A GRIP ON SPORTS
Fenway Park is turning 100 today and I'm here to refute the nasty Internet rumor that I was at the first game. Nope, couldn't get tickets. And, besides, I wanted to wait until Buck O'Brien was on the bump. Read on.
• I feel a bit like 100 years old today after watching the eighth and (top of the) ninth innings of the Mariners' 2-1 defeat last night. Really, the question John Blanchette asked after the home opener still applies, but let's not dwell on the negative (or, in other words, the aforementioned top of the ninth). Let's look at how well Felix threw, mixing in what has turned out to be his best pitch, his changeup. Instead of doing this myself, I'll turn you over to the U.S.S. Mariner and this blog post. As for the ninth, if you did not believe Brandon League was getting the close pitch, you were not wrong. And if you thought that Miguel Olivo and his inability to help League with how he received those same close pitches was partly to blame, you were not wrong either. In Olivo's defense, a guy like League, with a 97-mph moving fastball and a late-breaking splitter, is tough to frame, but you would hope a veteran major league catcher would be better at it than Olivo showed last night. It certainly didn't help.
• But enough about the M's today. Tomorrow, the Cougars take over Spokane (Albi Stadium at least) with their spring scrimmage. It's the subject of today's poll (at the upper left of every SportsLink page). We asked earlier if you were going (about half of those who responded said yes), so today we're asking you what part of this final spring scrimmage you are looking forward to the most.
• Washington State: Believe it or not, the NCAA has rules for spring practice. Ya, shocking, huh? One of those 3.7 million rules has to do with how many padded practices a school can hold out of its 15 allotted slots. The Cougars need to have one more without pads, so they did that Thursday. Christian Caple was there, as usual, and filed a post-practice blog post, as usual, with video and more. He also has his usual morning blog post today, along with this story in the S-R on Jared Byers (No. 37), the former fullback-turned-linebacker and his new running mates. ... To that overflowing WSU report, we can add links to the radio interview with athletic director Bill Moos yesterday we participated in, along with Dennis Patchin's interview with Mike Leach and more from Moos from Ben Kaplan at KXLY. ... We passed along the Wall Street Journal story earlier this week on the hole in Cal's financing plan for its new stadium. Today we pass along two items that cover the same ground from the San Jose Mercury News. ... Though Utah wasn't in the Pac-12 when Keith Van Horn played for the Utes, we still want to pass along this feature.
• Gonzaga: Christian also covers college baseball on Fridays with his notebook. Today it is on the quick recovery of GU lefty Marco Gonzales. If you get a chance to see Gonzales play this season, do so. He's headed for bigger and better things down the road. ... Women's basketball coach Kelly Graves, like men's coach Mark Few, will help out with a USA Basketball team this summer.
• Mariners: OK, so the hair-wringing and hand-pulling should be over by now – though I'm sure Rick Lukens still can't speak of last night's 2-1 defeat to Cleveland. It was hard to take, that's for sure, considering how well – and how tough – Felix Hernandez pitched over eight innings and 126 pitches. But the M's closer Brandon League, basically perfect going into last night, couldn't hold it and the Indians rallied in the ninth. ... The lineup was once again a bit different, with John Jaso (above right) at DH and Justin Smoak back with his sore hamstring. ... Former Mariner Rupert Jones was in town.
• Nothing more to add this morning. Until later ...