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

A Grip on Sports: It was a productive Friday night for Mariners and their newest superstar

Julio Rodriguez (44) of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his three-run home run in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at T-Mobile Park on May 23, 2022, in Seattle, Washington.   (Getty Images)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Good things are happening to athletes all over. Including their checkbooks.


• The Mariners bet on Julio Rodriguez yesterday. Julio Rodriguez is also betting on himself. Both things can be true.

In the middle of their 3-2, 11-inning playoff-caliber win over Cleveland last night, the M’s made official what had been reported all day. The organization and their prized rookie had reached agreement on a new contract that could be the richest ever.

Yet, as your mother used to harp upon, the devil is in the details. It is actually a pretty safe deal for Seattle, considering there is a club option a few years in. And it’s also a safe deal for Rodriguez, who if he meets bench marks throughout, could net nearly a half-billion dollars. He’s also guaranteed more than $200 million.

If Seattle doesn’t like the deal, they can pay the guaranteed money and let Rodriguez move on. If Julio thinks he can do better, he can test the waters while he’s still relatively young.

The bottom line? Rodriguez plays in Seattle through the 2028 season. Only then do decisions have to be made.

Meanwhile, the deal allows the Mariners enough financial flexibility during that time to continue to build on its youthful core. If the stars align right, you could see Seattle have the same type of success as, say, Houston had as its youthful group grew old. That’s a pretty good example to follow. And it all starts with a smile-friendly centerfielder with seemingly unlimited talent.

• If you wondered why the Zags are playing Baylor in out-of-the-way Sioux Falls, S.D., wonder no longer. We can explain at least part of it.

The organizers are going to pay the players. Not for playing. Not precisely. But for selling the game.

Complete Sports Management and Range Sports, who are running the nonconference showdown, are willing to shell out bucks to any player who will appear in ads for the broadcast.

We’re certain that Drew Timme would draw a bigger check than, say, Hunter Sallis, but that’s immaterial to our point. This isn’t a one-off. It’s the beginning of a trend.

“We’re working to find a media partner who believes in providing this generation of student-athletes more opportunities as well as align with iconic powerhouse basketball brands Baylor and Gonzaga,” Range Sports president Will Funk told the Associated Press, using the language of marketing to perfection. “Engaging the players to help activate the game broadcast sponsors is the future of college athletics.”

The game doesn’t have a broadcast partner just yet. It will. And you’ll see commercials of Timme or Sallis or Anton Watson selling it.


WSU: Around the Pac-12 and college football, Jon Wilner sees Utah winning the conference championship game but not making the playoffs. … Recruiting never ends, does it? … Washington has a new position. … Oregon State won’t decide on its starting quarterback until after the weekend. … Oregon should be fine in the secondary. … The first trip to Boulder can be quite impressive. … The Rose Bowl loss at least gave Utah a glimpse of how versatile one player is. … UCLA could have a memorable season or, less likely, an awful one. … One USC player wants to be an actor. … It’s a big season for Arizona and second-year coach Jedd Fisch. The Wildcats will rely on the few veterans they have. … In basketball news, Oregon finished its trip to Canada with another win.

Gonzaga: Besides the NIL story we linked above, we also thought today would be a good day to link this story. It explains what the heck a Lisfranc injury actually is. Bottom line? It’s not good.

EWU: The Eagles held their second (and last) scrimmage prior to next weekend’s opener, but the starters hardly played at all Friday. The big news? Aaron Best made the starting quarterback official. It’s Gunner Talkington. Dan Thompson was in Cheney and has that new plus a lot more. … Colin Mulvany was also there and has this photo gallery. … Around the Big Sky, Weber State is expecting more from its running backs. … Though their mother isn’t there anymore to push them, brothers at Montana still heed her advice.

Indians: The night started poorly in Everett. And, in contrast to Thursday, stayed that way. Spokane lost 6-4 and dropped a game in the postseason standings. Dave Nichols has the game story.

Golf: Jim Meehan made his way south to Circling Raven to cover the Epson Tour stop and watched a whole bunch of golfers shoot low scores on a course that, frankly, harshes our mellow. If you ever want an illustration of how much better professional golfers are than the rest of us schmoes, read Jim’s story.

Mariners: Besides the all-important Julio news (crucial to the future), the 3-2 game went the M’s way (crucial to the present) thanks to Mitch Haniger. His single in the bottom of the 11th scored Dylan Moore from second. … This is the weekend the M’s honor Ichiro as well. The franchise’s stars made their way to Seattle to help him celebrate.

Seahawks: The quarterback battle is officially over. Actually, it really never got started. Geno Smith was always Pete Carroll’s choice to be “the guy who replaced Russell Wilson in Seattle” as trivia games will call him from now on. Drew Lock showed why he lost in the Hawks’ 27-26 defeat in Dallas. He throws too many bad balls. Some great ones, sure, but too many awful ones. … Preseason is done. Now comes Denver in the opener in two weeks. Abe Lucas should start at right tackle.

Sounders: We’re rarely right. But we believe we are on this. Seattle has too many holes, some self-inflicted – a lack of urgency during the summer transfer window – and some caused by injury, to make the postseason. Their 2-1 loss in Portland, which included a non-existent penalty that turned the momentum, seals the deal for us.


• It’s so un-Mariner-like. The Julio contract we mean. It actually seems smart. And is good for both. Then again, if he becomes the next big thing, in about nine years he’ll be gone. Excuse us. We were laughing. As if we will care in nine years. Until later …