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Archive for June 2007

A few rules to live by

HOOPFEST, PART III – ETIQUETTE

Lots has been written and thrown about concerning on-the-court behavior at Hoopfest, so we won’t go there. Instead, we want to impart some thoughts on spectator etiquette, thoughts built upon 17 years of walking from Court A to Court B to Court C during the weekend.

Click the read full entry link for some “guidelines.”

It’s almost like the colleges anymore

HOOPFEST, PART II – PREPS

The Gonzaga University summer basketball team camps are still going on, so the local high school participation in Hoopfest has taken a hit.

But there were still a few local stars hanging around.

One was former Ferris center DeAngelo Casto, who we caught up with at the media court – he wasn’t there to watch that interesting brand of basketball but to chat with some friends who played on the court prior to a media game.

Casto confirmed once again he is leaving Ferris - where he helped the Saxons to a 29-0 record and a State 4A title - and transferring to Franklin High in Seattle, a transfer he hopes will help him in his ultimate goal of playing at the University of Washington.

He expects the move to come in August and until then he’s playing summer basketball with Seattle Rotary Select, an AAU team.

• Despite all the rumors floating around town, don’t expect Casto to be replaced at Ferris by Shadle Park’s Aaron Dunn. People close to the situation told me Saturday that Dunn is staying at Shadle Park, which should make the Highlanders at least co-favorites in what should be a fun Greater Spokane League basketball race.

Running Vols will meet GU in Seattle

SHOCK, BULLDOGS, INDIANS

The Battle in Seattle should be filled with firepower.

Though neither Tennessee nor Gonzaga have officially announced it, those two schools are set to meet in the annual game Dec. 29, according to the organizers.

The funny part about it is the Tennessee media outlets have been left scrambling a little bit, with this story crediting KHQ-TV in Spokane, and this one KHQ in Seattle.

• A former Bulldog seems to have finally landed. Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes will play at Marshall University this season, granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA under an old rule. For one year, if an athlete graduated early and had eligibility left, the athlete could transfer in Division I football and basketball and not have to sit out a year. The rule was rescinded, but P-Mac was grandfathered in by the NCAA.

••••••••••

• The Shock travel to Fresno, Calif., tonight (7; 105.7-FM) to face Central Valley with first place in the af2 West on the line. Jessica Brown not only advances tonight’s game with this story, she has more on her Shock blog.

••••••••••

• Well, if you are going to lose, it’s not as bad if a hometown guy beats you with a home run, is it? I guess you could ask the Indians, who fell 6-1 to Tri-City on Friday night, in large part because former Shadle Park High and Gonzaga University third baseman Darin Holcomb hit a three-run home run.

My guess is it doesn’t matter. A loss is a loss.

••••••••••

• I’m headed down to Hoopfest in a few hours, so if you have some games or courts you want me to check out, leave a message in the comments and I’ll try to get there.

Pitching is about to become a surplus for M’s

MARINERS

No game Thursday, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some news.

The biggest concerns the M’s pitching, which is about to enter a month-long stretch in which most of the injured arms will be coming back.

There’s Mark Lowe, out since last year, a year in which he exploded on to the M’s scene with his high-90s fastball and his major league command. He’s scheduled to begin a minor league rehab stint next week.

There’s Horacio Ramirez, one of the starters who has been watching for a while. He’ll probably make three minor league starts and then return.

And there are more, all detailed in this P-I story.

One thing’s for certain. When the M’s face Toronto tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM), J.J. Putz will be ready in the bullpen and he’s an All-Star. And he’s healthy.

• No hot list today, but there is one more fall-down funny story. It’s about third-base coach Carlos Garcia and the line drives he’s had to avoid lately. There is also one more Junior piece, this one from USA Today’s Hal Bodley.

• And our question of the day …

• Of all the pitchers returning soon, who will have the most impact and why?

What a spot for Stuckey

EAGLES

So Rodney Stuckey is now a Detroit Piston. Could he have had a better team pick him? You tell me.

As far as I’m concerned, no. A veteran team. A successful franchise. Winners. It’s rare for a talent like Rodney to end up on a playoff-ready championship contender (for contrast, look at Adam Morrison from last year).

The Pistons will demand Stuckey play both ends of the court. The veterans will take the pressure off, there will be no need to score 25 a night. He’ll be part of a team, and not even the most important part.

What’s your thoughts on the pick?

For more on Stuckey’s selection, see Dave Trimmer’s Eagle blog and our main Sports story.

Red Sox are swept out of Seattle

MARINERS

The M’s finished off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox on Wednesday, pulling Seattle closer to the Angels in the West.

But the most interesting thing about the past three games (and the two wins over Cincinnati that preceded them) is how all of them may have finished the same way – with the M’s on top – but they all featured different scenarios.

One day it was pitching, another hitting, another defense, another little ball, another a home run (not in that order). In other words, the M’s are finding a way to get it done right now, whatever way that is.

Today’s hot list …

• Lopez’s game-winning double and the M’s perseverance seem to be the lead of the games stories from the P-I, Times, the News Tribune and the Herald. From Boston, here are the stories from the Herald and the Globe (which second guesses Boston manager Terry Francona).

• Over the course of an 11-inning game, one pitch can make a difference.

• The M’s won Wednesday with a couple of rookies making up the battery. Of course, there is about 75 years difference between the two.

• Mark Lowe will be back sooner than everyone thought.

• And our question of the day …

• Who are your Mariner All-Star choices and why?

And the Gold Glove goes to … no, Manny, you don’t use it in left

MARINERS

Just call it Manny being Manny.

The M’s extra-inning win over the Red Sox on Wednesday - giving Seattle a three-game sweep - came courtesy of Manny Ramirez playing leftfield as if it was filled with mines. Jose Lopez’s drive hit three-quarters up the left-field fence, but Manny played it as if he was going to have to make Ken Griffey Jr.-like leap to steal a home run. And he was off by a fence section.

Ichiro scored from first to give the M’s a 2-1 victory and pull them within five games of the Angels in the AL West.

We’ll log on early tomorrow with links to what I’m sure will be quite funny game stories. Until then, thanks Manny.

Mariners Nation thinking about the future

MARINERS

Sometimes you can be so busy planning for the future (ie. Ken Griffey Jr. becoming an M someday) the present is ignored. So let’s quickly say today (1:35 p.m; FSN; 700-AM) the M’s go for a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, with Ryan Feierabend (1-2, 8.20 ERA) facing Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-5, 4.01). On paper it looks like a Red Sox rout, but so did the first night, when Jeff Weaver pitched.

The offense came to Felix Hernandez’s rescue last night, the offense and J.J. Putz. The ninth inning was baseball at its finest, with Putz getting Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and pinch-hitting Manny Ramirez on strikes to close out the 8-7 win.

Today’s hot list …

• Tuesday’s tenacious effort led the game stories from the P-I, the Times, the News Tribune and the Herald. Here are the game stories from the Boston Globe and Herald.

• If you don’t think major league hitters guess, you’re wrong – no matter how many times your high school coach told you good hitters don’t. As proof, read this Times notebook.

• Is Adrian Beltre a veteran? Well, he uses the term “back in the day,” so he must be.

• Another injured pitcher is headed back to health. Starter Horacio Ramirez will make a rehab start in Tacoma on Saturday.

• And our question of the day …

• Is J.J. Putz a lock for the All-Star game?

Reds’ superstar followed by Red Sox Nation

MARINERS

Being out of the Internet loop on Monday was rewarding in one way – the golf was fun – but also like 6:38 on a Friday evening without a cold one. It seems a little strange.

I missed linking to John Blanchette’s Ken Griffey Jr., column, or any one else’s column for that matter.

So Griff’s left town again and all we are left with are, in order, our memories, this Larry Stone column from the Times, and way too many Red Sox fans.

