Talking Points: Surprising Mariners

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What's the buzz from the world of sports? Here are some items that will have people talking:

1

With the Seattle Mariners reporting for duty in Peoria, Ariz., this week, predictions are flying off the shelves.

Here's one Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker uncovered and posted on his Mariners blog:

This one comes as a bit of a surprise, but not really if you've followed some of the winter moves made by the Mariners. The Bill James online site published a free item over the weekend that picks a "surprise" team in each league for the 2013 season. So, that rules out all teams that are expected to improve big-time over what they did last year — like, say, the Toronto Blue Jays, now favored by many to win the AL East.

What they are looking for is a losing team that jumps into contention — like the Orioles last season.

Their choice for this year? Your Seattle Mariners.

What the website likes about the Mariners is the youth of their hitters, the highly-rated farm system and the fact that the team finished above .500 in the second half of last season.

2

Ah, the ol' vote of confidence, or at least the I'm-not-firing-him-yet vote of confidence.

Washington State athletic director Bill Moos was asked Monday if there has already been a decision to fire men's basketball coach Ken Bone.

"No," was Moos' answer.

Moos has long maintained that he makes decisions about hiring and firing coaches only at the end of the season.

Bone is owed $2.55 million — $850,000 a season — on the three remaining years on the seven-year contract he signed with former Cougars AD Jim Sterk in 2009.

Bone has drawn heavy criticism from fans this season in particular.

Bone has yet to post a losing record at WSU and has guided the Cougars to postseason tournaments in back-to-back years, but his current team is 11-13.

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