A GRIP ON SPORTS
Those of us who write for "A Grip on Sports" are not a very lucky group. None have ever won the lottery. Success at bingo? Forget about it. And having to write a daily column during the last two Seattle Mariners' seasons? That's the opposite of lucky. Read on.
• Think about it. When a baseball team is going well, there is nothing better for the fans in their area. They wake up every day eager to rehash last night's exploits. Remember how it was in late 1995 around here? Or throughout 2001? You would walk down a street with a Mariners cap on and people would stop and want to talk about the way they won the night before. Things have changed. You wear an M's cap now and it's usually pulled down low, hiding the shame in your eyes. Heck, the guy standing off the Division Street exit with his dog and a sign won't even wear a Mariners cap these days. Which makes filling this space between late April and early August so challenging. Really, the folks that work here at "A Grip on Sports" are pretty positive guys, but it's tough to sound that way when, night after night, the Mariners continually play flat, listless baseball en route to another crushing defeat. Oh sure, like a blind squirrel, they stumble on an acorn once in a while, and there is that once-a-week lift from Felix Hernandez taking the mound, but most days the report from the ballpark eerily parallels the basic plot of a Stephen King novel. Some blood is spilled early, something weird happens in the middle innings, there is a face-saving rally late and the final score is tilted heavily in the favor of the bad guys. It happened again Wednesday afternoon in Houston against, arguably, the worst team in baseball. Joe Saunders (pictured above) got lit up, Brendan Ryan watched from the bench, Justin Smoak hit a home run – his first – and the M's lost 10-3. There was even the obligatory Eric Wedge post-game tirade. Welcome to summer folks. Seems as if it could be a long, hot one.
• There should be a distraction tonight. The first round of the NFL draft will be held. There is only one tiny problem. The Seahawks don't have a first round pick. So even that usual late-April interruption of the M's season has to wait a day. Call it what you will, but those of us here at "A Grip on Sports" wouldn't call it lucky.
• Washington State: One would think the news would slow down from Pullman but that's not necessarily the case today. Christian Caple has his morning blog post which includes the news Mansel Simmons will have to give up football after suffering injuries in an altercation earlier this year. Christian also held a live chat yesterday. ... Former WSU star Klay Thompson is part of a backcourt his coach thinks is the best shooting duo in the NBA's history. ... There are some changes going on at the Pac-12 Network. ... Sports Illustrated broke the news yesterday Oregon and former coach Chip Kelly has appeared before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions. There is more on the big day from the Oregonian.
• EWU: The Eagles have more than a few players interested in the NFL draft this weekend, as Jim Allen's story shows. The top prospect is, of course, receiver Brandon Kaufman.
• Shock: A former Eastern quarterback, Erik Meyer, is finally getting a chance to show what he can do in the Arena game. And, as Jim Meehan's story relates, it's a lot.
• Preps: It's Prep Page day in the Review, with Greg Lee having a column on the best and the brightest of the Greater Spokane League along with a feature on Rogers' track athlete Carson Murray (in the center of the photograph). ... Greg also has a track notebook while Jim Allen covered a key GSL soccer match last night.
• Mariners: The biggest news before the game yesterday was Wedge moving Robert Andino into the starting shortstop role and benching defensive wizard Ryan (pictured). The veterans have been warned. That was fodder for the pregame shows, but Saunders inability to keep the ball in the park was fodder for the postgame version following the 10-3 Houston win. That and the M's anemic offense, which is an ongoing story. ... Franklin Gutierrez's inability to stay healthy is another ongoing story. ... The way the M's have started this season does not bode well for any type of successful conclusion, unless your definition of success does not include winning a bunch of games.
• Seahawks: With no current first-round pick in the draft, expect the Hawks to move down more than anticipate them making a deal to get a top prospect. But not to worry. The Hawks have been pretty good in their recent drafts and trades this time of year. And, with the team they have assembled, they just need a few pieces, not one big splash that may or may not pan out in the future. ... There are details to Kam Chancellor's new contract. ... The Hawks signed another quarterback for practice.
• Yesterday I was sitting at my computer, working diligently on destroying another barbarian army while concurrently listening to the M's game. But when Brandon Laird unloaded a three-run bomb in the sixth to make it 10-1 Astros, I turned off the radio. And I tweeted the action, writing "radio off." Little did I know I was not alone. The response to the tweet made me realize there are others out there who can only take so much as well. It made me feel like a part of a larger Community, sort of like a member of the study group on that NBC show. I guess that would make me Abed. Until later ...