A GRIP ON SPORTS
I hope everyone had a safe and sane Fourth. It was relatively quiet in Spokane, until the Indians' game ended. That's when the booming began and the fireworks started in the sky. Pretty cool. And at least they all went off at different times. Read on.
• Before we delve too deeply into baseball and the like this morning, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate old-school comedy. When the news broke yesterday that Andy Griffith had passed away in North Carolina, I immediately thought of the old record album my dad had. It was one of a few comedy records in the house (there was an Alan Sherman one, another from Jonathan Winters and others) that I used to listen to on the living room stereo. But Griffith's was the only one that had anything to do with sports – barely – with his piece entitled “What it was, was football.” Listening to this bit, which I think I've passed along on the blog before, always made me imagine Sheriff Andy Taylor sitting in his Mayberry home, telling young Opie about the first time he went to a football game. That's not where this came from, of course, but to a generation of young Americans, Andy Griffith was Sheriff Taylor, the nicest police officer you could ever hope to meet. Anyhow, here's the bit. It's still pretty funny in a homespun, sort-of-blue-collar-comedy way. It seems to be a good way to say so long to Andy.
• It's getting sort of tiresome to continual pass along, day after day, news of the Mariners being unable to win at home. Sure, they won four times in the just-completed 10-game homestand, but that's not enough. Neither is hitting .195 at home, which is the M's team batting average after more than half of their home games. Think of that. They are hitting .195 as a team in Safeco. Now if they were blasting the ball out of the park consistently, then that average might be OK, but the M's are averaging 2.85 runs a game at home. Which means even if Felix or Jason Vargas or any other starter goes nine, gives up a measly three runs, the averages tell us they are going to lose more than half the time. The definition of a quality start might have to be reworked for the M's staff at home this year. What makes yesterday even worse was the way these Mariners lost. Former teammate Adam Jones (above) hit an upper deck home run and former Seattle farmhand Chris Tillman took a one-hitter into the ninth. Yep, both guys could be playing half their games in Safeco but thanks to the genius that was Bill Bavasi, they are now helping the Orioles compete in the American League East. I'm thinking of writing a book – fictional of course – the plot of which revolves around a major league baseball owner, a former singing cowboy, deciding to sabotage his divisional opponents. He conspires with his general manager, fires him and then recommends him for the same position in a rival front office. Once there, his old general manager proceeds to gut and destroy a once-proud franchise. Think it would sell?
• Mariners: The road beckons. After a day off today, the M's return to action Friday at Oakland. Maybe by then they'll have the pain of Wednesday's 4-2 defeat at Baltimore's hands out of their heads. The losing pitcher, again, was Hector Noesi, who now has a major-league-leading 11 of them. And the other half of the Yankee trade, catcher Jose Montero, had to leave the game after getting hit in the mask with a foul tip (I can sympathize; that pain I remember) and suffering a concussion. Before the injury, Montero had been slumping and had been dropped to seventh in the lineup. Who won that trade again? Let's hope it's not as bad as the Eric Bedard one. … Noesi may be headed to the minors for more work, what with the All-Star break coming up.
• Indians: The fireworks began long before it got real dark last night as the Indians made quick work of the Yakima Bears, 2-0, before 6,884 at Avista Stadium. Abel De Los Santos (above) and two other pitchers combined on the shutout. Jess Brown has the story.
• Sounders: It's been a while since the Sounders won a game, but a 0-0 tie isn't all that bad. That's what Seattle ended up with in their trip to Sandy Utah and the matchup with Real Salt Lake. A shutout was what the players wanted, though a goal would have made the night a lot better.
• NBA: There is a lot of angst in Phoenix and a lot of joy in Los Angeles today but I don't get it. Yes, Steve Nash has been one of the NBA's top point guards for a long time, but he's 38 years old. And the Lakers are giving up a Simpson-handful of draft picks to get him. Yes, the draft picks could be relatively worthless, but Nash is 38 years old. That's like 55 in the journalism business.
• Another near-perfect summer day in Spokane needs to be spent on the golf course. So that's where we're headed. My goal today: hit fewer than five trees. I always have to aim high. Until later …