A GRIP ON SPORTS
Though I make jokes about it occasionally here on the blog, I really don't yell at the radio or television much. Usually it's more of an under-the-breath mutter about this or that. But that changed last night in the seventh inning of the Mariners' game with Minnesota. And the screaming was cathartic. Read on.
• As you know, I've been on a bit of a mission this year – and this week. The year-long one has been to support a Jason-Vargas-for-Cy-Young campaign. Nothing against King Felix, but I love a guy who isn't flashy, doesn't have great stuff and just gets people out. That's Vargas. He did it again last night, holding the Twins – OK, I know it is the Twins, who have the worst offense this side of the 2010 Mariners – to four hits and no runs in 6 1/3 innings (and, yes, I'm aware the box score says differently; we'll get into that in a minute). But Vargas was undone by the Mariners bullpen – or should I say Tom Wilhelmsen (above). And hence the screaming. … I had no problem with Eric Wedge going out and getting Vargas with one out in the seventh after he had yielded a double to Chris Parmalee. After all, Vargas had thrown 103 pitches, the bullpen was rested and the M's had a 2-0 lead. But Wilhelmsen couldn't find the plate, walking the bases loaded and bringing our blood to a boil. And when Denard Span hit a comebacker, a 1-2-3 double play was a given, right? Then Wilhelmsen started to pivot and my mouth began to open. “Noooooooooo” escaped first, followed by a string of words that can't be repeated here. The dog bolted out of the room. Birds flew away in the back yard. A baby down the block began to cry. And Vargas shook his head and left the M's dugout. He may not be back.
• But I will be. I realized something last night. And it completes my quest from this week. As you may or may not know, I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic schools. As such, I was always intrigued by the idea of purgatory, eternity's wait-station where you paid off the debt for your sins before ascending the golden stairs to eternal bliss. We are in the baseball equivalent of purgatory right now, us Mariner fans. What are sins were, I have no idea (Booing A-Rod for leaving? Forgiving Ken Griffey, Jr.? Forcing out Bob Melvin?), but we're paying for them these days. And will until there is a change made. Which deepens the analogy. The M's management group – the ownership – metaphorically plays the role of Beelzebub, the symbol of oppression. While this group is in charge, it's hard to imagine the product on the field improving. But what I realized last night is it's all immaterial. I've decided to wail and rail as much as I want about the way the team is handled, but I'm still going to support the guys on the field. After all, a primal scream once in a while is good for the soul.
• About the earned run charged to Vargas, I know by scoring rules, you can't assume the double play, and Wilhelmsen's error was on his throw to second base. But dangit, if you rebuild an inning without the error to decide if a run is earn, why can't you factor in the mental one Wilhelmsen made? The routine play in that situation is to throw home. He didn’t do that. He threw wildly to another base. The wild throw should have been to home and have come on Vargas' runner. Everyone reading this knows that. They also know I'm tilting at windmills here and there is no way to expunge the run off Vargas' record. But I'll tell you, if it ends up costing him the Cy Young, I'm going to be ticked.
• Washington State: Christian Caple has your Pac-12 and WSU links for you in his morning post, including the news that broke yesterday afternoon Jim Walden would not be back as the Cougars' radio color guy. I'm not sure many were surprised by this news, including Walden, who knew he may have crossed a line with his comments at the end of the last football season concerning Paul Wulff's firing.
• Gonzaga: The GU women welcome a transfer from California, who will become eligible for the 2013-14 season. … Portland has finished its search for an athletic director, plucking a WCC staffer for the role.
• Idaho: It's official. Utah State and San Jose State have scurried down the ropes and the WAC ship is officially sinking. We talked with UI athletic director Rob Spear yesterday on the radio and he relayed the same information to us he did to Josh Wright, who wrote this story and blog post for the S-R.
• Shock: Because of a rash of sickness among the women who pick games for Hooters on the radio show, I had to make the selections yesterday. And boy was I bad, starting with picking the Shock to defeat Utah on the road. Nope, that didn't happen, to the tune of 84-63. One of my rationale was how well the defense had been playing. Oops.
• Mariners: The way the M's lost last night – the final was 3-2, Twins, who have been awful lately – overshadowed the change Wedge made in his lineup. Chone Figgins has been benched, taking his plummeting batting average with him.
• Sounders: Is Fredy Montero poised to take off?
• NBA: Want the Sacramento Kings to move to Seattle? Well, one Southern California columnist believes there is only one just solution to the mess the Maloof's have made.
• Running: It is Bloomsday weekend in Spokane, so John Blanchette catches up with a Bloomin' legend, Kim Jones. The multiple Bloomsday winner has written a book about her life.
• Golf: Jim has his weekly notebook.
• That's what we can offer today. We'll be back again tomorrow, probably whining about the M's eighth consecutive loss and how Felix was robbed again. Until then …