Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday Mariners Briefing: June's hot bats keeping M's afloat

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 3:16 PM

Rookie outfielder Ben Gamel, hitting .346, has been a pleasant surprise for the Mariners this season.
  • Rookie outfielder Ben Gamel, hitting .346, has been a pleasant surprise for the Mariners this season.

A month ago, things weren't looking so good for the Seattle Mariners. After five losses in six East Coast games against the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox, the Mariners' injury woes seemed insurmountable.

The M's were seven games under .500, in the AL West cellar, and nearly had the American League's worst record. With Felix Hernandez, Hishashi Iwakuma and James Paxton on the disabled list, the back of the rotation — Ariel Miranda and Yovanni Gallardo — was asked to keep the USS Mariner afloat.

With a strong showing in Colorado to finish May and start June, the Mariners went on a torrid 10-4 run, beating the Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins. Mike Zunino has had himself quite a month, hitting nine home runs and driving in 34 runs (most ever in a month for a Mariners catcher). Zunino entered the month hitting an abysmal .190, which has since risen to .247. Over that span, he's nearly doubled his on-base plus slugging percentage to .802 (on average, a dependable everyday player should be around .700).

But the most satisfying part of the Mariners' resurgence has been the trio of rookie outfielders — Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Mitch Haniger. Last year's outfield was the glaring weakness of a surprisingly average team. Heading into this season, it was hoped that maybe one of the three young outfielders could pair with veteran Jarrod Dyson to make a halfway respectable outfield. Instead, the three are pushing Dyson out of playing time.

In the absence of high-average leadoff hitter, shortstop Jean Segura, Gamel leads the Mariners with a .394 average for the month of June. After an oblique injury sidelined him for more than a month, Haniger was immediately injected into the No. 2 spot and has been regaining his timing on the fly; he hasn't quite seen his average and power return to his hot opening to the season, but has remained a high on-base-percentage guy who becomes a table-setter for power bats Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.

The Mariners started their homestand with a four-game sweep of the up-and-down Detroit Tigers. They were able to stay in games, proving their lineup's ability to get hot and win games late. The most notable was in the sixth inning against Justin Verlander, who was at the time throwing a perfect game. The Mariners piled on seven runs in the sixth and seventh against  Verlander and the Tigers.

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They say that 33 Chilean miners once got trapped in a Spokane pothole, and 24 other unproven pothole rumors

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 1:03 PM

They say that local gaming company Cyan filmed a man falling into a Spokane pothole for the intro of their smash computer game hit, "Myst." - CYAN WORLDS
  • Cyan Worlds
  • They say that local gaming company Cyan filmed a man falling into a Spokane pothole for the intro of their smash computer game hit, "Myst."

On Friday, the Spokesman-Review ran a story about just how few of the victims of Spokane's winter plague of potholes were able to convince the city to pay their claims. While the city has committed $1 million as part of "Fix-It-Fest 2017" to repair broken arterials and has a long-term strategy to make roads more resistant to potholes, the pothole struggles this year only solidified Spokane's longstanding pothole-pocked reputation.

Of course, for every fact about Spokane potholes, there are plenty of scurrilous, unsourced rumors. As a service to you, the reader, we've collected these rumors in one place, while recognizing that it's entirely possible that we made every one of these rumors up.

1. They say when you gaze into a Spokane pothole, the Spokane pothole also gazes into you.

2. They say if you put your ear to the edge of a Spokane pothole, and listen closely, you can hear the bloodcurdling screams of the damned souls of children who don't obey their parents.

3. They say that, back in 2010, 33 Chilean miners got trapped for two weeks in a Spokane pothole before being rescued.

4. They say that the only thing that can truly defeat a Spokane pothole is for it be swallowed up by an even bigger Spokane pothole.

5. They say you can't reach the bottom of a Spokane pothole until you truly reach the bottom of... yourself.

6. They say when you pour asphalt into a Spokane pothole, you just make it hungrier.

7. They say if you step on a crack, you'll break your mother's back three weeks later when that crack develops into a pothole on Freya and she drives straight into it.

8. They say that most Spokane potholes were created when the dwarves dug too greedily and too deep, and awoke shadow and flame in the darkness of Khazad-dûm.