The latter had to suffer through their beloved team getting whipped at Safeco last night, something Ty and I enjoyed immensely. And not because we are all that enamored with this year’s M’s. More because we were an island of Seattle backers in a Red Sox Nation sea. The inebriated young lady in front of us kept holding up her Manny Ramirez sign, hoping the left-fielder would toss her a ball. She was so busy trying to get his attention she failed to notice when Mike Timlin tossed her one, redirected off Adrian Beltre’s bat. The home run landed right next to her, but she probably saw three baseballs coming at her and picked the wrong one to try to catch.

On to today’s hot list …

• Another strong outing by Jeff Weaver (will I have to eat my words?) and the timely M’s hitting led today’s game stories, including the one from the P-I, and the ones from the Times, the News Tribune and the Herald. Here are the game stories from the Boston Globe and Herald.

• Joel Piniero actually says something funny in this News Tribune notebook. He wasn’t greeted with Griffey-like cheers Monday.

• Ben Broussard has been playing a passable rightfield recently, though Ichiro shouldn’t feel threatened.

• Left-hander Ryan Feierabend never stops working on his pickoff move.

• And our question of the day …

• Does it bother you when more than half the Safeco crowd is wearing the opposition’s jersey?

Waiting is the hardest part

COUGARS, BULLDOGS

I’m stuck in Sea-Tac having to wait to check my luggage, so I have time to surf and link while I wait. If you’ve ever done that, raise your left hand.

Airport hell is a shared experience, I’m sure.

While I wait for the clock to strike noon, here’s some things you might be interested in …

The Anthony Brown-to-WSU news is linked below, but here’s a link to Bud Wither’s story in the Times. The second player he names, Michael Harthun, was reported by Glenn before he left in May.

••••••••••

• The Birmingham (Ala.) News is reporting UAB is close to adding Gonzaga as a non-conference game this season. It would be a home-and-home series, so the Blazers would be coming here either this year or next.

••••••••••

• Ted Miller sings the praises of the Pac-10 in this column but the list of accomplishments that accompanies it has some errors. Can you find them?

Griffey waves goodbye to fans as M’s win

MARINERS

It was a near-perfect game for old-time M’s fans.

Ken Griffey Jr., had two home runs, including a bullet to right-center that ricocheted off the UW Medicine sign. He made a diving catch in the outfield. And his Reds lost.

Both of Griffey’s home runs – the first went off Willie Bloomquist’s glove and over the left-field fence – were of the solo variety. And, as Lou Piniella will tell you over and over again, solo home runs rarely beat you. They didn’t defeat Miguel Batista on Sunday.

Thanks to Ben Broussard’s clutch two-out, two-run double in the sixth and Bloomquist’s squeeze bunt in the eighth, the M’s won 3-2 and took the series from Cincy 2-1.

We’ll be unavailable Monday morning, so here’s a link to the Associated Press story.

Now Red Sox Nation comes to town, with all those pain-in-the-neck guys in Boston jerseys talking some sort of foreign language that passes for English in the Northeast. And Manny will be in left. Wonder if the Mariner fan who yells at him all game will be there this week? We can only hope.

From Pullman to Omaha, news for your Sunday morning

MORNING NEWS

It’s Sunday morning so we’re going to make this quick.

It would be even quicker if it weren’t for all this Washington State-related news.

• First off, retired Seattle Times columnist Blaine Newnham writes about the Katelan Redmon situation with UW, taking athletic director Todd Turner’s side. Newnham’s point: Turner was hired to follow the rules and now he’s getting crud for doing just that. The problem is Newnham ignores the hypocrisy of Turner’s stand, not giving Redmon her release while simultaneously allowing the men’s program to recruit a guard who had signed a letter-of-intent with New Mexico and was released after the coach was fired. You could say the Huskies were following the rules in both situations, but it does stink a bit.

• The Cougars need help with their depth on the offensive line, there’s no doubt about it. There might be help on the way, though this fall might be stretch. Sehome’s Steven Ayers is headed to Pullman after being named the West’s offensive MVP at the 13th annual Earl Barden Classic All-Star game in Yakima.

• Recently graduated WSU track star Diana Pickler bounced back from a tough NCAA heptathlon to finish second at the USA Track and Field Championships and earn a trip to Japan for the Worlds.

• The Shock also bounced back, routing the Boise Burn 60-28 in the Spokane Arena. For more, check out Jessica Brown’s Shock blog.

• The first game of the College World Series championship series had a Washington tint last night, with Oregon State’s winning pitcher Jorge Reyes a recent graduate from Warden High. The righthander had some special fans in the stands, fans who had made a long trip to Omaha.

• Summer is the time for prep all-star games, including the girls’ state basketball contests, which were played Saturday at East Valley High.

Shock try to burn Boise again

SHOCK, INDIANS, PREPS

it’s no secret the last time the Spokane Shock and the Boise Burn got together, tempers flared, fists flew and players were suspended.

Could be more of the same tonight (5; KHQ-6; 105.7-FM) in the Arena. Or it could just be another run-of-the-mill af2 game decided in the last seconds. We’ll find out tonight.

Jessica Brown has this advance of the game. We won’t be there – first home game all year we’ve missed – because we are in Seattle for the M’s. Check Jessica’s Shock blog after the game.

••••••••••

• Eugene rallied with two runs in the seventh and two more in the 10th to defeat the Spokane Indians again Friday night. The teams finish out their five-game Avista Stadium series tonight at 6:35.

••••••••••

• Byron Hout, who helped Lake City post an undefeated record last season en route to the Idaho 5A football title, has given a verbal commitment to Boise State.

Red-letter day turns into a bloody mess

MARINERS

Have you ever really circled a date on a calendar in red ink? We did. Really. We did it the day the Mariners’ 2007 schedule came out.

We circled June 22 on our calendar at home. The day Junior was returning to Seattle. Even in the spring we knew it would be special.

So we decided to do something extraordinary. We bought tickets to the weekend series, splurging on Friday’s game with box seats. A little out of our price range, but what the heck, it was a red-letter day.

Then we surprised the Ken Griffey Jr. fan in the family, now living in Southern California, with the news. Tickets to the games, golf times, airline tickets. It would be his Christmas in June. A red-letter weekend.

Except we made one mistake. We trusted Alaska Airlines.

Tyler left Santa Barbara before noon. It is 10:30 at night and he’s still not here. As the plane, scheduled to arrive in Seattle by 4:30, sat on the runway at LAX, according to Tyler, there was an altercation on the plane. Back to the terminal the plane went. Police were called. Passengers were interviewed. No one could leave the plane.

Finally they were let off. They would be reloading and leaving at 4 they were told. OK, we would be cutting it close, but we could still make it. At 4 he called, saying they were told an announcement would be made at 4:30. Now we were going to be late. Before you could call a travel agent, 4:30 became 5:30 became 6 and they were leaving. We’ll get to the game sometime in the middle innings.

Then no. The flight was cancelled. We were out of luck. More than $100 wasted. But he was booked on a 10:30 flight, so we could still get some sleep and make Saturday’s tee time. Fifteen minutes ago he called. The 10:30 flight was cancelled. No crew. He would have to spend the night in LA and come up tomorrow. He won’t be getting here until after noon.

A red-letter day turned into a bloody mess.

Which, in a way, was what happened to the M’s. A red-letter day in the franchise history turned into a Reds’ massacre. When the hitting stopped, Cincy had a 16-1 win, Griffey had one hit and we had a red ass, chapped by the ineptitude of an airline I may never fly again.

And our special weekend? It’s going to be tough to make it extraordinary, but we’ll try. We’ll get up in the morning, get you up-to-date on all the Griffey – and non-Griffey – news, then we’ll pick up our kid at the airport. And we’ll try to make it special.

We’re sending him home on United.

Junior’s back and the M’s hope shutout streak continues

MARINERS

There is a great picture on the front page of the Seattle Times sports web site today. Standing together on what looks to be an opening day ceremony somewhere in 1997 are Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. It goes with this story and this Steve Kelley column.

Only one of that quartet will be in uniform tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM) at Safeco, and Junior won’t be in Mariners’ garb. He’ll be wearing the Reds’ road gray.

