A GRIP ON SPORTS
When you sit down every day – and by every day, I mean every day – to write a sports-related blog post, you never know what occurrence will tickle your fancy and set you down the road to the finished product. You'll never believe what got me going this morning. Read on.
• I know I've mentioned this before, but sometimes having a cat around can be a pain in the, well, arm. As I try to write this, our cat is dutifully cleaning my left arm with her tongue. I know it sounds gross and I've discouraged her more than once with a flick of my arm, but she's not about to be deterred. Sort of like the high school athletes around here during the spring seasons (and we're off …). See, to paraphrase Mark Twain and his pithy observation concerning San Francisco, the coldest winter I've ever spent is a spring in the Inland Northwest. It's not easy being a spring sports participant around here. You can experience bright sunshine, hail, rain, snow, wind – all within the course of one inning. Getting high school athletes to focus on a ground ball drill can be tough when there are big flakes of snow falling to the infield in front of them. And that can happen in May. So when you read stories of teams winning state softball titles or running away with a track championship, don't just think to yourself, “that's nice,” and move on. Think back to the 40-mile-per-hour headwind the sprinter ran into on a 42-degree day back in March, training for what would be her final high school race. Or the hour spent on the putting green as the hail falls and knocks your ball off-line. Or the time spent in the batting cage as the wind pushes the netting into the pitcher's back, making it necessary to hold it back with a piece of wood or something. (I actually witnessed the last one this spring.) Our local high school spring sport athletes will complain, sure. They'll make smart-aleck remarks, sure. But they also persevere through the adverse conditions, trying to reach their goal. Whether they get there or not, they've learned valuable lessons along the way, lessons that will stay with them throughout their life. Like always stash an extra sweatshirt in your bag. You never know when you'll need it.
• WSU: It hasn't been a good past few days for the Cougar football team and the law. Christian Caple has a blog post this morning dealing with another incident last week. … UCLA's newest John Wooden replacement may have had the shortest honeymoon of them all. … We also ran this LA Times story on Klay and Mychal Thompson. I have experienced this dynamic first-hand and it's quite interesting. … Former Cougar great, and current team orthopedist, Dr. Ed Tingstad, advocates for better and stricter guidelines concerning youth concussions.
• Chiefs: The Winterhawks' first Memorial Cup game didn't quite go the way they wanted.
• Preps: The weather has been improving around here recently, so the spring seasons must be winding down. … The Lake City girls won the Idaho softball title yesterday and Jim Allen was there to document it. On this side of the border, Chris Derrick was in Richland and covered Central Valley's journey through the 4A regional and U-Hi's through the 3A. We also have this roundup of the rest of the softball action. … Greg Lee was at Spokane Falls CC to cover the 4A and 3A track regionals (pictured), as was Jesse Tinsley, who has these photos. We also can pass along a roundup of other regional track action (along with other sports). In Idaho Jim Meehan was at the 5A state meet in Eagle and filed this story and this one on the 4A meet. … Coeur d'Alene's baseball team came up one win short of the state title while Gonzaga Prep's bid was halted in the regional. We also can pass along this roundup of other Washington baseball action. … We finish with soccer, as Ferris' state bid was stopped in Vancouver while Cheney moved on with a 2-0 win.
• Mariners: The bad news is the M's lost another game in the bottom of the final inning yesterday. The good news is they rallied for four runs in the final three innings to tie the game, leading to the walk-off defeat, 5-4, to Cleveland. And the other good news is Felix throws today. … Michael Saunders has taken possession of centerfield in the every day lineup, as this news about Franklin Gutierrez's comeback proves. Or it could also mean the M's think Gutierrez can stay healthy longer by getting out of centerfield. … Larry Stone, who moved the M's up a couple spots in his power rankings, sees reason for optimism. And he got to see Mariano Rivera pitch again. … It's always fun to hear people talk baseball.
• Sonics: Expansion seems to be more and more of a viable alternative.
• Sounders: Two home games, two four-goal outbursts. The Sounders are on a roll in front of their fans. And Saturday's 4-2 win came over the team playing the best in the MLS, Dallas. So it was Seattle's hot streak that continued, despite a couple of injuries that included a bloody face (pictured).
• By the way, in case you didn't guess (and, if you have a cat, I'm sure you did), the cat wasn't showing affection. She was hungry. When I got up and fed her, she left me alone. Just another thing a cat has in common with your average teenager. Until later …