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

A Grip on Sports: A non-comedy of errors almost costs the Mariners and does cost college hoop programs

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s a busy day, with a lot to cover. Let’s get right to it, starting with what happened last night in Missouri.


• The M’s blew a seven-run lead last night, and still won. That’s the bottom line. Scoring twice in the 10th helped them avoid the ignominy of another loss to the Royals as well as falling another game back of Toronto in the wild-card race.

How does a team hit four home runs, score seven times in the fourth and still have to go to extras? Errors. Theirs and a big one by the umpiring crew.

The two the M’s made were killer, including a routine popup that fell between right fielder Teoscar Hernandez and second baseman Josh Rojas, a play excused by the M’s announcing team because they are new teammates. Not sure that’s where we would have gone, but, you know, can’t bite the hand that feeds you (see, Orioles, Baltimore and announcer Kevin Brown).

Anyhow, that opened the door to a five-run fifth inning for the Royals, one that would have been closed after a single run if a) the umpiring crew actually saw what happened or, b) baseball’s replay rules made any sort of sense.

With the bases loaded, Maikal Garcia singled to left with two outs against Emerson Hancock, who pitched well up to that point. A run scored and it looked as if designated hitter Matt Beatty would try too as well. Except third-base coach Vance Wilson had his right hand up in a stop sign. By the time Beatty realized it, he was in trouble. But he got an assist. He grabbed Wilson’s hand, which helped him keep his balance and allowed him to scramble back to the bag just in time to beat Eugenio Suarez’s toss to Jose Caballero.

Uh, that’s against the rules, according to the definition of coach interference: “Base coaches can also be called for interference if the umpire determines that they physically assisted a runner – by grabbing or holding said runner – from leaving or returning to first or third base.”

We added the italics because it was obvious from the replays we saw, none of the four guys paid to adjudicate the game saw the incident. Their eyes were elsewhere. And this situation is not covered by replay rules. The obvious question is why not? It would have taken less time to ask New York to review it than it did for the umpires to gather and decide not to make a call.

Wait until it happens in a World Series and costs the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Mets. The replay rule will change then.

• Oh, wait. We forgot the other error. Rojas made a bad throw to open the ninth, leading to three unearned runs, a tie game at eight and Andres Munoz getting an undeserved blown save. Thank goodness, for the M’s at least, Ty France came through in the top of the 10th, driving in two and lifting Seattle to a 10-8 victory.

• There are other questions we know the answer to, but still shake our head over. College football, conference realignment and the stupidity of it all comes to mind. Former Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim articulated our thoughts perfectly in a recent Athletic story concerning realignment’s impact on basketball:

“Oh, my God, these people,” Boeheim told the publication. “A few years ago, someone said, ‘Let’s get the (university) presidents more involved.’ This is where we are. This is about money. We all know that. But they used to make $10 million, then 20, then 30. Every time, they spent it all. Now it’s 50, then 100. It doesn’t matter. We keep moving the line and they spend it anyway. Where does it stop? It makes no sense for intelligent people to be doing this. … They haven’t solved any of the problems of college athletics. If anything, they just keep making them worse.”

• We had one goal when we started in this business. Heck, we had one goal when we were seven-year-old, or 12, or at 16. We wanted to be able to write as well as Jim Murray.

The Times’ sports columnist died 25 years ago today. In his honor, the paper has a story that basically recaps all the nice things said about the best at his job ever. This quote from Scott Ostler, who has been one of the best sports columnists for years, encapsulates our thoughts: “I grew up as a sports fan in L.A., wanting to do two things: 1, Read Jim Murray every morning; 2, Write like Jim Murray. Goal-achievement-wise, I batted .500. You can’t write like Murray any more than you can sing like Sinatra.”



WSU: We’re starting to get to the long days of preseason camp. The days when the practices pile up and the days until the first game seem endless. Into the breach steps Greg Woods this morning, with a practice notebook which looks at the secondary’s performance Tuesday. … That’s not all, of course. He has a story on Cam Ward making another couple award watch lists. And adds a story on assistant basketball coach John Andrzejek leaving for the University of Florida, something we mentioned yesterday. … Jaden Hicks has emerged as a star safety. WSU has had a few of those. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner examines the conference’s NCAA basketball tourney money and how it will be handled down the road. … Stewart Mandel has some more thoughts on the Pac-4’s landing spots. … Don’t expect another quick round of Big-12 expansion. … John Canzano decides to look at football and what’s ahead on the field in the final Pac-12 season. … There have been some worries about Michael Penix’s arm for Washington but those seem to be fading. … The starting quarterback battle hasn’t been decided at Oregon State. … Utah has figured out who its backup quarterback is, due to another injury. … There is another billboard going up in New York City for an Oregon quarterback. We wonder if Bill Moos collects a trademark fee for coming up with the idea many years ago? … Colorado is looking to build outside linebacker depth. … The Pac-12 demise of Stanford and California is being taken personally by alums. … Everyone tries to avoid preseason injuries, but UCLA is doing something new about it. … This season may just be about Jayden de Laura at Arizona. … In basketball news, Stanford’s Cameron Brink is breaking new NIL ground. … Arizona’s first game in Israel wasn’t tough except for one way.

Gonzaga: Yes, you will still be able to watch the Zags on KHQ/SWX during the season. But if you are out of the area, you will be able to watch them on ESPN+ this season. It’s all part of a new deal between the WCC and ESPN, a deal Theo Lawson delves into with this story.

EWU: When you think of Eastern Washington’s offense, the first thing you think of is the quarterback, right? Or maybe the receivers. Aaron Best believes the Eagles have to be able to run the ball better to succeed, and he’s got them working on the running game this preseason. Dan Thompson has all the details in this story. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, UC Davis will lean on its linebackers. … Montana State has a good group of receivers. … Northern Colorado and Colorado State will play for the next couple seasons.

Indians: It’s been a while, but Spokane had a laugher of a win last night, defeating visiting Tri-City 14-1 behind Anderson Pilar’s outstanding pitching performance. Dave Nichols was at Avista and has this story.

Mariners: We pass along the game story from K.C. once more here, but we also linked it above. … The bullpen’s recent struggles, and the big hole created at the trade deadline, worry Larry Stone. … At the plate, the newest M’s settle in. In the field? See above. … Finally, the next time you are talking about steroids and cheating, don’t forget this case of cheating – from Little League. And remember the players that get cheated out of their reward.

Seahawks: Good news for the Hawk defense. Seven months after injuring his ACL, inside linebacker Jordyn Brooks came off the PUP list Tuesday. That still doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for the opener, but it’s another step in his journey back to the field. … The Hawks were hit hard by Alex Collins’ death.

Sounders: Seattle signed another homegrown player to the big club.

Kraken: The junior league fighting ban makes it seem the same type of ban in the NHL may be inevitable.


• Remember how we told you yesterday we had a busy week? It just got busier. Our air conditioner began making awful noises last evening, prompting us to have to turn it off. And make a call for help. Whether we have air conditioning today is still up in the air. As is our status as a resident of our home tonight. We might just have to spend the night in a hotel. Until later …