A GRIP ON SPORTS
It's a near-perfect day. The U.S. Open is on the television, exciting us old folks. For the younger, hipper set, the World Cup kicks off tonight in Brazil. And, for both, one of the better shortstops to ever play the game of baseball is on display in Seattle. For the final time. Read on.
• I'm a bit cynical about Yankees. Always have been. The term "overrated" always seemed appropriate. But I'm not at all cynical about Derek Jeter. Did he ever have the glove Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel displayed? No. But he was always solid, making the plays that needed to be made. Did he ever have the bat Honus Wagner or Ernie Banks carried? No. But he was always a solid No. 2 hitter, a guy who kept his hands inside the ball, swung inside-out and collected base hits like Jay Leno collected classic cars. No, Jeter has never been flashy. He's just been an outstanding baseball player who helped his team win. Is there a better measure of a Hall of Fame career? And make no bones about it, Jeter is a Hall of Famer, unlike some Yankees who got in just because they played in New York. Would you be surprised to hear Jeter's 3,374 hits are ninth all-time? Ya, kind of snuck up on me too. You would think "sneaking up" would be impossible for a guy wearing pinstripes. He's fifth all-time in singles, 11th in runs scored and sixth in double plays turned for a shortstop. Nothing spectacular. Just solid. You could argue much of Jeter's success is just because he's been around a long time, but that's not really true. Yes, he's 40. But he went to college (Michigan) so he's only in his 16th season. And two of his last three have been cut short by injury. In between, at age 38, he had one of his better seasons, collecting 216 hits, the second-most of his career. He's never been an MVP but he has been on five World Series winners. He's never hit a bunch of home runs, only once drove in 100 runs and never led his league in anything but hits or runs. And yet I'll remember him, Maybe it's because he was always in the right place at the right time. No play illustrates that more than the one he made in the 2001 playoffs (above), when his backhand flip nailed the A's Jeremy Giambi at home plate and may have saved a World Series season for the Yankees (and yes, they knocked out the greatest Mariner team of all-time in the process). Jeter was halfway between home and first when he made the play that was replayed over and over again on ESPN. It's not the place you would expect the shortstop. But it was where he needed to be. As he exits the major league stage this season, take a moment to salute a player who always seemed to be where he needed to be.
• WSU: There is some football news today, though it's more informational than breaking. ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has a short story on the Cougar offensive line and how the inexperienced group built experience last season. ... Klay Thompson says he wants to stay with Golden State. He's been the subject of trade rumors. ... Count on Mike Leach to hold a coaching retreat in an out-of-the-way place. But maybe a really appropriate place.
• EWU: The NCAA track and field championships are going on in Eugene and the Eagles' Emma Murillo had the best local performance yesterday. ... John Blanchette has an interesting column on an interesting destination for our nation's throwers.
• Seahawks: So maybe, just maybe, Marshawn Lynch's absence from the Hawks' offseason workouts has been more than just Marshawn being Marshawn. Or maybe not. It seems Lynch might want more money and won't be around until he gets it. Maybe the Hawks will trade him back to Buffalo or something. That would be ironic. ... The Lombardi Trophy is going to make a few appearances around the Northwest, including Spokane. ... A few players have made impressions during OTAs. ... Russell Okung took in the M's game yesterday.
• Mariners: In the offseason I was hoping beyond hope Masahiro Tanaka would want to play baseball as close as possible to Japan. And play with his mentor, Hisashi Iwakuma. But it was not to be. He wanted the most money and the highest profile. Yep, he's a Yankee. And he's really good. He showed the M's how good last night in a 4-2 Yankee win. ... Robinson Cano finally hit a home run at Safeco. ... Michael Saunders is injured again and was put on the disabled list late last night. Earlier, Justin Smoak was put there as Logan Morrison was activated. ... The M's lineup shuffle has been more positive than one could hope. ... The M's are signing their draft choices slowly but surely.
• I got up early today, turned on the golf and put this column together. So if there in an occasional typo or an inadvertent word like par or bogey inserted where it shouldn't be, I apologize. I was a bit distracted by Ricky Fowler's outfit. Until later ...