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MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014, 7:51 A.M.

Will the M’s be lions or lambs?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Today is lamb day. As in how March is supposed to go out. Meekly. We'll see. Read on.

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• Speaking of lambs, the Mariners open the 2014 baseball season tonight in Anaheim. Felix (Hernandez if you need the last name) is on the mound, making his team-record seventh opening day start. Did you know since 1994, when baseball's current divisional setup was devised, the M's have never had a winning season when they had a losing record at the end of April? (A hat tip to Steve Rudman at SportspressNW.com for that statistic.) So the next month is crucial if they want to finish above .500 this season. And (sarcasm alert) things are lining up so well for them. Their best starter last year, Hisashi Iwakuma, has yet to throw a baseball in anger this spring. Their best young starting pitching prospect, Taijuan Walker, is just beginning to stretch out his innings after suffering a shoulder problem this spring. And their best power arm in the bullpen, Stephen Pryor, is still recovering from surgery. And the lineup is still too left-handed heavy. Ah well. It's Opening Day, soon to be a national holiday if Budweiser gets its way. It’s the day of eternal optimism. A day of development. When all things are possible. Even the M's winning the American League West. And, I can guarantee this, there will be bunting – the paper stuff they hang over the railings, not the really soft hits – in Anaheim tonight. And everyone loves bunting, right? Even those grouchy Sabermetric guys.

•••

• WSU: The question on every Cougar fans' lips these days – and even some folks who could give a rip about WSU – is "who is the next Washington State basketball coach?" Can't tell you. The decision is still pending. Tune in tomorrow. Things might have changed. ... Spring football is filling Jacob Thorpe's time these days, and filling up his blog posts. He held a live chat yesterday and also posted a bunch of notes on Saturday's workouts. He also has his morning post today. ... The Cougar baseball team's bats came alive yesterday. ... California basketball coach Mike Montgomery, 67, is meeting with his athletic director today and may just retire. No one knows which way Montgomery (pictured) might go. ... The Stanford women advanced to the Elite Eight yesterday. The Cardinal are at home, sort of like Connecticut seemed to be at Madison Square Garden on the men's side. Man was that place loud. ... Former WSU walk-on Jordan Simone is making a push for a scholarship at ASU.

• Gonzaga: Robert Sacre is just happy to be in the NBA, no matter the circumstances. ... The BYU women feel their postseason success will help them in the future. But they do lose their best player.

• Idaho: The Vandals opened spring practice a couple days later than expected thanks to weather-related problems, but they were on the field yesterday. So was Josh Wright and he posted this piece on the blog.

• Mariners: Just wondering. Will you watch tonight? Or is baseball off your radar these days? It used to be appointment TV for me but now is more of a watch-if-I'm-sitting-down sort of thing. ... The Times' Ryan Divish, often accused by his Twitter followers of making out a cruddy lineup, took a guess at how manager Lloyd McClendon will go tonight. Neither Divish nor McClendon will have Corey Hart (pictured) in there, as the big right-handed slugger is still taking it slow due to aches and pains. But, as we said, there is always Felix.

• Sounders: Brad Evans' lingering calf injury has cost him a U.S. National Team spot for now. No word on whether he'll be able to play against Portland this week.

•••

• Yep, the last day of March. It's time for April showers. Then May flowers. Poetry. Until later ... 




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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