A GRIP ON SPORTS
Earlier this month, while on vacation in Northern Arizona, we experienced some thunderstorms that were impressive in their intensity. The lightning strikes seemed to stretch for miles, fingers illuminating the sky, while the accompanying rain made it impossible to walk, let alone drive anywhere. But in one way those storms had nothing on the boomers that awakened the household early this morning. The lightning was nowhere near as impressive, the rain nearly non-existent (except for one gutter cleaner). But the thunder. Wow. Loud, explosive thunder that rolled on and on and on, rattling the windows and scaring the bejesus out of the cat. Read on.
• After the cat had scratched the heck out of my arm in its headlong rush to find someplace to hide – note to felines: there is nowhere to avoid thunder that loud, sorry – I pulled myself out of bed to shut down a couple of pieces of electronics, just in case. I trust surge protectors, sure, but like the guy who wears a belt with his suspenders, I wanted to be doubly sure. Out of bed, I figured it was time to get started on the morning post, hoping I would get it done before a transformer blows in the neighborhood and the Internet was lost for the day. Mission accomplished. Which allows me to share some thoughts on the Mariners.
• Yesterday morning, the Times Geoff Baker wrote this blog post about the M's recent good play and their rebuilding goals. The basic premise of the piece is easy to agree with in that the team's recent good play is neither proof the franchise is improving nor evidence it isn't. It's just good play. Fine. That's enough for now. I want to enjoy it. It's funny, seeing the joy on a friend's face the other day following Felix Hernandez's perfect game reminded me of something I had forgotten. Sports have a way of easing the burdens of day-to-day life (or exaggerating them). Too often lately around here, the latter has been true, whether the Spokane-area sports fan has been rooting for the Cougars or the Mariners or the Seahawks or whomever. But when the local team (and in this I include the M's) does something special, the sheer happiness of the event makes the day – or days – better. So whether or not the M's are building a foundation for long-term success, well, I'm just not sure. But they have played well the past week, highlighted by Felix's gem, so I'm just going to enjoy that. And enjoy the effect that sort of play has on those around me. Happiness is contagious and a heck of a lot better than the alternative.
• Washington State: For some reason Mike Leach has yet to name a starting quarterback for next Thursday's season opener at BYU. That's his right. But as the Cougars prepare for the Cougars, the guy taking nearly all the snaps with the first team is more than likely the starter, right? And that guy is senior Jeff Tuel. Christian Caple makes the same argument in his final position preview, this one on the quarterbacks. Christian also has his morning post and a post from last night after a better WSU practice. ... The Cougars' "Wave the Flag" campaign has elicited some odd responses, but none more strikingly different than this one. ... Jon Wilner has a couple of posts worth reading, including more on the Pac-12 Network (there is hope for you DirectTV customers) and some thoughts about a variety of things.
• Idaho: It's pretty simple why the Vandals will be an independent in football next season. It's current conference, the WAC, has decided to give up trying to play the sport. It is, however, attempting to put together a non-football conference, so the Vandals could decide to stay put and not join the Big Sky in other sports if they want. Another, seemingly more expensive, option. ... Utah State is hoping for a big improvement by one linebacker.
• Indians: The strong hitting continues, at least from Royce Bolinger, who extended his hitting streak to 21 games Monday night in a 4-3 Spokane win over Tri-City. John Blanchette has the story.
• Mariners: Guess who has the best record in the American League since the All-Star break? Yep, the Mariners after their 5-3 win over the Indians last night. The victory, the M's fifth consecutive, gave them a 23-13 mark since the break. They also hit three home runs, two from a suddenly resurgent Michael Saunders (left). ... The accolades just keep on coming for Felix Hernandez, who will start tonight. His perfect game earned him American League Player of the Week honors.
• Seahawks: There is really only one question for Hawk fans and it should be answered sometime today: Will Russell Wilson be the starting quarterback in Friday night's game at Kansas City? There's only one person who knows the answer for sure, coach Pete Carroll. ... Carroll is trying to find the answer to why the Hawks have been so penalized the last few seasons. ... Some roster changes were made yesterday, with a big one in the middle of the defense.
• Golf: Augusta National quietly announced yesterday its membership now includes two women, one of whom you probably have heard of, the other you may not have. Sally Jenkins explains why the latter one is worth knowing.
• That's it for here for now, but we'll have more to share this afternoon on the radio. And of course we'll be back here tomorrow. Until then ...