A GRIP ON SPORTS
Yep, summer's here. Not officially, mind you. That's not for a couple weeks yet. But unofficially, it's summer time in the sporting world. Sure, hockey playoffs are still going on (the only NHL team I've ever seen live is leading the Stanley Cup finals 2-0) and the NBA isn't even to its final series yet, but those two winter/spring sports are on their last legs. What does this all mean to the Inland Northwest sports fan? It means if you want to read about local sports that aren't named baseball or softball, you either have to look back ... or ahead. There is little in the way of today in college football or basketball. Read on.
• Looking back or looking ahead. Funny, we found a couple of columns today that do just that. Both are worth reading. Both are interesting. And though both are written by sports columnists, both are only marginally related to sports. The first is from the Times' Steve Kelley and it's the one that looks back, back at how often he's watched sports help folks get through tough times. And Seattle is going through a rough patch right now. We won't go into all the particulars – we'll leave that to Kelley – but suffice to say the Puget Sound area could use some good news. That's what Kelley's tag-team partner at the Times has to impart. Jerry Brewer went through a ritual as old as time this week, welcoming a new member into his family. Brewer's first child was born and the columnist used the occasion to look back, briefly, before looking forward to what a lifetime of sports can mean to a person. Both columns are worth taking the time to read.
• So is anything about the Mariners today. After all, a team that can find such interesting ways to lose games – see Friday and the fly-ball-off-the-noggin defeat – must be able to find interesting ways to win games, right? The M's did Saturday, leading, falling behind, rallying, blowing a late lead and, finally, getting a couple runs in the top of the 12th and snapping Chicago's nine-game winning streak. A little bit of everything in one not-so-neat 12-inning package Saturday.
• Washington State: A busy, busy Saturday for Pac-12 sports, but we'll start with Cougar-related items, even though the Wazzu teams are done for the school year. ... Freelancer Howie Stalwick caught up with venerable college football play-by-play man (and noted WSC graduate) Keith Jackson for an hour-long interview and a short story. ... The Coeur d'Alene Press caught up with former WSU football coach Dennis Erickson. ... The Shreveport Times has more on the death of Orlando Woolridge, former Notre Dame star and father of WSU basketball player Royce. ... Will you get to see the Pac-12 Network in your house? You can check here. ... Mike Leach isn't the only splashy new football coach in the Pac-12 this year. ASU's Todd Graham is grabbing some headlines as well. And Utah's veteran coach, Kyle Whittingham, answers some questions. ... Arizona State and Cal are part of the softball World Series' final four, though Cal's semifinal appearance came at the expense of Oregon. And both will have to win twice today to move on to the finals. ... Four conference schools are in the 2-0 driver's seat to move on to baseball's Super Regionals and those are the four teams hosting regionals. UCLA used solid pitching, Arizona an offensive explosion (in front of one of the world's most famous athletes who is shown in the picture above), Stanford a late rally against Pepperdine and Oregon an early rally to secure victories. Only Oregon State, a 7-1 loser at LSU, has to win three consecutive games to move on.
• Gonzaga: The WCC is happy with BYU's presence in the conference, but will get along just fine if the school decides to move on. ... Neither Pepperdine nor San Diego had a good day yesterday at the baseball regionals.
• Preps: The area's girl basketball stars will showcase their talents one more time Monday in the annual Jack Blair game. The best of the best is Clarkston's Jamie Weisner (shooting at left), the subject of Greg Lee's story in this morning's S-R.
• Shock: Spokane is in Chicago to face the Rush this evening and Jim Meehan has this advance.
• Mariners: Baseball is always in the future mode, what with all the attention spent on its minor leagues, but there is no week with more emphasis on what's-to-come than the one just ahead. The draft starts Monday and Larry Stone examines where the M's are headed – and where they have been recently. ... Stone also has his weekly column (Barry Bonds is the subject), power rankings and awards. ... Michael Saunders, the guy who got hit in the head with the fly ball Friday, had a much better day Saturday, as did the Mariners with their 10-8 victory over the White Sox. ... Felix Hernandez had his back worked on and Franklin Gutierrez made a rehab start. ... Stephen Pryor also made his major league debut, throwing a 100-miles-per-hour fastball but giving up a game-tying home run.
• Enjoy your Sunday. I know I will. Until tomorrow ...