A GRIP ON SPORTS • I feel like a guy with a long white beard, dirty robe, and a hand-drawn sandwich board walking down the street in front of the courthouse. The end is near. Read on.
• I caught pennant-race fever last night. Today I’m wondering if, like the flu, it is of the 24-hour variety. Marco Estrada seemed to be the cure. The Toronto right-hander, who had a plus-8 earned run average in September, threw darts all night and quieted the Mariner fans in the Safeco crowd. Of course, M’s fans were in the minority. Darn Canadians, coming south and taking seats away from good old American baseball fans. I wonder if there is a presidential candidate who will address this. There they were, making noise, giving Estrada standing ovations and polluting the Puget Sound (somehow). I’m surprised the Port of Seattle didn’t complain.
Anyhow, the loss in a meaningful September game wasn’t what I was hoping to see last night. I wanted Taijuan Walker to be the one taking a no-hitter into the seventh. I wanted Nelson Cruz to deposit a baseball into the Bro-Zone in left-center. I wanted the M’s to win. Instead, they lost, 3-2, with the only two runs coming in the ninth on a Leonys Martin home run. (As an aside, I turned the TV off with Adam Lind at the plate, two outs and no one on base. It was late, I went to bed.) Not enough.
Now the M’s will have to do something truly magical to make the postseason. They are three games back with 12 to play. They have four teams either ahead of them or tied with them (Baltimore, Toronto and Detroit are ahead while Houston is tied). Win all 12 and they still may not make the playoffs – though it would sure make the final two weeks fun.
But who among us believes the Mariners are going to put together a 12-game winning streak to end the season? Not me. My faith in the team left weeks ago, about the time they decided to trade Mike Montgomery to the Cubs for a stubby, left-handed hitting first baseman who has yet to step on the Safeco grass for more than a minute or two. I still carried hope – faith and hope are different you know – they might, somehow, play over their heads and roll all the way to the Series.
But hope is dying a Shakespeare-like death off stage right now. However, with two games remaining with Toronto, there are still gasps being heard. Win both, starting tonight, and maybe hope will crawl back from the wings to deliver one more soliloquy. And I can nervously watch a couple more games before September ends. Unless my fever breaks, of course.
• Speaking of a pennant race, the Dodgers and Giants harkened back to the old days last night as they battled, literally, in Dodger Stadium. These two franchises don’t like each other and haven’t for more than 100 years. Contrary to popular opinion, Vin Scully wasn’t there at the beginning of their rivalry. But as he enters the last couple weeks of his unmatched broadcast career, Scully took some time to reflect back to the beginning – of his career, not the Dodger/Giant rivalry, though that’s played a huge role for him.
It turns out Scully remembers the exact day he became a baseball fan. And it was 80 years ago. At least it will be on the day he broadcasts his final game. It would be perfectly symmetrical if the Dodgers were involved back then. But they weren’t. It was the Giants and the Yankees. Funny, over the years, those were the Dodgers’ rivals. And most of Scully’s greatest calls came against them. So there is some symmetry after all.
• WSU: (UPDATED AT NOON) Missed this piece earlier this morning from Chad Sokol on Kirk Schulz's comments on the recent arrest controversies along with other information. ... With the bye week upon us, there are only drabs of news. Stefanie Loh has a story in the Times about a recruit breaking his commitment. (Remember the Seinfeld bit on reservations? That’s what I think of with broken commitments.) ... Around the Pac-12, the North vs. South rivalry is heating up a bit. ... Washington still hasn’t played a top-quality opponent and may have a bit of a trap game this week in the conference opener at Arizona. ... Oregon lost two of its key offensive players for the season but seems to have dodged an even worse catastrophe. ... Colorado lost a player as well and is still waiting on news about its quarterback. ... USC has decided to change quarterbacks. ... Stanford and California picked up A-quality wins over the weekend, though the Bears almost fumbled their's away. That’s prompted a rule change in Berkeley. ... Utah’s offense needs to put all the pieces together. ... Speaking of together, UCLA doesn’t seem to be right now. ... Concussions are treated quickly at Arizona State.
• EWU: A couple of Eastern players reaped Big Sky awards after their 34-30 win over Northern Iowa. Jim Allen has the story.
• Chiefs: With the WHL opener on tap Saturday, Spokane is in the midst of roster cuts. Tom Clouse has the story.
• Mariners: The 3-2 loss seemed even worse considering how impotent the M’s offense was most of the night and the atmosphere around Safeco Field. It almost felt like a Toronto home game. ... The roles in the bullpen are ever-changing. ... Robinson Cano broke up the no-hitter with a single. It might have been because of the extra work he’s been putting in.
• Seahawks: The NFL threw the fine book at the Seahawks yesterday, penalizing the team for two players hitting heads during a summer workout. Pete Carroll has less money and the team will have one less draft pick next year. ... The offensive line? It will get better. Maybe. ... The Monday after the Rams’ loss included worries about injuries, the offense and more.
• That’s it for now. Another Tuesday is upon us. It’s the least heralded day of the week, unless you love tacos. Until later ...