot of pennants), though a 2-1 record after the first week isn’t anything to get excited about.

They are in second place though. Snowed into second place.

Now they head to Boston for this morning’s game (10; 700-AM) that is threatened by rain.

“We’ll be ready,” infielder Adrian Beltre told the News Tribune. “Nobody wanted these days off. In fact, it was more tiring waiting in hotel rooms to see if we’d play than actually playing.”

Whether they will get to play is to be determined.

Today’s hot list …

• The weather was also a topic in the P-I.

• If the weather cooperates, Felix will be facing off against Daisuke Matsuzaka on Wednesday. It’s the type of matchup that makes baseball so much fun.

• One guy who has faced Matsuzaka before is Ichiro.

• When Bill Bavasi brought in Arthur Rhodes, he hoped the 37-year-old Rhodes would fill the role of left-handed setup man. So far, not. Rhodes is on the disabled list with arm problems.

• Former M’s star Jay Buhner has become a minor league owner.

And our question for the day …

• When – or if – Arthur Rhodes gets healthy, will he be the left-handed setup guy the M’s need?

Sturdy foundation being built in Cheney

EAGLES, HUSKIES

Eastern Washington opened spring football Monday with some new coaches – including a new offensive coordinator – and a new attitude.

Dave Trimmer took a look at all of that in this story, though the focus is on new OC Todd Sturdy.

Aside: Isn’t that a great name for a coach, Coach Sturdy? “Who can we rely on?” “Coach Sturdy.” “Damn right.”

There’s more on Dave’s Eastern blog.

••••••••••

The Huskies also opened spring practice and I guarantee you there were a lot more sports writers at the practice – and the corresponding more words – than there were in Cheney.

Every Puget Sound paper of note had a story, with most focusing on the anointed one, Jake Locker. Can the freshman quarterback lead UW to the promised land (better known as Pasadena)?

Here are the stories from the News Tribune, the Times and the P-I.

Cutting sports seems to be pound foolish

PREPS

If you had time this morning to read my column in the S-R, you may have realized I was expanding on a post I put up here a few days ago.

After some research about state reimbursement of tax dollars and conversation with educators, it seemed to be the right time. I know there are other good reasons to fund our school’s sports programs – keeping kids in school is one that comes to mind, and keeping them interested is another – but I decided to focus on one element, the financial, because that’s what’s driving the cuts in the first place.

I know Mike Vlahovich has asked for comment on his blog, so most of you are commented out. But if you have thoughts, even if just to call me an idiot (you won’t be the first – or the last) share them.

••••••••••

After the spring break week, high school sports get back in full swing today. You can check out the area schedule here.

Me, I can’t decide whether to attend the Mt. Spokane at Mead baseball game (Mt. Spokane is ranked second in 3A; Mead is eighth in 4A) or the Mead at Shadle Park softball game. Maybe I’ll hit both.

••••••••••

The Sideline Smitty column today has Craig Smith’s thoughts on which high school names or mascots he would change. It’s a fun read and brings up a question:

Which high school nickname in the Inland Northwest would you change? For example, for years I’ve heard people say, completely facetiously of course, that Ferris High should be nicknamed the Wheels. Any other ideas?

• The Times has a flashback feature on Christian Welp. His 1983 Olympic team defeated Cheney in the semifinals en route to the state title.

Johnson’s win just made Sunday that much better

MASTERS

I’m a pretty big golf guy. I enjoy playing, though I’m not very good. I enjoy watching, especially the majors.

And especially the Masters.

There is just something about Augusta National and the spring-time tournament that gets my blood flowing. When the snow is deep, the temperature below freezing and the sun hibernating, I’ll pull out my tape of the 1986 Masters and watch Jack win again.

The shadows, the flowers, the sunshine, the memory of the unexpected victory, all those things can lift me out of a winter depression.

Which is why Zach Johnson’s victory was so cool. It was so unexpected.

When putting together my list Sunday of the favorites – besides the inevitable win from Tiger – I listed Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk. Those were the guys I thought would make the charge. Then I picked Vaughn Taylor as the guy I wanted to win, because he’s from Augusta and it would make a great story – sports writers always want the best story for their brethern.

Little did I know the guy playing with Taylor would win. The guy who three-putted from 3 feet on 16 earlier in the tournament. It was a surprise. Just like Tiger’s inability to stay in front once he got in front.

All those things were covered in our main story and sidebar, but the best stuff to read comes from the Seattle-area columnists. Each paper had someone in Augusta.

