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

A Grip on Sports: The only thing we like about Kansas City right now? Nothing, other than maybe season four of ‘Fargo’

A GRIP ON SPORTS • “Squander” is a fun word to say. Maybe not the best “squ” word out there (we believe that one is “squab,” made even more memorable by the one “Two and a Half Men” episode we actually watched), but a good one. The word, however, has awful overtones in baseball. Just saying it and the Mariners in the same sentence makes us shudder a bit.


• One could take a quick glance at the American League West standings and think all is well in Mariner land. After all, when the team wakes up this morning in Kansas City, it does so knowing it has a five-game lead on the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers.

That’s pretty impressive, right? After all, it’s the largest lead in the league.

But like a house with termites, it’s really hard to find the rot with just a cursory look. A deep dive is needed. Or maybe not.

To be honest, we wanted to wail and whine all morning. After all, Scott Servais’ group blew an eight-run lead Friday. Didn’t really do anything well Saturday in another loss, this one 8-4. The ship be sinking is how Rickey Henderson might have described it.

It isn’t though. There are a lot of cracks, sure, where water is sneaking in but losing a couple games in Kansas City against a Royals team on a roll – surprising KC is 39-26 and nipping at Cleveland’s heels in the Central – isn’t, in itself, cause for alarm. There are reasons.

One of which refers to a multiple. As in multiple injuries. The bullpen is short arms. Everyone knows that. The best one, Andres Munoz, probably is benefiting from resting his back in the humidity that is Missouri. But others are either out for the season (Matt Brash) or have been out all season (Gregor Santos). The additions Jerry Dipoto has brought in are trying to hold the fort but more is needed.

And there are injuries elsewhere. Ty France out for a while, felled by the usual, a hit-by-pitch. Jorge Polanco, dealing with a balky hamstring. Mitch Garber’s bat, made impotent, possibly by the aforementioned termites. Teoscar Hernandez, his bat fumigated and helping him hit everything hard for his current team.

Yes, it’s worrisome Seattle could have been building on its lead, not just on the beat-up Rangers but also on the yet-to-be-in-full-go-mode Astros. It’s Houston, lurking just a half-game behind its Texas cousins this morning, that worries us.

If you are looking for silver linings, though, we can supply two.

The Astros’ starting pitching is short staffed. Injuries have taken their toll on them as well. (In contrast, outside of Bryan Woo’s IL stint to start the year, Seattle’s starters have been pretty durable.) And the Mariners have enough minor league capital – seven of their prospects are in Baseball America’s top 100, as many as any franchise – to acquire the needed pieces between now and the end of July.

Maybe even someone as potent as this year’s version of Teoscar Hernandez.

• We took a little shot at the Royals’ Vinnie Pasquantino in Saturday’s column. Well, he shot back last night. It was his two-run double in the fifth inning that erased what once was a 3-2 lead for Seattle. Then again, most everyone that reads this column could have roped the fastball Luis Castillo left in the middle of the plate. Pasquantino did.

• It was a bad Saturday in the KC metro area for Seattle teams. Not only did the Mariners lose, but later in the evening the Sounders lost 2-1 to a Sporting Kansas City squad that was on a month-long losing streak.

The loss was bad enough but how Seattle lost was worse. An ill-timed red card – Reed Baker-Whiting stupidly picked up a second yellow – put the Sounders down a man in a 1-1 match. Then a dozen minutes later Stefan Frei, one of the highest-paid goalkeepers in the MLS, didn’t make the play on a stoppable shot, allowing just enough room for the ball to trickle into the net.


