A GRIP ON SPORTS
In my spare time recently, I've been watching Ken Burns' documentary "Baseball" on my iPad. Man, I love NetFlix. Anyhow, I just got through the 1930s. Included in the archival film was Lou Gehrig's farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. You know the one, immortalized by Gary Cooper in "Pride of the Yankees." In the speech, an obviously touched Gehrig, head bowed, tells the gathered multitudes he feels like the luckiest man in the world. Makes me tear up every time I see it. But I understand his sentiment. Some days I feel like the luckiest man in the world. And yesterday was one of those days. Read on.
• I spent pretty much the entire day at the B tournaments at the Spokane Arena, ostensibly watching high school basketball, reporting on the boys 2B games. I saw great play, poor play, tough kids, smart kids, dunks, a basket stanchion collapse, amazing passes, the ball thrown inexplicably out of bounds, aggressive rebounds and passive decisions. In other words, high school basketball. Hours and hours of high school basketball. But it wasn't just the basketball. It was the people, the crowds and the individuals. It was catching up with old friends, acquaintances and co-workers. It was talking with people who read this column consistently (thanks for all the nice words by the way) and chatting with people who I had never met. It was the folks in the stands who were constantly supportive of the players on the court and those who felt there only duty was to tell three guys in stripes how they were ruining of the game. It was the bands, the cheerleaders and the elementary-school aged kids cheering on their heroes. It was the high school basketball experience and I feel lucky everyday to an observer of it.
• But it wasn't just the time spent at the Arena that made me feel lucky. It was dragging myself home and discovering my wife was not feeling well (and that, my friends, is the understatement of 2013). I got to help her deal with her maladies, paying back about .0005 percent of all the times she helped me. Plus, she felt so badly that, while the Gonzaga game was going on, all she could do was lie in bed and ignore my constant invective on how the three guys in stripes were ruining the game. Just kidding, of course. I'm never one of those guys. I was but upset because I was wrong when I thought Gonzaga had dropped football sometime around when Gehrig was making his speech. It was obvious the Zags have brought it back, because the contact throughout the game last night was as physical as a 1920s gridiron classic. The way GU handled that contact is one reason why I believe this team is going to have postseason success. This group seems to be tougher, 1 through 10, then most of Gonzaga's previous groups. Toughness is an underrated – and hard to quantify – aspect of college hoops. A t least for fans. Coaches? They value it, many valuing it above all else. But the ability to rise above all the flotsam and jetsam college basketball has to offer, the noise, the abuse, the contact, it's a skill. A skill that is hard to teach, maybe harder than any basketball skill. But once you learn it, it is the foundation of success. And this group of GU players has that skill.
• Gonzaga: The late start made it tough for a lot of in-depth writing (especially for the Salt Lake City papers, which are on Mountain Time) but Jim Meehan caught all the flavor of the tough win in his game story and blog post. Jim also has his day-after post. ... From Salt Lake we have a couple of game stories to pass along plus a column or two as it was senior night at BYU. ... USD played horribly in a home loss to USF. ... St. Mary's and the NCAA will announce the results of the investigation into the basketball program today. UPDATE: Here they are and they are not good. ... Gonzaga women hosted Portland on senior night and the Pilots almost crashed the party. Chris Derrick was there and chronicles the close victory with a game story and blog post.
• Washington State: Still kind of quiet on the basketball front (those one-game weeks are a good time to recharge the batteries), but Christian Caple does have his usual morning post and will hold a live chat later today.
• EWU: The Eagles are pretty much out of the postseason race after last night's overtime loss to Northern Colorado. Jim Allen was in Cheney and has this game story. ... Portland State is in the same miss-the-playoffs boat after a home loss. ... Montana State rallied to get past Southern Utah. ... Weber State rolled over Sacramento State.
• Idaho: As Josh Wright relays in this blog post, the Vandals basketball season is winding down on some sour notes. ... Louisiana Tech just dismantled Utah State to remain undefeated in WAC play. ... Seattle U. lost again. ... Denver has a young player it can rely on.
• Preps: OK, it's a big day with lots of stories. However, there was one story I could not find on line, though I wasted a lot of time trying. We have this roundup of some of the Idaho State boys basketball tournaments, but our coverage of the 5A schools is not online as far as I can tell. Sorry. ... Greg Lee was in Tacoma where he saw just one win by the local schools. It was by the Mead girls in 4A action. He also has 4A boys coverage and both boys and girls from the 3A. ... Pullman won in the 2A boys but West Valley's girls lost the late game. ... I was at the 2B boys and filed this story on the local teams who won and moved on. We also have a summary of all the 2B boys, 2B girls, 1B boys and 1B girls games along with a nice photo gallery. ... Dave Trimmer has more on the 1B girls, Mike Vlahovich covering the 1B boys and Steve Christilaw supplying the same on the 2B girls.
• Chiefs: Seattle lost again. That is all.
• Mariners: Felix Hernandez is getting closer to stepping onto the mound during an exhibition game, but he's not there yet. When he does, it will be really big news. ... What's news right now is the Mariners are having a productive spring, having won all but one of their games if memory serves me right. Now will that translate into regular-season success, especially for the offense?
• Sounders: The Seattle Times picked today to fill the paper with just about everything you could want to know about the Sounders' upcoming MLS season, from the schedule of key games to players to questions to what the team is trying to do with all the changes (the short answer: win the title). ... And there is even more, including more transfer talk.
• Sonics: Kevin Johnson says he has a big money guy who will buy the Kings and keep them in Sacramento. OK.
• If you are wondering, Kim is feeling better this morning, though she's moving awfully slow. I can help until this afternoon, when I have to head down to the Arena for the 2B boys semifinals. She's tough, though, so I don't have to worry about her. It's a skill she learned playing college basketball. Until later ...