A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED: 10:30 A.M.
We're not real focused today. Don't know what it is, whether it's the looming deadline on the 15th, which seems to sneak up on me every year. Or if it's something else causing me to act like a dog cooped up in the house too long. But whatever, we know we have to get our mind right and hunker down to writing. All of you are counting on it. Look, a squirrel. Read on.
• There wasn't a shortage of news out there in the wider world of sports yesterday, non-Inland Northwest version. There was a football coach self destructing (figuratively) on a motorcycle. There was a tape of another football coach self destructing (figuratively) in a locker room released under odd circumstances. And there was a golf tournament going on in Georgia, which included one guy's round self-destructing (literally) on the 18th hole. All of which we cover in the links below.
• But around here, it was another laid-back spring day. No snow, or just a bit in the morning. No rain, or just a smidgen before noon. And no action, except down in Pullman, where the Cougars held another spring football practice and the new head coach referenced a character from modern literature in a somewhat-magical-but-ultimately successful attempt to avoid questions about a player's health. And we have links about that as well.
• It was also the third of baseball's opening days, coming somewhat on the heels of the international opener (in Japan last week between the A's and Mariners) and the new-stadium opener (in Miami Wednesday between the Marlins and Cardinals). Which means tonight's game in Oakland, as the M's continue their road series with the A's, isn't really an opener but a continuer, if that is a word. Trust major league baseball to ruin another special tradition and day.
• Washington State: Christian Caple was one of the few sports oriented folks in the Inland Northwest who had a jam-packed day yesterday, covering Ken Bone's end-of-basketball-season press conference (with this blog post) and another session of spring football practice (with this blog post and story). He also kicks off today's coverage with this morning post. … Though the news out of New Orleans is an NFL story, we're going to link it here because of the local connection (put this in the “six degrees of Pullman” file). When a tape linked out yesterday – while Saints officials, including coach Sean Payton, were in New York appealing their Bountygate punishment – of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams basically exhorting the defense in a pregame speech to tear out a player's ACL, I didn't think much of it. But when I found out the tape came from Sean Pamphilon, who has been documenting Steve Gleason's battle with ALS (thus the WSU connection), then it hit a little closer to home. Pamphilon has been following Gleason around with a video camera and was in the room at WSU this fall when Gleason talked with a few local sportswriters, including me. And no, no one in the room said anything that will end up on Yahoo.com, I promise. Anyhow, the release of the tape is causing the jambalaya to hit the fan in New Orleans and around the league. … And we're also passing along a couple links we found about Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, his motorcycle accident and his passenger. It's another instance of actions after the event biting someone as badly – or worse – than the initial incident.
• Gonzaga: Christian also has a college baseball notebook, leading with the Zags' success (all of which recently has come without the aid of sophomore Marco Gonzales, who is probably their best hitter and pitcher, sidelined with a knee injury).
• Chiefs: Despite being dominated by the WHL's best team in the regular season, Spokane goes into tonight's second-round playoff series with some confidence. The Tri-City Americans won the season series 8-4 between the teams and finished atop the division. But they are bit nicked up going into the series and, as Jess Brown's story relates, anything can happen in a rivalry. … Portland and Kamloops also drop the puck for the first time tonight.
• Shock: And anything can happen in the AFL, even a quarterback returning for a third time. Such is the case with the Shock, who welcome Kyle Rowley back for tonight's game at Arizona. Jim Meehan has an advance.
• Preps: Mike Vlahovich has his prep baseball notebook in today's S-R, leading with a surprise hitting source.
• Mariners: We're starting a Justin Vargas for Cy Young campaign based on one simple fact: How many pitchers start back-to-back games for their teams anymore? None, except Vargas, who will start the M's second-consecutive official game tonight in Oakland. And he'll have started 67 percent of Seattle's game. Talk about a workhorse. … The M's will take a young roster – including third baseman Alex Liddi – into the season once again. … The organization probably hopes the return of baseball will help hide the egg on its face from their Sodo arena dealings this week. … The A's have a great young second baseman and little depth in the rotation.
• Sounders: One Seattle midfielder is searching for consistency.
• Golf: It looked as if Martin Kaymer would finally conquer his Augusta demons until an eight on 18 yesterday destroyed his round. Other than this Kyle Stanley story – Gonzaga basketball's biggest fan on tour – from Tacoma, we offer you coverage today from the Washington Post, which includes a Tom Boswell column on Tiger Woods.
• That's our report for this morning. We'll be on the radio again today at 700 ESPN from 3 to 6 p.m. You can listen here. Until later …