9. They say that if you make a wish and throw a coin into a Spokane pothole, your wish will come true, but only if that wish involves significant damage to your tires and undercarriage.

10. They say that 15,000 years ago, a glacial ice dam in Missoula broke, sending two-story-tall water blitzing 60 miles an hour from Montana to the Pacific, ripping canyons in the earth and creating the first Spokane pothole.

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Kevin Durant came to Hoopfest, and it was awesome

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 10:17 AM

Kevin Durant at Spokane Hoopfest 2017. - WILSON CRISCIONE
  • Wilson Criscione
  • Kevin Durant at Spokane Hoopfest 2017.

It was supposed to be a secret. Nobody announced that Kevin Durant would be showing up at Nike Center Court on Sunday. But when you're as big a deal as Kevin Durant, NBA Finals MVP and champion, word tends to get out.

Early on Sunday, some people had heard the rumor that the Golden State Warriors' star was in Spokane. Friends told their friends, and those friends told their friends, but nobody really wanted to get their hopes up. Kevin Durant? In Spokane? 

The rumor was that he would show up to Nike Center Court around 2:30 or 3 pm. By 2:15, the bleachers were full and the heat was beating down on the court during the men's elite games. People in the stands were whispering to each other — maybe Durant isn't coming. Is it worth suffering in this heat? Was it a false rumor?

When a few security guards gathered in one place, everyone looked over to try and catch a glimpse of Durant. But it was a false alarm. The security guards were just telling people to get off the court.

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NBA star Durant hits Hoopfest, Supreme Court to weigh in on Trump travel ban, and morning headlines

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 9:27 AM


ON INLANDER.COM


NEWS: Washington state lawmakers will likely let thousands of high schoolers who failed a "make-or-break" biology test get their diplomas anyway, by passing a bipartisan bill that Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) praised.

NEWS: Less than a week after the Inlander published a cover story about Dr. Suzan Marshall and others who question decisions made by Spokane County medical examiners regarding their loved ones' deaths, Marshall received a letter alerting her that someone had filed a complaint with the state Department of Health, claiming she was "practicing beyond scope of practice."

FOR FUN: NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors surprised Hoopfest fans on Sunday, showing up to share a moment in the world's largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

WHAT'S UP: Pulp Fiction, CdA brew fest, the Love Dimension and more are on this week's schedule. Here's what else is happening.


IN OTHER NEWS
The Supreme Court intends to rule on a case involving Trump's travel ban this fall.
  • The Supreme Court intends to rule on a case involving Trump's travel ban this fall.


Less for more?
A UW study found that as Seattle's minimum wage is increasing in phases toward $15 an hour, workers are getting fewer hours and losing money, and the researchers estimate the city is losing out on low-paid jobs that it would otherwise have, the Seattle Times reports.

Supreme schedule
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review President Donald Trump's travel ban, reinstating it in part until the case is heard this fall. The court also agreed to hear a case involving a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. (Washington Post)
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Sunday, June 25, 2017

THIS WEEK: Pulp Fiction, Phantom return, The Love Dimension arrives and more

Posted By on Sun, Jun 25, 2017 at 1:01 PM

Pulp Fiction is back on the big screen this week at the Garland Theater.
  • Pulp Fiction is back on the big screen this week at the Garland Theater.

Monday, June 26
COMMUNITY | Join the Witnesses for the Climate, a gathering of experts on climate change in town to testify on behalf of the Spokane Climate Protectors, as they gather for a talk at the Community Building.

Tuesday, June 27
FOOD & DRINK | Join Liberty Ciderworks for the launch party of Spokane Scrumpy Cider, a new quaff dedicated to raising money for Second Harvest.

MUSIC | Swing on by The Observatory for the psych-rock stylings of The Love Dimension, who will be joined by Vanessa Silberman, Mujahedeen and Runaway Octopus. Here's a little sample of The Love Dimension:

FILM | The Garland Theater's Summer Camp continues with the utter awesomeness that is Pulp Fiction.

Wednesday, June 28
COMMUNITY | Join Spokane Poet Laureate Laura Read for a workshop that will help you illustrate your vision of Spokane through photos and words at the Snapshot Spokane Workshop.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Washington lawmakers will likely allow high school seniors who failed state test to graduate

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 2:50 PM

news4-1.jpg

With thousands of high school seniors in jeopardy of not graduating because of one failed test, the state legislature has taken action to make sure those students get their diplomas.

