A GRIP ON SPORTS
Remember how I told you yesterday morning to take a breather, rest a bit, recharge the batteries? I hope you listened to the advice because you'll need the energy today. Not like there's a lot going on. The Mariners take an eight-game winning streak and their .500 hopes into Chicago. The Seahawks start rookie Russell Wilson under center at Kansas City. And college football is less than a week away. Strap in because the ride is about to get bumpy. Read on.
• I meant that last sentence literally, at least for me. I'm headed down to Pullman this afternoon for a tour of the new Martin Stadium, and anyone who has driven U.S. Highway 195 recently knows bumpy is an understatement. Heck, the part under construction south of Colfax is still a bit smoother than the stretch just south of Spokane. Maybe the trip is a metaphor for the Cougars upcoming season, I don't know. But I'm sure there will be some bumps between now and early December on that journey as well.
• The Mariners' season has been one big pothole after another. At least it seemed that way until recently. Yes, it's still too early to think playoffs, but it's not too early to be pleased with the recent play. Good pitching. Solid defense. Occasional hitting. Late-inning heroics. All elements of successful teams. And all elements of the Mariners' resume in the past few weeks. But the next few days in Chicago will be a test – the White Sox are leading the American League Central at 68-55 and just swept the Yankees in a three-game home series (which came on the heels of losing three in-a-row at Kansas City) – though that's followed by a four-game breather in Minnesota. Whatever, the next week may determine whether Seattle can finish above .500 and whether we can start muttering “playoffs” in something other than our Jim Mora voice.
• Who among us thinks Russell Wilson will shine tonight? OK, I see a couple hands, though the one in the back, is that you Pete Carroll? Ya, it is. Well if Pete is right, then the next couple weeks will be interesting as the Seahawks decide if Wilson should be the man in the season opener at Arizona. Not that starting a rookie quarterback is that big a deal in the NFL anymore. Heck, four teams (Indianapolis, Cleveland, Washington and Miami) have already said they are going that route, so it's not like the Hawks would be trailblazers. But no matter how well Wilson plays today, if he's the guy this season, there will be some speed bumps along the way.
• Washington State: Christian Caple will be on the tour as well, but he turned his sights on a proposed building today, examining the status of the football operations building in this story. He also had a blog post from last evening and his morning post. … Arizona State's basketball staff is melting away, with two assistants leaving this week. The latest, Lamont Smith, left for Washington yesterday, where the Huskies made room by moving long-time assistant Paul Fortier (above) to the new “it” job, director of player personnel and player development, a spot that doesn't allow hands-on coaching of the players. Sort of Orwellian don't you think? … How many games will each Pac-12 football team win this season? If you can figure that out, you can make some money. … Andrew Nemec of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News examines the Cougars' high expectations.
• EWU: The Eagles held a final scrimmage a week before the opener at Idaho, though many of the more experienced players didn't participate. Jim Allen has the story. … In the rising-tide-raises-all-boats category, Portland State will have nine games on TV in Portland this season. If a game is being broadcast it's usually possible to find it somewhere.
• Preps: Idaho high school football kicks off tonight. Yes, you read that right. Idaho high school football kicks off tonight.
• Indians: The Indians rode a Jose Valdespina shutout to a 3-0 win over Salem-Kaiser last night, but Royce Bolinger's hitting streak ended at 23 games with a 0-for-4 night. Greg Lee has the game story.
• Mariners: No matter what, this season is already better than 2010. Though Felix Hernandez (right) may have less chance to win the Cy Young, not because he isn’t pitching as well but because others are pitching better. … Tom Wilhelmsen has filled the closer role well.
• As I said, we're going to tour the new press box and premium seating this afternoon. Hopefully, Bill Moos will point out my luxury box. All I want is the one labeled “President's Box” on the architectural drawings. I don't think that's asking for too much, do you? Until later …