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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: This rollercoaster M’s season is leading to a rundown feeling

Seattle Mariners reliever Edwin Diaz sits in the dugout after he was pulled from the game against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning on June 28, 2017, in Seattle. Diaz was charged with the loss and a blown save as the Phillies beat the Mariners 5-4. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners reliever Edwin Diaz sits in the dugout after he was pulled from the game against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning on June 28, 2017, in Seattle. Diaz was charged with the loss and a blown save as the Phillies beat the Mariners 5-4. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There was a time when I would read every book I could find about Greek mythology. The stories were so entertaining. From Hercules to Achilles, from Icarus to Prometheus, the heroes were with me day-after-day in my youth. Little did I know I would feel stuck in a Greek myth during the summer of my 60th year. Read on.

••••••••••

• We wrote, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, right after Hoopfest the weekend would be remembered as that time when the Mariners were over .500.

It wasn’t a prophecy. I promise.

And yet it’s turned out to be true thus far.

The Mariners reached the top of the hill, actually poked their head above it, and then fell back down. It’s the third time that’s happened this season.

You know who it reminds me of? Sisyphus.

No, he wasn’t the St. Louis Browns’ first baseman before the war. He’s one of those Greek characters I loved so much.

He wasn’t a hero, per se, as his legacy was of wiliness and craftiness. He was a schemer. He thought he was better at it even than the gods. And the gods didn’t like that. So they punished him

They made him roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity. A big one. And every time he got it to the top, it rolled back to the bottom.

Sound familiar?

So who, in our Mariner myth, is Sisyphus?

Is it Jerry Dipoto, who feels he is the great trader, the guy who finds discarded parts and turns them into workable pieces? Or is it Scott Servais, the quiet M’s manager, who has been trying to get this team into playoff contention for a year and a half?

Or is it us?

This year it seems every time the team we follow looks as if it is about to reach the top of the hill and began rolling, it gets rolled over.

Three times now the M’s have reached the .500 mark. Last weekend they actually got above it. But then, Sisyphus-like, the boulder gets away and rolls back down the hill. Right over our hopes.

This time not only have the M’s lost four consecutive games, the last two were to the Phillies, a team with baseball’s worst record.

And in the middle of the series, the M’s announce Drew Smyly, the lefty Dipoto picked up in the offseason to solidify the rotation, would have Tommy John surgery and be out for, well, this season and beyond.

That’s a big boulder.

You know, each of the Greek myths I read as a youngster had a moral. A lesson to be learned. Don’t over reach. Respect your elders. Don’t get cocky.

So what’s the lesson from Sisyphus? And this Mariner season?

When I figure it out, I’ll tell you. Right now I’m too busy trying to avoid all the falling rocks.

•••

WSU: Around the Pac-12 yesterday, California has new home football uniforms. … And if you are planning your possible bowl trip, the Arizona Bowl has a time and date set. … Eugene considers itself the track capital of the U.S., if not the world. But it didn’t get the latest Olympic Trials and there is reportedly an investigation into the awarding of another event. … Oregon State’s year was OK.

Gonzaga: Former GU player Kyle Wiltjer was a part of yesterday’s biggest NBA trade.

Indians: The eight-game losing streak is over. The 6-1 win over visiting Tri-City comes as a relief to the Indians, according to Whitney Ogden’s story and this one from Johnathan Curley. … The Indians are doing their part to help save a local fish. Drew Gerber has this story. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Everett and Eugene won.

Preps: Greg Lee has a couple of interesting stories today. The first is a feature on Ryan Rehkow’s future. The other concerns basketball officials in North Idaho and three-man crews vs. two-man crews.

Chiefs: Spokane grabbed two players in the WHL’s international draft.

Empire: A couple of Spokane players were honored by the IFL.

Mariners: Given the state of the Mariners right now, we wouldn’t blame you for losing sleep over last night’s 5-4 loss to woeful Philadelphia. I know I did. The losing streak has reached four games, the back end of the bullpen is in disarray and once again in this rollercoaster of a season, despair seems to be the operative emotion. … Speaking of despair, Smyly will have Tommy John surgery and will probably miss next season as well. In other words, he may never pitch for the M’s. … The good news from yesterday? Felix Hernandez threw well and left with a lead. If the M’s had a lights-out bullpen throughout his career, he would be well over 200 wins by now.

Seahawks: Is Cliff Avril the most underpaid Seahawk? Or, to put it another way, the club’s best bargain?

Sounders: A team with Sounders on their jerseys played in a U.S. Open Cup match in San Jose last night. I’m not a huge fan, but I do try to pay attention. And yet, I only recognized about two names in the 2-1 tournament-ending defeat.

•••       

• The M’s hit the road for three games in Anaheim before returning home to face the Royals early next week. I know way too many Royal fans who will either be in Safeco rooting for the visiting team or on Twitter crowing about their suddenly hot squad. I would be remiss if I didn't point out the tale of Icarus for their perusal. Until later … 

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