A GRIP ON SPORTS
How often in the recent years have the first few days of August been as exciting as they've been around here this year? Not very. Read on.
• I'm not one of those guys who believe the most recent occurrence of something is “the greatest of all time.” Far from it. I always try to add perspective to recent occurrences, whether it be a catch by a centerfielder (how does that rate compared to the best Willie Mays or Ken Griffey, Jr. had?) or a championship run (the Heat are exceptional but does a couple of titles pale in comparison to the Celtics' stretch in the '60s or the Bulls with Michael Jordan?). But this last week around here has been hard to match. There is more-than-the-usual optimism surrounding the opening of college football preseason practices, what with Eastern ranked among the FCS' best, Washington State looking to turn a corner, Idaho with a new coach and Washington opening a remodeled Husky Stadium. There is a chance this could be the most interesting college football season around here in a while. There is the more-than-usual optimism surrounding the beginning of the Seahawks' season, with the potential of a Super Bowl looming. There is the more-than-usual optimism surrounding the Mariners' future, though, for the life of me, I can't figure out why. But the news that pushed this week ahead of most others comes from the world of soccer. It's the Clint Dempsey signing news, of course, which put the Sounders on the world soccer map and the front pages of many publishing entities that usually ignore the sport. We all know Seattle is little soccer mad, anyway, but Dempsey's signing has even tipped that coffee-swilling, rain-loving, tree-hugging metro area over the edge. The Sounders announced yesterday they would be bringing in extra seating for the next home game against the hated Portland Timbers. Now, a Timbers game was going to draw 50,000-plus anyway, with a bunch of flannel-shirt-wearing, bearded Timber fans making the trek up Interstate 5 to cheer on their team. (Here is where the average Sounders' fan inserts their joke asking about the male Portland fans and if they would be in attendance as well, but we will refrain from such rim-shot inducing rivalry humor.) But with Dempsey's signing, CenturyLink will be overflowing. The only thing that could make this week any better – remember, it is early August, usually a pretty dry time for sports – would be an announcement from the NBA that it was expanding and Seattle would be awarded a franchise. Or maybe the news the M's had been sold to the Sounders' management team. Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?
• WSU: The Lewiston segment of camp is halfway over, with the Cougars putting on all their pads yesterday and picking up the intensity. Christian Caple, who is making the trek down to the Valley each day, has the coverage with a story on the outside receivers (hence today's poll; I voted for the guy pictured, Kristoff Williams) and a blog post with video and one with notes on the day. He also has a blog post this morning with links. … We talked about this – and laughed about it – on the radio yesterday. SI has Mike Leach on a list of coaches with a warmer-than-usual seat. Funny. And delusional. … The Cougars, the subject of a season preview, are OK at punter according to ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog.
• EWU: The Eagles were ranked third in the first FCS coaches' poll of the season, trailing defending champion North Dakota State and Big Sky rival Montana State. Jim Allen has more in this blog post and short story. Eastern opens practice today and Jim covers that in this post, which also includes links. … Montana, which is also ranked, opened practice yesterday.
• Indians: Spokane was still off, but the Northwest League held its all-star game yesterday. The South won, though the division's champion didn't earn the right to host the title series.
• Shock: Want more proof the Arena Football League is run by a bunch of jokers? Just read Jim Meehan's story about the tiebreaker formula the league has decided upon. What a bunch of maroons.
• Mariners: It had been a while since Felix Hernandez had lost a game until last night. At least he left little doubt, getting knocked around for five innings before heading to the clubhouse to ice his arm as the M's lost 7-2 to Toronto. … The M's, as is their wont, didn't give Felix much support, making four errors and scoring zero runs while he was working. … The young guys, the source of the optimism about the future, are still experiencing growing pains. … Tom Wilhelmsen started for Tacoma yesterday, but that was to ensure consistent work, not a harbinger of his future, according to acting manager Robbie Thompson. … Carter Capps worked on his mechanics while he was in Tacoma. … More on the drug busts from Art Thiel.
• Sounders: The big news is CenturyLink is sold out for the Aug. 25 Timbers game. … No, the big news is Clint Dempsey is under the weather and didn't practice yesterday. … No, the big news Shalrie Joseph took a pay cut without knowing the extra money would be used for Dempsey. OK, that last one isn't all that big. … One man's MLS power rankings. The Sounders moved up. … The starting goalkeeper is back from an injury that shouldn't have happened.
• Seahawks: Russell Wilson can no longer seek his father's advice about playing professional football as his dad passed away a few years ago. But he can tread the same grass his father did while trying to pursue his NFL dream more than 30 years ago. And the younger Wilson will tomorrow night when the Hawks play in San Diego. … It's time for some players to step up. … Red Bryant is big enough to stuff anything, including a running game. … As is typical this time of year, the Hawks made some roster moves after practice.
• We'll be on the radio again this afternoon, though the start time is yet to be determined. We hit the airwaves after the M's game finishes, so a quick game means more of yours truly talking on the Patchin, Lukens and Osso show. Me, I'm rooting for extra frames. Until then. …