A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED: 9 A.M.
Today's the day. The day folks in Spokane can raise their index finger high in the air and yell ... well, you know. After all, there isn't anyone in town who didn't attend Gonzaga. Read on.
• Sure there is. There is that guy on the North Side who admits to having attended Mississippi State and the gal out in the Valley who went to ITT Tech. And the handful of Cougar and Eastern graduates who meet at the Swinging Door once a week. Other than that, nope, as far as I can tell, everyone else is a Gonzaga alumnus. At least they will be today if the Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 for the first time. (As an aside, I'm not sure that's as big a lock as you might think, not if this AP ballot is any indication. And it's from a guy who lives in the state.) Is it because everyone wants to be associated with a winner? Sure, that's part of it. But it's also because those of us who have lived in the Spokane area a long time (30 years this months for your friendly neighborhood blog columnist) or are native to the area have a bit of inferiority complex about the place. It's built on phone calls Back East ("Oh, that Washington. Doesn't it rain a lot there? What, Spokane isn't a suburb of Seattle?") or by perusing census data ("All right, we're still ahead of Tacoma!"). We know it's stupid – this is a great place to live – but we can't help ourselves. So when there is a chance to recognized as No. 1 in anything other than car theft, we all jump on the bandwagon. Well, almost all of us. I am still a proud alumnus of UC Irvine, home of the Anteaters and apartments on Newport Beach. But even I think it would be really, really cool if GU was ranked No. 1 in the nation, joining such illustrious West Coast programs as Bill Russell's USF teams, John Wooden's UCLA squads, Lute Olson's Arizona groups and Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV rebels. It would be validation for the program Mark Few has built here and, if you want to stretch the meaning a bit, validation for all of us who choose to call the Inland Northwest home. We picked this place, so it is No. 1 to us. It will be nice when the rest of the country agrees for once.
• Gonzaga: The GU men and women, both WCC regular season champions, won't play in the conference tournament until Saturday in the semifinals. And they won't know their opponent until after Friday's games. ... BYU feels good about where they are at heading into the tournament. ... Sports Illustrated has more on the Zags as well.
• Washington State: Another game, another loss. That's been the way of it recently for the Cougars, stuck on rewind the last month or so. WSU dropped another close game, this time at archrival Washington, yesterday. Christian Caple was there and he sends your way a pregame post, a postgame tale of the tape along with interviews and a morning post. He also has this game story in today's paper. ... The baseball team won eight consecutive games before dropping one Sunday. ... The WSU women will face Arizona State in the Pac-12 tourney's first round. ... The hottest team in the Pac-12 right now just may be California.
• EWU: There is a Big Sky game tonight down in Cedar City, Utah.
• CCS: The Sasquatch moved into the semifinals of the NWAACC tournament.
• Chiefs: The Chiefs were off, but Everett lost in overtime.
• Mariners: Felix Hernandez (pictured showing where he thinks the Zags should be ranked today) still has yet to face another team but he threw a simulated game yesterday and pronounced himself ready to take the mound in a real exhibition game. (Is that an oxymoron?) ... Speaking of real exhibition games, the M's won another one yesterday as Jesus Montero had a big game, though the bottom of the ninth was a nail-biter. ... Three Mariners left camp for the WBC. ... Mike Zunino's first hit of the spring was a home run. ... It's gotten so that if a hitter wears just one batting glove, he's an "old-school player." The M's have a guy who doesn't wear any. ... Strange doings for a couple of divisional rivals.
• Sounders: After the season-opening loss, Sigi Schmid wants his team to focus better.
• That's it for today. Though spring is still a couple weeks away, the recent sunshine has made it seem somewhat spring-like. So we'll call it good. And chant, "we're No. 1, we're No. 1." Until later ...