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Archive for May 2007

M’s are home with a large hill to climb

MARINERS • UPDATED: 2:45 P.M.

The road trip from hell is over, though the unending stretch of games continues.

And the M’s failed their first big test of the season. With Felix on the mound. And with the offense supplying six runs.

Now Seattle comes home trailing the Angels by 5½ games as May winds down. Not an insurmountable lead, but one, with the Angels’ pitching, that will be hard to overcome.

At least Texas is in town for three games, starting tonight (7:05; FSN; 920-AM) when Cha Seung Baek (2-2, 4.60 ERA) will take the mound coming off one of his better games of the season.

Today’s hot list …

• The game stories feature exactly what you would think they would feature, the mystifying inability of Felix Hernandez to put the Angels away. Here they are from the News Tribune, the P-I and the Times. From Los Angeles you can read the stories in the Times and the Register.

• The manager said he was. The pitcher said he wasn’t. Guess who won? Yes, the pitcher. Jeff Weaver won’t be going on a rehab assignment after all.

• Raul Ibanez is getting healthier, and he hopes that health will result in more RBIs.

UPDATE: • San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto assesses the American League All-Star picks.

By the way, sorry about being so late today. It’s been an interesting day with meetings and assignments unrelated to Mariners.

High school seasons ends, but the news doesn’t

PREPS

As May winds down, so does the Prep Page.

In Idaho, the last page of the school year includes a feature on Greg Lee’s North Idaho male athlete of the year, Frank Lagrimanta of Timberlake, and his female athlete of the year, Coeur d’Alene’s Jenna DeLong. Greg also has his year-in-review column and more thoughts on his blog.

On the Washington side of the state line, we had the all-league choices from around the Inland Northwest, which, sadly, are unavailable on-line. Once again I’ll remind readers – as I seemingly had to do on the phone multiple times a year when I was prep editor – the all-league teams are picked by the leagues, not us, and we run them as a service so that the students get the recognition they deserve.

Like you, we sometimes disagree with the selections. Especially this spring. Actually, I only disagree with one non-selection. And, no, it’s not a relative.

This and that from around the area

EARLY AFTERNOON NEWS

A couple of things to call your attention to …

• With the explosive growth of ultimate fighting, boxing seems to be taking a seat further and further back. That’s discouraging to Spokane’s best heavyweight, Chauncy Welliver, who John Blanchette profiles in today’s S-R .

• The Seattle Public Schools are moving closer to a sea change in the area’s prep leagues.

• Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves hired a new assistant this week, which left a Fort Collins, Colo., high school looking for a boys’ coach.

• WSU women’s basketball coach June Daugherty is out of the hospital and home after her recent bout with cardiac problems.

• Long Beach State athletic director Vic Cegles has some things to say about Dan Monson’s hire.

• Wahluke’s football coaching job must be a good one. Dan Oppelt left 4A Stadium in Tacoma to take the 1A position in Wahluke.

Burns out at Eastern

EAGLES

Dave Trimmer broke the news this morning that Eastern Washington University fired head basketball coach Mike Burns.

Burns has coached the Eagles for three years, posting a 38-49 record despite the presence for the past two years of Rodney Stuckey, one of the more talented players in Eastern history.

Dave has more on his blog.

I’ll have more on Burns’ firing in a little while.

NCAA not inviting GU surprises some

BULLDOGS

The only local news with any fire seems to be Gonzaga’s baseball team being snubbed by the NCAA.

Steve Bergum had this story in today’s S-R which includes comment from coach Mark Machtolf.

But Steve wasn’t the only writer to mention the Gonzaga oversight. The State in Columbia, South Carolina listed GU as one of the three overlooked teams, while ESPN’s Kyle Peterson had Gonzaga as the one team left out that surprised him.

From areas where teams got in, here’s a San Diego Union-Tribune story about the Toreros hosting, and here’s a piece from the Los Angeles Times about the NCAA stupidly placing the Big West and Pac-10 champions in the same region.

The Internet and Barry Bonds

BASEBALL

I’ve written a column for Tuesday’s paper about Barry Bonds’ quest to pass Hank Aaron on the career home run list.

Bonds’ steroid-fueled run – since he turned 35 and began using performance-enhancing drugs, Bonds has hit 301 home runs; only two men in the history of baseball have even hit more than 200 after turning 35 and one of those was steroid user Rafael Palmeiro – has been under discussion on the Web for some time.

How do people feel about Bonds and the record? Well here are eight links – seven blog posts and one story – I think you might find interesting. If you know of others, feel free to add them in the comments. I would love to read more.

And I would also like your opinions on Bonds and the record. Please feel free to add your comments.

1. A discussion about Bonds’ numbers and what they might have been without drugs.

2. This blogger will cheer when Bonds breaks Aaron’s record, but not wholeheartedly.

3. A Giants fan’s take on the issue.

4. A decent discussion on race, the chase and how Giants fans should react.

5. The baseball nut’s perspective. The guy is a Red Sox fan, so you know he’s a baseball nut.

6. Former major league pitcher – and convicted felon – Denny McLain has an opinion on how baseball’s hierarchy should handle the big day.

7. This link is worth checking out just for the bobble heads. Human growth hormone, yah right.

8. And finally this link to the ESPN/ABC News poll showing the racial divide over Bonds. The worse news is people are starting to cut him some slack. In my opinion, he’s a cheater folks, and doesn’t deserve any.

NCAA snubs Gonzaga - and anyone else from around here

BULLDOGS • UPDATED: 9:40 P.M.

For a long time now I just figured the NCAA didn’t like Whitworth. It was a Division III thing, I figured. No money, so let’s cut corners by not inviting the Pirates to any postseason when we have an excuse. Basketball, softball, it didn’t matter.

But I now realize that thought process was flawed. The NCAA isn’t out to get Whitworth. It’s pretty much the whole Inland Northwest the organization doesn’t like.

The Division I baseball selections show that.

Gonzaga finished its baseball season 33-25 overall and second in the West Coast Conference with a 15-6 record. And yet, the Bulldogs failed to make the NCAA Tournament. Worse than that, Pepperdine, a team Gonzaga defeated two of three times down the stretch in a key series at Malibu is given an at-large berth. The only loss to the Waves was by a run in 11 innings.

And Oregon State, a team that finished sixth in the Pac-10 and a team Gonzaga defeated – one of only three Beaver non-conference losses – is in as well.

Then you hear the head of selection committee, Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton, talk on ESPN about how important is was for teams to play a tough non-conference schedule. He says that was the key factor in the committee’s discussions.

So you look at GU’s non-conference schedule and see 18 games against Division I tournament teams and two against Lewis-Clark State, the best NAIA team in the nation. In those 20 games, they were 8-12, not a bad record considering 13 of those games were at the opponent’s field and three were at neutral sites. Plus, the first nine were played before Feb. 18, when there was still snow on the ground in Spokane.

You know where Spokane is, don’t you? I’m sure you do. But it doesn’t seem the NCAA does.

• UPDATE: Here’s how Baseball America sees the Gonzaga snub.

Once again Bavasi shows his ability to pick a pitcher

MARINERS

We’ve talked about this before, but Saturday’s game just underscored it again. Bill Bavasi should not be the Mariners’ general manager.

How did Saturday’s 9-1 win over Kansas City lead to that conclusion? Simple. Bavasi, and the organization I’m presuming, didn’t think Cha Seung Baek could win in the big leagues, despite Baek’s decent late-season stint last year. So Bavasi spent millions of the organization’s dollars on Jeff Weaver (great choice) and Miguel Batista (maybe that one will work out). He also spent one of the best arms in the bullpen to get Horacio Ramirez (the best pitcher on the team when he’s in the 206 area code; everywhere else, watch out).

So what has Baek done? The guy who wasn’t good enough and is only pitching due to injuries is the third best pitcher in the rotation. Nice call Mr. Bavasi.

The second-best pitcher, Jarrod Washburn (and to give Bavasi credit, he did sign him before last season) takes his 4-4 record and 3.15 ERA to the mound today (11:10 a.m.; FSN; 920-AM) against the Royals as the M’s try for a sweep before moving on the Anaheim.

Today’s hot list …

• Baek’s pitching and the recent offensive explosion seems to be the theme in today’s stories. Here they are, from the Times and the News Tribune. The Kansas City Star had this focusing on Meche.

