A GRIP ON SPORTS
Want to cook up a great baseball atmosphere? Start with the American League's best pitcher on the mound. Add 20,000 little yellow towels. Stir in 10,000 or so Canadians, down from the north to cheer on the visiting team. Let simmer for five or six innings. Then turn up the heat. Don't forget to add a bit of rain and a smidge of lightning. The perfect recipe for an exciting game. Read on.
• It's been a while hasn't it? Since we've seen pennant race baseball in these parts, I mean. The Mariners have been largely irrelevant in August and September for the greater part of a decade, so yes it has. But last night was just that. Relevant. And noisy. And fun. Toronto always attracts a bunch of Vancouver-area fans south. The Jays have been hanging around the fringes of the American League wild card race as well. So their presence in Safeco last night was going to bring an uptick of noise no matter what. You could hear it during the singing of "Oh, Canada." And it just continued, with chants of "let's go Blue Jays" echoing through the television set from the get-go. But the Jays were facing the best pitcher the American League has to offer this year. Felix Hernandez is not only dominant, he's also consistent. And he was consistently tough again last night. One bad pitch gave the Jays their only run. From there, Robinson Cano and the offense – yes, the offense – took over. When it was done, the M's had an 11-1 win punctuated by a thundershower and lightning show that loosely corresponded with the offensive explosion. It was almost a Hollywood-like show. And, if you happened to watch, it reminded you once again of why you fell in love with baseball as a youngster. And why you fell in love with the M's – if you ever did – in the first place. When the rain came, the M's were well on their way to an easy win and, if you are into metaphors and the like, seemed to be the perfect image of the awful recent past being washed away. A ritual rebirth if you will. Add in the lightning bolts and the image was perfect. Maybe, just maybe, a new era is dawning at Safeco. Or maybe it was just a mid-August thunderstorm. I don't know. But the romantic in me – and the baseball fan – wants it to be the former.
• WSU: Speaking of weather, the smoke and dust from close-by fires settled in the Lewiston valley yesterday, forcing Washington State back up the highway to Pullman for a late-afternoon practice. Jacob Thorpe made a rookie mistake and took U.S. Highway 195 down to Lewiston, then had to back track to make it to the workout. (This time of year it's always best to head over to Moscow and take U.S. 95 down. I've found it can be 10 to 15 minutes faster, especially when the wheat harvest begins to really heat up.) Jacob still was able to come up with this in-depth practice summary and a story on the passing of the torch in the Cougars' defensive backfield. Of course, Jacob has his morning post with links, keeping us from having to run down all the Pac-12 news. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog takes a look at the rivalries in the conference. ... Jon Wilner takes another look at the NCAA's week that was.
• EWU: Not only are the Eagles getting ready for this football season on the field, the administration is putting the finishing touches on the next few seasons as well. Jim Allen has stories on both today, with a piece on the day's work on the practice field and another on the upcoming schedules. And he has a post this morning with links.
• Idaho: Josh Wright checks in this morning with a practice summary from Moscow.
• Indians: There's a four-way tie atop the Northwest League's North Division second-half standings. The Indians grabbed their piece of it thanks in large part to four 10th-inning walks and a 3-2 win over host Everett.
• Seahawks: The Hawks took the day off but the news didn't. Mainly because word leaked out of Bellevue that the local police were investigating an alleged assault and property damage incident in which Marshawn Lynch was mentioned. The investigation is in its preliminary stages and the Bellevue police are saying they haven't even verified Lynch was involved. ... Earlier in the day, Pete Carroll had praised Lynch's Sunday practice. ... With no practice to write about, it's always a good day to present feature stories on players, including K.J. Wright, O'Brien Schofield and Justin Britt. ... Next up on the schedule is a preseason game this Friday with San Diego. Let's hope the CenturyLink turf has bounced back.
• Mariners: Robinson Cano began the seven-run sixth inning with an opposite-field home run. He finished it with an RBI double that just missed getting out. That's what he was brought in for. But he also made a defensive play early that might have been just as important. With nobody out in the second inning, Colby Rasmus tried to take third on a routine grounder to Cano. It's exactly what Rasmus is supposed to do, a move that is successful 99.9 percent of the time. Except this was the .1 percent. Cano threw a bullet to Kyle Seager and nailed Rasmus at third. It kept the inning from getting out of hand and the M's from getting in an early hole. ... The M's also made a roster change yesterday, recalling James Jones from Tacoma. Manager Lloyd McClendon said he wanted to have more speed on the bench.
• Another day on the radio – I am on all week expect Friday, when there is no show. You can listen here between 3 and 6 p.m. if you like. I'll try to help Dennis and Rick make it interesting. Until later ...