Thursday, legislators announced they had come to an agreement on a bill that would allow high school students to graduate even if they failed an end-of-course biology test that was required for graduation. The full legislature is expected to pass the bill next week.

In a statement, Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) praised the bipartisan bill.

"Our schools today perform at high standards and no one should become a dropout at the end of their senior year simply because they do not perform well on a single, make-or-break test," Billig said. "This bill offers a path to a better future for thousands of hard-working students in our state and I am glad lawmakers were able to come together and find common ground."

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Why Dr. Suzan Marshall says someone is trying to silence her

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 12:52 PM

Suzan Marshall above the spot where her husband's body was found in the Spokane River last year. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Suzan Marshall above the spot where her husband's body was found in the Spokane River last year.

Dr. Suzan Marshall still doesn't know for sure what happened to her husband, John, whose body was found in the Spokane River in January 2016. Marshall, who is a surgeon, has been highly critical of the Spokane County medical examiners' work on her husband's case, as well as in several other death investigations.

John Marshall's death was ultimately ruled an accidental drowning by Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. John Howard — a conclusion that Marshall disagrees with.

In the year and a half since her husband's death, Marshall has led an effort to identify other cases where families question the medical examiners' official rulings. Earlier this year, she filed a complaint against Howard and Dr. Sally Aiken, the county's other medical examiner, with the state Department of Health, citing her husband's case and three others. A Department of Health spokesman says a total of about 10 complaints have been filed against Spokane's pathologists. Marshall has also been vocal in her criticisms of law enforcement.

Now, Marshall says, someone is retaliating against her.

Less than a week after the Inlander published a cover story earlier this month that included Marshall's critical comments, she received a letter saying that someone had filed a complaint with the DOH accusing her of "practicing beyond scope of practice."

The letter dated June 14, 2017, says the Board of Osteopathic Medicine within the state Department of Health is investigating the complaint, but it does not identify who filed it, or what specific event triggered the alleged misconduct.

"We are bound by two different laws, which may seem in conflict," the letter reads. "The first requires that we immediately notify you that a complaint has been filed. The second, the whistleblower law ... prohibits us from identifying the name of the complainant until we have received a signed waiver allowing us to do so."

"It's absolutely about giving my opinions as a trauma surgeon on autopsies," Marshall says of the accusations against her. She notes that she is not currently treating patients or practicing medicine, though DOH records show that her medical license is active. "I'm not outside my scope, and I'm perfectly happy for the medical board to verify that for everybody."

DOH spokesperson David Johnson says complainants can remain anonymous, but that could limit the department's ability to fully investigate.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. We'll update this post if we hear back.

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Zags' Collins, Williams-Goss hear their names called during NBA draft

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 11:53 AM

Zach Collins was the No. 10 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft, going from Sacramento to Portland in a trade. - GU ATHLETICS
  • GU Athletics
  • Zach Collins was the No. 10 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft, going from Sacramento to Portland in a trade.

In a season of new milestones, add another to the list for Gonzaga men's basketball. Freshman phenom Zach Collins became the first one-and-done player in program history, getting drafted by the Sacramento Kings — then traded to the Portland Trail Blazers — with the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.

Nigel Williams-Goss joined the party a few hours later as the Utah Jazz selected him in the second round with 55th overall pick. This is the first time in 46 years that two Zags players were drafted the same night. In 1971, Howard Burford and Bill Quigg were drafted in the 11th and 15th rounds(!). 2002 saw Dan Dickau and international recruit Mario Kasan drafted, but Kasan was mired in contract controversies during his recruitment and never suited up for the Bulldogs.

Portland took advantage of their stockpile of picks, trading their 15th and 20th to move up and take Collins. It's an interesting move for the 41-41 team, as Collins immediately slots in as a back-up to Jusuf Nurkić, with the potential to learn the power forward position and play alongside him.

Collins' draft profile was interesting due to his limited minutes at Gonzaga. The 7-footer is considered the most NBA-ready rookie big man on defense by many scouts, and already possesses a diverse repertoire of post moves. Scouts also were excited by his surprising adeptness around the perimeter, where Collins shot 47 percent last year.

