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Grip on Sports: Wherever it is sung, ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ sounds the same

The Spokane Indians’ starting lineup take the field before a game against the Boise Hawks at Avista Stadium on June 15. (James Snook / SR)
The Spokane Indians’ starting lineup take the field before a game against the Boise Hawks at Avista Stadium on June 15. (James Snook / SR)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Did the rocket’s red glare lift you up or knock you down last night? It did both around here. The Indians’ fireworks were a celebration of a rare win, the Mariners’ a consolation prize after a rare loss. Read on.

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• If it’s warm enough and the house is open, at it was last night, we can experience the thunder of an Indians’ fireworks show here on the South Hill. We are blessed to have two dogs that aren’t bothered by man-made booms, which is nice, so we can enjoy the concussive nature of the sound and imagine the explosions of color in the sky.

There haven’t been a lot of explosions of any kind for Spokane’s minor league team this season, especially on the road. But the home mark, 7-5 after last night’s 5-2 win over Tri-City, is passable. 

And the Indians’ Fourth of July record of 11-2 in the past 13 years defies logic. 

Which is also true of much of what goes on in the lower levels of baseball’s minor leagues.

The Indians are in last place in the Northwest League’s North Division. They went into last night’s game saddled with a six-game losing streak. And yet Avista Stadium, the largest park in the league, was sold out.

That’s not the way it works across the state. When the Mariners are not doing well on the field, there are lots of empty seats at Safeco, fireworks or not. Performance has a direct correlation to attendance.

At Avista, it’s more of a happening. A warm summer night – tonight for example – coupled with a great view, inexpensive prices and easy access means the crowd turns out no matter the expectation of the home team’s success.

Oh sure, if the Indians were dominant, the franchise would probably draw incrementally more. And year after year of mediocrity would cut down on the happy aspect of attending. But neither happens with too much frequency at this level. 

And yet there is always a large crowd of people singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the seventh inning. Why? Because it’s fun.

• The Mariners haven’t lost in a while. Well, until yesterday. But we can still write they haven’t been out of a game for a while. They had every opportunity to win yesterday and extend their winning streak to nine games. And yet they lost, 7-4. 

That’s baseball. 

At 55-32 after the Fourth, the Mariners are one of the top four teams in baseball. Sadly, the top three teams are in the American League. It shouldn’t be too long now before Manny Machado, the Boogie Cousins of baseball, joins the Red Sox or the Astros or the Yankees, giving the American League an NBA Western Conference feel.

Heck, the fifth best team in the American League, either the Indians or the Athletics, might be able to win the National League pennant this season.

•••

Gonzaga: There is a lot of GU alumni news today, starting with Nigel Williams-Goss and Kyle Wiltjer deciding where they will play next year. (Spoiler alert: It is overseas.) Jim Meehan has both of those stories. … Ryan Collingwood has a piece on Jason Bay enjoying his retirement from baseball. … Finally, Zach Collins won’t be doing much practicing this summer with the Blazers. His nose was broken in a practice.

WSU: The Pac-12 is the best athletic conference in the nation, though you may not know it if you only follow football or men’s basketball. But it is, according to the numbers from the past five years. However, Washington State is the worst of the Power 5 conference schools

Indians: Spokane sent the Avista crowd home happy with a 5-2 win. Dave Nichols was there and he has this game story. … Around the Northwest League, Boise defeated visiting Eugene and Everett won its third consecutive game.

Chiefs: A couple of Chiefs are headed to summer camp

Mariners: The M’s finally lost to the Angels, though it wasn’t Mike Trout doing the biggest damage. … Larry Weir’s most recent Press Box pod covers what the Mariners need to do down the stretch to ensure a postseason berth. … Robinson Cano will return next month. … The New York Times has a story on Ichiro's new job

Seahawks: Can we cheer for big hits in NFL games knowing what type of damage they do?

Sounders: Seattle needed a win. Will Bruin, with two goals, and Stefan Frei, with one special save, ensured that would happen in Colorado. The Sounders picked up three points in the standings with the 2-1 victory. 

•••        

• The first really hot day of summer is on tap. Thankfully, the air conditioning at the home office seems to be in good shape. The office is so cool there are two dogs and a cat asleep on the floor. Or maybe it’s because they have already read this morning’s piece. Until later … 


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