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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: The M’s step-back officially kicks in as they fall below .500 for the first time this season

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais, right, and a Mariners trainer check on Dee Gordon, center, who was hit by a pitch during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the New York Yankees, Thursday, May 9, 2019, in New York. (Kathy Willens / Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais, right, and a Mariners trainer check on Dee Gordon, center, who was hit by a pitch during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the New York Yankees, Thursday, May 9, 2019, in New York. (Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The day we knew was coming finally arrived. The Mariners, 11 games over the break-even mark after the season’s first 15 games, are now on the losing side of the ledger. Will the slide ever stop?

••••••••••

• Hopefully, no.

If Jerry Dipoto and the rest of the Seattle brain trust are really serious about taking “a step back,” then the organization has to commit to losing. That’s not a catchy saying, we admit, but it is a way to rebuild the franchise’s foundation.

The Mariners need better players. Lots of better players. The only way to get them is through either trading the best players they have now for prospects – not advisable considering they’ve already jettisoned Robinson Cano, Edgar Diaz and others – or mine the draft for young talent. And the worse you do in the regular season, the better your draft position is.

Sure, there is the free agent route, and the M’s will do that as well, but probably only to fill gaps, not for a total makeover.

Youth has to be developed. And that starts now, though only because injuries forced Seattle’s hand. Shed Long and J.P. Crawford joined the big club yesterday, filling in as Dee Gordon and Dylan Moore battled injuries.

It’s the first in what will be a wholesale changing of the guard. The plan is to give the young players some experience the rest of this year and next. Then, the seasoning complete, the franchise takes off again in couple years, bolstered for the long term by draft picks earned over the down years.

It’s the Houston model. It was successful there. Can it be in the Northwest with the hierarchy in place? We’re going to find out. It just will take a while.

• College basketball seems to be in a really good place, other than the off-court investigations and all. But the game itself, that’s pretty fun to watch.

So of course, the rule-makers want to change it to make it more like its professional brother.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The NCAA next month will consider lengthen the 3-point line again, taking it out to the international distance of 22 feet, 1 ¾ inches from it’s current 20 feet, 9 inches. At the same time, the rules committee will also vote on a proposal to not reset the 30-second clock fully after an offensive rebound, cutting the clock down to 20 in that situation.

It seems the motto among college basketball rule makers is simple: It’s not broken but let’s fix it anyway.

•••

WSU: Former baseball coach Steve Farrington is in critical condition in Las Vegas following an automobile accident. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Arizona State will play Texas in football. In more than a decade. … USC is losing a basketball player as a graduate transfer.

Gonzaga: Larry Weir examines the offseason for the Bulldogs and other local colleges in his latest Press Box pod.

EWU: Yesterday was supposed to be the day the Eagles unveiled their plans for revamping Roos Field. It didn’t happen. Ryan Collingwood tells us why and what’s next for the facility.

Shadow: Spokane is ready to defend its regular season title. Justin Reed previews the upcoming soccer season.

Preps: The GSL’s district qualifying meet continued yesterday and Ryan was there. He has this story. … We can also offer a roundup of prep action in baseball, softball and tennis.

Mariners: The visit to Boston started poorly, with the Red Sox pounding out a 14-1 victory.

Seahawks: The Ziggy Ansah signing was made official yesterday. … The Hawks also added a defensive lineman.

Sounders: Seattle hosts Houston today.

•••       

• If there is such a thing as a perfect weekend, this could be it. Enjoy the weather. It’s unbelievably on-point for early May. Until later …

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