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

A Grip on Sports: Hey, it’s Friday, which is a pleasant surprise, though this weekend we have to play ‘Find the Mariners game’ once again

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Please forgive us. We were sort of shocked today to realize it was Friday. How the heck did Monday through Thursday pass so quickly? Maybe it was the perfect temperatures. The sunshine. The wind. Whatever, it is Friday and we have regrouped, ready to prep your weekend.


• What’s on TV this weekend? A treasure hunt of sorts. Starting tonight, when the first-place Seattle Mariners, fresh off a disappointing 3-2 10-inning loss last night to the lowly Chicago White Sox, host the defending World Series champions, the Texas Rangers.

OK, for you half-full folks, the M’s are coming off winning three of four against the Sox, but that is immaterial in a way. The Rangers are key, with their bloated budget, second-place status and budding momentum. So crucial is this weekend’s three-game set, Scott Servais revised his rotation, pushing Luis Castillo back a day and lining up his three aces, Castillo, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert, to face Texas.

And the treasure hunt we spoke of? That’s for us. Find the game on your TV. See, each one is on a different channel. Heck, tonight’s game is only available through streaming, with AppleTV+ the place to be at 7:10. Saturday you have to move back to cable or whatever to watch on Fox (4:15 p.m.) while Sunday’s sold-out Father’s Day matchup is back on the home of the M’s, Root (1:10 p.m.)

Got it? In many ways, it mirrors yesterday’s U.S. Open experience. During the day we had to hunt up USA, a channel we used to watch obsessively about 20 years ago when Monk was all the rage, but we thought might have went the way of the Dodo. Nope. It’s still there. But the golf wasn’t until the round’s end. For that, we had to move over to Peacock. How fun. At least Saturday and Sunday NBC will have all the action, starting at 9 a.m. both days.

If you like to watch coronations, this weekend could be your cup of tea. No, there isn’t a new King of England. Just new kings of the NBA and NHL. At least there should be. The Celtics have a 3-0 lead – about as insurmountable as it gets – and will try to sweep the Mavericks into the offseason tonight at 5:30 on ABC. On the ice, after holding on for a 4-3 victory last night in Edmonton, Florida will try to close out the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday (5 p.m., ABC).

Our dark-horse candidate for sports entertainment this weekend? The U.S. swimming Olympic Trials from Indianapolis. It is such a draw for NBC, the network has scheduled it for 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday nights. Prime time. Maybe Katie Ledecky will have so more to say about China and its cheating. Everyone loves a night-time soap opera, right?

• Anyone surprised the Big 12 is shopping conference naming rights? That Allstate is supposedly ready to give the schools a few million dollars to put their good hands in the mix? Or that there is a billion-dollar offer on the table from a private equity firm for part ownership in the conference as well?

We’re not a bit surprised either. Heck, the Pac-12 presidents rejected private equity billions not all that long ago, turning up their nose on money everyone else is ready to embrace a few short years later.

The naming rights we get. State Farm and the Big Ten seem a perfect match. The SEC seems to have already incorporated Dr. Pepper into its day-to-day operations, so why not add the name? Conference USAA? The Mountain West Conference – presented by Coors Light, of course. Cavanagh Altar Breads’ West Coast Conference anyone?

Heck, the possibilities are endless. Though the money may not be.

• Once again it is time to say goodbye to someone we had some peripheral connections with. But this time, saying so long to Matt Chazanow is a happier occasion. Unless you will miss his dulcet tones on WSU radio broadcasts.

Chazanow is leaving Pullman. Headed to North Carolina, where he’ll become the voice of Wolfpack’s football and basketball teams.

It’s a family oriented move, sure, as Chazanow’s wife Ashley is from the state. But it’s also a move up in the college hierarchy, as ACC-member NC State is in the midst of a renaissance, having sent teams to basketball’s Final Four and baseball’s World Series this year.

Good for Matt. He has been a good ambassador for Washington State. And he will do the same for North Carolina State.


