Ichiro may have found his youth back in Japan, where he legged out multiple infield hits like the days of yore. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest
Not a great week for the state’s athletic concerns: The Washington Huskies basketball team not only thudded in the NIT, it lost its leading scorer to the NBA. Although the Mariners provided a highlight by winning on Opening Day in Japan, they negated the effort with a lapse into feebleness the next day. The Sounders got suckered by a flopper, and ex-quarterback Ryan Leaf, suddenly “infamous” and “notorious” again, found himself in mug shots and headlined on TMZ.com, not the optimum site on which to have one’s name bandied. That Was The Week That Was:
MARCH 26-APRIL 1, 2012
- GOOD WEEK — Olympic swimmer Nathan Adrian of Bremerton set two meet records in two days — despite s-p-l-i-t-t-i-n-g his swimsuit on the starting block — at the Indianapolis Grand Prix. After his wardrobe malfunctioned Thursday, Adrian (God, shall we say it?) tore past superstar Michael Phelps in the 100-meter freestyle, clocking 48.62. A day later, fashion-correct, Adrian established another meet mark when he took the 50 freestyle in 21.88 seconds, edging George Bovell. Of his starting block snafu, which roused the Twitterverse, Adrian said, “I was on the block, bending over. What could I do?” How big was the tear? “Stretched out, it was the full butt crack.”
- BAD WEEK – Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies not only were ousted from the National Invitation Tournament by No. 6 seed Minnesota, Romar had to watch No. 3 Stanford, a Pac-12 rival, blow away the Gophers in the championship game 75-51. Stanford is a club the Huskies mashed 76-63 earlier. Worse, after Romar endured two days of media speculation about the possibility of his two top scorers, sophomore Terrence Ross and freshman Tony Wroten, declaring for the NBA draft, Ross, no longer content with being the “boss,” announced he’ll jump.
- EX-SEATTLE JOCKS OF THE WEEK — Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who pitched for the Mariners in 2008, disclosed in his book, “Wherever I May Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball,” that he had been sexually abused as a youth. Dickey also said he contemplated suicide — not after tying the MLB record for most wild pitches (4) in an inning Aug. 17, 2008 while pitching for the Mariners — but in 2006, when he felt his career was unraveling in Texas . . . Former Mariner Jamie Moyer, 49, became the oldest starting pitcher in history to make an Opening Day roster when the Colorado Rockies handed him the No. 2 slot in their rotation (thank you for no more car-wash commercials) . . . Omar Vizquel, a Mariner from 1989-93, became the oldest shortstop (45) to make an Opening Day roster, with Toronto.
- SUNDAY, April 1 — UW basketball star Terrence Ross, the Huskies’ leading scorer at 16.4 ppg, declares that he’ll enter the NBA draft, departing the Huskies after two seasons. Can’t say it comes as much of a surprise, considering that Ross, if he’s selected in the first round, as expected, would be sacrificing nearly $2.8 million guaranteed by staying at UW. Still, this is a big hurt for the 2012-13 Huskies . . . Dead Mariners bats come to life in the sixth with six runs in a 6-4 win over Kansas City, a development preceded by word that LHP Jason Vargas will make the start when the club resumes regular-season play Friday at Oakland. In order to set him up to work the April 13 home opener, RHP Felix Hernandez will work Saturday in Oakland.
- SATURDAY, March 31 — San Jose’s Steven Lenhart baits Seattle’s Marc Burch into a foolish foul in the 24th minute, which turns into an easy penalty kick that stands up for a 1-0 Earthquakes victory at the Clink. “I should be bigger than that,” says Burch, who fouled Lenhart in retaliation for a foul by Lenhart that went uncalled moments earlier. On Lenhart’s flop, coach Sigi Schmid notes, “That’s Steven’s game. He does it all the time, then apologizes later. That’s his game.” This occurs one day after the MLS disciplinary committee fines Seattle midfielder Alvaro Fernandez an undisclosed amount “for embellishment of contact” in the 82nd minute of Seattle’s 2-0 win over Houston the previous Friday . . . UW men’s crew team, defending Intercollegiate Rowing Association champions, posts open-water victories in five races against traditional Ivy League power Brown in sloppy conditions on the Montlake Cut. UW’s varsity eight wins by two lengths (that’s 35-0 in football), clocking a six-second win in 5:57.36 . . . Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne becomes the first two-time pole winner in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series by averaging 97.126 mph at Martinsville (VA.) for Sunday’s 500-mile event. It’s the 24th pole of Kahne’s career.
- FRIDAY, March 30 — Former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf, already serving a 10-year suspended sentence on drug-related charges, is nabbed in Great Falls, MT., on burglary, theft and more drug charges. Great Falls police apprehend Leaf at, of all places, a local parole office, toss him in the clink, and later release him on $76,000 bond. Leaf later releases a statement through his Seattle-based publicist (the last thing Leaf needs is a publicist) that says, “I am confident there will be further understanding when the facts are revealed.” Within hours, TMZ.com has more facts, reporting, “Police in Montana say they believe Leaf broke into the home of an acquaintance and stole a bottle of prescription painkillers. They also believe Leaf has done this before and they are encouraging other potential victims to come forward.” With this development the Texas district attorney who negotiated Leaf’s 10-year suspended sentence in 2010 says he’ll file a motion to revoke it, which could set up Leaf for years in the slammer . . . Sue Bird of the Storm, playing for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg at a tournament in Turkey, is selected to USA Basketball’s 2012 U.S. Olympic team. The London Games will mark her third Olympic appearance.
