A GRIP ON SPORTS
As I settled down last evening, I realized something. Every team I was hoping would win yesterday had lost. Not just some of them. All of them. A perfect Saturday, in a Mr. Mxyzptlk sort of way. Read on.
• Have you ever had the experience of watching a crucial college basketball game with someone who knows little to nothing about the sport? Kim and I experienced that last night in a local restaurant and let me tell you, it was entertaining. We had decided to combine a nice meal with the second half of the Wichita State/Louisville game, so we settled down in the bar of a fine eating establishment where we could see the game on a couple of televisions. The food, as usual, was excellent. But the older couple sitting next to us we, to put it mildly, ill-informed. And loud. So you had opinions of what was happening of the screen broadcast throughout the Tri-State area. Pretty funny. A shot would be missed by 3 feet and the couple would discuss how someone could be playing at such a high level and shoot so poorly. What they had happened to miss was a foul and the ensuing free throws. Or there would be a two-minute discussion about how incredible a certain blocked shot was, though they never realized the player was called for goaltending. Then there was the topper. A long back-and-forth discussion concerning a late jump-ball call that they didn't understand. Wait, that was Kim and I. Turns out being able to pivot and rip the ball through is "undue roughness" under the NCAA rules. Because that's what Wichita State's Ron Baker did, after Luke Hancock had gone through his arms to put his hands on the ball. It was enough for the official to call a jump ball. (OK, held ball in the modern term.) And it was enough for the supervisor of NCAA officials to back up the crucial call (now that's shocking). I wonder if anyone else at the restaurant heard our conversation after the play and wondered what the heck we were talking about? I'm sure we sounded as if we were talking gibberish, as we tried to figure out how a nanosecond of possession could qualify under the jump-ball rule. It was comic-book like. And appropriate.
• Washington State: A quarterback, a quarterback. My kingdom for a (second) quarterback. Now Mike Leach doesn't look anything like Richard III – I have never seen a hump – but he certainly would have offered a lot for a healthy second quarterback yesterday. Without one, the Cougars were unable to scrimmage. Christian Caple has the story and in-depth coverage of Saturday's practice that occurred instead of the scheduled scrimmage. That coverage includes post-practice video, a blog post on the injuries that are piling up and a morning post today with links. He also has a new blog feature, five questions. ... The California women are carrying the Pac-12's banner in the Final Four, and we have an advance of today's game with Louisville, a feature and a sidebar. ... We conclude our Cougar coverage with a link to John Blanchette's column. It's about Jason Hanson (pictured) and his retirement after 21 years. One off-the-wall thought. I wonder how many holders Hanson worked with over the years in Detroit?
• Idaho: The offensive line philosophy changed with a new coaching staff and that meant the offensive linemen had to change their body types. Josh Wright has the story.
• Chiefs: It's not been easy to win in Portland this season. The Chiefs found out how hard it is again last night when they fell to the Winterhawks, 3-0. Chris Derrick has the story on Spokane falling behind 2-0 in the seven-game series. And the Oregonian has some photos.
• Shock: Nothing from Spokane, but last night rival Utah dropped its second consecutive game.
• Boxing: Jim Allen is still at the national championships and he has this story.
• Mariners: So Felix didn't reach any of the milestones we wrote about yesterday. Thanks to a hanging 0-2 slider (not sure that's the pitch you want to call in that situation) he didn't win his 100th game. He also didn't get the needed five strikeouts to reach 1,500. Now he turns 27 on Monday and won't get a chance to join elite company. ... The M's aren't in elite company yet either, scuffling along at .500 and trying to win games while building confidence for the future. ... And that future might be pretty good. ... The White Sox starter and I have one thing in common. And one thing in common only. ... Jackie Robinson Day is nearly upon us (as is a biopic of the star), but the number of African-American baseball players continues to dwindle. That's Larry Stone's column subject on this Sunday. He also has his weekly awards and power rankings.
• Sounders: There is only one winless team left in the MLS West.
• Sonics: Jerry Brewer has a warning for the NBA. Pull the football away this time and the league will not get another chance to pull a Charlie Brown on Seattle.
• It's raining pretty hard here in Spokane today. Thank goodness I will be spending my afternoon in a gym. Until later. ...