But I’ll be sitting there with my son, thinking back to 1994, 95, 96 … all those years when Griffey roamed centerfield for Seattle, when he was young and so was Ty.

Enough of that crud. Let’s look at last night’s win, when the Felix of April returned to the mound for really the first time.

Today’s hot list …

• Felix’s performance was the lead of the game stories. Here they are from the News Tribune, the P-I, Times and the Herald. Here are the stories from Pittsburgh, from the Post-Gazette story and the Tribune-Review piece.

• John Blanchette’s column from Seattle today is about the pride of Trail, British Columbia, Jason Bay.

• Of course the Times isn’t the only paper to go all out about Griffey. The P-I’s Art Thiel and Jim Moore also had columns. That’s on top of other stories, all of which can be accessed here. The Herald adds a John Sleeper column.

• The M’s are going with Ryan Feierabend tonight on the mound instead of Cha Seung Baek.

• And our question of the day …

• What is your favorite Ken Griffey Jr. memory?

Weaver feels at home in the National League

MARINERS

The verdict is in. Jeff Weaver needs to be in the National League. Preferably, in the National League Central.

Look at the facts. The guy has had one incredible successful half a season in his career, when he was throwing for the St. Louis Cardinals, an NL Central team.

And he’s had one incredibly successful start for the Mariners this year, last night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, an NL Central team.

Ergo – or some other Latin phrase – he needs to be in the NL Central. Trade him quick while he has value.

Wednesday night Weaver shut down the Pirates for a complete-game, four-hitter and a 7-0 win, shutting down the M’s six-game losing streak why he was at it.

In the process he lowered his ERA to 8.56 and raised my embarrassment quotient to 8.325 million.

The M’s will try to build on that Weaver-started momentum – could this be the turning point of the year? – tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM) when Felix Hernandez (3-4, 4.58 ERA) takes the mound against John Van Benschoten (0-1, 3.17).

Today’s hot list …

• Weaver’s shocking performance was the lead of all the game stories. And why wouldn’t it be? Here they are from the News Tribune, the P-I, Times and the Herald. Here’s the view from Pittsburgh, from the Post-Gazette story and the Tribune-Review piece.

• Our John Blanchette is in Seattle and his column reflects the shock and awe we all feel after Weaver’s outing.

• Did you know Ken Griffey Jr. will be in town starting Friday? If you didn’t, here’s a News Tribune story to get you in the know, if not up-to-date. And the P-I’s Jim Moore wants everyone to treat him right. So does Griffey’s old friend, Jay Buhner.

• Seattle’s minor leaguers have their memories Junior as well.

• Manager Mike Hargrove didn’t talk after Tuesday’s loss. He made up for it Wednesday night.

• The M’s hope they’ve discovered the problem with Felix: He’s rushing his windup. Tonight he’ll try to correct the flaw.

• It looks like left-hander Ryan Feierabend will start Friday instead of Cha Seung Baek, who has been struggling lately.

• The M’s batting order featured Richie Sexon seventh and Jose Vidro eighth last night.

• And our question of the day …

• As you were watching of listening last night, when did you realize Jeff Weaver was really going to get the job done?

Beavers’ roadblock stops Irvine’s magical run

COLLEGE BASEBALL

OMAHA – It was a great run. A fun week. An unexpected success.

But every silver lining has a cloud, and Wednesday evening the rain on UC Irvine’s parade came out of Oregon.

The defending national champion Oregon State Beavers ended Irvine’s improbable College World Series run 6-1 behind the pitching of Daniel Turpen and the largesse of the Anteaters themselves.

Inland Northwest is a basketball hotbed

COUGARS, BULLDOGS

Two for the price of one.

CBS Sportsline writer Garry Parrish picks both Washington State and Gonzaga in his college basketball preseason top 25.

The Cougars are picked seventh and the Zags No. 18. Pretty good for the Inland Northwest.

• Former Gonzaga guard Derek Raivio had a recent workout with the Trail Blazers in advance of the upcoming NBA draft.

Six-game losing streak closes doors on M’s

MARINERS

The slide continues. And you have to wonder, as it reaches six games, if Mike Hargrove’s seat is getting hotter.

Probably, but don’t expect anything to happen until the Reds leave town after Sunday’s game. This weekend is a planned celebration of Junior’s return, and no management team in their right mind would want to screw that up. … Uh oh. That’s means the M’s will probably fire Hargrove and Bill Bavasi on Friday morning.

Just kidding.

But Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Pirates couldn’t have done anything to help Hargrove’s case. Neither did his decision not to meet with the media after the game. You don’t want to tick off guys with deadlines.

No worries, though. Jeff Weaver, he of the 0-6 record and the 10.97 ERA (an improvement actually), is going tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM). That should be enough to snap the season’s longest losing streak.

Today’s hot list …

• The big meeting among the M’s braintrust after the game seemed to be the lead of the game stories in the News Tribune, the P-I, Times and the Herald. If you want the view from Pittsburgh, here is the Post-Gazette story and the Tribune-Review piece.

• Former NIC and GU star Jason Bay made his homecoming to the Northwest on Tuesday, and it is home. Bay spends his off-season in Kirkland now.

• He doesn’t care where, but Ben Broussard wants to bring his bat and play.

• Part of the problem lately for the M’s has been the wildness of eighth-inning setup guy Brandon Morrow. He’s working on it.

• There is some hope on the pitching front. Horacio Ramirez and Mark Lowe threw bullpens before Tuesday’s game. Neither was willing to set a timetable on their return, however. Adrian Beltre, heavily taped, was back at third base though.

• And our question of the day …

• On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hottest, how warm right now is the seat Mike Hargrove is sitting on?

EWU self-reports football violations

EAGLES, COUGARS, HUSKIES

Eastern Washington has reported itself to the NCAA for possible violations in the football program.

And boy does it sound awful. There’s the problem with the life skills “coach.” Because he’s a “coach,” EWU may have had too many “coaches” on staff. Add to that the student assistants weren’t taking enough fondue-making classes or something and Eastern is in real trouble. Ya, right.

The Eagles are lucky, really. If these violations had occurred at USC or Notre Dame, then the NCAA would have put four or five small schools on probation (possibly including EWU) and added 127 new rules. As it is, maybe the Eagles will get by with a slap on the wrist.

You can read about the Eagles’ problems in Dave Trimmer’s story.

• A handful of local kids have decided to head to Pullman and compete for the Cougar track team.

• Speaking of recruits, having been turned down by the letter-of-intent oversight committee, Lewis and Clark High’s Katelan Redmon has decided to honor her commitment to the University of Washington. You can read more about the about-face on Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog.

Morrison working on game, diabetes funding

MORRISON WATCH

There seems to be a lot of off-season talk about Adam Morrison and the Charlotte Bobcats. When the season ended, the talk was mostly about a possible trade. That talk, however, has died down.

What is coming out of Charlotte right now concerns Morrison’s efforts to improve his stature for next season.

There is this Associated Press piece that looks back to last season, a season of adjustment for the Gonzaga star. And it also looks at what he’s doing this off-season as well.

Of course, there is the obligatory diabetes story from USA Today, but there is a twist. He recently testified before Congress about funding diabetes research.

Which side are you on?

NCAA

My column in today’s S-R dealt with the NCAA’s rules governing live blogging at NCAA events, a tempest that erupted last week when the organization pulled a press pass from a Louisville Courier-Journal writer who was blogging play-by-play at a baseball Super Regional.

Of course over the past week, there has been considerable commentary written about the incident and its aftermath. In the spirit of giving all points of view on the issue, here are a few links you might want to peruse, listed by name of the commenting publication.

The Birmingham News

Hattiesburg (Miss.) American

Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer

East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune

Baltimore Sun

New Bern (NC) Sun Journal

ZDNet

Beltway Blogroll

Lexington (Kent.) Herald-Leader

AOL Sports

If you have thoughts on this matter, please post them.

The longest day of the year, three days early

COLLEGE BASEBALL

OMAHA – It’s a long way to travel to watch two losses. Thanks to a few big plays, I didn’t have to.

