A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s a day of remembrance, isn’t it? Of those who left to defend their country and never returned. Read on.
• Abraham Lincoln said it best – and that’s a surprise? – in his Gettysburg Address. And he did it more than once. Early in his speech at the site of one of the key battles of the Civil War and of a new military cemetery, Lincoln said “We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” He was right, it was fitting and proper. But then he went on to explain their sacrifice, their blood, had already consecrated the land. What their death really meant is the struggle could continue. “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,” he said. Let that sink in for a moment. “The last full measure of devotion.” That’s what Memorial Day seeks to honor. To remember, actually. Those who gave their life defending our freedoms, and those who will in the future, have already earned their honor. They earned it with their last full measure of devotion to all of us.
• Getting back to sports, as is the focus of this column, it was such a beautiful day yesterday there was no way I was spending it inside watching sports on television. So I missed Juan Pablo Montoya’s frantic dash to the finish in the last 10 laps of the Indy 500. From what I’ve read and heard, though, it must have been some type of driving. I also missed Taijuan Walker’s mini-meltdown in the bottom of the fifth – I saw the top of the fifth and the top of the sixth, but was outside during the fateful inning in the M’s 8-2 defeat. So I can’t comment on that too much either. But I can comment on one incident I didn’t see: Al Horford’s ejection for throwing an elbow at former St. Mary’s star Matthew Dellavedova. You can watch what happened here. Like all things in sports, this action needs some context. I’m sure any Gonzaga basketball fan would be willing to supply it, though they would be a bit prejudice. Instead I’ll offer the thoughts of three West Coast college basketball coaches I’ve talked with over the years. Three guys who love tough physical players. And all three thought Dellavedova was one guy who crossed over from physical to dirty – and crossed over by a large margin. One of them went so far as to send a video of actions Dellavedova took off the ball during their game, actions that could have resulted in injury, and sent it to the WCC office, hoping something would be done. Nothing was. It’s funny because all three loved the things Dellavedova could do on the basketball court. And they didn’t understand why he insisted on doing things like he’s done a couple times in these NBA playoffs. Ah well. My guess is the players in the NBA will police this matter themselves at some time.
• WSU: The NCAA picked its sites for the baseball regionals yesterday. There will be one – that’s 1 – Pac-12 team hosting. Interesting.
• Idaho: Lellanie Kim is in fourth place after her third round at the NCAA golf championships.
• Mariners: Walker’s poor fifth killed any chance the M’s had of sweeping the Blue Jays, what with the struggles their offense is still going through. After watching quite a few at-bats over the past week or so, I will have some thoughts on that soon. ... One the guys who continues to struggle is Robinson Cano, who sets the tone for the offense. ... Carson Smith is now the M's eighth-inning guy. ... John McGrath thinks it is unfair Lloyd McClendon is on any type of hot-seat. Really?
• I believe the Gettysburg Address may be the greatest example of concise writing the English language has ever produced. And Lincoln wrote it on the train – at least he edited the final version – on the way to give the speech. He would have made a great sportswriter. Until later ...