• John McGrath wrote about Johnson jumping from nowhere – in the public’s eyes – to the championship.

• Jerry Brewer focused on Tigers’ telling tantrum on the 17th and Johnson’s history.

• Jim Moore’s column was about the unexpected nature of Johnson’s win, and how it allowed his personality to come through.

And, of course, there are a million stories and columns available (here’s Bob Ryan’s column and Thomas Boswell’s Washington Post column), but one of the more interesting pieces is this Associated Press story we ran about Tiger’s aura of invincibility. Sure it’s broken. Until he wins the U.S. Open by 11 strokes.

This and that from Easter afternoon

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

If you hadn’t noticed, I took today off to spend Easter with the family – and the Masters.

It was nice to see someone new win at Augusta for a change. Did anyone else think Tiger was upset with Steve Williams at 17 after Tiger’s second shot came up short in the bunker?

• The M’s had the day off again, thanks to Cleveland’s spring weather. The teams will try to play a doubleheader tomorrow.

• Dan Monson is back at work, and he talked with John Blanchette about his new job at Long Beach State. He also had a upbeat, well-praised press conference.

• Eastern Washington opens spring football practice Monday, as does the UW. Idaho is in the middle of its practices, holding a scrimmage Saturday.

• I thought this might be the perfect day for a feature Dennis Erickson. And a good one for this interview with former Cougar safety Eric Frampton.

• I’m off to cook dinner. Yes, me. How’s that for busting a stereotype?

Thanks to flags, neither team is really moving the chains

SHOCK

The big news of the first half was the missing chains were found, which takes out the fan participation of holding the broom handles that served as markers.

It’s a good thing too. Because they need the brooms to sweep up all the yellow flags on the field.

Every play or two the flags flew, causing the first half to take a year-and-a-half. Or just less than it took Phil Mickelson to find his ball on the 11th hole yesterday in Augusta.

There was even one play near the end of the half that featured three penalties, two by Spokane’s defense.

Next home game, instead of handing out white Shock towels, how about yellow? Let’s make everyone feel at home.

When there weren’t penalties being called, the football was damn good, with Quad City’s Kris Peters as good as advertised and the Shock defense able to hold its own with the Steamrollers’ offense. At least it didn’t get steamrolled (OK, you knew it was coming, right?).

Actually, Spokane has more total offensive yards (149 to 130) though all of them came through the air, with Andrico Hines 13 of 16 with one interception and three touchdowns. His counterpart, former Shock wanna-be J.J. Raterink, was 12 of 21 for 121 yards with an interception and two touchdowns.

Right now the difference is a single missed point after, which isn’t surprising as the goal posts are as wide as my waistline. Well, maybe not that wide.

We’ll be back after the game with a post sending you to the game story and some comments.

Live from the Arena

SHOCK

Here in the Arena – Shock Central – we’ve already been treated to some trash talking that escalated into some pushing, shoving and all-around mayhem.

Seems that Steamwheeler star wide receiver Kris Peters and some of the Shock quick guys like Antwone Savage and Rob Keefe got into a little bit.

It will be fun to see how that will play out in the game.

• The key to this game is obvious: How well the Shock defense plays.

AJ Olebar, who was in the Redskins training camp, will play tonight and use his 6-foot-3, 275-pound body to clog up the inside.

But the most important people are those who got into the pregame scrap, the defensive backs. The Steamwheelers, who scored 81 points in their season-opening game, will be facing a defensive group that yielded just 35 points to Stockton, most of that after the game was decided.

No. 2 Shock host the af2’s offensive power

SHOCK

We will be at the Shock game tonight – if I have a press pass, which I’m not sure of yet – with comment concerning the showdown with No. 3-ranked Quad Cities.

Jessica Brown covered tonight’s battle (5 p.m.; KHQ-6) with the Steamwheelers in her preview this morning and on her Shock blog. She also supplied a link to this Quad City Times story about Spokane success, and how the league is building off it.

We’ll be on-line after the contest with a link to the game story and some commentary, so check in.

WSU sticks to basics in scrimmage

COUGARS

Washington State held its second-to-last spring scrimmage yesterday in Martin Stadium.

And what did the coaching staff learn?

There will be a lot of work to be done in the fall. As we’ve covered here before, the Cougars are thin right now. And downright Manute Bol-like in certain positions, including on the offensive line.

But backup quarterback Gary Rogers did throw a pair of touchdown passes and Kevin McCall, who left practice for a while Thursday with a badly dislocated finger - taking out his frustration on an orange cone en route to the trainer - ran for almost 100 yards, including a 42-yard scoring burst.

