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Saturday, August 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: Hoopfest dominates the weekend, sure, but there is more, a lot more, today

Youngster Corbin Tremayne drives the ball against Grant Moffatt during the Hoopfest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in downtown Spokane on Saturday, June 29, 2019. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Youngster Corbin Tremayne drives the ball against Grant Moffatt during the Hoopfest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in downtown Spokane on Saturday, June 29, 2019. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Weekends at the end of June are not supposed to be this busy. It is summer, after all, and the word lazy has always been associated with the hottest season. As well it should be. But that’s not the way it is around here this weekend.

•••••••

• We’ll start with Hoopfest. We have to start with Hoopfest. It’s the biggest thing going on. Wandering around downtown yesterday, we observed a few things. It is our nature, observing.

– It got crowded quickly yesterday. Usually the morning is kind of quiet on Saturday, then ramps up as the day goes on. This year it was bumper-to-bumper on the sidewalks even around 8 a.m. And parking, always at a premium, was even more so at that time.

I blame the perfect weather.

– Best game I saw yesterday? It was on a family court. On one side was a team with a dad and his two quite young daughters. On the other was what looked to be an older brother with his two even younger sisters. It was glorious to watch. Everyone was having the time of the their life, even if the ball only occasionally made forays toward the basket.

I never looked at the score but came away thinking there were a lot of winners.

– In many cases, men of my age are still way too competitive. That is all.

– The newest addition of the remodeled Riverfront Park sure has a lot of asphalt. I wonder how that will play come mid-July. Barefoot in the park will not be a common occurrence.

– Coed hoops seems to be all the rage. That’s a good thing.

– One suggestion for the powers that be: More port-a-potties. Please. Asking for a friend.

• Washington State’s chances of success in the fall took a big hit yesterday when Jalen Thompson announced he was heading for the NFL’s supplemental draft. The reason? Theo Lawson discovered Thompson had bought (and, it would seem, used, though that’s unclear) an unapproved nutritional supplement.

Whatever the reason, Thompson lost his eligibility for next season, so he’s hired an agent and will try to earn an NFL roster spot.

There are so many layers here.

It’s not as if Thompson is a newbie, a callow freshman unaware of the NCAA rules concerning supplements. There are signs everywhere around the WSU football facility. They all make it clear players shouldn’t put anything in their bodies of that nature that doesn’t come the Cougar staff. Screwing it up risks losing a year of eligibility, which seems to be Thompson’s fate.

For the Cougars, they lose their best defensive player, maybe their best player, period. The guy anchored the secondary. And now, after spring football is over, he’s gone. Finding an equal replacement is impossible. The challenge for Tracy Claeys and his staff will be to mix and match enough to get the job done in the back end.

• This week’s Out of Right Field column has been a long time coming. Watching the Mariners play the last year or so has been, at most times, painful. And it’s not solely due to their ineptitude, though that didn’t help.

It’s the way the game is played. By everyone.

Yes, I know. It’s being played the way the underlying numbers say it should be. Throw the ball as hard as you can. Swing as hard as you can. At its core, that’s the path to success.

It’s just not all that interesting to watch. The game lacks the subtlety it used to have.

(OK, I know you are rolling your eyes, wondering when I am going to shake my fist at a cloud, but I’ve thought about this a lot; my age has nothing to do with it. I understand evolution happens in sports. I like the way basketball has evolved. And though there is some things I miss about football – the fullback, for one – I, like most everyone, enjoy the modern game.)

If it wants to avoid going down the irrelevancy road, baseball needs to de-evolve some. Give me the power to make it happen and I would deaden the ball some. Not all the way back to the dead-ball era, of course, but just enough so that home runs don’t play such a dominating role in the game.

I would also raise the seams on it, allowing the guy with great control, a sharp breaking ball and only an 85-miles-per-hour fastball a chance to be successful once again. That would, hopefully, diversify pitching staffs.

And shifts? Every professional sport has rules concerning positioning of defensive players, even baseball. Yes, it’s already true. Only the catcher is allowed to be in foul territory when the pitch is made. And pitchers have to follow certain positioning rules in relationship to the rubber. Why not limit the number of players on each side of the field? It’s not different than the NBA limiting zones so the game came can flow, or the NFL limiting contact on receivers in certain areas.

If baseball doesn’t change, we may not be just wondering if the franchises in Miami and Tampa can survive. We may wonder if the game can.

•••

Hoopfest: Talk about coverage. Wow. From photographs of all aspects of the event from Tyler Tjomsland and Colin Mulvany, to a video from Colin, to stories galore, it is available right here. … Ryan Collingwood spent his time around the elite courts and has a story on Shoni Schimmel as well as a notebook that touches base with a variety of players. … Justin Reed wandered and has a story on an older group of players, another on the GU roots of the slam-dunk judges, and one more on Gonzaga assistant Stacy Clinesmith. … Will Campbell has a story on a group of players that’s playing for something bigger than themselves.

Gonzaga: FIBA’s U19 world championships are underway and not only is GU well represented, the Zags are doing well. Jim Meehan relays how they played in the first round. … Courtney Vandersloot is living her best life.

WSU: Thompson’s departure disrupted everyone’s Saturday afternoon, especially Theo’s. He has this story. … Gardner Minshew and Taylor Mims were Washington State’s Tom Hansen medal winners this year from the Pac-12. That news leads off the S-R’s weekly local notebook. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Oregon's first football game against Auburn will be important not only to the Ducks but to the conference as well. … The attorney for an Arizona assistant that has been booted is building the case for a lawsuit.

Indians: Vancouver hadn’t won in a week. That ended last night as it shut out the Indians, 4-0, north of the border. … Around the Northwest League, Eugene is struggling, losing again to Hillsboro.

Mariners: Houston is the class of the American League West. And the M’s are whatever the opposite of that is. The Astros won, 6-5 in 10 innings last night in Texas. … The M's aren't going to rush Mitch Haniger back. Or let him rush back. … Larry Stone has crunched the numbers and sees what we all see. There is no way the M’s are going to be bad enough to earn the top pick in next June’s draft. So he feels we should celebrate their small successes this season. … Ketel Marte is an All-Star. The trade seems to have been good for both teams. … As we said above, we have our Out of Right Field column with our thoughts on baseball, its attendance and its future relevance.

Seahawks: Would the Hawks be interested in Jalen Thompson?

Sounders: You may not have been surprised to learn Seattle’s match with Vancouver was tied at nil when time expired. But the Sounders scoring in injury time and winning 1-0? That was a surprise. For Sounders fans, a pleasant one.

•••       

• That’s it for today. Hopefully some of the teams I have a rooting interest in will move into the finals this afternoon and I will have some motivation to go downtown once again. Otherwise, I will have to mow the lawn, pull weeds, trim bushes, do the shopping, clean the garage, pay bills, wash the car, make dinner, vacuum the living room, dust the closet, rearrange the pillows, clean out the cat box, walk the dog, put Febreze on all the furniture and organize the freezer. They are all on the list of chores I was just handed by my soon-to-be-ex. Just kidding. There is no way she will leave me. Even if I blow off the list. At least I hope not. Until later …

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