The Stark Truth

Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
Subscribe to RSS
Back to The Stark Truth

Archive for May, 2008

Stark Truth: Three Thoughts

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

1) Cliff McCrath. Also known as Uncle Nubber, the former Seattle Pacific University soccer coach will speak at the Kitsap Country Bremerton Athletic Rountable meeting on Wednesday at Gold Mountain Golf Club. You don’t have to like soccer to enjoy McCrath, one of the best speakers you’ll ever hear. He’ll regale you with stories about the past and about how he was unceremoniously dumped by SPU officials last year after pulling within 10 victories of being the all-time winningest soccer coach in college history.
Here’s a story I wrote about McCrath after he visited Kitsap County for a soccer camp in April. http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2008/apr/05/chuck-stark-viewpoint-mccrath-one-of-a-kind/

2) The Mariners. To me, the most disappointing season part of Seattle’s disappointing season has been its defense. The Mariners have lacked focus on defense and made way too many errors for the talent that’s out there. That said, they turned in three gems on Monday against the Red Sox in what turned out to be a pretty fun game to watch with a pro-Red Sox crowd (It seemed like more than 50 percent of the fans were pulling for Boston).
Yunieski Betancourt started it off by catching a diving blooper in the first inning, Ichiro Suzuki made the catch of his career, crashing into the wall to make an over-the-shoulder catch in the fifth and third baseman Adrian Beltre diving stop that started a double play in the ninth was a jaw-dropper.
Betancourt, Beltre, Ichiro are Seattle’s best defenders. It’s about time they started playing like it. Defense, like hitting, can be contagious, and defense has been as much of an Achilles heel to this team as its hitting and pitching. Only two AL teams (Twins and Tigers) have made more errors (36) than the M’s. This is a team that’s been going through the motions. Monday, they looked ready to play. They had a little more bounce to their step when they were in the field.
Win or lose, it was worth the price of admission (and yes, I paid my way in; contrary to what many think, we don’t get freebies to ALL the games).

3) Artificial Turf. The Bremerton School District has formed a committee to look into raising funds for artificial turf at Memorial Stadium. I hope they don’t stop there. While they’re at it, Bremerton should consider turfing the infield at Legion Field, the baseball stadium that sits behind Albertson’s in East Bremerton. It’s a community field that gets a ton of play, and maintenance is a problem. Turf it.
If the opportunity ever arises, Kitsap County should turf the fields at the Fairgrounds, too. South Kitsap? It’s time to turf Joe Knowles Stadium and avoid the annual bog bowls in October and November.
Yeah, it costs money, but it’s a good reason for a joint project between community groups and school districts. Everybody benefits.


Stark Truth: Check Out Miah Davis’ Buzzer Beater

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Former Bremerton High basketball star Miah Davis is now playing professionally in the Bundesliga — the top league in Germany. The guard recently scored the game-winning basket for the No. 7 seed Telekom Baskets Bonn against the No. 2 seed Artland Dragons in Game 3 of the best-of-five series. It put Bonn up 2-1 and they won Game 4 to finish off the upset and advance to the semifinals, where it’s awaiting the winner of the Frankfurt-Leverkusen playoff.
Davis led Bremerton High to a fifth-place finish at the Class 3A state championship in 1999 and later played at the University of Pacific, where he earned MVP honors in the Big West Conference. He’s played in the NBA Development League and had a couple NBA tryouts. Prior to this season, he played professionally in Poland for a couple seasons.
Check out this video of Davis’ game-winning shot. He can still take it to the hole. It’ll bring back a lot of memories for BHS fans. He’s No. 7 in the red uniforms. Make sure you watch the celebration dance after the shot.


