A GRIP ON SPORT • The future is … Thursday? Jarred Kelenic will then join the Seattle Mariners, according to multiple reports. Not only will he carry his suitcase to the clubhouse, but he’ll have more expectations than any other M rookie outfielder since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989. In other words, not a pressured young man. Just lead the franchise into the World Series.
• Everyone and their grandmother knew the truth. Jarred Kelenic didn’t really need any minor league experience. Seattle waited for the extra year of club control – the time the team had before Kelenic could go public – before bringing the big league club its best prospects for the minor league. Heck, a former Bigwig club was there in the off-season too. The additional year of inspection is slated to begin earlier this month, allowing Jerry Dipoto to make a decision on Kelenic’s status based on on-site measurements, not financial ones.
With criteria like that, it was probably a pretty straightforward judgment. Too many problems forced Dipoto on hand.
Start with the M’s themselves. They are one of the worst batting teams in a sport that is dominated by terrible strokes. Overall, the line-up is only 10 points better than the Mendoza line, which does worst in baseball with Thursday’s opponent Cleveland. Her most used left fielder, Taylor Trammel, is at .157. Sam Hagerty, who also played there, is at .194. It’s a dead zone in a life support lineup.
In five games with Tacoma, Kelenic hits .409 with two home runs, five batted in runs, and five strikeouts. In other words, a productive start to his triple A career. Short triple A career, we would imagine.
If Dipoto was telling the truth that Kelenic’s development is always at the top of his decision-making process (spoiler alert: he wasn’t), then the 24-year-old’s quick start has proven he’s ready for ascension. It might not mean he’s ready to play, but he’s ready for the chance to do just that. What he was like when the season started but, you know, service time.
But why Thursday and not today? It’s easy. The club saves a flight to Los Angeles. Instead, all they have to do is pay for an Uber from Tacoma to Sodo. OK, we’re kidding. Type of.
If the M’s are playing the Dodgers on the streets tonight and tomorrow, the M’s have to imagine that it would be bad PR if their next savior was introduced to the public in front of someone else. Save this circus for Seattle.
Funny thing. If you really are making every decision to ensure Kelenic’s success, getting him out on the streets may be more productive as the pressures to perform would be less in LA than at T-Mobile. On the other hand, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias, the Dodgers’ planned starters for the next two nights, are way tougher than anyone Cleveland can throw out. (In part because Shane Bieber, the best of the Indians, is throwing tonight.)
There is also the “it” factor. With Kelenic in the lineup on Thursday night, T-Mobile should also be sold out, although a 2021 sell-out means something different than usual. But no matter how many people there are in the park, they should all be engaged and exuberant, which leads to an energy that the Mariners desperately need right now.
The season is at stake again. The Ms are a flawed team. Perhaps less buggy than in the past, but there are still holes in many places other than the left panel.
Dipoto is a bit like Hans Brinker. He has his fingers plugging holes and keeping the Ms afloat. Hopefully Kelenic is a permanent solution for one. A member of the band and not a patch if we can use an “Almost Famous” reference. If not, then all the fear, all the controversy, all the rudeness that has met the fan about Kelenic in the past couple of years since it was acquired in the Robinson Cano store wasn’t worth it.
Today he’s the latest in a long line of Mariner rescuers. Thursday night he will begin to fulfill the prophecy. Or … well, you know? We have been here before. Many times.
WSU: Jon Wilner believes the Cougars are destined for one last place in the north in Pac-12 and college sports. … Chris Petersen’s thoughts on college football are still worth listening to. … Anthony Brown left the spring as Oregon’s potential starting quarterback. … The state of Oregon lost a defensive attack on the portal. … Utah will likely go as far as transfer quarterback Charlie Brewer can. … The state of Arizona seems to be on the road to success. … A UCLA tight end too. … Colorado has a certain depth at the receiver. … On the basketball news, big news is on the women’s side. Stanford’s Anna Wilson is back for the sixth time and USC is hiring former Cal trainer Lindsay Gottlieb as head coach. … Oregon has dived into the junior college ranks to replace a key player. … Arizona officially welcomed two transfers, including Oumar Ballo.
Gonzaga: Hey, do you know that showdown with Tommy Lloyd and Arizona that we were all looking forward to? Never mind. As Jim Meehan tells us in this story, it was pushed back a year or two. Maybe three. Well, there is always a chance to play UCLA. … Jim also spoke to Larry Weir about the latest Press Box podcast yesterday – after all, it was Monday. … Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth have been an integral part of the Spokane basketball scene for four years. So it’s no wonder they spent part of their free time running a local basketball clinic with Hoopfest. Justin Reed has the story and Kathy Plonka has the photo report.
EMU: We almost wrote about this as our main article today, but we’ve decided that more digging is needed. But the question that needs to be asked is simple: what the hell is going on in Cheney? Three of Eastern’s four best-known coaching positions have changed hands in the past eight weeks. That is not a good thing under any circumstances. The last change? Successful soccer coach Chad Bodnar was sacked yesterday. … That surprising change overshadowed the good news when quarterback Eric Barriere was named FCS first-team All-American quarterback. Dan Thompson has more to this story.
Preparations: Dave Nichols did a recap of the action on Monday. Funny thing in the Spokane area. Spring sports are still going on while winter sports are starting. … We didn’t have a column last Saturday so we missed this message from Dave. Jon Schuh from U-Hi is retiring after 23 years as the school’s softball coach.
In the: Dave also takes a look at a rule change that is trying baseball in the High-A West league. It changes the game a bit and brings speed back into the equation. Spokane is out this week.
Seafarers: Of course, the Kelenic news dominates the cycle, especially on a day when the Ms weren’t playing.
Seahawks: The schedule appears on Wednesday. How many prime time games will Seattle play?
Sounder: Sunday’s 2-1 win over Portland joined a long list of insane wins against the Timbers.
• We turned people around the corner. In the 14-day forecast below 41 degrees there is not a single low. Spring has definitely come. It’s time to beautify the yard. Does anyone want to come over and do this for me with the goodness of their heart? After all, we’ve entertained you all these years. Isn’t it time you started paying back that generosity? No? Damn it. To be fair, a similar argument didn’t work for my sons either. But you can’t blame an old (ish) man for trying. See you later …