A GRIP ON SPORTS
It is amazing what gets fans worked up some times. Just amazing. Read on.
• The Amazing Mets, now they got me worked up. Forty-five years ago. And the Mariners inability to hold a lead. That happened again yesterday. But something else that came down the pipeline Thursday didn't get me worked up at all, though it sure seemed to tweak Washington State fans. A note in the Gonzaga Bulletin, the GU student newspaper, brought to light something no one seemed to know. When Gonzaga and WSU re-upped their basketball agreement last year, they made it a three-year deal. One game at Gonzaga, one game at the Spokane Arena, one game in Pullman. What? Two of the three in Spokane? That's an outrage. At least that seems to be the response of many of the Cougar faithful. They scoffed at the idea the game in the Arena would be “a neutral-site contest.” My guess is most of the Cougar fans who see it as a Gonzaga home game have never lived in Spokane. It won't exactly be split 50-50 but it won't be like McCarthey either. Yes, Gonzaga is located in my hometown. Yes, there are a lot of Gonzaga basketball fans in this town. And, yes, there are a lot of Gonzaga alums here as well. (Those two groups don't always overlap.) But there are even more WSU alums and probably as many Cougar basketball fans as well. To automatically assume the Arena will be packed with people wearing Gonzaga gear is insulting to those loyal Cougs around here. It seems to be an opportunity for the WSU faithful in Spokane to fill the Arena rafters with crimson and to drown out their neighbors' voices. Sure, the Bulldogs will probably win. They are going to be loaded next season, especially with the recruiting news noted in the Gonzaga section below. But winning or losing should never be a factor to the “true” fan. If you bleed crimson (or purple or whatever color Oregon is wearing this week), you should be flying that flag, win or lose, especially against a regional rival. And besides, the game the following season, when Ernie Kent has had a year to build his squad, will be in Pullman. It's then the homecourt should matter a bit more.
• There is one more mundane element to this contract. If it is a template for the future, it makes sense in another area. See, Washington State enjoys hosting NCAA men's sub-regionals and women's regionals at Spokane's Arena. The Cougars are good at it. But the NCAA demands the hosts play – and run – a game in the site during the regular season. A dress rehearsal if you will. In the past WSU has either scheduled a non-conference game – and drawn two or three thousand people – or the first Pac-12 home game of the year – drawing more, but not a lot more. There are no NCAA events scheduled in Spokane next year, so Gonzaga will run the game. In the future, however, if this formula holds, WSU should be able to be align this game with the NCAA postseason and run the event. That will allow the school to avoid bringing another game to Spokane.
• So what's the bottom line? Is this a good deal for the series? No and yes. The no part is simple. Though Gonzaga is a top-25 program almost every year, the Bulldogs are also one of the two marquee sports teams in the Inland Northwest. The other is WSU. The two should be playing every year in basketball, women's basketball, baseball, soccer, whatever sports the schools each offer. If this formula was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition from Gonzaga, which I hear it was, then that's not right. Don't use the tired “WSU's-RPI-is-always-too-low-and-hurts-us” argument, not when you play Bryant and Coppin State and the like. If a school like GU is going to have games with low RPI schools, the games might as well be against regional rivals like WSU and Eastern and Idaho. And don't think WSU hasn't been a jerk about playing Gonzaga in the past as well. The two schools didn't meet often late in the last century, mainly because WSU looked down its nose at the Spokane school. That was stupid. As is the other way around. These are the best programs in the area. They need to play. So if it means it's a three-game series, with one of the games in the Arena, so be it. If you are a WSU fan and bent out of shape, there is a simple way to change this formula, right? Win more games. Become the dominant program in the region again. But whatever happens, keep the series alive.
• WSU: There is a battle going on in Pullman. It's for the starting center position. It's important. Jacob Thorpe let's you know how it is going in today's S-R. … Jacob also has a practice report on the blog from a soggy day and a morning post with links. … Oregon routed WSU in baseball yesterday.
• Gonzaga: The Zags received some big news yesterday, really big news. Domantas Sabonis, son of former NBA legend Arvydas, is 6-foot-10 and a skilled forward who has been playing in Spain. He will be playing at Gonzaga next year after signing a letter of intent Thursday. Jim Meehan has more on the move, which has been rumored for some time, in this blog post and story. … The GU women announced the signing of Kacie Bosch, the guard from Canada we had a story-link about yesterday. … Former Gonzaga standout Matt Bouldin is still playing and playing well.
• EWU: Today's spring preview from Jim Allen? The linebackers.
• Preps: You can't play spring sports in the Spokane area and not expect to get rained on once in a while. Such was the case yesterday at the GSL track meet Greg Lee attended and covered. … Gonzaga Prep has been making do with one of its better players limited. That's the main subject of Tom Clouse's baseball notebook.
• Seahawks: Who will the Hawks take in the draft? Who knows. But Mel Kiper always has a guess – and a reason. … Sidney Rice hasn't officially re-signed yet, but he was at the Hawks' training facility yesterday.
• Mariners: Funny. I turned on the radio while driving home yesterday and the M's were down 4-0. About a block later Robinson Cano had bombed a three-run home run. Before I could get up the hill, Corey Hart had tied the game with another shot. And while I was stopped at a signal, the M's scored two more to take 6-4 lead. But by the time I got settled at home and turned the radio back on, they were tied again. They eventually lost 8-6 and fell below .500. I, however, heard all the good parts of the game, so I'm putting it in my win column. … Hart made his first start in the outfield in a few years. … The M's need some starting pitching help, especially with Taijuan Walker shut down for a couple weeks. … Another Seattle farmhand got busted for PED use.
• Sounders: Mauro Rosales loved his time in Seattle and loved the Sounder fans. But he's no longer with the team – a salary-cap casualty – and now will face the Sounders as a member of Chivas USA. … Another Sounder is also helping Chivas, though he won't be playing against Seattle this week. … It looks as if Brad Evans, another proud UC Irvine alum, will be back in Seattle's lineup this week. … Another man's MLS power rankings.
• That's it for today. Another Friday. Already. Boy, do the days fly by fast when the weather is warmer. Not like winter, when each day seems like a week. Until later …