A GRIP ON SPORTS
In tribute to Jason Dufner, today's post will be written without emotion. And it will be just a bit short. However, there were no tobacco products stuffed into my lower lip. There is no way I could go that far. Read on.
• Tobacco has never been a big part of my life. In fact, when I went off to college and was exposed to chew and snuff for the first time, I was a bit shocked. We had a shortstop who grew up on an Oklahoma farm and his ability to accurately spit his Red Man residue across the dugout actually led to my first college fight. We wore white shoes and I wasn't too pleased to look down and see a big brown splotch on my freshly shined Pumas or Adidas, whatever we wore. I tried chewing once, but the experience led to light-headedness, stomach upset and, indirectly, a three-pitch strikeout. So that ended that. But just watching Dufner walk down the fairways at Oak Hill this weekend, lower lip extended, brought back memories. And got me worrying. See, I have a family member who played baseball in college as well. He started chewing then and kept it up for years. The result? Bladder cancer, the loss of two kidneys and now dialysis. It doesn't seem worth it. More than likely, Dufner loads his lower lip to help him stay calm, as it obvious by his on-course temper tantrums he's got a problem. Or it's just a habit picked up in his college days at Auburn, which, unlike the two earrings he used to wear, has lasted for a couple decades. It's funny, the PGA has long asked its members to hide their smoking habits as much as possible, though smoking on a golf course is a pretty common practice. The TV networks buy in and rarely show shots of guys puffing away. When they do, the cut-away comes pretty quickly. But Dufner's lower lip is hard to avoid, jutting out, as it does, like the tip of an Oak Hill sand trap. Unlike smoking, however, the outcry against smokeless tobacco isn't loud and consistent, so Dufner's close-ups didn't cause too much yelling and screaming. I hope, however, his victory doesn't make it seem hip or cool to load your lower lip. Though the group of guys (pictured) that followed him this weekend, a group CBS referred to as, without a hint of sarcasm, “Dufner's diplomats,” would seem to indicate his use is getting there. Let's hope not. The consequences are a bit steep.
• WSU: Is Mike Leach's offense starting to get some traction for the Cougars? It sure seemed like it yesterday during WSU's first scrimmage of preseason camp. Christian Caple's story and blog post following the scrimmage showed Leach was pleased with the offense's performance and that of starting quarterback Connor Halliday (pictured). Christian also has some video from afterward and a blog post concerning the Pac-12's offense against DirecTV. And, not to be forgotten, a post this morning with links. … Marquess Wilson is having to learn how to play special teams in his quest to make the Bears. … I watched a lot of Jeff Tuel's performance for the Buffalo Bills yesterday and it was something special. It's amazing what the guy can do when given a little time to throw. One of his touchdown throws went to Eastern's Brandon Kaufman. … Bud Withers was at the Cougar scrimmage and had this piece.
• EWU: The Eagles will hold a two-a-day today. Jim Allen gets you ready with a morning post that includes to links to Big Sky stories.
• Indians: The Indians are becoming quite proficient in extra innings, winning 4-2 over Eugene on Sunday in 13. They seemed to have played a few extra frames lately. … SportsBusiness Journal ranks Spokane ninth-best nationally as a minor league market – and it doesn't even include the Chiefs as part of the formula.
• Mariners: Felix Hernandez played the role of stopper yesterday, throwing eight shutout innings. And, yes, if you are wondering, the M's did score, though just a couple times and one of those coming on a wild pitch, in a 2-0 victory over Milwaukee. … The run scored when Dustin Ackley scampered home from third was set up by a nicely executed at-bat by Brendan Ryan, who added a hit later. … Stephen Pryor had surgery on his throwing arm.
• Seahawks: The good news Sunday was backup running back Robert Turbin practiced for the first time this season. The bad news is backup running back Christine Michael had to sit with back spasms and guard James Carpenter – the Hawks' answer to Franklin Gutierrez – is a couple weeks away from returning from his foot injury. … The Hawks were a television hit. … Stephen Williams hopes to be a hit on the receiving corps.
• It seems like a good idea to hit the airwaves today, so we will at 3 p.m. on the Patchin, Lukens and Osso Show. You can listen here. As for the blog, we'll be back tomorrow. Until then …