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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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This one was a blast

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Baseball put a clock on the Home Run Derby last night and, coupled with a few other changes, it really helped. The event was back. Read on.

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• Most all-star games are stupid. Baseball’s hasn’t been – most of the time. Most all-star game skills competitions have degenerated into farce. Baseball’s Home Run Derby seemed to have joined that club as well. Until last night. By pairing up players in a head-to-head, single-elimination competition, baseball put some life back into the Derby. Then the powers that be added a clock – usually verboten in baseball – and made it even better. The rounds didn’t drag. The bad cuts didn’t matter. All that mattered was putting the ball into the seats. And how far you could hit them. The improved format allowed the exhibition to have some pace and excitement. It also put the emphasis on power, where it should be. Plus, as an added bonus, the hometown guy, Todd Frazier, came out on top. What more could you ask?

• What’s the longest home run you’ve ever seen? I remember being part of a game in which one home run ball may have traveled farther than any home run ball ever. My son was 12 and we were playing an SYSA game at the old Lincoln Heights Elementary. The left-field fence butted up against Ray Street, a busy four-lane arterial. It was a warm May or June day, so many of the cars driving by had their windows open. Ty hit a long fly ball to left that carried over the fence, landed in the north-bound lanes, bounced and came to rest ... well, we didn’t know where. When he’s younger brother went to look for the ball, he couldn’t find it. Neither could a parent who was helping. But not much later a woman walked up to the field holding a baseball. The ball Ty had hit. See, she was headed home on Ray, going southbound. She had groceries in the back seat. Her windows were down. As she drove by the school, she say the game going on, then she heard a noise behind her, but couldn’t figure out what it was. It wasn’t until she got home, began to take the groceries out of the car and found a baseball. Then she put it together. After putting the food away, she got back in the car and drove to the school. She wanted to return the ball. She figured someone would want it. She was right. Turns out she lives a couple of miles down the road. The way I figured it, the ball traveled at least 10,000 feet before coming to rest. Has to be one of the longest home runs ever.

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• WSU: So where did Washington State rank in Pac-12 football attendance last season? By one measure, fourth. That is, by percentage of available seats filled. The Cougars played to 93.5 percent of their capacity in their home games last season. ... Austin Meeks’ column about Vernon Adams we linked yesterday has engendered some conversation. ... What's going on with UW's basketball program is, well, interesting.

• Indians: OK, so we had it wrong yesterday. The Indians and the Hops still had a game left in their five-game series. They played last night. Hillsboro won, 6-0, taking four of the five games.

• CCS: Paco Crandall will take over as CCS’ softball coach.

• Golf: It’s British Open week, so there are a lot of stories to offer. I kind of liked this one on the golf in the St. Andrews area.

• Seahawks: The Hawks have upgraded their wide receiving corps by adding a special tight end. ... Speaking of special, what these Hawk fans are doing is special. ... Single-game tickets go on sale Monday. They won’t last long no matter what the price.

• Mariners: What makes Felix Hernandez so tough to hit? His unpredictability. That’s what all-star hitters say. ... Hernandez and Nelson Cruz believe the M’s are still in the playoff hunt. ... Cruz has been one of the few bright spots this season. ... Don't worry, the management of the M's won't change. Or go ahead and worry, if you think that is a bad thing.

• Sounders: Seattle had two players named to the MLS starting all-star group. They are, of course, goal scroers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. So it should come as no surprise the Sounders have struggled since the two have been out. Finding the net has been nearly impossible. ... Sigi Schmid has an opinion on that and a couple other things. ... The U.S. tied Panama 1-1 in the final group match of the Gold Cup. Next up for the U.S. is the knockout round. Dempsey played just the second half and had a part to play in the goal.

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• And, yes, the youth home run story is true. The only thing I wish is I had been able to talk to the woman who brought the ball back. She just dropped it with a parent and left. I would have thanked her for being so considerate and would have gotten her name. Then I could give her credit every time I relate it. 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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