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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spring is springing out everywhere, including in the world of sports

A GRIP ON SPORTS • What is your favorite thing about sports in the spring? Or, like me, do you have trouble winnowing it down to one specific item? Read on.

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• Ask an ordinary Joe or Josephine about spring and you may get answers relating to flowers and cleaning and love. Yuck. Ask the sports fan about favorites and spring and your answers are so much more fun. And varied. You can start with sports that take place outside. After four months of enduring ice and snow and cold and skiing, it’s nice to put on a pair of shorts – watch out for the remarks about the brightness of the exposed skin – and head to the driving range to kill some grass. Or a plastic mat. Whatever. That first golf swing of spring is rarely a thing of beauty, though when I was younger I often posted my best score in the first round of the year. Muscle memory or something. More than likely I was so happy to be walking around in the sunshine my mind didn’t get in the way. By June my swing was so screwed up by thoughts of keeping my elbow in and my back straight, I couldn’t find green with a Pantone chart. Still, spring golf is so much fun. For a few years there I had a buddy who I golfed with on at least a weekly basis – or was it weakly? – but he moved to Boise. I miss him. He’s the only guy I ever golfed with who admitted his game was worse than mine – even when it wasn’t. But golf isn’t the only thing to do outdoors in the spring. I find myself driving by tennis courts and softball and baseball fields this time of year yearning for the days when I actually accessed them. You know, as a player. Baseball is a fun game to play but it has a tendency to – how can I put this nicely? – drag at times. A game that takes three hours to finish isn’t conducive to a young guy with a growing family. (And yes, I understand golf rounds can take longer than that, but I usually played why the kids were in school, thus fulfilling my parental obligations and recreating.) That’s one of the reasons I loved playing fastpitch softball so much. Games were an hour, hour-and-a-half tops. But that’s not all. Baseball for men over a certain age was always a battle of who could score the most runs. Fastpitch was a battle of who could score. Period. One mistake could make the difference between winning and losing. It fit in perfectly with my competitive nature. And the perfectionist who used to reside within me. That guy retired long ago, so my spring time competitions now consist of a war between my butt in a chair and my walking shoes. It’s a pretty competitive battle, let me tell you. However, once the shoes win and I get outside, I’m happy. I have discovered a bunch of rural-like hikes within minutes of my urban home, where nature beckons and the sounds of 2016 disappear, if only for 30 or 40 minutes. Competition? Well there’s the one between my hips. You know, to see which one can hurt more. Right now the left one is the Warriors, the right the Lakers. I’ve always loved the Lakers. And each day I’m out, I discover a new flower or something spring-like. Monday, as I was walking through the Hazel Creek area south of Ferris High, I had to avoid a new offshoot of the creek that had burrowed its way through the trail. I stopped for a minute to watch the water flow over a rock toward the wetlands below. A mini Spokane River it wasn’t. But an image of spring? Perfect. Even better than watching my golf ball disappear in the woods off to the right of the fairway? Ya, a lot better than that.

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• WSU: Another aspect of spring that can get the blood moving is spring football. The Cougars are in the midst of it right now and Jacob Thorpe is attending the workouts. He has his thoughts on yesterday’s practice as well as video interviews with Mike Leach, freshman quarterback Justus Rogers and freshman lineman Cedric Bigge-Duren. He will also hold a live chat at 10 a.m. here at SportsLink. ... The Times Stefanie Loh is in Pullman as well and has this story on Kyrin Priester. ... ESPN.com’s Chantel Jennings has an overall look at the Cougars. ... Stanford has a new basketball coach. How will he do?

• Gonzaga: The baseball team couldn’t score yesterday and lost 2-0 to Washington. ... Santa Clara made it official. Former Arizona State coach Herb Sendek is the new basketball coach. What does that say about the Broncos? ... BYU lost in the NIT semifinals, ending of the career of a couple of Zag nemesis, including Kyle Collinsworth.

• EWU: The Eagles will begin spring football later this week but before then Jim Allen took the time to recap the basketball season. Eastern will lose its all-time leading scorer, Venky Jois.

• Whitworth: The Pirates are off to another great start in baseball as Jacob explains in this notebook.

• Empire: Spokane’s bye weeks are over. Jim Meehan examines in this notebook the strange phenomenon the Empire just experienced: back-to-back bye weeks.

• Chiefs: What cliché to use? Their backs against the wall, the Spokane Chiefs played like a team with nothing to lose and didn’t, defeating Victoria 5-2 in the Arena last night. Tom Clouse was there and has this game story and Colin Mulvany these photographs. Victoria still leads the WHL first-round playoff series 2-1. ... Everett went into Portland and went up 3-0 in its series with a 5-3 win over the shorthanded Winterhawks.

• Seahawks: The Hawks will, officially, have nine draft picks next month. Though they haven’t had much success with the spots in the past. Well, sort of not.

• Mariners: There are two spots still open on the M’s roster: backup catcher (hey, I know a guy, though his hips hurt all the time) and one reliever. The rest of the backups spots are filled, mainly with veterans. ... Taijuan Walker did the most spring training thing yesterday. Less than a week before the season opens, he worked on a new pitch. The results were mixed as the M’s lost. ... Talk about a roundabout way to the bigs. ... Charlie Furbush is still trying to get healthy.

• Sounders: The Sounders are getting healthier – and more American. ... Speaking of America, the USMNT team had to win yesterday to keep hope of a World Cup spot alive. It did, routing Guatemala 4-0.

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• My alma mater didn’t get it done last night, losing in the finals of the ABC or BCS or CIT basketball tournament finals. Well, at least UC Irvine is a better academic school than its opponent. Wait, the Anteaters lost to Columbia? An Ivy League school? That’s embarrassing. 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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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.