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Saturday, April 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A crowded day features Wilson, Walker and Leach

Russell Wilson signed in time to take part in the first day of camp. (Associated Press)
Russell Wilson signed in time to take part in the first day of camp. (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Re: yesterday. Has there been a bigger sports news day in these parts recently? I don't think so. With everything that went on, it would be hard to top. Read on.

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• To recap what went on Friday in the Northwest: Russell Wilson agrees to a four-year contract extension that will keep him in Seattle until the next decade; the Hawks open camp trying to make their fourth consecutive Super Bowl; Pac-12 media day features another boffo performance from Washington State head coach Mike Leach, though he has trouble with a piñata; and the Mariners tell the world they are giving up on the 2015 season on a day Taijuan Walker looks like the mirror image of Sandy Koufax. Did I miss anything? Nothing overshadows the Wilson news, which broke early enough yesterday we got it our post. It’s a deal that makes the quarterback one of the highest-paid players in the league, guarantees him more than $61 million – if he’s ever injured – and includes a $31 million signing bonus. And yet he’s still going to play this season under the terms of his rookie deal. That helps the Seahawks, as does the certainty of knowing who is their starting quarterback for the next five years. The news was a great way for the Hawks to open camp, though it meant the “when-will-he-sign-an-extension” spotlight moves to middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who seems uneasy with the scrutiny. And then there is the no-show of safety Kam Chancellor, who is already inked to a deal that has three years to run. Such is the life of a successful NFL franchise. Later in the day – or while the Hawks were sweating in the last-day-of-July heat, Leach took the stage to finish up the Pac-12’s media days. He talked about a lot of things unrelated to football, egged on by the non-Inland Northwest media, and then tried to destroy a WSU piñata with a bat (pictured). That didn’t work, so he used his fists. All in fun. In about a week the Cougars will begin preseason camp in Lewiston. The fun will stop. Work commences. And Leach’s team will try to win six games somehow, ensuring a trip to a bowl. That would make the season a success, something that eluded the Mariners this year. It wasn’t supposed to, of course. This was the year the M’s were primed to make a playoff run, to reach the postseason for the first time in more than a decade. But no. They fell apart, betrayed by a supposedly solid bullpen and an inconsistent offense. So yesterday the team pulled the plug, trading their most dominate reliever, Mark Lowe, for three left-handed pitchers, and dealing rent-a-starter J.A. Happ for another, younger, arm. Cue the offseason talk. There is no doubt the potential of Walker will be a big part of it, especially after his dominating performance last night in Minneapolis. He threw his first career complete game. He struck out a career-high-tying 11. He gave up one hit, walked one and gave up one run. He was the one – for one night anyway. And the topper on a long and busy Friday. So what’s on tap for today?

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• WSU: Jacob Thorpe (pictured at right in the photo on the left) was in Burbank for the media days and he kept you pretty well informed yesterday, what with his blog posts that included a link to the WSU football media guide, a summary of what the new Pac-12 vice president of officiating had to say and a blog notebook of what transpired. He also had in-depth WSU coverage with this story in today’s paper and a notebook from yesterday on the blog. ... Offensive lineman Joe Dahl had fun with the TV props at the Warner Bros. Studios. ... Though I’m sure Jacob will be here later with more links, we have a few that center around Inland Northwest connections, including Washington State and a quarterback who is still in limbo. Jacob also has a story on the QB whose name must not be uttered, supposedly (it's Vernon Adams if you didn't know). ... Our friend Christian Caple has a story on Leach and WSU and there is another in the Times.

• Gonzaga: Gary Bell will continue his basketball career next season in Poland. ... Mark Few’s charity event for local cancer-fighting organizations is this weekend at the Coeur d’Alene Resort – Few and his wife Marcy are relentless in raising money for the cause – and will feature a Spokane native who recently re-upped at ESPN, Neil Everett. Greg Lee has more on Everett’s new contract and his connections to the area in this piece.

• Shock: Making the playoffs is the No. 1 goal of the Shock with two weeks remaining in the regular season. But as Jim Meehan’s advance of tonight’s game in Cleveland relates, it’s not the only goal.

• Golf: Jim skews younger today with his weekly column, examining the success of a youth golf league in the area.

• Indians: Spokane can’t seem to figure out Eugene’s pitching. The Emeralds won their third consecutive game in the series last night, shutting out the Indians 7-0 at Avista. Chris Derrick has more in this game story and blog post.

• Seahawks: There was so much going on as training camp opened yesterday, much of the football aspect of the day seemed to be overlooked. Well there are still many, many days to get into that. Besides the Wilson contract situation, there was the Chancellor holdout, the Wagner question and, well, that’s about it.

• Mariners: Walker was, well, Felix-like last night in the 6-1 victory. Is that good enough for you? ... Even Jack Zduriencik admits the trades the M’s made the past couple days are about the future, not the present. Wait ‘til next year seems to be the new slogan around the M’s offices.

• Sounders: Clint Dempsey was back at training yesterday. How much he will play in a key match tonight against Vancouver is still to be determined. ... Real Salt Lake hopes to get a monkey off its back.

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• A couple 100-degree days in June. Another in July. And today again as we start August. Spokane is turning into a desert. Not really, but this has to be the warmest, longest summer in years, if not ever. Thank goodness for air conditioning. Until later ...




Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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