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Friday, August 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: No matter the sport, hearing your name called by a commissioner must be special

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto speaks  Jan. 23  in Seattle during the team’s annual news conference before the start of spring training. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto speaks Jan. 23 in Seattle during the team’s annual news conference before the start of spring training. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Wonder what it would be like to be sitting with friends and family, watching a TV screen and hear someone announce your name – your future, if not your fate, decided in a few seconds. In some cases, it must be wonderful.

•••••••

• If there was one thing high school-aged me wanted, it was a girlfriend. But beyond that, and maybe even more than that, that guy wanted to be drafted by the Dodgers.

There was no hearing your name called in ancient times. Heck, baseball didn’t even announce who was drafted. It was a better-kept secret than the Manhattan Project in some ways. But still. If you were drafted, you were going to have the opportunity to toil for years in out-of-the-way places for little money, all with the slim-to-fat chance of ever seeing The Show.

Sounds glorious, huh?

Sure it wasn’t. But those 30 guys who heard their name called yesterday, including Mariners’ first-round pick Emerson Hancock, a University of Georgia ace with an ace Georgia name, it’s different. No grubbing for food behind the back of the Burger King when the paycheck doesn’t stretch far enough some July. Nope. They are on the fast track.

Oh sure, with baseball even the fast track is littered with potholes, but big talent means big bucks up front and that corresponds with big chances on the back end.

This year is different (how many times have I written that?), sure. There won’t be a minor league season to hone their craft. And for pitchers, especially those, like Hancock, who would have been pitching for a college somewhere, their arms will be rested not burned to a crisp. A chance to show the big club in person seems built into the pandemic-shortened season, whenever, or if-ever it starts. (Commissioner Rob Manfred guaranteed a season “100 percent” yesterday, but it still seems 50/50.)

No matter. Yesterday was the red-letter day – in a good way. The “A” Hancock is expected to wear stands for ace. That’s a role the M’s need filled. That’s a role every team needs filled.

Yesterday was just part of building a winning hand.

• By the way, I wasn't drafted. Not by baseball and not by the Army. Going hitless in that regard turned out be just fine.

•••

Gonzaga: Next year’s schedule became a little clearer this week with the announcement of another tournament, another opponent and all the Jerry Colangelo Classic matchups. Jim Meehan has more in this story. … Jim also has a story on a player who has the Bulldogs on his radar in what has become his second recruitment period. Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard, a 6-foot-5 point guard, is leaving the Gators after his junior year. … If you follow GU women’s coach Lisa Fortier on Twitter, you know she attended the recent downtown marches. Jim Allen talked with her about her participation for this story. … Around the WCC, BYU is also participating in the Colangelo Classic. The Cougars will face Arizona State.

WSU: The NCAA calls football players (and all other college sports participants) student-athletes. At Washington State, since the pandemic hit before Nick Rolovich could hit the field with his new players, the first part of that label has added a virtual element. Theo Lawson explains how the Cougars have kept learning, in the classroom and about football, in the past few months. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, athletes are either beginning to return to campus or are preparing too. Washington is in that latter category. … An Oregon assistant coach left a lot of money on the table to come to Eugene. … Colorado has a new head coach but the offensive coordinator is the same. … There is a possibility Utah could have a new defensive coordinator in the near future. … After 10 years, USC welcomed back Reggie Bush to good graces yesterday. It gave people a chance to remember his greatness while a Trojan. … A former Arizona star talked some about racism. … Finally, Arizona State now has had four players picked No. 1 in the baseball draft. That’s pretty darn impressive.

Idaho: The NCAA was sent a letter yesterday asking it to take all championship events from the state of Idaho, due to a recently enacted law concerning transgender athletes. What the NCAA might do (Boise is set to be a first-weekend March Madness host in 2021) or whether any action would impact events held in Spokane, but hosted by the University of Idaho, is yet to be determined.

CCS: Larry Weir spoke yesterday with newly appointed athletic director Jim Fitzgerald for the latest Press Box podcast.

Preps: The WIAA announced yesterday it will begin fall sports at the regularly scheduled times. Then it made sure everyone knew there are a bunch of caveats still in play.

Seahawks: A lot going on with the Hawks, including preparations for games without fans. There is still a chance, however, Jadeveon Clowney is part of their roster when those games begin. … The preseason schedule may not be as long this season.

Mariners: Yes, for the third consecutive year the M’s picked a college pitcher with their first draft choice, Georgia’s Hancock. Neither of the other two have yet to make a major league impact, but the franchise seems to be building around power arms.

Sounders: The MLS is returning with a World Cup-like tournament in Orlando next month. It is an opportunity for the Sounders, and the league, to capture more interest.

•••       

• Yesterday was exhausting in a lot of ways. But the best part? All the notes, tweets and emails we received concerning Yogi’s passing. They helped lift my spirits, that’s for sure. I am trying to acknowledge them all but that’s still a work in progress. Here, though, I’ll just say thanks. Until later …

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