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It may be all downhill from here

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Oftentimes a person can peer back over history and pinpoint a moment when the world turned. A point when events stopped going one way and pivoted another. Usually, such momentous occasions are only visible in the rear-view mirror. But not always. That's why I ask, was the top of the first inning last night the high-water mark of the Seattle Mariners' season? Read on.


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• We may look back in September or August (or even May) and say something akin to, “if Brendan Ryan or Chone Figgins had only gotten a hit back on April 9 and driven Yu Darvish from the game in the first inning, then the whole season would have been different.” Or are our lives just too full to waste time on such minutiae? Put me down in the latter category, but it's fun – and sad at the same time – to think the four runs the M's put up against Darvish in his debut inning may be the beginning of a slide back into mediocrity. At that point they sat atop the American League West standings and had the opportunity to blow open the first game of their series with defending league champion Texas. One more hit, one more flare to right field, one more broken-bat looper that falls in, would have scored two more runs, would have sent Darvish back to the clubhouse with his spirit broken, would have propelled Seattle to victory and a momentum-building three-game winning streak that would have resulted in, ultimately, the club's first appearance in the World Series. That's how the optimistic pessimist in me sees it this morning. The realist understands no matter how many runs the M's had scored, the Rangers would have put up one more. And Seattle is going to finish behind the Rangers and Angels in the West this season. But I guy can dream, can't he? It tells you something about this long-time M's follower that even my dreams are built from the ashes of could-have-beens and what-ifs. It's guys like me that keep the lottery folks in business.

• By the way, when Josh Hamilton was thrown out at the plate in a play that replay seemed to show the umpire missed last night, Kim thought the bad call might just save the M's bacon. As god is my witness (and Kim as well), I said basically these words: “It won't make a difference. The next guy is just going to hit a three-run jack.” The words were just out of my mouth when Nelson Cruz unloaded on an inside fastball and hit a rocket over the left-field fence, tying the game at five. My next word after turning to Kim: “Sorry.” Just had a feeling, you know?

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• Washington State: Thanks to spring football, and to some not-so-nice news from Pullman, we can still keep the Cougars' section atop our links list. Christian Caple has his morning post, with all the news on the spring practice scheduled for today, while he also had the information on freshman lineman Denzell Dotson's DUI arrest over the weekend in this blog post.

• Gonzaga: We found this fun feature from the Miami area on former GU center Ronny Turiaf. Reading the quotes, you can actually hear Turiaf's voice (or is that just me?). … The baseball team defeated UW.

• Eastern Washington: The Eagles return to the spring practice field this afternoon as well, and Jim Allen has the lowdown of what to expect. … Portland State began its spring practices this week.

• Chiefs: Though the Chiefs and Tri-City don't hit the ice until tomorrow night, Portland and Kamloops get back at it tonight in Canada.

• Preps: A lot on the high school front today, from a softball notebook from Jessica Brown to baseball game coverage from Mike Vlahovich. And Dave Trimmer adds in a Then and Now on former Ferris High golf star Reid Hatley. … The Seattle Times has state 4A and 3A rankings in baseball, boys' soccer and softball.

• Mariners: By the way, the final score last night, after the Rangers offense got through with the M's pitching staff (including starter Hector Noesi, who is at left, and left-hander George Sherrill), was 11-5, Texas. Most of the news from Dallas centered round Darvish, as well it should. The Rangers paid a bunch of money for the guy. But in Seattle the coverage was more about the chances the M's had to knock the Japanese import from the mound early and didn't. … Ian Kinsler will be with the Rangers for a while. … Jamie Moyer has been a major leaguer for a long, long while. … And, finally, I really admire and love Fidel Castro. (I don't, but I'm hoping for a suspension, a la Ozzie Guillen.)

• Seahawks: Marcus Trufant is back in a Seattle uniform after signing a free-agent contract at a reduced rate.

• Sounders: The women's team played an exhibition in front of 4,000 fans Monday night, impressing the players. … The tie against DC United still seems like a loss to one player. … Another Sounder is really happy to back on the pitch.

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• You might have noticed, if you are observant, the poll question we put in this space yesterday has magically migrated to the upper-left quadrant of every SportsLink page. And that's where it will stay, until replaced with another question of equal importance. Yep, our little feature, A Grip on Sports, is evolving (I would have written growing up, but nothing related to me will ever do that). Until later … 


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Jim Allen 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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Greg Lee Greg Lee covers high school sports in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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