Collins could prove to be a major boon for the Blazers moving forward in this new-look NBA. If he can add strength without compromising his quickness, Collins could be a rare center who is able to defend against guards off of defensive switches. Offensively, he has shown that he can make 18-plus foot shots — essential in a 3-and-D league — albeit in an extremely small sample size (14 for 27, 51.9 percent).

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Senate Republicans reveal health care bill, Baumgartner gets 2018 opponent, and other morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 9:44 AM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be happy, but experts worry that by eliminating the individual mandate, the Senate's proposed health care bill threatens to tank the individual market.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be happy, but experts worry that by eliminating the individual mandate, the Senate's proposed health care bill threatens to tank the individual market.

ON INLANDER.COM


Shutdown looming

A rally yesterday in Spokane implored the Washington state legislature to come to some sort of agreement to prevent a government shutdown on July 1.

Impatient for change
Local civil rights leaders aren't happy with the pace of progress to fix inequities in the justice system.

Teacher vs. Baumgartner

Washington 6th District state Sen. Michael Baumgartner despises the state teachers union. Next year, he's going to face a teachers union member in the 2018 election.

Pot stops
With small amounts of marijuana no longer illegal in Washington, traffic stops resulting in searches have plummeted.

Zags duo drafted
Two Gonzaga players were selected in Thursday's NBA draft: forward/center Zach Collins was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers  after being picked 10th overall by the Sacramento Kings, and guard Nigel Williams-Goss was taken in the second round, 55th overall, by the Utah Jazz.


IN OTHER NEWS


Unfilled
The Spokesman-Review looks into why the city pays so very few pothole claims.

Justice delayed
Evidence that helped acquit Jason Obermiller of murdering a 2-year-old girl last year in Spokane was not disclosed by prosecutors until mere minutes before their last witness was called. (Spokesman-Review)

Kentucky Mitch and the spiral of doom
The Senate's health care bill threatens to send the individual market into the death spiral that Republicans were always warning about with Obamacare. (Vox)

Loss leader
Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, has overseen massive losses for her party and has become an easy target for Republican ad makers. But she doesn't think that should be held against her. (New York Times)

Putin's provocation
The Washington Post reveals the inside story of how President Obama struggled to figure out how to respond to Russian hacking in the final weeks of last year's election.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rally in Spokane urges state legislators to prevent looming state government shutdown

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 5:33 PM

Nikki Lockwood, a parent with children in Spokane Public Schools, addresses a crowd of more than 50 people yesterday in a protest against a looming state government shutdown at Parkview Early Learning Center. - BRAD BROWN
  • Brad Brown
  • Nikki Lockwood, a parent with children in Spokane Public Schools, addresses a crowd of more than 50 people yesterday in a protest against a looming state government shutdown at Parkview Early Learning Center.

As the state legislature inches closer to a potential government shutdown, members of the Spokane community rallied on Thursday to urge lawmakers to reach a budget deal.

With lawmakers having less than eight days to reach that deal, the All In For Action coalition hosted several protests across the state, blaming Senate Republicans for the state of stasis.

Pastor Andy CastroLang, from the Westminster Congressional United Church of Christ, was the first to take to the podium in front of a crowd of more than 50 people, stressing the importance of reaching a budget deal.

“Our budget is a moral document that reflects our values as a state,” says CastroLang. “It’s time for the Legislature to get its job done to ensure families throughout our communities do not suffer.”

If a deal isn’t reached by midnight on June 30, an estimated 32,000 state employees would stop receiving paychecks, nearly 11,000 camping reservation holders for the Fourth of july weekend will be notified of state park closures, and about 31,000 low-income, working families will lose child care payment assistance, according to the state Office of Financial Management (OFM).

“It’s time for the Senate to come to the table to avoid the devastating impacts that come along with a government shutdown,” says Luc Jasmin, director of Parkview Early Learning Center on North Division, where the rally was held.

“Thousands of families and kids depend upon not only childcare services from the state, but also access to food programs and other safety net programs. The devastating cuts in the Senate’s budget proposal are unacceptable, and it’s time for them to do what we teach our children — work together and find common ground.”

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