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Sunday, May 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Junior’s influence on the Northwest is still being felt

A GRIP ON SPORTS • All is right in the world. Ken Griffey Jr. will enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Mariners hat. As if there was any doubt. (OK, with the Mariners, there is always some doubt.) Read on.

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• It’s appropriate for Griffey to identify with the M’s. They are the team he began his career with, had his best years with, dissed for a while, and yet, after years away, their fans forgave him, so he ended his career in Seattle instead of, say, the South Side of Chicago or somewhere. But it might even be more appropriate if he wore that Seattle hat backward on his plaque. Honestly, is there anything he did in Seattle that was more world-changing than flipping his hat around and wearing it that way prior to every game? It seemed so, well, revolutionary. And it caused some of us nothing but problems. Really. As a coach of young, impressionable baseball players at the time, it was a bone of contention between one generation – mine – and the next – theirs. They wanted to look like a bunch of clowns and us guardians of the game didn’t want to let them. It’s as simple as that. Except when the best player in the game is doing it, then things get complicated fast. Especially when other, less respectful coaches, allowed their players to run around with their hats backward. For shame. Heck, I was all for the game being fun. And Griffey, despite all his foibles, played the game with a smile on his face, especially when he was young. It was that smile I wanted our players to emulate, not the hat. You think there was any way I was going to let grandpa see his grandson running around during pregame BP with his hat all askew? That was a battle I didn’t want to fight. So the old “when you are the best hitter in the major leagues, you can wear your hat backward” argument was pulled out and my teams wore them, ahem, correctly. Of course, when the game was over, the hats were flipped around immediately for the walk or ride home. As I said, it was a losing battle.

• One other thing about Griffey’s influence. How many kids in the Northwest ruined their natural swing trying to hit like him? Hundreds? Thousands? The idea of being short to the ball and long after it went by the wayside when you watched the graceful arc of Junior’s swing. It was somewhat similar to Ted Williams’ but a bit longer. Griffey could make it work. Others couldn’t. Heck, there was only one Ted Williams. And only one Ken Griffey Jr. But that didn’t stop folks from trying to be just like Junior. It didn’t work. The natural ability Griffey brought to the plate wasn’t present when 99.99 of Northwest kids stepped into the batter’s box. The swing looked beautiful on them too, it just didn’t look as nice as they walked back to the dugout after striking out.

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• WSU: Jacob Thorpe returns to the blog with a few items, including interviews from yesterday with players and coach Ernie Kent. On the horizon is rival Washington, who will be in Pullman tomorrow. Jacob also has a morning post with links. ... Stefanie Loh has a story on Josh Hawkinson in the Times as well as one on the death of Riley Sorenson’s father in El Paso. ... It doesn’t look as if David Shaw is leaving Stanford anytime soon.

• Gonzaga: Though the Zags (and Portland, who meat Saturday at McCarthey) were not in action last night, the rest of the WCC was. ... San Francisco went into San Diego and handled USD. ... BYU controlled Jared Brownridge and Santa Clara as Kyle Collinsworth had another triple double. ... It’s tough to find stories from Southern California, but Pacific lost at Pepperdine and Saint Mary’s routed host Loyola Marymount.

• EWU: There was some football news from Cheney yesterday, with Jim Allen covering the departure of a defensive coach as well as a celebration (pictured) of the Eagles’ national title five years ago. ... Around the Big Sky, Montana protected home court with a win over Portland State and Montana State did the same against Sacramento State. ... Idaho State defeated Northern Colorado while Weber State held off North Dakota.

• Idaho: Eastern is Idaho’s basketball rival and coach Don Verlin remembers how the Eagles won all three meetings last season. Sean Kramer has more on the rivalry in this blog post.

• Preps: Van Troxel not only is one of the most accomplished high school football coaches in the area, he also is one of the most admired. He decided recently to retire after 22 years at Lake City. Greg Lee has the story. ... There was a variety of sporting events last night and we have a roundup.

• Seahawks: Who will be the most important players on the field Sunday? One is, of course, Russell Wilson, who has played a handful of crucial games (do not miss this story) in his career, a career he hopes will end with the recognition he’s the best ever. Yes, that’s his goal. Another is Marshawn Lynch, who practiced yesterday and seems destined to play a pivotal role for the Hawks. Finally, there is Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who is dealing with a balky back but expects to play. ... The Vikings know they have to be better than they were the last time they played Seattle. And they hope the advantage of cold weather will help them achieve that goal. ... Rookies. ... Teddy Bridgewater and Bruce Irvin had some interesting interactions the last time. ... Only Luke Willson missed practice yesterday. ... What Super Bowl loss?

• Mariners: The hat Griffey will wear into the Hall was the main news yesterday. Mike Piazza went the other way, eschewing the Dodgers – the team that drafted and developed him and the one with which he had his best years – for the Mets.

• Sounders: The MLS announced its 2016 schedule yesterday and there are stories about the one the Sounders will play. ... Gonzalo Pineda was cut loose by Seattle and he decided to retire.

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• I really don’t care how Griffey’s hat is portrayed on his Hall of Fame plaque as long as the artist gets the smile just right. 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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