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It’s easy to be excited this week

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You know what? I'm excited about the next few days. There are a lot of reasons. Should I share them? Why the heck not. Read on.


••••••••••

• I'm excited about Felix Hernandez's next start, which should be Saturday in Safeco against the Angels. The way Felix has been pitching lately – in his last 14 starts, he's 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 100 strikeouts – there is a chance for a perfect game every time out. OK, that's stretching it. But there is a chance at a no-hitter. Last night I watched some of his performance in a 1-0 win at Minnesota and was once again mesmerized by his command. It's been almost 50 years since I last saw Sandy Koufax pitch – the gold standard of my lifetime – but I don't believe No. 32 was any better than Felix has been recently. And that is the greatest compliment I can give a pitcher.

• I'm excited for Thursday night, when the college football season opens. I'm looking forward to the Eastern Washington at Idaho game – two local teams after all – but I'm excited to watch Washington State. Yes, there is a history here. But even if there wasn't, just the idea of Mike Leach coaching the Cougars would make the game at BYU a must see. I don't think the Cougars will win (wait, that doesn't work; I don't think WSU will win is better), but it should be exciting. And, like a big old guy with a huge right hand, Washington State has a puncher's chance. A couple of ill-timed BYU fumbles, an exceptional Jeff Tuel performance, and WSU could leave Utah with a 1-0 record.

• I'm excited for the Washington State postgame. I've had a few chapters in my life, and another one opens an hour after the final ticks of the clock. I'll join Dennis Patchin on the IMG Cougar Radio Network for an hour-long show that will feature our thoughts on the game and yours, if you want to call. It will start after my bedtime this week – don't worry, I'm already planning a nap – but I'm hopeful we'll be coherent. Dennis will be, I'm sure, but you never know about me.

• I'm excited about the Seahawks this weekend, even if it is just a preseason game. Most teams let their starters rest in week four of the exhibition season, but most teams haven't turned their offense over to a third-round draft choice. Russell Wilson may feel a different type of pressure this week now that he's the designated savior. We'll see if he performs any differently – and if he does, will Pete Carroll change his mind?

• I'm excited about the weekend football schedule. I found this website this week and now I know exactly what I'm going to watch Saturday. Up early for Navy vs. Notre Dame from Ireland, where the Indiana school should be the home team. Then back and forth from Miami (Ohio) at Ohio State (Urban Meyer's debut with the Buckeyes) and Ohio U. at Penn State (you know). I want to see a little bit of Florida, a bit of Wisconsin and Arkansas before I settle down to watch Matt Barkley, Oregon and Mike Price's UTEP team to finish off the night. The first Saturday of the college football season, when every game is a mismatch and no one cares.

• Finally, I'm excited to be sharing this time with you guys. I enjoy getting up each morning and running my fingers over the keyboard. Like the old cliché about monkeys and Shakespeare, every once in a while I stumble on something worth actually reading. At least by the members of my family. By the way, I got an angry email yesterday from my brother-in-law. Like my sister, he attended UCLA (and is a season-ticket holder). He was a little miffed I put the Bruins in the win column for WSU and wanted to make a bet. What do you folks think would be appropriate? A bag of Walla Walla sweets against In-N-Out gift certificates? Lentil soup pitted against a DVD of “Stealing Home,” starring former UCLA quarterback Mark Harmon? A pirate flag vs. 22 Matchbox cars jammed together in a small container? Let me know.

•••

• Washington State: It won't be long now and Christian Caple will be on his way to Provo, where he will cover his first WSU game. That happens to start at 7:15 our time, meaning the S-R's deadline will loom like the Wasatch Range over his shoulder all night long. Luckily he had a light day yesterday to rest up. All he passed along were the game notes from WSU and BYU, a post and story about freshman shooting guard Que Johnson not fully qualifying through the NCAA, so he won't be able to play hoops this season, a post-practice blog post, the depth chart for Thursday and a story on the Leach family for this morning's S-R. And then he started today with his usual morning post. … Of all the Cougars trying to catch on in the NFL, the one I was most interested in was linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is he's such an interesting character. But the Rams cut Hoffman-Ellis yesterday. … With college football beginning this week, we found a couple of Pac-12-related stories to pass along.

• EWU: Jim Allen introduces everyone to one of the Eagles' team leaders, safety Jeff Minnerly. And he also introduces us to the reason behind that hair which can be seen peaking out under his helmet. … Jim also has a look at EWU's two-deep and will host a chat today at noon. He also has this morning post with links. … The FCS didn't want to be called 1-AA. Now it doesn't want to be called the FCS. Something new is brewing. The guess here is it will be even tougher to remember.

• Indians: The last road trip is to Eugene, which means I can pass along not only our story on the Indians' 6-1 victory, but also one from the Register-Guard.

• Mariners: Really, other than Felix's performance, what else there is to say about Monday's 1-0 win over the hapless Minnesota Twins (sorry Flett)? How about Franklin Gutierrez (right) returning to the M's lineup and promptly getting hit in the wrist? Is this guy snake bit or what? Casper Wells was optioned to Tacoma to make room for Gutierrez. And, yes, for whatever reason (whether it's money or politics), Chone Figgins is still on the team.

• Seahawks: With the decision made, Russell Wilson is ready to lead the Hawks into the season, despite his rookie status. … Sidney Rice may just supply the commentary.

• Sounders: So who is the spark for the Sounders' better play, Mauro Rosales or Brad Evans?

•••

• That's it for today. I will be doing a podcast with the guys from CougCenter later this morning – they wanted to know if I Skype, which is sort of like asking if I can fly – and they'll probably post it sometime before the BYU/WSU game, with enough editing to make me look intelligent. I hope. If they do, I'll post a link. If I sound stupid, you'll have to find it on your own. Until later …


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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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