A GRIP ON SPORTS
Over the years I've come to realize this is one of the best weekends in sports. Masters weekend. I think it really sunk in about 1986, when I was playing in a softball tournament at Franklin Park and told everyone not to mention a thing, I was taping the Masters (for you young pups, go find your Fraggle Rock collection and wander down memory lane from the time before the DVR). It was so much easier to avoid news back in the pre-smart phone days, so I had no idea how the finale was going. I also had no idea there had been a problem at home, either. Read on.
• The problem was one that seemed to happen way too often back then. Due to strange confluence of events, our RCA tape machine (yes, it was a long time ago) hadn't kicked on when it was supposed to. But, as has been the case for more than 30 years of marriage, Kim saved the day, noticing the red light wasn't on as she was walking out the door, despite dealing with all the accouterments needed to get an 18-month-old boy to dad's softball championship game. She clicked it on manually as she left, so it picked up just as some old guy named Jack Nicklaus was canning a long putt on 10, setting up a roar that was heard all around Augusta. When the softball game was over and I packed away my 0-for-4 (just assuming) along with my catching equipment into a bag and headed home, I fully expected Nick Faldo or Bernard Langer or some other European to walk away with the green jacket. Imagine my surprise when I was able to sit down and watch the golfing hero of my youth do something no one had ever done, rally down the stretch to win his 18th major title. Is it any wonder my second son, born about 18 months later, has the first name Jack?
• There are other reasons for that, of course, but it makes a good story, doesn't it? Anyhow, the Masters seems to always kick off summer for me, and it's not just all the colorful flowers (thank goodness). Back in my younger days, Steve Bergum and I used to play a form of rotisserie golf, something that wasn't all the rage almost 30 years ago. We would pick six golfers and match them up with a way-too-convoluted scoring scheme (which is probably why the idea of rotisserie golf didn't catch on around the world) and match knowledge for a bragging-rights lunch. Back then, despite his age, I always made Jack my No. 1 pick if I could, a decision made with the heart that always seemed to backfire. Not this time though. His win that year seemed to flip a switch inside of me. From then on, this first weekend in April was devoted to two things: the Masters on CBS and finishing up my taxes. This year will be no different. Which brings me to my question of the day, one I've put into a poll. I've made my choice, now you make yours. Before you do, we found a couple stories for you to read, including one from one of America's better golf writers.
• Washington State: The depth of local sports going into today isn't Crater Lake deep, as Christian Caple's morning blog post relates. But with basketball coach Ken Bone holding an end-of-the-year presser and spring football this afternoon, Christian will have more as the day goes on. He held a live chat yesterday, which you can review here. By the way, thanks for all the nice words during that chat. ... Former Cougar basketball assistant Mike Heideman is about to be inducted into a Wisconsin Hall of Fame. ... Ryan Leaf remains in a Great Falls jail.
• Eastern Washington: With spring football underway, each day is a bit different in Cheney. As Jim Allen writes, that's a good thing. ... Former Post Falls High basketball star Shawn Reid is leaving Montana State.
• Chiefs: The WHL second-round playoff series opens tomorrow in Kennewick and we found this Tri-City feature.
• Shock: The relationship between Spokane and quarterback Kyle Rowley is a pretty interesting one, as John Blanchette explains.
• Preps: It's Prep Page day in the S-R, so there is this nice feature on Ben Goodwin and his mom to pass along from Mike Vlahovich, along with Greg Lee's column on the future of Eastern Washington big-school prep leagues and a track notebook.
• Mariners: A big day in major league baseball as the North American opener was held in Miami, where the defending world champs ruined the Marlins' day, 4-1. ... The M's prepare to get started again Friday, with a new roster, which reflects the realities of the day-to-day grind of the next 160 games. ... With the cuts made on the major league level, a couple of youngsters will try to shine in Tacoma. ... The arena proposal moved forward, no thanks to the M's.
• We're feeling much better today, though none of you even bothered to ask (he wrote while muttering some words under his breath he couldn't type in a family blog). We'll be back on the radio today on 700 ESPN from 3 to 6 p.m. You can listen here. I guarantee we'll be talking golf. Until later ...