Stark Truth: Final Thoughts On NCAA Golf Tourney

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

OK, I didn’t blog from Gold Mountain during the NCAA West Regionals. I had good intentions, but ran into a couple technical problems, and … well, it was a lot more enjoyable walking the course and enjoying the sunshine than it would have been sitting inside, providing updates Those of you who really cared were probably at the course or glued to the live scoring that was available through golfstats.com.
That said, here’s my final thoughts on the tournament: It was pretty cool that the host Huskies were able to pull off a fourth place finish to get back to the NCAA Championships. And as far as I’m concerned, Oregon’s Joey Benedetti is the reigning King of the Olympic Course after back-to-back-to-back 69s. Nine-under par in those conditions without a three-putt. Ridiculous.
The players were as good as advertised. Sure, you saw a few bad swings and bad decisions, but you also saw a lot of limber golfers simply crushing the ball. They take the golf club back nice and slow, and then generate so much power with their downswings. Granted the wind was at their back, but a handful of the guys were able to reach the green in two on the 617-yard, No. 9 hole on Saturday. Jamie Lovemark of USC hit a “soft driver,” on the 324-yard, No. 18 hole the first day, dropping the ball on the green as if it came down from heaven to make an eagle. Lovemark also hit the cart path off the first tee and the ball carried within 71 yards of the 466-yard hole.
The galleries weren’t huge over the weekend — there were probably about 500 fans spread throughout the course on Friday for round two — but were large compared to most college events of this kind. At least, that’s what I was told.
The course only enhanced its reputation of being one of the best around. The players and coaches will spread the word, which is why the course chooses to hold these events in the first place. You can’t buy that kind of advertising.
I’d be interested to hear any thoughts about the tournament from people in the community, from those who showed up for some of the tourney and from those who didn’t go. Is it a good idea for Gold Mountain, the Bremerton-city owned course, to shut down for a week to host events of this magnitude? The 2011 U.S. Junior Boys will be the next national-scale event and I think it’ll be a mild upset if the NCAA doesn’t award Gold Mountain the 2011 or 2012 NCAA Championships.
Me? I think it’s great, especially when the weather cooperates like it did last week.


Stark Truth: Another Busy Sports Weekend Looms

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

This past weekend was probably the busiest of the year for the staff in the toy department of this newspaper. We had state soccer and baseball, district fastpitch, track and field and tennis, along with the state lacrosse championships.
Olympic College’s softball team was competing in the NWAACC Championships in addition to the NCAA West Regional golf tournament at Gold Mountain, hydroplane races at Kitsap Lake and a weekend of drag racing at Bremerton Raceway. We tried to get things covered the best we could.
If you’re still aching to see some local high school athletes in action, this weekend is your last chance: Central Kitsap (4A, Tacoma), Bainbridge (3A, Tacoma), North Mason (2A, Selah) and Chimacum (1A, Spokane)) will all be competing in state fastpitch tournaments, and we’ll have a fairly large contingent of kids competing at the state track and field meets (4A/3A in Pasco, 2A/1A in Tacoma and 2B in Spokane) that are spread out across the state. Central Kitsap is sending a pair of doubles team to the 4A state tennis tournament in Vancouver. Visit our Prep Beat blog for updates on our locals teams and athletes next weekend.
If you’re still looking for something to do this coming weekend, you can also check out the annual Viking Cup soccer tournament in Poulsbo or stop by Legion Field in Bremerton to take in some of the Memorial Day American Legion baseball tournament.


Stark Truth: Five Thoughts

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

1) As much as I like what Willie Bloomquist brings to the table to for the Mariners, it was a bit of a headscratcher watching him stroll to the plate as a pinch-hitter for a middle-of-the-order hitter (DH Jeff Clement) with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning on Wednesday. The M’s had a runner on first and trailed 2-0. With Richie Sexson (family reasons) and Jose Vidro (back spasms) unavailable, it only shows how weak the M’s bench is. The M’s need a valuable utility player like Willie – but the Port Orchard native is not the guy you want to turn to in that situation.

2) I wonder if our Navy community will get out and support the Naval Academy in next week’s NCAA West Regional Golf Tournament at Gold Mountain Golf Club. The Mids, the Patriot League champs, earned an automatic berth and will be one of 27 teams participating. It’d be kind of cool to see a bunch of men and women in uniform following the Navy golfers around the course.

3) Is it just me, or is anyone else grossed out by the single sanican that fans have to use when they go to ballgames at Bremerton’s Legion Field? Isn’t it time for somebody to spearhead a drive to build a long-overdue concession stand/restroom facility for the Bremerton School District-owned park?

