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

A Grip on Sports: Why should we be limited to once a year holding up our Festivus pole and airing our grievances?

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Reading can be bad for you. Here’s proof. We once read a book as a kid in which the family celebrated a second Christmas every year. In June. Seemed right to us. So, we asked our dad if our family could do the same. His look was downright chilling. Well, being an adult means we get to make the decisions. It’s June and we want to celebrate again. But not Christmas. Festivus. It’s time to air grievances. And, shoot, we have a bunch.


• We were sitting on the deck last evening, enjoying the warm weather and listening to Rick Rizz and Dave Sims call the first inning of the M’s game on the radio. On the other side of the sliding glass door, our son was watching the game on Root. Turns out, the old-fashioned cable TV was a good 30 seconds behind that new-fangled delivery system, the radio.

Every few minutes or so, we would stick our head in the door, say something like “man, could they use a big hit from Haniger here” and wait to see Mitch hit a ball to the wall. He started calling us “Future Boy.”

He had figured it out, of course, but let his dad have his ultimate dad joke. Until the inning ended and we added one more, sure-to-come-true prediction. “Sorry, T,” we said. “I’ve seen the future and the M’s lose 9-7.”

That was not funny. Prescient, sure. But not funny. Wrong, too. They lost 10-9. That’s not funny either. Hand us the Festivus pole. We have a bone to pick with Bryce Miller.

You’re handed a seven-run lead in the first inning. And your first three pitches in the bottom of the inning are all outside the strike zone? A minor thing, sure. But a harbinger of things to come, especially in the four-run fourth that allowed the Royals hope. Included in that get-back-in-the-game inning was a four-pitch walk to Vinnie Pasquantino, a no-no with such a lead. Especially against a guy hardly hitting his weight.

OK, to be fair, Miller, and the rest of the young Mariner starters, rarely are in the position of pitching with a huge lead. It was uncharted territory. And Miller took a wrong turn, ultimately giving up seven earned runs, ballooning his earned run average from 3.18 to 3.81 – which has a certain symmetry.

So does being six games up in a division after having played 65 games. That didn’t happen. The fatalist in us is certain this is the game we’ll point to in September as the M’s are fighting for their playoff lives.

• OK, here’s another Festivus touchstone. Why the heck did streaming services go away from dropping all the episodes of a series on one day? Binging used to be so much fun. It’s not nearly as cool to wait eight weeks before spending eight hours watching the newest Star Wars or Star Trek show.

• We used to put a notch on our last Festivus pole every time a Pac-12 administrator made a huge mistake. Call it the Larry Scott addendum to Frank Costanza’s holiday rule book.

Bad planning on our part. The pole finally just fell apart after the 1,408 slice. Had to buy a new one. And we’re pretty sure the guy at the Festivus-R-Us store fleeced us. The new pole just isn’t as good. And the new, hidden costs are exorbitant. Sort of like what Washington is discovering with its new conference, the Big Ten.

Remember how the Huskies decided not to sign on to the Apple TV deal – a mark on the pole – and, along with Oregon, destroyed the conference’s last hope by bailing for the “big-money” of the Big Ten? Us too. Anyhow, the Huskies are looking at huge athletic department deficits for the foreseeable future. They’ll need loans from a variety of sources to get into the black.

Why? The money coming in isn’t all that great. The money going out is greater than anticipated. A $30-million deficit, all in the name of being better situated for the future in the horizon. But that future is changing so fast, no one knows what college athletics will look like – and what the financial situation will be.

Our new Festivus pole? It’s already marred by a bunch of UW-caused cuts.

• Almost took the pole out of the garage last night. We wanted to walk down the trail behind our house to have a chat with the folks holding a way-too-loud party after midnight. And we believe in the Teddy Roosevelt dictum. But then we remember the pole is made of aluminum foil and it is graduation season. Let them celebrate. We turned up the fan and went back to sleep.

