A Grip on Sports: It may not officially be summer, but summer games will dominate weekend TV viewing
A HANDLE ON THE SPORT • We’re about to embark on that great adventure known as Summer in the Interior Northwest. Cool mornings, perfectly clear afternoons, occasional evening thunder, and temperatures that rise and fall like an angry sea. Perfect. Unless your idea of perfection is sitting in front of the TV.
• About that. If you love baseball, you have plenty to watch this holiday weekend. But if it’s something else, well, the options are limited. At least Dallas rallied for a win over Las Vegas last night, giving us another NHL playoff game to add to the list. And the Celtics refuse to go quietly into the holiday good night in Cancun, winning in Boston and forcing a Game 6 in Miami on Memorial Day.
Heck, if you were excited to see Michael Block play again, he definitely wasn’t. The PGA Championship sensation took his game to Texas and, in fact, he didn’t take his game, shooting 11-over on Thursday, which means he’ll be back in California by nightfall. Maybe he has a big lesson to teach tomorrow.
Which leaves baseball and its cousin, softball, to occupy our TV time.
At least the M’s won again Thursday night, their fourth in a row. They are two games better than .500 and can be on a roll. We say “may” because all four came against Oakland. At home. And the A’s have won all five games away from the rowdy Oakland Alameda Coliseum this season. OK, we’re kidding because we care. The A’s fans – we have a couple of them in our extended family – don’t deserve this. And by that, we mean the worst team in the history of the game, perhaps, and a franchise that’s going away, certainly. We’ve been through the latter and are still mad at the NBA.
Anyway, the M’s face Pittsburgh this weekend and for some reason the Pirates are actually decent this season. Ya, it’s a surprise for us too. Teams play tonight as day games Saturday and Sunday.
The NCAA Softball Super Regionals are all in action today, with games strewn across ESPN channels like pine pollen on our back deck. You can pretty much watch a game from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today.
But if you need a break, there’s the Pac-12 Baseball Semifinals. The new tournament format left us with a Pacific Northwest game – Oregon and Washington meet at 2:30 a.m. – and a warm weather one – Arizona and Stanford play at 7.
Let’s not forget that there are other sports to watch. The Golden Knights will attempt to qualify for the Stanley Cup Finals again on Saturday night, this time at home. And, if you must have a football fix, there are USFL games on Saturday and Sunday.
• Lots of people were sharing their Jerry Krause stories on social media on Thursday. The former Eastern Washington basketball coach, who also spent years working around Gonzaga, died Wednesday night at the age of 87.
We have a little story to add to the number of “Jerry helped us with…” tales we read yesterday. A few years ago, we were talking with Krause after a coaching clinic, one in which he said something that has changed the way we coach ever since. But that’s not the story. The story revolves around our library of basketball coaching books.
For years we collected them, books on drills, books on X’s and O’s, books on every aspect of the game that seemed important. Many of them are named after Krause. OK, most. Anyway, we mentioned this to Krause and said something to the effect that we have to own all of his books. He’s laughing. Asked if we had all 25 or so. Uh, no, we answered. We had maybe 10. He smiled and told me to keep trying. But he still produced them.
By the way, the thing he said that changed us? It was about running. Everyone wants their team to race, right? So why run as a punishment? If you want your team to race, don’t give it a negative connotation. Make it a positive. Use something else as punishment.
One small thing, of course. But Krause was right. Like always.
WSU: A few years ago, Gonzaga was making noise about leaving the West Coast Conference. Enough, in fact, the league changed the way it distributed NCAA basketball tournament revenue. The Zags need to keep a bigger share. Now this model has made its way to the Power 5, most recently with the ACC. And that includes football. Jon Wilner, in a column published in the SR, thinks the Pac-12 needs to make the switch as well. Earn more, earn more. … Elsewhere around the Pac-12 and the nation, we mentioned the baseball semifinals above. Oregon State is no longer among the teams playing. Or Arizona State, which eliminated the Beavers from the tournament. The Ducks beat Stanford, but the top-seeded Cardinal continues to play. … Oregon opened its Softball Super Regional with an 8-1 loss to host Oklahoma State. … Washington and Stanford start today, as does surprise conference team Utah. … The Utes have had a great year in the entire athletic department. Heck, the football team even attracts great quarterback recruits. … It wasn’t such a good week for USC’s athletic administration. … Can Arizona State win a men’s golf title on home soil? … Arizona made another European basketball commitment yesterday.
Gonzaga: Theo Lawson had a duty to write Krause’s obituary, which we’ve linked above and here as well. … I don’t know how we missed this yesterday, but the baseball team saw its season end in a 4-2 loss to Santa Clara in the first round of the WCC tournament.
NAIA World Series: Baseball’s annual celebration that is the NAIA World Series begins today in Lewiston. Colton Clark has this insight into the 10 days that decide a champion.
Preparations: State track meets kicked off yesterday and Keenan Gray covered the big school meet in Tacoma. … We can also pass on an overview of softball. … This is already happening in many places.
Indians: Ladies and gentlemen, your Spokane Indians in first place. Yes, Spokane’s 7-3 victory over Vancouver last night put them back in first place. And tied the series at two games apiece. Dave Nichols has the game’s story of a built win starting to pitch.
Mariners: It’s no secret that the M’s strength this season is their starting pitcher. George Kirby was spectacular. So does newcomer Bryce Miller. Logan Gilbert also had a strong outing on Thursday, overcoming a dangling curveball that resulted in a two-run first-inning home run en route to an eight-inning stint in a 3-2 win. … Ty France came back into the line-up, sent Sam Haggerty back to the bench and sent two balls into the seats.
Storm: Seattle’s offense was putrid in Game 1. It needs to be corrected.
Seahawks: Geno Smith is in charge. This is evident after another OTA day. … There could be a ninth starter at center in the next nine years. But this one can stay a while. … The depth at the corner seems like a pretty good idea now. … The defense has new pieces, which should help.
• We took a walk in the back yard yesterday. I fixed the fence, put a hook on the wall of the storage shed we had been meaning to put up for months, pulled out some weeds, that sort of thing. No, we are not Bob Villa. Heck, we’re not even Tim Taylor. But we felt quite satisfied at dinner time. Sold out too. This work around the house is a youngster’s game. Until later …