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

A Grip on Sports: Every day is filled with a range of emotions, but Sunday’s dominant one was sadness

Pictured during a regional playoff game against Georgia Southern, Gonzaga associate head coach Danny Evans applauds from third base. The school announced Sunday Evans died from cancer at the age of 41.  (Courtesy/Gonzaga Athletics)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Emotion is a part of sports. An important part. But some emotions can just go pound sand.


• The emotion we’re referring to here is profound sadness. Frustration. Loss. We’re feeling them all today. And for the second time in less than a week they revolve around the way-too-young loss of a Gonzaga athlete.

Last week it was Jeremy Eaton, a member of the 1999 Elite Eight team that started GU’s remarkable run of NCAA success. Sunday we learned of the death of Danny Evans, the associate head coach of the Bulldog baseball team.

Knowing that both were coming doesn’t make them any easier. Nor lessen the emotions.

Evans not only played his college baseball for the Zags – he was a four-year letterwinner back at the turn of the century – but he also stayed on campus after, joining the coaching staff and working his way up to the second chair under head coach Mark Machtolf. Then the father of two found out he had melanoma, the cancer that starts on the skin and spreads throughout the body.

That was about a year ago. Now his wife Kellie and their two children, Graham and Quinn, are without their best friend, husband and father. We in the newspaper industry always write “survived by,” but that seems so antiseptic. Losing a loved one is so profoundly sad as to make it hard to find the words.

Or overcome the emotions.

• Such things make it hard to focus on other emotions sports can provide, like joy. It may seem a bit trivial today, but the M’s have been experiencing quite a bit of that lately in their pursuit of a playoff berth.

Wait, isn’t that a bit early to be bringing up? After all, Seattle is just a bit more than dozen games into the season.

But yesterday’s 12-inning 5-4 victory over the Royals at T-Mobile brought it to mind. The win came courtesy of Jesse Winker’s scorching line drive to right … OK, we are pledged to the truth here. Winker hit a little broken-bat looper to right to drive home Adam Frazier from second and lift Seattle to a series sweep of Kansas City. Line drive. Looper. Who cares?

Did we mention the Mariners are in first place in the American League West?

Yes, it is April. And yes, there is a long road ahead, filled with a Sprague Avenue-level of potholes. But we can hope, can’t we? That’s an emotion too.

• When the season ended, Kyle Smith’s basketball team had the best corps of big men on the West Coast south of Colfax. Just a few weeks later that’s changed.

First it was Efe Abogidi leaving, saying he was thinking about the NBA but in reality, he’s looking for a new college home. Now it’s freshman Mouhamed Gueye, who probably isn’t going anywhere except into the NBA’s evaluation portal. That’s a simple way of saying the 6-foot-11 sophomore-to-be declared for the draft just to see where he stands. And then he’ll head back to Pullman.

But Cougar fans don’t want to get burned twice in one month. Their overwhelming emotion today? Trepidation.


WSU: Not that there is a huge chance Gueye will stay in the draft, but it’s not nil. Never is. Anyhow, Colton Clark has this story about Gueye’s announcement. … Colton also has this piece on a West Side high school offensive lineman telling everyone he’s headed to Pullman in a year. … The baseball team rallied from down six runs to top Oregon 8-7 in 10 innings Sunday, giving the Cougars a series win over the Ducks. … Former WSU basketball player Ryan Rapp will play next year at Hawaii. One thing is certain. He is a lot closer to home. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, a Colorado receiver took a detour in route to Boulder. … The new-look Oregon offense reminds some of the Chip Kelly offense. … Utah hopes it won’t lose players to the portal before May 1, the deadline for them to play next season.

Gonzaga: Theo Lawson covers the news about Evans in today’s paper.

Indians: Yes, Dave Nichols has coverage of Spokane’s 11-9 home loss to Hillsboro yesterday. But he has more. He has this story on the newest way baseball is trying to speed up the game: the pitch clock. After watching it in action the past couple weeks, Dave lets us know it is working.

Mariners: We love to watch Ty France. Probably as much as we’ve loved to watch any M’s righthanded hitter not named Edgar Martinez. Which is why we’re happy France is once again having great success.

Seahawks: The draft starts Thursday. As we sprint toward the first round, here are a couple more positions or players the Hawks have to think about.

Storm: Having veterans on the bench can be a real help for teams with championship hopes.


• Traveling with a little dog has its challenges. Financial and otherwise. But it also has its rewards. When they wake you in the morning with their over-the-top happiness, no matter what pitfalls lie ahead during the day seem immaterial. There is joy in the rising. It is a gift we are happy to receive – even if it is given at 3:48 in the morning. Until later …