A GRIP ON SPORTS
The summer lull is officially over. Just about every local college has news to talk about today, something that hasn't happened consistently since March. Not all of it is in the good news variety, that's for sure. Read on.
• Before we get to the links, those of us at A Grip On Sports (me) are saddened to see the speculation out of Seattle that Thursday night's overpowering start may have been the last as a Mariner for Jason Vargas (right). Though our Jason Vargas-for-Cy-Young campaign never really got off the ground, we still have a special place in our baseball heart for the left-hander from Southern California. All kidding aside, Vargas is still just 28. He has developed into a solid major league starter. He's durable, he's dependable and he's pretty damn good. Just the type of guy that fits behind Felix Hernandez in the rotation. The type of guy who can help a team win a title. "He's just grown,'' Mariners manager Eric Wedge told reporters last night. "Even in the short period of time I've been here. It's been a lot of fun to watch this guy continue to figure it out and continue to get better.'' And the Mariners are thinking of trading him for prospects because he may become too expensive next season? If that happens, I'm going to be ticked. My goodness, when is this crud going to stop? When are the M's going to say we are going to keep together the pieces we need to win no matter the cost? Isn't it about winning? Haven't the Seattle fans proven they will fill Safeco for a winning team? And don't a full ballpark and improved TV ratings translate directly into more money? Isn't that what ownership wants, to make money? Then build a winner. Bite the bullet, quit stepping over dollar bills to pick up nickels, put together the pieces needed to win.
• Washington State: The big news yesterday out of Pullman – overpowering the release of the basketball schedule on the cusp of WSU's trip to Australia – was Mike Leach dismissing defensive tackle Anthony Laurenzi (left) after a 3rd-degree theft arrest. Laurenzi is accused of shoplifting a pair of headphones from Walmart. If it's true, it is about as dumb a decision as a player could make. If it proves not to be true? Well, it would be hard to believe Leach would dismiss one of his best defensive linemen (of which the Cougars don't have nearly enough) so quickly without being completely sure or without some other violations in play. Christian Caple has all the news available in this story and blog post. ... The basketball schedule includes a game in the Tri-Cities this fall, which, if the past is any indicator of the future, should sell out. ... Ted Miller has some video from quarterback Jeff Tuel taken at Pac-12 media day. ... Oregon and Oregon State are figuring out their running back situations. ... Jon Wilner has more on the Pac-12 Network and its chances of being on DirecTV. ... An ASU defensive lineman is ready to return. ... As are Arizona's football practices.
• Gonzaga: ESPN is reporting it, so Ronny Turiaf signing with the Los Angeles Clippers must be a done deal.
• Eastern Washington: Montana has taken the interim label off coach Mick Delaney. The 70-year-old Delaney signed a two-year deal.
• Idaho: The Vandals were picked to finish in the middle of the pack for their final WAC football season – and probably the final WAC season ever. Josh Wright has more in this blog post. ... Idaho has been playing football a long time and Bob Curtis (right) was the school's radio voice for seemingly most of it. Curtis died Wednesday night. He was 87. Jess Brown has this piece on Curtis' passing.
• Indians: Good pitching powers Spokane to a 2-1 win over the host Tri-City Dust Devils on Thursday. ... Baseball has always been a father-and-son game. Jess has a feature on an Indian player who proves it every day.
• Mariners: Vargas through eight innings of one-hit ball yesterday and, yes, the M's scored enough runs he got the win, 4-1 over their foil, Kansas City. I know you were worried. ... Dustin Ackley had a hand in the offense, snapping an 0-for-20 slide with two hits. ... Hisashi Iwakuma had to head home to Japan for a couple days for personal reasons. He should not miss a start. ... Baseball is intertwined. Cole Hamels' six-year, $144 million contract will have an effect on the Hernandez negotiations down the road. ... Alvin Davis is back with the Mariners as a minor league instructor. ... The two pitchers the M's received in the Ichiro trade made their Tacoma debuts.
• NHL: A hockey arena in Bellevue? It is being discussed.
• That's our TGIF roundup. The weekend starts – like the Olympics – tonight, so take care. We'll be back tomorrow. Until then ...