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Grip on Sports: Is it a good habit or a bad one to watch the M’s right now?

Angels closesr Yusmeiro Petit and catcher Martin Maldonado share congratulations after the Angels defeated the Seattle Mariners 6-5 in a baseball game Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Angels closesr Yusmeiro Petit and catcher Martin Maldonado share congratulations after the Angels defeated the Seattle Mariners 6-5 in a baseball game Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Habits are hard to break. It’s why we are here this morning, despite not much sleep. And it’s probably why you pulled your hair out last night while watching the Mariners. Read on.


• There are good habits and bad habits.

Eating healthy, working out, brushing your teeth four times a day. Those are the good type.

Rising at 5:30 in the morning after you got to sleep after 1 a.m. isn’t – no matter what Ben Franklin said. But when you do, and find the local doughnut shop is closed for vacation, necessitating a 45-minute round-trip to surprise your significant other, you might as well sit down and do your work.

So here we are.

You want to know another bad habit? Losing games late. That’s a habit the M’s have fallen into the past couple nights. Not good, especially when you had a wild-card berth in your grasp.

A 5-1 lead going into the seventh? Poof, gone. Not being able to field a double-play ball? Poof, a 6-5 loss.

Bad habits.

Want another one? Putting starting pitchers on the disabled list. That’s where James Paxton, the M’s version of Steven Strasburg, also known as “The Orchid,” is right now.

Paxton is going to miss three weeks. At least three weeks.

Not good. Andrew Moore was the designated replacement on the roster. He was part of Scott Servais’ mix-and-match pitching strategy last night and turned out to be the weak link.

Moore was tough for a bit more than an inning, but when the games began to slide downhill, Moore couldn’t get the one out he needed. That’s a really bad habit.

• Speaking of habits, I’ve made it mine to see the Cougars in preseason camp at least once every year since I retired. Yesterday was this year’s day.

First came dinner at a nice restaurant in Pullman. I paid for my meal so I guess it’s OK to recommend The Black Cypress. As anniversary meals go – and we’ve had 38 of them – this was easily one of the best. I recommend the pork chop but Kim loved the lamb chops.

Then it was off to Martin Stadium to watch WSU’s first scrimmage.

My first thought: It was a beautiful Friday night, other than the smoke in the air.

Other thoughts:

• Make sure you schedule your fridge runs this fall for when the defense is on the field. You won’t want to miss a moment when the Cougars have the ball. You never know what might happen. And, unlike some years I could recount, all of it should be good.

• James Williams is the real deal.

• Don’t worry about the receivers. The Cougars will be fine. Maybe even better than they have been recently.

• Pray everyone stays healthy. I know, you should always be doing that, for every team. But the success of this season, as it does often in Pullman, hinges on the keeping the injuries to a minimum.

• There are a lot of questions defensively. Not just up front, but everywhere.

• There is also a lot of speed defensively. Not just on the back end, but everywhere.


WSU: If there is one thing everyone in college football is doing these days, it is giving a scholarship to a walk-on – and videoing the event. The Cougars did just that yesterday with linebacker Nate DeRider. Theo Lawson has the story, and there is the video we embedded above. … Theo also has a story on the offense dominating the scrimmage as well as three ups and downs for the coming season. … Around the Pac-12, Washington may actually be better on defense this season. Is that possible? … You know who will be better? Oregon’s Royce Freeman. And the line in front of him. … New Duck coach Willie Taggart’s father died this week. … See, school and football can mix. … Colorado needs to improve its linebacker depth. … Utah’s schedule isn’t easy. But the defense is up to the task. … UCLA is hoping for a better running game and a flexible defense. … If USC wants to win this season, the kicking game better step up. … Usually, the transfer pipeline flows the other way. … Arizona may play 20 freshmen this season. That’s never good.

Gonzaga: You know you are on the nation’s radar when a general manager of a pro football team says this (check the quote of the day). … Portland is in the midst of a rebuild under coach Terry Porter.

EWU: Jim Allen takes a spin around the Eagles’ schedule, rating each game from easiest to hardest. … Around the Big Sky, Southern Utah’s receivers are young. … Montana State will hold its first scrimmage today. … Gunnar Amos is officially at Idaho State. … North Dakota State is not in the Big Sky, but the Bison do play the Eagles this season.

Hoopfest: Former executive director Rick Steltenpohl is still in Spokane, but his emphasis has changed. Ryan Collingwood caught up with Steltenpohl and has this story on what he’s doing now.

Golf: The PGA Championship in in full swing, but the best golf story I read today comes from Jim Meehan. It’s his column about Wendy Ward and the Solheim Cup.

Indians: That hot start to the second half? It’s a thing of the past. The Indians lost again last night, this time in Eugene. … Around the Northwest League, Hillsboro is struggling and Boise isn’t, continuing its hot streak by defeating Everett on Friday.

Mariners: I was listening to a scratchy radio feed somewhere north of Palouse last night when Jean Segura made his fateful error. Dave Nichols was watching in the office. He has his Mariners Log, which explains the loss. We added links.

Seahawks: Even though the Hawks have a preseason game this weekend, they practiced yesterday. … Wearing Russell Wilson’s jersey brings with it a perk. … The opponent in the first exhibition? The Los Angeles Chargers – I had to think about that a moment before I began typing – who will play in a soccer facility this season. … If you are good, someone is going to push you to be better. … There are lots of running backs fighting for time.

Sounders: It may be hard to fathom, but a healthy Seattle team, riding a seven-match unbeaten streak, plays Sporting Kansas City today with first place on the line.


• Got to love this headline. Well, not really. It’s going to cool down tomorrow, though. Which is a good thing. Right? … This is as good as a retirement column as I've read in a while. Until later …