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A Grip on Sports: Nothing defines good news/bad news from yesterday better than the M’s game

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi pulls his cap off as he heads to the dugout after the top of the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, in Seattle.   (Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi pulls his cap off as he heads to the dugout after the top of the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, in Seattle.  (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Yes, there is good news out there. That’s not as much a given as it used to be, pre-pandemic. But we’ve found some. Which gives us a chance to have a good new/bad news type of day.

•••••••

• The good news: Yusei Kikuchi was dealing last night. Over the six innings he pitched, the left-hander struck out nine, gave up just three hits and allowed zero runs. It was as effective an outing as he’s had since joining the M’s last season.

The bad news: The M’s bullpen couldn’t hold the lead and the offense sputtered all night. The result was a 3-2 loss in 10 innings, the Mariners’ first encounter with the extra-inning rule that puts a man on second to start each inning. The A’s got their runner across, the M’s failed.

The good news: Dave Nichols is spending the weekend in Seattle, writing a column about opening day and an Out of Right Field summary on each game, including last night’s loss.

The bad news: Dave Nichols traveled across the state to Seattle during a pandemic. I like Dave. I don’t want anything to happen to him. I am counting on him staying safe and returning home. Actually, Dave lives in Coeur d’Alene. According to transmission statistics, he’s much safer in Seattle. Stay there Dave. Head home in the spring.

The good news: Joel Ayayi has decided to return to Gonzaga for his junior season. The guard gives the Zags help in so many areas – his rebounding prowess is underappreciated in a lot of quarters – including experience, a commodity in short supply among the 2020-21 squad.

The bad news: The deadline for a draft decision is Monday and the most-important Gonzaga player in the mix has yet to announce a decision. Corey Kispert has the best chance of a being a high draft pick but also has the best chance of improving his draft stock with an explosive senior season. If Kispert returns, the Bulldogs’ national title prospects are that much better.

The good news: The Pac-12 released a revised 10-game, all-conference football schedule that builds in a couple weeks of flexibility should COVID-19 rear its ugly head sometime this fall.

The bad news: ESPN is reporting a group of unnamed Pac-12 football players are willing to walk if the conference doesn’t come up with a few more guarantees concerning their safety and other items. And this morning, there was an article in The Players Tribune that outlined the anonymous group’s thoughts. This comes on the heels of an unnamed source giving The Washington Post a recording of a call between SEC officials and football players. The call indicates the conference is willing to move forward knowing full well players will get sick. The seeming lack of empathy isn’t the best PR.

The good news: The NBA and NHL seasons have resumed – ice hockey in August; what a concept – and the two leagues have kept their bubbles relatively clean. Neither has reported a case of the coronavirus recently and the games have been a welcome relief for fans everywhere.

The bad news: Baseball doesn’t have a bubble (or bubbles) and the virus is intruding on the games – more were canceled yesterday – and the players’ health – one 28-year-old Red Sox pitcher has a heart problem caused by COVID-19. And still, the commissioner is confident the season will play out to the end. By the way, a couple more players opted out yesterday.

The good news: I know what movie I am watching today. Here’s a hint: “Red, I shoulda been a farmer.”

The bad news: Wilfred Brimley died Saturday. The character actor was 85 – and had about 85 roles I remember, from “The China Syndrome” to “The Natural” to the guy with “diabeetus” on TV. Want to feel old? When Brimley was bursting into the nation’s consciousness in 1985 with “Cocoon,” he was 50 years old. That’s younger than Will Smith, Jennifer Aniston and Hugh Jackman are today.

•••

WSU: The Cougars are filling their 2021 recruiting class. They received their 15th player commitment yesterday in the form of a guarantee from California receiver Tsion Nunnally. That makes 15. Only some 10 to go. Theo Lawson has more in this story. … Around the Pac-12, we passed along some conference news above, but Jon Wilner has his take on some of the information in a column from last night. … The conference, like all conferences, is in crisis mode. There is optimism but way too many coronavirus-caused potholes to avoid. … Washington’s football schedule has some intriguing elements to it. … Same with Colorado. … An Arizona backup quarterback has decided not to play this season. … The bands are dealing with virus restrictions as well. … In basketball news, Ethan Thompson will be back for Oregon State.

Gonzaga: As we mentioned, Ayayi is headed back to GU. Jim has all the information you’ll need in this story. … Around the WCC, Portland has picked up an Oregon transfer.

EWU: Elsewhere in the Big Sky, many college football coaches are giving back to their universities, including Eastern’s Aaron Best. At Montana, coach Bobby Hauck cashed in a boatload of bonus cash. … Will he have a chance to do the same this season? Tuesday looms as a big day. … Northern Arizona has a few cases of COVID among its athletes tested. … In basketball news, there has been a lot of turnover among Weber State’s roster.

Whitworth: It’s the Pirates’ turn in our 20-for-20 series, as Dan Thompson outlines the top 20 athletes in the past 20 years. It’s an in-depth list that features more athletes from other sports as it does those from football and men’s basketball. My only quibble is Bryan Depew should have been higher than sixth. It was Depew’s accomplishments in the early part of this century that kick-started the men’s basketball program into what it is now, one of the best in the NCAA Division III.

Golf: Jim has a column this week that is worth reading even if you are not a golf fan or participant. When someone gives of himself as much as Chris Runyan has, it’s worth celebrating. … The Lilac City Invitational will end today at the Fairways. There are five players within a couple strokes of the lead. … The first major comes up this week. The PGA Championship will be played without fans at Harding Park in San Francisco. It will be a tough, tight test. And it’s being played in one of the virus’ strongholds.

Mariners: We mentioned Dave’s column and Out of Right Field earlier. … Kikuchi was everything the M’s wanted last night. The bullpen and the offense were not. … The Mariners are fun to watch. They are also focusing on following protocols as COVID-19 hits baseball. … Kyle Lewis, hitting machine. … The organizational-wide cuts hit more than just the scouting department.

Seahawks: Just what does Jamal Adams bring to the Hawks?

Sounders: Portland moved on in the MLS is Back tournament with comeback win over NYCFC. The Timbers will play Philadelphia in the semifinals.

•••       

• The first time I saw “The Natural” was in Southern California at a premier in Hollywood while I was visiting my dad. Someone gave me tickets, so we went. Weird thing, though. I remember a scene in which Roy Hobbs and Bobby Savoy work on Bobby’s bat, the “Savoy Special” that becomes prominent at the end. They are in the equipment room using a lathe on a piece of wood and talking about life. But I have never seen the scene since, which must mean it fell to the editing room floor. My plan today is to watch the director’s cut on Prime, and see if the scene exists. If it isn’t there, maybe I imagined the whole thing. Until later …

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