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Grip on Sports: No matter how you like your sports, there is always something to pass along

Former Chicago Cubs ace and Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta would fit nicely in the front half of the Mariners’ rotation ... and he’s still out there for the taking. (Gene J. Puskar / AP)
Former Chicago Cubs ace and Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta would fit nicely in the front half of the Mariners’ rotation ... and he’s still out there for the taking. (Gene J. Puskar / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • When you follow a college or pro or high school sports team, what type of story interests you the most? Is it the human interest ones? Or the ones about what your team needs to do to be successful? Or are you the sort that just wants the facts? Read on.

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• The nice part of this job is just about every day we can pass along stories that touch on all aspects of the sporting life, from ones that delve into the personalities to those that tell you what happened last night.

Even on the slow days, like today. Or snow days, like tomorrow.

There are items contained in correspondent Peter Harriman’s story on Victor Sanders that I didn’t know about Idaho’s senior guard. That makes me happy. I like to learn new things every day. That way I feel as if I’m still improving.

Which seems to be Sanders’ motivation as well.

There is knowledge to be gained in every story, of course, though oftentimes it takes a little digging to find it. Someone asked yesterday what RPI stands for, which seemed a little odd for a term that has become so ubiquitous over the past 20 years, but here is a good definition for the Ratings Percentage Index the NCAA uses.

Then Jim Meehan tells us this morning the West Coast Conference has the outdated formula – its basic flaw is it consists of such little information the rating is incomplete – as one of its tiebreakers for the upcoming postseason basketball tournament.

If Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s win out, then the team with the highest NCAA RPI would be the higher seed. And that’s more important than just having to pack one uniform for Las Vegas.

The second seed would project to meet BYU in the semifinals, the top seed wouldn’t. In a conference that usually has three teams atop the standings, and then a huge dropoff, that’s a big deal. This year, though, it’s not so much.

Using the RPI for the tiebreaker is akin to using a fax machine for letters of intent.

Heck, the RPI has been around so long, in this form or that form, it was the latest technology the last time the Mariners were in the playoffs. Or won 90 games.

Larry Stone seems to feel this year’s team might be close to reaching each of those milestones, if only … Yes. There is an “if only.” Isn’t there always one or two of those every year with the M’s?

If only Felix stays healthy.” “If only Dee Gordon can master centerfield.” “If only the bullpen comes together.”

Come August, when the “if only” morphs from a hopeful statement to a lamentation, M’s fans can begin looking to next year. That’s as reliable as finding stories to read every morning.

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WSU: If you had a vote in the college basketball poll, who would you put No. 1 this week? Theo Lawson had to answer that question. And yes, Santa Claus, he put Virginia on the top line. … It seems Elson Floyd forgave the athletic department some of its debt before he died. That news was shared with the faculty recently. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there is always something to pass along about football recruiting. At least it seems that way. … In basketball, there is a showdown in Tempe on Thursday night, pitting the conference’s only two ranked teams, Arizona State and Arizona. … The middle of the conference pack includes the mountain schools, Utah and Colorado as well as Oregon. … There is some trouble at USC, with a football player running afoul of the authorities.

Gonzaga: Speaking of polls, the Zags are back in the Top 10. Jim Meehan has that news as well as the story on the WCC’s tiebreaker and Johnathan Williams being named the conference’s player of the week.

EWU: A former University High and EWU athlete is playing football. Nothing out of the ordinary about that. Unless the person in question is 39 years old. And a woman. … The Eagles want public input in their search for a new athletic director. … Around the Big Sky, the basketball race is going Montana’s way.

Idaho: Sanders is the conductor of the Vandals’ offense, as Peter Harriman’s story shows.

Preps: The basketball playoffs rolled on last night and we have roundups from boys and girls action.

Seahawks: Could the Hawks actually keep someone with the franchise tag? … Earl Thomas seems to have adopted a bold strategy, Cotton.

Mariners: If there is anything that exemplifies the sorry state of catching in the bigs, then it is this. … As we said, the M’s could sign a veteran starter. There are options. They don’t want to.

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• People ask me all the time how I come up with subjects to write about. Obviously, some days, like today, I don’t. Until later …


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