WSU: We linked Greg Woods’ story on Chazanow’s move above. And we do it again here, along with a couple stories from North Carolina. Who will replace him? We’re guessing Learfield, which owns the Cougars’ rights, will import someone as it did with Chazanow. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, the expanded playoffs are going to run a long time. About a month. It’s no wonder the NFL is a bit miffed at the college game, something Jon Wilner explores in this Mercury News column. … John Canzano has some breaking Pac-12 news. It’s about a look-key football media event. We wonder if we will get invited. We could be in Las Vegas on July 10 if need be. … We love stories like this one on Washington’s Lawyer Milloy. … The Oregonian’s football number stories are into the 70s, which means offensive linemen. At least at Oregon State. … About the Beavers. Will they keep spending like a Power 5 school? … When Eric Musselman took over the USC men’s basketball program this spring, he wasn’t about to sit back and hope a roster to his liking fell into his lap. … Oregon will have a hole to fill in the middle of its lineup. … Arizona women’s coach Adia Barnes goes after transfers she believes will be a fit for her style.

Gonzaga: We linked Wilner’s look at college basketball’s early top 25 a few days ago when it ran in the Mercury News. We link it again today as it is on the S-R’s website. … Marco Gonzales is still working to return to the mound for the Pirates after suffering another arm injury in April. … Elsewhere in the WCC, when Grand Canyon enters the WCC in 2025, the Antelopes will add a different, much-more-aggressive style of play to the conference.

EWU: Vernon Adams is still playing professionally in Canada. Still chasing a championship ring. And still smiling. Dave Cook caught up with the former Eastern quarterback recently and talked about the upcoming CFL season. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Northern Colorado may have a much-improved women’s basketball roster next season. … No doubt about it. Idaho State will have a much different men’s basketball coaching staff.

Indians: There are seven games left in the first half for Spokane. The Indians have a three-game lead over second-place Eugene and a four-game edge over hot Hillsboro. Why? They won for the third consecutive time in Vancouver, topping the Canadians 4-1 Thursday. Dave Nichols has more in this story. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Everett once again helped the Indians’ cause with a 3-2 win at Eugene. … Hillsboro also kept winning, topping visiting Tri-City 5-4 in 10 innings.

Velocity: We never liked Jagermeister much, even if it was all the rage during our time in Pullman. Right now, we’re guessing the Spokane Velocity have a sour taste in their mouth, after they dropped a 4-1 decision to Omaha in Jagermeister Cup play.

Mariners: Swing. Miss. Rinse. Repeat. Striking out – often – seems to be a given for Mariner hitters. Last night was even worse. Nineteen whiffs against starter Garrett Crochet and the Chicago relievers. Nineteen fewer chances to get on base. And that proved crucial in the 3-2 defeat. … Samson? Or Cal Raleigh? The late-inning magic wasn’t their last night for Raleigh, who pinch hit after having his head shaved on Jay Buhner Buzz Night. Coincidence?

Seahawks: Devon Witherspoon, team leader. … The Hawks reworked Dre’Mont Jones’ contract for more cap space. … Mike Macdonald made his team happy. … Think Seattle will win eight or more games this season? Have we got a deal for you.

Storm: Seattle is playing well. Won again last night in Dallas, 92-84, with the bench supplying a big spark.

Sounders: Obed Vargas has switched his national team allegiance.

Kraken: The NHL finals are a day behind the NBA’s. But the league is keeping up in one way. With Florida’s 4-3 win in Edmonton last night, both leagues sport a 3-0 mark in the last series of the season. Aleksander Barkov, who was on the edge of not playing for the Panthers, supplied a key piece of the victory.

Sonics: Win a title. Be proclaimed a genius. That’s how NBA coaching works. Ask Mike Budenholzer, who won a title with Milwaukee in 2021 and was fired two years later. Hopefully, the Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla will last longer after Boston closes out its 18th NBA title.

Golf: Johnny Miller once described attempting to hit the greens at Pinehurst’s No. 2 course as “trying to hit a ball on the top of a VW Beetle.” We understood then, we understood yesterday. The crowned greens took their toll on the world’s best, including Scottie Scheffler, though the top-ranked golfer in the world had more issues off the tee. The leaderboard is crowded.


• It seems as if almost every day we come across a story about the death of someone either we’ve met or admired from afar. Today’s example? Former Los Angeles Times’ sports columnist Mike Downey. Our favorite memory of his writing? In 1990, when the greatest of all-time, Jim Murray, won the Pulitzer Prize, Downey, then making a name in his own right at the same newspaper, wrote this: “If you think we are just going to sit here and accept the fact that we are never going to be half the sportswriter you are, well, all I have to say is, mister, you are right.”  Perfect. Until later …