A GRIP ON SPORTS • Now this is the type of June (weather) we remember. Except, in our memories, there was nothing like the Warriors. Read on.
• If you are into compare and contrast, the final games of the NHL and NBA seasons were not a fun exercise. The Vegas Golden Knights battled until the final horn Thursday night; the Cleveland Cavaliers gave up at halftime last night.
Sure, the Golden State Warriors are a little more dominate than the Washington Capitals, I’ll give you that. Heck, even the best player in the world, LeBron James, admitted his team wasn’t good enough this week.
But actions speak louder than words, right? So Cleveland went out last night and showed the world what LeBron meant.
It wasn’t close and it wasn’t fun to watch.
Not that many people were interested anyway. By that I mean the national media had already turned the page on the series and was looking forward to the offseason. Most of the talk on national sports radio yesterday was about James’ destination next season, not about whether the Cavaliers could win a game or two before the series expired.
When the present is filled with figurative thunderstorms and hailstones, I guess it is appropriate to look ahead to tomorrow.
• The Mariners seemed focused on the present. Every day they go out and win, or close to it. They are 40-23, a remarkable 17 games over .500 not even a third of the way through June.
That’s pretty good.
We will be writing an Out of Right Field column today with a simple premise: Are you convinced yet? Don’t miss it in tomorrow’s S-R.
• The past is ever-present in this area. We are reminded of it this morning by two stories.
One is Chuck Stewart’s obituary of longtime hockey announcer Tom Mabelson, who dies this week at age 95. Besides being the voice of hockey in this community for more than two decades, Mabelson was also a World War II survivor. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer of those folks around every day.
The other story, from Terence Vent, looks back at another icon, the Playfair racetrack. Horse racing hasn’t existed in Spokane in many years, but many people still hold fond memories of the track down by the rail yards.
• The Cougars are pulling back from Spokane. That’s become painfully obvious over the past few months, or since Pat Chun has started to exert his influence over the athletic department. Nothing wrong with that. A new athletic director has to set his priorities and Chun’s eyes are more focused on the other side of the mountains. That’s where the big money is. President Kirk Schulz has charged Chun with attracting more big money donors.
But the rank and file of Washington State’s fans lives in Spokane County. They are the ones expected to fill Martin Stadium and Beasley Coliseum year in and year out, to be the audience for the late-night Pac-12 Network broadcast.
For the past eight years, part of the reward for making the drive down U.S. Highway 195 has been the chance to see the Cougars’ spring-ending scrimmage at Joe Albi Stadium. Not a huge reward, sure, but it was something. Now it’s nothing.
Chun and the WSU administration have cut costs. It was necessary. The downtown Cougar store is gone, the athletic department presence in the Lilac City non-existent. And next spring, the Cougs will hold their scrimmage in Pullman.
There is no doubt the move will save some money, and that’s important when you are running a multimillion-dollar deficit. But it also signals another pullback from the state’s second-largest metro area. And this area may reciprocate.
WSU: The decision to play the spring game in Martin Stadium next season, and designating it as part of a mental health initiative is the subject of Theo Lawson’s story this morning. … Larry Weir’s Press Box pod covers the high cost these days of doing business in Division I sports. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, let’s start with baseball. Both Washington and Oregon State are one win away from Omaha. The Huskies took advantage of host Cal State Fullerton’s miscues in an 8-5 win. The Beavers blasted Minnesota 8-1 in Corvallis. … The new Utah athletic director is getting bombarded with advice. … Arizona State’s athletic director has earned some praise. … In football news, UCLA’s roster seems to be downsizing considerably with the news of three transfers. … A former USC player was arrested inside a Panda Express. It was closed. … Colorado is trying to improve its lines. … Sean Miller has thoughts on each basketball player Arizona signed this spring.
Indians: The Spokane roster began arriving in town yesterday, met by a beautiful day and a mascot. Ryan Collingwood has the story.
Preps: Former Mead High runner Andrew Gardner finished fifth in the NCAA 1500-meter final.
Golf: It’s Saturday and though the rain makes today a poor day to be on the golf course, it is a great day to read about it. Jim Meehan’s golf column covers the recently rebuilt 14th hole at Prairie Falls in Post Falls. It’s gone from a par 5 to a par 3. Now my six won’t look so good on the scorecard.
Horse racing: The final leg of Justify’s Triple Crown quest includes a huge challenge in the Belmont: The No. 1 post position. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will have to get off to a good start in the longest of the races if it wants to join the ranks of horse racing’s immortals. Hopefully, it will be raining and muddy today in New York. Justify won the first two legs in sloppy conditions, and another win today in the same stuff would earn him the moniker as the best mudder of all time.
Mariners: If you want to pinpoint one area the M’s have outkicked the coverage, to mix sports metaphors, then it would have to be starting pitching. Marco Gonzales pitched well again last night, throwing so free and easy you might have thought he was back on the GU campus pitching against Pepperdine. … The bullpen went through a shakeup yesterday with two pitchers put on the disabled list. … Rick Rizzs is living the dream.
Sounders: Playing pro soccer doesn’t always mean school is over.
• The Inland Northwest isn’t immune to thunderstorms that are, this time of year, accompanied by hail. But the size of hail that pelted our backyard last night was unprecedented. It made me fear for the life of my tomato plants. After a closer inspection, however, they survived. Until later …
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