• Kenji Johjima might just be the best catcher in the American League right now. At the very least he is in the top three.

• J.J. Putz is excited about what the future holds for the M’s bullpen.

• Larry Stone goes into the steroid “stuff” that is about to hit the fan, thanks to Jason Giambi once again. This is something I’m going to address soon.

• And our question of the day …

• Is Johjima playing over his head or is going to have a great year with the bat?

Bulldogs one game away from NCAAs

COLLEGES

One game.

Gonzaga University’s baseball season may just come down to one game.

Win today (3 p.m.; 790-AM), and the Bulldogs have earned their way into the NCAA Tournament, no ifs, and or buts about it. Lose, and they’ll have to be given an at-large berth. Even though most college baseball observers think the latter is pretty safe, would you rather earn something or be given it? Me too.

Here’s is our game story from Saturday’s 13-5 loss to USD in a game that was tied at four in the fourth inning.

• The Cougar basketball team earned a commitment from Medford (Ore.) High guard Michael Harthun. As always, you can read more on Glenn Kasses’ blog - for a few more days anyway.

• WSU’s track team also had a good day at the NCAA West Regional in Eugene. The baseball team picked up a win at UC Davis.

• The UW women’s softball team is headed to the college World Series after sweeping Alabama at home in the Super Regional. The Times’ Jerry Brewer even has a column about the accomplishment.

No more Shock than this one

SHOCK

Justin Rummel - who? - connected with Kelvin Dickens on a 18-yard touchdown pass as time expired, giving Spokane a wild 66-63 win over Central Valley.

You can read my game story here. But I don’t know if I did the crazy nature of this game justice.

Take Rummel for example. He was signed just over a week ago. He had yet to throw a game pass. He is a graduate of that well-known football power Earlham College, a Division III (think Whitworth without the football tradition) school in Indiana for heaven’s sake. When you search for the school on Google, no link to the athletic department even comes up. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

But he is also the guy who may have just saved the Shock’s season. When Andrico Hines went out with a tweaked left hamstring - in the middle of what may have been his best game of his short Spokane career - the Shock faced what was obviously going to be a shootout without its top offensive threat.

So who would have thought the guy they brought off the bench would do better? There’s no doubt Rummel’s arm isn’t in the same league with Hines’ - on Rummel’s first throw Dickens dropped an easy catch, looking like he expected the ball to get to his hands quicker - but his feet may be better and his decision-making just as good.

It was those feet that allowed Rummel to buy time often, moving around in the pocket just long enough for Dickens, Savage and Anthony Brown to come free. With the Shock offensive line - as a group it was much better this game - porous at times, being able to move enough to get the pass off is an important asset for Shock quarterbacks.

But not turning the ball over is more important. Rummel did have one, sort of, with the safety and almost made that play worse, trying a pass at the last second that squirted from his hand and found the end zone turf. Luckily for him the play had already been blown dead or CV would have had six points, not two. And Spokane won by three, remember?

The main reason the Shock won tonight wasn’t even on the roster two weeks ago when Spokane lost at home to Bakersfield in an offensively inept - and scoreless - second half.

So give a big assist on this win to Spokane general manager Adam Nebeker. If he can find a game-winning relief pitcher from Earlham College, he may deserve to be the af2’s general manager of the year.

And Rummel may just take the Fireman award.

Shadle Park takes 4A softball title

PREPS

Each year since Sam Skillingstad came to Shadle Park, the Highlanders got closer and closer to a state title. In 2005, they finished fourth. Last season it was second.

Saturday they took the final step. Behind Skillingstad’s arm, the Highlanders, ranked 14th nationally, defeated Mountain View 2-0 to raise their record to 28-1 and win the school’s first State 4A fastpitch title.

By the way, Skillingstad threw all four state games and did not yield a run. You can’t lose if the other team doesn’t score.

UPDATE: Skillingstad, besides throwing her second one-hitter in three games, drove in one of Shadle’s two runs - catcher Tressa Predisik had the other RBI - while Danielle Lynn had the Highlanders other two hits.

Mead doubles wins State 4A title; Track athletes do as well

PREPS • UPDATED: 3:20 P.M.; 4:35; 5:40

The Mead girls’ doubles team of Katrina Schwab and Britta Stime defeated Erica Ehlo and Lyndi Seidensticker of Lewis and Clark, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 to win the State 4A title. Schwab, a junior, and Stime, a sophomore, advanced through the two-day tournament, losing a set in both matches today.

UPDATE: North Central will play for third place in 3A softball after Kelsie Vallies threw a one-hitter to eliminate Bonney Lake 3-0. The Indians (23-5) will meet Sammamish (23-4) for third and fourth. UPDATE: The Indians who finish 23-6, earned fourth, losing 5-1 to Sammamish. It is NC’s best softball finish ever. Shadle Park is leading the 4A title game 2-0 in the fifth.

UPDATE: Mead’s Nikki Codd ran away with the girls’ 4A 800-meter title, winning by more than two seconds. She also finished second in the 1600. Mead’s girls also won the 4x400-meter relay en route to a second-place finish. Mt. Spokane’s Jordan Roskelley vaulted 12 feet, 3 inches to win the 3A state title in the pole vault. The Wildcats finished third while North Central’s boys claimed second, three points behind Everett.

Seattle backs into a win

MARINERS

We wrote yesterday how Horacio Ramirez’s injury wasn’t too serious. Next thing we know, he’s on the 15-day disabled list.

So we won’t write today Felix Hernandez’s back problem isn’t all that serious – though everyone seems to be saying that – in hopes he won’t be headed to the DL as well.

The winner in the Felix vs. Gil matchup? The trainers – both starters left with back problems. I think Gil’s, however, was caused by jerking his head around too quickly to watch all the M’s line drives scoot up the alleys. Before he left, Seattle pounded him to the tune of seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Felix got three more outs than that before leaving and, more importantly, picked up the decision in the 10-2 win.

Today (4:10; KSKN-22; 920-AM) Cha Seung Baek takes his 5.50 ERA and 1-2 record to the mound against the Royals.

Today’s hot list …

• The “minor” back stiffness is mentioned early in all the game stories. Here they are, from the Times, the P-I and the News Tribune (great lead paragraph from Larry LaRue). The Kansas City Star had this focusing on Meche.

• Ramirez found himself on the 15-day DL with a problem with his left shoulder. If he’s out any length of time, the M’s will have to make another decision about the staff.

• Backup catcher Jamie Burke had a conversation with his hometown newspaper.

• And our question of the day …

• Who should take Ramirez’s spot in the starting rotation?

From track to tennis, your links are here

PREPS

There were so many state tournaments and meets going on yesterday, it was almost impossible to keep track of them all. Though we tried. At least with the big schools.

But to cover all the stories today, we’ll have to be organized. So we’ll divide all the results by sports and hope that helps.

Track and field: Dave Trimmer covers all of the State 4A/3A meet’s first-day action in this story from Pasco. The 2A/1A meet in Tacoma was covered in this Greg Lee story. And the Bs? Everything you need is in this story. From other papers, here is the Times’ 4A story and its 3A piece; the News Tribune has this story on both; and the Tri-Cities Herald has five stories here.

Softball: Shadle Park is still in the driver’s seat to win its first State 4A title, especially after undefeated Kentlake lost in the quarterfinals. But the Highlanders have to get by a recent rival, Woodinville, this morning in the semifinals. Two years ago Woodinville stopped Shadle en route to the title and last year the Highlanders returned the favor. Here is Mike Vlahovich’s first-day story. North Central can also win a trophy, though the Indians’ title hopes were dashed in the second round. Mike goes into it in this story. The rest of the softball action can be found in this roundup. From other papers, here is the P-I’s 4A coverage and its 3A story; the Times has the 4A here and the 3A here; the News Tribune also has a 4A story and a 3A piece.

Baseball: Lakeside’s nearly perfect season ended on a decidedly not-so-perfect note, as the Eagles lost to Naches Valley 9-1 in the semifinals in 1A play. Here is the Yakima Herald-Republic story. In 1B baseball, both Odessa and Northport lost in the semifinals.

Tennis: Two girls’ doubles teams remain alive for the State 4A title in Vancouver but all the local singles players are battling in consolation action.

Though we have to cover the Spokane Shock tonight, we’ll try to post championship results today as soon as we get them. Stay clicked in to SportsLink.

