A GRIP ON SPORTS
Some days there is just too much going on to focus on one event or person. Today is one of those days. Read on.
• It is easy to bash on soccer, especially if you are, I don't know, 40 or older. But if you had taken the time yesterday to watch the Sounders and Timbers play, you wouldn't have had much to bash. The excellence of Clint Dempsey. The sieve-like nature of the Seattle defense without Brad Evans. The rivalry. The noise. The tie that felt like a win if you are a Sounders supporter. This picture in the Oregonian today said it all. The Timber fan looked as if his team had just lost by three goals. Instead, they actually had earned a point with a tie. It just didn't feel that way south of the Columbia River.
• There was only one team we were rooting for in the Final Four yesterday: Wisconsin. Mainly because we didn't want to see two SEC teams in the championship and it seemed Florida was unstoppable. Then, of course, Connecticut stopped the Gators. Really, they stopped them, shut down their offense and made them look almost pedestrian. And ensured a non-SEC team in the title game. But Wisconsin couldn't get it done. The Badgers needed to be perfect from the line to win and came up one free throw short. It cost them. Ah well, it was fitting. Wisconsin shouldn't even have been shooting those final three free throws. A great fake and all led to the whistle, but it should have been for traveling. As far as I can recall, moving both feet before you shoot is not allowed just yet.
• Somewhere in Felix Hernandez's mansion there must be a safe. And in that safe must be the deed to the Oakland A's. A deed that must only be applicable in California. Hernandez just owns the A's in their pit of a stadium, whatever they are calling it this season. He showed that again yesterday, rolling through the Oakland lineup for eight nearly flawless innings. And when he tired in the ninth, the M's were able to call on Fernando Rodney, he of the crooked hat, the biting change-up and the antics after a save. As long as he gets, I don't know, 40 of those things, he can shoot all the arrows he wants (pictured below in M's section).
• College coaches want to be the first to offer a standout high school player. But they also like to be the last place the player visits. That seems to be the best position. It proved to be that way Saturday night when Brett Rypien, the best quarterback the Greater Spokane League has produced, statistically speaking, committed to Boise State. Rypien headed to Boise over the weekend, the last visit the junior had scheduled on his college tour. Though Washington State is the school associated with the Rypien name – thanks to the exploits of his uncle Mark – Rypien turned down the Cougars – the first school to offer a scholarship – and picked his own path.
• WSU: Some Cougar fans were on social media last night rationalizing not getting a commitment from Rypien (pictured) but this is the type of player WSU's sorely needs as it claws its way back to relevance in the Northwest. Rypien is a big, strong quarterback with good feet and a chance to be a great college quarterback. But he's more than that. He's a legacy and a local boy. Both are crucial when it comes to the all-important aspect of filling Martin Stadium. Bill Moos talks all the time about keeping Spokane engaged with Cougar football and Rypien's name on the back of the quarterback's jersey would have been another pillar in that foundation. But don't despair yet. Rypien just committed, he didn't sign a letter of intent. It is about nine months until he can do that. A lot can change by then. Other GSL stars have committed and changed their mind in the past. It could happen again. ... Jacob Thorpe is concerned with the 2014 version of the Cougar football team and was at yesterday's practice. He had a practice report up on the blog yesterday and has a story in today's paper. He also has a morning post with links. ... The Cougar baseball team won its fifth consecutive game yesterday. ... Stanford will try to get past top-ranked Connecticut and into the women's NCAA final today.
• EWU: The best part of spring football? Watching players who were injured the season before return to the field. The joy on their faces is hard to miss. Jim Allen's story this morning highlights a couple of those Eagle players.
• Chiefs: The Portland Winterhawks seem as unstoppable this year as last.
• Shock: The two new Arena Football League franchises met yesterday and the LA rock star team defeated Portland's winless group.
• Mariners: Before we get to yesterday's win, I want to pass along John McGrath's column on Friday's postponed game. After reading it, I agree with him, but for my own reasons. The A's should have to forfeit. What's to stop a team, needing a day's rest for a starting pitcher as a season winds down, from keeping the tarp off and forcing a postponement? Nothing really, if there is no punishment. ... Charlie Furbush is the Mariners' player rep and he was lending his voice toward safety. ... After Dustin Ackley and Abraham Almonte homered yesterday, it seemed as if the M's were going to win. They did, 3-1. ... Taijuan Walker is moving closer to returning to the M's.
• Sounders: The first half was a combination of great shots and terrible defense. It ended tied at 2. The first part of the second half was all about the Sounders' porous defense. The Timbers went up 4-2. The final minutes were all about Dempsey, who scored two of his three goals and brought Seattle back in the 4-4 draw. It wasn't soccer at its finest, but it was entertaining. ... And it caused a lot of consternation in the Portland locker room and led to some joy in the Sounders'. But really, both teams should have been disappointed in themselves.
• That's it for today. If you have a child in Spokane schools, you might be reading this from some exotic port of call. It is spring break here. With two boys who were wrapped up in baseball, we never traveled during spring break. We committed to our boys' baseball teams instead. Funny, that doesn't seem to be the case with everyone these days, even at the high school level. Until later ...