A GRIP ON SPORTS
There once was a time I arose on Easter Sunday to sneak outside and hide Easter eggs. Or inside, depending on the weather. But those days are long gone. Nowadays I just arise early because I can't sleep. Read on.
• It was beautiful in Spokane yesterday, temperature in the 60s, sun shining, birds chirping, squirrels, well,“dancing.” It was so nice it made it imperative I spend a few hours working in the yard. It was a pastime I enjoyed in my 20s, had no problem with in my 30s, tolerated in my 40s and now hate in my 50s. Love the result, hate the process would be the best way to put it. And hate the next morning, when my legs are barking, my arms are moaning and my back, well my back has seceded from the rest of my body. Anyhow, it was so nice yesterday it was impossible to pull myself away and head to the NCAA regionals downtown. Though I should have. Mea culpa. Instead, I watched the Stanford women melt down on television against the Georgia late-game pressure and then kept track of California's win over LSU via score updates. (As an aside, I've been watching the Stanford Cardinal underachieve for years now and have come to the conclusion Tara VanDerveer is the most overrated coach in college basketball, men or women. Time after time I've seen them dominate overmatched teams – when talent was all that was necessary to win – and then collapse against teams that were close, but not as good, in the NCAA tournament. When faced with making decisions in crunch time, the Cardinal often look lost, reflecting the look on their coach's face. Yes, most of the time such meltdowns occur in the Final Four, but Stanford has had enough talent – it's Stanford, it can recruit almost every player it wants – to win multiple national titles. Instead, the Cardinal usually end up lamenting lost opportunities.) Of course, I can learn everything I need to know by opening our paper, with Greg Lee's story on the Georgia win, Jim Allen's piece on Cal moving to the Elite Eight, a notebook the two of them put together and John Blanchette's column. Then there is the coverage from the Bay Area, with the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News both having stories on Stanford's loss and Cal's victory.
• It's not only Easter, but it is also Opening Day in baseball. As is the case in the most traditional of all sports, baseball opens with a clash of long-time American League rivals, the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros. Yep, that's sarcasm folks. Of all the traditions baseball has tossed in the past 30 years or so, having the opener in the birthplace of the professional game, Cincinnati, doesn't bother me as much as some. But it does seem it would have been easy to keep. And, by keeping it, baseball would let some of us who remember day World Series games and the time before the designated hitter one small tradition to hang on to. But no. We get the Rangers and the Astros. I'm rooting for rain.
• Washington State: Too often I can recall standing in freezing rain or sleet or hail watching spring football practice. But these young guys – I'm talking about you, Christian Caple – somehow have been able to order up nice weather and get their order filled. The old saw must be true. The weather favors the talented writer. Christian used his talent to write this feature on freshman wide receiver Robert Lewis, who is turning heads – mainly of defensive backs. He also had a blog post after yesterday's workout and another this morning. … Western Washington came up short yesterday in its pursuit of back-to-back NCAA Division II national titles. … I usually don't link a piece Christian has already linked, but when I heard of UCLA's hiring of Steve Alford yesterday and read what was said at the press conference, I had some thoughts. They are perfectly stated in this story. So I pass it along.
• Gonzaga: Believe it or not, but it's been more than 100 years since BYU last played a basketball game in April. The Cougars will do it again, in New York, this week.
• EWU: Spring football always carries with it some goals and Eastern is no different. There are a lot of answers already in place, but the Eagles have questions as well. Jim Allen covers a few of them in this practice preview. … Weber State will try to bring the Big Sky a CIT title after winning its semifinal against Northern Iowa.
• Idaho: Paul Petrino knew he needed some experienced help if he was going to improve the Vandal football program quickly. So he brought in a group of junior college transfers. Josh Wright shows how a handful of the JC transfers are playing a big role in this story on Saturday's scrimmage. Josh also has a blog post as well.
• Chiefs: One series down. The Chiefs took care of Tri-City last night in Kennewick, depriving the home fans of another chance to cheer their team. Chris Derrick was there and has this story. … Everett isn't giving in to Portland.
• Mariners: Being that the M's open the season tomorrow, the Seattle Times went all out today with preview stories. I don't know exactly where to start – or to finish for that matter – but I guess I'll start with the paper's picks. My feelings are along the lines of Larry Stone's when it comes to the AL West. I'm not getting all giddy about the M's until I see something to get giddy about – in the regular season. Though it was one heck of a spring training. And there seems to be some power. And they moved in the fences. It's that last one, along with new scoreboard to light up, which is supposed to keep us all excited. It worked on me.
• Sounders: After four MLS games the Seattle Sounders have exactly zero wins. It doesn't make the fans too happy and, after the way the Sounders played in the first half at Real Salt Lake, it didn't make Sigi Schmid too happy either. Wonder if he's feeling some pressure? Could be.
• One nice thing about not being able to sleep on Easter Sunday? I was able to watch the sun rise. To watch the light grow in the East, the red tinges begin to appear, to experience visual cues that toook me back to my youth, when dad would drag us out to an Easter mass. He would be just getting off work – he was part of the circulation effort for the LA Times – and it was the only Sunday all year he felt it was important to finish his work day with a religious service. I don't remember much of the services, but I do remember the sunrises. And I remember my dad in a tie. That happened about once a year as well. Miss you pop. Until later …