4) The Shaun Alexander Tour has begun. The free-agent runningback visted the Bengals on Sunday and Saints on Wednesday. The Broncos are also reportedly interested in talking with the former league MVP, who was released by the Seahawks last month. I don’t really understand why anybody would be interested in a 31-year-old coming off his two worst seasons. On top of that, he battled wrist and knee and ankle problems. If he’s healthy, maybe he returns to form? But at his age, that’s a big IF.

5) Reading about Betty Hyde’s impending retirement as superintendent of the Bremerton School District rekindled an old idea. I’m sure there’s a lot of reasons why this isn’t a good idea, but on the surface, it seems to me that the Central Kitsap and Bremerton schools should be combined into one school district. They do it in Vancouver, Tacoma, Seattle and other cities.
We can cut back some of the bureaucracy, and save the taxpayers some money. It would be interesting to know many kids with Bremerton addresses attend CK schools. We’d have four high schools – Bremerton, Central Kitsap, Olympic, Klahowya – and an opportunity to share facilities and other resources for citizens throughout the Bremerton/CK region. Just a thought. Anybody think it might be worth looking into?


It’s Time for M’s to Have Reed, Ichiro and Balentien in Outfield

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

If you think Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement are going to save the Mariners, then I’ve got some swampland in Illahee to sell you.
Like most of you, I like the moves. They should help the offensively challenged Mariners. But there’s still something missing from the team that’ supposed to challenge for the AL West title. It’s hard to put a finger on IT, but it’s like the team doesn’t really get after it. They hustle, but it’s like they go through the motions at times. That’s probably unfair, and it’s difficult to explain, but it’s what I see.

Oakland came into Safeco, young and energetic, and just looked hungier. Same thing with Baltimore, a team that wasn’t expected to anything. They have a new manager and a new attitude. There play loose and seem to be having fun. The M’s don’t have that same look.
The M’s have been running the same position players out on the field day after day and the results are predictable day after day. This is a team in dire need of a Jay Buhner-like personality.
Maybe the M’s will strike gold with Balentien. It likely won’t happen this year, but he could be a .300/30HR/100RBI/Gold Glove kind of outfielder down the road. Other than Richie Sexson, nobody on the current team will come close to hitting 30 home runs. Clement’s left-handed stroke is made for Safeco Field. They say he’s not a very good receiver behind the plate, but that was also the knock on Mike Piazza and he had a pretty decent career.
What do you think? Should they move Raul Ibanez from left field to first base? if so, who do they put in left?
Glad you asked. Jeremy Reed. Yeah, the forgotten man. He’s hitting .375 at Tacoma and was playing better than Balentien. He’s only 27. It’s time to give him another shot. When I talked to him this spring in Arizona, he was frustrated because he knew he wasn’t given a shot to make the big club, not with the team commiting to justt-released Brad Wilkerson.
At the same time, Reed said he’s ready to be an everyday player again. He said he was playing the best baseball of his career, and he’s carried it over to the start of the Triple-A season. This is a guy who’s not afraid to get dirty. It’s time the M’s went with Reed, Ichiro and Balentien in the outfield.
Ibanez becomes your starting first baseman and part-time DH. Sorry Jose Vidro. As much as I like you — ask my collegues, I always go to bat for you — it’ s time to go in a different direction.
And Richie Sexson? His average isn’t what it should be, but he’s playing a lot better. Maybe he splits time at first base with Raul, does a little DHing and pinch-hitting. Maybe you simply say, ‘Sayonara Richie, it’s been good to know ya.’
There are other questions to ponder?
Do you think rewarding catcher Kenji Johjima with a $24 million contract was smart, especially when yo consider that he was (and still is) mired in a Jeff Cirillo-like hitting slump? Some think Japanese ownership mandated that move.
Did GM Bill Bavasi give up too much for pitcher Erik Bedard? It’s still too early to say, but Adam Jones could be the AL rookie of the year and lefty George Sherrill is having an All-Star season to date for the Orioles?
Face it, this team has more questions than answers right now. Balentien and Clement might help fix some of the offensive problems. Calling Reed up should be the next move.
There’s an old line we used to use on umpires: “Hey, shake your head, your eyes are stuck.”
The M’s need to shake things up, too, because they’re stuck in a rut and going nowhere.


Available on Kindle