A GRIP ON SPORTS
Did you ever think you would see the day when the announcement of the U.S. team for the upcoming World Cup would cause a controversy? If you are under 30, sure; over 50, no way. Read on.
• There is a divide in this country and Mark Cuban be darned, it doesn't have anything to do with hoodies or tattoos. It has to do with soccer. Those of us who were beget at the end of the Baby Boom are on one side, those born while Bill Clinton was leading the nation are on the other. It's about soccer and its place in our sporting world. The news Landon Donovan (pictured) would not be on the U.S. World Cup roster was met with either total incredulity or with a big yawn, depending on which side of the Grand Canyon you fall. Donovan is the face of U.S. soccer, or has been for as long as many of us can remember soccer being featured on Sports Center. He scores goals, he celebrates, his hairline has retreated faster than the Iraqi Army. He's been the best America has had to offer since, well, since forever. To many of my peers – by that, I mean folks who take drugs to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol and pills to raise other things – he was about the only U.S. player they could name. Soccer isn't important – “It's boring.” “Why aren't there more goals?” “I can't pronounce that guy's name.” – though, every four years, it becomes kinda cool to either root for the U.S. team or to ignore it. Those folks may not know who Julian Green is, but they can still identify with Donovan. Living next door is soccer guy. He's hip, young, and, around here, wears his Sounders' scarf about once a week. He not only knows who Green is, he can dissect his game – though like all fans, his knowledge of the truly important aspects of Green's talent is probably an inch deep and a mile wide. Still, he doesn't understand why everyone doesn't love the beautiful game like he does. They must not get it. They, meaning those who have a disdain for soccer, just don't understand. If they did, they would worship it like him. It's a divide that has narrowed somewhat over the years – instead of Spokane-pothole wide these days, it's only a Cheney-sized one now – but still exists. Some of us have crossed over, dragged to the other side by our children or, god-forbid, grandchildren. We still don't see soccer as the be-all and end-all, but we understand the allure. And we understand why Jurgen Klinsmann would leave Donovan home. We lived through the Willie Mays-with-the-Mets days. We saw Ichiro thrown out on a ground ball by that much. We've also lived through our own deteriorating skills, whether on the softball diamond or the golf course. Time takes a toll on everyone. We know Aron Johannsson is the future. We know, with the schedule the United States has been handed in this World Cup, it might not be a bad idea to give some young guys experience for 2018. Sure, we may not be around then, but those who remain will understand why Klinsmann did what he did. And why they have to get more fiber in their diet.
• WSU: It's no secret. The breakout player for the Cougs this spring was a slimmed-down Vince Mayle. … The NFL plucked four officials from the Pac-12. Stop laughing. … Despite pressure from buddy DaVonté Lacy, a highly prized basketball recruit from Tacoma is going to Oregon.
• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs lost their opening game of the WCC baseball tournament. Now they must win out to make the NCAA tournament.
• EWU: Defensive back T.J. Lee III has signed with British Columbia of the CFL.
• Shock: Another game, another quarterback. The Shock host division rival San Jose tonight and will have another new guy in charge. Jim Meehan has the advance. … Portland enticed former EWU and WSU receiver Jeffrey Solomon back and he came up big in its 55-40 home win over San Antonio.
• Preps: Usually Memorial Day weekend is home to all the state finals. Not this year. Everything bleeds into next week. Baseball plays its round of 16 this weekend and Tom Clouse has an advance.
• Mariners: Michael Saunders beat out a two-out ground ball (pictured) in the seventh by that much – remember when Ichiro was young enough to be able to do that? – and the M's went on to defeat the Astros 3-1, kicking off an 11-game home stand the right way. … Corey Hart is not happy about being hurt. James Paxton and Logan Morrison are taking steps to return.
• We're done here today. Off to Sasquatch. Just kidding. You think the soccer divide is wide, how about the music divide? Now that's a chasm. Until later …