A GRIP ON SPORTS
Every once in a while I sit at my computer in the early morning hours and freeze. No, I'm not cold. I guess a better way to put it is I freeze up. I have no idea what I'm going to write about. No idea what would interest you. No idea how to entertain everyone. Usually, to break up the ice on my hands, I push away from the computer, get up, walk to the kitchen and make coffee. As it percolates in the Cuisinart, I count myself lucky if a thought comes into my head. Let's hope it works today. Read on.
• It worked. The kitchen was a mess – someone made cookies last night and neglected to clean up after themselves – and nothing ticks me off more than a messy kitchen in the morning. What else ticks me off? Let me tell you …
• Night football games in the Pac-12. Why would that bother me, you may ask? Lots of reasons but mainly because it makes it so hard to watch the games live in Pullman. Games that finish at 11:30 or later mean a 2 or 3 a.m. bedtime in Spokane. (The picture if from last year's game on Halloween.) And a deer-infested drive home from down south. Sorry, but college football was meant to be played in the afternoon. But, you could argue, if you want every game on television, night games are part of the price you pay. Yep, but the number may be dwindling in the future. Not next year, mind you, but in the future.
• Injuries to young pitchers. I guess I'm not as ticked off by this as I am saddened. Put yourself in their shoes. Your whole life all you want to be is a major league baseball player. You dream about it every night, work toward it every day. And you finally make it. All the hard work pays off. You've arrived. And, boom, an injury hits. One minute you are the toast of the town, the next you are in some sweaty gym rehabbing your arm. Life isn't fair, is it? And, yes, that ticks me off.
• Power-hungry officials. Look, I am acquainted, on a personal level, with lots of officials, referees and umpires. Most of them are really good people, who do the job either for a love of the game or an altruistic spirit. But I also know a couple who I'm not real fond of (and the feeling is mutual, I'm sure). It's like any job at any workplace in the world. Most people are there for the right reasons, others are there for the wrong ones. The worst are the arbiters who are there because they like to be able to tell people what to do. And, yes, some folks enjoy doing that. Don't act so shocked. You don't get to be my age having been able to avoid those people forever. Heck, once I worked for a guy like that. It forced a complete life change. So it's not a surprise when there are power-hungry folks in the officiating ranks. But they need to be weeded out. The athletes who deal with them on a day-to-day basis deserve better.
• People who think high school kids always – always – commit to a college, not a coach or a team. Wake up folks. Yes, there are some high school athletes who all they ever wanted was to attend School X or School Z. But most high-end players are looking for the right fit, either with the coaches or the team or some combination of both. The school itself, the education they are going to receive, it's secondary. Hey, a college degree is a college degree, isn't it? A point guard might sign with School T because the head coach develops NBA point guards. A left tackle might sign with School F because the offensive line coach once worked for the Dolphins. And anyone might sign with School A or C because the head coach is a good guy or gal and they want to play for them. Happens all the time. So when the coach leaves, either of their own volition or because someone shoved them out the door, the players who signed may or may not want to stay. It's a personal decision.
• And, thanks to my morning coffee, I now have a finished column. Who knew my life was the basis for the “Adam” comic strip?
• WSU: Speaking of night football games, the Cougars' second game of the fall, at Nevada, has been moved up to Friday night so it can be on one of the ESPN networks. There goes the weekend plans in Sin City North. Jacob Thorpe has a blog post and a story on the game change along with a story and blog post from yesterday's practice, which ended with a live scrimmage. He also has a blog post featuring a video tour of the new football operations building (pictured), hosted by linebacker Daryl Monroe, along with his morning post. … Believe it or not, the Cougars were last in the Pac-12 North last season in explosive plays. However, everyone who was part of the team's 55 returns. … The Times held a live chat with Ernie Kent. … A running back who committed to WSU when Paul Wulff was coach is finally ready to play in the Pac-12. For Utah. … So is California chasing after Xavier basketball coach Chris Mack or not? … Oregon State always keeps it simple.
• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs' open women's coaching position is the best available job in America, according to athletic director Mike Roth. And he's right. So who gets it? He wouldn't tell Tom Clouse for today's story.
• EWU: Today's spring football preview from Jim Allen covers the wide receivers and their new coach.
• Chiefs: Portland got past Victoria 5-1 last night and moves on to meet Kelowna in the WHL Western Conference finals.
• Preps: Tom examines prep pitching and how one decision can affect more than one game in today's notebook.
• Seahawks: The biggest news in the NFL yesterday involved 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Hawk wide receiver Ricardo Lockette (pictured together), another 49er and a women in Miami. Police are investigating the trio of players concerning a possible incident involving the woman. No matter what comes from it, it's not good. … The free-agent period is a month old. And just about played out.
• Mariners: With the off day yesterday, it must have seemed a good time to examine leadoff hitter Abraham Almonte. Maybe folks are just working down the lineup. … Blake Beavan may be headed back to the bigs due to James Paxton's injury. … An off day also gives the beat writers a chance to catch up on news and notes they haven't gotten around to presenting.
• Sounders: The Sounders have the highest-paid player in the MLS – three guesses who it is and the first two don't count – as well as the third-highest payroll in the league. … A couple of players were officially put on the disabled list yesterday. … The Dallas game is another homecoming for Sounder Kenny Cooper.
• By the way, the mess in the kitchen? I made it. What a jerk. And, just so you know, I tried a new blend of coffee today. Though it has a nice flavor, I made it a little too weak. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. I'm sure my writer's block will be back by then. Until later …