Glenn Kasses was at the scrimmage and filed this story, along with adding more information on his blog.

• The Seattle Times has this short based on the school’s release.

It’s not a lock, but for now Locker No. 1

HUSKIES FOOTBALL

There was some big news out of Montlake yesterday, with Tyrone Willingham naming Jake Locker the No. 1 quarterback.

Well, sort of. According to this Times’ story, this one from the P-I, this News Tribune story and this one from Everett, Willingham said redshirt freshman Locker would be No. 1 when spring practice opens Monday even if senior Carl Bonnell was healthy, which he isn’t.

Expect a lot of “Locker has great practice,” or “Locker shows offense the way,” or even “Locker sneezes” stories this month.

• This isn’t exactly Huskies, but it is football related so I’m tacking it on here. Purdue coach Joe Tiller, a former WSU assistant, is closing practice – a practice Willingham follows but Bill Doba at WSU doesn’t – because too much of what goes on at practice shows up on blogs.

Which means, if you are a fan of Purdue football – and I know most of you are big fans – then there will be a dearth of information this season.

Snow, snow go away, come again next winter

MARINERS

No game yesterday – a travel day – and probably no game today – see the post below – and, if the M’s do play, probably no Yuniesky Betancourt today either – see this story.

But there are stories worth reading.

Today’s hot (or, if it is coming from Cleveland, cold) list …

• No matter who you are (OK, maybe not Rene Rivera) you have to root for Jamie Burke. The M’s 35-year-old backup catcher may be the happiest guy in the Seattle dugout.

• On the other side of the coin, Ben Broussard is still adjusting to his backup role.

• According to this P-I story, the weather isn’t the only thing cold in Cleveland.

• If the M’s do play today, Horacio Ramirez will be on the mound. But he won’t be alone. There will be a lot of baggage along.

• A Brandon Morrow piece from the Bay Area.

• The News Tribune has a feature on the Weaver brothers. You may be like me, not too interested because there has been so much written about them.

• Finally, a couple of quick pieces. This one from Vancouver on how the M’s are worth watching right now, and this one from Philadelphia on Dave Sims.

And our question for the day …

• When is it too cold to play baseball? Does it have to be snowing? Or is it when you can’t feel your fingers? Baseball players in the Inland Northwest should be able to answer this question with some authority.

Changes all over college basketball’s landscape

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

There was a ton of college basketball news Thursday, with the coaching roulette spinning wildly and one guy deciding not to join the endless gyrating this year.

But the area’s biggest news in the men’s ranks was the University of Idaho losing highly touted recruit Andre McFarland thanks to the departure of an assistant coach.

It has been speculated that McFarland, who was let out of his letter-of-intent (and I applaud UI for that), will follow coach DeMarlo Slocum to Colorado State, where Slocum has joined the staff of new head coach Tim Miles.

• The biggest news on the women’s side, of course, was the resignation of WSU head coach Sherri Murrell. Murrell’s five-year record at WSU: 27-114, 8-82 in the Pac-10.

Some people think it can’t be done in Pullman. Win that is. I’m not in that club. But I do think it will take a coach of inexhaustible energy, a coach who is willing to commit to a type of play that will stand out in the conference, primarily one who sells 40 minutes of defensive intensity and offensive execution. I know, it sounds likes Tony Bennett. Duh.

• The Huskies’ new coach arrived on campus yesterday.

• Spencer Hawes is ready to enter the NBA draft, though he won’t hire an agent which means he may return to UW.

• OK, back to the roulette wheel.

Billy Donovan decided to stay at Florida. Only his players left.

Kentucky then reached out and grabbed Billy Gillespie from Texas A&M, which will probably turn out to be a great hire.

But the wheel kept spinning, and when Bob Huggins is involved, it means it was out-of-control.

Huggins returns to his alma mater, which we all know is the only way he would have left Manhattan, Kansas (just kidding). And all those kids he lured to the Midwest – I’m sure the spiel went something like this: “We play all our home games in Manhattan.” “In the Garden?” “Not exactly … but close.” – are stuck either playing for a new coach, sitting a year or turning pro.

Meanwhile, Huggins makes millions.

• By the way, in the Huggins’ link is a note that former Roosevelt Rough Rider Marcus Williams will hire an agent and enter the NBA draft, severing his connections to the University of Arizona. That’s bad news for the rest of the Pac-10.

Murrell calls it quits as WSU women’s basketball coach

COUGARS

Just got in from Pullman and thought I would share a few thoughts about the spring football practice today.

