A GRIP ON SPORTS
Woke up this morning feeling a little like Tiger Woods. You know, a little old, a little over the hill, a little like yesterday's news. Read on.
• The reason I'm feeling old today? Derek Jeter tied Honus Wagner on baseball's all-time hits list yesterday. No, I didn't watch Wagner play. But my father did. Actually, my dad watched Wagner coach, but he used to talk about seeing Wagner take ground balls when he was coaching the Pirates at Pasadena's Brookside Park, and had memories of how big Wagner's hands seemed. And how quick he moved, even though he was in his late 30s. And how impressive his WAR rating was. No, I made that last one up. When my dad talked about WAR, he meant the big one, WWII. That was real, not some new-fangled baseball statistic. My dad was old-fashioned that way. He rated baseball players through something called the "eye-test." In other words, he watched them play and decided how good they were. But not completely. He also used statistics. And was a bit of cutting-edge in that way. He and his buddies used to sit up late at night in the 1960s, a copy of "The Baseball Encyclopedia" open in front of them – I still have the one they used within feet of where I am writing this – and argue who was the best hitter or all-time. Or best pitcher. Or best outfielder. They would compare stats, argue the importance of on-base percentage over batting average, then decide the thing based on a) who yelled the loudest; or b) whose memories of said player's abilities was the clearest; or c) who had bought the beer (that person's vote counted twice). How old-fashioned. But they were talking baseball and I would sneak out of my room, hide in the hall and just listen. I wanted to know about the Lou Gehrigs, the Ralph Kiners, the Jackie Robinsons of the world. It's funny. I understand why there are so many people today who love the modern statistical analysis of baseball. My dad, if he were 25, would be one of those folks – to a point. He was the guy who always argued batting average wasn't a big deal. He loved guys who got on base. Guys who could steal a base or two, putting pressure on the defense and making their way around the bases without help from anyone else. He was more of a Lou Brock fan than a Frank Howard guy. After playing forever, and pitching against some of Southern California's best in the late 1940s, he innately understood the importance of each base. He didn't have stats to back his argument up, just 25 years of playing the game. So his "eye-test" was based on some of the values today's stat geeks prize so highly. Still, just thinking about some of the things he said about guys like Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle makes me feel old. But happy at the same time.
• Why over the hill? Because Washington State is holding its first scrimmage of the 2014 season today. There are times I miss covering college football. A 100-degree day the first part of camp isn't one of those times. Nor is a 12-degree day in late November. But the first scrimmage was always exciting. As was the first game. Or the Apple Cup. Or just about any game day, even in the dark days of 2008. But those days are gone. The torch has been passed to new generation of sports writers, born late in the last century, tempered by ... sorry, I can't go on imitating JFK's inaugural address. I'm too over the hill for that.
• Finally, why yesterday's news? Because that's what we do here. Keep you updated on yesterday's news. And today's. And tomorrow's.
• WSU: Jacob Thorpe is the guy in Pullman now – or, to be more precise, Lewiston today. And he filled up the blog again yesterday even though the Cougars held a shorter-than-usual practice. He talked with Mike Leach about the NCAA's autonomy initiative, had a practice summary and also did a story on one of WSU's newest players. This morning Jacob has a blog post with links, including some to the most-recent blow to the NCAA, the ruling in Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit vs. the organization. ... The Seattle Times has a story on former WSU basketball commit Tramaine Isabell. ... It's Saturday so we can pass along ESPN.com's Pac-12 mailbag. ... And we can also pass along this Q&A with WSU athletic director Bill Moos (pictured) that Howie Stalwick did for SportspressNW.
• EWU: It was a big news day yesterday out in Cheney, what with the Eagles ranked No. 1 by the top media poll and then announcing a home-and-home series with the FCS' top football program. Jim Allen covers both of those events in this story and in separate blog posts. ... He also has a practice story, this one focusing on Cooper Kupp (pictured) assuming the duties as a punt returner and a morning post with links.
• Idaho: Josh Wright is still pounding away at the computer. Today he offers a story on a new member of the Vandal football coaching staff that has a pretty decent football resume.
• Indians: Every baseball manager likes to see crooked numbers on the scoreboard when they are in their team's linescore. Tim Hulett is no different so he was probably pretty darn happy when Spokane scored eight times in the fourth en route to a 10-1 rout of Everett. Chris Derrick has the game story and a blog post from last night's home win.
• Preps: Greg Lee has an obituary in today's paper of former GSL star and long-time East Valley High volleyball coach Jim Dorr.
• Golf: It's Saturday – yes, I know, I already said that – so it's time for Jim Meehan's weekly column. The toughest par 3 I've ever played? Any that's longer than 147 yards.
• Seahawks: When the Hawks arrived back at SeaTac at 3:30 in the morning yesterday, there were fans there to greet them. Really? That's kind of sad in a get-a-life sort of way. ... Before we can move forward, we have to look back at the Denver loss, including checking out the snap counts and the television ratings. ... Never thought a wardrobe would come up when talking about quarterbacks but here it is.
• Mariners: Thank goodness the Chicago White Sox play defense like Paul Westhead's old Loyola teams – with not a lot of conviction. Another error last night kick-started the M's offense and helped Seattle and Hisashi Iwakuma to a 4-1 home victory. Mike Zunino's opposite-field three-run home run helped too. ... Willie Bloomquist's season is over, done in by a bad knee. ... The roster will probably continue to churn over the next few days. ... Today's the day Lou Pinella is officially inducted into the M's hall of fame.
• Sounders: Reports have DeAndre Yedlin in England undergoing a physical in advance of a post-season transfer to Tottenham – though Brad Evans tweeted yesterday Yedlin was just across the pond to shop for some new suits. Whatever, Yedlin is expected back for the Houston match this weekend as well as the remainder of the MLS season.
• By the way, while looking up Kennedy's inaugural address this morning, I took the time to read it. Wow. How times have changed. And, boy, do I wish I could write that well. Until later ...