A GRIP ON SPORTS
If you had a chance to watch the Mariners play last night, you were lucky. They played the way baseball is supposed to be played. I'm not sure how many times it will happen in 2013, but I'm going to enjoy it while I can. Read on.
• It all starts with excellent pitching. Doesn't it always in baseball? Hisashi Iwakuma threw six innings, yielding just a single line-drive home run to center in a two-hit victory. The pitching needs to be complimented by solid defense. The M's did that, making every play and a couple of good ones, including a Mike Morse over-the-shoulder catch only a 6-foot-5 guy could have made. And the offense has to be productive. Or patient. Tuesday night, the M's were both. They walked eight times – and Morse was hit by a pitch late in the game, which adds up to nine free passes. Plus, Morse pounded a three-run jack to right field early and a solo shot in the ninth. Add in Kendrys Morales' first M's hit (and RBI) to Kyle Seager's three hits and you have the formula for a victory. Wait, I forgot the three shut-out innings of relief between Carter Capps and Oliver Perez. Now you have all you need for a 7-1 win. But what does it mean for down the road? Maybe nothing, but this time of year it certainly is better for an inexperienced-at-winning team like the Mariners to be playing well than the other way around. Confidence is built. Camaraderie is easier to develop. Winning becomes a habit. All good things.
• One other thing with the M's. We mentioned Morse's three-run home run to right field earlier but we didn't mention his body language. When he hit it, he acted as if he knew it was gone. Long gone. But the ball barely – and by barely I mean with about a half-inch to spare – cleared the fence. Either Morse has an uncanny ability to determine exact distances of his long fly balls or he was about a fingernail away from being the most embarrassed guy in the ball park. OK, the fat guy with the tank top and mustard on his mustache earns that award (isn't there always a fat guy with the tank top and mustard on his mustache?), but Morse would have been a close second.
• Finally, weren't going to spend a lot of time on Mike Rice and the Rutgers basketball controversy for two reasons. Rutgers is in New Jersey, for goodness sakes, which takes the local angle away and I expect the guy to be fired today, which would make much of what we write pretty well moot. (As I write this, Rice has been let go.)
• Washington State: Christian Caple is rarely moot (OK, I admit, that transition was really forced) and isn't today. He has this feature on WSU sophomore-to-be wide receiver Gabe Marks (pictured), a practice report and his usual morning blog post. He also will hold a live chat this afternoon to answer your WSU questions. I hope that's enough for you today.
• Chiefs: Though the Chiefs still don't know who they will play in the second round, they do know Alessio Bertaggia will be there for them. For a while at least. Chris Derrick has the story. … Seattle couldn't put Kelowna away last night. Game seven will be in Canada tonight.
• Mariners: The way the M's won last night is the basis for much of what is written today, not only in the Seattle newspapers but in the Bay Area ones as well. Small sample size, to be sure, but it kind of is the way the A's played last season. … Free agency in baseball is evolving, so the game's administrators are having to evolve with it. … Franklin Gutierrez is being treated like a China doll. And well he should be. … John Jaso will always be right on time.
• Sounders: With most of their offensive firepower available, the Sounders were probably hoping for a scoreless tie against Santos Laguna in their Champion League series opener. But a former Sounder blasted those plans as Santos won 1-0 to take an early lead in the two-game series. … It's Wednesday so it is time for MLS power rankings.
• Boxing: John Blanchette has a column today that is as interesting as its subject.
• Gotta love how much a chest cold can drain your energy. Nothing more fun than waking in the middle of the night doing a mean imitation of a Persian kitty hacking up a hairball. Oh well, as my dad used to say, no one wants to hear about the labor pains, they just want to see the baby. We'll be back tomorrow with another child-like post. Until then …