If you were watching the College World Series game between UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton on ESPN2 Monday afternoon, you know what I mean.

For the longest time, it looked like Irvine, the school I traveled from Spokane to Omaha to watch, would go out in two games.

Spokane gets ready to kick off another season

INDIANS

The team is in town and practicing, so new manager Tim Hulett has had a chance to see his charges.

And, as Jessica Brown’s story relates, he likes what he’s seen thus far. Other than all the long fly balls in batting practice.

The Indians open their 25th season of Northwest League play Tuesday, hosting Eugene (6:30).

Big day for UW’s Hawes

COLLEGES

We’ll be at the College World Series games again today and we’ll have something online about the action. The freshman from Warden threw a heck of a game for Oregon State on Saturday (see post), helping the Beavers move into tonight’s (4; ESPN2) Pac-10 showdown with Arizona State.

• Speaking of the Pac-10, the Times’ Steve Kelley tells Spencer Hawes it’s time for Hawes to move on to the NBA. Hawes’ decision has to be final today. One player, Marquette guard Dominic James, pulled his name from the draft.

• Former Gonzaga star Richie Frahm is hoping to catch on in Denver. Another former GU star, Adam Morrison, will be playing for Charlotte’s summer league team in July, according to this story.

Ike’s Fitterer headed to Hall

PREPS

Here’s an interesting story about Eisenhower High basketball coach Pat Fitterer, who will be inducted in the state basketball Hall of Fame this summer.

The story details Fitterer’s career now that he has retired as a teacher at Ike and makes it sound like he won’t be back as basketball coach either – though it doesn’t come right out and state that.

Has it really been that long?

INDIANS

Twenty-five years ago the Spokane Indians dropped from the highest level of baseball’s minor leagues (AAA) to near the lowest (short-season A).

But the Indians are still Spokane’s team, and short seasons or not, they’ve built some impressive memories over the past 25 years.

John Blanchette turns the spotlight on those memories, writing his way back through the years in this story.

But there’s more (just like those K-Tel ads). John also has this column about two Indians players who made the bigs. It’s just their paths that were different.

The Huskies came out ahead last year

COUGARS, COLLEGE BASEBALL, HUSKIES

Craig Smith of the Seattle Times has a fun story in today’s paper. He rated the year as a contest between the Cougars and UW. The upshot: UW won the year in sports 11-6-1. But WSU fans can still hang their hats on three consecutive basketball wins. Now, if only the Apple Cup …

••••••••••

• Oregon State is trying to defend its national title with an almost completely new starting lineup, including a young pitching staff. No one is younger than Jorge Reyes, a freshman righthander from Warden, Wash.

Reyes pitched six innings, allowed three hits and yielded a single run in the Beavers’ 3-2 win Saturday before leaving with a sore calf muscle. Not a bad outing for a kid who was the best pitcher on a team that lost to Colfax in the first round of the State 1A Tournament in 2006.

••••••••••

• The University of Washington’s Spencer Hawes has to decide soon whether to stay in the NBA draft and make a ton of money or return to UW. The 6-foot-11 center is saying it isn’t about the money – it will be there next year too – but it’s about who might draft him. He wants to be in the right spot. Smart call.

Hernandez yet to rediscover early season form

MARINERS

What started out so promising – 5-0 to open the 10-game road trip – is now almost .500. The M’s loss Friday was their third consecutive defeat on this trip, but more importantly, it happened in large part because Felix Hernandez was, well, ineffective.

Which is worrisome. For Seattle to win the American League West, it has to get better starting pitching than it did in the first third of the season. And some of the starters – Miguel Batista, Cha Seung Baek , yes even Jeff Weaver – are showing improvement (Jarrod Washburn has been pretty good consistently). But Felix, the ace, has struggled.

Without him dominating like he’s capable, the task of winning the West might be impossible. After Friday’s 5-1 loss, the M’s dropped to third place in the division.

Today (4:05; KSKN-22; 920-AM) the M’s send Baek (3-2, 5.22 ERA) out against veteran Woody Williams (2-9, 5.51) in another attempt to ensure an above-.500 trip.

Today’s hot list …

• Hernandez’s outing was the lead in every story, including the Times, the P-I and the News Tribune. From Houston, here is the Chronicle story.

• The offense has gone a little cold the past two games as well, with only Willie Bloomquist’s inside-the-park home run as a highlight Friday. The complete trip around the bases surprised even Bloomquist.

• Jake Wood’s stay was a short one. The left-hander headed back to Tacoma, replaced by another lefty, Ryan Feierabend, who had to miss out on a reunion with his new bride.

• And our question of the day …

• What is the M’s most pressing need right now?

Shock have Fever for the first time

SHOCK

As a veteran of prep coverage in the Spokane area, you don’t have to tell me about the rivalry between Spokane’s schools and those from the Tri-Cities.

Actually, it isn’t all that intense. The teams meet once a year with a state berth on the line, but because the Columbia Basin League is spread out all over the, well, Columbia Basin, and because Spokane schools tend to stand out in certain sports (cross country, basketball, etc.) and the Tri-Cities’ schools control others (football, baseball, etc.), the rivalry isn’t as heated as it might be if the playing fields were more balanced.

Which, finally, brings me to my point – and the Spokane Shock.

Spokane travels down Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 395 today to face the expansion Tri-Cities Fever for the first time (5 p.m.; KHQ-6; 105.7-FM). And it seems some people (see this Tri-City Herald story) think it will become an instant Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Even Shock coach Adam Shackleford admits that’s the case in Jessica Brown’s story in today’s S-R. But he also says it’s just another football game for the af2 West-leading Shock (7-3) and the Fever (5-4).

A win for Spokane and its division lead probably expands. A loss and the rest of the division has hope. That’s more motivation then someone screaming “beat those guys from the nuclear plant.” As rivalries go, this one has a more made-for-television feel than one of the Academy Award-winning variety.

Even Cougars have found their way to Omaha

COLLEGE BASEBALL

OMAHA - They were standing in the traffic median at the airport.

The younger man was wearing a Cougar T-shirt and a WSU hat. The older man a College World Series T-shirt. They towed their bags and waited for a hotel shuttle.

The younger man was Andy Franklin, an accountant who lives in Denver. The older man was his father, Dave, who lives in Deer Park.

Morrow finally blows a lead

MARINERS

Is the bullpen finally starting to show the wear and tear we expected? Or was it just one game?

Despite being handcuffed all game by Jason Marquis and the Cubs, the M’s still led 4-3 going into the bottom of the eighth. But Chicago scored twice, the Mariners were unable to get anything going in the ninth and, boom, a two-game losing streak.

I’ll answer my own question: It was just one game. Brandon Morrow struggled a little and was the victim of a flare down the left-field line. It was as simple as that.

Now, if tonight (5:05; FSN; 920-AM) in Houston, the same thing happens, we’ll start to call it a trend. Felix Hernandez (3-3, 4.41 ERA), of course, could make that all moot by pitching a complete game.

The late Cub comeback overshadowed a decent outing from starter Jeff Weaver, possibly his best of the season. Weaver went six innings and yielded three earned runs.

Today’s hot list …

• Morrow’s inability to hold the lead, a rarity this season, was the lead to all the stories, beginning with the Times and continuing through the P-I and the News Tribune. From Chicago, you have two stories to read, from the Sun-Times and the Tribune.

• Times’ baseball columnist Larry Stone spent Thursday’s game with the Bleacher Bums.

• Once again my favorite relaxed ballplayer, Jose Guillen, has a run-in with someone. This one is literally a run-in with umpire Tim McClelland.

• The P-I has this piece on Mike Hargrove.

• J.J. Putz’s save on Tuesday took more guts than we may have known.

• And our question of the day …

• Will the bullpen be able to withstand the stress a not-so-successful starting staff is putting on it?

Savage has a trail to follow

SHOCK

All Antwone Savage has to do is look at the Arena Football League statistics to see an example of what his future may hold.

Near the top of the league’s receiving stats is the name Charles Frederick, Savage’s teammate last season with the Spokane Shock.

