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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Winning and losing is not equal except when it is

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Parity is a goal of every major professional sports league. The NFL would love to have every team at 8-8 when the regular season is over (though I'm pretty sure Roger Goodell wouldn't mind the Patriots finishing 0-16 this season). Yet parity is elusive – and also not just the Holy Grail of the major leagues. It's the goal of minor sports leagues as well. Read on.

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• There is a dichotomy in minor league baseball. There are a couple of goals that seem to clash. One is player development. Major league baseball funds the system with the express goal of preparing players for the highest level of the sport. It's not about winning for the big clubs, per se. It's about the future. If each Spokane Indian team produces one or two players that can help the Rangers, that's a win for Texas. But winning also has its rewards, especially for the minor league franchise owner. A team like the Indians is going to draw a certain number of fans no matter what the record is. The minor-league game experience will entice them. But winning can infect a fan base, especially in the smaller communities. Going to the ballpark is a lot more fun when the home team wins. A fan has fun, tells his or her neighbor and the infection grows. A few more wins can mean a few more bucks in the hands of an owner who is operating on a small-to-middling profit margin. Of course, the happier a minor league ownership group is, the happier the big league guy, whose job it is to deal with them, is. That's simple math. But there is something to be learned from winning as well. Remember the quack doctor in "The Natural?" His lines about losing and diseases are always worth dredging up. "We must begin by asking it. What is losing? Losing is a disease, as contagious as polio. Losing is a disease, as contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease, as contagious as bubonic plague." The converse is true as well. Winning is as contagious as measles – and its effects also can be visible for a lifetime. There is a reward for learning how much effort is needed to win in professional baseball. For some, it isn't an easy lesson. It takes practice, over and over. It's easy to lose. Winning is hard. And the lessons begin in Short Season A, the Northwest League's level. Why bring this up today? Everyone in the league's North Division is 2-2 after four games. More than likely, the powers that be around the league are happy with that. Lessons are being learned. Home crowds are going home happy some of the time. No one is awful. The season is young – summer began officially yesterday – and the future is still bright for everyone. 

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• WSU: Athlon Sports has ranked all 128 FBS coaches. Mike Leach is No. 26 – and fourth in the Pac-12. ... It looks as if Klay Thompson will be playing in Rio this summer. ... Oregon State won't be looking for a new baseball coach after all.

• Indians: Spokane picked up a 7-1 win at Tri-City in its first road game. ... Everett won while Hillsboro lost.

• Chiefs: The offseason will be extra busy for a handful of Spokane players. Tom Clouse has the story.

• Preps: The weekly youth sports notebook debuts for the summer today. ... Another local high school football player has committed to Oregon. It's Coeur d'Alene quarterback Colson Yankoff.

• Mariners: Just one clutch hit. That's all the M's needed yesterday. They didn't get it. So they lost 8-7 in the opening game of a series in Detroit. It took 12 innings and taxed the bullpen. Oh joy. ... The other bad news for the M's yesterday? Taijuan Walker flew back to Seattle to have his injured foot checked.

• Seahawks: Rookies don't come into the NFL knowing how to handle all the off-field pressures. So the teams try to teach them. The Hawks use former players as teachers and mentors. ... Who will make up the roster this season? Here is one educated guess.

• Sounders: The U.S. National Team has a huge opportunity tonight in the semifinal of the Copa America: No. 1-ranked Argentina. ... The Timbers may lose one of their key players – if he has a say in the matter.

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• The next couple days I will be staying at a relative's house. They don't have internet access. I want to repeat that. In 2016, they don't have internet access. And cell phone coverage is spotty as well. It's like being in the Middle Ages (or the 1960s) for goodness sakes. I will be out looking for a hot spot, but I'm not sure what the chances are. If the post is here tomorrow morning, you'll know I was successful. Maybe I'll head to Starbucks. He-who-shall-not-be-named stole our NBA team, I'll "borrow" his internet. Sounds fair. ... By the way, I am re-running a poll question from earlier in the month. The way the M's are playing, I thought the results might be different. Until later ...



SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.






Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.