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Tuesday, September 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In an already crowded month, nightly Olympics viewing means morning comes much too early

United States’ Michael Phelps celebrates winning the gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley for the fourth straight Olympics. (Lee Jin-man / Associated Press)
United States’ Michael Phelps celebrates winning the gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley for the fourth straight Olympics. (Lee Jin-man / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • What will hold our interest this weekend? Let’s see. There is a real honest-to-goodness pennant race, an NFL game, preseason college football practice and a little competition going on in the Southern Hemisphere. Anything else? Read on.

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• August isn’t supposed to be this way. It’s supposed to be all about quiet, warm days spent luxuriating by a lake or pool, soaking in rays, slowing life down and getting ready for the winter that will inevitable suck out all hope from our bones. At least that’s how it usually seems. But this August is way too busy. The usual suspects have been lined up, of course, like so many aging actors. There is college football, the most-aged of thespians, of course, but all bright and filled with promise as the season gets underway. There is pro football, the hard working star filled with nothing but promise of a season filled with weekly displays of heartache and joy for its fans. And there are the last vestiges of summer sports like baseball, usually a bit player in this area the past decade-and-a-half, but threatening to steal our hearts with an award-winning performance this late summer and fall. Which would be enough. But every four years there is an interloper, a party crasher, a scene stealer. The Olympics are threatening to rob us all of sleep and our undivided attention on the regular cast of characters. Last night was a great example. If you are at all in tune with the modern conveniences of social media – or is it a curse? – you knew the three big outcomes from yesterday. You knew Michael Phelps defied age and seven other competitors to win the 200-meter individual medley with seeming ease. You knew the two Simones, women’s gymnastics’ all-around champion Simone Biles and swimming sprinter Simone Manuel, did things that no one else had ever done. And yet the television beckoned until late into the evening, assuring us all of a morning spent wanting to hint the snooze over and over. Was it worth it? Sure. Manuel’s sprint gold medal – she tied with a young Canadian, Penny Oleksiak for the top spot but south of Kelowna, no one really cared – was the first in the pool for an African-American woman. And Manuel’s response was priceless. Biles was just a bit young for the 2012 Olympics but since then she has won three world championships and now the ultimate prize, Olympic gold. She too was overcome with emotion. Not Phelps. No sir. Winning gold medals is as common to him as a Marvel comic book movie. And happens even more often. He won his 13th individual gold medal and the 200 IM for the fourth consecutive Olympics. And he did it in style, winning by almost two seconds over the world’s best. He’s in his 30s for goodness sakes. But once again he’s dominating a sport that seemingly is the province of athletes barely old enough to vote. It’s an impressive performance. And hard to miss.

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• WSU: Speaking of easy to miss, that would be field goals. But not for Erik Powell, the Cougar kicker. Jacob Thorpe examines why that might be the case in this piece from Lewiston. ... Jacob also has videos of post-practice interviews with Mike Leach, assistant coaches Roy Manning and Ken Wilson, and freshman Justus Rogers. And there is the usual practice report. ... At least one AP voter has WSU in his preseason top 25. ... The defense is learning more lessons from coordinator Alex Grinch. ... Around the conference, Colorado needs its quarterback to do well to thrive. Just like most everybody, including Utah and Arizona. ... Washington has a player who will be happy being the No. 1 backup at that position. ... The Bruins need a running back to step up. ... Arizona State is deep into practice while USC is in deep with its schedule. ... Injuries can ruin a season, but help set up the next one. ... Maybe football is a bit more important than your comedian buddies. ... You know its getting late in preseason camp when the punt-returner stories begin to appear. ... WSU golfer Derek Bayley finished as the runner-up in the Washington State Amateur, losing on the sixth-hole of sudden death. ... Former WSU basketball player Mike Ladd has been hired as an assistant at Seattle Pacific. ... In more alumni news, there is this piece from Philadelphia.

• EWU: Didn’t want to miss a day of Big Sky coverage so I found this piece on former Eastern assistant Jody Sears and Sacramento State.

• Indians: Spokane grabbed a 2-0 win against Tri-City on the way out of Pasco. They open a homestand tonight, which means Josh Horton has a feature story in today’s paper. ... The Indians are chasing Everett in the North’s second-half race. Everyone is chasing Eugene in the South.

• Mariners: The M’s had an off-day yesterday but they still picked up ground in the wild-card race. They are only a game out as they begin a road trip in Oakland. And they have their mantra for the rest of the season, courtesy of Ken Griffey Jr., who told them to “keep fighting” during his number-retirement ceremony.

• Seahawks: The Hawks have fought each other some in practice, but Thursday’s workout was uneventful in that way. On Saturday, a bunch of young guys will make their first impression and try to cement a spot on the roster. The latter part also holds true for some veterans. ... The offensive line is always trying to prove itself.

• Sounders: There has been some improvement in the offense recently and Clint Dempsey knows the reason why. Actually, he knows the player responsible.

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• If you don’t watch at least 16 hours of sports on the tube between now and Monday, you aren’t even trying. Until later ...




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

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