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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: A week into the baseball season, and as the NBA boots up its rewind, we are starting to get into a routine

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s Thursday already? How was I to know? My calendar melted yesterday. Don’t ask me why I was using a calendar made of chocolate. I had my reasons. Anyhow, what’s on the agenda today? A little of this, a little of that.

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• It’s lucky the M’s have a six-man starting staff. Each of them should only have to go through a shelling once a week.

OK, that’s a bit harsh. Marco Gonzales certainly wasn’t shelled, even though he, like all the starters, gave up a big inning. The left-handed ace of the staff was more a victim of poor defense and questionable umpiring in the opener. He’ll get his chance at redemption tonight in Anaheim.

With the starting staff backed by a young bullpen, the Mariners have already shown this 60-game schedule could yield 420 or more runs – for their opponents. The question has to be, then, can Seattle score enough to win a few games?

Last night the M’s did. All they had to do was score 10 times.

Not what I would call a recipe for long-term success. Heck, not even a recipe for short-term success, really.

The Mariners’ team earned run average after six games? You don’t want to know. If you did, I would be forced to answer. It’s 7.74, the American League’s worst. Justin Dunn’s three-inning, two-earned-run start last night gives him the team’s best ERA for a starter, 6.00.

Remember there are just 54 more games to go.

• There is a superstition of sorts around the number three. It’s not lucky like seven, or selfish like one. For three, the superstition revolves around death, as in the apocryphal thought celebrities die in groups of three. But in the crap year that is 2020, even weird stuff like that has been disrupted.

We have at least four sports-related obituaries to pass along today, some that could even be called celebrities.

Two are of the national variety, with former Red Sox manager John McNamara and Illinois basketball coach Lou Henson dying recently.

McNamara may be the only manager whose main claim-to-fame is a defensive change he didn’t make, not substituting for a gimpy Bill Buckner at first base late in game six of the 1986 World Series. That didn’t turn out well.

But one of today’s obits is more personal, though college baseball fans – ya, all seven of you – know who Mike Gillespie is.

Gillespie played at USC. He coached in Southern California’s deep junior college ranks, then moved on to USC in the 1970s. He was the last coach to win a national title for the Trojans, leading the 1978 team to Omaha. Later, after USC unceremoniously kicked him out the door, Gillespie found his way to my alma mater, UC Irvine. He also took the Anteaters to Omaha, but they did not win a title.

That’s not the only connection he had with my family. My brother-in-law played for Gillespie at College of the Canyons and then coached with him there as well. Not all that long ago, while Gillespie was still at USC, the Trojans came up to Pullman for a three-game set. I covered the opener and mentioned our connection. We spent an hour or so together that evening as he shared stories of my sister’s husband and his playing days. It was family get-together gold.

• While watching the Mariners play in Houston to open the season, I noticed an older gentleman wandering the Minute Maid Field stands, an orange Home Depot-looking bucket in his hands. He was collected foul balls. I immediately went on Twitter and applied for the M’s opening, if they had one. I like to walk. I can pick up baseballs. I can watch games. I’m eminently qualified.

Now, former Spokesman-Review sports staffer (and WSU alum) Janie McCauley has pulled together a story about what’s happening with stray baseballs in a season without fans in the stands. 

It’s one of those questions you might have never known you wanted answered, but after learning what’s what, you are glad you did.

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WSU: Around the Pac-12 and college sports, it seems the conference and the Los Angeles Times entered into an agreement to improve coverage and steer advertising to the newspaper. John Canzano’s report this morning doesn’t look good for either party. … Oregon State hasn’t reported a positive COVID-19 test in a while. But even the doctor in charge knows the Beavers have been lucky. … Tyler Slough enters preseason camp for Oregon as the No. 1 quarterback. … Karl Dorrell enters camp having earned respect from Colorado’s players. … Could UCLA and USC play early in the season? … The Arizona player who was disciplined this week has some issues with the Wildcat medical staff. … Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels continued to earn accolades. … The big news nationally yesterday was the ACC going to an 11-game schedule (10 conference, one home-state nonconference) and Notre Dame joining the party for this season. … The SEC is still contemplating its options. … In basketball news, a key transfer is eligible right away for the Oregon women. … Oregon State’s Scott Barnes has been named to a key NCAA basketball committee. … An Arizona big wants to become bigger.

Gonzaga: It may be the summer of the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t GU basketball news. Tom Hudson, the voice of the Zags, joined Larry Weir yesterday for the latest Press Box podcast.

EWU and Idaho: The Vandals and the Eagles have combined to put 13 players in NFL training camps this week. Ryan Collingwood takes a quick look at each of them in this story. … George Fredrickson served as Eastern Washington’s president for a decade. In that time, the Eagles took the leap from the NAIA ranks to the NCAA, starting them on a track that led to a national football title. Frederickson died Friday in Kansas at age 86. Maggie Quinlan has the obituary. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, a basketball player is leaving Montana.

Preps: Dave Nichols shared the news the WIAA tweaked the season schedule Tuesday night. In this morning’s paper, he adds a few more tidbits of news.

Bloomsday: We had the breaking news about Bloomsday early yesterday. But there is more. You can find it in this story from Adam Shanks and Emma Epperly.

Mariners: The M’s 10 runs against the Angels were enough last night. They might not need as many tonight. … There is good news on the Austin Nola front. … Joe Kelly was suspended eight games for his actions Tuesday night, including insulting Carlos Correa. Houston manager Dusty Baker, who was caught by microphones using an obscenity to insult Kelly prior to the dustup, was not suspended. What do the Astros have on Rob Manfred?

Seahawks: No one should be surprised the Hawks took the leap with Jamal Adams. … Bobby Wagner is right, as per usual. For the NFL to be successful in a non-bubble situation, it will be up to each player to show discipline. The NFL is doomed.

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• The NBA returns tonight. That’s it. That’s the news. The bubble in Orlando has worked thus far, which gives us hope the entire nation could become a bubble of sorts if we really put all our national effort into it. Until later …