• One last Festivus gripe. Why does society put limits on us? Celebrate it once a year? No way. We are coloring outside the lines today.


WSU: At some point before the football season begins, the Cougars will call a press conference. Anne McCoy will be there. Kirk Schulz too. A bunch of cameras, supporters and, hopefully, a lot of Ol’ Crimson Legendary Lager, the new NIL beer. The reason? To formally acknowledge what has been clear since Pat Chun skipped across the state. McCoy is the best choice for WSU’s athletic director position. The current interim, who has been doing all the tough jobs in the athletic department since the turn of the century, completed another segment of her recent media blitz, talking with the folks in Seattle and stopping in Portland to chat with John Canzano. … The Times’ Mike Vorel wonders if Washington State can stay relevant in the new world of college athletics. We wonder if anyone outside of about 30 schools can – or will. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his usual Friday mailbag in the S-R. There are questions about the Pac-2 of course. … The NCAA track and field championships roll on. The best race yesterday? The men’s 1,500, in which a Washington runner edged out an Oregon one – in Eugene of all places. Rivalries are great. We also have stories from Arizona and Colorado. … The football number stories in the Oregonian continue for Oregon and Oregon State. … There is also a story on UO quarterback Dillon Gabriel’s summer plans. … Those schools also open their baseball Super Regionals today. … Oregon’s Kelly Graves has rebuilt his women’s basketball roster. … Colorado has begun its summer men’s basketball workouts. … Finally, if you remember USC’s blind long snapper, Jake Olson, this story about his guide dog will make you tear up.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, we have NCAA track and field championships stories from Montana State, Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona. … We also can pass along a story on Weber State’s Dillon Jones and his NBA quest.

Preps: The most recent track and field season featured quite a few schools that won State titles. Greg Lee takes some time today to highlight the small-school champions.

Indians: Don’t wait. If you want to see Chase Dollander pitch in Spokane, you might want to get out to his next home start. The ace of the staff has thrown that well, including last night’s dominant start in an 8-1 win over Hillsboro at Avista. Colton Clark, filling in for Dave Nichols, has the coverage. … Elsewhere in the league, Tri-City helped out Spokane with a 5-2 win over visiting Eugene. … Everett routed visiting Vancouver 9-2.

Mariners: There is something about Kansas City recently, whether the Royals are good, bad or indifferent. The M’s have blown some big leads in that ballpark the past few years. … According to these stats, Seattle is leading the American League West despite some awful luck. … Expect Logan Evans to be in the bullpen soon. Who? Good question. … Ty France deserves a T-shirt giveaway. It needs to feature the picture here, part of an X-post following his M’s record-setting 90th career hit-by-pitch.

Storm: The two-time defending champion Las Vegas Aces came to town last night. And Seattle handled them relatively easily, 78-65. The Storm is on a roll. … Caitlin Clark just had her best game as a pro last night. About the same time it’s leaked she won’t be on the U.S. Olympic team. We’re not a big believer in coincidences.

Kraken: The Stanley Cup Final begins today. Can Connor McDavid and the Oilers hand Florida a second-consecutive loss in the series?

Sonics: Dallas isn’t panicking. The Mavericks have been in this situation before. Except, have they? Really? The Celtics are the best team in the NBA, according to won-loss record. … Who is the next great NBA superstar? We’re asking for our friends at Nike.

Sounders: Seattle is well rested. But are the Sounders good enough to earn three points at Sporting Kansas City today?

Horse racing: There is no Triple Crown on the line today. The usual track is under reconstruction. But the “Belmont” will be run anyway. At Saratoga. At a shorter distance. Weird.


• Another reason to have a second Festivus in June? The airing of grievances goes well with the first ice cream bar of the summer. And their annual shrinkage. Three, maybe four bites and poof, the chocolate-covered piece of heaven is gone. But this year we have decided to develop a work-around instead of yelling at the confectionary gods. We eat two. That seems about right. Until later …