A GRIP ON SPORTS
Here it is, a little past 6 in the morning and I'm trying to figure out what to write about. Welcome to summer in the Inland Northwest. Read on.
• The sun begins to brighten my bedroom each day long before 5 a.m. Some days it is easy to ignore. Others, not so much. Today was one of the latter. So we pulled ourselves out of bed, headed downstairs and began to peruse the waiver wire. On it was one John Buck (pictured), a backup catcher who just happened to play the last few months in Seattle. Another non-descript roster move made by an easy-to-ignore-by-most-of-the-country baseball team. Except it isn't. Yesterday, when the Mariners made the move, was John Buck's 34th birthday. If anything convinces you baseball is a cruel business, that will. In a bunch of ways. First off, firing a guy on his birthday is cold, no matter if it is a professional sport or the nearest Quik-E-Mart. What, you couldn't do it the day before or tomorrow? Buck is a young man, in most definitions of the word young. Not however, in baseball's. According to the immutable laws of professional athletics, Buck is over-the-hill, a veteran who was a starter when he was younger but now, at 34, is too old to fill even a backup role. Most of us, at 34, were just embarking on our career, with our goals and dreams still ahead of us. But for Buck, he may have to face the realization his baseball career is just about over. Oh, sure, he might sign with someone else. Heck, he may even clear waivers and end up in the M's minor league system, serving as an insurance policy if Jesus Sucre or whomever the M's use to replace him can't cut it. But Buck can see the end these days and it's a pretty scary sight. The M's were celebrating a 2-0 victory over the Twins yesterday when the news broke in the clubhouse. It put a damper on the evening. Part of it was Buck is well-liked by his (former) teammates. The other part of it is "if-only-by-the-grace-of-god" aspect of it. Every player who ever puts on a uniform knows there will come a day when he won't be able to do it anymore, and it might not be by his choice. For the youngsters in the clubhouse, that day seems a long way away – though it is closer than anyone ever thinks. For the guys like Willie Bloomquist and Corey Hart and Fernando Rodney, that day isn't all that far done the road. I'm sure they hope when it comes, it won't be on their birthday.
• WSU: A couple items with Cougar connections today, including Jacob Thorpe's Monday fast forward, this one looking ahead to California. ... Yesterday kicked off the "Watch List" season, when names are bandied about for awards. There are a lot of Pac-12 players on the Maxwell Award (the nation's top offensive player) watch list, but Connor Halliday isn't one of them. Really? Cal's Jared Goff is, and Halliday isn't? Stanford's Kevin Hogan is, and Halliday isn't? USC's Cody Kessler? Really? If anything illustrates how easy it is to ignore WSU nationally, that list is it. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog also has a look at the conference's defensive ends.
• Gonzaga: A handful of former GU players will be competing in the NBA's various summer leagues. ... Luke Meikle (pictured), who left Gonzaga at the end of the school year, is transferring to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
• EWU: Center Martin Seifert, who started his college career at Oregon, will graduate this summer and leave Eastern, heading home to Germany to play for money. Hard to tell a kid not to take a job after he's earned his degree.
• Mariners: If Hisashi Iwakuma could only pitch against the Minnesota Twins, he would be Hall of Fame bound. In his five starts against the Twins, all wins, he has yet to yield an earned run. The latest came last night when solo home runs by Mike Zunino and Michael Saunders (pictured) lifted the M's to a 2-0 victory. ... As injuries and other things cull All-Star rosters, replacements must be found. Kyle Seager was one of those yesterday, replacing an injured Blue Jay. ... Kendrys Morales made it clear before the game he was never re-signing with the M's.
• Sounders: DeAndre Yedlin returned to the Sounders yesterday after his World Cup debut and some national media appearances. He stood before the Seattle media and talked in depth about the chances he's headed overseas in the future to continue his career. He didn't seem to be a 20-year-old. ... Yedlin's future was the topic of much discussion yesterday among Sigi Schimd and general manager Adrian Hanauer. ... The still-depleted Sounders play Portland twice this week, starting tomorrow in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal.
• It's still early. Should I have breakfast – as warm as it is, I'm not that hungry – or get my day started? Of course, there is a third alternative – back to bed – and I just might avail myself of that. Who knows? Until later ...