Bobcats pick Vincent

MORRISON WATCH

The Charlotte Bobcats have named Sam Vincent head coach, replacing Bernie Bickerstaff.

In his introductory press conference, Vincent stressed defense and individual player development.

Future lines up against the past in KC

MARINERS • UPDATED 2:45 P.M.

We talked about the M’s shortcomings yesterday – one of those being third-base coach Carlos Garcia’s decision-making – so today we will try to look forward to this evening’s (5:10; FSN; 920-AM) game.

The pitching duel matches the M’s future (Felix Hernandez, 2-2, 2.77 ERA) with the M’s past (Gil Meche, 3-2, 2.44) in a game the Mariners need to win, especially after the way they blew a sweep chance in Tampa Bay.

Today’s hot list …

• The comeback that came up just short, in more ways than one, leads the way in the game stories, with Garcia bearing the brunt of the criticism. Here they are, from the Times, the P-I and the News Tribune. The Devil Rays’ win is covered by the St. Pete Times and the Tampa Tribune.

• Starter Horacio Ramirez had to leave after two innings with tightness in his shoulder. He is expected to be OK, but will be examined. UPDATE: It was worse than Ramirez thought. He was put on the disabled list this afternoon.

• A couple of people headed down to Tacoma to talk with Julio Mateo. Here is Larry Stone’s column, John McGrath’s column from the News Tribune and the P-I story. Hal Bodley mentioned Mateo in his USA Today column.

• Ichiro has a goal: He wants to pitch. So how is this for a contract sweetener: Allow him, in his contract, to pitch whenever he wants if the M’s are down 10 runs or more. Maybe that would keep him from going to New York. Except, with the Yankees’ pitching, he may go there as a starter.

• Yunieksy Betancourt is the subject of this ESPN story.

• And our question of the day …

• Same one we had yesterday. Who do you think will come out on top in the matchup of Gil Meche and Felix Hernandez in Kansas City?

Washington’s last weekend gets started early

PREPS

The Washington State tournaments get underway in a big way at 9 a.m., so we have a choice: Give you links to stories from all over the state, or just cover the tournaments, posting scores and links as they roll in.

Like any good politician, we’ll try to do both.

• From the S-R, we have this story on the St. George’s 400-meter relay team, one of the favorites in the 2B/1B State track meet, which opens in a few minutes in Cheney. We also have this list of everything that’s going on.

Speaking of everything going on, as the wire or Web sites move scores and results, I’ll try to pass them on today, with a focus on local teams such as Shadle Park and North Central softball.

• Mead’s Ashley Hutchison will be competing in the State 4A shot put and discus without her mother. As Dave Trimmer so touchingly described last week, Hutchinson’s mother Julie died just prior to the regional meet. The Tri-City Herald’s Jeff Morrow talked with Ashley this week and has the story. The paper’s Rene Ferran dopes out the 4A and 3A meets.

• The Times previews tennis, baseball and softball, along with this story about Tahoma’s shortstop, playing in the 4A baseball semifinals.

• The P-I, besides also having a Tahoma story, has this on the 4A/3A softball tournaments.

• The News Tribune posts an interesting story about the 2A/1A track meet.

Mariners may have won by one strand of leather

MARINERS

One play. One dive. One win.

In a 162-game Major League baseball schedule, at least a few games will be decided by defense. Wednesday’s 5-1 win over the Devil Rays was one of them.

When Yuniesky Betancourt left his feet in pursuit of B.J. Upton’s ground ball with two on and one out in the second inning, he probably wasn’t thinking the game was on the line. But, as is often the case in baseball, it was. When Betancourt came up with the ground ball and got a force at second, it killed a Devil Rays’ rally. And opened the doors for the M’s.

Betancourt was the guy who kicked it open as well, with a two-run double in the fourth to give Seattle the lead for good.

The M’s go for the sweep today (12:10; no TV; 700-AM) with Horacio Ramirez (4-2, 6.10 ERA) trying to take his Safeco Field success to the road.

Today’s hot list …

• The plays with the leather lead the way in the game stories as well. Here they are, from the Times, the P-I and the News Tribune. There are two papers covering the Devil Rays, the St. Pete Times and the Tampa Tribune.

• Julio Mateo is out of limbo. The M’s are satisfied the relief pitcher is doing well enough in counseling to activate him. He’ll be in Tacoma.

• The Rays are going through a domestic violence problem of their own as we linked to yesterday. There is more about NiShea and Elijah Duke’s problems here.

• The brightest spot on the M’s pitching staff, taking all the expectations into consideration, might just be the work of rookie Brandon Morrow. The right-hander has taken over the eighth inning and made it his own.

• And our question of the day …

• Are you looking forward to Friday’s matchup of Gil Meche and Felix Hernandez in Kansas City? Who will come out on top?

Home stretch for prep sports

PREPS

It’s Thursday and you know what that means …

But before we go to the Prep Page stories, we have to remind you of one thing: This is the last week of the high school sports season. Next week we will have pictures of the spring All-GSL (and the North Idaho male and female athletes of the year) teams, but this is the final week of stories. How did it go by so fast?

So what do we have to offer?

There is this Mike Vlahovich column on his first year succeeding me as prep columnist and blogger. There is this advance of the State tennis tournaments. There is this State 4A/3A track advance. There is this story on Ferris’ second-place finish in boys’ 4A golf, this on the girls and this story on the rest of the State golf. And there is the Quick Hits notebook.

Next week, as I said above, we will list all the all-league teams.

Sexson’s clutch hit puts some in shock

MARINERS

I know this is awful late (blowing any chance at the one proposed nickname: EarlyInfo), but it won’t be complete either, so there’s that.

It took me more than 16 hours to get over the shock that Richie Sexson had come up with a big hit. A key hit. A clutch hit.

That doubles his total for the year.

The M’s are back in Tampa tonight (4:10; KSKN-22; 920-AM) for game two of the series.

Today’s hot list …

• The big hit from Sexson surprised the beat writers as well, but the recovered in time to use it as the lead of their stories. Here they are, from the Times, the News Tribune and the P-I. There are two papers covering the Devil Rays, the St. Pete Times and the Tampa Tribune.

• Right-hander reliever Chris Reitsma was put on the disabled list early Wednesday, with Sean Green taking his place on the roster. The news was expected.

• The M’s can’t wait to get Raul Ibanez back. The one thing I can say for Ibanez: He should help the hitting-with-men-in-scoring-position stat.

• Another player on the disabled list is pitcher Jeff Weaver, who threw a 45-pitch bullpen yesterday.

• The News Tribune did its version of an Adam Jones story.

• Tampa Bay outfielder Elijah Dukes is in trouble as this story shows.

• And our question of the day …

• A quarter of the way through the season, what have you learned about the M’s of 2007?

Daugherty hospitalized

COUGARS UPDATED: 10:15 A.M.; NOON

What a terrible day in Pullman.

But the worst news from Tuesday for Cougar fans was the last piece, one that didn’t become common knowledge until late in the evening.

New women’s basketball coach June Daugherty apparently suffered a heart attack and is in critical condition at an Everett hospital.

• UPDATE: Glenn Kasses has updated this news on his blog. He has posted this story as well.

Two Cougars, Stuckey gone

COUGARS, EAGLES UPDATED: 6 P.M.

Couple of college notes breaking this afternoon …

• Glenn Kasses has the news on his blog two more Cougars, running back Derrell Hutsona and safety DeWayne Patterson, failed to meet NCAA standards and are no longer with the WSU football team.

• Dave Trimmer was the first reporter to get the name of Rodney Stuckey’s agent (it’s Goodwin Sports Management of Seattle) in this story. The hiring means Stuckey will not be returning to Eastern Washington. Dave has more on his blog. KXLY’s Dennis Patchin on Tuesday also confirmed reports Stuckey had hired an agent.

Greene leaving WSU

COUGARS

Glenn Kasses has some news on his blog concerning the football coaching staff.

Cornerbacks coach Ken Greene (pictured hugging a Cougar player; S-R file photo) is leaving the program due to conduct issues. Glenn will have more as he fleshes out the story. He also has some notes about academics along with the Alaska basketball decision.

Only the M’s bats were cold

MARINERS

No snow. No win. No chance. Seems like the last sentence has been the most common one the past week, with the M’s falling behind early in games and, with their anemic offense (poster boy: Richie Sexson), failing to rally.

