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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: Saturdays were different when everything seemed a bit looney

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry battles with Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown during Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday.  (Nancy Lane/Tribune News Service)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry battles with Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown during Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday. (Nancy Lane/Tribune News Service)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • What is your favorite Saturday activity? We come from a generation that had it all figured out when we were young – at least on Saturday morning. We watched cartoons. Yogi Bear. The Roadrunner. Bugs Bunny. Sugary cereal, colorful cartoons and a seat 5-feet from the TV. Heaven. Then we ceded the console to dad, who had his own devilish agenda.

•••••••

• It depended on the time of year, of course. In the fall, Saturday cartoons were followed by college football games. Every one was a big deal, mainly due to a paucity of games available. The local contests – for us USC and UCLA – were also on radio but it took a big game for NBC to show it. In fact, due to the NCAA’s rules, there were only a game or two on each week.

Summer was different, of course. Saturday had the baseball game of the week. Veteran announcers, ballparks we had never stepped foot in, players we rarely saw. It was a big deal in our house. Such a big deal we knew we better get our cartoons in and head outside by the time the game was on.

The proliferation of cable changed all that. Cartoons were not a Saturday morning staple for my kids. They had Nick – and cartoons 24/7 if they wanted. And sports followed suit. ESPN’s 1979 debut began a revolution that is still going on today. If you want to watch a sporting event, you can. It may be on your phone or tablet or computer or TV, but your eyes can adore it.

Heck, a youth basketball tournament from a local venue is probably on-line somewhere as you read this.

Yet we still miss those cartoons. The Coyote cracked us up. Underdog gave us hope. Rocky and Bullwinkle taught us about international espionage, the Jetsons about the future.

It was so easy.

• The Mariners returned home from a successful road trip. They had some momentum. But success and momentum are fleeting in professional baseball. Sometimes it all changes on one pitch. As it did last night at T-Mobile.

The Red Sox were in town. They have been riding a successful wave of momentum of their own. And their pitchers didn’t make the key mistake.

With the game tied at two in the seventh, Andres Munoz gave up a leadoff home run to Bobby Dalbec, the Sox added an insurance run later in the inning and won 4-3.

Such continued the rollercoaster ride of the Mariners this season. It’s an old story, writ just as large in other cities with average-to-mediocre teams. Winning is hard. Winning consistently is usually reserved for those teams with deep pockets and deep benches.

The M’s aren’t in that category. They probably will never be. Which is fine.

At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.

• For years horse racing wished for another Triple Crown winner. It was thought it would revitalize the sport. Nope.

American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) did the trick after the nearly 40-year drought. And yet nothing has really changed. In fact, the only change is no one has their horse run all three races anymore. Not even the horse that wins the Kentucky Derby. This year that was Rich Strike, who skipped the Preakness and will run in today’s Belmont. Rich Strike is the third consecutive Derby winner – when the schedule wasn’t muddled by a pandemic – to skip Baltimore.

But Preakness winner Early Voting won’t be in New York. It has been held out and will not race until later this month.

Winning a Triple Crown used to be the goal of any Thoroughbred owner. It isn’t anymore. And the sport isn’t the same.

•••

WSU: Around the Pac-12 and college sports, money is always a key ingredient of athletic success (see our Mariner thoughts above). Jon Wilner, who answers your questions in a Mercury News mailbag, once again delves into what may be available to the conference with the next media contract. … Oregon State begins its quest today to win the Corvallis Super Regional and earn another college World Series berth. But Auburn has a potent lineup. … In basketball news, Arizona has added a former Texas guard to its roster. … Colorado has put together its nonconference schedule already. … UCLA has added to its coaching staff. … In football news, Oregon has a new coach and a new formula. … Arizona State has to revamp its defense.

Gonzaga: It hasn’t been a good few months for GU coaches and driving. Baseball coach Mark Machtolf was pulled over and cited for DUI in Reardan on Thursday night. Garrett Cabeza has the story. … Elsewhere in the WCC, USF is looking for a new athletic director. After another allegation of abuse surfaced in the women’s basketball program, AD Joan McDermott retired. … Four other new members will join BYU in the Big-12 next year.

Indians: For the fourth consecutive game, Eugene rallied and won late. Friday night’s 8-7 win included a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth.

Mariners: We mentioned the M’s loss above. And wondered what the M’s were doing differently to be successful. … Dan Wilson is a Mariner lifer. He’ll do just about anything for the organization.

Seahawks: Chris Carson still sees himself playing at some point. He said as much in a couple of interviews Friday.

Storm: Breanna Stewart scored 32 points to lead Seattle to an 89-88 victory in Dallas.

Sounders: Versatility may be the key for playing time for little-used players.

NBA: Steph Curry put on a Jordan-like performance in the fourth game of the NBA finals, scoring 43 points and willing the Warriors to a 107-97 win in Boston. The series is tied at two.

•••       

• We could have used a few laughs this morning. But cartoons aren’t our thing anymore. Neither are sugary cereals. And if we sat on the floor in front of the TV set, we might not be able to get up until Tuesday. Until later …

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