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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: The Mariners are positioning themselves for success though the road ahead does have unseen potholes

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto talks to reporters in Seattle on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, at the Mariners’ annual preseason briefing before the start of spring training. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto talks to reporters in Seattle on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, at the Mariners’ annual preseason briefing before the start of spring training. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It gets darker earlier every day. The nights have a chill to them. Yes, it’s almost autumn and everything that entails. Once again it doesn’t entail a Mariner postseason berth. Will it ever? Your answer to that may depend on whether you have faith or not.

•••••••

• The M’s held a get-together last night at T-Mobile Park. In attendance were a hundred of their most involved fans. And general manager Jerry Dipoto. He was the keynote speaker, actually, and what he had to say is important.

According to Larry Stone, the Seattle Times columnist who was also in attendance, Dipoto laid out his vision of the future.

Did Dipoto out-Pete Carroll, Pete Carroll? Actually, no. He wasn’t that optimistic. In fact, Dipoto admitted next season was going to be another poor one. The Mariners aren’t going to win the World Series.

But 2021. That’s the ticket. (Though everyone should be buying tickets for 2020 anyhow.)

I’m not skeptical about that. On the surface, the changes the Mariners have made this season, the re-stocking of their farm system, the bankrolling of enough money to pay free agents to fill holes down the road, the overhaul of the locker room, all those things engender faith in the future.

And yet there is a little part of me that harkens back to an early episode of “Deadwood,” one of the best shows HBO ever put on.

Writer David Milch, through his most complex character, Al Swearengen, had it right: “Announcing your plans is good way to hear God laugh.”

There is a lot that can go wrong between now and 2021. No matter how many players with talent the Mariners have amassed in their minor league system, there is no chance they will all pan out. None.

How many will? That’s the unknown.

Jarred Kelenic has a beautiful swing. So did, for a while anyway, Dustin Ackley. Justin Dunn looks like a can’t-miss pitching prospect. So did Danny Hultzen. The Mariners past 18 years have been littered with players who would lead them to the promised land. None did.

The difference today? There are more of them. If half pan out, the Mariners will be improved. That’s good. Improved enough to overcome the dynamics of modern baseball, in which deep-pocketed teams have a huge advantage?

We will see in 2021. Hopefully.

•••

WSU: Theo Lawson has three stories today, and two of them are concerned with off-field items. The longest of them is about a WSU student who now works for UCLA’s athletic department. The most intriguing is about HBO’s Hard Knocks-like show coming to Pullman in October. The football one? That’s Theo’s weekly mailbag. … Can UCLA play with enough intensity on defense? … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, paying for non-conference games is getting more and more expensive, especially if you want to avoid an FCS opponent. Washington’s price tag for Arkansas State in 2021 is a record. The Huskies should have a dominant running game by then. … Freshmen at schools on the quarter system play a few games before they start class. Stanford has yet to start school and the Oregon game will be its fourth of the season. The Ducks try to make practice like games. … Oregon State has an early bye week. … One linebacker is really standing tall for Colorado. … USC will be a big test for Utah’s secondary. And the rest of the Utes. On the flip side, the Trojan’s special teams will be tested as well. … Arizona State wasn’t one player’s first choice. … California’s Pay for Play Bill could change a lot about college athletics.

EWU: The Vandals and Eagles have played often over the years, with Idaho owning the rivalry back in the day and Eastern taking control since the turn of the century. Ryan Collingwood looks back at some of the best matchups in the Kibbie Dome.

Preps: Slowpitch softball is back this fall and the GSL is once again the state-power league. Dave Nichols has a preview of the season. … Dave and SWX’s Sam Adams make their picks for this weekend’s football games.

Chiefs: Hockey is also back, with the WHL season beginning tomorrow night for Spokane. The Chiefs play in Kamloops and Kevin Dudley has a preview. … Larry Weir talked with the voice of the Chiefs, Mike Boyle, for the latest Press Box pod.

Seahawks: Even though Drew Brees is out, the Hawks don’t expect the Saints’ offense to be all that much different. … The NFL, and the guy who did it, apologize for high hit on Russell Wilson. … The locker room is a fun place to be. … Gene Warnick has an Out of Right Field recap of the win.

Mariners: If Kyle Lewis keeps hitting has he has down the stretch, the M’s will be better next season.

Sounders: Midweek games are tough. Subs have to play and offenses sometimes get stagnant. Case in point, last night’s draw in Seattle.

•••       

• What’s with the fog? Where we live, the place was encased in a bubble of cotton-candy-like clouds this morning. Odd. Actually, though, fog is my favorite weather phenomena. I used to love to walk the beach at night in the fog, the waves crashing on the shore, the lights flickering in the distance. It made me feel as if I was the only person in the world. It’s still a happy-place memory. Until later …

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