Quick aside … how’s this for faith from your manager? After Sexson got picked off first base to kill a rally, Mike Hargrove told the Seattle Times: “It’s been so long since he got on base, I’m sure he was confused.” Ouch.

But after leaving Cleveland with another loss – the fifth in the past six games – the M’s get a little relief in the form of 18-25 Tampa Bay, once again last in the American League East. Seattle’s hottest pitcher, left-hander Jarrod Washburn, takes the bump tonight (4:10; FSN; 920-AM).

Today’s hot list …

• The lack of snow to stop the bleeding seems to be the main element of each of the game stories. Here they are, from the P-I and the Times (the News Tribune used the wire service story). From Cleveland you have the Plain Dealer story.

• Sexson did return to the lineup Monday, and it was the lead of the Times’ notebook.

• Once again, the M’s felt they received the short end of call. But after all, if Hargrove hadn’t won an argument with the umpires back in April, Monday’s game wouldn’t even have been played. Maybe, in hindsight, it would have been better if he had lost.

• I want to draw your attention to a discussion on Geoff Baker’s Mariners blog at the Times. It’s about the lack of a “manhole” (you’ll understand after your read the two blog posts) guy on the M’s and how that affects them. A guy like the Red Sox’s Jason Varitek, who just happened to be in the M’s system a long time ago.

• And our question of the day …

• Who is the leader of this team? Is it the best player, Ichiro? And is that why the team seems so passive?

• Don’t forget. You can give SportsLink’s lead guy (that would be me, Vince Grippi) a cool nickname just by clicking on this link.

Cougs making one long trip but cancelled another

COLLEGES

You would think a Tuesday in late May wouldn’t be filled with college sports news, but, surprisingly, this morning is pretty darn full.

Starting with the Cougar basketball team, of all groups.

Glenn Kasses has this story about WSU’s preparations for its trip to New Zealand and Australia. It’s a slimmed-down group of 10 players who will make the trip in June. There’s more on Glenn’s blog.

• The Seattle Times has this on the Cougs’ 2007-08 schedule, noting they have pulled out of the Great Alaska Shootout and are trying to put together a four-team tournament in Spokane. And the University of Hawaii’s new coach Bob Nash wanted everyone in the Islands to know he tried to get Derrick Low back for a “home” game.

• Speaking of basketball schedules, there is a note in this Oklahoma State story about Gonzaga and OSU trying to finalize their long-term relationship.

• The CCS women made it nine NWAACC golf championships in 11 years Monday with a runaway victory in Auburn.

• We ran this piece on the NCAA tightening the rules concerning transferring. Even as one who believes the rules should be loosened in certain areas, I actually agree with this change.

• The P-I looks ahead to UW’s fastpitch super regional against Alabama.

• And don’t forget. You can give SportsLink’s writing talent (and we use that term loosely) a nickname just by clicking on this link.

Road beckons for a Mariners team on a (bad) roll

MARINERS

Five games back and slowing sinking in the West.

That’s what faces the Mariners today when they begin the road trip from hell. First a stop in Cleveland. Woohoo (as opposed to Wahoo, the Indians’ incredibly insensitive former mascot). But anytime you get to spend what should have been an off day playing a game (4:05 p.m.; no TV; 920-AM) in Cleveland … well the road trip from hell has to start with a side trip to purgatory, right? Or at least limbo.

Then it’s stops in Tampa Bay, where wins are expected but never assured, Kansas City, where Gil Meche probably awaits, and AL West-leading Anaheim (no more Los Angeles for me folks – it’s my blog and I make the rules – unless MLB sues me or something). The M’s are 1-5 thus far this year against Anaheim. The road trip is part of 23 straight days of baseball, thanks to the loss of today’s off-day.

As I said, road trip from hell. Which probably means Richie Sexson will get hot. Hot as in raising his average above .200. That would be fine with M’s fans I think. Seattle could use him, especially after a game like Sunday’s when they scored a grand total of one run and spoiled a decent, though not special, Felix Hernandez outing.

Which brings up a question (see below). In the ninth inning, the M’s had runners on first and second with no out and Adrian Beltre at the plate against Trevor Hoffman. Ball one, no bunt attempt, according to Dave Niehaus (I was listening in the car). Strike one, no bunt attempt. Ball two, no bunt attempt. And then a bunt attempt fouled off, surprising Dave. One pitch later, pop up.

The question in my mind was, if you are going to have Beltre bunt, why not from the first pitch so he has two chances, not just one. Why change your mind on a 2-1 pitch? Norm Charlton said on the post-game show he thought Mike Hargrove was giving Beltre a strike to hit with, but if that was the case why wasn’t he squaring on the 1-1 pitch? Why wait to 2-1? Maybe he was. Maybe Dave had it wrong. But it seemed weird.

Lou Piniella always said not to let the count dictate whether you bunt or not and I agree with him. If you think a bunt is the right thing to do in the situation, bunt no matter the count. If you don’t, then swing away. Smart guy that Lou. Too bad he doesn’t have a bullpen in Chicago.

Today’s hot list …

• The five-game deficit that’s popped up so quickly should be the focus of the game stories, but it isn’t in all. Here they are, from the P-I, the Times, News Tribune and the Herald. From San Diego, here is the San Diego Union-Tribune story.

• Guess what? Art Thiel cut to the core of the M’s problems once again. The Mariners are spending $22 million this year on the two worst regulars in the bigs, Sexon (hitter) and Jeff Weaver (pitcher). Thanks Bill Bavasi.

• The road trip and today’s stop in Cleveland are big news, with stories in the Times, John McGrath’s column and a notebook from Everett.

• Raul Ibanez’s back injury is a result of sleeping wrong on the way back from the last road trip.

• With Ben Broussard having played

State - and worlds - loom for local athletes

PREPS

Welcome to Monday morning. It’s raining in Spokane, or at least it was. It’s 39 degrees outside. It’s gloomy.

Just the right time to think about Washington’s spring sports state tournaments. Usually it rains on them. At least a little. One item I learned to pack when covering the State softball tournaments the past few years: A plastic bag to cover my scorebook. Oh, and an umbrella. And a soft seat for my big … let’s just say the bleachers are too hard and leave it at that.

Anyhow, I’m not the only one thinking about State. So is Mike Vlahovich in his Monday morning prep notebook.

• Mike has more on his blog. You can also find information about Idaho’s now-finished spring seasons on Greg Lee’s blog.

• For the next couple of weeks, at least, news about Angie Bjorklund stays in this category. The soon-to-be U-Hi graduate made the first cut for the United States’ U-19 women’s basketball team. The team will be cut down to 12 before the world championships July 26-Aug. 5 in Bratislava, Slovakia. The U.S. has won two of the last three gold medals in the competition. For more, check to the USA Basketball web site. You can hear Bjorklund’s thoughts on making the cut here.

• There was a high school football combine in Sumner on Saturday and nearly 400 prep athletes showed up to show off for college coaches.

With starters ailing, subs come to rescue

MARINERS

Mike Hargrove made some changes in the lineup Saturday night at it worked. Richie Sexson, Yunieksy Betancourt and Raul Ibanez got the night off for varying reasons. Subs Ben Broussard and Jason Ellison each had two hits and Horacio Ramirez continued his excellent Safeco Field pitching.

Here are the game stories, starting with the Times and continuing with the News Tribune and the Herald. Also, here is the San Diego Union-Tribune story.

• Felix Hernandez is back on the mound today (1:05; KSKN-22; 920-AM) against Justin Germano as the M’s try to win another series.

• Being that it’s Sunday, there are a lot of stories worth linking to, including this one about former M’s pitcher Ryan Franklin and this John Sleeper column. Larry Stone also has his baseball power rankings.

The question of the day:

• Do you remember a pitcher ever having such success at home and so much trouble on the road as Ramirez as had this season?

The tone needs to be changed

MARINERS

Though I don’t have much time here, and the links are going to be extremely limited, I can’t move on without making a few comments about the heart of the M’s order.

In any baseball lineup the No. 3 and 4 hitters set a tone. Right now, the M’s cleanup hitter is setting the most negative tone possible.

Richie Sexson is hitting .162. He stranded five men Friday while striking out three times. He was booed. He needs to be moved, if not to the bench at least down the order (see the post from Thursday).

The tone he is setting is one of failure. And it is spreading.

