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

A Grip on Sports: The to-do list in spring is always long, though the M’s seemed to have missed a couple chores this year

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Spring happens just once a year. Thank goodness. We always forget how much more work there is every day when the weather turns nice.


• We were reminded the past couple days. Lawn. Lawnmower issues. Weeds. Weed-killer issues. Flowers. Flower-planting issues. Garage. Garage-cleaning issues. Well, only one issue, really. Procrastination.

Not sure when our garage morphed from a place to store vehicles and a get-away-from-it-all man cave to a storage shed, but it got there somehow. No more watching baseball on TV or listening to music on the boom box while sanding the edges off whatever wood-working project caught our fancy. Now it’s move this box or that box just so we can find the WD-40 to lubricate the mower blades.

We should fix it. Get rid of 93% of the junk. Free up space, move the truck back in, refurbish the 8-track player and bring back those carefree Saturdays of our youth-ish.

We won’t, though. Partly because we are lazy. Partly because we are still doing battle with the hernia-from-hell, one that was supposed to be fixed by last Christmas time, but which survived a November surgery, overcame the mesh and has been knocking us on our behind all spring. And partly because for some reason every time we try to Marie Kondo our clutter, we end up talking walks down Memory Lane that always include stops at Tear-Up Place.

It’s easier to say “tomorrow … or the next day” and mow the lawn again.

Or sit in front of the TV and do something sports-adjacent. Like watching the M’s give away a game. It’s a time-honored tradition, isn’t it? One with potential to bite them in the behind five months from now.

Remember 2001? Silly question. How could any self-respecting Mariner follower forget? Remember how they tied the 1906 Cubs for most wins in a regular season? Well, if not for one bad day in Cleveland – a 4-hour, 11-minute Sunday night game, actually – when they blew a 12-0 lead, that record would be Seattle’s alone with 117. The 15-14, 11-inning defeat didn’t see important then but it was, and not just for the legacy.

It became part of their lore as the M’s slowly receded from those lofty heights into the mediocre franchise they have been since.

Throughout that mediocrity, there would be games here or there, decided by bad baseball plays, seemingly minor but, when playoff time rolled around, the one or two forgotten losses kept them from the promised land. It’s the fundamental aspect of the recent issues – two years ago, when they made the playoffs, last year when they didn’t, this season already – that is so maddening.

The blame can be placed in many places, from the manager Scott Servais to the star Julio Rodriguez to the anonymous minor league functionaries who aren’t doing the fundamental aspect of their job. Why? Because it seems to be a franchise-wide problem.

How can it not be when your superstar makes the same mistakes over and over, from missing the cutoff man and allowing extra bases to running the said bases with his head down too often? He sets a tone that others follow, a good example of which showed early in Friday’s 5-3 loss when Josh Rojas badly misread a Rodriguez liner and ran into a double play.

But it’s not just Rodriguez’s example, it’s the one set by Servais. As one old coach told us decades ago, if you allow it to happen, you are coaching it. Such things happen too often for Servais not to shoulder the blame. He’s allowing it. Throwing away outs offensively and defensively is something he must not be too concerned with or it would change.

It’s why we worry this team, this franchise actually, will never get over the hump. There isn’t enough money – we’re looking at you Dodgers and Yankees – or offensive firepower – those two issues are related – to overcome such consistent foibles. The pitching pays the price. As do the rest of us as we sit at home, in the living room or the garage, watch and wonder how many more times we will have to see such fundamental ineptitude.

• One bad play last night we don’t blame on Rodriguez? The outfield collision with Mitch Haniger that prolonged the decisive seventh inning. Rodriguez is the centerfielder. Anything he can get to anywhere is his. Everyone, from other outfielders and infielders, need to be aware of him and defer. It’s been that way since John McGraw instituted a defensive hierarchy with the turn-of-the-20th-Century New York Giants. Heck, even Kelly Leak knew the fundamental. But not, seemingly, the M’s.

• Before we head out to one of those big box hardware stores this morning, we thought we better wish you a happy May the Fourth. Let it wash over you. Be with you. Change your life.

As one of the few, the proud, the old, who can say they experienced Star Wars in a theater in May of 1977, and were overwhelmed by the opening sequence, we understand the tradition. We think it’s a little silly, sure, but we understand it.

And we welcome the usual Star Wars debates, like who was the best captain, Jean-Luc, Kirk or Janeway? Why are you looking at us that way? Are you an Archer fan? Hah. … Wait. What’s that? Oh, wrong space series? My bad.

