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A Grip on Sports: As the unofficial second-half of season begins, the M’s have a lot of decisions to make

Jarred Kelenic attends American League batting practice before the MLB All Star Futures baseball game, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Denver. Kelenic will rejoin the Mariners when they play the Angels on Friday.  (Associated Press)
Jarred Kelenic attends American League batting practice before the MLB All Star Futures baseball game, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Denver. Kelenic will rejoin the Mariners when they play the Angels on Friday. (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Baseball begins again today. The All-Star break is over, the trade deadline is approaching and the Mariners are still hanging around the cusp on the playoffs. Which brings up a handful of questions.

•••••••

• The most important question is the simplest. What is Jerry Dipoto going to do? Will the Mariner general manager, whose contract expires at the end of the season, look to trade the future for the present or will he bide his time, send away a couple of veterans for prospects and push for the postseason next year?

To answer that question one must first answer another. Are those two things mutually exclusive?

They certainly would seem to be. After all, any veteran who could help a contending team enough to ensure the return of a decent prospect (for example reliever Kendall Graveman), would by default be good enough to help the M’s. The player brought in return would not be. At least that would seem logical to presume.

Standing pat doesn’t seem to be in Dipoto’s DNA, so we will probably discover his intentions soon. After all, there are just over two weeks until the deadline and the Mariners are five games to the good side of .500 and are 3.5 games out of a playoff spot.

Of course they are not alone. Four other teams – the Yankees, Blue Jays, Indians and Angels – are also outside looking in, but close enough to believe they can make a successful push. And all of them have a history of making moves for today, letting tomorrow take care of itself.

The M’s? Not so much. Under Dipoto, they have been taking self-admitted steps back, all in the hope of being able to sprint to the postseason someday. But has that day arrived?

The bullpen says yes. The starting pitching and the everyday lineup says no. The recent addition of some of Tacoma’s better prospects says yes, in a convoluted way.

Jarred Kelenic failed his first time around this season. If he does in his second (he is being called up today), it may dictate what Dipoto does in the offseason. Not just Kelenic, to be sure. Others, like Cal Raleigh and Logan Gilbert also play a role in his decision-making process. The hard part, for Dipoto, is the next couple weeks are when he has to decide if he can acquire help via a trade. And that isn’t enough time to make every decision.

Gilbert has been a revelation, the yin to Kelenic’s yang. Raleigh, called up over the past weekend, has only played one game. His balance sheet has yet to be written.

Neither has Dipoto’s final decision on the 2021 season.

• By the way, our buddy Ryan Divish examines all of the M’s options in this story on the Seattle Times’ website.

• It’s an interesting weekend for televised sports. There are a couple major events, including the crucial game five of the NBA finals – tomorrow evening in Phoenix. But other than that and the British Open, which is always over by noon here on the best coast, the schedule is light.

There is the usual mid-July baseball, with the M’s beginning the second half in Anaheim, trying to make the Angels sellers two weeks before the deadline.

And there was an exhibition scheduled for the U.S. Olympic basketball team, but today’s game with Australia has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues. The United States team has lost Bradley Beal to the protocols and is still waiting for a couple of players competing in the NBA finals.

Other than that and the usual NASCAR race or the Tour de France, it’s a weekend that begs for more outside time.

Which might not be a bad idea, considering the Olympics begin in a week.

•••

WSU: Around the Pac-12 and college sports, NCAA president Mark Emmert made news yesterday when he spoke with a group of reporters. Seems like the former University of Washington president sees a future in which the NCAA has less direct control over college athletics. … Jon Wilner addresses the future of college sports as well in this mailbag. … Oregon State has dominated California in football for a long time now. Will it continue? … Colorado is still building strength on its defensive line. … Utah’s new stadium has a bunch of amenities. It seems like a good season to unveil them. … The Beavers’ basketball program has added another player. … Arizona has a player who will spend time with his national team.

Gonzaga: The basketball recruiting season is well underway and it’s back to normal. In most ways. … Elsewhere in the WCC, BYU has found out who its first round opponent will be in the Diamond Head Classic.

EWU: We missed this yesterday, but Larry Weir spoke with Paul Delaney about his book on Eastern football. That is part of the latest Press Box podcast. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Portland State’s athletic director is leaving her post to become athletic director at local sports club. What?

Indians: Once again Eugene pounded Spokane’s pitching staff. But this time it didn’t result in an Emeralds win at Avista Stadium. Nope. The Indians rallied for 10 runs in the eighth inning and won 14-11. Dave Nichols has the story of the unlikely victory.

Mariners: Besides the Kelenic news, there was also news on the Hector Santiago front. The left-handed reliever lost his appeal and will be suspended for 10 games, with the M’s not able to replace him on the roster. The entire episode stinks to high heaven. … There will be baseball in the Olympics again.

Seahawks: Former Hawk Richard Sherman is no longer in jail. He appeared before a judge Thursday and was released.

Kraken: If you have questions about the Kraken, we can offer answers.

Rugby: Justin Reed introduces us to Jacob Hansen, who lost part of his left leg after an injury playing the game he loves. Now Hansen is showing his love of the sport in another way.

•••       

• The weather in England today isn’t all that bad. So the Open scores were pretty good, including a 64 from Collin Morikawa, seeking his second major title. The final two rounds over the weekend should be fun to watch, especially if Joel Dahmen continues his hot play. Until later …

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