A GRIP ON SPORTS
Good morning and welcome to your work week. Yes, I know it is a Tuesday. But thanks to the holiday Monday, you probably didn't have to drag yourself into the office until today. So it's a short week. And a light day of links. Read on.
• It's so light, in fact, we're going to put the emphasis on college baseball for one day – and one day only. It would be more than one, but none of the state's Division I teams made the NCAA tournament and our one Division III World Series entrant, Whitworth, was eliminated yesterday. So we'll talk about the NCAA selection, recap the angst from Memorial Day and move on.
• One note about the college baseball selections: If the basketball tournament featured such idiotic choices, the talking heads of ESPN would collectively explode. The Division I baseball tournament selections are screwed up so badly each year it's laughable. There is one truth to college baseball: The power resides in sort of an L shape, with the West Coast schools on the left side and the Big 12 and southern schools on the bottom. Outside of those areas, the rest of the country's teams just don't measure up. But the NCAA, in some misguided zeal to balance the bracket instead of rewarding the best teams, hands out at-large berths to the likes of Missouri State and Louisville instead of Cal Poly or Gonzaga, teams who play in much tougher conferences against much tougher competition. Heck the Zags finished third in the WCC and did it without the services of one of their best players, Marco Gonzales (8-2, 1.55 ERA on the mound, .325 batting average as a hitter despite missing 13 games), for a big chunk of it. If North Carolina State's basketball team was missing one of the top players in the nation for a quarter of the season and was on the bubble, best believe it would get in the NCAA tourney. But not in baseball. Heck, the Big West, which has won its share of national titles and has depth from top to bottom, only had one team qualify, despite Cal Poly finishing 36-20 and just a game behind highly ranked Fullerton in conference.
• Washington State: The Cougars didn't play well enough to earn a berth, but five other Pac-12 schools did, including No. 2 national seed UCLA. Oregon, Arizona and Stanford will host regionals this weekend while Oregon State heads to LSU.
• Gonzaga: The Zags gathered for the NCAA tournament selection show and left disappointed as Jessica Brown's story shows. The nail in GU's coffin was probably the three-game series sweep to Arizona State at home late in the year. Win one or two of those games and the RPI is bumped up enough to make GU tough to pass over. … San Diego earned an at-large berth and a tough draw.
• Whitworth: The Pirates needed to push across another run or two early in their 5-4 loss to SUNY-Cortland on Monday, but couldn't get it done at the NCAA Division III World Series. They finish their year 31-16-1.
• Mariners: Let's be clear. I haven't been a big fan of third base coach Jeff Datz before yesterday – the reason is simple, the M's seem to have way too many players thrown out at home by wide margins; a bang-bang play is one thing but when a guy is gunned down by 10 feet, that's a bad decision – and sending Brendan Ryan home in the eighth (shown above getting tagged out) was just another disappointing choice. The M's lost 4-2 in Texas (without Josh Hamilton) and have dropped five consecutive games. … Dustin Ackley sat against Ranger left-hander Matt Harrison.
• Sounders: Money talks in professional soccer and nowhere is it louder than the U.S. Open Cup. The Sounders bought themselves a home game. Reminds me of big-time college football. … A former Sounder salutes their fans.
• As I look out my window I can see it's another perfect late spring day in the Inland Northwest. Almost makes some of those dismal February days worthwhile. Almost.Until later …