A GRIP ON SPORTS
It hasn't been a secret about how I feel about Fernando Rodney's pitching ability. It's stellar. But his antics? Read on.
• Pride is a big part of why many professional athletes are professional athletes. They are often driven by slights, either real or perceived. So why poke the bear when you are trying to win a championship? Or even a single game in late July? It doesn't seem a bright thing to do, or, if you want to invoke ethics a bit, the right thing to do. But Fernando Rodney never has seemed to be the type to do the bright – or right – thing. He can throw a baseball in the mid-90s with lots of movement. When he wants, he can pull the string with his changeup and make hitters look foolish. But he also can be a bit – how should I write this? – over the top. Yesterday was a perfect example of that. With the bullpen taxed by back-to-back extra-inning games, Lloyd McClendon asked Rodney to get five outs and preserve a Mariner win. That's unusual. It's also something, over the years, Rodney has expressed a preference for avoiding. He likes to get three outs, fire his imaginary arrow into the air and head back to the clubhouse. So Sunday he got two outs, finished the eighth inning, leaned back and let his arrow fly. Was he aiming it at the Angels? He said no. Was he aiming at the Angels' fans? He said yes, as they booed him entering the game, remembering his pretty-much-failed stint with the team a few years ago. Doesn't matter. Doing your end-of-the-game ritual while you still had to face Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the final inning of a game your team could desperately use was ill-conceived at best and idiotic at worst. Now some people will tell you that it didn't make a difference how the Angels attacked the final inning. They wanted to win anyway and Rodney's antics didn't change that. They may be right. But they also may be wrong. I've played with, known and dealt with some great athletes who, when they perceive a slight, play just a bit better. You might not believe it, but it's true. And if it is, why allow it to happen with an action that wasn't necessary? Get the two outs, move on to the ninth, get three more and do whatever you want. Over the years baseball's unwritten rules have evolved to the point what Rodney does when the game is over doesn't seem to ruffle any feathers. I'm still trying to wrap my straight-as-an-arrow hat around that though I've sort-of come to accept it as a modern phenomenon and moved on. But yesterday was different. It was not needed. And could come back to haunt the M's.
• WSU: Brock Motum opened some eyes with his play for the Utah Jazz in the Las Vegas Summer League. There may be a job for him this season, though it might be in the D-League.
• Idaho: What is it college football coaches day about the off-season? No news is good news? Well that went by the wayside for Paul Pertino and the Vandals as he dismissed leading receiver Dezmon Epps from the team yesterday. Josh Wright had a blog post Sunday and a story in today's paper.
• Indians: The final day. That's when the NWL's first-half North Division title will be decided as Everett, down to its final strike, rallied for a 3-2 win over Spokane at Avista. Chris Derrick was there and he has the game story and blog post, which explains the playoff ramifications.
• Shock: The Shock play their final home game of the regular season – and, more than likely 2014 – tonight when they host Tampa Bay tonight. Jim Meehan has the advance as Spokane preps for the AFL playoffs. … San Jose's winning streak went up in smoke yesterday. … Portland clinched a playoff spot even though it lost a tight one to Arizona.
• Shadow: Ladies and gentlemen, your inaugural Evergreen Premier League soccer champions are the Spokane Shadow.
• Golf: Rory McIlroy won the British Open yesterday by building a big lead and holding off contenders such as Ricky Fowler and Sergio Garcia. It was his third major. Meanwhile, out at MeadowWood, Tim Feenstra took a totally different tack in winning his first Rosauers Open title. Jim has the story on the local event.
• Seahawks: How big are the Hawks in Seattle right now? Richard Sherman's charity softball event (pictured) drew 22,000 to Safeco Field. That either shows the Hawks' drawing power or tells you folks in the Puget Sound area really love bad slowpitch softball. … Single-game tickers go on sale this morning at 10. They will probably be all gone by 10:10. … There are still some more questions to be answered in training camp.
• Mariners: The 6-5 loss in Anaheim means the M's will return home having lost the series and having taxed a bullpen that has been a strength this season. … The five runs, which is one of the M's better totals in a while, came without Robinson Cano in the lineup. … Here's something Jesus Sucre can tell his grandkids about.
• I finally understand the old saying about what happens in Vegas staying in Vegas. It refers to the inability to use the Internet in your hotel. In other words, it was a long morning today. Jeez. Until later …