A GRIP ON SPORTS
As July winds down, the summer doldrums in the sports world begin to ease up. The wind beneath our sails? College football season. Read on.
• Guess what happens tomorrow? The first of two Pac-12 football media days. Yep, college football season is just over the horizon. Heck, the first football game of the 2014 season will be played on the red turf in Cheney long before August is over. Talk about kicking off the year. Media days – or "day" as it was just a couple of years ago – are as predictable as the sunrise. The Times' Bud Withers, who has been at a few, caught the predictability perfectly yesterday with this blog post. It made me excited just to read it. But, despite the B.S. nature of the whole affair, media days are still a touchstone of sorts. They always occur, at least in the Pac-12, about a week or 10 days before practice begins. So their coming heralds a future full of football news. And who doesn't like that?
• Another harbinger of football season are the predictions of the coming season. It would be hard to find a more perfect example of the herd effect in action than when coaches and/or media folks pick the upcoming football season finish. Take the Pac-12 North for example. You would be hard pressed to find someone who didn't pick Oregon and Stanford 1-2, with the Ducks, who have a much easier conference schedule, on top 9 out of 10 times. Oregon State and Washington are just about everyone's pick for third and fourth, with the Huskies more often than not in the three spot. Then it's WSU and everyone's pick for last, California. Occasionally you might find someone who boosts the Cougars up to fourth, dropping Oregon State down, but it's a rare occurrence. Just once I would love to see someone, anyone, pick, say, the Beavers second and Stanford fourth, banking on the Cardinal's losses to graduation to hit deeper this year than prior seasons and OSU to have a magical season. Or maybe someone, looking at Cal's talent, jumping the Bears up to fourth. But I doubt anyone will. Heck, I wouldn't.
• WSU: With football season coming on fast, we pass along a basketball story, this one a column from San Jose on why the Warriors need to hang on to former Cougar great Klay Thompson. ... Or there are football pieces, including Jacob Thorpe's weekly look at the upcoming opponents. This week Jacob examines Stanford.
• Gonzaga: The problems with the preseason NIT tournament have been percolating for a few weeks but they seem to be hitting the boiling point now. Jim Meehan has more on that and the news this season will be the last for Gonzaga's director of operations Jerry Krause (pictured), who spent a long time as Eastern's head basketball coach back in the day.
• EWU: Seems to be the day for news on former basketball players in the area, as former Eastern guard Rodney Stuckey signed a free-agent deal with Indiana.
• Idaho: A lot of news out of Moscow, with Josh Wright passing along the news three Vandals made the all-Sun Belt preseason team. He also has more information behind the dismissal of star receiver Dezmon Epps, covering the news with this story and blog post.
• Indians: When the Indians got off to one of their best starts in history, the first-half NWL title seemed to be a foregone conclusion. It wasn't. Spokane waited until the final day, and a 3-0 victory over Everett, to clinch the crown. Chris Derrick has the game story and a blog post.
• Chiefs: Spokane's roster of over-age players was reduced by one yesterday as forward Carter Proft signed with a German team.
• Shock: Monday night football in Spokane couldn't have been more exciting. As usual, Jim Meehan was in the Arena as the Shock rallied from a halftime deficit – again – to defeat Tampa Bay 55-52 in front of 9,479. Jim also has a blog post on the victory in the Shock's final home game of the season while Jesse Tinsley tells the story through photographs.
• Preps: Greg Lee has his weekly youth sports notebook and he has a summer basketball theme to the beginning of it. ... If California is going to control how often and when high schools can hold full-contact football practices, it shouldn't be too long now before every state will, citing liability concerns. I sure hope the new rules allow enough time for coaches to teach the correct and proper way to hit and tackle. If they don't, more injuries in games may be the unintended result.
• Seahawks: That didn't take long. The Hawks put single-game tickets up for sale yesterday and, boom, they were gone. Now if you want to sit in CenturyLink, you're going to have to pay marked up prices on the secondary market. It's just all part of the price of success.
• Mariners: Maybe the M's are just in the wrong league. They continued to build on their great interleague record last night with a relatively easy 5-2 victory over the visiting Mets. The highlight of the game was Dustin Ackley's home-run-robbing catch. Or his three hits. ... Put Lloyd McClendon in the camp of those who believe all the histrionics in today's game has little or no effect on opponents. He's probably right. After all, no one ever gets hit anymore because of some broken unwritten rule. Wait, it still happens all the time? My bad. .... Larry Stone believes the M's have to make a deal before the deadline to bolster the offense. But he also has some folks they need to protect. Might be tough to get a decent bat without giving up a D.J. Peterson. By the way, the greatest trade in M's history (OK, the most fun one) came 26 years ago yesterday. ... Justin Smoak's numbers weren't good enough for him to avoid the numbers game, as he was sent to Tacoma so Erasmo Ramirez could be recalled to pitch tonight.
• That's a lot of stuff for a Tuesday morning. Wait, it is Tuesday, right? I lose track sometimes. Let me check my computer. Yep, it's Tuesday all right. See you Wednesday. Until then ...