The Stark Truth

Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
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Archive for September, 2008

Pro Soccer: Name the Team Contest Announced

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
Got any ideas for a name for the new professional soccer team that’s coming to Bremerton? The United Soccer Leagues Professional Developmental League franchise, owned by Robin Waite, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2009. Here’s a press release the team sent out to area media today:
Bremerton, Wash. – Today, a new, professional soccer club is born in Kitsap County, Wash. Located primarily across Puget Sound from downtown Seattle, Kitsap is home to over 300,000 residents. The new franchise will be the first-ever, fully professional soccer team to call Kitsap its home – and most likely the first-ever fully professional sports franchise based on the peninsula itself.
 
“The franchise has been approved by the USL commissioner and we have secured a fantastic home at Bremerton HS Memorial Stadium. What we need now is for the people of Kitsap help us name our team,” said owner Robin Waite. “This is only the first step of many – team name, team colors, sponsors, suppliers… It’s a very long list – but this is indeed a very exciting time for all of us in Kitsap.”
 
To submit entries, please log on to www.kitsapsoccerclub.com now. The club will accept submissions until midnight Oct. 25, 2008.
 For additional information, please contact Ben Pecora, Kitsap Soccer Club, 360-377-6008.

 


Fire Willingham Right Now?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I’m not saying the Huskies should terminate their head football coach, but there’s a number of Washington fans calling for his ouster after an 0-4 start.

If the Huskies do fire Willingham, or if the embattled coach opts to step down, who becomes the interim coach?

Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell is the highest-paid assistant in Husky history, but at the rate the Dawgs are giving up yards and points, he seems an unlikely choice. Tim Lappano’s in his fourth season as offensive coordinator and has been an assistant head coach (1992-95 at Cal), but never a head man.

Chris Tormey, a popular assistant who worked under Don James, was head man at Idaho (1995-99) and Nevada (2000-03) and would seem to be the logical choice if you wanted somebody off the current staff. Tormey’s coaching linebackers and is also serving as the current recruiting coordinator, which might be the most important position on staff.

And one Husky booster tells me the name Lane Kiffin, currrent head coach of the Raiders, has been tossed around. ESPN reported that Kiffin has expressed interest in the UW job. And if you believe what you read, the former USC assistant will be available pretty soon because he’s headed toward the unemployment line.

It seems highly unlikely that you’d bring in a new coach at midseason, but these are dire times at Huskyville


All About Jake Locker, Ichiro, Paul Newman

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Three thoughts on three people:

1. Jake Locker.

The more you watch Jake Locker, the more you start to wonder if he shouldn’t be playing another position.

I started thinking about this before he broke his thumb in Saturday’s game against Stanford. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be a quarterback. While throwing on the run he’s still wound up tighter than a vice presidential candidate getting grilled by Katie Couric – ya gotta relax Jake – but I think he’ll figure it out.

Besides quarterback, maybe he should be starting at free safety? If there was ever a football team that needed to get its best athletes on the field, it’s the Washington Huskies. If there ever was a defensive team, that needed somebody to make a play or hit somebody, it’s the Washington Huskies. If there ever was a defense that needed a quality safety, it’s the (yeah, you’re right) Washington Huskies.

Unfortunately, Locker’s out with a thumb injury. Too bad, because he’d be a helluva two-platoon player. At the very least, the Huskies should consider putting him on defense on third down situations when he returns. Heck, he could even play in a cast.

Admittedly, it would be a bit out of the ordinary. Pretty soon, I’ll be calling for high school athletes to play a minimum of two sports and major league teams to have their pitchers throw every fourth day.

Come to think of it, maybe Locker should play baseball for Washington this spring (he does have a better professional future in that sport).

2. Ichiro Suzuki.

Thousands of baseball fans, young and old, can mimic Ichiro’s pre-swing pose.

Everybody knows about this hit-producing machine.

But nobody really knows him.

This week, the Seattle Times, citing “a clubhouse insider,” reported that a teammate threatened to knock Ichiro out. Jeff Baker, the reporter, stands by his source.

It’s created quite a season-ending storm for a team that’s been sailing in choppy waters all season.

