A GRIP ON SPORTS
Safeco Field was rocking last night as Felix Hernandez knocked down another baseball truism: Pitchers coming off perfect games are less than successful. King Felix was at least princely Tuesday night as the M's moved within four games of .500 with their seventh consecutive victory. Yep, the M's are almost at the break-even point and it is late August. Read on.
• Yep, the day after the Seahawks announced Russell Wilson will start at quarterback for Friday's preseason game with Kansas City, we decided to lead our morning post with the Mariners. Don't fret, we'll have some thoughts on Wilson and the Hawks in this post as well. But how often recently have we been able to celebrate a seven-game winning streak, a stretch of 14 wins in 15 home games, a crowd of nearly 40,000 on a weeknight? Ya, not too often. So we can't overlook what happened last night in Safeco. And we might even gloss over the fact it took a perfect game – only the 23rd time that's occurred in history – to make it happen. OK, pointing that out is just mean, so let's move on. And I have a question. Is anyone starting to think this year's Mariners team could emulate the Oakland A's of 2002 and the Rockies of 2007 and ride a long late-season winning streak right into the playoffs? Well me neither, but I was just wondering. Those A's won 20 consecutive games and 23 of 24 in late August and early September, a streak that not only propelled them into the postseason but eventually into a Brad Pitt movie. The Rockies won 11 consecutive times in September, won a playoff for the wild-card spot and raced all the way to the World Series, winning 20 of 21 games before running out of steam against the Red Sox. So a comeback is possible. But probably highly unlikely with this Mariners team, though the offense is coming around – Eric Thames hit another dinger last night and Jesus Montero tried to put a ball through the facing of the upper deck in left – and the pitching is as strong as it's been all season. No matter what, as I wrote yesterday, just enjoy the ride man, just enjoy the ride.
• Two other things, both football related. There were a couple questions yesterday wondering my thoughts on Washington State's postseason chances. It's something I've thought about a lot and will share, just not today (and no, I'm not waiting until November either). I'm planning on getting to that on Sunday morning, a day I have some time to write in detail and you folks have time to read for a while. The other football item is the Wilson news. Really, this is the only thing Pete Carroll could do. If he hadn't started Wilson this week, Carroll's whole competition mantra flies out the window. Wilson has earned the opportunity to show what he can do against Kansas City's first string. Yes, it's still only an exhibition game, so results are not necessarily indicative of regular-season success, but it's all we've got right now. If Wilson shines, it does two things: It gives Seattle enough confidence to trade Tavaris Jackson and it makes Carroll's decision about who starts the regular season opener at Arizona heartburn-inducing.
• Oh, one other thing. (I felt a bit like Columbo there.) We ran the poll about Idaho's future for four days and the results were overwhelming. Almost two-thirds of you felt the Vandals should just go ahead and join the Big Sky in all sports. And more folks (7.7 percent) felt UI should drop sports than those 7 percent) who thought the school should be a FBS independent in football and in the Big Sky for other sports, the path the school is looking at now.
• Washington State: Earlier this week we wrote a short bit about school starting this week and the debate between semester vs. quarter schools. Christian Caple turned that into a story in today's S-R (smart man, isn’t he?), with Mike Leach and others weighing in on the subject. Christian also had his usual post-practice blog post last night and his morning post today. As it is Wednesday, he'll also have a live chat today here on SportsLink. ... Christian also has some basketball news on the blog, with the official word former Oregon guard Brett Kingma (above) has enrolled in school and will be a walk-on on the team this season. Kingma will have to sit out the year. ... With only eight days until WSU's opener at BYU, those Cougars are getting ready for the Palouse Cougars, though the Utah brethren feel they have some advantages.
• EWU: The Eagles were blindsided by a freshman receiver getting in trouble with the authorities this week, but are still focused on the opener next week at Idaho. Jim Allen has a blog post on yesterday's practice along with a feature on punter Jake Miller, who was at WSU for a short while as a freshman. During that time, then WSU punter Reid Forrest told me Miller had the physical abilities to punt in the NFL. ... Montana has shortened its list of athletic director candidates to four, one of whom is former EWU AD and current WSU senior associate AD John Johnson. ... Oregon and its baseball coach, George Horton, are not close in contract talks.
• Idaho: Former Vandal basketball coach George Pfeifer has left Montana State, where he was an assistant, and is moving to Spokane.
• Indians: Royce Bolinger's hitting streak continued – it's at 22 games – but the Indians winning streak didn't as they last 8-6 to Tri-City in a downpour. John Blanchette has all the details. ... It's official now. The Yakima franchise is moving to Hillsboro, Ore.
• Mariners: Felix wasn't perfect (the first Indian hitter did just that, got a hit) but he was more than fine, pitching into the eighth and earning the 5-1 win. The scene at Safeco last night was surreal, with all the yellow shirts, the K cards waving in the wind and even Fredy Montero throwing out the first pitch to Jesus Montero (no relation) – then Felixing. The atmosphere in the stadium is what you wish it could be like every night and might be, if the Mariners get back into a pennant race - and Felix stays. ... There's a different atmosphere at Dodger Stadium, one filled with carbon dioxide. I pass along this column from the LA Times just because I lived this nightmare as a kid, though my dad had a fool-proof way to beat the traffic. It just involved getting to the stadium just as the parking lot opened and then running a half-mile or so after the final out. It worked though. ... We talked about this on the radio yesterday but it needs to be passed on here. I hope you will never again think of Jim Joyce as the umpire who blew Armando Galarraga's perfect game. Instead, think of him as the umpire who saved a life.
• Seahawks: Carroll's decision to go with Wilson this week could be the defining moment in his Seattle coaching legacy. Thus says Steve Kelley in the Times and the sentiment is echoed in other columns as well. One thing is for sure. If Wilson bombs, the decision is pretty easy. If he stars, it gets a lot tougher. But the tough decision is better for the long-term success of the team.
• Sounders: Seattle's goaltending is better than the numbers show.
• With the M's game starting at 12:40 p.m. today, the radio show will begin ... well, we won't know until the game is over. It usual begins an hour or so after the final out, but last Wednesday that schedule was thrown out the window by Felix's gem, so we'll see. We'll be on sometime this afternoon and then back here tomorrow. Until then ...