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No roses, just thorns

A GRIP ON SPORTS

One thing I learned this morning: I really have no idea how to spell “rhododendron.” If it wasn't for Word's spell check, this lead-in would have been embarrassing. Read on.


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• And yes, I originally spelled embarrassing incorrectly on purpose, as a joke, but the spell checker kept changing it, so I gave up. Just like I've given up figuring out why one of the two rhododendrons I planted in the backyard a couple of Mother's Days ago won't bloom. The two are about eight feet apart and one is loaded with big, beautiful blooms. The other, planted the same day with the same fertilizer and getting the same amount of water, just sits there. Oh, it's green all right. And it grows. But no blooms. Nothing. It's a conundrum I just can't get my head around. Sort of like the Mariners. Ya, you knew I was going there, didn't you? The Mariners are like the bloomless rhododendron (that time I just cut and pasted the darn word, saving me the typing time and Word the spell-check energy). Every spring we hope the M's will bloom. Every spring we watch each day, waiting for the glorious explosion. But nothing. Heck, just next door (in baseball terms) sits the Oakland A's. There is nothing special about the A's. No more money than the Seattle organization, no more enthusiastic fan base, no reasons for any more success. But the A's are blooming. Again. While the Mariners languish nine games below .500, saved from the American League West cellar only by the woeful Houston Astros, the A's are in first place. Again. Bloomin' color all over the place. But the Mariners? No matter how often we prune, no matter how often we add water or fertilizer, no matter how much tender, loving care we give them, they sit there, a disappointment for everyone who can see them. It makes you want to rip the plant out at the roots, throw it in the recycle bin and plant something new. (I'm talking about the M's here, not the rhododendron; I can't rip that out; it was a Mother's Day gift.) But there has to be an answer. Maybe there is something wrong with the Seattle soil. Maybe no winning team will grow. That can't be true, can it? Just a dozen years ago – yes, it was a dozen years ago – the franchise won as many games as any team ever in major league baseball history. So success can happen. It just takes someone with a green thumb to coax it out. I wonder if Pat Gillick is available to come in and do some yard work?

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• WSU: There isn't a lot of Washington State news, though three Cougars were drafted yesterday, part of a pretty large contingent of players with connections to our state. However, there is a lot of news from around the Pac-12, including more in the baseball category. UCLA clinched a berth in the college World Series by sweeping Cal State Fullerton on the road. Meanwhile, Oregon State had the first game of its Super Regional in hand, just a strike away from a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series before Kansas State rallied and won. … Now that's it's been two years Utah has been in the conference, everyone in the Beehive State is trying to decide if it was the right move.

• Shock: Once again a team came into the Arena sporting a “dominating” defense. And once again the Shock took it apart. Jim Meehan has this story (and a couple of blog posts) on the latest Spokane rout, this one 76-41 over Jacksonville. The win sets up a huge game for the Shock next Saturday in Phoenix against the league-leading Arizona Rattlers.

• Indians: With the major league first-year player draft over, the Spokane Indians can begin their season. What better way to get ready than to read this story from Chris Derrick about a recent conversation with Indians' manage Tim Hulett.

• Mariners: There is no reason to throw any bouquets around about the Mariners' offense on Saturday (see what I did there?) in the team's 3-1 loss to the Yankees. Joe Saunders did what he does, that is, pitching well in Safeco, but the Yankees' Andy Pettitte (pictured) was even better. Of course, Pettitte was facing a Mariners' lineup that had a Triple-A feel to it. … That lineup included catcher Brandon Bantz, who was making his first major league appearance. … Bantz is in the majors because Jesus Sucre is hurt and was put on the disabled list Saturday. … It's appropriate the Yankees last win this year in Safeco – with Felix Hernandez throwing today, I am calling a Mariners win – was saved by Mariano Riviera. He's saved enough of them, not only in Safeco, but in every stadium in the bigs. And he did it while exuding class. … Larry Stone not only had that column, but his power rankings and a notebook as well. … The M's practiced some nepotism in the draft's final day.

• Seahawks: Golden Tate is looking forward to another great season.

• Sounders: With the U.S. National Team among the more than 53,000 in attendance, Seattle rallied late and rode Lamar Neagle's goal to a 3-2 win over rival Vancouver. The win puts the Sounders atop the Cascadia Cup race. … The national team was in town to because it plays Panama this week on CenturyLink's grass field (yep, they put grass over the turf and it seemed to be fine last night). The newest star for the U.S. is the Sounders' Brad Evans, who is tired after the win over Jamaica.

• Horse racing: As this year's Belmont participants headed for home, you couldn't miss the pole they've put up 31 lengths from the finish line. That was where the second-place horse was when Secretariat won 40 years ago in the most dominant single performance in horse racing history.

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• It took a bit longer to put today's post together, mainly because I was watching Rafael Nadal dismantle David Ferrer while I worked. It isn't over yet, but it may as well be, with Nadal up two sets on the red clay. Until later …


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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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