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

A Grip on Sports: The best parts of Spokane are on display today, as always happens on the first Sunday in May

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Hopefully the weatherman will be right today. It will rain in Spokane. But not until everyone is done running around downtown and Browne’s Addition, past the cemeteries and SFCC, doomstrolled up Pettit Drive, through the Courthouse neighborhoods and past the finish line. Walkers too.


• Yes sir. It is Bloomsday. A Spokane tradition as venerated as Bing Crosby, Father’s Day and Jack and Dans. It is the Hoopfest of community road races. (Or is the other way-round?) The T-shirt producer and spring-time jog-fest. It is Americana and uniquely Spokane’s. It is special.

It really doesn’t matter who wins. We’ll know that soon and report it to you tomorrow morning. The more Spokane-ish aspect occurs well back in the pack, where Jimmy, Joanna and just about everyone in some neighborhoods reside for a couple hours, dodging strollers and enjoying the party. It’s a community celebration that celebrates community.

It’s ours. And we aren’t giving it back.

• Speaking of ours, one of our own, and we are speaking in the community-of-sports-writing sense, Dave Nichols, wrote a first-person piece for this morning’s S-R. It is a heartfelt piece – in every sense of the phrase.

If you know Dave, and most people connected to high school sports in this community do, you probably thought of him as that heavyset guy with a graying beard and ever-present Washington Nationals hat. That’s him all right.

Turns out there was more to him. There was also a bunch of hidden plaque clogging his heart arteries, just waiting to cause damage.

But the plaque didn’t win. And Dave tells you why, with a play-by-play of a contest between his good sense and our common bond of procrastination. The good sense, and those with more knowledge of what was going on inside his chest, won out. Dave underwent emergency bypass surgery recently. And came through clean on the other side. Good for him. Good for all of us.

• It only takes a little more than 2 minutes for 20 horses to run the 1 ¼ Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Been that way since the beginning, 150 years ago.

But yesterday’s running also included a lot-more-than 2-minute wait to determine who won. When the photo had been analyzed from every angle, the winner turned out to be the most proletariat of the three horses who came to the wire in a pack, Mystik Dan. Not the multi-million-dollar yearling and second-favorite Sierra Leone. Not the pride of Japanese horse racing and breeding technology, Forever Young.

Nope. Mystik Dan was a longshot, rode by a veteran Kentucky-based jockey searching for his first Derby victory and trained by a down-to-earth fellow with an ever-present smile.

Salt-of-the-earth folks in the hoity-toity world of thoroughbred racing. Small hats and J.C. Penney shirts. All there for an 18-1 longshot with little chance. The Lloyd Christmas of the race. Unlike Lloyd, though, Mystik Dan won the big prize. And a chance for immortality, though winning the Triple Crown seems far-fetched.

Though the underdog does have one thing going for it. This year’s Belmont will be run at Saratoga instead of the once-again-under-reconstruction Belmont Park. And, for a hard-to-fathom reason, will be run at 1 ¼ miles instead of its usual grueling 1 ½ miles.

It’s not the first time the last leg has been run at a different track. Back in the early 1960s, Belmont was rebuilt as well. And the race moved to Aqueduct for five years. But then, even though Aqueduct, like Saratoga, was only 1 1/8-mile long, it still was run at 1 ½-mile length. The race those years started on a curve, something that won’t happen this year.

There will be one horse in the field, maybe, that has shown it can win a Triple Crown race at 1 ¼ miles. Mystik Dan.


WSU: A couple of Cougars will be joined by Gonzaga’s Anton Watson at the NBA’s G-League combine, the step-down version of the big one, the NBA’s combine. Jaylen Wells and Isaac Jones received invitations, along with Watson, who attended last year. Theo Lawson has more on the trio and the event they will attend next weekend. … The baseball team built a big lead then held on for dear life in a 10-9 upset of seventh-ranked Oregon State. The Pullman series is tied at a game apiece. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Washington’s spring football game showed the expectations for the Huskies haven’t changed, even if the coaching staff has. … Oregon State has added a pass rusher from the portal. … A former Oregon and Oregon State assistant died this week. … Colorado is counting on an Auburn transfer to help the defense. Deion Sanders probably hopes so. … In basketball news, Kyle Smith seems to have an advantage over previous Stanford coaches. … Tommy Lloyd admitted recently some of the changes in Arizona’s roster were mutual decisions. … Finally, UCLA repeated as NCAA men’s volleyball champions, defeating Long Beach State in four sets.

Gonzaga: The rebuild of the women’s basketball roster continues, with the Zags adding a familiar guard this week. Former Saint Mary’s standout Tayla Dalton will join the Zags for next season. Greg Lee has all the particulars in this story. … The greatest of all players the program has produced, Courtney Vandersloot, is 35. And still going strong in the WNBA. … Speaking of pros, Brett Harris picked up his first Major League hit yesterday for Oakland. And his first Major League home run on the same swing. His second hit? It was also a home run.

Idaho: Jim Meehan’s golf column covers the unlikely tale of the Big Sky’s newest men’s champion. That would be the Vandals’ Joe Sykes, whose season wasn’t going as planned until he won the conference title recently.

Preps: The aforementioned Dave Nichols has his usual roundup in today’s paper. … The Seahawks are leading the charge to have girls flag football become a sanctioned sport in Washington.

Indians: Dave also does double-duty this time of year. The second part is covering the Indians, who lost to visiting Eugene 12-8 on Saturday. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Everett pounded visiting Hillsboro 7-1 and Vancouver outslugged host Tri-City 13-10.

Mariners: We stand by our thoughts from before the season began. Logan Gilbert is the best starting pitcher the M’s have and will win the Cy Young Award. He turned in another worthy performance last night in Houston, handcuffing the Astros for eight innings in a 5-0 Seattle win. … George Kirby’s tender knee is not expected to keep him off the mound.

Seahawks: Mike McDonald has to supervise the offense too. That is a first for him. … Two Auburn alums are now teammates with the Hawks.

Storm: Seattle faced off with Los Angeles in Edmonton last night. An exhibition north of the border between two teams with little connection to Alberta. L.A. won.

Sounders: There will be three matches this week for Seattle. The first is today against the visiting L.A. Galaxy.

Kentucky Derby: We had our thoughts on the Derby above. We also share thoughts from people who were there.


• Why do we want it to rain? We planted a bunch of flowers yesterday and found one of the sprinklers assigned the task of watering them isn’t up to the job. It is leaking like the Titanic’s hull. This after we just had the sprinkler guy out to turn the system on and fix any problems. He said there weren’t any. How about the gusher under the deck? Funny, you put a flag next to it too. We messed up. We trusted the guy. Until later …