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Monday, August 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: One of baseball’s true nice guys finally finishes first

In this April 4, 2001 photo, Seattle Mariners’ Edgar Martinez drops his bat as he heads toward first on his sixth-inning, two-run double against the Oakland Athletics in Seattle. Martinez will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, the first player to spend his entire career with the Mariners--18 seasons in all--and find his way into Cooperstown. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
In this April 4, 2001 photo, Seattle Mariners’ Edgar Martinez drops his bat as he heads toward first on his sixth-inning, two-run double against the Oakland Athletics in Seattle. Martinez will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, the first player to spend his entire career with the Mariners--18 seasons in all--and find his way into Cooperstown. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Forgot about step backs and dropped popups. Today is about celebrating the Mariners’ past. More precisely, today is about celebrating Edgar Martinez and his Mariner career.

•••••••

• Today, Martinez, one of the best players ever to step on the Kingdome turf, will join the best players in baseball in the sport’s Hall of Fame. It’s an acknowledgement of his extraordinary skill hitting a baseball, which may just be the hardest thing to do in sports.

But that’s just why Martinez is a Hall of Famer. He has always been, even when he was the best hitter to grace the Safeco Field batter’s box, one of the game’s most respected ambassadors. Punch “class” into the search engine on Baseball Reference and Martinez’s face appears.

That’s a skill too, and one Martinez mastered long before he finally broke into the M’s lineup.

There’s no analytical formula to measure it, if course. And it really shouldn’t be considered when deciding to bestow an honor like induction into Cooperstown, but baseball writers are humans too. And such things matter. Both good and bad.

And for that, we are thankful.

Martinez’s numbers were ultimately deemed good enough to warrant his spot in the Hall, especially in comparison to many players over the years who squeaked in with even worse stats. And his personality helped him as well.

It all culminates into today’s ceremony in a sweltering upstate New York. There are six players headed in this season. That one of them is Edgar Martinez once again disproves the adage about where nice guys finish.

• We won’t get to watch the British Open’s final round, even with its early start. It is on in the background, however, as I write this. It sounds as if the weather conditions have turned the scoring totals into something akin to my rounds with my son and his friends.

Which may not be good for the professionals but certainly makes it fun to watch. Enjoy yourself.

•••

WSU: If you are one of those diehard Cougar fans I’ve run into over the years, my guess is you’ve already watched the Mike Leach special on ESPN. It played for the first time at 6 this morning, Pullman time. Theo Lawson spoke with Jeremy Schaap last week and presents this Q&A about the network’s piece. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, it won’t be easy for Colorado to go from worst to first. … Arizona State needs to improve on special teams. … Arizona needs to keep in-state talent in the state.

Indians: Spokane is still one win away from clinching the Northwest League’s North Division first-half title. Everett defeated the Indians last night in Everett, 6-4, cutting Spokane’s lead to two with two games to play. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Hillsboro held off Eugene.

MMA: Terrance McKinney hopes to be the next person to make the trek from Spokane to the MMA, joining a handful of others. But before he could get to where his is, he had to overcome a horrendous injury. Ryan Collingwood has more in this story.

Softball: Kathleen Burns has been umpiring the highest levels of softball for many years. Now she will be honored into the highest level of officiating awards, induction into the Washington Officials Association Hall of Fame. That news leads off our local roundup.

Golf: A 6-under 65 Saturday boosted Jared Lambert into first place headed into today’s final round of the Rosauers Open at Indian Canyon. Jim Meehan was on the course yesterday and has this story.

Mariners: Watching the M’s last night was like watching one of those newfangled bar sports. I was always waiting for the axe to fall. It did in the top of the ninth when with two outs, a routine infield popup was allowed to drop, leading to a four-run inning and another loss. It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

Seahawks: You have questions? There are answers.

Sounders: You know how you can tell the Sounders are really good? The MLS title is more important than the Cascadia Cup this season.

•••       

• This is the last day of the summer basketball season for my group. It will end where it almost always ends, in an overheated gym in Las Vegas. It will also end successfully, no matter what happens on the scoreboard. That’s the goal of high school-aged hoops, at least for me. It’s about the winning and losing, sure, but learning how to compete is even more important. That’s a skill that transcends sports. And this group has learned it. Until later …

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