Frederick, playing for the Kansas City Brigade, is one of the favorites for the AFL’s Rookie of the Year award, something Savage would like to earn next year.

This year, however, Savage and the Shock are trying to earn a return trip to the af2 title game. They’ll try to take another step in that direction Saturday night at new rival Tri-City (5 p.m.; KHQ-6; 105.7-FM).

For more, check out Jessica Brown’s Shock blog.

Spokane’s doppleganger is right here

COLLEGE BASEBALL

Someone who shall remain anonymous, but who works at the newspaper, once told me Omaha is the Spokane of the Midwest.

If Spokane had 75 percent humidity. And an NCAA championship every year.

Though I will say I saw a lot of similarities today like …

• The airport’s baggage claim area has the exact same design as the ones in Spokane – and no one checks that you have the right bag, just like Spokane. Mine set there for a (long) while as I got my rental car and no one took it. Hopefully, just like Spokane.

• The school-bus service is supplied by Laidlaw.

• There is a Starbucks every seven blocks. I stopped at one and asked a couple of customers for advice on an affordable steak house. They were nice – just like in Spokane – and helpful. They also came through with a decent place.

• Gas is $2.85 a gallon. OK, that one is different.

But so far the people are friendly, the weather fine and the town papered with College World Series ads. And tomorrow the baseball starts.

We’ll be back early tomorrow morning with links on new EWU coach Kirk Earlywine, the M’s and whatever else is happening in the Northwest.

No word on head Eagle yet

EAGLES, INDIANS, HOOPFEST, COLLEGE BASKETBALL • UPDATED: 2:15 P.M.

Eastern Washington may – or may not – name a new basketball coach today. If you’re interested, check Dave Trimmer’s blog regularly for updates.

UPDATE: Dave has some info on his blog and in this story, including the news Washington assistant Jim Shaw has withdrawn his name from the search. Which usually means he wasn’t the choice, though I have no inside information that was the case this time.

••••••••••

• How good will the Spokane Indians be? Who knows. It all depends on who will be assigned here. That process began Wednesday, when Texas assigned the 26 players who will play in Spokane. The season starts Tuesday.

••••••••••

• If you are a Hoopfest aficionado, you may have run into Milt Rowland at the event. He’s one of the 3-on-3 tournament’s long-standing volunteers.

••••••••••

• Former GU coach Dan Monson has a familiar face with him at Cal State Long Beach. It’s also a familiar one to WCC basketball fans.

• Here’s a piece on a great shooting high school junior Mark Few is trying to lure to Spokane.

There’s always another fan ready to help

COLLEGE BASEBALL

It’s funny how nice some people can be, people you’ve never met except through the words typed here or in the paper.

Specifically I’m talking about the people who’ve sent me emails concerning my trip tomorrow to Omaha.

Us sports fans – and I’m including myself in that group even though so much of my life has been spent as a disinterested observer of sporting events I have trouble clapping or cheering anymore even when I’m sitting in the stands – are a motley crew actually.

We spend our time obsessing about this pitcher or that quarterback or this coach. We live and die with the success or failure of whatever team or individual we have an affinity for. And then we do it again the next day.

But we also have a soft spot for others like us. We understand. We care. And we want to help. That was brought to my attention again this week when some of you reached out with suggestions for the College World Series.

And I wanted to take the time today to thank you publicly for the suggestions. I’ll try as many of your spots as possible, as many of the activities as I can. And, win or lose, I know I’ll leave Nebraska deeply in debt (anyone need a kidney, highly used?) and with a heck of a lot of memories.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on Inland Northwest sports – who Eastern’s new coach is, any Cougar news we hear, how local golfer Alex Prugh is doing at the Open and whatever else happens – and we’ll share our adventures, which in my case might just be falling asleep at 9:23, but Central Daylight Time, not Pacific. Talk about exciting.

Oakmont will test Spokane’s best

MORNING NEWS

Other stuff worth reading today …

• Ferris High and UW graduate Alex Prugh will compete in the U.S. Open starting Thursday, but his trip to the historic Oakmont Country Club is already an eye-opener. Prugh is also mentioned in this Boston Globe story, though only peripherally.

• The Hawks’ mini-camp goes on. The Times has a piece on tight end Marcus Pollard, the P-I writes about the defense, the Herald on receiver Joe Fernandez (who?) and the News Tribune’s story is about linebacker Leroy Hill.

Eastern’s decision expected soon

EAGLES

The interviews are over, the four finalists poked, prodded and questioned. Which one will be picked as Eastern Washington’s latest mens’ basketball coach?

The smart money is on Kirk Earlywine, an assistant at North Carolina-Wilmington, who has connections with EWU interim athletic director Michael Westfall.

But Westfall is quoted in Dave Trimmer’s story this morning saying, “There is no front runner, they’re all exceptional candidates. I’ve said before, you could put all the names in a hat, draw one and we could be successful with anyone in this group.”

The question then becomes who will be the most successful?

The only one with any Division I head coaching experience is Rod Jensen, who compiled a 109-93 mark in seven seasons at Boise State. His Broncos’ best season came in 1998-99, when they were 21-8 playing in the Big West Conference.

Jeff Hironaka has been the head coach at Seattle Pacific, an NCAA Division II school, for five seasons, posting a 94-49 record. Jim Shaw has been a longtime assistant at many programs, most recently at the University of Washington. And Earlywine was a head coach for just one season.

Whenever Eastern makes a decision, you’ll find it on Dave’s blog.

Hawks’ Branch late for mini-camp but has a note

MORNING NEWS

There are a couple of other items floating out there I wanted to draw your attention to, so here they are …

• I have been remiss lately with Seahawks’ links, possibly because it seems more like baseball weather than football. Or because I was lazy. You pick.

Anyhow, the big news at this mini-camp – have you noticed how these poor, underpaid NFL players have to work all year-round now? – this week was the arrival of receiver Deion Branch, MIA thus far after his wedding. Just about everyone on the West Side wrote a story (here they are from the Times, P-I and News Tribune. The Herald story was about Chris Gray.) and just about everyone worked the word honeymoon into the headline. Cute.

• From the preps, here is the final Sideline Smitty column until the fall.

• There is one other story worth linking too, if only because it affects this column. A Louisville Courier-Journal sports writer was ejected (second story in this notebook) from an NCAA Super Regional game this weekend because he was blogging live from the event.

We have done live blogging in the past (WSU football, Shock games, prep events) but we only do it if it confirms to the agreement on the event pass. We don’t blog live from GU games, for example, because the institutions feels it is in its interest to ban the practice, thus protecting their over-the-air TV and radio rights. By accepting the pass to enter the building, we agree to that (maybe not with it, but to it). It is an interesting discussion that will be going on for some time.

Easy win for Cougs in Brisbane

COUGARS, VANDALS

Sorry, but I couldn’t find a link out of Australia for WSU’s 85-70 win Monday over the Southern Districts Spartans, which raised the Cougs’ record to 3-2 on the Down Under basketball tour. However we do have some news.

It was the usual suspects leading the way, Robbie Cowgill, Derrick Low, Daven Harmeling and Kyle Weaver. For the release from the WSU sports information office, click the full entry link below.

••••••••••

• Some of you might remember former University of Idaho and NFL linebacker Ryan Phillips. If you do, do you remember how big he was, about 6-foot-4 and more than 230 pounds, when he played?

Well, he’s not that big anymore. Can’t be. He’s now an Ironman. As in he will be participating in the Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene later this month. Check out Jim Meehan’s story about the football player turned swimmer/biker/runner. There is also more on Jim’s Vandal blog.

WSU suffers second one-point loss in Australia

COUGARS, EAGLES, COLLEGE SPORTS

It seems like the level of competition varies for the Cougs on their Down Under tour, but their most recent contest was against about the best the continent could offer.

The Sydney Kings are the three-time defending champions of Australia’s professional league but Washington State gave them all they could ask for, with the Kings holding on for a 102-101 victory.