Here are the game stories from Friday’s 8-1 loss to San Diego from the Times, the News Tribune, the P-I and the Herald. Also, here is the San Diego Union-Tribune story. The M’s Horacio Ramirez goes against future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux tonight (7:05; KSKN-22; 920-AM).

Two thoughts: Sexson shouldn’t be booed. He knows he’s not hitting (read his comments in the game stories) and he’s trying to work his way out of it. Booing should be reserved for lack of effort, and that isn’t the case here. Also, Ben Broussard (who relates his woes in left field the other night here) should be given the opportunity at first against righthanders for a while.

We don’t have a question of the day … oh yes we do:

• What should be done with Sexson? Should he be given a day off or two, then moved into the seven hole? Or should he be left alone to swing his way out of this slump?

Shock needs to get out of funk

SHOCK

This season doesn’t resemble last all that much, does it? The Shock have become ordinary, and in the af2, ordinary isn’t all the fun to watch.

The reasons range from injuries (a big one) to a new coaching staff (not as big) to loss of talent (with championships and the minor league aspect of af2, that’s to be expected) to a loss of discipline (too many turnovers and penalties, including too many of the inexplicable delay of game calls).

As in all football, in af2 you are only as good as your last game. And the Shock have a chance tonight (6; 105.7-FM) to be real good. If they can travel to Boise and defeat the division-leading Boise Burn, then the race tightens up (both would be 4-3) and the future is limitless. Lose, however, and a two-game deficit looms. Both enter tonight’s game with 2-1 division records.

Check out Jessica Brown’s advance and the notes she has on the Shock blog. And here’s is the advance from the Idaho Statesman.

Kramer fired at Montana State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Former Eastern Washington football coach Mike Kramer was fired Friday at Montana State.

According to the Associated Press story, the firing was related to another former Bobcat football player being arrested this week on drug charges.

So now college football coaches have to a) win; b) graduate all their players; and c) make sure none of them become drug dealers after they leave the team.

NIC stays alive at nationals

COLLEGES

Not a lot going on as the spring seasons wind down, but North Idaho College’s fastpitch team is battling for in the NJCAA Division I national tournament.

The Whitworth men’s golf team is also at nationals and after three rounds the Pirates sit in the 18th spot.

The Husky women begin their drive for the NCAA fastpitch title in Lincoln, Neb., today.

M’s fall short against the class of the West

MARINERS

Earlier this week I pointed out how important this series with the Angels was. And not just because Felix Hernandez was returning to the mound.

If the M’s want to win the American League West title this season, they will have to stop the Angels. Simple as that. Los Angeles/Anaheim is the class of the division, with the best pitching and the best hitter. To win the division, Seattle has to play well against the Angels.

So far, not so much.

After losing 7-3 Thursday night, the M’s are 1-5 against the Angels. Seattle heads into the first interleague series (tonight vs. the Padres, 7:05; FSN; 920-AM) of the season three games back in the West.

Thirty-six games into the season (LA/Anaheim has already played 42) we are starting to get a handle on the M’s. When they play their best (pitching, hitting, fielding) they can play with anyone. But if any of those three pillars start to crumble, look out. They aren’t strong enough in any one category to consistently overcome failures in another.

Today’s hot list in “anticipation” of interleague play …

• The lack of a clutch hit. The importance of the series. Richie Sexson’s anemic bat (see yesterday’s post). That’s the thrust of the game stories from Thursday night. Here they are, from the P-I, the Times, News Tribune and the Herald. From Los Angeles, here are the stories from the Orange County Register the LA Times.

• I’m not the only one who is not too excited about interleague play. The Times’ Larry Stone and the News Tribune’s John McGrath aren’t huge fans either. “Rivalries” like the M’s and the Padres get the brunt of McGrath’s disdain in his column, while Stone tells us the players and coaches aren’t too excited either in his. Even the Angels, who play the Dodgers.

• The life of a designated hitter is different. Jose Vidro is learning that. And he’s trying to adjust.

• The player’s association has filed a grievance on behalf of Julio Mateo.

• Ichiro’s ability to get hits on pitches others can’t even touch comes up again in this story.

• And our question of the day …

• You get to pick. The M’s will play six interleague series against five teams (they have their “rival” San Diego twice. You are the schedule maker. Which six National League teams would you have them play and why? Click on the full entry link for my picks.

Shock try to fill injury-created holes

SHOCK

There have been multiple injuries. In fact, some guys have had multiple injuries themselves. Those injuries have contributed to the Shock’s 3-3 record. And they will make the rest of the season tougher.

Spokane is trying to fill holes, such as the one created when standout defensive lineman Jerome Stevens was put on the injured list this week, by signing new players. But it will take them a while to blend in, and the Shock have a big game Saturday night (6) at Boise.

Nothing out of ordinary for today, except these stories

PREPS

The usual Thursday.

Stayed up too late last night watching “Lost,” and got started late today (insert your own snapping line about me being lost here).

Anyhow, Thursday is Prep Page day at the S-R and there aren’t many left this season. So we’ll get right at them.

In Idaho, the lead story is about Coeur d’Alene softball standout Kylie Chandler. There is also a Prep Profile on Bonners Ferry’s Casey Hampton, a state track advance and a feature on Lake City’s baseball team.

From Washington you can read Mike Vlahovich’s column, Quick Hits and a Prep Profile from Steve Bergum on Lewis and Clark golfer (via St. George’s) Chessey Thomas. The main piece, from Dave Trimmer, is about Mt. Spokane pole vaulter Jordan Roskelley, who is scaling heights even her father can’t top (couldn’t resist). There is also a roundup of Wednesday’s action.

You can find more on Greg’s blog and Mike’s blog.

• The News Tribune features a story about Auburn’s 6-foot-5 shortstop/pitcher Troy Scott, who is one of the brighter prospects in the state.

• An interesting tennis snafu from the West Side is documented here.

• This isn’t high school sports, but it is high school-aged sports. The Missoulian has a story about Montana’s best girls’ basketball club team.

One NBA observer is a Morrison fan

MORRISON WATCH • UPDATED: 10:45 A.M. THURSDAY

Thought I would throw this link out there. Read all the way to the bottom because this guy really is rooting for Adam Morrison to be a success.

Wonder if the writer is a Gonzaga fan or lives out by Northpointe? Probably not.

• UPDATE: This Canadian observer goes the other way with Morrison. And his comments aren’t all that accurate. I watched the Hornets enough to know Morrison’s defense, while it could have been better, wasn’t all that far off NBA standards.

Sometimes winning happens because you are sure you will win

PREPS

Went out yesterday and covered the Ferris regional play-in game against Moses Lake at Gonzaga Prep (during which I also talked with Dennis Patchin about this blog). You can read part of what I wrote here and all of it on the read full entry link below.

As I sat there, for a time with former North Central and Gonzaga University star Pat Donovan, I realized, once again, the Greater Spokane League gives the Columbia Basin League teams too much credit.

Ferris put a team on the field weakened by the loss of players to injury and/or self-inflicted suspensions (four players skipped a playoff game last Saturday to get ready for the prom, so they were unavailable Tuesday) and yet they played right with the CBL representative. But the GSL teams often seem to play a little intimidated. By the time they realize they are just as good as their counterparts from the central part of the state, they are trailing.

I saw the same thing in 2003, when my older son’s team lost to Kennewick and WSU-signee Steve Marquardt 8-7 in a game they should have won. I saw the same thing the past two years when my younger son’s teams couldn’t get past Southridge. I’ve seen it all too often over for the past 20 years.

Is the baseball better, top to bottom, in the CBL? Arguably. But at the top level, and in playoff games, it always comes down to pitching, the ability to battle at the plate and confidence.

Lately, say the past five years, the GSL’s pitching has matched up pretty well. From Donovan, Steve Hare and Brandon Harmon to Bud Kittredge, Billy Moon and all the arms at Mt. Spokane, the GSL has been able to put guys on the mound who can shut down a high school offense.

But those last two areas go hand in hand, and, without the confidence they can win the individual battles at the plate, the GSL teams have fallen short.

•••••••••

• The University Titans rode a solo home run by Ali Warren and the pitching of freshman Mollie Buelow and junior Shelby Bethel to upset nationally ranked Shadle Park 1-0 and win the District 8 fastpitch title at Whitworth.

• The Cheney Blackhawks lost their first soccer game of the season Tuesday in a shoot out, and it cost them a chance at the 2A state title.

Olympia’s 1-0 win over U-Hi did the same to the Titans’ 4A title hopes.

