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

A Grip on Sports: April showers interfere with M’s road trip and get us thinking about what the month means in baseball

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We won’t be writing about the Mariners’ Friday game this morning. It was postponed. Weather. We won’t be writing about the transfer portal either. We are overwhelmed. We also won’t be writing about the Seahawks’ draft plans, our latest golf outing or how sports can keep you young. That doesn’t leave much, does it?


• It’s April’s curse. No, not rain showers, but those can be a curse too – especially when they hit while you are out walking the dog. When you are cursed by not having a lot of hope in your local major league baseball team, the last three weeks of April can seem bereft of joy. Of excitement. Of anticipation.

At least it is this year. for us

The month hasn’t always been that way.

In 1984, we still had a few vestiges of our Detroit Tiger fandom hanging around. And we’re not just talking about our classic dark Old-English-script D hat, which we made popular long before Tom Selleck wore it on that Hawaii detective show, Cro-Magnum P.I. or whatever it was called.

It was easy to be a Tiger fan that season. Sparky Anderson, showing second acts were possible in the game, was the manager, Lance Parrish was the most important player and young right-hander Dan Petry was unbeatable. Just like the Tigers. They lost twice in April that season. Twice. The M’s might pick up that many losses Sunday.

Detroit’s 18-2 mark in the month stands out in our memory. So does their 35-5 first 40 games. Talk about anticipation. A World Series was in store, right? Yep. A title.

(By the way, we had a couple connections with that Tiger team. The designated hitter, Darrell Evans, was our junior varsity baseball coach’s best friend, and used to take batting practice with our team occasionally. And the Tigers’ utility man, Marty Castillo, played at Savanna High in Anaheim, Calif., along with stints at Fullerton and Santa Ana JCs and Chapman College. We played against Castillo in those latter three spots. We also coached the Savanna High Legion team for two summers as the 1980s dawned.)

The converse of that season? The 2003 Tigers, who were 3-21 when April ended, en route to 119 losses. That last number is pretty important to baseball. Not only was it one off the record set by Casey Stengel’s woeful 1962 Mets, it also is three more than the Mariners’ record 116 wins in 2001.

The M’s finished April in 2001 20-5. They were 31-9 in their first 40 games. Talk about anticipation. A World Series was in store, right? Nope. A flameout was though.

OK, so an April shower of wins doesn’t always ensure success. But neither does a rain barrel full of losses. The same year the Mariners won 116 games, the Athletics also won 102. That A’s team posted an 8-16 record in April. And still made the postseason. Of course, Oakland lost in the playoffs to the Yankees, but that division series failure was the impetus for Moneyball, so there is that.

We don’t believe the Mariners are going to finish April with an 8-16 record. In fact, we can guarantee they will win at least nine games. But we also don’t think that they will win 102 either, despite possibly having just as good of starting pitching as Oakland did that season. (Yes, a staff of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito – all 25 or younger – is tough to top but the M’s just may be better with veteran Luis Castillo and youngsters Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and Bryce Miller.)

Why can’t Seattle win 102 games? You know the reasons, don’t you? The lineup. The defense. And the magic number. A record of 102-60 is a winning percentage of 63%. That’s well above the M’s goal of 54%. There’s no way Jerry Dipoto and ownership want to be that successful.

It would raise the fanbase’s expectations. And they don’t want that.


WSU: OK, we could have written about Jabe Mullins finding a home for his final year of eligibilty. At Montana State. But we left that duty to Greg Woods. He’s got it covered. … We also could – maybe should? – have written about Kirk Schulz announcing he will step down at Wazzu on June 30, 2025. We passed, mainly because Schulz’s legacy is complicated and yet to be complete. We’ll wait until closer to closing time. Besides, we have this Nick Gibson and Elena Perry story to pass along. … We can also pass along this story on kicker Dean Janikowski’s fund-raising efforts to fight cancer. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has a mailbag we can pass along. A couple of the questions have to do with the Pac-2’s future. … A lot of schools have been practicing with helmet communication systems this spring and the reason is now clear. The NCAA approved them for the fall. The organization also is adding a 2-minute warning. Or, as it should be known, another commercial break. … The NCAA also finally decided what to do with Arizona State for its COVID-19-era violations. The organization really hit former coach Herm Edwards hard. Of course, he was never going to coach again, so there is actually little of consequence. The Sun Devils also lost their leading receiver to the portal. … Friday was a busy day for Washington football and the transfer portal. So busy, in fact, there was an update later to Scott Hanson’s story in the Times. … Dan Lanning has impressed John Canzano in many ways. … Oregon has a new kicker. He moved south down I-5 just a few miles. From Oregon State. … How do you feel about the Sanders brothers recruiting for Colorado via Insta? … Miller Moss had an exceptional debut as USC’s quarterback. What’s next? … The Trojans added to its stable of coaches. … UCLA had some fun at practice Friday. … A former Arizona player found a home. … The Colorado women are in the process of retooling their roster. … UCLA has lost some depth. … Utah’s men lost a key part of its lineup to the portal yesterday. … Arizona is about development, at least for one player.

Gonzaga: After a tough nonconference schedule, the Zag baseball team has found its stride in WCC play. A 2-1 win over visiting Portland on Friday lifted GU into the top spot in the conference standings. … We mentioned Calli Stokes heading to the portal yesterday. Greg Lee has this story.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, the Erik Meyer-to-the-conference-Hall-of-Fame news yesterday got us thinking. And doing some research. Meyer is working for former Eastern coach Paul Wulff at Cal Poly. So is another quarterback with Wulff ties, Timm Rosenbach. … Montana State has a duo that will run the defense together. … Northern Arizona’s football team did a wonderful thing yesterday. … Weber State has been rebuilding its women’s basketball roster. … A Northern Colorado player left for a new experience.

Preps: We can pass along a roundup of Friday’s action put together by Dave Nichols.

Indians: Dave also covered Spokane’s 5-4 win over Everett at Avista Stadium last night. The Indians rallied to walk-off the Aquasox on Jesus Bugarin’s single. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, the Indians stayed within a half-game of leader Eugene as the Emeralds rallied to defeat visiting Vancouver 8-6. … Tri-City hammered host Hillsboro 11-3.

Seahawks: We have been linking the Times’ draft previews stories, but will also link them when they run in the S-R, as this one on the cornerback position did today. … Today we have looks at tight end and interior offensive linemen to pass along from Seattle. … Wondering how the draft will play out? A lot of quarterbacks early then who knows.

Mariners: The postponed game was rescheduled for a Sunday doubleheader, when the weather is expected to improve. Today is kind of dicey in Denver as well.

Sounders: Pedro de la Vega suffered an injury while rehabbing another injury.

Storm: There has already been a date change to the team’s schedule.


• Our cold is finally fading. We awoke this morning feeling better. Less congested. Coughing a bit more, but that happens. Maybe we’ll be able to get out in society today. With the proper precautions, of course. Don’t want to spread our germs to others. The only thing we should be legally allowed to spread is our thoughts and ideas here. Until later …