Baseball is the talk of the town this week.
The West Coast League All-Star Game is being played tonight (7:35 first pitch) at Borleske Stadium. Walla Walla is hosting this showcase event in large part because of the strong support for the Sweets in the team's first two seasons.
Walla Walla has embraced West Coast League baseball. Some of the nation's top talent play in the WCL. In many cases these players are as good as those who are playing pro ball in the minor league system, but they have opted to go to college. For example, Sweets pitcher Hunter Virant -- a player in tonight's All-Star Game -- was drafted in the 11th round by the Houston Astros.
Players in the WCL are the real deal -- and those playing in the All-Star game are the cream of that crop. Borleske Stadium is going to be alive tonight.
In addition, the Walla Walla Valley Little League is hosting the state Major Division (12-year-old) championship at Alan Ashmore Field in Eastgate Lions Park. The host team has a huge game today (3 p.m.) against perennial power Mill Creek in the winners' bracket. The Valley team is coming off a big victory Sunday over Centralia.
But even when the home team isn't playing it's worth a trip to Lions Park to see quality baseball. Teams will play during the day all this week.
The state championship game is set for 10 a.m. Saturday.
And then there is Monday's Ichiro trade. The Mariners traded away Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees for two minor league prospects.
Although it was tough for Mariners fans to say goodbye to Ichiro, a 10-time Major League all-star, it was a good move for the Mariners and Ichiro.
The Mariners are a very young team with zero chance of making the playoffs. The team is building for the future. Sending Ichiro to the Yankees not only gets the Mariners two solid prospects, it opens a spot in the outfield so some of the younger players can get more game experience.
Ichiro wanted to be traded to a contender, preferably the Yankees. The Mariners granted him that wish. It was the right thing to do for the 12-year veteran who has been the Mariners' franchise player for most of his career. The Mariners organization repaid some of its debt to Ichiro by allowing him the opportunity to play for a team that has a very good chance of winning the World Series.
Nevertheless, it was very strange seeing Ichiro in Yankee grays driving a ball up the middle for a base hit. We've seen it hundreds of times in the past, but that single was different.
It is a new start for Ichiro and the Mariners. Still, Ichiro will be missed.