A GRIP ON SPORTS
Every once in a great while, a game like last night's in Safeco reminds us why baseball is such a great game to watch, listen to or read about. Read on.
• Going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Mariners trailed the Chicago Cubs 4-1. The offense was nearly non-existent, with only Jason Bay's fifth-inning home run keeping them from being shut out. It was seemingly over. But, to loosely quote Bluto Blutarsky, a baseball game is never "over until we decide it's over. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" It's just the nature of the game. Without a clock to limit chances, late-inning comebacks are things of legends. (Yes, I know, way too often writers have waxed poetic about the timeless nature of a baseball game, leading to some of the most over-written drivel in sports journalism, but heck's bells, there is a reason for all that purple prose.) Now, no one is going to confuse one bad team (the Mariners) rallying to defeat another bad team (the Cubs) in late June of an awful season (2013) for anything legendary, but it is fun to sit in bed, the radio on, as the local major league team scores three runs in the last three innings to force extra frames. It was as welcome as it was surprising. Then to have the M's win it in the bottom of the 10th on a base hit from last week's savior of the future, Mike Zunino, well, that's good stuff. Yes, it's just another forgettable game in a forgettable season. We understand that. But, for one night at least, it was baseball as we love to experience it. Another seemingly predestined loss slowly turned around with a single run in the seventh, a couple in the eighth and a game-winner in the 10th. All the while the bullpen – and the defense – keeping the opponent at bay. It's almost – almost – enough to get a jaded baseball fan excited. Or would be if the M's hadn't done all this before, teasing us with an occasional exciting win only to revert to their mediocre ways 24 hours later. And that too speaks to the nature of the game. When your team is mediocre, that is. And, last night's results aside, is what the Mariners are. Mediocre. With a faint hope of being exciting someday. Maybe.
• WSU: A lot of news from the Pac-12, with some of it even coming from Pullman. Christian Caple chimes in with an interview with the head of the Pac-12 Network, who is happy with her network, yes, but has no good news about DirectTV. … Sports Illustrated has believes Mike Leach has something to prove. … Oregon has become Transfer U. in basketball with an eighth new player coming in for next season. … It's Saturday, which means I can pass along the mailbag from ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog.
• Gonzaga: A few days ago I happened upon the website from Gonzaga's Battle in Seattle. In the upper right-hand corner was a graphic showing the Zag's opponent in this year's contest, South Alabama. Though nothing had been announced, the news began to leak out across social media. And the response was uniformly, "what the heck?" After years of pretty high-profile opponents, this year's game will feature an under-the-radar foe, made official yesterday with an announcement from the event's organizers. … Boston choice of Kelly Olynyk is still making news in the Northeast.
• Mariners: This chapter of the Mariners' on-going youth movement, bringing up shortstop Brad Miller and installing him in Friday night's lineup, cost a former star of the M's minor league system, Alex Liddi, his place on the team's 40-man major league roster. As one door opens, another closes, right? … Miller's callup is just the latest step the M's seem to be taking toward next year (and beyond). A new, sterner Eric Wedge also seems to be in the offing, as he's talking tough about playing time. … General manager Jack Zduriencik talked about all of this stuff on the radio yesterday. … And, oh ya, the M's won 5-4 over the Cubs on Zunino's walk-off single, setting up the obligatory Gatorade bath (pictured).
• Sounders: The world of soccer rosters is often a confusing place with the Sounders feeling that way concerning the status of midfielder Mario Martinez. Sigi Schmid, back from his knee surgery, expected to have Martinez back this week but that's not the case. DeAndre Yedlin should be returning, though.
• Thunder rumbled through the area this morning and the lights in the house flickered a few times. But the power stayed on, the post was put together and the day is ready to begin. I'm out the door in a few minutes, headed to Hoopfest, a list of games to watch this morning safely stored in my phone. Let's hope the thunder boomers move over to North Idaho or somewhere. Until later …