A GRIP ON SPORTS
Two guys are sitting in a Renton bar, arguing about the Mariners. The guy on the left is wearing a light pink shirt, chino shorts and flip-flops. The guy on the right sports Levis, work boots and a worn blue work shirt, stained with sweat. To say they see the world differently would be an understatement. Read on.
• You see, the guy on the left is ticked off. He can't understand why the Mariners' offense is so poor. His main argument, expressed belligerently at a decibel level nearly high enough to attract EPA notice, is based on the past four days. "I told you, if they had gotten a middle-of-the-order bat in the offseason, this wouldn't be happening," he bellows. "To hell with Jack Z and the horse he rode in on. If this team had one more bat, an experienced guy with a work ethic, the young guys would feel so much pressure and they would be performing." Then he took a gulp of his Budweiser. The guy on the right looked at his neighbor over a glass of Far Niente Chardonnay. He cited the past four days as well. "Hey, Jack Z. has put together a pitching staff that can compete with anyone," he said, his voice barely over a whisper. "There are some holes, sure, but Wedge is mixing and matching the guys in pen well and the starters all have outstanding stuff. Mix in the younger pitchers in the organization," he continued, "and in a few years the M's will be the best team in the American League." A sip of his wine coated his throat and allowed him to go on. "Listen Duke, you have to have faith," he said to his neighbor, admiring his diamond earring. "The pitching staff is going to be good. In two, three years, tops, they'll be contending again." His neighbor almost spit out his Bud. "Are you kidding me Bruce," he sputtered. "This ownership group has been saying the same thing for years. And look at where we are. Last place. Again. And we couldn't score at home if we had your iPhone contacts." Just then the familiar tones of Dave Sims began to pour forth from the television above the bar. "Man, I hate that guy's hats," Duke said. "That's one thing we can agree on," Bruce answered. They clinked glasses and turned toward the television.
• Of course, the above-mentioned conversation didn't really occur. But I'm sure similar conversations have been going on among Mariner fans for some time now (with both sides fighting in my mind on occasion), though the thoughts expressed by Bruce seem to be in the minority. Faith is something Mariner fans may just be lacking, as another season circles the drain. Even last night's win, while uplifting, came with a huge price. Felix Hernandez had to throw nine shutout innings, strike out 13 and put the strain of 128 pitches on his right arm to come away with a 1-0 victory, a victory that raised his record to 6-5. Talk about a Pyrrhic victory. Anymore of these type of wins and Felix may have to take a month off.
• Washington State: The long-ago past and the not-so-distant past of Cougar track and field was on display in Eugene yesterday at the U.S. Olympic trials. Bernard Lagat, representing the old guard, had a memorable stretch duel with former Duck Galen Rupp (right) in the 5,000 meters (Rupp won) while recent graduate Jeshua Anderson moved along in the 400-meter hurdles. ... The list of local products performing yesterday at the trials is a long one. ... ESPN.com's Ted Miller examines the Pac-12's tight ends and, as could be expected with Mike Leach's offense, the Cougars don't receive a high grade. ... Here's a well-reasoned editorial about high coaches salaries. ... A couple of Huskies had their names called at the NBA draft, as did Oregon State's Jared Cunningham. ... A 7-foot freshman is transferring to UW.
• Gonzaga: Robert Sacre heard his name called in the NBA draft as well, though he had to wait through the entire 60 picks before the Lakers made the call. Jim Meehan has more in this story and blog post. ... Jim also covers the official announcement of the Battle in Seattle with Kansas State. ... Former GU women's coach Kellee Barnee has landed a new job.
• Eastern Washington: Jim Allen spent some time this week with a few Eagle football players trying to build their future in the weight room this summer. That time resulted in this feature. ... John Blanchette spent some time this week with past Eagle great hoopster Rodney Stuckey, who is trying to ensure his future in Detroit. That time resulted in this column. ... Weber State's Damien Lillard went sixth in the draft to Portland. The selection was a big deal in Ogden.
• Shock: There is no better rival for the Shock than Arizona, and the two meet tonight in the Arena, with Spokane once again in a must-win situation. Jim Meehan has an advance in today's S-R.
• Indians: The Indians' four-game winning streak is history after a 12-2 loss in Boise last night.
• Mariners: Before we get into last night's ninth-inning rally, we check in with the past and (possible) future of the Mariners' pitching staff. It was on display in Tacoma last evening, with 49-year-old Jamie Moyer (at left in photo), trying to get back to the big leagues, throwing for Las Vegas against 22-year-old Danny Hultzen of the Rainiers, trying to get to the bigs for the first time. The matchup attracted a lot of media attention. ... Up Interstate 5 at Safeco Field, the M's did just enough to win 1-0 over the Red Sox, though the win might just be a blip as the team doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast in its rebuilding efforts. ... Kevin Millwood says he'll be OK to take his next start.
• Sounders: The U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Chivas USA has been moved from July 10 to the 11th.
• With Hoopfest on the horizon for the weekend, we'll be downtown this afternoon for the radio show from 3 to 6 p.m. You can listen here if you want. Until then ...