Sports in the spotlight: It may not be officially summer yet, but the Summer Games will dominate the weekend on TV
Taking control of the sport • We’re about to embark on the great adventure that the country’s northwest calls summer. Clear mornings, perfectly clear afternoons, occasional thunderstorms in the evening and temperatures 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, there’s plenty to see this holiday weekend. But if it’s something else, the options are limited. At least Dallas rallied to a win over Las Vegas last night, giving us another NHL playoff game to add to the list. And the Celtics are refusing to go quietly into the good night of a Cancun vacation, winning in Boston and forcing a sixth game in Miami on Memorial Day.
Heck, if you were looking forward to seeing Michael Block play again, he most certainly wasn’t. The PGA championship sensation took his game to Texas and, well, he didn’t actually win his game as he shot over the goal Thursday 11, meaning he’ll be back in California by nightfall. Maybe he has a big lesson to teach tomorrow.
That leaves us with baseball and its cousin softball to fill our TV time.
At least the M’s won again Thursday night, their fourth straight win. They’re two games better than .500 and could play a part. We say “maybe” because all four played Oakland. At home. And the A’s have won all five games away this season at the roaring Oakland Alameda Coliseum. OK, we’re joking because we care. The fans of the A’s – we have a couple in our extended family – don’t deserve this. And by that we mean possibly the worst team in the game’s history, and certainly a franchise that’s on its way out. We’ve seen the latter and we’re still angry at the NBA.
Anyway, the M’s face Pittsburgh this weekend and for some unknown reason the Pirates are actually doing quite well this season. Yes, it’s a surprise for us too. The teams play tonight and have day games on Saturday and Sunday.
The NCAA softball super regionals are all in action today, and games are strewn across ESPN channels like pine pollen on our back deck. Today you can watch a game practically from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
But if you need a break, there’s the Pac-12 baseball semifinals. The tournament’s new format left us with a Pacific Northwest game – Oregon and Washington meet at 2:30 p.m. – and a warm-weather game – Arizona and Stanford playing at 7 p.m. – ahead of us.
Lest we forget, there are other sports to watch. The Golden Knights will make another attempt to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night, this time at home. And if football is your thing, there are USFL games on Saturday and Sunday.
• Many people shared their stories about Jerry Krause on social media on Thursday. The former Eastern Washington basketball coach, who also worked with Gonzaga for years, died Wednesday night at the age of 87.
In addition to the “Jerry helped us with…” stories we read yesterday, we would like to add a short story. A few years ago we spoke to Krause after a coaching class where he said something that has changed the way we’ve been training ever since. But that’s not the story. The story revolves around our library of basketball coaching books.
For years we’ve collected them, books on drills, books on Xs and Os, books on every aspect of the game that seemed important to us. Krause’s name is on many of them. OK, most. Anyway, we mentioned that to Krause and said we had to own all of his books. He laughed. When asked if we all had 25 or something. Uh, no, we answered. We had maybe ten. He smiled and told me to keep trying. But he still produced them.
By the way, what he said changed us? It was about running. Everyone wants their team to compete, right? So why use running as a punishment? If you want your team to compete, don’t give it a negative connotation. Make it positive. Use something else as punishment.
A little thing, for sure. But Krause was right. As always.
WSU: A few years ago, Gonzaga made rumors about leaving the West Coast Conference. Enough, in fact, the league has changed the way it distributes NCAA basketball tournament earnings. The Zags were allowed to keep a larger share. Now this model has found its way to the Power 5, most recently with the ACC. And that includes football. Jon Wilner says in a column in SR that the Pac-12 needs to make a change too. Win more, make more. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and across the country, we mentioned baseball semifinals above. Oregon State is no longer a participating team. Either Arizona State, who eliminated the Beavers from the tournament. The Ducks defeated Stanford, but the top seeded Cardinal continues. … Oregon opened its softball super regional game with an 8-1 loss to host Oklahoma State. … Washington and Stanford start today, as does the conference’s surprise team, Utah. … The Utes have had a great year across the athletic department. Hell, the football team even attracts high-profile quarterback recruits. … It hasn’t been such a great week for USC’s athletic department. … Can Arizona State win a men’s golf title at home? … Arizona accepted another European basketball engagement yesterday.
Gonzaga: Theo Lawson was tasked with writing Krause’s obituary, which we linked above and also here. … I don’t know how we missed that yesterday, but the baseball team’s season ended with a 4-2 loss to Santa Clara in the opening round of the WCC tournament.
NAIA World Series: The annual baseball celebration of the NAIA World Series begins today in Lewiston. Colton Clark has this preview of the 10 days that decide a champion.
Preparations: The state track and field meetings started yesterday and Keenan Gray is covering the big school reunion in Tacoma. … We can also pass on a summary of softball. … This is already happening in many places.
Indians: Ladies and gentlemen, your first Spokane Indians. Yes, Spokane’s 7-3 win over Vancouver last night put them back in first place. And equalized the series with two games each. Dave Nichols tells the game story of a win achieved by starting pitching.
Mariners: It’s no secret that the M’s forte this season is their starting pitch. George Kirby was spectacular. This also applies to newcomer Bryce Miller. Logan Gilbert also had a solid performance on Thursday, overcoming a hanging curveball that led to a two-run home run and the first inning, followed by an eight-inning stint and a 3-2 win. … Ty France returned to the lineup, sending Sam Haggerty back to the bench and sending two balls into the seats.
Forward: Seattle’s offense was lazy in the opening game. It needs to be fixed.
Seahawks: Geno Smith is in charge. That’s obvious after another OTA day. … There could be a ninth starter at center in the next nine years. But this one might stay for a while. … The depth on the corner seems like a pretty good idea now. … The defense has new parts that should help.
• We pottered around in the backyard yesterday. Fixed the fence, put a hook on the wall of the storage shed that we’ve been wanting to install for months, pulled some weeds and stuff like that. No, we’re not Bob Villa. Heck, we’re not even Tim Taylor. But for dinner we were pretty happy. Also exhausted. This chore around the house is a game for young people. See you later …