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Friday, September 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

A Grip on Sports: A different type of fireworks light up sports on this different type of Fourth

In this March 2, 2020 photo, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher David Price throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning of a spring training baseball game in Goodyear, Ariz. Price will not play this season because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, delaying his Los Angeles debut until next year. The five-time All-Star became the latest player to opt out, posting Saturday, July 4, 2020, on Twitter that he would not participate in the 60-game season that is scheduled to begin July 23.  (Associated Press)
In this March 2, 2020 photo, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher David Price throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning of a spring training baseball game in Goodyear, Ariz. Price will not play this season because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, delaying his Los Angeles debut until next year. The five-time All-Star became the latest player to opt out, posting Saturday, July 4, 2020, on Twitter that he would not participate in the 60-game season that is scheduled to begin July 23. (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • In a year in which sports has little in the way of fireworks, neighbors throughout Spokane decided it was appropriate to scare just about every dog from here to Indian Trail by creating big bangs, high-pitched whistles and explosions of light in the night sky. How patriotic.

•••••••

• Yes, I’m a little steamed. Having to sit with and comfort a 105-pound animal that has no idea what’s going on will do that to me. Sorry. Especially when it lasted until well into the Fifth of July. It seems a bit odd to celebrate a nation’s birth by brazenly violating the laws of one of that nation’s local entities. Laws put into place to keep you and your neighbors safe.

That’s it. That’s the rant. I’m done.

At least the dog is resting well now. He can sleep in. The rest of us? How does one sleep in when all the sports-related news seems to be circling the drain?

Let’s talk baseball. The Fourth of July this year didn’t feature doubleheaders and Cracker Jacks, did it? Nope. It consisted of practice and some high-profile names in the news. Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman is battling the virus. The Dodgers’ David Price joined Felix Hernandez and opts out of playing. The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka gets hit in the head with a line drive.

Other than that Mrs. Hamilton, how was the duel? (See, I can use a “hip” reference, even as I resort to clichés. It’s an art.)

But baseball wasn’t the only sport dodging line drives yesterday. The NFL has already cut its preseason schedule in half and the players would like to dump the other two games as well. Networks, craving sports content, probably can live with that as long as the regular season goes on as scheduled.

If not? There will be a financial reckoning at Fox, CBS, NBC, ESPN and the NFL Networks.

The same can be said of our nation’s college athletic departments, most of which are already cutting to the bone. A lost football season might be the equivalent of Willie E. Coyote running off the cliff. The fall might not happen for a while, but it will happen.

Is it possible to roll all of what’s already occurred in 2020 into a nice tight package, stuff it into one of those high-flying fireworks, light the fuse and watch it blow to high heaven? Heck, even my dog would probably approve.

• Here’s something fun. The Spokesman-Review, my alma mater and host of this column, is examining the top 20 athletes in the past 20 years at local schools. The series begins today with Washington State, a school where I haunted the Bohler Gym halls a-quarter of the time mentioned, serving as this paper’s football and basketball beat writer.

It’s an extensive list, starting with record-setting quarterback Luke Falk, who also happened to direct more wins than any QB in school history.

But the list just doesn’t feature high-profile folks. There are others who flew – almost literally – under most casual fans’ radar. People like Jeshua Anderson, a decent-enough receiver who just happened to be one of the best collegiate hurdlers ever. Or Kim Welch, whose golf course exploits have never been equaled in Pullman. Add in familiar names as Klay Thompson and Gardner Minshew and the story is a scenic walk down Memory Lane.

•••

WSU: OK, we mentioned it just above. But we have to, according to the rulebook we operate under, link Theo’s 20 for 20 story again here. Besides, we want to. We don’t want you to miss it. … Deep into this notebook from Tucson is the news Washington State has picked up a baseball transfer from Brian Green’s old school. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college sports, Arizona State’s Herm Edwards has a few things to say about a recent racial slur aimed at some of his football players. … Understatement alert: Oregon’s football recruiting seems to be going pretty well. … Utah’s apparel contract should be good. … Who will be the favorites in the South this season? … UCLA’s new athletic director really didn’t have a honeymoon period.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Weber State somehow has put together a deep basketball recruiting class during the pandemic. … Montana recently enticed an Arizona defensive end starter to move to Missoula. … Montana State may see a lot of young receivers earn playing time.

Indians and Chiefs: There is an examination of most Native American-themed mascots going on throughout the nation. And, as Dave Nichols relates, it will probably touch this area as well. Whether it will lead to change is still up in the air.

Mariners: The M’s have been in the middle of a youth movement. This season may force another step back. … Former Mariner Hernandez is one of the players who will skip playing this year. … With no games on the Fourth, practices went on.

•••       

• Since Spokane banned personal fireworks use almost three decades ago, the Fourth around here has been quieter – and safer. For years, the fire department had to respond to an average of more than 100 calls on the holiday each year. After the ban went into place, the number shrunk to fewer than five. And fireworks-related injuries fell as well. A win-win if there ever was one. After all, if you wanted to watch fireworks, there were always shows. Lots of shows. But last night common sense seemed to take a vacation, as it has much of the past few weeks. Hopefully, everyone survived safely. How did we celebrate our nation’s birthday? By taking the aforementioned big old dog on a long hike to the Rocks of Sharon and enjoying one of the best views our area has to offer. In this year of the coronavirus, we decided to stay close to home and attack a trail that will test whether or not our lungs are working properly. They did. And the vista, as always, was spectacular. Until later …

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