A GRIP ON SPORTS
The college football season is less than 48 hours away. Which, of course, means I want to talk baseball. Read on.
• OK, I won't be long. But I wanted to point out something I believe is being overlooked concerning the Mariners recent play. Then I'll get off my soapbox and get back to linking college football content (and everything else Pacific Northwest-related). The Mariners won again last night, a 5-2 victory over Minnesota. With the win, they are 15-0 in the last month against Kansas City, Toronto, Minnesota and Cleveland. Notice something similar about those four teams? Yep, they are pretty crappy. Since that 15-0 streak began, the Mariners are only 6-9 against the Yankees, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, the Angels and the White Sox. Notice something similar about those five teams? Yep, they are pretty decent. And that's the rub. I get the feeling there are a lot of folks, even some in this business, who are basically saying we'll be interested when the M's can defeat the good teams consistently.
What they are overlooking is becoming successful is a process, and often not a linear one. The Mariners are a young team. That's not arguable. It's also not an excuse. But young teams often have to learn how to win. For a couple of seasons, the M's didn't do that very frequently (or consistently), whether they were playing good or bad teams. Winning came in fits and starts. But something has happened this season. The pitching has improved and so has the hitting, though the latter hasn't seen as dramatic an improvement. The combination originally resulted in Seattle competing in games, though winning didn't happen as often as anyone would have liked. But recently the M's have discovered – and this is important – they are better than the crappy teams. And, thanks to better play and the confidence born of it, they are kicking the crappy teams' behinds all over the park. They head to Target Field today knowing they are the better team and, though that doesn't always translate into victory, it certainly doesn't hurt. That's a big step folks. But there is another one. Other than when Felix Hernandez is on the bump, the M's still don't believe they are good enough to defeat the better teams. They just don't play with the same confidence, with the same swagger if you will, against the Yankees and the White Sox of the world right now. But it should come. The next step in the process is competing with and, at least 50 percent of the time, defeating the good teams. If and when that happens, the Mariners will be a contender. Until then, we have to be satisfied with kicking the Twins' butt again.
• By the way, I'm a little disappointed with you folks. Yesterday morning, I put the following up on the blog hoping you guys would help me come up with a plan. ...
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?
The result? I received exactly one response. That's not good enough. I want to email my brother-in-law soon with a proposal, so help me out here. Thanks.
• Washington State: Tuesdays of game week are the busiest day for a college football beat writer. There is all the usual items to cover, like practice, with the added attraction of the Pac-12 coaches' media call, a two-hour event that is filled with can't-miss action. Christian Caple has his first Pac-12 notebook in today's paper, along with this feature on BYU quarterback Riley Nelson (above). Christian also will hold a live chat today at 1 p.m., and had more than one blog post yesterday, including a summary of Mike Leach's comments on the Pac-12 call. ... Where do people watch college football? In the South of course. ... Where can't people get the Pac-12 Network (even important people)? On DirectTV of course. ... The Pac-12 depth charts all have something interesting to pass along. ... I almost forgot to pass this along, not because it isn't worth listening to (that's up to you to decide, not me) but because it slipped my mind - like a lot of things these days. It's a podcast I did yesterday with Jeff Nusser and Brian Floyd of CougCenter.
• EWU: The Cheney campus was abuzz with the news volleyball coach Miles Kydd abruptly resigned four matches into the season. Only the catch-all phrase "personal reasons" was given for the resignation. (As an aside, is there a more imprecise and inaccurate statement than citing personal reasons? Aren't all reasons personal? No one resigns because of impersonal reasons. By using the phrase it just seems like there is a cover-up of some sort going on, even if there isn't.) Jim Allen has the story and a blog post. ... He also had a live football chat on the blog yesterday, a summary of which you can read here. ... You can win tickets to the Eagles' game at WSU next week just by participating in our news quiz. You don't have to get every question right, just answer them. And remember, the game starts at 12:30. It will be early September, the weather should be great and the football exciting. ... Montana is ready to open the Mick Delany era this weekend. ... Weber State has went through a hellish four months. That's all behind the Wildcats now. ... Montana State has one of the better quarterbacks in the FCS.
• Idaho: There was a report from the University of Idaho student newspaper yesterday afternoon that Dominque Blackman, designated a couple of weeks ago as the starting quarterback by Vandal coach Robb Akey, won't start the opener against Eastern. Josh Wright passed on the news in this blog post. No official word on it yet. ... The Vandals also released their basketball schedule and Josh had another post on that. ... Utah State's secondary will be tested by the passing of Southern Utah, a newbie in the Big Sky this season. And it wants to prove its running game is not a sore spot. ... Jon Wilner has his take on the WAC football race.
• Preps: Washington high schools begin their football season this weekend and Greg Lee wants everyone to look ahead at the matchups. To get you started, he has this blog post.
• Indians: Well, if you can be perfect, why not? The Indians are 0-10 in extra inning games this year, so that's perfect in one way, isn't it? The 10th loss came Tuesday night, 5-4, in 10 innings at Eugene.
• Mariners: Dustin Ackley has been swinging the bat well recently. And he swung it well on one pitch last night, driving the ball over the fence in the fifth for a three-run home run in the M's 5-2 win over the Twins. Ackley's drive, coupled with Kyle Seager's earlier two-run double, was all Hisashi Iwakuma (above) and the M's pen needed. ... Felix has moved to the front of the Cy Young race in the American League and might just run away from everyone. ... Major League Baseball is going to be awash in money – again – soon.
• Seahawks: We don't have a Russell Wilson story for you (wait, we're lying; yes we do and it's from the Sporting News), but we do have a story on a receiver once again on the bubble along with a Bruce Irvin sighting.
• Sounders: We mentioned Brad Evans' consistent play here yesterday and we can follow that up with another story about the midfielder. ... Osvaldo Alonso earned a big U.S. Open Cup honor, even if the Sounders didn't win again.
• That's our report for this morning. I have to go into training today, with the goal of acclimating my body to staying up after 10 p.m. The Washington State game starts late – for me – tomorrow. Until later ...