- THURSDAY, March 29 – After the euphoria of their season-opening victory over Oakland, the Mariners revert to their usual feebleness in a 4-1 loss to the Athletics in #2 of 162, 4-1. Jason Vargas delivers an outstanding start over 6.1 innings, but the Mariners can scratch out only three hits off Bartolo Colon. Shawn Kelley is designated the goat when, after relieving Vargas, he hangs a slider that Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes spanks for a home run. “That big ball really hurt us,” complains manager Eric Wedge . . . The Los Angeles Times reports that owners of the Sacramento Kings, brothers Joe, Gavin and George Maloof, have “increasing skepticism” that a new arena project in the city can be accomplished, despite the city’s and NBA’s backing. Seattle fans who desire an NBA team should keep fingers crossed . . . Stanford crushes Minnesota 75-51 to win the NIT two days after Minnesota ousted UW from the tournament, 68-67 in OT.
- WEDNESDAY, March 28 — A consensus pick to finish last in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners move into first place for at least one day of the 2012 season by opening with a 3-1, 11-inning triumph over the Oakland As in the Tokyo Dome. Dustin Ackley drives in two runs with a home run and an RBI single, but the show belongs to Ichiro, Japan’s greatest baseball export, who thrills his countrymen with a four-hit night, only the second in history by a Mariner on Opening Day. Its just amazing,” says Tom Wilhelmsen, the winner in relief of Felix Hernandez. “Felix is the king of Seattle and Washington. But this is just something un-Godly. Ichiro was just amazing and Im happy he was able to get those four hits and put on the show he did. . . . Dork: Houston Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark is suspended three games by MLS for directing a gay slur at a ballboy during Friday’s match with the Sounders . . . Jeff Parke, Sounders FC reigning Defender of the Year, barks over no playing time so far in the 2012 season: “It’s the coach’s decision,” he says, pointing a finger at Sigi Schmid. “He’s the one with the answers. Do I agree with it? No.” Finally, some dissension on our boot squad! . . . Sounders women sign their fifth member of the U.S. women’s national team, adding defender Stephanie Cox to a roster that already includes Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Sydney Leroux. Might be the best — and least-cared about team — in Seattle history . . . Obit: Thoroughbred trainer Bud Klokstad, a member of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame who ranks second in career stakes wins at both Longacres and Emerald Downs, dies in Richmond, CA,, at 79. His most notable runner: 1983 Eclipse Award winner Chinook Pass.
- TUESDAY, March 27 – The Huskies come out flat, trail by as many as 15 points, rally down the stretch to force overtime and then have several inexplicable mental lapses and lose 68-67 to Minnesota in the NIT semifinals in New York. The defeat unceremoniously ends the season for the Huskies, who finish 24-11. “We were real immature in the overtime period just like we were late in the season in games we should have won,” says outgoing senior forward Darnell Gant . . . Former Washington State QB Mark Rypien becomes the lead plaintiff in a class action suit that seeks compensation and medical care for “repeated traumatic injures to his head” suffered during an 11-year NFL career. Rypien is joined in the suit by 126 former players in the latest in a spate of trauma-related suits against the NFL.
- MONDAY, March 26 — Hisashi Iwakuma, slated to begin the major league season in the bullpen, receives the start against the Yomiuri Giants and gets hosed for six runs and 10 hits in four innings in Seattle’s 9-3 loss at the Tokyo Dome. The two other Japanese players in Seattle’s lineup, Ichiro and Munenori Kawasaki, combine to go 0-for-7. The only noteworthy offense among the five Mariners hits comes from Dustin Ackley, who homers in the first and triples in the third . . . No dummies they, the Sounders announce they will contest Chelsea FC (and open the bowl) at the Clink July 18. No wonder: Last time Chelsea showed (2009) so did 65,000+ customers . . . Lakes High receiver Sammie Long, rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, becomes the first to orally commit to the UW’s 2013 football recruiting class. Unless he bails (he has received interest from UCLA and Cal), Long’s addition could help Steve Sarkisian re-establish recruiting dominance in the state.
TOP 5 NUMBERS
Sounders announced they will play an international friendly with Chelsea FC at the Clink July 18. Sounders outscored 21-2 in 6 such friendlies since 2009.
Good thing Hanshin Tigers and Yomuiri Giants aren’t in AL West: Mariners outscored 14-4 by Hanshin (3-1) and Yoimuri (9-3) in two Tokyo tilts.
4 hits by Ichiro on Opening Day in Japan tied the franchise record, first set by Ken Griffey Jr. April 9, 1990, for most bingles in a season baptismal.