Nobody faults Ichiro’s preparation or results. How could you after he’s put together eight straight 200-hit, 100-run seasons, matching a record held by Lou Gehrig. But he’s a singles hitter who happens to be a lousy baserunner who lays low in the clubhouse. No crime against that, but with the M’s facing a major rebuilding project, the debate is on: Trade Ichiro or keep him? What do you think? The face of the franchise is 34 years old. Would the M’s have lost more than 101 games or finished more than 39 games out of first place without him this season? We know he puts fannies in the seats, but what’s his on-field value to this team? What do you — the people who put their fannies in the seats — think?

3. Paul Newman.

In honor of the legendary actor who passed away over the weekend, I’m going to find time to re-watch one of the classic sports movies ever made – the hilarious “Slap Shot.” Newman, played the role of a carousing minor league hockey player-coach. Newman, who grew up playing hockey, said it was the most fun he had on a movie set. Trivia: What was the name of Newman’s character? First person to respond with the correct answer doesn’t win anything, but at least I’ll know somebody’s reading this stuff. Mom, you don’t count.

UPDATE:

We have a winner. It was e-mailed to my personal e-mail. Newman’s character was Reggie “Reg” Dunlop.


East High Hoops History

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Easthighknights.com.

Even an old West High guy has to admit that this is a very cool web site put together by former East High basketball players in honor of one of my favorites – the very witty, and likeable Hall of Fame coach Les Eathorne.

Rick Torseth, Kevin Olson and Bryan Garinger pulled the project off. They met with Eathorne off and on for the past year, picking the old coach’s brain and putting things down in writing and on video. Eathorne remains one of the best story tellers known to man.

East basketball was special part of the local sporting scene from 1956-78. The Knights’ back-to-back state championship teams (1973, ’74) put the school on the map.

If you were involved in East basketball in any way, have stories, pictures or videos to share, this is the place to do it.

The mission is simple: To give a history of East High basketball as told by Les Eathorne, his players, coaches and friends.


Yikes! Ichiro Haters in His Own Clubhouse

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

As if the Mariners didn’t have enough problems.

This, on the day after loss No. 100, from Part II in a series about rebuilding the Mariners written by Jeff Baker of the Seattle Times:

“And it was a clubhouse in need of some direction, given the problems engulfing it as the season came undone. When it came to Ichiro, who got too to a typically slow start in April and part of May, the internal turmoil nearly hit its boiling point. “I just can’t believe the number of guys who really dislike him,” said one clubhouse insider. “It got to the point early on when I thought they were going to get together and go after him.” The coaching staff and then-manager John McLaren intervened when one player was overheard talking – in reference to Ichiro – about wanting to “knock him out.” A team meeting was called to clear the air.”

Wow!

I happen to be in the camp among those who think Ichiro is overrated, but never imagined the quirky outfielder from Japan was so unpopular within his own clubhouse that players would want to “go after him.”

What’s your take on Ichiro? Should the M’s trade him, send him and his bat humidors to another team. Do you perceive him as a selfish player? Or is the criticism of Ichiro totally off base? If the M’s were winning, would Ichiro be looked at differently?

 

 

 

 

 


Fantasy Football: It Is Addicting

Sunday, September 21st, 2008


“We’re becoming a nation of fantasy football addicts. Whether this is a good thing or not is a topic for another time. I know only this: While the Summer Olympics were doing such gangbuster ratings for NBC in August, the most-searched term on ESPN.com for those two weeks wasn’t ‘Olympics’ or ‘Phelps’ or even ‘Sacramone.’ You know what it was? That’s right … ‘fantasy football.’ A few weeks later, the Eagles-Cowboys game (on Monday, Sept. 15) became the most-watched cable event of all time.”
 
