A GRIP ON SPORTS
There was a time when I used to love watching the explosions in the sky brought on by a thunderstorm. But that was before we opened our home to a Great Dane who thinks the noise is someone out to punish him. Read on.
• We've had lots of dogs over the years (by last count, Kim and I have shared our home with seven of our best friends) but only one, our faithful beagle from years ago, hated thunderstorms worse than Junior. No, not the Junior they are going to honor in Seattle tonight, but our Great Dane mix that just turned one. Last night's middle-of-the-night lightning show got him agitated quickly and forced us out of our beds for hours as we dealt with his inability to understand what was happening. Finally, as the rain started to fall and the thunder began to fade, Junior settled in and was able to fall back to sleep. And, if you are wondering, no, he wasn't named after Ken Griffey Jr., though it does make sense. After all, the other dog in our house is named Yogi and he was named after the Yankee catcher – and destroyer of the English language. Junior came about his name because, when he was a little tyke, he looked a lot like Yogi, hence Yogi Junior. But it only took me a couple hours to realize he also could be a tribute to the greatest player in Seattle Mariner history. After all, the personality is the same. He's either running around playing, undeniably happy, with the dog version of a huge smile on his face, or he's howling about something. Just like the M's Junior. When he was tired of Seattle and wanted to get out of town, Griffey howled a lot too and that's what we remembered for a long time. When he returned and played well for a year, that memory faded, only to resurface the next season when he whined his way to retirement. But that was three years ago and bad memories fade quickly. Now when we think of Griffey we think of that smile. We think of all those catches. The home runs. The practical jokes. The good things. The MVP award. The back-to-back 56-homer seasons. The last months of 1995. It those things the M's and a sold-out Safeco Field will be remembering – and honoring – tonight when Griffey joins the club's Hall of Fame. The good times. As well it should be. If you glance at Griffey's stats, it's easy to see why we all respected the way he could play baseball. But it's the picture I've inserted above that made us love him, even if for just a few years. That smile. The sheer joy of playing baseball. The joy we all had as a kid. “The Kid” brought that back for us old guys and introduce it to a generation of Pacific Northwest baseball fans. For that alone, he should be honored. And the way he treated a lot of folks on his way out the door can be forgotten if never completely forgiven. His joy de baseball was unmatched. Except by those who watched him.
• WSU: Leadership is a funny thing. It can't be anointed. It has to be earned. And a group of Cougars are showing they have earned the right to lead even in practice. That's the thrust of Christian Caple's camp story today. He also has a summary of day eight in Lewiston and a morning post with Pac-12 links. … It's Saturday, so we pass along the Pac-12 mailbag from ESPN.com. … One of the leaders mentioned in Christian's story is Daryl Monroe (No. 13 in photo), who also is part of this piece.
• EWU: Eastern Washington is made up of, in large part, a bunch of players from Eastern Washington. Jim Allen introduces you to some of them in this story. Jim also has a video interview on the blog along with a morning post filled with Big Sky links.
• Idaho: Being that Blaine Bennett played at Idaho, I thought I might as well put the story here about his surprising firing as football coach at Central Washington.
• Shock: Today is the showdown. The Shock face the Arizona Rattlers in Phoenix with the National Conference title on the line. The winner moves on to the AFL title game, the loser goes home. Jim Meehan has an advance of tonight's game.
• Golf: Jim also tells the story of a 90-year-old man who recently collected his first hole-in-one. Like Jim, I am so jealous. One of these days, one of these days. … Speaking of jealous, Jason Dufner (pictured) made Tiger Woods and everyone else at Oak Hill jealous yesterday when he fired a 63 at the PGA Championship. Dufner's attempt at a 62, however, was a birdie putt that came up short on 18. Woefully short. As in it seemed-like-a-choke short. Dufner's reaction, however, was priceless. “If I had that last putt over,” he said, “I would have hit it harder.” That's Dufner.
• Mariners: Of all the guys to give up a grand slam to, Yuniesky Betancourt? C'mon. He is the anti-Griffey, except he also wanted out of town badly. But Betancourt's salami was the telling blow in the M's 10-5 loss to Milwaukee. … The M's helped too, making three more errors in 10 days of just plain awful fielding. Didn't Robbie Thompson used to be an infielder? … We wrote about Griffey above but we'll link the stories in the Seattle papers here. My favorite of all the love-fest pieces? This one that includes the top-10 moments of his career. I do believe I remember them all. … There was a great moment before last night's lousy game.
• Seahawks: Not a lot in the day after the win over San Diego though we did learn a few things. One is Earl Thomas burns to be one of the best, another is Allen Bradford hopes to contribute as a linebacker. And there were some young contributors.
• Sounders: Today is the day the Clint Dempsey-version of the Sounders takes the pitch. Though it is in Canada and there will be others out there with him. … Speaking of Dempsey, he's not making as much as people thought, at least according to the official figures. … There are still folks on the injured list.
• After about an hour-and-a-half of uninterrupted sleep last night, I might just be headed back to bed. Or I could always have 11 cups of coffee, three large Diet Cokes and a headache for the entire day. Choices, choices. Until later …