A GRIP ON SPORTS • You know what would be cool for May 4? Having Star Wars themes throughout this column. And to make it a bit more understandably than R2D2’s beeps and clicks. But only a bit.
• It only seems the Spokane Chiefs have been led by the same management grip since Luke Skywalker learned – spoiler alert from four decades ago – Darth Vader was his father. But since 1990, the local WHL franchise has had just two general managers.
It now has its third.
Owner Bobby Brett introduced Matt Bardsley yesterday at the Arena, putting a WHL veteran in charge of a franchise that has won the Memorial Cup twice in Brett’s tenure ownership.
Bardsley has worked in Portland and Kamloops, currently two of the most successful major junior hockey franchises in the West. Now he’ll be asked to work some magic with the Chiefs.
• Though it seemed the Dark Side had taken over in Pullman recently, Washington State’s basketball program struck back Tuesday by signing coveted high school center Adrame Diongue to a letter of intent.
At 7-feet, Diongue not only has the height of a wookie, he also has the agility of a young Yoda. It’s his quickness and athleticism that stands out on video and makes him a candidate for lots of playing time next season. Especially if the two bigs who entered the transfer portal, Efe Abogidi and Mouhamed Gueye, do not return.
After a series of bad news recently about the roster, Diongue’s signing was a breath of fresh air for Kyle Smith’s program.
• There is a Dark Side to baseball and the Mariners succumbed to its machinations again Tuesday night in Houston. The Astros, baseball’s Third Order equivalent, not only stopped the M’s in their tracks for the second consecutive night, they seemed to have turned Seattle’s bats to dust.
The M’s have yet to score in the series. Their woes continue a season-long slump for some, including highly touted newcomers Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez. They are hitting .181 and .198 respectively. That’s below the fabled Jar Jar Binks Line.
• Speaking of lines, more than 20,000 people passed Bloomsday’s finish one Sunday. Though low for the Phantom Menace days, the number was more than acceptable for the race’s organizers. After all, since the 2019 race and Sunday, most of us have been wearing masks that have made us sound more akin to Vader than Princess Leia.
• It’s been a long time since professional baseball games routinely took around two hours. The same can be said about Star Wars movies, but no one wants to impose a pitch clock on George Lucas.
One has been instituted in minor league baseball and it’s helped cut game times like Vader’s light saber cut through Luke’s wrist. But this is a good thing. The Indians won a 2-1 game Tuesday night that took 115 minutes. That’s shorter than the run time for the first Star Wars movie.
• One last thing. May the Fourth be with you.
WSU: We mentioned Adrame Diongue’s signing above, and linked Colton Clark’s story. It’s a big deal. Coach Golf coach Kelli Kamimura announced her retirement recently. That news leads off the latest local briefs column in the SR. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, recruiting is always happening. … Leaders from conferences around the country are meeting in Scottsdale this week with a lot to discuss. … We are passing along this UCLA-themed story about tight end Greg Dulcich for one reason and one reason only: He attended the same high school we did. About 40 years apart. … There is a difference between the Pac-12 and the SEC. … Washington lost another player to the portal. So did Oregon. We thought May 1 was the deadline. … The Oregon trial continued with medical experts testifying about Doug Brenner’s injuries. … Having a first-round pick can’t hurt Utah’s recruiting. … Arizona State is obviously headed in the wrong direction. … In basketball news, Colorado has lost a recruit before he even enrolled. … Utah is paying its newest assistant good money. Bay The Bay Area has quite an influence on the WNBA for not having a team in the league.
Gonzaga: Around the WCC, BYU is reportedly set to play Creighton again next year.
EWU: Spring football is over. The Eagles answered a bunch of questions, and Dan Thompson passes along those answers. But there are a few still to be determined. … Around the Big Sky, Montana State seems to believe in equity among its basketball coaches. Bob The Bobcats are losing quite a few players off their football roster.
Preps: Dave Nichols has the usual roundup of Tuesday’s action.
Chiefs: We also linked and mentioned above the newest member of the Spokane hockey family. Dave has this story from the Chiefs’ introductory press conference while Tyler Tjomsland covers it with his photographs.
Indians: One more story for Dave. Spokane opened its six-game series with visiting Tri-City with a 2-1 victory at Avista.
Bloomsday: John Stucke talked with race director Jon Neill about the numbers.
Mariners: The Astros’ win gave manager Dusty Baker his 2,000 victory. Good for him. He will be in the Hall of Fame some day. … Kyle Lewis played in Tacoma last night on a rehab assignment. Had three hits including a long home run. Hurry back.
Seahawks: Maybe we should have led with this today. But who knows how Europe will look in November? If everything is OK, the Hawks will play for the first time outside of the US Nov. 13 in Munich against Tampa Bay. That was announced early this morning. … It seems DK Metcalf is amiable to a contract extension. And so are the Hawks. So one should be forthcoming, right? … How did the Hawks’ draft look to outsiders? About the same as it did to insiders.
Sounders: We didn’t really delve into it above but May 4 may also be a memorable day for the MLS and Seattle. Can the Sounders defeat Pumas UNAM and become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League title?
Kraken: The first season was disappointing. No playoffs. Not enough wins. But Seattle hopes to build it off.
• We aren’t flying out all that early today, but early enough to get out of bed before usual. And to post this long before deadline. Hopefully, Ben Franklin was right and today we will be healthy, wealthy and wise. That wise part certainly didn’t come into play when we decided to torture a bunch of Star Wars metaphors this morning. Until later