Bill Simmons, ESPN.com 

 

 
Bill Simmons is right.
Fantasy football is addicting.
I hate it, but I play it.
I hate it mostly because you start pulling for individual players and the games become secondary.
Last week I jumped off the sofa when Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (my one legit fantasy star) took a lateral from teammate Anthony Gonzalez and made it to the end zone for a bizarre touchdown. Instant replay later overturned the TD because Wayne’s knee hit the turf at the one. I was sick.
It makes me sick I care so much that I couldn’t get those FLPs (Fantasy League Points).
And I’m not in a bunch of leagues like some FF addicts. Just one. It’s an eight-team league made up of co-workers or former co-workers at The Sun.
In the first couple years, I did zero homework. I went with my gut feeling during the drafts and had a set lineup. Somehow, I ended up with runningbacks Shawn Alexander and Edgerrin James a couple years ago. Ran the table one year. Didn’t lose a game — regular season or playoffs.
Did a lot of smack talking. It was fun.
It’s still fun, but now I find myself paying way too much time trying to decide on a starting lineup and wondering if I should pick up quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan because Mike Martz, the 49ers’ offensive coordinator, is going to turn him into the next Kurt Warner or Marc Bulger.
So I added O’Sully to my roster, but didn’t start him. I stuck with Big Ben Roethlisberger. He threw for a whopping 131 yards during a 15-6 loss to Philadelphia Sunday. No touchdown, one interception. Big Bruise (he was sacked eight times) scored three points for my fantasy team, the Illahee Idiots. O’Sully wasn’t great, but he did throw for 189 yards and two TDs with zero interceptions. Tack on 32 rushing yards and that’s 24 FLPs.
I gave Detroit rookie Kevin Smith his first start at running back (3 carries, 14 yards) and that move backfired, too. And I gambled at tight end, going with Denver’s Tony Scheffler instead of San Diego’s Antonio Gates (nobody said the Idiots were well coached). Scheffler, who had two TD catches last week, caught four balls for 32 yards. No TDs.
My Idiots are off to an 0-3 start and came close to setting a league record for lowest score this week.
I hate Fantasy Football, yet I’ve already spent way too much time on my computer today, checking out the stats of players who might be available, concocting possible trades and wondering if Marshawn Lynch will ever rush for 100 yards.
And as much as I hate it, even this middle-aged (I think I’m still in that category) greyhair knows that it’s relevant. Fantasy Football, like it or not, has become a big deal. Bigger than I ever imagined. It’s big business.
Bill Simmons has got it right. We’ve become a nation of Fantasy Addicts.
Simmons has been involved in this phenomena since 1990. You can read more about his interesting, and entertaining, take on FF here. He writes that the Eagles-Cowboys game mentioned in the quote at the top of this post could go down in history as the greatest fantasy game of all time.
Simmons also writes: “Miss out on fantasy, and you miss out on the draft, biting e-mails, jokes, barbs, funny team names, inane arguments, idiotic trade offers and everything else. In some cases (like with me and my East Coast friends, who have something like 58 kids among us), the draft is the only day of the year when you’re in touch with friends who were once essential parts of your day-to-day life.”

Stark Truth: Five Things

Friday, September 19th, 2008

1. Paul Ramsdell, club manager at Kitsap Golf & Country Club, tells me that Conner Robbins recently shot a 59 at the club. The club is playing to a par-68 because of an ongoing Chico Creek project, but a 59 on that course, no matter how it’s playing, is impressive. And Robbins apparently missed a short putt on No. 18, or it would have been a 58.

Robbins, the former Central Kitsap and University of Washington golfer, played the Canadian Pro Tour this summer and will play in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament next month.

2. Clarence Trent, who verbally committed to the University of Washington earlier this week, played perhaps the most dominating half of basketball I’ve even seen during a state tournament as a sophomore at Gig Harbor. This is what I wrote that day:

“Fair or not, he’s already drawing comparisons to former Bremerton High star Marvin Williams, currently a rookie with the Atlanta Hawks.

“If you watched his first-half performance yesterday, you know why. Trent had 14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in 14 minutes that had to have every college coach in the building drooling. He threw down monster dunks, hit back-to-back 3-pointers and seemed to be everywhere — no, he was everywhere — while leading the young Tides to a 71-58 upset of Inglemoor.”

Trent was as big then (6-7, 230) as he is now. He never quite lived up to the Marvin comparisons his junior year, and he left for Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., last year. Now 19, he’s in his second year at Findlay Prep.

I think Trent, who originally fine-tuned his game with Bremerton-based Total Package, could be a defensive force for the Huskies and will likely contribute right away.

3. Speaking of Marvin Williams, he was knocking down jump shots at the Kitsap Family YMCA Thursday night.

Marvin, his brothers and buddies later hooked up in a little 5-on-5 action. You gotta like that. When the former Bremerton star returns home, the NBA forward is just one of the guys. There’s nothing pretentious about him. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft doesn’t big-time anybody.

