A GRIP ON SPORTS
Yesterday afternoon I was fiddling around in the garage, pretending to be organizing and cleaning it when all I was really doing was sitting as often as I could and listening to the Shock game on the radio. In the end, neither activity was all that much fun. I didn't get much done in the garage other than cleaning the barbecue grill and the Shock were run over by the Chicago Rush. Read on.
• It is a simple formula. The Shock defense is really good when it is forcing turnovers. That gives the offense more possessions, a crucial element of arena football. But when the defense is unable to pry the ball loose from the opposition, as was the case Sunday, and the offense is giving it away a few times, also the case Sunday, there is no way for Spokane to win. It didn't and its three-game winning streak is history.
• One reason I didn't get a lot done in the garage yesterday is I kept shuffling inside to catch up on the golf and baseball and whatever else was on. I did have one moment of precognition when Tiger Woods' ball was buried in the tall grass just off the 16th green. I told my son that, when Tiger was winning tournaments, these were the type of shots he would make. He did and he did. I also was amazed at how Chris Sale kept throwing hittable off-speed stuff at the M's and they either swung as if they were surprised or they took the pitches. Doesn't anyone ever head to the plate looking for a breaking ball or change-up anymore? Edgar Martinez once told me he often stepped into the batter's box looking for one pitch in one spot, and it rarely was a fastball.
• Washington State: A good day for Pac-12 baseball. And an end of an era for Pac-12 softball. … The women had won six consecutive NCAA titles and had at least one of the finalists for the past 25 years. That ended Sunday as No. 1-ranked California lost to Alabama and defending champion Arizona State lost to Oklahoma, ending the season for the two defeated teams. … On the other hand, the four conference schools that hosted NCAA regionals in baseball all moved to on to Super Regionals. And at least two should be hosting this week. Arizona (and coach Andy Lopez, shown above right) pounded its way to a regional title and should host St. John's. UCLA used its superior pitching to win its regional and, as the second-ranked team in the tournament, will probably host. Oregon struggled a bit early in the regional but moved on to the next round while Stanford had to hold off a rally from Pepperdine. Only Oregon State, playing at LSU, fell on Sunday, being eliminated in extra innings by the Tigers. The NCAA announces Super Regional sites today.
• Eastern Washington: Idaho State's basketball team hasn't been very good lately. And now the program is facing an NCAA investigation. Jeez, if you're going to cheat, don't you think you would cheat enough to get some wins?
• Shock: Coach Andy Olson didn't feel as if his team played very well Sunday, pinning the 73-62 defeat on mental mistakes. Mental mistakes or not, Chicago's Rush Michna still set franchise records with nine touchdown passes, 32 completions and 412 yards. That's pretty good for a quarterback throwing against air.
• Mariners: Before we get to Sale (above) and his mastery of the Mariners in yesterday's 4-2 White Sox victory, we're going to look forward to the draft, which begins today. The M's have the third pick and though most folks expect them to take University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino, the major league draft is the hardest of the three major sports to handicap. It does look as if the M's will take a position player though. … Sunday's defeat came despite a decent outing from the Mariners' bullpen, led by Lucas Luetge. Starter Kevin Millwood didn't seem to have it, but the bullpen kept the game close. … Felix Hernandez is still dealing with back problems – for once I really understand what a major league star is going through, as I've been dealing with the same ailment for more than a month now (hence the shuffling between the garage and the TV) – and Geoff Baker believes he needs a stint on the disabled list.
• Sounders: I wonder if U.S. Soccer can fine an MLS coach? If it can, Sigi Schmid better open his wallet. The comments he made yesterday about the U.S. Open Cup draw would get Mark Cuban a billion-dollar fine.
• It's Monday and we'll be on the radio for a couple hours today starting at 3 p.m. You can listen here. Until later …