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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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What a night of sports on TV

Texas Rangers’ Sam Dyson, left, and Robinson Chirinos celebrate their victory against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League Division Series in Toronto on Thursday. (Nathan Denette / Associated Press)
Texas Rangers’ Sam Dyson, left, and Robinson Chirinos celebrate their victory against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League Division Series in Toronto on Thursday. (Nathan Denette / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Usually, Thursday nights are reserved for the NFL (if the Seahawks are playing) and not much else on the televised sports scene. Imagine my surprise with all the riveting action there was to take in. Talk about a surprise birthday party. Read on.

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• Instead of going out to celebrate my birthday last night, I barbecued perfect steaks. Perfect. Mainly because I wanted to sit home and watch the baseball playoffs, Matt Hasselbeck trying to defy time, Steve Sarkisian showing his old school why they weren’t as important to him as his new school and golf from the future. Little did I know how many presents were headed my way. Let’s take them in the order I listed above.

• So who knew one of the reasons the Mariners struggled mightily this season is that they were in the best division in the American League? Well, we don’t know that for sure but it certainly looked that way last night. The Rangers had no trouble with the Blue Jays – though Adrian Beltre being forced out with a back issue is worrisome, and a loss within the win – and the Astros handled a rain delay well enough to upset the Royals in Kansas City. The two road wins make the American League divisional series that much more interesting.

• What happened to the Houston Texans? Their fall from grace this season is remarkable. Or maybe it’s just the bright lights around J.J. Watt have obscured for me what’s visible to everyone else: they stink. When you let a 40-year-old quarterback leading a struggling team defeat you at home 27-20, then you are aromatic. Heck, Hasselbeck is not only old, he was sick all week and wasn’t sure he could get through four quarters. He did and the Colts did.

• The remote hadn’t burned out by the time I became fixated on the unscripted soap opera going on in La-La Land (aka, my one-time home). The Huskies improvised with a double pass, 23-skidoo trick play or something and went on to upset the “help-I’ve-fallen-and-can’t-get-up” Trojans, 17-12. But that’s not the whole story. Washington was a 17-point underdog. On the road. And on the other sideline was Sark, the guy who abandoned Seattle for the men of Troy. Talk about a no-one-would-believe-it screenplay. But it happened. And it didn’t go over well with the USC faithful, who filled the Coliseum with more boos than anytime since, I don’t know, a couple years ago when Lane Kiffin’s Trojans were upset by WSU. That loss greased the skids for Kiffin’s departure. Now everyone from Bellingham to San Clemente is wondering if last night’s defeat will do the same for Sark. And, in an oh-by-the-way moment, USA Today last night opined its time to jettison Sarkisian and hire Chip Kelly. As cool as it would be to have Kelly back in college – and dealing with Traveler – it seems a bit premature on both ends.

• Bedtime was delayed again last night due to riveting golf from a day in the future. It was already Friday in South Korea when something happened I’ve never seen before in a golf competition. A team lost a hole twice. How the heck can that happen? Phil Mickelson used an illegal ball, though there is no word whether he batted it down the fairway or just pushed it. Anyway, using an illegal ball means he and partner Zach Johnson would forfeit a hole. But, for some reason, the officials on site told Michelson he couldn’t play the hole anymore, which is contrary to the rules. World golf’s second-best team event and they used officials the Pac-12 would pass on? What’s the deal here? Anyhow, Johnson, playing one-on-two, lost the hole to the international team and then – here’s the weird part – he and Mickelson also had to forfeit it. In other words, they lost two holes while only playing just one. What a weird rule. Ultimately, it cost the U.S. a half-point as Johnson and Mickelson ended up tying in their match, even though they won one more hole.

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• WSU: Chip Kelly’s old, old team hosts the Cougars on Saturday, among thoughts the Ducks’ dynasty is crumbling. We’ll see. That’s the subject of this piece Jacob Thorpe put together. ...The Cougars will see a healthy dose of Royce Freeman according to this story from Jacob. ... Jacob also has his morning post today with links. ... The Oregon defense may have its hand full with WSU’s passing attack. ... You like picks? Here are some more. One already missed.

• Gonzaga: There is a possible sea change going on at Santa Clara.

• EWU: With Cal Poly in town, Eastern’s safeties will play a big role. Jim Allen has a feature on Miles Weatheroy as well as a transcript of his live chat from yesterday and a morning post with links today. ... The Eagle volleyball team has yet to lose a Big Sky match.

• Whitworth: The Pirate soccer team is successful again and there may be one main reason for that. Jim Allen explores the influence of coach Morgan Cathey in this feature.

• Idaho: Sean Kramer has a blog post with a look at the Vandal offense under the direction of Jake Luton.

Preps: There was a crossover doubleheader last night at Albi Stadium and the GSL 4A schools won both. Greg Lee wrote the stories and Jesse Tinsley took the photographs as Central Valley remained on a roll with a 43-0 win over North Central and Lewis and Clark defeating Rogers 21-3.

• Seahawks: Though the starting offensive line will reportedly remain the same this week, there could be a quick hook at the center position. ... Marshawn Lynch was back at practice yesterday though in a limited role. ... We found out last week Tyler Lockett isn’t perfect. ... Either were the Hawks, as their grades for the first quarter of the year show. ... Believe it or not, Seattle’s games have been the least penalized in the NFL. ... The next one, at Cincinnati, should feature a few flags. Cary Williams hopes they won’t be on him.

• Mariners: There was another change in the front office yesterday as Jerry Dipito continues his housecleaning.

• Sounders: There’s a report out there Sigi Schmid and the New York City FC manager are going to be changing places. Schmid denied it, of course. ... A set piece proved decisive for the Sounders. ... Lamar Neagle is frustrated with his season.

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• And that’s that. Let’s hope every night has great sports on television. Then we all will never have to leave our homes. 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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