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

A Grip on Sports: Yes, today is a wacky Wednesday but is it anymore than usual? It is up to you to decide

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s funny how certain memories from childhood never leave you. The first time you watch a baseball game. The first time you meet a famous athlete. The first time you experience a certain cartoon. Wacky, isn’t it?


• We only bring that up because we were searching last night for something to write about this morning. Some alliterative way to pull a bunch of thoughts together for Wednesday. The only word that kept coming up was “wacky,” as in Wacky Wednesday. Which, of course, led us to “Wacky Races.”

Ya, we know. Weird, huh?

What we didn’t recall, however, is the Hannah-Barbera cartoon only lasted on CBS for one season, starting in the fall of 1968, when we were 11 going on 12.

Muttley, Penelope Pitstop and the Slag Brothers played such an oversized role in our pre-teen development, we were sure the cartoons ran for years and years. Turns out, they did. In syndication. Twenty episodes, on and on and on.

Sort of like an MLB season.

There are even fewer episodes, though, in baseball. Five basic plots that each fan knows. The big win, the blowout loss, the tight win, the tight loss and the one game in the middle of the season you never forget.

That last one? It may have already happened for the M’s. Last night. A 3-1 win over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

And there is only one reason it should. The Throw. Not a throw. The Throw. Julio Rodriguez cutting down the fastest man in baseball, Elly De La Cruz, at third base for the third out of the seventh inning. Why was that important? Because the out came seconds before former Mariner Jake Fraley touched home, negating what would have been a game-tightening run.

The other part of the equation came from our choice for the Cy Young – if the M’s have a candidate. We see Logan Gilbert as the staff’s best. He showed it against the Reds. As the latest in a line of M’s starters who have played the role as Felix Hernandez’s reincarnated doppelganger. He finished 6 2/3 innings, gave up a run, three hits, a walk. Struck out six. Threw 90 pitches, two-thirds of which were strikes. And, to bolster his Hernandez-like credentials, picked up his first win this season.

After four starts, Gilbert has a 2.33 earned run average. He’s struck out 29. Walked four. And had little run support.

Wacky, huh?

• That word seems to apply to just about every aspect of college sports these days. There’s conference realignment and its wacky associations, with California schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12 leftovers in two different western-based ones.

The latest example of such is Washington State’s baseball and women’s swimming aligning itself with the WCC yesterday. The other Pac-12 school, Oregon State, does not have swimming and will be independent in baseball, meaning those Cougar sports had to find somewhere to land. They did.

But the realignment mess isn’t as wacky as the transfer portal. Latest weird hoop example? That comes courtesy of Saint Mary’s men, who won the WCC regular season and tournament titles last season. And seemed poised to open next season with a top-15 squad. Their leader? One could make the case it would be guard Aidan Mahaney, the rising-junior guard who grew up in Moraga, played travel ball with coach Randy Bennett’s sons and has been described as practically an affiliate member of the Bennett family.

Now he is in the transfer portal.

Say what? Of all the basketball transfers this offseason, Mahaney may shock us the most. We aren’t surprised often – for example, Joshua Jefferson, the Gaels’ Anton Watson-lite power forward, entering the portal with an injured knee wasn’t expected but understandable – but this news reaches that level.

It’s also a gut punch for the Gaels. A weird, wacky punch appropriate for Dick Dastardly, maybe. Or the Ant Hill Mob. And for this Wednesday.


