INFLUENZA IN SPORT • We all know this to be true. Sport is a succession of comings and goings. Players and teams step into the spotlight to leave it to someone else. Happens all the time.
• It’s time for the Atlanta Braves. And once again, the Houston Astros, without the help of Echoing Garbage Cans, fail. Coincidence? Probably. After all, baseball is a dice game with uneven dice, even at the best of times. This year, the Braves got some sevens while Houston? Once again, the Astros were haunted by serpent eyes.
Atlanta is one of those stories that resonates in sports. The roster was decimated in the middle of the season due to injuries and suspensions. A team under .500 decides they still have a chance, however, and rolls the dice at the trade deadline. Highligths.
(By the way, Mariner fans have no idea what that means. Sorry.)
The reconstruction worked. Quick. No one was hotter on the stretch. And in the playoffs. The result? First Braves title since 1995.
They were so hot that even a broken leg suffered by their most experienced playoff starter Charlie Morton to open the World Series couldn’t derail them. Houston, the team with a tainted title, couldn’t either, hoping to cleanse its legacy with another.
Now, the 2021 baseball season is over. Around those regions, longtime third baseman Kyle Seager, whose ten-year career in Seattle has earned him respect and admiration, will be the most important player. Hopefully his departure won’t take away the one thing that seemed to be on the rise. In fact, it feels like the M’s have hope for the future. Their 90 wins, not enough to sniff out a division title but enough to keep them in the race for the American League wild cards, allow it.
And now Seattle fans can hope that if their team is on the hunt next season at the end of July, management – which now includes Ken Griffey Jr. – will do what Atlanta did and show up at the table.
You never know what can happen.
• We know one thing. If you decide to come to the hoop against this year’s Gonzaga team, you better come strong or your shot is heading for the seats. Fast. The Zags have, as the children say, guys around the basket.
Jim Meehan looks at that today, using their exhibition victory over Eastern Oregon as Exhibit A. Even Jim understands, as he wrote, “It is advisable to avoid instant judgments. from statistics compiled against a surpassed NAIA opponent “but still, 11 blocks in any college the game is awesome. Just like the big Bulldogs.
It starts with Chet Holmgren. Over the past year or so, every time I’ve seen a video of his play all I could think of was Bill Walton at the same age. On the defensive side.
Not all fire blockers are created equal. Some are not even created at all. Some just have an innate sense of timing, anticipation, angles, all of those things that allow them to reject – or modify – plans in the right place.
Holmgren has that quality. I got it in high school. The funny thing is that its construction belies its strength in this regard. Bulk, al la Shaq, is not a prerequisite to being a top shot blocker – Bill Russell, Walton, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are all proof of that. These innate skills that we have mentioned are more important. That and the length, which is another obvious plus for Holmgren.
All we know is this will be a season when attacking the basket is not easy against GU. And that will lead to defensive success.
WSU: We linked Jon Wilner’s lecture power rankings yesterday, but we’re bringing it up again this morning from the pages of the SR website. This way your subscription allows easy viewing. … A Pullman city councilor accused Washington state athletic director Pat Chun of uncontrollable behavior. Greg Mason has this story. … Elsewhere in Pac-12 and college football the first playoff standings were released and one team, Oregon, got a pleasant surprise while another, Cincinnati, got the other guy. What about Alabama? It is again overvalued. Wilner has his thoughts in the Mercury News. … He’s also having his bowl screenings for the week, with WSU headed to the Holiday Bowl. Wow. … There’s a nice undercurrent of academics running through the Washington / Oregon game this week, sparked off by some silly comments from Jimmy Lake. Silly and fake, as the data shows. … The Ducks will be much healthier when they travel to Seattle. … Oregon State needs to get back in shape with their third down defense. … Colorado gained self-confidence thanks to his aggressiveness on the fourth down. … Stanford will likely be deprived of their starting quarterback this week when they host Utah. The Utes are not at all upset by this news. … Former USC coach Clay Helton has been hired as Georgia Southern’s head coach. Who will replace it with Trojans? And who wins this week against Arizona State? … Arizona is trying to hit big games. … In basketball news, Both Gach is back in Utah. Will he be able to play this season? … Arizona played fast and freely in Game 1 under Tommy Lloyd.
Gonzaga: As we mentioned (and linked) above, Jim has a story about Zag rim protectors that shouldn’t be missed. … Dana O’Neil has a story about Holmgren in The Athletic that is also pretty darn good. … The women’s rowing team has been successful lately. Jim Allen examines this, explaining how it was built, in this story while Jesse Tinsley uses his camera lenses to document their day.
UEF: Larry Weir spoke with Paul Sorensen about this weekend’s showdown with Montana State on the latest Press Box podcast. … Around the Big Sky, the best matchup will be in Cheney. But the next best will be in Flagstaff, where northern Arizona hosts UC Davis. … Or maybe it will be in Greeley, where Montana will face an improved team from northern Colorado. … Weber State is enjoying the fruits of a better game.
Preparations: The story of the girls’ GSL hoop success returns this morning with Dave Trimmer’s story of the Mead race in the 1990s and beyond. … In the present, Lewis and Clark advanced to the football playoffs with a 34-28 victory over Pasco. The Tigers face Kamiakan, ranked fourth in 4A, on Saturday. Dave Nichols was at Union Stadium and has this game history. … Dave also has volleyball roundups and district playoffs.
Shock: Spokane has a new trainer, Cedric Walker. This news is part of a column of local briefs.
Hoop party: Executive Director Matt Santangelo let friends and colleagues know on Monday that he was leaving the organization. It was officially announced yesterday. Adam Shanks has this RS story.
Seahawks: Seattle did nothing by the trade deadline. I’m probably waiting to sign free agents. … Russell Wilson is ready to start throwing. Will Chris Carson also be back?
Sirens: Chances are, Seattle will host one or two 2026 World Cup games on a Lumen Field turf.
• Good for the Braves. If you want to know who is going to win the World Series each year, pick the Dodgers or who the Dodgers lose against. This has been the case every season since 2016. As silly baseball stats show, this one is right up there. And it also happens to be true. Until later …