Well, May the Fourth be with you and all that.

We’re going to watch Galaxy Quest today. After all, it’s the best Star Wars movie.  


WSU: We’ve heard this refrain before but John Canzano says it’s actually getting closer. The Pac-12, Washington State and Oregon State, should announce its TV deal with The CW and Fox soon. Ten games will be on CW, home of LIV Golf, part of the ACC package and a couple other sports properties. And available in more the 99% of U.S. households. The Fox games? WSU vs. Texas Tech in Pullman Sept. 7, Oregon State vs. Oregon in Corvallis a week later and the conference title game Nov. 23 at Reser Stadium. The rest of the home games will be on CW. … Good news for the Cougars. Basketball coach David Riley’s uncle Mike, who has quite a football-coaching resume, was appointed to the CFP selection committee. He replaces Pat Chun, who is probably high up on Wazzu president Kirk Schulz’s do-not-call list. … The baseball team fell 2-1 at home to Oregon State. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner not only has a mailbag in the Mercury News, he also offers advice to the incoming leaders of the two Bay Area schools as they embark on a new adventure. … Washington held its spring football game last night and the crowd of 18,448, while small by Big Ten standards, was a good one for the Huskies. … Oregon had a need. The Ducks are filling it with defensive tackle Derrick Harmon, who is transferring in from Michigan State. … Colorado also is added a defensive lineman. … This is probably a smart thing to do. We can pass along a transfer portal recap from USC and UCLA. … Arizona State has put together an outstanding high school recruiting class, but does that matter as much anymore? … Arizona has answered its kicker question. … Have questions about Oregon State? Nick Daschel answers a bunch in this mailbag. The Beavers lost a women’s basketball assistant. … There is a changing of the point guard for the Colorado men. … There has been a lot of changes around Utah, men and women. … A couple of Arizona players were surprisingly not invited to the NBA draft combine.

Gonzaga: The NBA announced the 78 players it has decided to invite to its draft combine next week in Chicago and Anton Watson was not on the list. Newest Zag, Michael Ajayi, was though. As was Bronny James, a middling Pac-12 performer who played part of one year at USC. We are perplexed by the selections. (No, we’re actually not. We’re kidding. And laughing – at the NBA folks for their obvious kiss-up.) Jim Meehan has the details in this story. … Former GU baseball player Brett Harris made his major league debut last night for Oakland. He did not get a hit. … Elsewhere in the WCC, a USD guard has transferred down the road to San Diego State.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Idaho State has added another men’s basketball assistant.

Preps: What can you say about this type of story that make the rounds every few years? It is awful. Sad. Avoidable. And too common. Garrett Cabeza covers incidents that happened last summer during a football camp at Eastern Washington University among Mead High football players.

Indians: Spokane is back in first place by percentage points after its run-wild 7-6 win over visiting Eugene at Avista Stadium. Dave Nichols was in the press box to watch Braiden Ward steal six bases and the Indians steal a win. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Everett held off visiting Hillsboro 8-5 and Vancouver picked up a 7-4 road win at Tri-City.

Mariners: We linked the game story above. Here we have a look at Seattle’s infamous marine layer and other T-Mobile Park-related info. … Dylan Moore has given the M’s a lift since J.P. Crawford’s injury.

Seahawks: Which is it? Will there be music at practice or not? Those are the type of questions every football fan has and they want answers.

Reign: The losing streak is over. The San Diego Wave the victim. A 2-1 win in Seattle after being down a player for most of the match.

Storm: Before we get to the Seattle news, we wanted to call your attention to Caitlin Clark’s first WNBA exhibition game. It was a sell-out. … The best battle in Storm camp? It’s for the backup point guard spot.

Kentucky Derby: Today’s the day. The 150th running of the race will commence just a few minutes before 4 p.m. PDT. Want to bet with your buddies or local casino or the person who fancies themselves a bookmaker? Here are a few longshots to consider. … Last year was a disaster. Literally. Churchill Downs made multiple improvements to the track and other places. … If you really want all-day coverage, it is available on USA starting at 9 a.m. NBC takes over at 11:30.


• Yes, every day is a weekend when you get to our position in life. But Saturday still hits hard. Habit, you know? And there are more sporting events on TV for all those of you who still go to work every day. No, that’s not us. Don’t tell the guy in charge of the paychecks, but this isn’t work. It’s fun. Most of the time. Until later …