A GRIP ON SPORTS
There are a lot of lessons to be learned from athletics, not the least of which is how not to deal with a problem. "Oh," you think to yourself, "he's talking about the Olympic track and field trials." Was I that obvious? Read on.
• The more I read about USA Track and Field and how the organization has dealt with the still-unresolved tie for third in the women's 100 meters, the more I realize how screwed up the organization is. Of course friends who cover the sport, like the S-R's John Blanchette, have been trying to get me to understand that for years. It's just tonight's runoff race – if it occurs – just focuses more attention on the group's warts. I can't do the problems justice, so I'll pass you along to another longtime Northwest track and field writer, the Oregonian's Ken Goe, who covers all the bases in this commentary. As for tonight, Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden is reporting Jeneba Tarmoh, one of the two participants, may not run. The implication in the piece is Tarmoh may take USA Track and Field to court to secure the spot on the Olympic team she feels she earned fair and square. And, according to Layden, one of the judges may agree with her. As George Schroeder writes in the Register-Guard, some of the particulars that occurred Sunday just make the organization look foolish and out of touch. Of course, this all could have been resolved if Allyson Felix, who won the 200 meters and already has a spot on the Olympic team, had done the sportsmanlike thing, stepped aside, accepted an alternate spot and let her training partner Tarmoh run the 100. But she made some BS excuse about the 100 being an integral part of her 200 training and she didn't want to give it up. Of course if she had finished fourth in the 100, she would probably be saying today not running in the 100 helps her in the 200, but that's just speculation. What we do know is this whole thing is a mess for everyone involved. Which seems to go hand in hand with American track and field.
• Hoopfest finished up yesterday with a group of mainly Gonzaga teammates winning the open division title, a couple of Spokane high school stars taking the 6-foot-and-under elite division title (left) and a three-peat in the women's elite division. There were a few showers yesterday, but the rain for the most part stayed away, allowing the 23rd version of the best three-on-three tourney in the world to finish in style once again. As I was walking around yesterday I realized the event has a sharp brain (the Hoopfest organization), an ever-changing set of muscles (the players) and strong bones (the downtown configuration). But if it weren't for the volunteers, who are the lifeblood of the event, it just couldn't work. Their sweat makes it all possible. As a former participant and now a lifelong fan, I want to say thank you to everyone who gives their time. ... Before we move on to other items like another Mariner defeat and soccer news, I wanted to pass along Jess Brown's story of the elite division titles and Jim Allen's notebook from around the streets. There is more coverage, including almost endless photos, here.
• Washington State: Former WSU power forward Abe Lodwick will be playing next year in Germany.
• Indians: Next season there won't be a Yakima Bears team to defeat, as the franchise is moving to the Portland area. But this season, the Indians have their chance and they made the most of it Sunday night, with a 7-5 road win.
• Mariners: Want to know the most under-rewarded job in America (we are talking in terms of success, not money)? That would be starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. Do your job poorly, do your job well, do your job in a mediocre fashion and it's all the same. You probably will earn a no-decision at best. Such was the case for Jason Vargas on Sunday. He threw eight innings of five-hit, one-run ball and ended with nothing to show for it as the M's lost 2-1 to Boston in 10 innings. If it weren't for a Justin Pedroia (above) solo home run, Vargas may have come away with a win. So I guess the no-decision was Vargas' fault. ... Felix Hernandez will represent the M's in the All-Star game and he's happy about that. ... The M's newest starting pitcher is now on the DL. ... At the halfway point, the Mariners are looking at 94 losses. Wow.
• Sounders: Once again the Sounders will enter a game with a player on the sidelines due to a suspension. It's all part of an up-and-down first half of the season. ... There may not be a more dominate sports team in the world than Spain's soccer side. The Spaniards won back-to-back European titles, routing Italy 4-0 Sunday, the first country to ever do that.
• The Fourth of July looms Wednesday and to celebrate we're going to talk baseball tomorrow. I have a couple of July 4th memories to pass along and I would love to hear yours. Until then ...