February 23, 2014 in Sports

Grip on sports: There’s already a plan in place

A Grip On Sports
 
Associated Press photo

WSU coach Ken Bone, right, is not having the kind of season that promotes confidence.
(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.

Wednesday: So what does the future hold in Pullman? That’s the $1.7-million question, isn’t it?

What is basketball coach Ken Bone’s future? Though just about every WSU fan you chat with sees this as Bone’s final year, athletic director Bill Moos won’t make a pronouncement either way.

Which is to be expected.

However, he told (The Spokesman-Review) this week he “continue(s) to support” Bone, which sounds nice but is, in reality, the dreaded vote of confidence.

Remember, Moos supported former football coach Paul Wulff right up until the day he didn’t. Moos also said he doesn’t anticipate contacting any candidates during the season, which is different than saying he wouldn’t contact any candidates.

That’s an escape hatch large enough to smuggle a coach through. Knowing Moos, it would be a shock if he makes a change without a replacement coach already in place. He’s not the type of guy who likes to take a leap of faith when it comes to coaches.

Moos understands the value of winning the press conference as a way to excite the fan base. He also understands the importance of a quick transition to keep talent from leaking away. He has to have someone who can win.

Fulfilling all those requirements is a tall order. So if he decides to make a change, he’s not going to do it just to send Bone packing. He’s not going to do it “hoping” he can find a better alternative. If Moos is going to pull on the lever controlling the trapdoor, he’s going to have someone in place to introduce right away.

If he doesn’t, things are worse than they seem at WSU. And they seem pretty rough.

Thursday: The Philadelphia Phillies are dead to me after reading that the Phillies turned in Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for using a financial adviser during negotiations with the team and ultimately not signing with the club. (The same thing happened to WSU player Jason Monda, who has been cleared.) What a bunch of creeps. I’m sorry, but the NCAA rules concerning baseball players and the MLB draft are idiotic, but it’s worse for a major league team to rat out a kid. If the Dodgers or M’s did this they would be dead to me as well. At least for three days. 

Tuesday: The best part of spring training? Optimism.

Ask anyone who knows me. I’m a pretty pessimistic guy. I think it goes back to playing baseball. You know why your Little League coach taught you to back up first base? In case something went wrong.

Play enough baseball and all you ever anticipate is something going wrong. It’s the only way to be successful. Which is the irony of spring training, baseball’s rite of rebirth. It’s when no one ever anticipates anything going wrong. Oh no. Just the opposite. Every team can, if things break just right, win the World Series.

Then the games start. Weaknesses are exposed. The true die-hard, he can rationalize those. Except around here. I sense a lack of spring training optimism around the Northwest. Fatalism might be a better description.

Sure, the M’s opened their wallet and handed over millions in an attempt to improve the offense. Yet the ripples from the $240 million boulder the Mariners tossed in the free agent waters dissipated quickly.

A few days of headlines and discussion and they were gone. The Seahawks had something to do with it, sure, as they grabbed the collective throats of Northwest fans and never let go. But so does a Mariner apathy. After years of being beaten down by premature proclamations that “this is our year,” M’s fans have established a Missouri-like attitude. They are going to have to be shown this season is different. The coffers of the Bank of Trust are empty. Refilling them will be a lot harder than just getting a signature on a long-term contract.

It will take weeks, months, years of solid play to get this fan base excited again. It’s been burned too many times.


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