A GRIP ON SPORTS
Opening Day. Read on.
• OK, I know yesterday was the official opening night in Major League baseball. Houston rallied to defeat Texas. The game was on ESPN. But today is really Opening Day. There are 12 games scattered around the country, with the Yankees hosting the Red Sox in the first one. It starts at 10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, or 1 p.m. back in the Big Apple. Now Boston-New York is the type of traditional rivalry game I like to see. So is, in a lesser scale, the Mariners' opener tonight with the A's, and we'll get to that more. But I want to draw your attention to a lesser-known aspect of the equalization of the leagues. See, when MLB decided to move Houston to the American League, giving both leagues 15 teams, it meant the perpetration of interleague play basically every day all season. Has to. There is an odd number of teams in each league. Today's interleague game? That would be the Angels traveling to Cincinnati to play the Reds. The Angels vs. the Reds. Gotta love that matchup.
• The Mariners will begin 2013 with some decent expectations, probably more expectations than most recent years. They spring from the power they have picked up in the middle of the order. Kendrys Morales. Mike Morse. Raul Ibanez. A rejuvenated Justin Smoak. A more mature Michael Saunders. A healthy (quick, knock on the table) Franklin Gutierrez. Another-year-older Jesus Montero. Kyle Seager, Justin Ackley, whoever plays left and those revamped outfield distances. We get that. But baseball is won with pitching. Always has been, even in the lively ball eras (the Yankees' pitching was always overlooked) and the steroid era (Roger Clemens anyone). These days, with the PEDs at least under cover if not under control, pitching is even more important. The M's starting pitching is a bit like a fairy tale (Felix Hernandez and the four dwarfs), but the bullpen exudes potential. Strong arms. Lots of lefthanders. Young guys with unlimited futures and a couple veterans to set a tone. It's the guys who sit out beyond the leftfield fence most of the game who could decide how well Seattle does this season. The hitting should be OK, the starting pitching may not be. But if the bullpen can keep the team in games, the M's have a chance to win more than people might expect.
• Washington State: About the only item we can pass along, Cougar-wise, today is Christian Caple's morning blog post. But that's enough. ... If you were like me, you were watching the NCAA tournament games yesterday. And you may have seen Kevin Ware snap his leg on national TV. It was enough to make me turn off the TV for a while (or the iPad; I was watching it outside in the sun). Ware's injury was horrific and CBS wisely only showed it a couple times. But his future might be even more horrific, though I will say the local schools seem to do a great job helping injured players finish college and rehab their injuries. By the way, it was a good day for the Louisville basketball programs. ... Finally, we'll pass along the coverage of the NCAA women's regional here. California, carrying the Pac-12 banner, will face Georgia with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Jim Allen has a nice story on Cal's coach while Greg Lee advances the game. And, for those of you who, like me, voted to raise our taxes so that the Arena could add seats, you might want to read John Blanchette's column today. Seems the Arena doesn't need to build the extra seats after all. So the tax increase will disappear, right? Aw, no. The money will be used to make improvements in the seating, though not in the upper west side of the Arena. Not exactly what I voted for.
• Gonzaga: Nothing from GU, but we can pass along stories on the two WCC teams still playing, BYU in the NIT semifinals and Santa Clara in the CBI three-game final series (WSU was in that last season).
• Chiefs: Portland and Everett ready for game six in what's been an entertaining and physical series.
• Shock: Two road games. Two road wins. The Shock couldn't ask for a better start to the AFL season. They posted the second win yesterday in Chicago and will spend the week in the Midwest waiting for Friday's game in Iowa. Jim Meehan supplements our game story with this blog post.
• Mariners: Everyone knew Jason Bay had made the team and Casper Wells hadn't, but the M's made it official yesterday. Wells was designated for assignment. ... Ryan Divish has some thoughts on the pitching staff. A wise man that Divish. ... Larry Stone tells us Eric Wedge sees the potential in the M's. As my dad used to say, potential and a nickel will get you a cup of coffee. Ya, coffee was once a nickel. ... Geoff Baker thinks Justin Smoak (pictured) will start hot. Either that or he just like using the Smoakamotive from last season. ... The Mariners used to have an outfielder named Ichiro, didn't they?
• Sonics: If the NBA decides the Maloofs can't sell the Kings to the Seattle group, will they just keep the team? Could happen.
• It's going to be a beautiful day today. A perfect day to play golf or mow the lawn or just take a long walk. What will I be doing? Going inside, of course, to guest host the Patchin, Lukens and Osso show on 700ESPN. I'm teaming with Rick Lukens from 3 to 6 p.m., so listen here if you like. I'm sure we'll talk some Opening Day baseball. Until later ...