A GRIP ON SPORTS
I'm starting to become a believer. A believer in the advent of spring, as the sun is shining once again this morning. And a believer in the theory there is no off-season, no dead time in the world of sports, Inland Northwest edition. Way too much to pass along on this unluckiest of days. Read on.
• Yep, today is Friday the 13th (and I just threw some salt over my right shoulder to ward off the evil of typing that). We all know what that means. The Mariners are finally back in Safeco after opening the season seemingly two weeks ago – wait, it was even longer than that. Do you think someone in Major League baseball's scheduling department has a sense of humor, by scheduling the M's home opener on Friday the 13th (more salt)? Or do you think it is just a coincidence the team with the unluckiest offense – not to mention the most anemic – in the bigs would trot out in front of the home fans tonight? I'm leaning toward the latter, as if the guy or gal had a sense of humor, the M's home opener tonight would be against the Rangers or the Yankees or someone good. Not the lowly A's. Heck, Seattle even has a shot at winning. If Felix pitches like Felix and not like the guy who threw down in Oakland earlier.
• Now that the M's have played eight games – splitting them – have you formed any opinions? I have a couple of thoughts. Eric Wedge seems hell bent on making sure everyone plays, sort of a Little League, everyone-gets-a-trophy outlook. That may sound like I'm against the rotation of regulars out of the lineup, but actually it probably makes sense, considering how most of the Mariners' starting position players are either a bit long in the tooth (Ichiro, Miguel Olivio) or just beyond rookie status (Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders). The old guys need to rest their bodies, the young guys their minds as the season can be a grind on both. … The other thought – one I've had for a while – is the starting rotation is better than most folks are willing to admit. The top is strong, with Felix. The bottom, with veteran Kevin Millwood, is experienced. Jason Vargas is solid, though needs to improve his consistency. And Blake Beavan is the type of young fourth starter I love, a guy who can change speeds effectively and pitches backward a lot (throwing breaking balls behind in the count). If Hector Noesi can put it together, the group should keep them in most games. … But are the offense and bullpen solid enough? After eight games, the answer is a split decision, 50/50. And who wouldn't have settled for that when the season began?
• By the way, with tonight being the home opener (and Mike Cameron is being honored), it got me to thinking. Is anyone going to attend games this season? It wasn't all that long ago the Mariners drew 3.5 million people and led the major leagues. Now the team is lucky to entice 20,000 on any given night. With the thought fresh in our mind, we came up with today's poll question.
• Washington State: It was another busy day yesterday for Christian Caple, made even busier by another football player showing up on the Pullman police log. Christian covered that in a blog post and short story, then had a post-practice blog post, a story about the spring workout in today's S-R and his morning post today. … Doesn't it seem like past time football players quit showing up in arrest reports? … Have to call your attention to Bud Withers' blog post in the Times from yesterday. With Bill McCabe moving on as the Pac-12's basketball officials coordinator, Bud examines the state of the conference's officiating. I think I've read more words about the basketball officiating on Twitter in the past year than I've read about the presidential race, so it's obvious people care. There are some interesting thoughts in the piece from outside observers about the Pac-12's group of officials. … Christian's college baseball notebook leads with the record-setting performance of WSU outfielder Derrick Jones. … Former Cougar Klay Thompson really filled up the stat line (24 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) last night but the Warriors lost once more.
• Gonzaga: Jason Bay is proud of having spent a couple years at Gonzaga. It allows him to claim the basketball team as his own. … BYU is trying to decide what to do with its last basketball scholarship.
• Eastern Washington: Spring football continues today, as does Jim Allen's position previews. … Portland State finally replaced former WSU assistant (and now Central Washington defensive coordinator) Malik Roberson as d-line coach. … Former WSU assistant Jody Sears has taken control of Weber State's defense this spring.
• Chiefs: The pressure is building on Spokane to pull even in its WHL playoff series after Wednesday night's home loss to Tri-City. Jessica Brown has an advance of tonight's game in today's S-R and had a blog post on Thursday. … Here is the Tri-Cities Herald story on game three. … Portland probably will be without its leading playoff scorer for Saturday's game with Kamloops.
• Preps: With the weather warming up, so are the local baseball and softball races. Mike Vlahovich has coverage of the former (along with a notebook) and Jessica covers the latter in today's S-R. … Greg Lee also chips in with track coverage.
• Mariners: Thursday's 5-3 loss to Texas seemed to illustrate our thoughts perfectly, but that's just a coincidence, I swear. I had pulled them together in my mind yesterday before getting them down on the computer this morning. … You know how Joe Nathan struggled against the M's the other night? Well his problems are causing consternation in Texas.
• NBA: A group of Sacramento businessmen sent the NBA a letter, trying to get the league to change ownership of the Kings. It's getting nasty down there.
• That's what we can pass along this Friday. We've been drafted to cover high school soccer this afternoon (keep shining sun) for the S-R, so we'll probably send tweets out about every couple minutes - after I vacuum the salt out of the carpet. Just kidding. I'm terrible with the vacuum. Anyhow, Kent Brockman's call of the soccer game below is a classic. Not that I see the game in this light, it's just really funny. … Until later …