A GRIP ON SPORTS
After the flood of news yesterday, the waters have receded a bit, leaving just the debris. And, of course, the worst of it is from the Mariners. Read on.
• The biggest tsunami of the weekend was the not-all-that-surprising story in the Times concerning the M's front-office dysfunction. It wasn't that surprising because we all knew the Howard Lincoln-led management of the team wasn't doing its job very well. But what was surprising were the folks who put their names to the criticism, in that, by being out front, they risk alienating everyone else in baseball. No institution likes having its dirty laundry flapping in the wind, so the folks who came forward, including former manager Eric Wedge, may have ensured a tough job market in the future. But Art Thiel thinks their risk wasn't as great as it could have been. After all, he writes, everyone in baseball knows the M's are a led by a couple of tough-to-deal-with nitwits (I'm paraphrasing here). And they proved it again Monday when general manager Jack Zduriencik released a poorly edited, poorly thought out response to the story. A lot of what Zduriencik wrote (or someone wrote for him) seemed to be a defense of the club's actions. On the surface. Read deeper, though, and the criticisms fired at he, Lincoln and chuck Armstrong (I am lower-casing Armstrong's first name because that's the way it was used the first time in Zduriencik's release, indicating to me a change to a more-modern look for the retiring executive) have some validity. Wedge said in Geoff Baker's story he wanted some clarity on his future status, couldn't get it and gave up. Zduriencik said that wasn't true. They club expected him back. "Eric approached me numerous times throughout the year expressing his desire for a long-term contract. Even the day before he quit, Eric called a meeting with me and demanded a contract extension," Zduriencik wrote in his statement, seemingly backing up Wedge's contention no one would make a decision. There are more examples, but, you know what, I'm tired of it. The M's have reached an agreement with Robinson Cano. They are waiting for his physical and his signature. Both will come soon. They are in the running for the best pitcher Japan has produced in a while, if and when he's posted for U.S. teams. They may trade for or sign a free-agent outfielder. They are spending money. It may be in the old-fashioned shotgun fashion but they are spending money. Even if the atmosphere in the front office is more "Office Space" than "Moneyball," I am starting to get indifferent. All I would like to see is a few decent players and a few more wins. Is that too much to ask?
• WSU: The Pac-12 is sending nine teams – let's see, by my math that is three-quarters of everyone in the conference – to bowls. Pretty cool, huh? But, as Jacob Thorpe points out in this story and blog post, the conference could have taken home more money with just two teams in BCS bowls than with one in the Big Boy games and eight others. Parity might be fun, but it comes with a cost. ... Jacob has a video he did with SWX's Neil Stover and all the other Pac-12 news in this morning's blog post, including links on UW's Chris Petersen introduction. What does Petersen's contract mean for the rest of the conference? Jon Wilner explains. ... The nine bowl games seem to be a topic for just about everyone, including ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog. ... Oregon lost its best tight end for the Alamo Bowl. The reason? A snowball fight. Yep.
• Gonzaga: West Virginia has a bone to pick with Gonzaga after their last two games. The teams meet tonight in Morgantown. Jim Meehan has an advance.
• EWU: Jacksonville State isn't from Florida, if you didn't know. The Alabama school plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, if you didn't know. And the Gamecocks rely on their defense, which has been solid lately, if you didn't know. Of course, that's after second-seeded Eastern Illinois put 52 on them. Jim Allen has more in this story in advance of Saturday's game at Eastern. He also has links this morning. ... Southern Utah really wanted to hang on to its football coach.
• Chiefs: The hottest team in the U.S. Division seems to be Seattle. It faces Tri-City tonight.
• Seahawks: The bad news is simple. Linebacker K.J. Wright (pictured) will be out four-to-six weeks after surgery on a broken bone in his foot. Center Max Unger has a chest injury and will be out an undetermined amount of time. The good news? Pete Carroll thinks Sunday's loss should help his team learn and focus for the rest of the season. They are a seven-point favorites over the Giants, even though there could be snow in the forecast for Sunday. ... Carroll had more to say, of course, a lot more. ... The Hawks had to make a choice at the end of the game. They did. ... The snap counts from Sunday are interesting but not as interesting as the third-down statistics.
• That's it for this morning. I forgot to pass along the news I will be doing radio all week, joining Keith Osso and Rick Lukens on 700ESPN. You can listen here between 3 and 6 p.m. if you like. Until then ...