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

A Grip on Sports: One-run games are not nearly as much fun as eating, say, a big bowl of Froot Loops in front of the TV on a Saturday morning

A GRIP ON SPORTS • For some reason this morning we awoke with the sun. At exactly 4:51 a.m. in fact. Sunrise. Why? Not sure, since we didn’t hit the sack until midnight thanks to stumbling upon a Jerry Seinfeld movie on Netflix. And making our son laugh every time we said, “Hey, I had one of those.”


• Ya, Battle Creek, Michigan was a familiar postmark for us in childhood. Not sure how many times we sent cereal box tops away for something, but it was often. And nothing ever seemed to meet expectations. Except, maybe, the submarine you got from Kellogg’s that was powered by baking powder. That was better than the frogman that seemed to only able to drop to the bottom of the tub. And then stay there.

Anyhow, “Unfrosted” was stupid, silly fun.

Unlike the Mariners’ 3-2 win over the Rangers, which had us on the edge of our seat in the late innings.

Silly it was not. Fun? After it was over and Seattle had added another game on its American League West lead, sure. But every pitch in a one-run game – and it was that from the third inning on – is excruciating. A form of torture. Which has made this highly successful – so far – season a little like the drip, drip, drip of an ancient water torture. Or as much fun as playing with the inert frogman.

Who knew winning could be so hard?

OK, every time the M’s do their happy dance in the outfield, the pressure is released, sure. It’s just getting there that steams us. An occasional 10-2 win would be enjoyable, wouldn’t it? Instead, we get a whole bunch of one-run games.

Funny thing. Seattle is 41-31 this morning. Ten games over .500. The Mariners’ record in one-run games? It is 17-7. Ten games over .500. In games decided by five or more runs? The record is a mundane 8-7.

In other words, don’t root for blowouts, no matter how much easier they are on your blood pressure. The final score is what matters, right? Not whether you can laugh in the fifth inning or not – and not at one of Luke Raley’s circuitous routes to a fly ball. If the game is close, Seattle is probably going to find a way to win.

• We didn’t watch a second of the NBA finals last night. Partly because it didn’t hold any interest. Partly because when we checked the score and saw the Mavericks were not going to let Boston hoist the trophy after four games. And partly because we had other things to do.

We’ll check back in if Dallas can do this again. And again.

• The same could probably be said about the NHL finals. With Florida up 3-0, the chances of an Edmonton comeback are either slim or fat – depending on which weirdly-similar-and-yet-different-at-the-same-time phrase you want to use.

Sure, it’s happened in the NHL before. Four times. And it actually happened in a Stanley Cup Final series before. More than 80 years ago.

But, really, what chance does Edmonton have? If slim nor fat doesn’t fit the bill, how about no chance? That seems more appropriate.

• It’s weird, but we always have been interested, at least a little bit, in the college World Series. Have always tuned in and watched some of it. Not this year. Not with it being some sort of weird ACC vs. SEC Invitational, brought to you by Dr. Pepper and State Farm.

We admit we have a regional bias. Having played college baseball on the West Coast in ancient times and having witnessed up close how good the teams around here can be, it’s hard to wrap our head around the idea the balance of power has shifted to the Southeast. And we know if we ask how or why, the reply will be simple, as the answer to every question about college sports right now is the same one.


The investments in facilities, coaching and, more recently, paying players, has caused a tectonic shift in college baseball’s power base. This year’s World Series reflects that. And it’s not going to change for a while as more and more money is siphoned off for football on the West Coast, what with all but WSU and OSU trying to keep up in conferences where they will be below the poverty line.

Gone are the days when an Oregon State or Cal State Fullerton or Fresno State or Pepperdine can win a national title. The best players may start at places like that still, but they won’t stay. There is too much to earn, financially and in professional credit, playing in the best conferences at the highest-profile places.

That’s sad. Reality, sure, but still sad. And watching Virginia play North Carolina or Florida against Texas A&M just doesn’t get our engine running.