But first, wanted to share the news that WSU women’s basketball coach Sherri Murrell has resigned after five years leading the Cougs.

As for spring football? Well, watching one practice doesn’t make anyone an expert, certainly not me. But there are holes to fill, no doubt about it. That is the case, however, at some 300 colleges and universities around the nation, so WSU isn’t unique.

Friday morning I’ll link to Glenn Kasses’ story (check Glenn’s blog for more information) and share with you my thoughts about the Cougs after having talked with coach Bill Doba, Mike Levenseller and Leon Burnett.

What, they aren’t going to win 162?

MARINERS

Some of you just might have held out hope. You were thinking sweep, weren’t you? Well, Rich Harden and Miguel Batista took care of those thoughts in a hurry.

Comcast did broadcast the game in high-definition for you digital cable subscribers (channel 664) but Batista’s performance was low-def at best.

Here’s John Blanchette’s game story from Seattle.

The M’s are off today, and play in Cleveland on Friday afternoon, the Tribe’s home opener.

Today’s hot list …

• The game stories, of course, either talk about Batista’s poor performance or Harden’s dominating one. Or both. Here they are, from the P-I, the News Tribune, the Herald and the Times. And from the Bay Area, here are stories from the Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune.

• The Tribune’s Dave Boling wonders if you thought the M’s were going to go 162-0.

• The biggest story from Wednesday might have been Yuniesky Betancourt’s new contract. Here is the P-I story and the Times’ notebook.

• It hasn’t actually been hot in the Northwest this week, but Cleveland should be even colder.

And our question for the day …

• With the Masters going on this week, we’ll ask this question: If you could play a round of golf with anyone from the Mariners, who would it be and why?

Second day might even have been better for M’s

MARINERS

If Opening Day is a major league team at its best – No. 1 starter, amped hitters, etc. – then day two is a major league team at its average.

At least Mariners’ fans are hoping so. Because if Tuesday night was the M’s just being the M’s, then the season holds promise.

Seattle displayed, not necessarily in this order, decent pitching, timely hitting, power, defense and smart base running. The A’s? Not so much of any of those things.

Which means the M’s are 2-0 (1996, if you are wondering when the last time that happened) and the A’s are winless. John Blanchette tells us, in his column, that a hot start might just cool down the “we’re-ready-run-management-out-of-town” talk.

Today’s hot list …

• The game stories from the P-I, Times, News Tribune and Herald. Here is the San Francisco Chronicle gamer and the one from the Oakland Tribune.

• Miguel Batista takes the mound tonight (7; FSN; 920-AM) for the M’s, but don’t expect a Felix Hernandez performance. According to Batista, the two couldn’t be more different. Like we didn’t know that.

• Brandon Morrow (pictured after the game with catcher Kenji Johjima; AP photo) took a major league mound for the first time Tuesday night and it showed. The rookie from Cal took a while to find the strike zone, but ended up working a scoreless ninth. If Mark Lowe returns in midseason from his arm surgery throwing like he did last year, the M’s may have two right-handed power arms to set up J.J. Putz, sort of like what Detroit had last year.

• The M’s will probably open in Cleveland on Friday without shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who will be in Miami testifying at a trial.

• Richie Sexson’s bat has started hot this season, so hot it’s kind of funky.

• If you attend a Mariners’ game this season, you’ll see something different near the railroad tracks.

And our question for the day …

• Now that you’ve had a couple of games to listen to Dave Sims and Mike Blowers, what do you think of the two additions to the broadcast booth?

WSU in search of a left tackle

COLLEGE SPORTS UPDATED: 5:45 P.M.

Glenn Kasses is back in town and back at Cougar football practice.

He’s got this story concerning the Cougars’ offensive line, and the one big hole assistant coach George Yarno has to fill.

He’ll also have more on his blog today.

•UPDATE: Missed this earlier today, but coach Bill Doba is giving the Cougs most of their Saturday’s off.

••••••••••

• Yesterday afternoon we shared with you a link to a YouTube video of Tony Bennett being named Chevrolet’s coach of the year on CBS, with the UW logo under his name.

That screwup is the lead of Bud Withers’ basketball column today, but in a good way. Withers’ hypothesis is it won’t happen again, because the Pac-10 is going to be so good next year, even the Eastern power-brokers (and by Eastern I mean anyone East of the Rockies) won’t be able to ignore the conference.

Me? I’ll believe it when I see it.