If you are wondering why there was such a high score, remember, they play 48 minutes in pro hoops. And Derrick Low was on fire, hitting 11 of 18 3-pointers en route to a game-high 35 points. Aron Baynes also had a standout performance, with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

The Cougs have two more games left on the tour (they are 2-2 with both losses by a point) before returning to Pullman.

• The News Tribune girls’ high school athlete of the year is headed to Pullman.

••••••••••

• Don’t forget to check out Dave Trimmer’s blog for the latest on the EWU coaching search. Two candidates are in Cheney today for interviews.

••••••••••

• Though the West Coast Conference wasn’t receptive to adding them right away, the Seattle University Redhawks are still moving up to Division I sports. Art Thiel examines the change in his column.

From Brazil to Paris, there’s something for everyone here

MORNING NEWS

There is kind of an eclectic collection of local subjects covered in today’s Spokesman-Review, ranging from the Shock’s big comeback win (see link in post below) to Steve Bergum’s engaging feature on former GU star J.P. Batista, bask in Spokane after a season playing hoops overseas.

There’s a report from the NCAA track and field championships in Sacramento and Dave Trimmer’s report on Eastern Washington’s final four basketball coaching candidates. And there’s sport editor Joe Palmquist’s column, a column that puts so much weight on me I feel about as strong as Kevin Durant. “… Grippi will deliver. I promise.” Geez, you think you’re boss would know your limitations.

• A couple of other things from around the Northwest that are worth reading, then the M’s links. Steve Kelley, who has been off since the death of his mentor and friend David Halberstam, returns with a funny column (a lot happens in a month). John McGrath of the News Tribune also has a funny column today, but it’s on the baseball draft.

• Speaking of baseball, the Mariners rallied to win again Saturday night despite Little League mistakes. And Jeff Weaver pitched OK. Here are the game stories, from the Times and the News Tribune. From San Diego, here is the Union-Tribune story.

• There are also plenty of other great M’s stories out there, including this one from Larry Stone on keeping Ichiro (and his weekly power rankings), this from Larry LaRue on Carlos Garcia’s ejection Friday, and this from Darrin Beene of the News Tribune on Mike Hargrove’s future. I think if you’ve read this on-line column before, you know where I come down on the last one. Your M’s question of the day: Where do you come down on Hargrove?

• Finally, the most exciting sporting event I watched on TV yesterday was the Belmont, where filly Rags to Riches outlasted Preakness winner Curlin down the stretch of the 1½-mile race. I went to the hometown source for a great story, the New York Times. And, in other sports we don’t cover much here, Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the French Open final.

Ibanez’s long fly saves a win for M’s

MARINERS

Raul Ibanez hit, what, 90-plus home runs last year (it was actually 33)? But, going into Friday’s game in Petco Park – a place where hardly anyone hits homers – Ibanez had one (that’s 1) this injury-slowed season.

So what does he do? Of course he hits a game-winning dinger in the 11th, getting the M’s road trip off to a positive 6-5 start.

It was Ibanez’s first home run since April 19, a stretch that last 160 at-bats.

The long ball salvaged what should have been an easy M’s win, what with the excellent six innings from Miguel Batista (the seventh? Not so much) and an offense that pounded out 16 hits. But the M’s left 13 runners on base, couldn’t bunt to save their game and, when Batista lost it in the seventh, George Sherrill was unable to shut the door. So Ibanez had to supply the power.

Now another guy who hasn’t had a lot of success lately, pitcher Jeff Weaver (0-6, 14.32 ERA, will try to pitch the equivalent of a home run tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM) when he takes the bump against veteran left-hander David Wells (3-3, 4.79).

Today’s hot list …

• The comeback was even more impressive considering the Padres’ pitching and their recent history of rallies. Of course, every game stories talks about Ibanez home run. Here they are, from the Times, the News Tribune and the P-I. Also, from San Diego, here is the Union-Tribune piece.

• One of the M’s draft picks on the second day was former UW quarterback Johnny DuRocher. DuRocher’s journey to this point is worth reading about.

• Weaver’s outing is pretty important – to him and the M’s – but manager Mike Hargrove had little to say. By the way, wasn’t Hargrove impressive Friday as he stood up for his third-base coach Carlos Garcia after Garcia was tossed by the rabbit-eared Alfonso Marquez? If Hargrove said 10 words I would be shocked. I want that guy having my back. Yah, right.

• And our question of the day …

• How will Jeff Weaver pitch tonight?

Holland pulls out of EWU’s coaching search

EAGLES

Dave Trimmer reports on his blog Eastern picked its five basketball coaching finalists and that quickly became four. Former San Diego coach Brad Holland pulled out after talking with interim athletic director Michael Westfall. Check Dave’s blog for more.

Walkosky hired as WSU cornerbacks coach

COUGARS

As we alluded to earlier today, the Cougs have hired a new football assistant, David Walkosky, to take Ken Greene’s place as cornerbacks’ coach.

Walkosky comes to Washington State from the University of Toledo where he was the secondary coach and special teams coordinator. He will fill a big role in special teams with the Cougars as well. You can find more on the hire in this release from WSU and this story.

• Thanks to CougNut, here are a couple links from Australia concerning the Cougars’ tour.

Coach Tony Bennett played four preseason games for the Sydney Kings, Sunday’s opponent, in 1996 before being cut. The club’s website has an interview with him. There is also a picture of Bennett from those days. Sunday’s game is a sellout. The Kings’ website also has this advance.

Padres are hotting than La Mesa in July

MARINERS

A rare off day is followed by a three-game series in San Diego, where the Padres are nothing if not red hot. Last night they completed a three-game sweep of the Dodgers by scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and winning 6-5. The Padres have won five consecutive games and 10 of 12.

With Petco Field rocking, the Mariners come in trying to stay within shouting distance of the Angels in the American League West. They’ll start Miguel Batista (6-4, 5.43 ERA) tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM) against undefeated Justin Germano (4-0, 1.74).

Today’s hot list …

• The M’s took Canadian pitcher Phillippe Aumont with their first pick in Wednesday’s draft, and everyone had a story. Here they are, from the Times, the News Tribune, the P-I (with a history sidebar) and the Herald. I just get this feeling if he doesn’t pan out we’ll be singing that song from “South Park” with the word Bavasi substituted for Canada. By the way, the third pick was Denny Almonte, not disgraced Little Leaguer Danny Almonte.

• Here’s a column I couldn’t disagree with more. Ted Miller of the P-I believes the M’s should resign Ichiro no matter the price. C’mon. The guy is probably already overpaid and certainly overhyped and overrated. He’s a great singles hitter who doesn’t get on base enough (he’s better thus far this year) in the leadoff spot and is only, sorry M’s faithful, only an average centerfielder (though an above-average right fielder). At the right price keep him. But not for $20 million a year. Miller’s column is part of a package called “What is Ichiro Worth?” It includes this main story, a fan’s piece which I also don’t agree with (though I still wish Junior and A-Rod had stayed), and this look at Adam Jones.

• Geoff Baker used the off day to profile Cha Seung Baek and his circuitous trip through a strange land to the big leagues.

• The M’s-for-sale rumors won’t die no matter how much they are denied. Here’s a story from yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

• And our question of the day …

• How much would you pay Ichiro?

Coaching pool slims at EWU

EAGLES, MARINERS, BULLDOGS

Eastern seems to be moving closer to hiring a basketball coach. At least the pool of candidates seems to be shrinking. Check Dave Trimmer’s blog for more.

•••••••••••

• The Mariners went out of the country for their first draft pick in the entry draft. The M’s picked Canadian prep pitcher Phillippe Aumont, a 6-foot-7 right-hander, with their first choice, the 11th overall.

• Lewis-Clark State junior infielder Beau Mills was selected 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians.

••••••••••

• Gonzaga’s Clayton Mortensen was selected by the Saint Louis Cardinals in the supplemental first round draft. The senior pitcher was the 36th player taken overall and the sixth to go in the supplemental round, which is sandwiched between the first and second rounds.

