A GRIP ON SPORTS
You know, if this were 2005, the Mariners would have had a heck of an off-season. But it's 2012, nearly 2013 and this offseason has been, well, nothing less than mystifying. Read on.
• This is what I wrote in the Mariners section yesterday, linking to a story about the M's signing Jeremy Bonderman: "Are you a former Pacific Northwest baseball player hoping for a rebirth? If you are, call the Seattle Mariners at (555) 555-HOPE. They may just have a spot for you. Call now. Operators are waiting." Little did I know Raul Ibanez would read it, think to himself "Hey, I played in the Pacific Northwest twice, so I guess I'll give them a call." Yep, the good ship Mariner will be running on retreads next season (and yes, I know I'm mixing my metaphors here, but I'm so disappointed I could care less). Jason Bay, Bonderman and now Ibanez, who reportedly agreed to a one-year deal yesterday. Those are the big splashes the team is making in free agency. No Josh Hamilton. No Nick Swisher (who agreed to a contract with the Indians this morning). Heck, no Michael Bourn. OK, I'll admit maybe, just maybe, I'm reacting a bit too early. After all, these moves could all be insurance so that the Mariners can make another big trade (paralleling the Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales one of earlier this month), say moving Jesus Montero or Justin Smoak or, god forbid, Casper Wells, for a crucial piece that will help them rise out of the American League West cellar. But I doubt it. Mainly because, if you read the names in the preceding sentence, nothing stellar is coming back in return. The only true bait the Mariners can offer is their big tuna, Felix Hernandez, and if that happens about half the population in Seattle will grab pitchforks, torches and ropes and go looking for the management team. Sure, there are lots of golden-armed prospects in the minors, but baseball isn't in a trade-a-star-for-prospects mood. So the M's patch up their dents and dings with recycled parts. And we can look forward to another year of new bells and whistles in the ballyard, an occasional hot streak to entice hope and then the inevitable loss after loss and last-place finish. Well, I guess there is something to be said for consistency.
• Washington State: Not a lot happening in Pullman, but Christian Caple catches you up on the all the Pac-12 news with his morning post (including a link to a story that has relevance to tonight's big NFL game in Seattle). Watching the Huskies yank defeat from the jaws of victory again yesterday, I was taken by how nice Las Vegas looked. Maybe July (the only time I visit the city) isn't the best time to head there.
• Gonzaga: The Zags are off for Christmas as well, but their WCC opponents were still in action yesterday, with San Diego losing to Oregon State in Las Vegas (if you're wondering why, the Pac-12 is holding its tournament in the new MGM Grand Garden Arena this season, so it wanted to hold some games there to test the place out), Portland adding injury to defeat, losing to Colorado State (also in the MGM Grand), and USF losing to San Diego State in Hawaii. On the plus side of the ledger, Santa Clara raised its record to 11-2 by defeating Wagner in the Cable Car Classic final.
• EWU: The Eagles needed a win in the worst way, though we will refrain from saying they won in that matter even though Idaho State may be the Big Sky's weakest program right now. A win is a win for Eastern this season and it got one yesterday in Cheney, 57-54. Jim Allen was in Cheney and has this story. ... Weber State swept its Pacific Northwest trip, getting past Portland State in overtime.
• Whitworth: The Pirates beat Homer and the rest of the Simpsons, 77-69, at home last night. Wait, what? Oh, Simpson College. My bad. Correspondent Steve Christilaw has the story.
• Seahawks: OK, so the Mariners aren't doing anything to get better. At least the Seahawks will try anything – even break the PED rules – to improve. How improved are they? We will find out tonight when Pete Carroll's team tries to defeat Jim Harbaugh's 49ers for the first time in the rivalry. The only way the Hawks can win the NFC West is win tonight. The 49ers could lose, win next week against Arizona and still take home the prize. So my money is on Seattle. It has the deeper motivation. ... Danny O'Neil has his NFL power rankings and the 49ers are No. 1.
• I have to get out of this Mariners-induced funk. Maybe a nice iPad for Christmas would help (and yes, my wife does read this blog occasionally, so I am fishing here). By the way, I know I'll blog tomorrow morning but on Christmas, it's going to be a short one. But please visit. It will be worth your while. Until later ...