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

A Grip on Sports: No matter how much money is available in professional sports, there is always more out there

Dustin Johnson watches his shot out of the bunker on the 13th hole during the second round at the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 8, 2022, in Augusta, Ga.  (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep in once in a while? To wait until the sun has burned through the morning clouds to put your feet on the floor? To roll over and see an upside-down six on the clock? No, not really. Not when so much awaits us on a Thursday.


• OK, so maybe it would have been a great day to sleep in. Unless, you know, the new Saudi Arabia-backed golf league is your cup of tea.

Then again, watching Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and a bunch of guys who are huge names in their hometowns play for, well, nothing but an oil-tanker full of money, isn’t all that easy.

There is no over-the-air broadcast of the upstart group in the United States. If you want to watch, you do it via streaming. While that works well enough, it isn’t like sitting on your couch and turning on CBS or NBC or the Golf Channel.

Though the purses at each of the LIV tournaments are enormous, they have been dwarfed by the multi-millions the Greg Norman-run league has thrown at stars like Mickelson to leave the PGA Tour behind. Is $200 million enough? That’s what Mickelson reportedly received to abandon an entity that has grown golf to major status around the world over the past six decades. The big bucks – Johnson reportedly received $125 million to make the switch – are guaranteed. Finish last in every event and that money is still in your bank account.

We’ll see if the league will survive. How popular it becomes. If it will supplant the Tour as professional golf’s most-popular destination. For now, it is something of an unknown, with draconian rules for fans – the Saudis want to tamp down dissent? What a shock – and an odd team component.

Plus, lest we forget, a Scrooge McDuck-pile of money.

• The Seahawks are dealing with the financial expectations of wide receiver DK Metcalf. And by dealing, we mean Metcalf wants a contract extension and was willing to skip this week’s minicamp to get it. At the least, to put pressure on the franchise to get something done.

Meanwhile the rival Rams, Super Bowl champions, announced a new deal Wednesday with their top receiver, one Cooper Kupp.

You might remember Kupp from his days at Eastern Washington. We’re certain his opponents do. It certainly didn’t seem as if the Hawks knew who he was, at least back in 2017 when Kupp was in the draft. Twice Seattle passed on the Yakima native, choosing instead Malik McDowell, a defensive lineman who never played for them, and Ethan Pocic, an undersized center who never played all that well for them.

All the while Northwest college football fans sat at home with their fingers crossed, hoping they would pick Kupp. It didn’t happen. And it still rankles.

• It looks as if Oklahoma will finish off its UCLA-basketball-like, circa 1968, run through the NCAA softball playoffs. It could happen as early as this evening.

The Sooners are 58-3, have won three of the last five NCAA titles and opened the best-of-three title series in Oklahoma City against Texas with a 16-1 win. If they lose the final two games against their Big 12 (soon to be SEC) rival, it would be an upset of unimaginable proportions.

Which means it is about time to turn our attention to baseball. The Super Regionals – basically the sport’s Sweet 16 – begin Friday at four sites and Saturday at the other four, including Stanford and Oregon State.

Top-ranked Tennessee (56-7) is still the favorite, but the second-seeded Cardinal and third-seeded Beavers had to survive loser-out games to advance. The new darling? Virginia Tech, which won its regional without ever having to play Gonzaga, which was expected to give the Hokies a test.


WSU: The Cougars have picked up another commitment for 2023, with Southern California wide receiver Carlos Hernandez announcing Tuesday he will head to Pullman. Colton Clark has the story. Fun facts: Hernandez attends Monrovia High, my sister’s alma mater and the school that produced Fair Hooker, the former Cleveland Brown wide receiver. … Around the Pac-12 and college sports, the Big Ten is in the midst of its media negotiations. Next up is the Pac-12. As Jon Wilner tells us in today’s Mercury News, the two are related, at least  peripherally. … Who will be the next Utah football coach? That’s an open question these days. … USC will have just one new face on the offensive line this season. … Speaking of the Trojans, we missed this Lincoln Riley story from a couple days ago. … There are comings and goings among the Arizona football roster. … There is an opening on the Arizona State basketball staff…. Arizona basketball coach Tommy Lloyd will be one of the conference’s highest paid when his contract is approved.

Gonzaga: Not all stories related to GU basketball are about GU basketball. Take today’s story from Theo Lawson for example. It concerns a new clothing store in town. There is a Gonzaga connection. But you will have to read Theo’s piece to know what it is. … James Mwaura is a track All-American once more. The Zag finished 15th in the NCAA’s 10,000 meters Wednesday night to earn that honor.

EWU: As we mentioned above, Kupp has signed another extension with Los Angeles. This story has all the particulars.

Preps: It’s Thursday, so Dave Nichols has a prep notebook. It kicks off with news from Gonzaga Prep, where the Bullpups have hired Geoff Arte to replace his dad, Mike, as girls basketball coach. … Nina Culver has this story on the Riverside High golf team. … There is a lot going on nationally with high school sports.

Indians: Dave returns with coverage of last night’s 3-2 loss at Eugene. The Emeralds won the game with a run in the bottom of the ninth.

Mariners: How about that? The M’s won a series in Houston. They took the rubber game Wednesday night 6-3 and return home with a winning road trip. They also have today off. … Jim Bowden thinks a couple Mariners should be all-stars. … A couple M’s starting pitchers are having to adjust this season.

Seahawks: The quarterback competition has to be the most-anticipated position battle, right? It is. As well it should be.

Golf: Dave also has a story on a local golf tournament this week that will raise money for kids in need.


• We have to admit we’re not all that interested in the NBA finals. The season drags on so long, we would rather watch the M’s play or binge one of the million streaming options available each June. After all, free time in front of the TV is a luxury when the sun shines until after 8 p.m. Basketball is better when it is 27 degrees outside. Same with hockey, which is yet to start its finals. It’s been this way for a while. We get that. But we’ve never really adjusted. Until later …