• Twin Falls’ golf teams both earned state titles as Coeur d’Alene finished second in the boys competition.

• There is a lot of sports news from the rest of Washington, but this story caught my eye. It’s about pay-to-play in the Seattle school district. Welcome to the future my friends.

If you are interested in the future of Ferris basketball star DeAngelo Casto, check out Bob Condotta’s blog at the Seattle Times site. Scroll down to the Casto entry and peruse the comments. Interesting.

NIC pitcher takes herself, Cardinals to new heights

COLLEGES

Diet Pepsi. With caffeine.

(That’s for those of you who read my column this morning in the newspaper. If you read it online in the post below, you already knew that.)

I wonder how many other people drink that in the morning?

I don’t believe Kelcey Cavan does. At least it didn’t come up in Jim Meehan’s profile of the North Idaho College fastpitch pitcher in today’s paper. The Cardinals are headed to nationals and Cavan is headed to the University of Washington.

• The Cougars were battered around yesterday by the University of Portland, losing 16-9 in a nonconference baseball game.

• Former GU basketball coach Dan Monson’s hiring at Long Beach State was considered the university’s No. 2 sports story of the year by the school newspaper.

For just a little down, you too can own a piece of history

EVENING NEWS

As a gift to SportsLink readers, I’m offering a unique deal, a one-time only offer, a no-money-down special.

By clicking on the read full entry link, you can tomorrow’s news today! Yes, just by clicking once, you can have something your neighbor can only dream about: access to my column as it will appear in tomorrow morning’s paper. Think about it. A chance to be the first on your block to own the knowledge of the future!

The above paragraph is why I’m not in advertising. If you would like to read tomorrow’s column, just click.

We’ll have more links in the morning.

WSU finds a way to stop Oregon State

COLLEGES

It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Washington State’s baseball team, but the Cougars (25-22, 8-13) have been playing much better lately. Sunday, they capped off a series win over defending national champion Oregon State with a 5-3 victory in Corvallis.

• Gonzaga will play for an NCAA regional bid in two weeks, when the Bulldogs travel to San Diego to face sixth-ranked USD in the West Coast Conference championship series. The Toreros lost a WCC game Sunday for the first time since dropping two of three at GU to open conference. GU lost Sunday at Pepperdine, 4-3 in 11 innings, but still took two of three from the Waves.

• Lewis and Clark High graduate Britney Henry won the Pac-10 championship for Oregon in the hammer with a toss of 217 feet, 10 inches. Rogers grad Rebekah Noble sat out the meet with tight hamstrings.

• The Pac-10 crew championships were held Sunday, and Gonzaga picked up a championship in women’s novice eights while the Husky men won the overall crown.

From baseball to blogs, lots of things to talk about

EVENING NEWS

Besides the M’s winning 2-1 behind the almost unhittable pitching of Horacio Ramirez, there are a couple other things to write about this evening.

• This is a little old, but there is an interesting blog post by Geoff Baker on Bill Bavasi’s off-season moves.

• Still think Rodney Stuckey is coming back to Eastern? Check out this link to HoopsWorld’s mock draft. All five of the NBA writers here have Stuckey going in the first round, from as high as 17th to as low as 30th (the final pick). First round money is guaranteed for two years. Why come back?

• Speaking of coming back, Adam Morrison was at the Shock game Saturday night, sitting in a luxury box with Blake Stepp and enjoying the company of some friends.

• It seems like everyone has a blog now. The Times’ sports columnist, Jerry Brewer, has started a blog. The subject is somewhat inside baseball – he is relating how and why he writes columns – but it is also a conduit for readers to reach out to him.

• Yes, even the New York Times has blogs. And this post about Safeco Field makes you understand why blogs can be so cool. Not only can they be full of information, they also can draw you into the subject through personal observation. Cool.

Shock blow 21-0 lead, lose to Bakersfield

SHOCK

Here’s a link to the story about the Shock’s shocking defeat. This was a game that seemed to hinge on a few controversial calls early in the third quarter, calls that went against the home team.

But Spokane couldn’t seem to rise above them and the Blitz took advantage. That’s after spotting the Shock a 21-0 lead.

Let’s say this: If Spokane’s pass blocking doesn’t improve, Andrico Hines will have trouble surviving the season. He hit the Arena turf more often than the ball. And Hines doesn’t bounce.

The Blitz are aptly named, though you could call them the swim, as that seemed to be the move of choice by their d-linemen. The Shock had no answer. Coming into the game, Spokane had given up four sacks all season. Bakersfield had four tonight.

Washburn has stepped up since Felix went down

MARINERS

When Felix Hernandez went down with his arm injury, the M’s needed someone to step up and be the stopper. The guy in the rotation that assures a long losing streak is almost impossible, because he’s going to pitch well every time out and give the M’s a chance to win.

Jarrod Washburn has been that guy. The veteran left-hander, who didn’t have the best of seasons last year, his first with the M’s, has been almost unbeatable since Felix’s injury, running his record since then to 3-1 with a 3-0 victory over the Yankees on Friday night.

Washburn pitched inside. He changed speeds. He hit spots. His slider broke late and broke hard. His fastball had movement. He was tough in tough spots. In other words, he was a stopper.

A game above .500 again, the M’s will try to stay on the positive side of the ledger tonight (7:05; KSKN-22; 920-AM) with Miguel Batista (3-2, 5.70 ERA) facing Yankee rookie Matt DeSalvo (0-0, 1.29).

Today’s hot list …

• Washburn’s effort dominated the game stories as much as he did the Yankees, including the Herald, Times, the News Tribune, and the P-I. Out of New York, where the game ended after deadline, here are stories from the Times, the Daily News and the Post.

• Jeff Weaver was put on the disabled list Friday, and everyone had that as well, with stories from the Herald, Times, the News Tribune, and the P-I.

• Why do M’s fans still get on Alex Rodriguez (see question below)? The P-I had this piece on the booing.

• If you have time today, don’t miss this New York Times’ story on Bud Selig, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron’s record (remember, like Selig, Aaron was a Milwaukee guy) and steriods. It’s worth the few minutes it will take.

• This is a few days old, but if you have an interest in the Rogers Clemen’s deal, read this Mike Vaccaro column in the New York Post.

• And our question of the day …

• Is the booing of Alex Rodriguez meant to make him play worse or to just show the Seattle fans’ frustration with him leaving? If it’s the latter, isn’t it time it stopped?

Bakersfield in Arena tonight

SHOCK

Good Saturday morning. As the Shock host Bakersfield tonight (5 p.m.; KHQ-6; 105.7-FM) and we’ll be at the Arena, doing the SportsLink coverage thing, we’ll be quick this morning.

Jessica Brown has more on the Blitz in this morning’s paper and on her blog.

As Jessica points out, the Shock has lost in the Arena just twice in franchise history, and one of the teams to do it was Bakersfield, early last season. The Shock is still dealing with wide receiver injuries, most notably to Raul Vijil, whose playing status is a game-time decision.

Hoopfest needs a new director

HOOPFEST

With the annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament only weeks away, executive director Brady Crook has resigned.

My guess is former exectuve director Rick Steltenpohl, who left Hoopfest to take a job in Phoenix last year, will return to run the organization. Steltenpohl recently returned to Spokane.

Shock host Bakersfield on Saturday

SHOCK

The Bakersfield Blitz comes to town Saturday (5 p.m.; KHQ-6; 105.7-FM) with a 3-2 record but also with a two-game losing streak. The Shock are coming off a bye and seemed to have gotten a little healthier.

One player who has been healthy all season is fullback Ben Brown. He’s the subject of this interesting John Blanchette column.

• As always, you can find more about the Shock on Jessica Brown’s blog.

• Tailgating will be allowed in the Arena parking lot – sort of. You can read all the rules and restrictions here.

Washington won’t release LC’s Redmon

COLLEGES

The news is official: The University of Washington has decided not to release Lewis and Clark’s Katelan Redmon from her women’s basketball letter-of-intent. The Redmon family is going to appeal the ruling. You can find my thoughts here. The P-I has a feature on new UW coach Tia Jackson.

• The Gonzaga baseball team travels to Malibu today for a West Coast Conference playoff-deciding series with Pepperdine. If the Zags can win at least two of three, they insure a second-place finish in the conference and a berth in the WCC championship series. Anything less, and they will need help next week from the University of Portland. All three games, including today’s, which starts at 3 p.m., can be heard on 790-AM.

