A GRIP ON SPORTS
Our poll question today gets away from the London Olympics and brings us back to the Pacific Northwest, where the Mariners haven't lost in a week. Is it real or an illusion? Read on.
• Before you get all excited about the M's seven-game winning streak, think about this. The last time the Mariners won seven consecutive games, their manager quit. Yep, it was 2007 and Seattle was in the midst of an eight-game winning streak when Mike Hargrove decided he had been their manager long enough and walked out the door. In the past 10 years of Mariner futility, that move may not only have been the strangest, but the most telling of any. Ever since the 2001 dream season, even when the M's win, they lose something. Which makes me wonder about this recent streak. The Negative Neddy in me wants to point out the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays aren't the best teams in baseball. But for once I'm going to throw Ned down the stairs and stay positive. And point out the win streak came at home (a place filled with nightmares for the M's most of the past few years), with good pitching (a staple much of the season) complimented by timely hitting (not a staple much of the season). Some folks are crediting the Ichiro trade (no argument here that it was time for the guy to go), others a maturity among the youngsters or the kick-in-the-butt everyone got when Justin Smoak was sent to Tacoma. Whatever the reason (how about they are just playing better against poor competition and leave it at that?) it's fun to listen to the games and hear Rick Rizz use the term “happy totals” at the end.
• Washington State: With Christian Caple back on the beat, we don't have to run down all the Pac-12 links for you. We just have to send you to Christian's morning post and we're good. The Cougars open training camp this afternoon (that's how I get away from the misnomer “fall camp”) and first-year coach Mike Leach held a press conference yesterday. Christian covered that in this blog post and S-R story. He also has a blog post on the camp schedule.
• Gonzaga: I found this Yahoo!Sports story kind of funny in that the writer treats the news Tommy Lloyd (right in photo) is Mark Few's designated replacement as if it’s a new development. The Zags have always had a succession plan in place, with Billy Grier and Leon Rice holding the title of coach-in-waiting in the past. Lloyd is the next logical assistant. … St. Mary's received a commitment from an Oregon high school player.
• Indians: Boise and Spokane pounded the ball last night, with the Hawks coming away with a 14-10 home victory.
• Mariners: According to the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker, it wasn't newcomer Eric Thames' (right) towering two-run home run to centerfield that sparked the M's comeback against Toronto. It was the adjustments the players made throughout the 5-3 victory. And that is what manager Eric Wedge has said all along their young players need to be able to do. Using that as his theme, Baker sees the win, and the winning streak, as evidence they are improving. I'm sure every Mariner fan reading this is hoping it's true. … I know you will be shocked by this, considering his past history, but Franklin Gutierrez isn't returning any time soon. … Sometimes good trades are not made. … My favorite story of the day? A minor league umpire (in every sense of the phrase) kicked a music man out for playing “Three Blind Mice” after a controversial call. Heck, there was a time when the song was played when the umpires took the field in the bigs.
• Sounders: If you want to watch the conclusion of the U.S. Open Cup, you better have a cable package to die for, because the game will be televised on an obscure channel. … The Sounders return to Champions League play tonight with a new face on the field.
• Olympics: It took a while for Eric Uptagrafft to get back to the Olympics, but his 16-year hiatus is nowhere near a record. John Blanchette catches up with the shooter in this column.
• For the first time in seemingly forever I'm not going to be in Pullman to see the first day of football practice. Instead I'm going to spend my morning on the golf course, where the ritual drowning of my golf balls on holes one, three, five, nine, 11, 16 and 18 should cleanse any lingering memories of being the Cougar beat writer. Until later …