A GRIP ON SPORTS
There is a little snow on the ground this morning, which probably makes it a bit slick around the Spokane area. And certainly changed my plans. Read on.
• Every once in a while I like to start the weekend with a Friday morning trip to the doughnut shop. That way those little round pieces of heaven can be in the house all weekend long – or until noon Friday, depending on how ravenous my sweet tooth is. But when I pulled my aching head out of bed this morning and saw the slippery conditions, I decided the sugar rush wasn't needed. A few more minutes of shut eye was the better way to spend the morning. Now, as my stomach grumbles, I'm regretting my choice. Which brings us to our subject today. How long will it be until the M's regret their choice of signing Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240-million contract? We all know these big long-term contracts in baseball rarely pan out. For every ... heck, off the top of my head I can't think of a recent one to use as a positive example. Albert Pujols paid dividends his first year with the Angels, then was injured much of last season. Now the team is wondering if his mega-deal is going to drag it down the next decade. I'm sure there are deals out there that have panned out but most examples – Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson – are of players not meeting expectations. Which brings us to the M's deal with Cano. What are the expectations? If you expect another Ken Griffey Jr.-like bat, forget about it. Cano's career averages may include a .309 batting average, but he's not in the same league with Junior in home runs (Cano averages 24, though that number has jumped to 29 in the past four years) or RBI (Cano has averaged 97 in his nine seasons). And those numbers have been built with half his games in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium with the Yankee lineup around him. Things will be different in Safeco. But say he hits .309 with 24 home runs and drives in 97, his career averages? Will that be enough? It better be. Just because a guy signs a contract for the Gross National Product of Palau doesn't mean he's automatically a better hitter. It just means his credit score is platinum-rated. And the fan base's expectations are skewed out of whack. In Cano's case, unless the M's add more to the lineup than Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, the protection everyone deems so important to Cano's success isn't in place yet. And the ballpark, though better for left-handed hitters than righties, is still not as welcoming as Yankee Stadium. So an average year for the 31-year-old might well be considered an improvement. Sure, those numbers don't seem like a lot of production for $24 million, but we all know money doesn't go as far as it once did. Just be happy the M's are opening their Scrooge McDuck-looking vault and letting some of it serve its true purpose: Building a winning team.
• WSU: Jim McElwain learned how to build a winning football team from one of this area's best, former Eastern coach Dick Zornes. Now McElwain, a Missoula native, will lead his resurgent Colorado State Rams into the New Mexico Bowl against Washington State. John Blanchette has this column on the former EWU quarterback and assistant coach. ... Jacob Thorpe covers all the football news from Pullman dating back to, I don't know, a hundred years ago (pictured). But he also has coverage from a bit more recent times, including how the bowl practices will help in the future. He also has a morning post with links. ... WSU's Deone Bucannon was a second-team Walter Camp All-American (as was former G-Prep star Bishop Sankey for UW) and so was a Colorado State player. ... Oregon State's Brandin Cooks was named the nation's best receiver. ... Oregon is ready to get back on the basketball court.
• Gonzaga: Przemek Karnowski's big game at West Virginia has earned him the honor of a Jim Meehan story in today's S-R, along with a blog post with more. ... The Gonzaga women have ascended to the top of ESPN's mid-major rankings, though they face a tough battle tomorrow at Stanford. Thomas Clouse has more in this blog post and story. ... Bud Withers has a look at what Gerard Coleman brings to the Zags.
• EWU: As the season rolls on, so do the features about Eagle players from our Jim Allen. Today's subject is offensive lineman Brandon Murphy (No. 77 in the picture). The Eagles will host Jacksonville State on Saturday. ... Jim also held a live chat yesterday, a morning blog post today and an advance of the Eagles' basketball game Sunday vs. the West Coast's most highly acclaimed academic institution, UC Irvine. ... Weber State introduced its new football coach.
• Idaho: It's not often a true freshman is first-team member of the Camp All-American team. But Vandal punter Austin Rehkow, from Central Valley High, earned that honor yesterday. Josh Wright has more in this blog post.
• Chiefs: And you thought the Chiefs were the only team with a teddy bear toss. OK, you didn't think that. You knew better.
• Preps: Thursday is a wrestling night, so we have this roundup of the action.
• Seahawks: The best thing about Thursday with the Hawks? It is the day Russell Wilson stands in front of the media and talks. Wait, no, that's not it. It's the day Richard Sherman stands in front of the media and talks. Or it's because Pete Carroll doesn't talk. OK, just kidding about the last one. It's also a day you can pretty much figure out who is playing Sunday due to who is on the injury lists. ... Despite being drafted by the Rangers yesterday, don't expect Wilson (pictured) to be another Bo Jackson. Or even talk about it much. ... The Giants are the epitome of an up-and-down team. ... Speaking of up and down, the Hawks punts do just that. They just never go forward.
• Mariners: Cano was introduced yesterday with a bunch of fanfare, including a hashtag and a logo. It was a big deal. Get it, a big deal? Anyhow, he'll wear 22 and said all the right things. ... The Times' Larry Stone has a piece that explains how the signing came to be. ... New manager Lloyd McClendon has some ideas about practice time.
• We have one more day on the radio this week with Keith Osso and Rick Lukens on 700 ESPN. You can listen here between 3 and 6 p.m. Until then ...