• Guard Chris Matthews is leaving Washington State for St. Bonaventure in New York. You can find more on Glenn Kasses’ blog.

• Despite getting the cold shoulder from the WCC, Seattle University is still planning to make the move to Division I sports.

• Both Washington State and Idaho are competing in the NCAA women’s golf west regional. The Pac-10 track meet is this weekend in Stanford.

Let Redmon go

MORNING NEWS

Still busy, so this morning will be brief again …

• Todd Turner is full of it. Read Jim Moore’s column in today’s P-I about the Katelan Redmon situation and tell me if I’m not right about the University of Washington athletic director. If this wasn’t about UW and WSU, the Huskies would have let Redmon out of her letter-of-intent in minutes. But it is. Just don’t try to stand on principle, because enough schools have shown enough compassion and common sense to void letters-of-intent, that ship has sailed.

• As we’ve said before, it’s all about the pitching. And Cha Seung Baek pitched a whale of a game Wednesday. But the better he throws, the more it looks like the millions thrown at Jeff Weaver (today’s starter with an 0-5 record and a 15.35 ERA) could have been better spent elsewhere. Here are the game stories from the P-I, the Times, the News Tribune, the Detroit News and Free Press. The teams meet again this morning (10:05; no TV; 700-AM) before the M’s head back to Seattle.

By the way, to two oldest ex-Mariner left-handers in history faced off yesterday, with Jamie Moyer’s Phillies besting Randy Johnson’s Diamondbacks.

Finally with the M’s, we had a little discussion about missed calls, and who they favor a couple of days ago. Well, if you are keeping score, on this trip umpires have clearly blown three calls (the latest being Kenji Johjima at home plate) and the M’s are down 2-1.

• Thursday is Prep Page day at the S-R, and there are so many prep stories there is no way for me to link to all of them here. But here is the Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog and Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog, which should give you links. As for the stories, I will link this one concerning new Rogers head football coach Matt Miethe, and this one about East Valley’s soccer team advancing to the state 3A tournament.

• All of us who knew Emily Westerberg as a child knew Em was different. She was different as a basketball player (read: better). She was different at as a person (read: marvelous). And she hasn’t changed. Most college women’s basketball stars would give their left arm to play in the WNBA. But not Em. She’s different. She has other goals, other priorities. She’s going to do other things. She’s not just different, she’s special.

That’s about all I have time for so we’ll say goodbye and head off for our duties. Leave comments and questions, and I’ll get to them.

They should have stopped at Spider-man 2

EVENING NEWS

After watching the Mariners fall behind for the last time, the family decided to have a night out and catch the latest blockbuster. Let’s just say Spider-man 3 didn’t net our praise. It may not have been very good, but it was long. Anyhow, here are some links before the night is over.

• The M’s scored seven runs, but that still wasn’t enough as they lost to the Tigers 9-7 on Tuesday evening.

• Adam Morrison may not have had the rookie year he or the Charlotte Bobcats wanted, but he still was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie second team Tuesday.

• Seahawks’ center Chris Spencer won’t need additional surgery on his ailing shoulder.

M’s get a break and take advantage

MARINERS

The M’s needed something to break their offensive woes Monday. Going into the eighth inning against the Yankees, Seattle had scored all of two runs in the last three games.

Then pinch-runner Willie Bllomquist stole second. And was thrown out. But second-base umpire Gerry Davis called him safe.

From there the Mariners tied the game on Kenji Johjima’s bloop single and won it on Adrian Beltre’s blast to left-center. And the M’s got out of New York with a split.

In the second game of the series, New York’s was called safe at first base in a key play. The replays showed he never touched the bag. But I don’t remember the hue and cry out of New York for that one. Maybe it’s because it went the Yankees’ way … and everything is supposed to go the Yankees’ way.

So now it’s out of New York’s frying pan and into the fire against defending American League champion Detroit, where Horacio Ramirez (2-1, 6.64) will face the Tigers and Pasco’s Jeremy Bonderman (1-0, 3.69) tonight (4:05; FSN; 920-AM).

Today’s hot list …

• As you might expect, the missed call on Bloomquist’s steal was the lead in most stories, including the Times, the News Tribune, and the P-I. From New York, the stories have a little more annoyance about them, with this from the Times, the Daily News and the always entertaining Post.

• Julio Mateo apologized for his behavior Monday, and everyone had a story on it, some more than one. Here are the stories from the P-I, the Times (which includes this Jerry Brewer column) and the News Tribune.

• The way Beltre had been hitting, it’s no wonder the team left him on the bus Sunday. It seems to have woken him up.

• The Times takes a look at the M’s farm system.

• More conversation concerning Scott Proctor’s out-of-control beanball.

• A lot of answers to fans’ questions can be found here.

• And our question of the day …

• Over the course of a season, do you think missed calls by umpires even out, or do they end up favoring the better teams?

Spring sports headed for the final tape

PREPS

The spring sports playoffs are in full swing, and Mike Vlahovich takes a quick peek at what’s ahead this week in Washington. Greg Lee does the same thing on his Idaho Prep Sports blog.

Sunday’s game had something for all

MARINERS• UPDATED: 1:20 p.m.

A 5-0 shutout usually doesn’t include a bush play at home plate (UPDATE: You used to be able to see the video, but MLB made YouTube take it down; if anyone else finds one, please mention the link in comments), a retaliatory plucking in the back and a message pitch thrown behind another hitter’s head. Oh by the way, a future Hall of Famer informing the 52,553 in attendance he’s signing up with their team – in a televised address during the seventh-inning stretch.

But that’s what Sunday’s game with the Yankees contained.

The win gave New York a 2-1 edge in the series, which concludes today (4:05 p.m.; KSKN-22; 920-AM). The loss knocked the M’s back to .500, and pissed off today’s starting pitcher, Miguel Batista (3-2, 6.30).

In reading Batista’s comments in the News Tribune story linked below, I don’t think Scott Proctor’s errant fastball near Yuniesky Betancourt’s head has been forgotten (see question below). Or soon will be. Which is part of what made Sunday an unusual day.

Today’s hot list …

• After scoring 15 runs in the series opener on 20 hits, the M’s have scored one on six since. That, along with the back-and-forth after Josh Phelps’ idiotic play, seems to be the focus of the game stories from the News Tribune, the Times and the P-I. From New York, the stories are all about Roger Clemens’ return to the Yankees, with this from the Times (which has a great picture of Phelps’ play and a sidebar on the Rocket), the Daily News and the Post.

• Most everybody had the news on Sunday that Julio Mateo was arrested on assault charges stemming from an incident with his wife, Aurea, in their New York hotel room, along with the subsequent suspension and demotion to the minors. Everyone but the P-I, which doesn’t publish on Sunday. Here is the paper’s story from this morning. Also, the Times updated its story as did the < ahref="http://www.thenewstribune.com/512/story/56472.html">News Tribune while the Chicago Sun Times says the players’ union is looking into how the M’s are handling this.

• Hideki Matsui joined an exclusive club of Japanese baseball players when he got his 2,000 hit Sunday.

• Art Thiel has his unique take on the wild weekend that was in New York.

• And our question of the day …

• Should the beanball war continue today? Should the M’s throw at someone to let the Yankees know they won’t be pushed around?

Phelps’ play as bad as it gets

MARINERS • UPDATED 7:20 A.M.; 1:20 P.M. MONDAY

Were you watching the M’s game?

Did you see Josh Phelps blow up Kenji Johjima at home plate? (UPDATE NO. 2: You used to be able to see the video, but MLB made YouTube take it down; if anyone else finds one, please mention the link in comments.)

What did you think of it?

I’ll tell you my thoughts and the come from a guy who started catching when he was 12 and finished about five years ago: Phelps’ just pulled as a bush a play as I’ve ever seen.

Johjima did what catchers are supposed to do, he gave Phelps the plate to slide into. Now, when Johjima caught the ball, he would have tried to take the plate away with his foot or leg. But by then Phelps would have scored, because the throw was late.

But instead of sliding, Phelps went a foot or two into fair territory to explode into Johjima with his body, extending his arms through the M’s catcher. Phelps was so far out of the baseline, he had to go back toward foul territory to touch the plate.

