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

A Grip on Sports: There is good news on a Monday? Sure but it always comes accompanied by some downside

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We can’t think of a better way to start this week than checking out the good, and bad, of the recent sports world. Why? To sort-of paraphrase John F. Kennedy, why not?


• A pretty backward, and loose, paraphrase, we know. Then again, we’re pretty loose with a lot of things around here. Except the truth. We’re always in for that.

And the truth is the M’s need Julio Rodriguez to hit like he did Sunday much more often. It’s hard to believe their still-developing superstar was stuck on one home run headed into Mother’s Day. But that’s truth. After mom told him the truth in a quick call, the 23-year-old heeded her advice and boom, a two-hit game that included three consecutive exit velocities of more than 100-miles-per-hour. And, more importantly, his second homer.

The good news continued from T-Mobile, as the 8-4 win moved Seattle back ahead of the Rangers in the American League West race. But there is a bit of bad news. The A’s are leaving town. Taking their better-than-expected roster – but still lacking – with them. Next up is Kansas City, which is playing nothing like the Royals of old – as in last season, when they lost 106 games. Instead, KC is 25-17 and a half-game behind Cleveland in the A.L. Central.

• There is more good news from the diamond, albeit a smaller one. In the final season of Pac-12 softball – only one of the two surviving members, Oregon State, actually plays – a remarkable 78% of the members earned NCAA tournament berths. Yes, you read that right. Only the Beavers and Arizona State missed out.

Seven teams – WSU, Colorado and USC, the last one something we’ve never understood, don’t play – heard their name called Sunday when the field was announced. That’s not surprising, as conference schools have won 24 titles since 1982.

There is bad news, though. And not just the fact, you know, the conference is exploding, sending teams to new homes spread throughout the continental United States. Oregon, which has put together a 28-win season, was given the kiss of death, sent to Oklahoma to play its regional in the home of the three-time defending champion. In fact, only two Pac-12 schools, Stanford and UCLA, were seeded and will host.

• The Isaac Jones story just keeps getting better and better.

Yesterday, Jones was “called up.” In a sense. The 6-foot-8 wing was playing so well at the NBA’s G-League combine, he was promoted to the NBA’s main event, joining teammate Jaylen Wells, who followed a similar path over the past few days. Does that mean the rags-to-riches story Jones has written in a basketball uniform will include hearing his name called at the draft?

Not necessarily. But don’t bet against a guy who was working a 9-to-5 job before deciding to try hoops again at Wenatchee Valley, followed by a quick stop at Idaho. And a stop at WSU. Now on to the draft? Maybe.

The bad news here? It’s selfish. We would love to have seen more of Jones on the Palouse. Two years, one of them in Moscow in relative obscurity, was not enough.

One other positive we see with Jones spending another week in Chicago? We will find out his real height. We did a quick search today and found him listed at 6-9 (his WSU biography), 6-8 and 6-7. The number we listed above is our best guess.

• This time of year always holds a piece of good news. The NHL playoffs are on TV. We’re not sure if any professional sport sees a bigger jump in interest from the regular season to the playoffs than hockey. The bad news? There’s a jump, sure. But – today, there is always a “but” – the NHL’s playoffs are still overshadowed, at least in the media conversation, by the NBA’s. And, it seems, even such peripheral events like the NBA’s draft lottery.

• One last piece of good news. Washington and Oregon fans have joined forces for a little while. They are raising money to help out the family of a little girl – here is the bad news aspect – dealing with cancer.

Evie Johnson is undergoing treatment for the disease and the two schools’ fans have come together to raise money through a GoFundMe site. This sort of competition is always a good thing.


WSU: Of course, Greg Woods has more about Jones’ promotion and extended stay in Chicago. … Where will Klay Thompson play next season? Now that the Warriors lost their first-round pick, maybe they will make a greater push to sign the veteran guard. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, we start with softball and pass along any and all stories we found on tournament teams. We start with Washington, which is making its 30th consecutive appearance. Oregon, Utah, Arizona, UCLA and Stanford and California round out the participants. … The Oregon women won another Pac-12 track and field title before they head to the Big Ten. The Washington men winning again did not seem to resonate much in Seattle. Odd. … UCLA picked up another NCAA water polo title, holding off Cal. … Hey, football news. Utah is about to enter the Big 12 as the favorite. … In basketball, Washington is adding an expected transfer.

Gonzaga: The trip to Chicago for Anton Watson didn’t turn out as he probably planned. The Zag forward, invited to the G-League combine for a second consecutive season, suffered an undisclosed injury and played just a few minutes. As Theo Lawson tells us, he did, however, post better numbers than last year in the pre-scrimmage testing. … Elsewhere in the WCC, Jon Wilner has some thoughts in the Mercury News on the conference’s expansion.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, the antithesis of the Pac-12 in softball? The Big Sky, which gets its automatic bid and nothing else. Northern Colorado is headed to the Midwest for the NCAA tournament.

Indians: We would have mentioned Spokane in the column except we couldn’t really find any good news in the Indians’ past week of play. On Sunday they lost the fifth of six games at Hillsboro 3-1. Dave Nichols has this story on the game and their offensive drought. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, there was a little good news. League-leading Eugene also had a tough week, losing at home to Tri-City again yesterday, 5-3. Visiting Everett edged Vancouver 4-3.

Mariners: Rodriguez was not the only Mariner to homer. They had three. And Luis Castillo was throwing darts in the 8-4 Mother’s Day victory. … How bad is the West right now? Look at the standings. Everyone in the division is either 5-5 or 4-6 in their last 10 games.

Seahawks: New coach Mike Macdonald turned heads as a coordinator. Can he do the same as a head coach?

Storm: What will the Storm have to do this season to be successful? … Here is a look at the squad.

Sounders: Two goals? The Sounders? Yep. And they couldn’t have come at a better time, in the rivalry game with Portland. A 2-1 win in the Rose City was exactly what Seattle needed.


• There are few worse semi-rural drives in America than the one down Interstate 5 between the two halves of California. But it’s one we’ve driven often, thanks to the location of all of the relatives in our family. We’re at it again today. Wish us luck as we hope not to be forced off the road for only traveling 87 miles per hour in the slow lane. Until later …