••••••••••

• Steve Bergum has his college baseball notebook today, leading with the Cougars getting the week off – and needing the time.

• We shared the news about UI defensive back Jevon Butler’s troubles yesterday, but there’s more in this story from today’s S-R. Plus there’s all the college action from Tuesday.

• Tennessee won it’s seventh women’s NCAA Division I basketball title Monday night in Cleveland.

• UW freshman center Spencer Hawes is expected to make a decision about the NBA draft this week.

• The search for a new UW women’s coach got shorter, as Georgia Tech’s MaChelle Joseph pulled her name out of the running. That probably means the Dawgs are close to picking a coach.

• Tacoma’s John McGrath isn’t too pleased with University of North Carolina coach Roy Williams being named to the basketball hall of fame.

• Finally, basketball coach Dana Altman left Creighton for Arkansas. Then, less than 24 hours later, he left Arkansas for … Creighton. Yes, he changed his mind. Maybe he had never been to Fayetteville. Now, will Gail Goestenkors renege on the Texas job?

Nice way to kick off the season

MARINERS UPDATED: 4:15 P.M.

If you had a chance to read my column today, you caught glimpses of what I thought of Felix Hernandez’s performance yesterday.

As a smart old baseball man I know used to say all the time, “if they don’t score, you can’t lose.” Nothing was truer Monday. The A’s weren’t about to score on Felix – is it OK to call him by his first name? – so all the M’s had to do was push across a run.

Which the A’s gave them. Last year, it would have been the M’s making the error. So maybe, just maybe, the tide is turning.

OK, so my tune changes tonight (7; KSKN-22; 920-AM) if Jarrod Washburn yields three dingers and is knocked out of the box in the second inning, but, for this morning at least, the M’s bandwagon is full.

Today’s hot list …

• Opening Day is covered by just about everyone, including The Spokesman-Review. John Blanchette was in Seattle and filed this column with Felix as its subject.

• The best of the game stories comes from Tacoma’s Larry LaRue, who talked to everyone in both clubhouses it seems. There is also this from the Times and stories from the P-I, Vancouver and the Herald. How did the Bay Area media see it? Here’s a story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

• Columns abound as well, with this from Art Thiel about Felix of course. There were also columns from Steve Kelley, comparing Felix to Randy Johnson, Dave Boling on the offense, Times baseball writer Larry Stone on Richie Sexson, Ted Miller, John Sleeper and John McGrath.

• LaRue also had this piece which shows, publicly, manager Mike Hargrove – what’s with the goatee? – is not buying into the importance of this series.

• The P-I had a nice little sidebar on the two newest M’s and then this out of the A’s clubhouse, with the best quote of the year so far from Mike Piazza: “It’s tough to get confidence in your off-speed pitches when you throw 97. He obviously was able to do that today. He threw me a couple really good off-speed pitches on the first pitch. There’s nothing you can do with that. You just have to suck on it.”

• The San Francisco Chronicle was the only paper to cover the major league debut of Richland’s Travis Buck with a story.

• UPDATE: There’s this

Felix was King today

MARINERS

Felix Hernandez was about as it gets today, with a 12-strike out, three-hit shutout of the A’s, 4-0, to open the 2007 season.

You can read the Times’ web story here.

The best part of Monday’s win? The Mariners can equal last year’s win total vs. the A’s tomorrow. Actually it was the way the game was played. The M’s showed patience at the plate, Felix threw first-pitch strikes and got the normally patient Athletics in a hole.

The best day of the year

MARINERS, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

What a list of games to watch today – and if Extra Innings was still on Comcast with a free week … my butt would just be glued to the Laz-E-Boy.

Still, here’s the schedule we ran today:

10 a.m.: Devil Rays at Yankees (ESPN)
10 a.m.: Braves at Phillies (TBS)
11 a.m.: Cubs at Reds (ESPN2)
11 a.m.: Cubs at Reds (WGN)
1 p.m.: Red Sox at Royals (ESPN)
3:30 p.m.: Athletics at Mariners (FSN)
4 p.m.: Orioles at Twins (ESPN2)
7 p.m.: Rangers at Angels (ESPN2)

Add to that my XM radio with every game on, well, today is going to be a baseball bacchanal. Then basketball tonight.

But back to the boys of summer. I’ve told you more than once I would put out my thoughts on the M’s season this morning, so I will (though I’m disappointed there wasn’t much in the way of input from you guys).

My bold prediction for 2007: The Mariners will not finish fourth in the A.L. West again. Hey, if you wanted really bold, you should have posted comments.

