A GRIP ON SPORTS
It's the final day of the major league baseball regular season. It's also the first day I begin to look forward to next year. Read on.
• Most baseball fans are trying to figure out who is going to win the American League West or the Most Valuable Player award. Me, I'm trying to figure out how the new dimensions at Safeco Field will affect the players. Yep, the M's announced yesterday the fences will be moved in at Safeco next season, following a suggestion made here long, long ago (and, being the egotistical maniac I am, I'm sure that's the reason behind the change). I'm wondering if you agree with the decision (there is a poll about it on the front page of SportsLink), for sure, but I'm also wondering how you think it will affect the M's. Off the top of my head (where hair used to be), I can see it really hurting Jason Vargas, who had a huge split in his home vs. road numbers, and the rest of the pitching staff (though Felix might be a bit immune just because he's Felix). A few more fly balls may get out for the hitters, but where the change will probably really help is between the ears. The young hitters should get a psychological boost from the change, helping their confidence as they enter next season. And confidence is such a big part of hitting. A guy like Justin Smoak just might have a better chance to carry his late-season hot streak into next year thanks to the change. But will it be enough to help the Mariners to a winning season, let alone a playoff run? After all, the Rangers will still be solid, the Angels will still have a billion-dollar payroll and the A's, heck the A's the were supposedly built for next season and they are hosting Texas tonight with the AL West title on the line. So a few foot of fence changes probably won't make up those gaps. But it could help.
• Washington State: I asked Christian Caple at the Colorado game if the Cougars under Mike Leach script their first few plays. That innocent query planted a seed that grew into today's Pac-12 notebook in which we learn the answer is "sort of." ... Christian also has a post following practice last night and one this morning with links and such. ... Later today, Christian will hold a live chat and will have his football pick 'em contest available. ... Here's one man's conference power rankings and here's another.
• EWU: Jim Allen attended football practice in Cheney yesterday, where the wind blew as hard as it did on Spokane's South Hill (as an aside, there are so many pine needles on my back deck you could make a king-sized bed of them; if I don't get them cleaned off today, that's probably where I'll be sleeping tonight). The Eagles have put their win over Montana behind them and are looking forward to North Dakota, as Jim's story shows.
• Idaho: Jim Meehan's volleyball notebook examines the Vandals control of the WAC, a conference that is fading away.
• Preps: It was a volleyball night and a soccer afternoon in the area and we have a roundup.
• Seahawks: If you want to discuss the quarterback situation some more, there are stories for you. If you want to look forward to the Panthers or celebrate Marshawn Lynch's start to the season, your choices are a bit more limited.
• Mariners: Besides the fence change, the M's news is also a bit limited, though Kyle Seager reached the 20-home-run mark and they defeated the Angels 6-1 behind another strong performance by Hisashi Iwakuma, who has had a nice stretch run.
• We're headed off to the eye doctor in a few minutes, so we should be able to see all the fall colors a bit clearer in a couple weeks when my new glasses come in. And I can guarantee you I will need new glasses. Until later ...