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

A Grip on Sports: Some thoughts on the most somber of holidays as well as as the weekend in sports

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s a somber day. A tough day for those who lost loved ones in the military over the years. The name says it all. Everyone should have some sort of memorial on this Memorial Day.


• Ours will be here. It’s impossible to mention peers whose fathers didn’t make it home from their generation’s war, World War II or even Korea, as, being born in 1956, logic dictates they did not exist. But we did know more than our share of families who lost loved ones in Vietnam.

Mothers and fathers. Sisters and brothers. Their brother or son never came back from a war that, even today, looks more than idiotic. A war that tore our country apart like none other. That fact, however, doesn’t diminish the sacrifice.

When most are called to serve, their control of their fate is not in their hands. Never has been. Only a handful of people make that choice. Others pay the price.

This is the day we remember the bill. Remember those who, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently said at Gettysburg, gave their last full measure of devotion. The only measure, actually.

Everything they had. Everything they could offer. Everything.

Nothing we can do can adequately honor that. Nothing.

The best we can do? To remember them, no matter how they were connected to your life. To think about them on the other 364 days as well. To keep them in your heart. Always.

• It’s hard to transition to sports but that’s the charge here. We’ll use baseball, one of the most American of sports, to do it.

The ending of the Mariners’ game Sunday was nothing the M’s faithful could hope for, but also everything. The bullpen squandered a two-run lead in the late innings. The offense was stagnate after the early innings. The bullpen came through in the 10th. And the offense did as well in the bottom of the inning. Well, a couple guys did.

With J.P. Crawford the designated runner on second base, Ty France found a way to move him to third. OK, it was a weak swing, but it came with two strikes. A productive out. Though that term would better apply if Julio Rodriquez had come through.

One of the amazing aspects of Rodriguez is how good he is and he still really doesn’t think the game. It’s all talent, little experience. One out, winning run on third, infield in means stay inside the ball, drive it hard where it’s pitched, make the defense make a play.

Instead, Rodriguez tried to jack two hanging sliders, missed both, then flailed at another in the dirt to strike out.

An intentional walk to Jarred Kelenic followed – right on left, which is what the book calls for – bringing Eugenio Suarez to the plate. Here’s a guy who does think the game. Never tries to do too much, just what’s needed. And, because of that, oftentimes he does even more.

The two-out at bat called for nothing more than a game-winning base hit. But when Robert Stephenson, a former Reds teammate, hung another slider, Suarez’s approach was perfect. He stayed compact, in control and drove the ball deep into the left-field seats.

Game over. Series won. Sunday uniform ruined.

• Anyone else have the same thought we did as Suarez reached the plate? You know, wow, who has to get the Gatorade out of that cream-colored uniform? Gatorade mixed with who knows what else, as the M’s showered him with, seemingly, anything within arm’s reach in the dugout.

The equipment guys deserve raises.


WSU: Around the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner looks at the conference’s football schedules in the Mercury News and rates them, from hardest to easiest. This is one time WSU is happy to be near the bottom. … We’re also focusing on baseball here, as the NCAA will announce the baseball regional participants this morning (9, ESPN2). The organization let us know the hosts yesterday and, once again, Stanford is the only school west of the Rockies to be on the 16-team list. Really? Yes, it’s about money. But hosting does mean something on the field as well. It’s time for the NCAA to spread the four-team mini-tournaments around the nation. Past time, actually. … It looks as if the Pac-12 will earn either five berths (Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Arizona State) or six (Arizona). But the Cardinal will be the only top seed. And that matters. … The softball championships begin Thursday in Oklahoma City, with three Pac-12 schools in attendance. The conference is guaranteed a win and a loss on the first day, as Washington and Utah play. Stanford faces Oklahoma, the overall top seed riding a record 48-game winning streak. The eight teams are from four conferences: Pac-12 (three), SEC (two), Big 12 (two) and ACC (one). Money matters.

Preps: It doesn’t happen often but it did this year. The prep sports season bled into the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Deer Park didn’t mind the wait, winning the third-place game at the 1A softball tournament.

Indians: It was a beautiful day at Avista Stadium yesterday, except for the final scores in the doubleheader. Vancouver won both games and leaves Spokane atop the NWL standings. Dave Nichols has all the details in this story.

Mariners: Suarez’s home run allowed the almost 40,000 in T-Mobile to leave happy. … So did Taylor Saucedo, who once sat in the same stands. His 10th-inning performance wasn’t perfect, unless you count not allowing the Pirates to score as perfect. Then it was.

Seahawks: How many running backs will the Hawks keep? That and other questions are answered in this mailbag from the Times.

Auto racing: Sunday was supposed to feature three major races in three disciplines. However, rain in the South caused the Coca-Cola 600 to be postponed until today. … No such problem in Indianapolis, though another controversial restart led to a veteran, Josef Newgarden, winning his first Indy 500 in 11 tries. … In Monaco, rain played a role in the Circuit de Monaco, won by Max Verstappen.

NBA: There could be history made tonight in Boston. And the Miami Heat will have no one to blame but themselves. And whoever decided to put 3 seconds on the clock.


• If you read yesterday’s column, you know we mentioned our skills as a 7-year-old film critic. After a re-watching of the movie we touted, we must say our skills were, well, lacking. It was a terrible movie full of plot holes big enough for a Viking ship to sail through. A golden bell rolls down a cliff, hits the ocean and … floats? Ya, right. Suspending disbelief doesn’t mean being blind. Until later …