A GRIP ON SPORTS
All is right in the world, in that a sense of normalcy has returned. The Mariners' offense continues to struggle, as does the Cougars'. The Sounders actually score a goal and the Seahawks try to find the right pieces for another playoff run. In other words, it is a Sunday morning in late April. Read on.
• This time of year there is a sort of pivoting going on. As summer sports – baseball and soccer – ramp up, winter sports – basketball and hockey – hit the final stretch. And almighty football lays the foundation for next year. It's the latter that has us all abuzz, as the Hawks' offseason moves holds hope that Pete Carroll and company can take the next step, ie., play in the Super Bowl. Am I wrong in that? After last season's performance and the offseason moves, don’t the Hawks look to be this close to making a deep run? The pieces seem in place. Sure, there are some small concerns, but isn't that what the draft is for, right? Even if the Seahawks don't pick until all the Jet fans in the audience have yelled themselves hoarse. And Washington State, in year two of the Mike Leach era, should be better, right? Even if the Cougars aren't, and yesterday's spring game in Spokane certainly didn't show a huge improvement, the expectations of the WSU faithful have been tempered enough that the fall will be easier to deal with. No more thoughts Leach is a miracle worker who will make chicken salad out of chicken feathers. No, it seems Cougar fans have realized Leach is trying to build a foundation to a successful program. And that foundation, while still under construction, will someday lead to winning seasons.
• It is such thoughts that have Mariner fan shaking his head. He's heard that music before and the tune is starting to sound flat. The M's are building the right way, the lyrics go, through young talent that will blossom in the big leagues and lead to winning. OK. But that hasn't happened yet, and it doesn't seem to be getting any closer. Back-to-back shutouts in Texas, dropping Seattle's record to 7-12, certainly don't help. The M's lineup was supposed to be improved – call me crazy, but I still think it is – and such offensive droughts were not expected to happen (or, at the very least, be fewer in number). Instead, with the young guys struggling, the season already seems to be slipping away. Seems to be. But baseball is a long slog. There is still a chance Seattle can turn it around. Let's give it a few weeks, say until after the NFL draft. Then, if it looks as if the M's are going to be mired in more mediocrity, then we can turns our eyes toward late summer and football.
• Washington State: The first half of the spring game at Joe Albi Stadium seemed to harken back to last fall, when the Cougar offense couldn't move the ball with any regularity. (To be fair, it was a spring game, so I'm sure the defensive coaches will tell you it wasn't the offense's inability to move the ball that mattered, it was the defense's ferocity that counted.) But the second half was different as Christian Caple's story tells us. Christian also had a blog post from after the event, along with another this morning with links and such. ... John Blanchette was at Albi and has this column and Dan Pelle has these photos. ... This USA Today story on the Pac-12 and Arizona is worth reading.
• Gonzaga: Kelly Olynyk's decision to head to the NBA draft is still big news north of the border – and around here as well.
• Idaho: Former Vandal coach John L. Smith has resurfaced in Colorado in a backwater of college football.
• Chiefs: As Chris Derrick tells us, Chiefs' coach Don Nachbaur wants his team to return next year sporting some new muscles.
• Preps: The venerable Mooberry Relays were held at Rogers High yesterday and Greg Lee was there for this story. ... Jim Meehan also has his weekly golf notebook. ... The Oregon boys ended a losing streak to their Washington counterparts in the Northwest Shootout, though U-Hi's Brett Bailey had a good game. ... It's not often we have to pass along sad news in this space, but today we do. Shadle Park High legend Linda Sheridan (pictured) has died. Chris Derrick has an obituary of one of the best basketball and volleyball coaches in the state's history.
• Mariners: It's one thing to be shutout by Yu Darvish. It's quite another to look hopeless against Nick Tepesch and a succession of Ranger relievers in a 5-0 defeat. That was the story Saturday as the M's continued to struggle at the plate – 19 scoreless innings and counting – even with the typical lineup changes. ... Hector Noesi is back in the big leagues and happy to have a spot, even if it is in the bullpen. ... Larry Stone uses his weekly column to examine the offensive "improvements." He also has power rankings and a notebook.
• Seahawks: As the draft nears, there will be more and more mock ones, which means nothing, of course. The Hawks have few needs but more than a couple wants. ... They also will have a more-than-usual number of 10 a.m. games in the fall.
• Sounders: Obafemi Martins showed why the Sounders spent so much money to get him. He can do a backlip. No, it was for his goal-scoring ability. That showed yesterday as they got off the bagel and won their first game of the season, 1-0 in Colorado. ... It's a tough place to play for Steve Zakuani.
• That's it for this Sunday. I hope it is a nice one for you. It will be for me. Well, like Seahawk fan, I have hope. Until later ...