A GRIP ON SPORTS
Every once in a while, the Arena Football League gets something right. It did Thursday. Read on.
• The best player in the AFL this year? It had to be Shock quarterback Erik Meyer. The Eastern Washington University graduate opened up the season on a hard-to-believe note, attempting a league-record 193 passes before he threw an interception. That type of consistency couldn't last, sure, but Meyer was still brilliant throughout the season, throwing for a team-record 4,667 yards and 112 touchdowns, running for another 15 scores while leading the Shock to a 15-5 record and the National Conference championship. But Meyer had one problem. He did it all for the Shock. In Spokane. Not the marquee franchise for the AFL. Actually, the farthest thing from a marquee franchise you can probably imagine, if it were not for Iowa Barnstormers. The Shock have been on the outs with the league since moving up from af2 and joining the re-born AFL in 2010. The year they won the title. That didn't sit well. Why? Because this is a league that wants to be known as major league. Franchises are located in Chicago, Phoenix, San Antonio, New Orleans and Philadelphia, all of which make it look big time. When CBS promoted this week's Arena Bowl matchup between Arizona and Philadelphia, it had a ring of the big time to it. If Spokane were meeting, say, Jacksonville, it probably wouldn't have the same cachet nationally. For a league desperate for status and recognition, Spokane's success isn't all that welcome. Which makes Meyer's winning the league's MVP award yesterday a bit surprising. Not that he didn't earn it. He did. But that the league would give it to him is a bit unexpected. This is a league, remember, that only honored three Shock players, Meyer, Adron Tennell, the best receiver, and Terrance Sanders, who set an AFL record for kick return yardage, on the all-league team. This following a season in which Spokane was arguably the second-best team in the league, after defending champion and soon to be 2013 champion Arizona. So it would haven't been much of a surprise if someone else had taken home the MVP trophy. But then again maybe it would have been. See, there was another piece of news yesterday. The league announced the formation of an expansion franchise in Los Angeles, the LA Kiss. Yep, it's backed by members of the aging glam-rock band. With Meyer a free agent and a LA-area native, wouldn't it look great for the new high-profile team to have the league's best player as its quarterback? It may not happen – Meyer has more than enough connections to this area to keep him here – but it wouldn't come as a surprise if the new owners make a huge pitch for the league's reigning MVP.
• WSU: The Cougars will scrimmage this afternoon in Martin Stadium as it's only 15 days until the opener at Auburn. Christian Caple continues his position previews in this morning's S-R, covering the receivers. He also has a blog post from after yesterday's practice and a morning post with Pac-12 links. He held a live chat as well yesterday.
• Gonzaga: BYU announced its non-conference schedule yesterday.
• EWU: The Eagles are also getting closer to their opener at Oregon State. Jim Allen takes a look at the defensive line in this morning's paper. He also held a live chat yesterday with athletic director Bill Chaves, a transcript of which you can read here. ... The NCAA is looking at some academic improprieties at Weber State.
• Indians: Spokane is on a roll, winning again yesterday at Tri-City 5-2 to sweep the series. ... The Indians, in first during the second half, return home tonight. Chris Derrick welcomes them back with this feature on left-handed pitcher Luis Pollorena, who battled, and beat, childhood leukemia.
• Mariners: The biggest news in baseball yesterday concerned the proposal to the owners to institute instant replay starting next season. If the owners approve, managers would get one challenge from the first through the sixth innings and two more from the seventh inning on. The decisions would be made in New York at a central hub where, hopefully, there won't be some 72-year-old former umpire charged with watching every game on his iPad. ... The Mariners would probably like to have one pop up overturned yesterday. The routine play became anything but as Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, both rookies, couldn't communicate and the ball fell (pictured). Of course, Joe Saunders unraveled afterward and the Tampa Bay Rays went on to a 7-1 victory. They are now 10 games under .500. ... It looks as if Eric Wedge could return when the M's return home. Let's hope all the pop ups end up being caught, for his sake.
• Seahawks: If the Hawks were still holding training camp in Cheney, yesterday would have been the last day. But they don't, so the end of camp is really just an artificial line to be crossed. Still, it is a good time to look back. ... Looking forward, there are new rules for fans at NFL games. ... Red Bryant has a new contract. ... Want to get to know a couple players better? Here's your chance. ... It would make the coaches happy if the first-team offense played a bit better this weekend.
• Sounders: Clint Dempsey is ready to start the Sounders next game.
• We're back on the radio today, albeit for a short stint before the M's game in Texas. You can tune in here. Until later ...