A GRIP ON SPORTS
As I sit down at my computer to write this post, it is 41 degrees outside. The snow is sweating like I used to do walking up those Beasley steps to my perch high above Friel Court. At least travel for the area's basketball teams won't be a problem this week. Read on.
• Before I sat down to write this morning, I thought about doing a 2011 Academy Award-themed post – the nominations were released yesterday just after our morning post hit the Net – with things like, "Best Actor in a Supporting Role," and the award goes to DeAngelo Casto, who picked up more charges from innocuous blows he made look like Mike Tyson haymakers than I have ever seen (speaking of haymakers, John Blanchette has this interesting feature on a female boxer coming to town). But we turned away from taking that route – better known as the Cliché Highway – and instead decided to stay straightforward and talk baseball. For two reasons: It's the middle of winter and any writing that conjures up images of green fields and summer sweat is worth it right now; and we love baseball. But we don't love our local team – in this case, the Seattle Mariners – unable to play on a level field. And we're not talking the surface at Safeco. The most recent example of this came yesterday, when the Detroit Tigers, hit last week with the loss of one of their big bats, suddenly entered the Prince Fielder sweepstakes and won with a reported $214 million, nine-year contract. That's $23.78 million a year by my math and dammit, I can use a calculator. Not that the Mariners can. Because, for the Seattle team, out in the middle of nowhere as far as Major League baseball is concerned, to entice a player of Fielder's caliber to the Northwest – our motto, "You Can't Get to Anywhere From Here" – it would have to pay a huge premium. In Fielder's case, I bet it would have been $26 million a year to win the battle, and even that might not have been enough. So without a fan-thrilling signing in the offseason – George Sherrill or Kevin Millwood anyone? Excited yet? – the Mariners will basically take the field in Peoria next month with one addition – Jesus Montero – that could make a difference over last September. And all it cost was a young starting pitcher (that is sarcasm in case you didn't recognize it). Unable to put up the bank to get a player like Fielder – heck, former UW pitcher Tim Lincecum cost the Giants $40.5 million over two years and he's not even a free agent – the Mariners are betting the fleet on their farm system. It's a bet that won't pay out right away. It will take time. And the question is, are Mariner fans still patient enough?
• Gonzaga: In our spin around the local sports scene, we start with the Zags this morning. They play just once this week, tomorrow night in Portland against an overmatched Pilot team. ... There was some news out of the WCC yesterday, much of it from the Bay Area, where it was learned Santa Clara guard Kevin Foster was cited for a DUI over the weekend. Doesn't help the struggling Broncos much. ... The BYU Cougars are in ACC country tonight to face Virginia Tech. ... Loyola-Marymount's road wins have caught some folks' attention. ... St. Mary's is still atop this West Coast power ranking. ... Jess Brown has her college women's basketball notebook, leading off with Gonzaga's Katelan Redmon.
• Washington State: Christian Caple is en route to Arizona – OK, I admit it, this is the first week I really miss covering the Cougars; I would be on a plane today knowing that, waiting on the other end, were two Double-Doubles, a well-done French fry and a large Diet Coke from In-n-Out; it's times like this I question my decision to retire – but he still put up his morning post with notes and links. It's a perfect compliment to his post yesterday from Ken Bone's press conference, the video of which we have below. Christian also has his first in a series of stories on WSU's assistant football coaches, beginning with the chief of staff, Dave Emerick. ... A couple of former WSU assistant found new jobs yesterday, with Todd Sturdy landing in Bozeman where he'll be the offensive coordinator for Montana State and Travis Niekamp headed to Louisiana-Monroe where he'll coach tight ends for Todd Berry. ... A few nuggets from around the Pac-12, where you could put together a pretty good team with players castoff by their schools this season. ... That's probably part of the reason the conference race is so muddled even a football player can make a big impact and Oregon is one of the frontrunners. ... Speaking of Oregon, football coach Chip Kelly is pulling a George Clooney, flying around trying to mend fences with recruits after his flirtation with Tampa Bay. ... Just who do the Ducks, and the rest of the Pac-12 North, need? ... Linebacker Chase Thomas has decided to return to Stanford, making the Cardinal better next season. ... And we end with this link examining last week's best sports photo (as voted on by WSU fans).
• Here is Ken Bone's press conference, courtesy of WSU athletic department ...
• Eastern Washington: The Eagles return to Big Sky action tomorrow night by hosting Montana. It's a big week – and a tough one – for the Grizzlies, who are chasing Damian Lillard and Weber State. ... Montana State heads to Cheney on Saturday, bringing in a balanced attack.
• Preps: Greg Lee was out at Shadle Park last night to watch the Highlanders defeat Gonzaga Prep, 58-52. Greg will continue on his SPHS tour tomorrow, when Washington State-bound Brett Boese is the subject of his Prep Page feature.
• Sounders: We don't want to disappoint folks, so here is your Sounders fix, courtesy of the News Tribune's Don Ruiz. Former goalie Kasey Keller was watching practice yesterday.
• That's our report for this morning. No radio today – we're back on tomorrow afternoon. Until later ...