A GRIP ON SPORTS
Let's see. Anything happen yesterday? Well, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner had to scratch from today's Belmont, the first time that's happened since The Depression. And six Mariner pitchers combined for a no-hitter, only the second time in history that many pitchers were used in a no-no. So, you're saying nothing all that important happened? Read on.
• Another Mariners' no-hitter, another one I've missed. Even though baseball commissioner Bud Selig isn’t a big fan of eight-inning no-hitters or combined ones (though, like a lot of things, he's wrong about this), last night's milestone, which took six pitchers to get done, might be as impressive as anything done in baseball – ever. And I didn't get to watch any of it (see below for the reason). Why a six-pitcher no-no is so impressive is simple: When a guy tosses a no-hitter, he has to be locked in for nine innings, sure, but he's just one guy. Last night, after Kevin Millwood was nearly perfect over the first six innings, five guys had to jog in from the Safeco bullpen and each one had to be locked in. OK, they only had to have no-hit stuff for a few hitters, but they all had to have it. No one came in and hung a breaking ball. No one came in and left a fastball in the middle of the plate. No one came in and made the mistake. That's pretty unusual. And impressive.
• I spent last evening locked in a room with a large group of Cougars. Not the four-legged animals, mind you (though that might have felt safer), but the Washington State type. I was invited to attend the Cougar Legends dinner and auction at the Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course, sitting at a table with one of the most senior of Cougar legends, Bob Robertson. The night took me back to my younger days, when I used to attend the UC Irvine baseball alumni game. There, a bunch of us former players would get together, indulge in some adult beverages, lie about our exploits and basically just laugh for a couple of days at how stupid we were. That's what last night was, an alumni game for a bunch of different sports – the legends ranged from Drew Bledsoe to John Chaplin, from Klay Thompson to Mike Price and everywhere in-between – with a group of boosters invited to share in the memories. Was it fun? That probably depends on your connection to WSU. I do know one thing. If you are a Cougar fan, it would probably be as much fun as you could have, though today's golf outing and barbecue might top it. Heck, if anyone ever did this by getting Dave Baker, Wayne "Helicopter" Smith and Scott Brooks together, I would be there in a heartbeat. Though I would have to be there as a booster, as I'm sure no one would ever call me an Anteater legend.
• Washington State: The one note I'll pass on from last night comes from recent WSU alum Klay Thompson. We talked a bit about his first year in the NBA and the upcoming summer, during which he'll be part of the team that prepares the U.S. Olympic squad for London. His goal: To make the 2016 Olympic team. Don't bet against him. ... Dennis Erickson, who was playing golf at Mike Roos' fundraiser at Circling Raven earlier in the day, was in attendance, though we didn't have a chance to chat. I would have asked him about his son Bryce, his new job and how Dennis felt about that. ... A guy a lot of folks think might be a Cougar legend some day, Que Johnson, got ready for his freshman year in Pullman by spending time with a future Husky. ... We had this transfer news yesterday, but here's more on Oregon losing another freshman basketball player. ... The Super Regionals got started Friday, with UCLA winning fairly easily over TCU, Arizona struggling but getting past St. John's and Stanford – and star pitcher Mark Appel – getting hammered by Florida State. Oregon begins its best-of-three series with Kent State today. ... Washington received a committment from a high school quarterback. ... Oregon State may benefit more than anyone (except WSU) from the Pac-12's new media deal.
• Eastern Washington: Every year FBS players transfer to FCS schools, looking for more playing time or just to start over. This year is no different. Here's a look at the ones that may have the most impact. And, yes, Kyle Padron is included.
• Shock: As Jim Meehan's story says, it's a must-win game tonight at the Arena for Spokane. Though, as coach Andy Olson sees it, the rest of the year is pretty much filled with must-wins. ... At least the Shock expect to be playing. The Cleveland Gladiators did not Friday, voting to strike and ultimately forfeiting their game to the Pittsburgh Power.
• Mariners: I thought if the M's were to throw a no-hitter this season, it would be Felix Hernandez who would do it. Never in my wildest thoughts would I have put Kevin Millwood in the starting role. Of course, I never envisioned a combined no-hitter, either. As I'm sure neither did the Mariner relievers who contributed. (By the way, I don't believe kids lie awake at night in their beds dreaming of getting two outs in the eighth inning of a six-pitcher no-hitter.) But that's what happened last night as the M's defeated the Dodgers 1-0. Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen all did their job successfully and the M's posted the 10th combined no-hitter in major league history and the third no-hitter in franchise history. ... The M's offense, Friday night notwithstanding, is better according to the numbers. ... With Millwood's future in doubt with a groin strain, don’t be surprised if Erasmo Ramirez is called up from Tacoma if need be. The right-hander almost threw a no-hitter last night for Tacoma, though former Gonzaga outfielder Drew Heid took him deep as the Rainiers lost 2-0. ... Another Seattle prospect, shortstop Nick Franklin, is healthy and putting up healthy numbers for Jackson. ... The Dodgers' ace, Clayton Kershaw, will throw today despite a foot problem.
• Horse racing: Little known fact: I am a horse racing fan. Have been my whole life. I guess you can't grow up in the shadow of Santa Anita race track – the most beautiful of all the major venues – and not be. But it's been since I was in college that I've been able to witness the successful completion of the Triple Crown by one horse. (Though Secretariat is probably the greatest horse to run in my lifetime, the 1978 Triple Crown races, with Affirmed defeating Alydar, the last by a nose in the Belmont, were the greatest Triple Crown races of my life and probably always will be.) And we won't see one in the Belmont today, as Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another had to scratch yesterday. Sad. ... As you know, Triple Crown winners don't come around all that often. And ones with Spokane ties? Not often either. But if I'll Have Another had been able to win today, then there would have been a Spokane tie. John Blanchette tells us what it would have been. ... The Secretariat of Spokane? That would have been Turbulator (a painting of which is shown above right) Jessica Brown touches Spokane's horse racing past with her feature this morning.
• Golf: Jim Meehan has his weekly golf column in this morning's S-R. It covers the career of former Clarkston High star Joel Dahmen, who is on the Canadian Tour.
• It's Saturday. The weekend. The Triple Crown ... well, not that. But it's still a good day to watch sports on TV or get outside and do something (if the rain holds off). We'll try to do both those things and get back with you tomorrow with our thoughts. Until then ...