Some basketball news from around the globe

COLLEGES, PREPS

Thanks to alert readers, we have a link to a release about Washington State’s first game on the Down Under tour. The Cougars won in New Zealand behind the 20 points of Derrick Low. It’s now on to Australia.

• As Dave Trimmer first reported on his blog, former Eastern Washington basketball coach Steve Aggers is no longer interested in the position.

• The Spokane RiverHawks have made a lot of changes over the offseason, with the college summer baseball team changing owners, head coaches and home fields. Steve Bergum has all the info in this story.

• The NCAA Track and Field Championships opened Wednesday in Sacramento and more than a handful of local athletes advanced through the preliminaries.

•••••••••••

• Mike Vlahovich looks back at the prep year that was in his column and this story. The successes of local schools look pretty impressive when listed like this.

• The prep all-star season is upon us, with this notebook in the Times detailing a few from that side of the state.

•••••••••••

FYI, I’m off to Washington State to get my bearings a little bit, so the posts today may be few and far between. At some point I want to check the baseball draft, but we’ll see. It’s tough to drive 195 and blog at the same time – I’m pretty sure the legislature has banned that practice.

Cougar information from New Zealand hard to come by

COUGARS, EVENING NEWS

We had a score of the Cougars’ first game on the Down Under tour posted here, but we haven’t been able to verify it. All our searches for a box or game story have gone for naught, with the Auckland, New Zealand newspaper not carrying anything on its website. When the Cougs play in Australia on Thursday, which is today as far as I can figure out, we should have better luck.

• Thanks to CougNut, here’s a link to the Australia Basketball Association’s web site, where the 2007 World University Games team was announced. Of course the reason for the link is WSU’s Aaron Baynes was named to the team.

• Here’s another NBA mock draft with Eastern’s Rodney Stuckey penciled in going 23rd to New York. He’s called a steal, and at that spot he just may be.

Seattle faithful beginning to believe

MARINERS

I am sitting in an awful motel room on Mercer Island, one I wouldn’t recommend to a Giants fan, and trying to catch up on the news.

Actually, I’m trying to see if the game stories caught the excitement that was running through the stands last night in the 5-4 comeback victory over the Orioles. For the most part they did.

I’ve covered a lot of games over the past 30 years and I do know the atmosphere in the press box is different than in the seats – and that’s a good thing. Writers are not fans, and shouldn’t be. But it is important to know how the team’s fans are reacting, which is what I decided to discover last night.

Now there weren’t a lot of people at Safeco – 19,287, not all of whom were baseball fans; some were there for the beer, others for the cotton candy and all those types seemed to be continually walking in front of me – but there seems to be a current of electricity starting to build around this team. A string of comeback victories will do that.

As I wandered and listened, what I heard in the early innings revolved around a confidence the M’s would rally, that the Orioles lead would melt away as soon as the Mariners got into the O’s bullpen. Which is exactly what happened.

There was a (positive) confidence in the stands, something that’s been missing for a few years (read: since Bill Bavasi came aboard). The past couple years it seemed the M’s faithful was waiting for the other shoe to drop, the opponent to rally, the Mariners to blow the game. Last night, at least, the expectations were different. Even Ichiro felt it.

“There is some kind of atmosphere that this team has,” he said through an interpreter in the Times. “I’m not exactly able to put a finger on it. But we definitely have something going on.”

Do they? As that famous baseball writer Abe Lincoln once wrote in Washington Post (and I’m paraphrasing): You can fool all the people some of the time and you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. The next few weeks will show if the M’s fans are just being fooled.

We’ll be back at Safeco today (1:05 p.m.; no TV; 700-AM) for the final game in the M’s brutal 194-day stretch without a day off. Listening to some of the griping, it’s been worse than Bataan, believe me.

Today’s hot list …

• The most recent in a string of comebacks was the lead in game stories from the News Tribune, the Times, the P-I and the Herald. From Baltimore, the death watch is beginning again for manager Sam Perlozzo, and you can follow it in the Sun.

• All is well. That’s the Mariners’ line about Felix Hernandez. At least physically. His pitching? That can improve.

• I’ve written this here before, but there is no doubt Kenji Johjima is one of the three best catchers in the American League right now. But that doesn’t mean he will make the AL All-Star team.

• After today, the M’s play nine of their next 10 games in National League parks. To get Jose Vidro’s bat in the lineup, this year’s DH will have to pick up a glove. Remember when Edgar had to do this? He always seemed to get hurt trying to catch a pop up or something. Let’s hope for Vidro’s sake the same doesn’t happen.

• Now this is a story that won’t surpri

Felix struggles again, but M’s still win

MARINERS

Yes, they won again. And yes, the M’s didn’t lose another game to the Angels in the standings (they are still 5½ games back). And yes, the hitting is pretty impressive right now.

But unless Felix Hernandez starts throwing with more command, the M’s are going to struggle. Hernandez has the stuff to be a No. 1 starter, he showed that early in the year. But since his injury, the control hasn’t been there and Hernandez has been hit pretty hard, including last night in the 7-4 win.

Is he still hurt a little? Is he worried about letting it go? Is it something else? Whatever, the M’s could sure use Felix working back into his early season form.

Tonight (and tomorrow) we’ll be at Safeco watching the M’s. It will be Cha Seung Baek (3-2, 4.93 ERA) vs. Brian Burres (3-2, 3.08) tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM) and Jarrod Washburn in tomorrow’s 1:35 game (which means we should get out of there early).

Today’s hot list …

• Jose Vidro pulling himself off the bench to pinch-hit seems to be the thrust of the game stories, starting with the Times and continuing through the News Tribune, the P-I and the Herald. Here is the game story from the Baltimore Sun.

• Thanks for the effort. Now get out. That was the message (delivered in a nicer manner, I’m sure) to Ryan Feierabend on Monday. With the M’s activating reliever Chris Reitsma, Feierabend was sent back to Tacoma. Jeff Weaver will return to the rotation Saturday, taking the spot Feierabend filled last weekend.

• Speaking of Tacoma, the M’s have a blossoming power hitter there.

• Former Mariner third-base coach Sam Perlozzo isn’t having the season he hoped for as manager of the Orioles.

• And our question of the day …

• What is behind Felix’s poor outings of late?

Eagles have recognizable names on coaching list

COLLEGES

The Eastern Washington Eagles are dominating local college news right now, with the on-going search for a replacement for first basketball coach Mike Burns the main subject of discussion – though not the only one.

Dave Trimmer looks at Eastern’s candidate list in this story, along with some of the other “minor” issues the Eagles are dealing with; minor like a new athletic director and NCAA violations.

• Former Eagle Michael Taylor has decided to transfer to another Big Sky school, Montana. Dave has the news on the link above and there is this story from the Missoulian.

• Speaking of Eastern, former EWU – and now former Montana State – football coach Mike Kramer wants the Bobcats to pay.

• It looks like the Pac-10 women’s basketball tournament is moving to Los Angeles in 2009.

• It’s funny. When we ran the story that former Ferris High golfer Alex Prugh qualified for his first U.S. Open, the headline read “Spokane’s Prugh … .” When the Seattle Times ran the story, the headline read “UW’s Prugh … .” He’s both (having attended UW for the past four years) but it just shows how papers try to localize the news. The News Tribune’s Todd Milles actually covered the qualifying up the road at Gold Mountain outside of Bremerton (my son and I played the Olympic Course there once, and didn’t shoot anything resembling Prugh’s score). By the way, the P-I story barely mentioned Prugh (Puyallup’s Ryan Moore qualifying was the big news).

You can actually say M’s squeeze past Rangers despite score

MARINERS

If you know anything at all about baseball, you have to know the play Jamie Burke pulled off Sunday was harder than hitting a home run, making a diving catch or stealing a base. You also have to know it isn’t appreciated all that much.

Burke’s squeeze bunt in the sixth inning (the focus of this Times’ notebook) not only was almost impossible to pull off – next time you are at a batting cage, just try bunting a 95-mph fastball, then think about doing that with the ball coming at your chest – but it also was part of a four-run rally that put the Rangers away in the 11-6 win.

