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Grip on Sports: We went from a news drought to a downpour in less than 24 hours

Seattle Mariners second baseman Gordon Beckham, left, tags out Oakland Athletics' Dustin Fowler trying to steal second during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners second baseman Gordon Beckham, left, tags out Oakland Athletics' Dustin Fowler trying to steal second during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There was a deluge yesterday. And rained a lot as well. But we’re more concerned with the downpour of news, from the NFL to Seattle, from Tampa to every college campus in the area. Read on.

••••••••••

• For a few days there it seemed as if we were in the midst of a not-to-be-broken drought. The top news of each day concerned the Mariners, who kept winning – they won again last night as well – while losing players at a hard-to-believe clip. But yesterday was different.

• There have been some failure stories concerning baseball parks recently, with Chicago’s Comiskey Park (a dump since it opened), Target Field in Minneapolis (there’s no roof for goodness sake) and the Rangers’ Globe Life Field (about to be replaced despite being less than 30 years old) coming to mind.

But the ballpark in our neck of the woods, currently called Safeco Field, has been a constant, rolling along as consistently as the roof that sits atop it.

If you leave Spokane for a weekend of Mariner baseball in Seattle, you know you are going to see games in one of the major league’s best facilities. It’s clean, it’s accessible and its sightlines are as good as any stadium not built before 1925.

Plus, it has the roof. In Seattle in the spring, that’s a big deal. It may be cold, it may be windy, but the game will go on.

And the Mariners will be playing there for years and years. The organization just re-upped its lease with the PFD that runs the place, signing on for another 25 years with a few option years thrown in. It’s so long, Robinson Cano’s contract with the M’s will have run its course by the time it’s over – as will his suspension.

But it won’t be called Safeco, the name we’ve known it by since it opened last century. The insurance company didn’t renew its branding, so the name is up for grabs. Whatever the name, the stadium will be the home of major league baseball in the Northwest far into the future.

Some day, maybe, I’ll take my grandkid to a game there. And tell him of the time I saw Bartolo Colon shut the M’s down in the playoffs. Of course, it will be during the 62-year-old Colon’s latest three-hitter against the home team.

• May is the month of APR scores. The Academic Progress Report is only big news when schools are struggling to meet the NCAA minimums, which means it wasn’t big news around here.

Every school seems to be doing well – there are stories below – and no one is in imminent danger of having the NCAA impose restrictions. 

Let’s move on.

• If you were hoping Spokane’s Tyler Johnson would have a chance to play for the Stanley Cup, those hopes were dashed last night.

The Washington Capitols, who seem to choke more often than Brian Doyle Murray in “Groundhog Day,” spit out the steak and blasted past the Lightning 4-0 last night.

That means Johnson’s team is out and the Caps will face the expansion Vegas Golden Knights for the NHL title.

Anyone who put money on this matchup before the season began can take a bow.

• But not a knee. At least not during the national anthem at an NFL game.

It’s an amazing commentary on 2018 life that this is an issue that divides the country, somewhat on racial and political lines, but not completely. I miss the good old days, you know, when we spent the offseason divided on whether the Seahawks should have given Marshawn the ball at the 1-yard line.

Everyone has an opinion. Me too. But I’m a little perplexed at the idea standing for the anthem is some sort of litmus test on being an American and that our country can’t survive if NFL players make a statement before playing their games. 

I always wondered what it was like living during the McCarthy era and why it went on as long as it did. Now I’m beginning to understand.

•••

WSU: The APR reports, made publicly yesterday, dominate the local college news. Theo Lawson has the overview from Pullman, where the news was good. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, after 31 years, Utah is looking for a new athletic director. … Basketball recruiting has improved. That’s a good thing. … Football isn’t that far away. How are the South schools at the skill positions? … Betting questions are still being debated.

Gonzaga: Good team, tough schedule. That seems to be the mantra around GU these days. Mark Few is putting together a nonconference schedule worthy of an award. Jim Meehan has the details of the newest test on the horizon. … Larry Weir covers the schedule in his most recent Press Box pod. … The baseball team is about ready to dig in at the WCC tournament. The winner heads to the NCAAs. … The APR news had leaked a bit earlier from GU. … Around the WCC, BYU is optimistic heading into offseason workouts. … We missed this a while ago, but decided to pass it along in case you did too. A USD player with potential has left the school.

EWU: Jim Allen dives into the APR numbers from Eastern. 

Idaho: The Vandals’ APR was not good in the recent past, but that’s then. It’s good now. Peter Harriman has more in this story.

CCS: The Sasquatch have a tough first-round foe in the NWAC baseball championships. 

Preps: The State golf tournaments finished up yesterday and Davenport’s Kaysa Panke won her third consecutive state title. Justin Reed has the story. … Greg Lee has a piece on a St. George’s sprinter, Ashley Sande, who is about to finish a stellar career. … Max Preps has proclaimed Central Valley’s girls basketball team the best in the nation. Dave Nichols has that news and more in this notebook.

Mariners: The M’s have won five consecutive games, but last night’s 1-0 victory at Oakland highlighted something that seemed incomprehensible when the season began. The starting pitching has been more than solid recently. Marco Gonzales turned in a gem last night, pitching longer than he ever has. … John Andreoli toiled in the minors for eight years before finally getting a big league chance. It came last night for the M’s. 

Seahawks: Doug Baldwin has his opinion on the new NFL anthem policy. He called it “tone deaf.” Pretty apt description, considering the league imposed the rules with little to no input from its employees

•••        

• It was muggy for these parts yesterday. Not Atlanta-in-September muggy, sure, but muggy for our area. Made me want to sit down on the veranda, sips some lemonade, wave a wispy fan back-and-forth and wipe my brow with a big old handkerchief. Until later … 


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