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Baseball at its finest

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Is there anything better than a well-pitched postseason baseball game? OK, a well-pitched postseason baseball game the Yankees lose. That's better. Much better. Read on.


••••••••••

• I have to say I didn't watch the Tigers 2-1 win over the Yankees straight through. Other obligations would tear me away from the television set from time to time, but every time I returned to it, it seemed as if Justin Verlander (left) was shoving the ball up some Yankee's nose (figuratively people, not literally). Of course, this isn't the Yankees of Babe Ruth or “Five O'clock Lightning,” or even Reggie Jackson. Heck, it's not even Derek Jeter's Yankees right now – or Alex Rodriguez, who wasn't in the lineup again (it wouldn't surprise me if Rodriguez had a clause in his contract that forces New York to give him another $27 million if he is sat down for more than one postseason game despite being healthy). We all know Verlander is good and that the Yankee lineup right now is not so good. But still, his performance last night took me back to 1963. If Verlander were left-handed, I would call him a modern-day Sandy Koufax. … Of course, the idea of a closer was not in most manager's minds back then – Ron Perranoski was the Dodgers' version of it, though Koufax rarely let him out of the bullpen – so the Tigers' angst over who to use for the final outs sort of skews the comparison. Still, the excitement over the last out of the game (Phil Coke is filling the role following the recent meltdown of Jose Valverde and Coke allowed two base runners with two outs) just heightened the euphoria after it was over. But former Mariner Raul Ibanez couldn't come through again, swinging through a 3-2 off-speed pitch and eliciting a fist-pumped “yes” from this guy. I like the Tigers – as I've said before, it was my dad's favorite team – but I like watching the Yankees fail even more. I know, it's not good karma to root against someone – I'm trying for a twofer as well, rooting against the Giants in the NL – but it is what it is. And the way my sporting-fan life is going these days. Let's just say I rejoice in small victories thanks to big losses.

•••

• Washington State: It was a night at the beach for the Cougar offense – literally this time, not figuratively. After a tough practice, coach Mike Leach sent individual players and then the whole unit to the sand pit for some “extra work.” Wonder how that went over. … Christian Caple wasn't at practice yesterday but he has a Pac-12 notebook in today's paper as well as a morning post with links. … Christian will have a live chat this afternoon. … Bud Withers catches up with former Cougar coach (and a lot of other places as well) Dennis Erickson, who is helping his son with his high school team in Oregon. … The ESPN.com Pac-12 blog looks at the statistics for the conference teams while Jon Wilner ranks them at midseason.

• Gonzaga: Interesting. Despite all the preseason hype – the Zags were a couple of folks' choice for the final four – GU begins the season ranked 22nd in the first coaches' poll.

• EWU: Eastern is home against Sacramento State this Saturday. It's homecoming and the Eagles want to avoid any letdown after ascending to the top spot in the FCS polls. Jim Allen has the story and a blog post with links. Here's another one about Sac State.

• Idaho: The Vandals' Allison Baker is the subject of Jim Meehan's college volleyball notebook this week. … San Jose State didn't play its best football game of the season last week.

• Preps: Speaking of volleyball, it was a big night for the high schools with Mead (at left)  clinching a GSL title (Jess Brown was there) and other games going on around the area. … Greg Lee has a feature on a do-everything player with North Central.  

• Chiefs: It was not a good night for the Chiefs in Seattle, as their turnovers helped the T-birds to a 6-4 victory.

• Seahawks: It seems like only yesterday we were talking about the win over New England. And now a game looms tomorrow night. Talk about quick turnarounds. Anyhow, the 49ers will be concentrating on stopping Russell Wilson (not really but it's what this story says). No matter what, Thursday's game will be hard fought, a battle-of-wills if you please. … Former Hawk coach Mike Holmgren's NFL career might just be ending soon. He's leaving Cleveland after an ownership change. The Hawks almost made him a bigwig in the organization a second time.

• Mariners: OK, it's the offseason. But some stuff is happening.

• Sounders: Yes, tonight's game with Real Salt Lake is crucial, with a Sounder win moving them into a tie for second place. But Eddie Johnson's play last night in the World Cup qualifier – the U.S. win helped it move on – was pretty darn good.

• NBA: There are still some questions dealing with the new Seattle arena.

•••

• It is Wednesday and you know what that means. The trash and recycling and yard waste has to be at the curb. At least it does at my house. Until later …


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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