WSU: Recruiting never stops, not even when your conference has. That’s the case with Washington State football, something Jon Wilner covered in today’s S-R. (And, if you’re interested, the rest of the recurring recruiting roundup – say that three times fast – is available on the Mercury News website.) … Wilner’s weekly mailbag, with a WSU question, is also on the S-R site. … We have some news on former WSU folks to pass along. If you are wondering if Klay Thompson and the Warriors are done, this headline is the modern way to say “Heck ya.”Jaylen Wells and DJ Rodman, who both played in Pullman but never overlapped, recently auditioned to replace Thompson at Golden State. … Thompson’s former Washington State coach, Tony Bennett, agreed to a contract extension that ties him to Virginia until at least 2030. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Wilner has one more column on the Mercury News site. It concerns the Big 12’s possible naming rights deal and what it may be worth. … We linked this Wilner piece on the extended playoffs when it appeared on the Mercury News site. It’s now on the S-R’s. … John Canzano’s most-recent column is not one that fits neatly into a section here. We don’t have a one labeled “crime.” Though a lot of the college realignment stories probably could have been put there over the past couple years. … Christian Caple examines the legacy of outgoing Washington president Ana Mari Cauce. The bottom line? It can’t be written in stone just yet. … Part of that is due to the Huskies’ financial woes caused by the conference shift. … The numbers stories continue in the Oregonian, with a couple from Oregon and another from Oregon State. … Summer workouts have already helped a new Colorado player earn some respect. … Nick Daschel answers Oregon State questions, with the baseball team’s roster questionable enough for its own story. … The Beavers may be losing a catcher. … The Oregon men’s basketball team picked up a Georgetown transfer. And the softball team added a pitcher from Virginia Tech. … Utah’s men have another opening on the coaching staff. … The Arizona women’s program reflects Adia Barnes’ personality.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Montana’s mascot has done it. Monty is headed to the Mascot Hall of Fame. Yes, there is a Mascot Hall of Fame. And, no, we did not know that. … Idaho State’s summer football workouts are already in full swing. … Montana State coach Matt Logie knows Washington hoops as well as anyone. So, the news he’s bringing in a transfer from Western Washington shouldn’t be a surprise.  

Indians: Winning the Northwest League’s first-half title would allow the Indians and their fans to plan for the postseason championship series. With six games left, Spokane is 4½ games up on Eugene in the standings. The Indians swept Vancouver in British Columbia on Friday, winning 4-3 and 1-0 (in eight innings). … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Everett once again helped the Indians’ cause with a 4-1 win at Eugene. … Hillsboro continued its winning ways, shutting out visiting Tri-City 5-0. The Hops are tied with Everett for second.

Golf: North Idaho College coach Russell Grove won the Oregon Open title Thursday, defeating a field filled with collegiate competition. It must be nice to know you can still handle the folks you are teaching on a daily basis. There are not many sports like that. … The U.S. Open continues this weekend, after a Friday that threatened to cut one or two too many well-known players. Scottie Scheffler survived at the cut line (+5) while Francesco Molinari only did as well because he had a hole-in-one on the par 3 ninth, his final hole. All are chasing Ludvig Åberg today. Åberg is the fourth-youngest player to lead the tournament after two rounds. The three younger, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, all won. No pressure or anything. … Woods did not make the cut but wouldn’t say if his U.S. Open days were behind him.

Mariners: Luis Castillo had a rough start. Gave up two runs in the top of the first. But Mitch Garver erased that lead in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run, Julio Rodriguez out ran a ground ball that allowed a run to score in the third and no one scored after that. … Emerson Hancock did what was asked. And then was sent back to Tacoma. … Expect more and more of these types of stories now that gambling is so easy and ubiquitous. … If Eugenio Suarez gets let go by Arizona, would you want him, and his good-vibes-only attitude, back?

Seahawks: You have mini-camp questions? Here are four answers.

Sounders: The Sounders are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a club. Which means the franchise was founded while we were still in high school. Well, maybe just after our graduation, but close to it. Can they beat Minnesota and then celebrate?

Sonics: It was a blowout, sure. Mainly because Luka Donic was unstoppable. … We are sadder today about this Charles Barkley retirement announcement than we ever were when he announced his retirement from the NBA. He wasn’t an All-Star then. He certainly is still a broadcasting one today.

Kraken: Being a successful goalie is equal parts hard work and luck. No, that’s not right. Hard work is most of it.


• Tomorrow is Father’s Day. Most of the time we commemorate this Spokane-founded holiday with memories our dad, Captain Sunshine. Not this year. We’re going to share our favorite sports memories watching our boys play, from little tykes through high school and beyond. Father’s Day from the old man’s perspective. Tune in. … One last thought about the movie we watched last night. It was filmed, in part, at our alma mater, UC Irvine. The 1960s era buildings, which seemed so futuristic at the time, serve as the backdrop for Seinfeld’s vision of Kellogg’s headquarters. It was a weird touch in a movie full of weird touches. Until later …