It was also something I’m sure we would have never witnessed if Mike Hargrove had been managing instead of Lou Piniella-mentored John McLaren. The play brought back memories of when the M’s manufactured runs with the bottom of the order, instead of sitting back and waiting for a three-run home run.

Hargrove is back today (7:05; FSN; 920-AM) for a pitchers’ duel, with Felix Hernandez (3-3, 4.10 ERA) facing Baltimore’s best, Erik Bedard (4-3, 3.67).

Today’s hot list …

• It’s kind of a cliché now. Whenever a pitcher earns his first major league win – as Ryan Feierabend did Sunday – someone, in the Mariners’ case usually J.J. Putz, hits him in the face with a shaving cream pie. No one ever said major leaguers were as funny as Carlos Mencia. But they do appreciate a good performance, which is what Feierabend gave the M’s. That’s reflected in the game stories in the Times, the News Tribune, the P-I and the Herald. Here are the stories out of Dallas from the Morning News and the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

• There was a report in the Boston Globe on Sunday the M’s might be sold. Well CEO Howard Lincoln is having none of it. Either is Pat Gillick, mentioned as one of the major players behind the “purchasing” group.

• Speaking of McLaren, he’s still waiting for his chance to manage a big league team.

• Jeff Weaver had his best outing of the season Sunday. Too bad it was a simulated game. Actually, if it had been a true simulation, Weaver would have walked six and given up seven earned runs.

• General manager Bill Bavasi gets hit pretty hard in this Baseball Digest piece.

• And our question of the day …

• Do you miss the brand of baseball the M’s used to play under Piniella?

I have meetings this morning and a column to write, but there are a bunch of other links (non-Mariners) I want to share. We’ll be back later with them.

Shock, M’s hold off opponents for wins Saturday

MORNING NEWS, MARINERS

The last two Shock games have been interesting – in totally different ways.

Two weeks ago, the Spokane team won 66-63 by scoring on the final play of the night. Last night the Shock pulled out a 52-47 win all because John Koker got his chin strap buckled in time and threw his body in front of Everett’s Raymond Little II, who looked to be headed for a go-ahead touchdown. Then they overcame their inability to gain an inch on third down to survive Everett’s final scoring attempt on the game’s last play.

You can read Jessica Brown’s game story here and see a slide show on her blog.

• For you Cougar fans, we give you two for the price of one today. That would John Blanchette’s profile of the Pickler sisters, headed to the NCAA Track and Field championships in Sacramento, where they will compete in the heptathlon.

• The M’s will go for three out of four from the Rangers today (1 p.m.; FSN; 920-AM) with rookie lefty Ryan Feierabend (0-1, 5.40 ERA) on the mound. Saturday, the tiring bullpen – that will happen when you play 183 days in a row – almost burped up all of a five-run lead. Miguel Batista had one of his better starts of the year, and turned that lead over to the pen in the seventh. J.J. Putz got the final five outs, but not before Texas closed to 5-4. Here are the game stories from the News Tribune, the Times and the Herald. From Texas, there are these from the Dallas Morning News and the Ft. Worth Star-Tribune.

• Speaking of the M’s, the umpires misapplied a ground rule Friday night and it may have cost Seattle the game (at the bottom of the link). Also, Edgar Martinez was officially inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. Should he be in baseball’s Hall of Fame? That, for those of you who are paying attention, is your M’s question of the day.

• For baseball fans, here are a couple of columns, one from Darrin Beene out of Tacoma and this on this week’s draft from the Times’ Larry Stone. Here is Stone’s power rankings as well.

• And then there is this incredible news: Lou Piniella has been suspended indefinitely for his tirade Saturday. So baseball won’t touch guys using performance-enhancing drugs to set bogus records but it will suspend Piniella for kicking dirt on an umpire’s shoes? Nice.

• With UW just a few wins away from a possible national softball title, the Times’ Bud Withers has an interesting column on coach Heather Tarr.

• That’s it for this Sunday morning. The wife and I are hea

Everett takes all the momentum into the locker room

SHOCK

The trends don’t look promising for Shock fans.

Everett scored the final 20 points of the first half. The Hawks had three scoring plays of more than 30 yards. Against a team that has yielded an average of almost 60 points a game, Spokane has managed to gain 70 total yards.

Two things probably need to happen for the Shock to rally in the second half: The defense has to quit giving up the big play and the offensive line has to stop allowing Everett to pressure right up the middle.

Maybe it is time to switch to Justin Rummell at quarterback. He’s a little more mobile than Andrico Hines, which is needed against the Everett pressure.

Whether Shock coach Adam Shackleford would be willing to make that change remains to be seen. My guess is he won’t.

Broadcast on KAYU

SHOCK

If you are reading this prior to tonight’s game with Everett, remember the telecast is on KAYU-28 instead of the usual KHQ-6. Something called the Stanley Cup Finals are on NBC tonight.

Isn’t it June 2? Isn’t hockey season supposed to be over? Isn’t it football season?

• Well be back later with other Shock info.

Saturday’s news includes violations and a transfer

MORNING NEWS • UPDATED: 4:10 P.M.

As we all know, it’s Saturday morning.

And as we all probably know, there’s a Shock game tonight – speaking of the Shock, they host Everett tonight at 7. Here’s a link to Jessica Brown’s story, her blog and a link to the Everett Herald advance – so that means a long day ahead for ViceGrip (yah, I’m trying some of the nickname suggestions out).

So we’re going to hit the highlights this morning and move on.

• DeAngelo Casto is transferring from Ferris to Franklin High in Seattle. Here is a story from the Times.

• Eastern Washington University has turned itself in to the NCAA for possible violations in the basketball program. Dave Trimmer has the whole story here, with more on his blog. UPDATE: Here is Eastern’s entire report sent to the NCAA.

• Speaking of Eastern, the Eagles have a guy who really wants the job: former USD coach Brad Holland. I hope Holland gets it. Then I can spend the next few years telling my Brad-Holland-at-Crescenta-Valley-High stories. And I’ve got a lot of them.

• Glenn Kasses had another story in the works before he left and it ran in today’s golf section. It’s about the remodeling going on at WSU’s course. And, for you Cougar fans wanting a football fix, here’s a link to a story mentioning recruit Romeo Pellum of Santa Fe High in Southern California. Pellum plays in the annual 605 All-Star Football Classic tonight.

• Washington’s softball team has moved into what’s basically the semifinals of the womens’ College World Series. The Huskies will play Tennessee Sunday (the Volunteers edged Arizona early Saturday morning), with the winner waiting in the finals for someone to emerge from the consolation bracket.

Just who will EWU get to replace Burns?

COLLEGES

The story that doesn’t seem to slow down right now is Eastern Washington’s ill-timed dismissal of head basketball coach Mike Burns.

Dave Trimmer talked with a lot of local coaches who may or may not be considered candidates for the EWU position, and many of them had harsh things to say about the Eagles’ move. Which might give you a clue how hard it will be for Eastern to fill the position with someone locally – if that’s the direction the school wanted to take.

Honestly, I don’t have any idea who the new coach will be, but I don’t believe the person’s name has been mentioned yet.

Expect more in the way of stories from Dave and information on his blog.

• The Cougar basketball team is headed Down Under this week to play a series of exhibition games in New Zealand and Australia. Glenn Kasses’ parting gift to WSU fans is this story about the trip and the two players to whom it means the most.

• This is actually a Spokane Shock story, but because the subject matter, defensive back Alex Teems, is a former Cougar, we’ll put the link here.

• Speaking of former Cougars, the P-I’s Go-to-Guy, Jim Moore, attended the Cougar golf tournament in Seattle and filed this column.

• Lewis-Clark State won the NAIA World Series again, the Warriors’ sixth title in eight years.

• Spencer Hawes says he is still thinking about returning to UW. Or not. Wonder if that is some ploy to affect which team picks him or a true sentiment?

• The UW softball team no-hit De Paul and advanced at the softball College World Series.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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