December 29, 2013 in Sports

How to spoil Mariners fans

A Grip On Sports
 
Associated Press photo

Masahiro Tanaka would be the perfect late Christmas present for M’s fans.
(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: We all felt the Robinson Cano signing was our Christmas present from the Mariners, right? The offseason equivalent of a big box wrapped in a bow.

But isn’t it cool when you find a hidden Christmas present a couple of weeks after the holiday and pass it along?

Mariners’ fans have a chance for a post-Christmas gift in the next few weeks. The team could sign Japanese wunderkind Masahiro Tanaka. The right-hander, who was a paltry 24-0 last season in Japan, is available after the Rakuten Golden Eagles decided to post him this week.

The 25-year-old has his detractors, who feel his fastball is too flat and his arm too worn. But the M’s have had some luck with Japanese imports over the years, including last season when Hisashi Iwakuma was the team’s best pitcher and one of the American League’s premier starters.

There is no closer team to Japan than the M’s and no other major league team is owned by a Japanese firm – it may be Nintendo of America, but the Nintendo part is all Japanese.

And, besides, no one thinks the M’s have the money to spend. But they do. And if they can use it on Tanaka, they could run out a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma, Tanaka, Tajuan Walker and Who Cares next year.

Even with Who Cares in the five spot, it would probably still be the best in the league. With that type of starting pitching – yes, we understand Tanaka may start the year slowly (as may Walker), but by the end of the season might just be dominating – the offense could still have a few holes and yet 95 wins wouldn’t be out the realm of possibility.

Wouldn’t that be something?

So here’s to hoping the M’s are an out-of-left-field long shot in the Tanaka sweepstakes. A long shot that comes in and pays off big.

Thursday: Gonzaga is the WCC favorite, but not the usual overwhelming one in a much deeper conference than years past. Eastern Washington is improved and should challenge for a Big Sky tournament spot. Idaho spends its last season in a new-look WAC before moving into the Big Sky next year. And Washington State, an evolving team in quite possibly the nation’s toughest conference, will try to win enough games to ensure another season for an embattled coaching staff.

Is that enough for you? It is for me. But then again, it always is for me.

We are so lucky to have four major college programs within a 90-minute drive from S-R headquarters in downtown Spokane. If you really want to sit in the stands for a local college basketball game, you can get in your car, drive a little while and indulge your desire. It’s one of the nicer perks of this area in winter.

Of course, some nights, four-wheel drive, good tires and a smokin’ sound system helps ensure a calmer, safer drive.

Monday: What’s next, boils, frogs and locusts?

Sometime last week I must have blasphemed. Or treated my neighbor poorly. Or lusted after a Super Bowl in my heart. I must have done something to force the almighty to curse us with such vigor. It is the only logical explanation for the past 48 hours.

Cougars. Eagles. Zags. And now the invincible Seahawks. On a Sunday in Seattle no less. I can’t make sense of it all.

I know I am a good person. I know you are good people (though I have some doubts about you and you, yeah, you know who you are). But still such catastrophes occur. Listen carefully. You can hear the wailing in the streets. Sports fans throughout the area have fallen to their knees, throwing snow into the air, lifting their eyes upward and asking the ancient question, why? And I have no answers. Even worse, social media has no answers. We are doomed.

I jest, of course. Yes, it was a lousy sports weekend around here. No doubt about it. But it wasn’t life-changing or anything. It’s just sports, people. They’re just games.

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