WSU: Around the Pac-12 and the nation, you know how Washington State is going to be playing a Mountain West football schedule the next couple seasons as it plots its future? Well, Mountain West schools like Colorado State are worried about the future as well. Including the financial aspect of it. … Neither Oregon nor Oregon State did well in their first Super Regional games. The Ducks were battered 10-6 by host Texas A&M. … The Beavers struggled at the plate and lost 10-0 to second-seeded Kentucky on the road. Oregon State vows to battle back today. … The NCAA track and field meets are over. We can pass along stories pertaining to the Oregon Ducks and Colorado. … Former UCLA basketball assistant, and successful BYU head coach, Frank Arnold died Saturday at age 89. … Oregon picked up a highly thought of recruit. … We have more football numbers stories from Oregon and Oregon State in the Oregonian to link. … The Big 12 will feature 1/3 of the former Pac-12 next season. … Finally, Ashley Adamson is going to miss the conference after 12 years at the Pac-12 Networks.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, former Northern Colorado star Dalton Knecht may go in the top five of the NBA draft. … Current Bear coach Dedeann Pendleton-Helm has turned around the softball program. … What’s ahead for Portland State football? … In sad news, a Cal Poly football player died a few days ago, stricken by a pulmonary embolism. Keith Marco was 21 years old.

Indians: Spokane was looking at another loss to Hillsboro last night, entering the bottom of the ninth trailing by four runs. Down to the last out, Jake Snider stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. One pitch. Four runs. And then the storybook ending? Uh, no. The Hops scored four times in the top of the 10th and took a 9-6 victory at Avista. Dave Nichols was there and has this game story. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Eugene pulled back within a game with a 3-2 win at Tri-City. … Vancouver held off host Everett 8-7.

Velocity: Justin Reed has a long story well worth your time this morning. It’s about former Gonzaga soccer player Vito Higgins, now in well removed from his college days and on a different track: coaching and being a dad.

Mariners: We told you Saturday that Ty France deserves a T-shirt giveaway after setting a franchise record with his 90th career hit-by-pitch. Turns out what he really needed was a rest. He might be injured and headed off the roster for a while.

Kraken: When a goalie is as good as Sergei Bobrovsky was Saturday, there is little chance for the opposition. In fact, Edmonton peppered the net and came away with a 3-0 loss in Florida in the first game of the Stanley Cup final against the Panthers.

Sonics: Is Mavericks’ coach Jason Kidd trying to start some in-fighting in the Celtics locker room? If he is, good for him. Right now Boston is the NBA’s best team and they’ll be out to prove it again in the second game of the finals today.

Sounders: We mentioned the Seattle loss above. And linked the story. We link it again here in case you missed it.

Horse racing: The Belmont wasn’t, well, the Belmont on Saturday, not in length nor location. But the Saratoga-held event still was exciting, with Dornoch, a 17-1 longshot, barreling down the stretch and holding off Mindframe’s wandering run to win by a half-length over the 1¼-mile race. … Tim McCanna, who started his long training career at Playfair, recently won his 2,500 race, a number reached by just 63 other trainers over the years. Jim Price has more in this story.

Wheelchair racing: Spokane’s Susannah Scaroni set another world record Saturday in the women’s T54 wheelchair 5,000 meters in Nottwil, Switzerland. Madison McCord has all the details.

Tennis: Iga Swiatek won the French Open title for a third consecutive year, defeating Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-1.

Reign: Seattle is back in action today after a more-than-two-week layoff.

Storm: Before we head off to do Sunday things today, we would be remiss if we didn’t share at least a few of the columns we found this morning on the makeup of the U.S. team that will represent the country at the Olympics in Paris. Not sure we’ve read as many stories on a roster announcement, well, ever. It’s all because of one player who is not listed. Caitlin Clark. Our silly opinion? If the goal is to attract eyeballs and add more interest to the game, she should have been picked. If the goal is to win, then the right choice was made. The best teams are not just a collection of the best players. The best team has to fit together seamlessly. With the chasm in professional women’s basketball right now, fitting Clark in would have taken maybe more skill than maybe Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve has. Heck, maybe only Dawn Staley would be able to do it these days.


• Our last thought today. We once had a Slip-n-Slide. More than one, actually. Wore them out. They were an indispensable part of being a young baseball player in Los Angeles, where they could be used from March through October. But you didn’t need a Slip-n-Slide to learn the basic fundamentals. A fond memory of college concerns a practice on a warm spring day – when it was pouring rain. The team trekked out to the intramural field. Took our shoes and socks off. And practiced sliding in the huge puddles for an hour or so. The piece de’resistance? When John Espy sprinted toward the gathered group and made a long head-first slide. With his mouth wide open the entire time. Until later …