A GRIP ON SPORTS
When I pulled myself out of bed this morning, two thoughts competed for playing time in my head: We made it through another week – after all, it is Friday – and what the heck will I write about this morning? Of course, the negative one dominated, filling me with angst centered round the M's having the day off. But lo and behold, the Internet provides. And it provided a full bounty this morning. The breaking news? I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, telling Dan Patrick the horse is out of the Belmont. Read on.
• To get ready for the weekend, in which I am sure to see a screening of "Prometheus," I watched most of "Alien" on cable last night, skipping the eating/birthing scene that always makes my stomach roil. An no, it didn't take precedence over sports. I still watched most of the Heat's dismantling of Boston's hopes (for one night anyway) before turning the channel. I will say, after the first few minutes, there was a lot more suspense in the movie, which I've seen a hundred times, than the basketball game. LeBron James was not about to let the Heat lose and he's good enough to accomplish that goal. But for all of you folks who buried the Heat before last night's game and now are throwing dirt on the Celtics' grave, at this level one never knows what may happen. The past game is just that, the past game. The next one may be entirely different.
• There are a couple of things to watch this weekend, including the Belmont (though with I'll Have Another, trying to become the first horse since the sainted Affirmed to win the Triple Crown, out, it doesn't hold the appeal it once did), but I'm most interested in seeing how the Pac-12 does in the Super Regional. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the conference have four teams qualify for the college World Series. Less than two, however, would be a shock. My favorites, in order of preference: Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and Stanford. The Wildcats are at home against a St. John's team with limited pitching; the Bruins have great pitching, are at home and have been here before but face a pretty good opponent in TCU; Oregon is a bit inexperienced and thin in starting pitching but has an overmatched foe; and the Cardinal have to travel to Florida State, though they are good enough to get through.
• Washington State: Baseball takes center stage this weekend, though there is some football news from the conference, including this look at the Arizona State quarterback battle. ... The first oppnent this fall, BYU, continues to recruit an area Mike Leach wants to make his own. ... Also, from the basketball court, Brett Kingma is transferring from Oregon after just one year. ... Jon Wilner has WSU 10th in his early look at the Pac-12 basketball race next season. ... Don't skip our Shock coverage below because there is news of a former WSU defensive lineman signing with the team. ... Now on to baseball, where we found stories from each of the four conference schools still playing, starting with Oregon and the Ducks, featuring a brother act, playing host to Kent State. ... Farther south, UCLA has a jack-of-all-trades who has lifted its lineup while Arizona relies on its shortstop for leadership. On the road, Stanford will look to its cleanup hitter to power through.
• Gonzaga: The summer basketball recruiting season is in full bloom – there is a big tournament in Portland this weekend – with the Bulldogs still trying to entice one of the top guards in the West north to Spokane.
• Shock: Jim Meehan delves into the family life of Shock star defensive back Terrance Sanders. His feature is well worth reading. ... Jim also has a blog post about the team, with news it has signed former WSU player Brandon Rankin. ... You can win Shock tickets. ... From around the league, former Shock player Johnie Kirton was remembered fondly in a memorial service Thursday, though his San Jose teammates are having trouble getting over the loss. ... Utah's Tommy Grady is a quarterback with a mysterious story.
• Indians: The Northwest League's 2012 season is just around the corner but the league might look a lot different in 2013. The Portland suburbs are trying to lure one or two league teams, with the Yakima Bears on the endangered list.
• Mariners: There was a time, not too long ago, that I would have piled into the car, traveled to Seattle and spent the weekend rooting for the Dodgers. My kids, on the other hand, would have been wearing their Mariners' jerseys and trying to get people to believe they were not related to me. No more. Though the pull of your childhood team is always strong – and bubbling just below the surface – it has been overtaken by affection for the local team. I still root for the Dodgers (and always hope they finish ahead of the Giants), but not to the extent of taking their side when they face the M's. ... Speaking of the Mariners, they hope their bats stay hot against the vaunted Dodger staff. ... Kyle Seager (above) and Michael Saunders have made quite a difference. ... Charlie Furbush hasn't made as big an impact, but may in the future.
• Seahawks: We passed along Brian Banks' story (high school football star, imprisoned for a rape it was ultimately proven he did not commit, now, at 26, trying to return to football) before, but it took another step yesterday when Banks (left) worked out with the Seahawks. His abilities earned him an invite to minicamp.
• NBA: It seems Steve Kelley can't use my strategy (outlined in yesterday's blog post) to deal with the Thunder's success. ... The proposed new arena doesn't seem all that popular with the Seattle City Council.
• Well, that's what we have for this Friday (or as we look at it in the Grippi household, the day money magically appears in the checking account). We'll be back in the morning if we don't do anything too stupid tonight. After all, it is Friday. Until later ...