A GRIP ON SPORTS
Being it is Memorial Day, I want to memorialize the veteran who meant the most to me. Read on.
• Funny, one of the things my father was most proud of concerning his four-plus years of service in the South Pacific was he didn't come home with a tattoo. Other scars, sure, but no tattoo. My uncle Johnny, who was among the first ashore in the invasion of the Philippines, wasn't so lucky. He had a couple. Hideous things, hula dancers and the like. Not as polished as today's tattoos. Crude images that faded and distorted as my uncle grew older. It was tattoos like those, I'm positive, that turned my generation off the silly things. As I said, dad avoided them. I'm not sure why, he never really talked about it. He was just proud he didn't have one. It seems to me now the tattoos, or the lack of same, serve as a metaphor. My dad was proud of his service but he rarely talked about it. In a lot of ways, it made him what he was. But it was just part of him, like the scars on his back, one from shrapnel, the others from the skin disease he picked up somewhere on Truk or Guam or any of the numerous islands he visited. Those were his medals of service. He didn't give his life, the ultimate sacrifice we are to remember on this day. But it was willing to. He, and anyone else who ever serves in the military, offered it on the altar of our country's freedom. But like Abraham's son, he walked away. Not unaffected, I assure you. But grateful and determined. Like most World War II vets – Depression survivors as well – all my dad wanted to do was to make a better life for his family. No money? Big deal. He worked three jobs, starting at 2 in the morning and finishing when the last lawn was cut. No freedom? Big deal. He saved his money, scrimped everywhere he could and bought a business. Now he was his own boss. No time? Big deal. He made time. I played baseball, he was there, either as a coach or a spectator. I played basketball, he was there. I played golf, he was over in the woods searching for his ball – dad had an awful slice. My dad and his friends rarely took no for an answer. After you were part of what they had been a part of, no wasn't an option anymore. It was just an impediment to be moved out of the way. Hard work, faith and a strong back would take care of it. That was a lesson he had learned criss-crossing the Pacific, repairing guns on ships. Or maybe he learned it while diving, another one of his wartime jobs. Or on the destroyer Walker, where he served as a gunner. Heck, maybe he even learned it pitching for his base's baseball team, something he did for a while. I don't know. But he passed it on. That's for sure. And I sit here today, my eyes a bit misty, wanting to say thank you again. I can't. But damn, I wish I could. So if you still have the chance, take the time. They gave of theirs for you.
• This is a sports blog so we better talk a bit about sports. If you are a faithful reader of this column you know a year ago on Mother's Day we asked for your sports-related memories of mom. And boy did you guys come through. Well, we're doing the same thing this year for Father's Day. Share with us your memories of dad and sports. Of times good – and bad – you spent with dad playing catch, watching golf, running Bloomsday. Whatever. The time he yelled at an umpire or told you he was proud of you or embarrassed the heck out of your brother. We'll put them together and run them in their entirety here on SportsLink. Some will be featured in the Review. Don't worry about polish, just share what's in your heart. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll take care of the rest. Make sure to include your name, especially if you are going to write about the time dad dropped the bowling ball on his toe and said words you had never heard before. We want to make sure we distinguish your dad from the other 1,492 that did that in the 1960s.
• WSU: Nothing from the Cougars today but I did want to pass along Mike Belotti's thoughts about scholarships and the student-athlete. He's a hall of fame coach after all.
• Chiefs: The WHL will be home to the defending Memorial Cup champions next season. Edmonton earned the Cup with a 6-3 win over Guelph yesterday.
• Seahawks: OTAs are coming up. Will Marshawn Lynch be at them? He wasn't last year and, as Dave Boling has to admit, it didn't hurt either him or the Hawks.
• Mariners: So what was it? Did the Astros' Dallas Keuchel's good pitching frustrate the M's hitting, or was it the M's crappy hitting that made Keuchel's pitching look good? Asked after Sunday's 4-1 Houston victory, Lloyd McClendon made his feelings clear. "I saw average stuff," he told reporters. "We didn't swing the bats very good. At some point you have to stop giving credit to average pitchers." So we know where he stands. ... After throwing for Tacoma and coming out feeling fine, James Paxton still doesn't know where he stands. My guess it will be on the Safeco mound next week. ... The first no-hitter of the season was tossed yesterday. As often happens, the guy who threw it was somewhat unlikely.
• Sounders: One of the goals the Sounders gave up against Vancouver was part of a "comedy of errors." One of the goals they scored was interesting. ... Next up: Real Salt Lake, which has set a MLS record for most matches at the start of a season without a loss.
• And that's it for today. Enjoy the holiday. Until later ...