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Mariners sucking the life out of the season

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Really, I am at a loss. It's not that bad, though. Not as bad as an eight-game losing streak. Not even close. But therein lies the problem. It's May, late May actually, and the local major league baseball team is once again in a funk. And there is only so much you can write about a franchise that seemingly every year hits a stretch that ensures a long slide to the lower reaches of the standings. Read on.


••••••••••

• The seasons have a rhythm – and so do the sports that accompany them. Fall is for football. Winter, basketball. Spring is the beginning of baseball season and summer, well, lazy summer days were made for baseball. The perfect radio sport, baseball is the soundtrack of summer, whether you are driving your car – how many of you, on seemingly endless road trips with the family, spent hours tuning in a far-flung radio station broadcasting a baseball game while driving across the American landscape? – or working in the yard or just lying in the sun. But I fear this summer will be another one spent lamenting the Mariners' inability to compete. No big deal, you say? Easy for you. You can move on, shifting your focus to the Seahawks' mini camps or the upcoming college football season. Simple enough. But trying filling a local-sports-oriented blog post seven days a week when your major subject is one people are sick and tired of reading about. You can only complain so much. You can only go over the failings of ownership so often. You can only lament loss after loss, moan about the mistakes, whine about the umpiring, to a point. After that it gets old. To me and to you. And, though it is just the end of May, we may have already reached that point. I'm sure you folks are getting bored of it. I know I am. So one of the big guns in my arsenal each morning is basically empty. At the very least, it is filled with blanks. Pull the trigger and there is noise, sure. But after that, nothing. No mark on the day. Sure, the recent losing streak is supplying some fodder, and does today. But when it ends and the M's are mired in mediocrity (not to mention fourth place in the American League West), where does that leave us? Well, I'll figure something out. You can count on it.

• Speaking of the long losing streak, Felix Hernandez threw yesterday. If there ever is a chance for the M's to stop a losing streak, it should come with the King on the mound, right? Which brings up a term that isn't used much any more. Stopper. I first heard it in reference to Sandy Koufax some 40-50 years ago. In those days the Dodgers never seemed to have a long losing streak because Koufax would take the hill and stop it. Hence the genesis of the term. It became the ultimate compliment of the starting pitcher. Every team had an ace, the best guy in the rotation. But only a select few could really be called a stopper, a clutch guy who always came through when his team needed it the most, throwing a shutout when needed, giving the bullpen a rest if needed, all-in-all changing the tenor of the season. Felix should be that guy. He's talented enough. He cares enough. But when it's against the Rangers (the one team that seems to give him trouble) in May (the one month in which he has struggled), he's anything but a sure thing. Oh well. Maybe Hisashi Iwakuma is really the M's stopper. We'll find out today.

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• WSU: After delaying the seemingly inevitable for a day, the Cougars couldn't stop Oregon State from grabbing a share of the Pac-12 baseball crown. The Beavers can win it outright today.

• Whitworth: The Pirates track team is competing at the NCAA Division III national championships. It's all part of our roundup of local sports.

• Preps: The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend is the traditional end of the high school sports seasons in Washington. This year is a bit different, however, as Friday's rain means some competitions are still going on today. But they don't really affect our local athletes – or our coverage. … The Wellpinit boys' track team did something yesterday no other boys team at the school has ever done: Win a state title. John Blanchette has the story of their 1B championship and the rest of the 1A/2B/1B action from Eastern Washington University. Jim Allen has the coverage of the girls' side of the action. … Greg Lee was in Tacoma for the big schools' track meet, with stories from the boys and girls championships. … By the way, I read this Art Thiel piece two days ago and meant to link it but somehow didn't. It's a little outdated but I thought I should pass it along. … After a Simpson-handful of second-place finishes recently, the Cheney boys broke through and won the State 2A soccer title. … University (in the 3A) and Lakeside (in the 1A) finished fourth in state softball. Chris Derrick was at the 4A championships held in Spokane, where Arlington won the title.

• Chiefs: The hated Winterhawks (as they are known to Chiefs fans) carry the WHL's banner into tonight's Memorial Cup championship.

• Shock: The Shock were off after winning Friday night, but two West Division rivals, Arizona and San Jose, won yesterday. The Sabercats head to Spokane next weekend.

• Mariners: The losing streak has reached eight games. No manner of lineup shuffles – Carlos Triunfel was in it lineup last night at second base – or umpire apologies (from the phantom double play (pictured) the night before) have been able to change that. And now another injury has cropped up. Things don't look good for the M's after a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Texas. Not far a team that is this thin in starting pitching. … Larry Stone looks forward to the MLB draft this week by talking with the M's brain trust. He also has a notebook and his power rankings.

• Sounders: Tonight's game with the L.A. Galaxy is important for the Sounders in the MLS standings, but that seems to be taking a backseat to a off-the-field happenstance with the L.A. team. … Coach Sigi Schmid seemingly has an opinion about everything. … The Sounders still have injuries to worry about.

•••

• That's it for this holiday Sunday. Have a good day today. Tomorrow is Memorial Day and we will be back with something. What, I'm not sure. But something. Until later …


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jacob Thorpe Sports reporter Jacob Thorpe covers Washington State University athletics. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Greg Lee Greg Lee covers high school sports in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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

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