A GRIP ON SPORTS
I usually hit the sack pretty early, even on Saturday nights. A product of having walked the planet quite a few years I presume. But last night was different. As I prepared for my typical 9 p.m. bedtime I turned on the TV and grabbed my phone. And ended up being hooked by Denzel Washington and the Shock. Not together, mind you, but in tandem. Read on.
• I don't know why I got into “Man on Fire” on one of the cable channels last night. I've seen the movie before and Tony Scott's quick-cut directing style has always sort of turned me off. But last night, the interplay between Washington and Dakota Fanning just grabbed my attention and didn't let go. Until almost midnight. Yep, as Denzel's character slowly faded to black at the end (my alternate ending: as John Creasy gives up the ghost, you hear a couple of beeps and the car explodes, harking back to a scene earlier in the movie), the clock was nearer to Sunday morning than I had experienced in many a year. But it wasn't just the movie that had me. The Spokane Shock's offensive explosion was also playing out through Twitter on my iPhone. As each tweet relayed the news the Shock were en route to an unprecedented showing in San Jose, one I knew was coming Saturday morning, there was no way I was closing my eyes until the game was over. And, you might ask, did I know the Shock were going to win, and win big? Because, in my second go-round picking games for the Hooter Hat Trick on 700 ESPN Friday (when the women don't show up someone has to do it and I'm the only person in the studio who can fit into the shirt), I had picked San Jose to win. Three reasons: The SaberCats had already routed Spokane in the Arena; San Jose had yet to lose at home; and the Shock were coming off a heartbreaking home loss to Utah. Seemed like a no-brainer. But no-brains would only apply to my picks for the segment as, after the M's dropped Friday's game to San Diego, I was zero-for-four in my picks over two occasions. So I figured Saturday morning that the Shock would win, would win big, make me oh-for-forever and ensure another day of ribbing when I return to the radio this week. Want a sure thing? Bet the house a car with a number 50 or above will win the Nascar race today. I took the 1-through-49 crew.
• Washington State: The best-of-three college baseball final series begins today in Omaha with the Pac-12's representative, Arizona, facing two-time defending champion South Carolina. … Basketball coaches can now work with their players on a limited basis during the summer. … Now that there is going to be some sort of playoff in college football, we can start moaning about how it works.
• Shock: Kyle Rowley threw a dozen touchdown passes Saturday night. If that doesn't illustrate how dominating the Spokane offense was in its 90-63 rout of the SaberCats, I'm not sure what does. However, even with Rowley's AFL record, the Shock (8-6) didn't win by 35 points, ensuring San Jose (9-6) of the tiebreaker if the two teams end up dead-even for a playoff berth. Here is the S-R story and the San Jose coverage. … Utah won again as quarterback Tommy Grady set an AFL single-season record.
• Indians: Two games in Everett, two defeats. Thus goes the Spokane Indians' season thus far.
• Mariners: The M's have played two of the three games in their final interleague series of the year and thus far the key hitters for both teams have been the pitchers. Ironic or fitting, I don't know. But Saturday night it was Felix Hernandez's turn to shine with the bat. His two-run, second-inning double (left) was the key hit in the Mariners' 5-1 victory over San Diego. Oh, and he didn't pitch too poorly either. … It's Sunday, so Larry Stone has his usual coverage, including a column, rankings, awards and a notebook. … John McGrath weighs in on Ichiro, saying he should fade away gracefully. … Speaking of fading away, former M's pitcher Jamie Moyer was released by Baltimore. Is this the end for the 49-year-old lefthander? … Get this. Former Dodger owner Peter O'Malley may be one of the owners of the Padres soon. Now I know that's ironic.
• Sounders: Today is a big day in the Northwest soccer scene. Archrivals Seattle and Portland get after it on ESPN this afternoon. If the Sounders win against the punchless Timbers, Portland coach John Spencer could be looking for work.
• Track and field: Want to see an amazing athletic event? Just follow the Seattle Times' Bud Withers around. He's covered a perfect game while filling in on the M's and now, while down in Eugene covering the U.S. Olympic Trials, he was on hand to document Ashton Eaton's decathlon world record. The mark makes Eaton the world's greatest athlete, by one measure, and judging by the cheers he heard from the Eugene fans, in their eyes as well.
• One more link before we go. Longtime San Jose State sports information director Lawrence Fan is to be inducted into the COSIDA Hall of Fame on Monday. I pass thing along because I had interactions with Fan his first few years at SJSU a long, long time ago. Being an SID is a tough job and anyone who can do it well for more than 30 years deserves inclusion in some HOF as far as I'm concerned. … And here are my last words for this Sunday. I'm sorry this is so late today. But that's what happens when you have to get your eight hours of beauty rest. Looking at the mirror, it's still not enough. Until later …