Actually, I was torn between predicting a 2-15 start (see Art Thiel’s column for even tougher thoughts about the start) and the end of the Mike Hargrove/Bill Bavasi era (or nightmare) in Seattle, or an A.L. West pennant (yes, it could happen).

They both could happen, I guess, but neither are all that likely. Though, if writing this last year in Detroit, predicting the Tigers in the World Series, many of you would have had my hide. Yes, the M’s could be the Tigers of 2007, just because of their lineup (if everyone stays healthy they score a ton of runs) and Felix (a dominant No. 1 starter helps the whole staff improve).

But my guess is they will win 87 games, good enough to keep everyone interested, not good enough to make the postseason. An 87-75 record would probably mean the end of Hargrove and Bavasi (that knocking noise you hear is my knuckles on the wooden desk) and that’s good, right? And it would give M’s fans hope for the future, right? But is it good enough for you?

Today’s hot list …

• The roster was finalized after the trade for outfielder Jason Ellison from San Francisco. The trade means the M’s gave up on another young arm, Travis Blackley.

• By the way M’s fans, you are putting your faith in a kid who can’t even drink a post-game beer yet. Felix turns 21 in six days.

• The Times has a recent history lesson for us. So does the Herald, but it revolves around the A’s.

• Here’s what’s new at Safeco Field this season. Not much. There is, however, a new voice in the broadcast booth.

• I almost forgot: I had this list of good baseball websites in our Biz section today.

And our question for the day …

• Just want two numbers: How many games will the M’s win against the A’s this season, and how many overall? Click the comment link and let us know.

Ohio State or Florida: Who are you picking?

COLLEGE SPORTS

Here’s my agenda for today: Watch as many baseball games as I can, then watch the NCAA championship.

Does this correspond with yours?

There have been many times in my life – OK, twice – when I took the day off work, plopped down at a sports bar, sipped on water, Diet Coke, whatever and waited for a group of friends to arrive to watch the title game.

While saving a table, I was able to watch 800-plus pitches on the first day of major league baseball. Then there was the fun of watching two teams play as hard as they could to win a national title.

• Tonight those two teams will be Ohio State and defending champion Florida. The game begins on CBS at 6. If you have a preference, let me know by clicking the comment link.

• There was some local college action with area schools yesterday, and we covered it here. There were two big baseball wins: Gonzaga over USD behind Shadle Park grad Brandon Harmon to win the series 2-1, and WSU earning its first Pac-10 win of the season in its sixth try.

April 1 headline: Mariners win World Series

MARINERS

With the Major League baseball kicking off today with one game, and everybody else starting tomorrow, just about every newspaper in the nation picked April Fools Day as the right one to preview the upcoming season. (Any message in that?)

But this post is about Seattle’s team, the M’s, which just happens to be the Inland Northwest’s team of choice as well – or was I deluded by all the Mariners fans I saw around here in 2000 and 2001?

So all those M’s fans are interested in the answer to just one question: How will Seattle do this year?

The responses can be divided into two camps, those who think 2007 will be an extension of ‘04, ‘05 and ‘06, and those who think this season will herald a rebirth of the M’s glory days. Honestly, there aren’t many people living in that latter camp.

With that in mind, we draw your attention to this Everett Herald column by John Sleeper that, ironically enough, doesn’t herald a rebirth of anything except more losing.

If that happens, according to this Geoff Baker story in the Times, there will be a wholesale house cleaning, from Bill Bavasi through Mike Hargrove and probably including Ichiro (the subject of this Steve Kelley column).

Tacoma’s John McGrath falls somewhere in between, mirroring the age of most sportswriters (just kidding) and the proof of their favorite beverage (not kidding) by calling for 80-something wins.

The “we’re-going-to-win” group includes Bavasi, according to this Larry LaRue story, and manager Mike Hargrove, according to this Associated Press story.

Today’s hot list …

• The Times had its baseball preview section today with stories from all around the bigs. The one piece I want to call your attention to that I haven’t already linked: Jerry Brewer’s column on Felix (who earns a starring role in this Indy Star piece).

• No doubt a big part of the M’s success will rest on J.J. Putz’s right arm and the health of same. The Herald looks at that key appendage and the guy it is attached to.

• This is only peripherally about the Mariners, but it does mention Ichiro and is a good read, so I’ll pass it on. The Hartford Courant takes a look at the future of Japanese baseball.

And our question for the day …

• Once again I’m asking the simplest of questions: How will the Mariners do this season? I’ll share my thoughts Monday.

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