A GRIP ON SPORTS
For some reason, we always have to assign blame. Who is at fault? Why did that happen? But when looking for a scapegoat, most times the simplest answer is the correct one. Read on.
• I spent a lot of time reading and listening last night. Reading a book and listening to my favorite Mariner pitcher, Hisashi Iwakuma, befuddle the Tampa Bay Rays. It was music to my ears. Eight innings of shutout ball. Again. Fastballs, splits, changeups, whatever Iwakuma was dealing, the Rays were bedeviled. And then came the ninth inning. Fernando Rodney (pictured). Or, as he's known on Twitter, "The Fernando Rodney Experience." Yes, it's always a wild ride when Rodney enters a game, cap cocked to the side, fastballs all over the place, a vicious changeup on call. But last night was made for second-guessers, as Iwakuma hadn't even reached 100 pitches in his masterpiece. "The Book" (copyright, 1989, Tony LaRussa Inc.) calls for the closer to come on in the ninth and get the last three outs. So that's what Lloyd McClendon did. And the howling began. Or did it begin after Rodney yielded a lead-off home run, negating Iwakuma's eight innings of work and tying the game at one? Or after he gave up the go-ahead run a couple of outs later? I know it was in full "kill-the-manager" mode after the 2-1 loss was over. And that's where the blame was affixed. McClendon for taking out Iwakuma and turning to Rodney. As if McClendon had given up the gopher ball or struggled with his control. As much as you may have disliked the decision to go to the pen, it wasn't McClendon's fault the M's lost last night. Rodney is paid $7 million a year to get three outs in a 1-0 game. If he does his job, no one in M's Nation is upset this morning. But he didn't. You have to remember, baseball is built differently these days. Starters are not their own closers anymore. Seven innings is wants asked for, eight if they are hot. Nine? That's reserved for the rare night – like the one David Price had. The Tampa Bay starter finished what he started, throwing 109 pitches. But he's been throwing all season. Iwakuma hasn't. Thanks to a finger injury, Iwakuma was making just his third start of the year. He may be throwing as well as ever but he's still building arm strength. He probably pushed it to get to 97 pitches. The smart play was to go get Rodney. But thanks to the arrow-shooting one, it wasn't the right play.
• WSU: New basketball coach Ernie Kent isn't wasting any time filling up his roster. Yesterday, the Cougars announced another player has signed a letter of intent, guard Ny Redding. Jacob Thorpe has more – including an explanation of the first name – in this story and blog post.
• Gonzaga: Jacob also has his weekly baseball notebook and he leads it this week with a look at the Bulldogs' bullpen. ... GU earned a wild win over the Cougars last night in Spokane. ... I find this interesting. The Utah Jazz are thinking about John Stockton and their vacant coaching position.
• EWU: Basketball coach Jim Hayford and the Eagles have agreed Hayford will get a new contract. The particulars of said contract, however, are still being pounded out. Jim Allen has more in this story and blog post. ... Jim also has a feature on Eastern's star hammer thrower Jordan Arakawa (pictured).
• Shock: Yes, Erik Meyer is still injured. And the Shock haven't stopped looking for a quarterback to replace him. Jim Meehan has more on who the Shock will use at the position this week when they travel south to face undefeated Arizona.
• Preps: Another busy prep day, with Tom Clouse covering district playoff baseball games and Chris Derrick offering up his weekly softball notebook. ... There is also coverage of Central Valley's soccer win from correspondent Steve Christilaw and Ferris' victory from Jim Allen. ... We also can offer this roundup, which includes information on Idaho's state golf tournaments and other soccer matches around the area.
• Seahawks: The 2009 draft wasn't the best in term of long-term help. That's true for the league as a whole and the Seahawks in particular. ... Richard Sherman is no longer the highest-paid cornerback. Maybe. ... It takes a while for some trades to be finished.
• Mariners: There is a lot of angst about last night's 2-1 defeat, as well a lot of stories. We pass along the ones we found. ... There are also a couple of notebooks, including one concerning James Jones and another focusing upon Stefen Romero.
• Sounders: With the San Jose Earthquakes coming to Seattle on Saturday, both teams will be without some of their best players. ... One of those, Clint Dempsey, is looking forward to the World Cup. ... Hey, you want power rankings? We have two versions.
• And that's the way it is, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. ... Man, I wish that guy were still on television. But being Walter Cronkite would be 97 years old if he were still with us, maybe it's better that he isn't. I'm guessing he would be really cranky about McClendon's decision last night. I know he would have been ticked by the final seconds of the Thunder/Clipper game. Until later ...