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Karma can be a pitch away

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Not too long ago, I was stuck behind a Subaru Outback over by the Unitarian church. On the bumper was a sticker that includes some sort of star-like symbol and a saying, karma is a witch or a stitch or a niche or something like that. Now, it's not often I put my faith in the power of the bumper sticker but last night, watching the opening game of the World Series, I became a believer. Read on.

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• In the first inning of the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals' Joe Kelly pumped a 95-mile-per-hour fastball underneath Hanley Ramirez's hands. The Dodger shortstop, the key to a pretty impotent LA lineup, tried to get out of the way. He failed. Kelly's pitch not only rode inside, nailing Ramirez in the chest, but it broke a rib and changed the entire series. With their best hitter flailing at the plate – Ramirez sat a couple games, played a couple and, obviously in pain, finished 2-for-13 in the series won by St. Louis in six games – the Dodgers went down pretty meekly. And, by that, I mean they never once even tried to even the score. You may consider it barbaric, but if anyone had nailed the best hitter on Don Drysdale's Dodgers or Bob Gibson's Cardinals, then the opponent's best hitter would have felt the sting as well. It didn't matter if it were on purpose or by accident. A rib-for-a-rib was chapter and verse. It was the way the game was played for a hundred years. But no more. Don Mattingly's Dodgers just rolled over. And watched their season end. Which brings us back to the bumper sticker. Karma can be a glitch or something. In the second inning last night, Carlos Beltran, the Cardinals' best hitter (and the guy who can carry them to a World Series title), raced back on David Ortiz's bases-loaded fly ball. The deep drive to right seemed to be destined for the bullpen and a grand slam. But Beltran snagged it, just as he crashed into the fence with the speed of a Subaru on a snow-covered Spokane road. He may have stolen a home run but he also may have cost the Cardinals the Series. See, Beltran had to leave the game with, irony of ironies, a rib injury. No break, but he's day-to-day. And will be hard-pressed to swing the bat like he can, because, as Ramirez can attest, rib injuries are tough to play through. If he struggles over the next week and St. Louis goes down to the Red Sox, just remember that bumper sticker. It offered words to live by.

•••

• WSU: No karma here, just a bye week. But Jacob Thorpe fills the void with his Pac-12 picks, a live chat yesterday, a blog post on a recruit – Greg Lee has more below – and a morning post with some Pac-12 links. ... We delve a bit deeper into the conference with predictions on this weekend's games from ESPN.com's Pac-12, which also offers a look at the injuries around the conference. ... Bud Withers has more on the best years in Pac-12/10/8 history. ... We got after the NCAA a bit yesterday following the organization's decision concerning Miami's punishment. And we don't like to pile on. But another decision Wednesday is just hard to understand. Is it now open season on transfers? ... Oregon's former star tight end is in big trouble with the authorities. ... No big deal. The Ducks are more about hoops anyway.

• EWU: With the big showdown in Missoula this Saturday (hence today's poll), Jim Allen has a feature on Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson (pictured), whose troubles were part of an overarching story line at UM. ... Jim also has a morning post with Big Sky links heading into the weekend and will hold a live chat on the blog this afternoon as well.

• Idaho: Josh Wright went to football practice yesterday and reports in this blog post the Vandals' top two quarterbacks were spectators.

• Chiefs: Spokane retained its high ranking this week in the junior hockey poll. ... Tri-City has added a player.

• Indians: Tim Hulett will return for another year as the Indians manager.

• Preps: It's Thursday, so that means it's Prep Page day. We begin with Greg Lee's column on a tough aspect of being a coach. From there we move onto Greg's feature about Mt. Spokane quarterback Stu Stiles (pictured). But that's not all. Mike Vlahovich has coverage of North Central's perfect cross country regular season, Greg and Sam Adams have their football picks, Greg has more on the local football player who had his scholarship offer pulled from WSU, there is this advance of the Idaho soccer playoffs and a roundup of Wednesday's action.

• Seahawks: Why are the Hawks doing so well? The No. 1 reason seems to be the dominating play of the defensive front. ... That group will challenge the Rams on Monday, part of a remaining schedule that seems to be easier than expected. ... Richard Sherman understands the safety initiatives the NFL is trying to implement, but he offers a different take on them.

• Sounders: Uh oh. It's almost playoff time – tickets will go on sale soon if you are interested – and the tough-to-beat-at-home Sounders sent Eddie Johnson home from practice yesterday. If you put together the clues, it's about money, the root of all sports evil.

• Mariners: Speaking of evil, the M's management is trying to hire the best possible candida, snicker, snicker, candidate possible. Ya, sure.

•••

• It's wonderful what a good night sleep can do. Thanks night-time cold medicine. I feel a lot better. Until later ...




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