I really don’t understand how he wasn’t called out by the plate umpire for going out of the baseline to initiate contact, just like a guy at second base is called out when he ranges wide to break up the double play. Phelps wasn’t trying to touch home plate, he was trying to hit a catcher who was NOT impeding his path to score. That’s how people get hurt.

No matter what, Phelps’ play cannot be excused or explained away by anyone, no matter how good a guy Phelps might be. This play was the type only a jerk would make (and if I didn’t think kids were reading this, I would use a different word than jerk).

And, if the M’s play baseball the way it is meant to be played, the next time Phelps hits, he won’t be swinging the bat. He’ll be trying to avoid retribution. A retribution he earned. And one he got.

Felix will not be back for a while yet

AFTERNOON NEWS

Lots of news (all pale in comparison to UCI’s NCAA title of course) from this Saturday, including the not-so-surprising announcement Felix Hernandez’s next start has been pushed back again, this time until May 15.

The M’s lost 8-1 Saturday, though Jeff Weaver threw better. He just didn’t throw anywhere near as well as the Yankees’ Chien-Ming Wang, who took a perfect game into the eighth.

• The Kentucky Derby proved to be not-exactly-the-fastest two minutes in sports, as juvenile champion Street Sense rallied to win.

• Eastern played its spring game, and you can read about it on Dave Trimmer’s blog and here.

Some surprises from Hawks’ mini camp

SEAHAWKS

Rarely are there any major surprises at an NFL team’s mini camp.

But the Hawks had one Friday.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, recovering from off-season shoulder surgery on his left arm, threw passes and participated in more drills than most expected. The reason why? Hasselbeck worked his butt off.

• Maybe the most important off-season addition by the Seahawks? It just might be secondary coach Jim Mora. Or it could be new special teams coach Bruce DeHaven, part of the notes in this Mike Sando story.

• The Hawks are using the mini-camp to discover which wide receiver will fill the void left by Darrell Jackson’s departure. If you didn’t know, Jackson was traded to the 49ers for a fourth-round pick during the draft.

• The P-I’s Ted Miller talks with former Oregon wide receiver – and son of the Ducks’ basketball coach – Jordan Kent in this column.

It’s another Roger De Bris production

BLOOMSDAY

Thanks, Paul Turner. I didn’t know Bloomsday was named after Leo Bloom from “The Producers.” You learn something every day.

In the spirit of “The Producers,” tomorrow I’m going to try to make this on-line column the worst that’s ever been written (as if that will be much of a stretch).

This writer is going to watch every bit of Bloomsday coverage he can, from KREM to KHQ to KXLY (anyone else?). And we are going to have as much fun with it as possible.

What better way is there to cover the world’s largest timed road race than from an easy chair in your living room? Seems appropriate to me. Then again, I am as good at this as Max Bialystock is at producing musicals.

So come join us. Your comments throughout the race are appreciated and encouraged. Take your personal electronic device of choice with you while you’re on the course and chime in. Do it from home. Whatever. See you tomorrow.

The Anteaters are about to be NCAA champs

VOLLEYBALL

Ya, that’s what it says. Volleyball.

I expect every one of you to join me this afternoon at 4 p.m. (not literally of course, because I’m not sure there’s a venue in the Spokane area big enough to hold all the readers of this column) in watching UC Irvine kick a little Mastadon tail.

As most of you know, Kim and I are proud UC Irvine alums. And, if you are sports fan, we haven’t had much in the way of NCAA championships to cheer about over the past almost 30 years (response: oh my god, it’s been that long).

But today we get to cheer for the Anteaters, who defeated Penn State and Joe Paterno in the semifinals, as they face the python-length named University of Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne for the NCAA Division I men’s volleyball title. The championship match from that volleyball hotbed of Columbus, Ohio, is on ESPN2.

I guarantee you if the Anteaters win, make that, when the Anteaters win, there will be some celebratin’ going on in the Grippi home. I might even open a bottle of Andre’s.

Out of the loop

NEWS

I’m at a conference in Seattle today concerning on-line publishing - the speaker I’m listening to right now just called user-generated content as the Karaoke of journalism - so I haven’t had a chance to surf for content for you.

But I am learning some interesting things. In theory it will make this site better in the future - of course, that would mean I would have to be better as well, and there is never a guarantee of that.

In the short run, you are missing links - no, Im not calling you a missing link, sorry, but I’m refering to the links and stories you are missing now - that I know you are used to. As I’ve said before, I’ll be back on Saturday to try to catch up.

Thanks.

As M’s move up in standings, crowds wane

MORNING NEWS

With a few minutes available before I have to head out today, I wanted to draw your attention to a couple of things.

• The Mariners drew just 16,555 Wednesday, the second-smallest crowd in Safeco history. They won. They have won seven of eight. Yet the small crowd. Do you think it is because of an overall dissatisfaction from the fans about the organization, or because the game was originally scheduled for Wednesday night, and changed because of today’s (4:05; KSTW-22; 920-AM) makeup?

• As always, Thursday is Prep Page day in the S-R. As I can’t get to all the links this morning, check Greg Lee’s Idaho Preps blog for links to stories from that edition and Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog for links to the Washington stories.

• I’m giving you this link to Dave Boling’s NFL draft column not because of the subject (the NFL draft) or because of his idea (move it around) but because of one paragraph about Brady Quinn’s long wait. It has to do with an idea for a sitcom.

• Finally, ESPN’s Andy Katz has put together a top 25 for next basketball season. Some highlights: WSU is ranked fifth, Gonzaga 11th and six Pac-10 teams are in the top 17, not including Washington. The Huskies’ star, Spencer Hawes, is also the focal point of another Katz story on the NBA draft.

• See you later this evening.

We’ll be in-and-out for a while

MORNING NEWS

Folks, I won’t be on-line much the next few days. I’ll be out of contact pretty much until the late afternoon today and Thursday, then in and out on Friday.

I know many of you (ya you Bill, Connor and Steve) rely on this blog for links to Inland Northwest sports, so I’ll make it up to you. When I get back on Saturday, I promise not to be a smart ass for the whole day. Is it a deal? I can’t promise I won’t make snide remarks Bloomsday, but we’ll cross that T.J. Meenach Bridge when we get to it.

Otherwise, I’ll check in during the evening hours and link anything that looks promising. Like this Larry LaRue game story on the M’s from the News Tribune (and this uh-oh story about Felix’s return being delayed). Or this piece we ran on Josh Hancock’s death and what looks to be a coverup. Or even this notebook on Ben Broussard’s start Tuesday – by the way the M’s host the Sox today at 12:35 p.m. (FSN; 700-AM) then head to Boston for a makeup game. Or, finally, this Art Thiel column on Isaiah Stanback.

Until I return, think of this: It’s May 2 and the M’s are above .500. Do you believe in miracles? (I said I wouldn’t be a smart ass on Saturday, remember.)

Wilson is a winner … and was too quick for mom

SEAHAWKS

There are a lot of stories today about the Hawks’ first draft pick, second-round selection Josh Wilson.

Things you might like to know about Wilson, and links to the stories they came from …

• The 5-foot-9 cornerback is a competitor that hates to lose at anything.

• He is so competitive his mother couldn’t contain him.

• Valenda saw every one of Josh’s college games at Maryland and expects to see all his pro ones as well.

• His father, Tim, a former NFL fullback, passed away in 1996 from a heart attack. Josh was 11. But Josh still thinks of him often.

Wilson wasn’t the only Seahawk draft choice in town Monday. Third-round selection Brandon Mebane, a defensive tackle from Cal, is thrilled to be a Hawk.

Mt. Spokane pounds out win; EWU gets basketball committments

PREPS

I think I have enough time this morning to get through everything, so let’s start with local sports.

• The Greater Spokane League held a rare Monday of baseball, with league-leader Mt. Spokane winning a slugfest with University. That coupled with Mead’s win pushed the Panthers into second place, first among the league’s 4A schools.

• Post Falls edged Lake City 5-4 in fastpitch Monday, jamming the Inland Empire League standings.

• Sideline Smitty touches on Concrete fastpitch ace Britt Howell among other things.

• Two brothers from Jackson High, Drew and Jamie Eisinger, have committed to play next year at Eastern Washington University. Drew is a 6-foot-4 wing who played last year at an Ohio prep school. Jamie is a 5-foot-11 point guard who will graduate from Jackson in June. Both will be freshmen.

• Skyline has three pitchers 6-foot-4 and taller. One of them threw a no-hitter Monday.

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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