April 7, 2013 in Sports

Pac-12 needs collaboration

A Grip On Sports
 
Associated Press photo

Pac-12 refs are known to overreact, but Arizona coach Sean Miller also needs restraint.
(Full-size photo)

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Vince Grippi has an opinion about everything local, especially sports. Every Sunday we provide samples of his daily riffs. Read him daily at spokesman.com/sportslink.

Friday: After word surfaced earlier this week that Pac-12 coordinator of officiating Ed Rush had offered a reward for a technical on Arizona’s Sean Miller – joking or not – during the conference tournament, it seemed inevitable Rush would leave. He did Thursday evening.

According to the Pac-12 release, Rush had  decided to  resign. Fine. Now the conference can move on from his actions during the Pac-12 tournament.

But where does the conference go now? When Rush was hired, his charge was to improve the conference’s officiating, a task made tougher by a few high-profile gaffes in recent years. That’s happened, though slowly and at the expense of a change in attitude among conference officials.

Rush, a former NBA official and supervisor, has fostered a NBA-like attitude of feistiness among the group, seemingly rewarding – maybe not the best choice of words here – those who confront coaches instead of communicating with them.

I got to witness the new world order firsthand this season when Washington State coach Ken Bone was given a technical in a game I was covering. According to people who were courtside, Bone was exhorting his team to rebound when hit with the T.

The thing was, the official who assessed it was someone I had not seen work a Pac-12 game before and was on the other end of the court, probably unable to clearly hear what Bone was saying. But it was the way the conference officiating has been headed recently.

It was this direction Rush was reinforcing in the meeting at the Pac-12 tournament and it led to his firing. It also is a direction some of the more veteran officials, Richland’s Dick Cartmell for one, don’t appreciate and, in Cartmell’s case, turned out to be too much.

Is it the way it has to be? No.

It’s possible to improve the conference’s officiating. It’s also possible to do it in a professional manner, with respect between the coaches, the players and the officials earned and shown on and off the court. That’s what has to be emphasized in the next few months, no matter who the conference hires to fill the coordinator position. A mutual respect between all parties.

That means no more childlike tantrums from Sean Miller, or he gets a well-earned technical, no strings attached. And it means no more over-reaction to comments not directed to the officials.

It means good officials are rewarded with the toughest assignments, poorer officials are helped to improve and coaches’ input is appreciated if not always acted upon.

And, most importantly, it means no more bounties.

Wednesday: If you had a chance to watch the Mariners play last night, you were lucky. They played the way baseball is supposed to be played. I’m not sure how many times it will happen in 2013, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

It all starts with excellent pitching. Doesn’t it always in baseball? Hisashi Iwakuma threw six innings, yielding just a single line-drive home run to center in a two-hit victory. The pitching needs to be complemented by solid defense. The M’s did that, making every play and a couple of good ones, including a Mike Morse over-the-shoulder catch only a 6-foot-5 guy could have made.

And the offense has to be productive. Or patient. Tuesday night, the M’s were both. They walked eight times – and Morse was hit by a pitch late in the game, which adds up to nine free passes. Plus, Morse pounded a three-run jack to right field early and a solo shot in the ninth.

Add in Kendrys Morales’ first M’s hit (and RBI) to Kyle Seager’s three hits and you have the formula for a victory. Wait, I forgot the three shut-out innings of relief between Carter Capps and Oliver Perez. Now you have all you need for a 7-1 win.

But what does it mean for down the road? Maybe nothing, but this time of year it certainly is better for an inexperienced-at-winning team like the Mariners to be playing well than the other way around. Confidence is built. Camaraderie is easier to develop. Winning becomes a habit. All good things.


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