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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: Unless something changes radically this weekend, you can watch a UFC fighter win and the M’s lose

Spokane’s Julianna Peña, left, holds her UFC women’s bantamweight championship belt in her home gym in the Mead area on Dec. 27. At right is her coach, Rick Little.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Weekends in the heart of summer can be a bit different. Not the heat, mind you. That’s a given. Not the humidity, either. We’re talking sports and how you consume it. What’s on this weekend? A potpourri.


• The main stink comes from Houston. The M’s are visiting, which means their chances of winning are fat and slim – at the same time. In the past month, pretty much, Seattle has defeated every team its faced. Except the Astros. The Mariners lost 3-1 to Oakland to begin July. Since then, they are 17-0 against everyone not in a Houston uniform and 0-4 otherwise.

The losing streak continued Thursday night thanks to Alex Bregman, who struggles to catch up with a fastball anymore. For some reason Bregman was given the gift of a two-strike slider from Andres Munoz – whose fastball reach 100 miles per hour consistently – and drove it off the left-field wall. Bregman’s eighth-inning RBI, his third of the game, keyed Houston’s 4-2 victory.

What will happen this weekend? If history holds, you can watch three more losses.

That’s about the best the mainstream – read: highly rated – sports offer between now and August. The best event of the weekend is on pay-per-view, with Spokane’s Julianna Pena defending her bantamweight title Saturday night during UFC 277 from Dallas.

Pena will be in a rematch with former champion Amanda Nunes, who would like her belt back.

As for sports of the somewhat-free variety (there is a price to be paid for everything on TV, from your cable or streaming bill to having to sit through commercials – or both), the best may just be the Sounders traveling to LAFC tonight. The 7 p.m. match (on FS1) pits a scuffling squad (Seattle) vs. one of the MLS’ hottest (LAFC).

The Storm, which is scuffling some as well, is in the East, so its Saturday game at Washington, which ESPN is broadcasting, starts at 9 a.m. here in Washington. Breakfast with basketball. There are worse ways to start a hot, dry weekend.

• We hate to agree with most of our colleagues. After all, how can you be the smartest guy in the digital room if you have the same opinions as everyone else?

But the media’s selection of Washington State seventh in the upcoming football season may just be appropriate. Unless Clay McGuire can do yeoman’s work.

McGuire, back for his second stint as offensive line coach in Pullman, has an inexperienced group. And the Air Raid’s success depends on them coming together.

The Cougars lost a lot from last year’s O-line, including quite possibly the best right tackle in the nation, Abe Lucas. But one thing Mike Leach did in his tenure was build depth up front and that depth is still in play, albeit a bit shallower than it was in his day.

What we won’t know until September, however, is how well Konner Gomness, Jarrett Kingston and the rest play together. Size and athleticism are givens. Continuity takes time. That’s where McGuire comes in. Can he meld them into a cohesive unit, one that gives Cameron Ward time and opens enough holes for Nakia Watson to get to the second level, where he can overpower folks?

If the answer is yes, WSU finishes better than seventh. If it isn’t, then a second-division finish seems right.


WSU: We mentioned the media poll above – and linked Colton Clark’s notebook that delves into it. The Cougars will open preseason camp Aug. 3. Colton is in Los Angeles and will report from the conference’s media day. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, to prep you for the news out of L.A., we pass along Jon Wilner’s latest Mercury News column, which posits the Big Ten, Notre Dame and NBC will play a huge role in the Pac-12’s future. … What type of questions will be asked of Washington’s representatives? … Oregon State has some questions to answer, despite the high finish predicted in the poll. … Oregon football player Spencer Webb was climbing a near-vertical cliff when he fell to his death. … Colorado, which will be young in the secondary, was picked last. … Arizona State and Arizona are picked just ahead of the Buffs. … Utah was picked to win it all for the second consecutive season. … UCLA and UnderArmour are no longer suing each other. … Speaking of money, no chance this will go wildly wrong, is there?

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Montana begins preseason camp Aug. 8. … Former WSU football player Kassidy Woods, now at Colorado State, has been picked for a Big Sky leadership spot. … Smarts has helped an Idaho State defensive back transform into a leader.

Indians: Spokane won at Tri-City again, Thursday night by a 6-3 score. Dave Nichols has a game story. The key offensive player? That would be Zac Veen, who had two game-clinching RBI. Appropriate, because Dave has this story on Veen, who has been on a tear as he’s risen in the Rockies’ system this season.

Track and Field: Ken Goe has a nice piece on Vin Lananna, one of the driving forces behind the sport in this country.

UFC: The story on Pena we linked above (and here)? It was written by Charlotte McKinley. We always try to give credit for S-R stories in this space.

Mariners: Munoz has been good to great this season. He wasn’t last night. … Part of the reason Munoz was working the eighth concerns Diego Castillo. The veteran reliever was not available and will not be for a while. He’s got shoulder stiffness and is on the injured list. … The trade deadline is near. Just who may the M’s move to improve the roster?

Seahawks: The DK Metcalf contract talks are over. The receiver and the Hawks have reached agreement. Metcalf will be paid a bunch of money over the next three years, much of it up front and guaranteed. … Jamal Adams had work done on his hand in the offseason. It may not have fixed the problem. He’s getting it looked at. … K.J. Wright said goodbye to football yesterday in the same manner he played. The press conference was professional, hard-hitting and honest.

Sounders: As we mentioned above, Seattle plays at LAFC tonight.

Storm: The East Coast trip began with a loss at Connecticut.


• We wandered out to the driving range yesterday. Hit some golf balls. Killed some grass. Sweated enough to water the grounds. It looks easy but golf is darn hard. That’s is all. Until later …