A GRIP ON SPORTS
An injury is never good for a player in any sport. But for an organization like the Mariners, an injury can come at an opportune time. Such is the case with Jesus Montero's torn meniscus. Read on.
• Now we are not trying to imply any conspiracy theories here, but Montero's left knee injury, announced yesterday, couldn't have timed out better for the M's. It might actually save them a player. It's simple. The Mariners have to activate Jeremy Bonderman from Tacoma today. The veteran righthander will start on the bump in Minnesota. But he's not on Seattle's 40-man major league roster. So, in theory, the M's would have to drop someone from said roster, opening that player up to other organizations. Jesus Montero, however, is on the 40-man. According to MLB rules, Montero can be called up and put on the 60-day disabled list today (as per Ryan Divish of the News Tribune), opening a spot on the 40-man. Viola, the M's fill it with Bonderman, send someone to the minors (more than likely Alex Liddi, who came up when Brandon Maurer was sent down. UPDATED: Not Liddi, who is starting today; the move turns out to be Justin Smoak to the disabled list) and all is well.
• Well, no. All isn't well. Not after another blown save by Tom Wilhelmsen yesterday and six walk-off losses this season, including five in their last 10 road games. Such losses eat at the marrow of a baseball team, sucking out their confidence. It doesn't help to know home plate umpire Tim McClelland squeezed the strike zone on Wilhelmsen in the ninth, a huge factor in the three walks that opened the door for the Twins. And it doesn't help the M's to know they played eight-and-a-half really good innings, the type of innings that contending teams play. All they will know is they lost a game they should have won. Again. And losing begets losing. (I learned that from listening to an eminent psychologist speak on this DVD I have, labeled “The Natural.”) Only a series of wins can salve the burns of the past couple weeks from their mouths and even then the scars will linger.
• WSU: Though Washington State isn't involved, the Pac-12 has four teams still alive in the NCAA baseball tournament, though two of them are in the loser's bracket today. Oregon State, which rallied in the ninth again, and UCLA, which rallied a bit earlier, are both undefeated in the regionals they are hosting. But Oregon was two-hit (George Horton's Ducks just aren't an explosive offensive team) and lost while Arizona State fell at Cal State Fullerton 1-0 in a late, late game. … The firing of Colorado AD Mike Bohn is still being debated – and felt – in Boulder. But the basketball team's recent success isn't.
• Gonzaga: USD stayed alive in the UCLA regional with a win over rival San Diego State.
• Shock: It's always fun in the Arena Football League when the home team scores 75 points. It's even more fun when the visitors are division rivals who have been talking trash since the last meeting. And fun reaches its zenith when the opponent can't even get out of its own way offensively, having to score late just to reach the 40s. All of that happened last night in the Arena, as Spokane blew out San Jose 75-45, snapping the Sabercats' five-game winning streak. Jim Meehan was there and he has a couple blog posts and a story in today's paper.
• Mariners: By now you've had almost 24 hours to digest the M's latest loss and it probably went through you like a bad oyster. But there's always today and Mariners will trot out their latest pitching phenom, the 30-year-old Bonderman. OK, that was a bit sarcastic. I apologize. But after yesterday's 5-4 loss in a game they had won in Minnesota, I am in the mood to be a bit sarcastic when it comes to the Mariners. By the way, is there such a thing as an LA Times' curse? … No sarcasm here, but I wonder if Montero's left knee problem is something of an on-going issue. I read yesterday he's been icing the knee all year after games and that makes me think he's been, at the least, sore all season. For a righthanded hitter, the left knee has to be strong to generate power. If it breaks down, the legs aren't as involved in the swing and the bat speed just isn't there. A great example of this was Mike Piazza, who seemed to be pivoting off a tree trunk as he made contact, using his stiff front side to catapult the ball into the seats. It will be interesting the see if Montero's power returns when he does. … It's Sunday, so Larry Stone has his weekly column (it's on the 2009 draft) and power rankings.
• Sounders: Just what the Sounders needed. Another red card. … No, what I meant to say was a match with a Chivas USA team that is in disarray. An own goal helped Seattle post a 2-0 victory and despite an undeserved red card given to Obafemi Martins, the day was a success for the Sounders.
• That's it for today. In case you're wondering, I got my garage cleaned out yesterday. For the first time since I moved home from Pullman 18 months ago, our two-car garage is actually holding two cars. Never let it be said I can't procrastinate at a major league level. As always, my motto is … until later …