3: Home runs coughed up by Seattle relievers Shawn Kelley, George Sherrill and Steve Delebar in Seattle’s 4-1 loss to Oakland Thursday in Tokyo.
Ex-Mariner Jamie Moyer, oldest starter to make an MLB roster, faced Steve Carlton in his debut June 18, 1986. Carlton’s been in HOF for 18 years.
The tsunami that struck Kadanowaki Elementary School also slammed cars into the building. The explosions ignited fires throughout, claiming uncounted lives. / Ben VanHouten, Mariners
READS OF THE WEEK
- Thiel: U.S. Imports Won’t Doom Japan Baseball: As one among the seemingly hundreds of Japanese and American officials and media mingling on the Tokyo Dome field before Mondays game, I weaved from handshake to interview to gossip to stunned surprise . . . MORE
- Thiel: Japan’s ’3-11′ Will Long Be An Open Wound: ISHINOMAKI, Japan Busing swiftly through the detritus of devastation is hardly a good way to get a feeling for the loss, in the space of a few hours, of about 20,000 people from a town of 160,000. But then, what is a good way to comprehend the unimaginable? . . . MORE
- Wayback Machine: Rajah, Rivera, ’51 Rainiers: Had Rogers Hornsby, the incoming manager of the Seattle Rainiers, opted to stay away from Puerto Rico in the winter of 1950, and he very nearly did, a significant chapter in Pacific Coast League history never would have unfolded, and a local championship, the last under the Rainiers banner, probably would not have occurred . . . MORE
- Thiel: Ichiro Hits All The Right Notes In Japan: Now he shows us. In a game postponed from nine years ago, played 4,800 miles from where hes hit leadoff for the last 11 years, following up an idea started eight years ago, Ichiro revealed himself to be baseballs greatest No. 3 hitter. After a 4-for-5 Opening Day when there were no other Opening Days, who can argue? . . . MORE
- Thiel Mariners Still Need More Spring Training: TOKYO Time to go. Its been grand, Japan. Thanks for the smiles and the sushi. The Mariners had a great time. But when they make a 38-year-old, 270-pound pitcher look like Bob Gibson in his prime, its time to get back to spring training for a few pushups and 300 hours in the batting cage . . . MORE
- That Was The Week That Was (March 19-25): Big week for returns: Ichiro returned to Japan, where the Mariners returned to 2011 form by going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position (also two whiffs with the bases loaded) in a 5-1 loss to Hanshin Tigers, not exactly the Yankees. The University of Washington secured a return to Madison Square Garden . . . MORE
Jason Vargas pitched well enough to win the second game of the season, but the bullpen imploded, allowing three home runs. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest
POLL OF THE WEEK
Can The Mariners Possibly Escape Last Place?
- “I feel bad that out guys were not able to advance. I thought we did a lot of good things this year. We were not able to finish, though.” — Lorenzo Romar, UW basketball coach, after the Huskies to Minnesota in the NIT semifinals.
- “I don’t know if it’s going to be my final game. I don’t know what the future holds. I’m just going to take it one day at a time. I’m going to take some time to think about it.” – Terrence Ross, UW guard who is projected as a first-round NBA draft pick, after the Huskies lost to Minnesota in the NIT
- More than the four hits, it was more being able to enjoy the atmosphere with the fans. Being there with the same feelings, that was special to me. Thats what will stay in my heart. Seeing how they welcomed the players, they were very warm-hearted. That makes you cry. – Ichiro, Mariners outfielder, after collecting four hits on Opening Day
- “That’s my go-to pitch. I want to make a pitch and I didn’t do it. It’s sad. Vargas pitched a heck of a game and deserved to win. Smoaky got the big hit and I cost us the game. Everything that happened after me is on me” — Shawn Kelley, Mariners reliever, after hanging a slider that Yoenis Cespedes parked for a two-run homer in Oakland’s 4-1 win over Seattle Wednesday
- “My role with the national team has been a maturation process. As each year passed, I became more experienced and more able to help lead this team. Now I feel like a true veteran.” Sue Bird, Seattle Storm, after she was named to her third United States Olympic team.
- “It was my fault, 100 percent. I went up for a header and he gave me a little elbow in the back, so when (Steven Lenhart) he tried to run around to the far post I just tried to jump in his path and he sold it pretty well. I don’t think I swung, I don’t think I kicked him, and I don’t think that I tried to take him down on purpose, but he sold it pretty well” — Marc Burch, Sounders, on the retaliatory foul called against him that led to a San Jose penalty kick that gave the Earthquakes a 1-0 win over the Sounders
- “I think good things will happen to me with all of the hard work I’ve put in” — Terrence Ross, UW sophomore, when asked about his prospects of succeeding in the NBA, following his announcement that he will depart the Huskies for the pros
- “We wish Terrence the best. He was refreshing to coach because of his humility and team-first attitude. We wish him well and anticipate that he will have an excellent NBA career” — Lorenzo Romar, UW head basketball coach, after Terrence Ross announced he’ll leave for the NBA