WSU: With transfers all the rage, should we start with football or basketball? Coming or going? Arrivals it is. Ethan Price, who played for coach David Riley at Eastern, announced yesterday he’s headed down 195 to Pullman. Dan Thompson has that story. … Departures? Oscar Cluff has found a home. … And from the football locker room, Tsion Nunnally is leaving. Greg Woods has both of those stories. … Greg also has a story on the new homes for baseball and women’s swimming. … If last night marked the last time WSU alum Klay Thompson wore a Golden State uniform, it means his career there ended with a whimper. Ten shots. None made in a 118-94 playoff play-in loss to Sacramento. He will be an unrestricted free agent. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, money matters anyone? Jon Wilner delves into the financial woes in the Mercury News of the conference schools, including the two who are sticking around. … Washington practiced Tuesday. Did some things. Lost a player to the portal. … Oregon practiced Tuesday as well. Without a few injured players, though Jordan James was there. … One Duck is dealing with the authorities after an alleged hit-and-run. … Oregon State added home-and-home series with Kansas State and Houston. … Colorado also lost a former high-profile recruit to the portal. … UCLA will be scouring the portal for depth in key spots. … You may have heard the NCAA ruled quickly on Michigan’s COVID-era violations. Arizona State is still waiting. … One Arizona player has entered the portal but remains with the team and is practicing this spring. That seems weird. … Stanford made Kate Paye’s hire official. The longtime women’s basketball assistant will replace Tara VanDerveer. … Colorado has added a player. … Arizona is welcoming back one. … On the men’s side, UCLA picked up an Oklahoma State transfer that seems a good fit. … Caleb Love is in the NBA draft (but keeping his eligibility), Oumar Ballo has landed at Indiana (with Myles Rice) and Arizona is looking for replacements.

Gonzaga: Too early polls are one thing. A throw-the-darts-at-a-wall bracket is another. Joe Lunardi has his and, as Jim Meehan points out, the Zags are a two-seed. … Yvonne Ejim did somethings on the court this past year few in a Gonzaga uniform have ever done. Now she’s done something off the court no women’s basketball player has accomplished. She’s an Academic All-American. … Oregon hit six home runs in a 14-9 win over visiting GU. … Elsewhere in the WCC, we mentioned the Saint Mary’s defections above and link the stories here again in case you missed them.

EWU: We spent a couple hours talking with Don Monson in January at an annual event that honors former Gonzaga coach Dan Fitzgerald. Most of the conversation covered the ancient eras of college hoops. But when we talked about more modern aspects, Don’s son Dan and his Long Beach State team were the centerpieces, despite the geographic distance between father and son. Now the 91-year-old Don is a lot closer. It’s a relationship Theo Lawson delves into this morning. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, one of Montana’s better defensive linemen, Kale Edwards, has entered the portal. … A Northern Arizona receiver is trying to bounce back from an injury. … Montana State has enticed former Portland State guard Esmeralda Morales to Bozeman. … A Northern Colorado guard is headed to Colorado State.

Preps: When we were all-in with the Wacky Races, we also were all in with college track and field. Our dad dragged us more than once to UCLA meets, including meets with archrival USC. Little did we know more than a half-century later, if we attend a Trojan track meet next year, we will be able to watch a Mead sprinter. Greg Lee has this story on Dominick Corley, who has signed a letter-of-intent to attend Southern California this fall. Before then, however, Corley has unfinished business at State.

Indians: After eight consecutive wins to open the season, Spokane dropped its second in-a-row Tuesday, losing to Everett 5-3 at Avista Stadium. Dave Nichols came of the injured list and covered the home game from the park. … With the loss, the Indians fell a half-game behind Eugene, who did not play. Hillsboro topped Tri-City 8-1 in the only other Northwest League action.

Chiefs: No surprise here. Spokane’s Berkly Catton is up for a Western Hockey League award. That news leads off the S-R’s latest local briefs column.

Mariners: Yep, the M’s won 3-1 over the visiting Reds. That puts them at 8-10 for the season, just a game out of first in a slow-starting American League West. … Luke Raley is finding his way.

Seahawks: This season the Hawks are OK at safety. But that will change fast. Is this the time to address the future need? … Unless the Hawks make a trade or two, the draft bounty might just be ultra-thin.

Kraken: The playoff-bound Winnipeg Jets handed the soon-to-be-in-Cancun Seattle Kraken their fourth consecutive loss, 4-3 in Manitoba. … How much does the effort level figure in when building a roster?

Storm: How can you watch Caitlin Clark play in Seattle?


• We’re sure we could YouTube some of the Wacky Races episodes. But we won’t. Mainly because our memories are probably wrong. They are more than likely really poorly drawn and executed. In our mind, though, they are Emmy worthy. Until later …