A GRIP ON SPORTS
Our long regional nightmare is over. Read on.
• It was nearly three years ago the Mariners made a move they thought would help them cut into the Angels' dominance of the American League West. They signed the Angels' starting third baseman, Chone Figgins. The contract called for four years and $36 million. And it was greeted with mainly positive reviews. By Angel fans. Well, not really, but it should have. Jack Zduriencik's big splash was more like a cannon ball, draining the M's salary pool as dry as Oklahoma in 1934. As we all know, Figgins was a bust with the M's, barely hitting his weight at times – and he's not all that big. But it's worse than that. He never seemed to care much. If there ever was an antithesis to Pete Rose's playing career, it was Figgins' Mariner years. The guy was making millions and seemed to be going through the motions at times. And besides, his pairing atop the lineup with Ichiro was destined for failure. After all, it certainly wasn't met with enthusiasm by the M's already-in-place superstar. Then there was the money. There is always the money. The $9 million a year seemed to be used as an excuse every time the M's needed to spend money to get better. If it wasn't “we don't have it; it's all in Figgins' bank account,” it was “we tried the free agency route; it didn't work; we're trying another road.” Nice, huh? A built-in excuse for failure. Well, the M's admit as such – the failure part I mean – yesterday, when they ate the final year of Figgins' contract, designating the veteran for assignment. It's a move any true-blue Mariners fan has been waiting for a long time. But don't think this is the end of the saga. No way. The $8.5 million or so the M's will be spending on a guy sitting in Cancun sipping White Russians or something will be used as an excuse again this season. Don't be surprised if the M's come up short on some free-agent bid and say, “if we could have added another couple million to our offer, it would have sealed the deal.” Chone Figgins. The gift that will keep on giving … the M's management an excuse.
• Washington State: One day after being blown out by host Kansas, the Washington State Cougars were just seconds away from bouncing back with an improbable win over Texas A&M in the CBE Classic. But Elston Turner – a former Husky – nailed a 3-pointer as time wound down to give the Aggies a 55-54 win. It was Turner's second made shot of the night – in 13 attempts. Christian Caple was in KC and filed this game story. He also had a pre-game post with the news about DaVonte Lacy's knee injury (he sat out the game) and a post-game tale of the tape. This morning, Christian chimed in with his usual post, even though he's headed back to the Northwest. Have no fear, he will have a live chat today. … He's got to be back for Friday's Apple Cup, which will feature a UW running attack led by Spokane's Bishop Sankey (pictured), a former Cougar commit. Christian has a feature. … The Apple Cup scheduling earned Art Thiel's ire this morning. … Mike Leach's first season is part of this USA Today story that looks toward next year and repeats the mistake of understating the number of players to leave the program this season. It is 19 scholarship players people. … Klay Thompson is battling through a shooting slump. The good thing is, it can't be as bad as the one he had his sophomore year. … California made a change in its football program, firing coach Jeff Tedford. … The ESPN.com Pac-12 guys have their picks for this week.
• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are in Orlando for the Old Spice Classic, which begins Thanksgiving Day. They are the tournament favorite as well, at least for this writer. … The Bulldog women are in Mexico, where they won their first tournament game, setting up a showdown with No. 7 Louisville today.
• EWU: As we said yesterday, winners earn awards. And the Eastern Washington Eagles earned a bunch of awards yesterday from the Big Sky Conference. Jim Allen has the story. … The Eagles' long road trip to open the basketball season continued with another defeat. … Former Eastern (and WSU) assistant Jody Sears did enough as Weber State's interim head coach to earn the full-time gig. … Portland State had a step-back season.
• Chiefs: Mike Aviani's playoff run has carried over into this season. Chris Derrick has a feature on the Spokane assistant captain (pictured).
• Sounders: If the MLS is really a star-driven league, then the Sounders need to get a few more to keep up with the Galaxy.
• Mariners: The Figgins move wasn't the only one the M's made yesterday, only the most significant – and the most written about. Nope, Seattle also made a trade, picking up a replacement for Figgins. On the field, not at the teller window.
• If you're wondering how the weather is here, it is still raining. Well, that's not fair. It stopped raining yesterday afternoon and actually was quite nice. But it's raining again. Until later …