A lot of people, including Atlanta Hawks teammate Josh Smith, think Marvin’s going to bust out this season.

“People know him as a mid-range jump shooter but he’s added more to his game,” Smith told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s got counter moves and being able to get to the hole and he’s even doing moves in the post that I haven’t seen him to before. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”

4. Baseball fans will get a chance to watch South Kitsap grad Aaron Cunningham on television this weekend. Cunningham’s a rookie outfielder who is hitting .305 with a home run and 12 RBI since being promoted to the Oakland Athletics. The A’s are hosting the Mariners tonight (7:05), Saturday (1:05, no TV) and Sunday (1:05, FSN). You can watch Cunningham in person next weekend when the A’s visit Safeco for a season-ending three-game set.

5. Bremerton’s Bree Schaaf, the former U.S. skeleton team member, ditched her sled for a bigger ride last season. It’s called a bobsled and Schaaf is hopeful she can make the U.S. World Cup team this season, which would be huge with the 2010 Winter Olympics around the corner.

The former Olympic High and Portland State athlete was home this week and leaves for Lake Placid, N.Y. on Tuesday for team trials. I talked to Bree today and will write a story for our print editions next week.

Bree said her older brother, Tim, another ex-Olympic High athlete, plans to give the skeleton another shot this year. He showed a lot of promise before, but was waylaid by injuries.


Stark Truth: Cunningham’s First Bomb Wins Game for A’s

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

UPDATE

Aaron Cunningham was 2-for-4 with a double Tuesday against Anaheim, raising his average to .320.

In case you missed it South Kitsap grad Aaron Cunningham hit his first major league home run on Sunday, a 3-run shot that broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Oakland Athletics a 7-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

Cunningham’s started 12 of 14 games and is hitting .304 with 10 RBI. The A’s like what they’ve seen of him the past two weeks. Check out Sunday’s game story from the Marin Independent-Journal in California.


Sounds like Pro Soccer’s Coming to Bremerton

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

UPDATE: You can read an updated version of this story here.

THIS WAS THE EARLY VERSION:

It’s not a done deal, but it finally looks Robin Waite of Tracyton is going to bring professional soccer to Kitsap County.

Efforts to bring the United Soccer Leagues Division I team now called the Sounders to this side of the water didn’t work out, but Waite’s confident he’ll have a USL Premier Development League franchise operating at Bremerton Memorial Stadium by May of 2009. A public meeting was held last Thursday, and there wasn’t any opposition.

Waite and the Bremerton School District are working on a lease agreement. Waite has promised to replace the existing scoreboard and says he’ll add a video screen later.

I’ve got calls into the school district and USL and hope to have a story ready for our print editions on Wednesday.

If you want more information about the USL and PDL specifically, check out the league’s website here.


Report: Bloomquist Wanted to Be Activated

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune, a veteran reporter who covers the Mariners, said Willie Bloomquist asked the M’s to take him off the 15-day disabled list for the final two weeks of the regular season, but the Mariners declined. Bloomquist has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.

LaRue wrote on his blog that it’s too bad that the Port Orchard native, who might have played his final game for the Mariners, won’t be around on the final day of the season to at least say good-bye to Safeco Field.

You can read LaRue’s blog item here. He’s got some kind things to say about the South Kitsap grad. I’ve been on his bandwagon for a long time, and it’s not a provincial thing. I just like the way he plays the game. When he gets the opportunity to get consistent at bats he produces. I’ve compared him to former World Series MVP David Eckstein in the past, only Willie’s more athletic with a stronger arm. Willie’s never, however, had the luxury of being in a lineup like the one the Angels (and later Cardinals) surrounded Eckstein with.

For what it’s worth, if Jim Riggleman is retained as manager, then I think Willie would be willing to stay in Seattle as long as he’s happy with the contract. Riggleman, a no-nonsense guy, seemed to appreciate the value of the utility player and was playing him regularly until the hamstring injury.

What’s Willie’s value? Well, he made $1 million this season. Considering his body of work, it’s not unreasonable to think that he could command something in the $2.5 million range, especially from a National League team.


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