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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 April, 2010

Figgins’ Slow Start Must Be Maddening for M’s

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

The signing of Chone Figgins during the offseason was considered by most to be a major coup for the Mariners.

Not only did it supposedly weaken the AL West-rival Angels, but it gave the Mariners a speedy top-of-the-0rder type hitter to go along with Ichiro Suzuki that would surely result in more run production for a team badly in need of it.

Well, the move hasn’t exactly worked out. Twenty-one games into the season, it’s bringing back memories of Jeff Cirillo, the third baseman who hit .245 and .209 in his two years with the M’s.

Granted, Figgins isn’t the only player slumping for the M’s. Franklin Gutierrez (.367 average with a .964 on-base-plus-slugging percentage) and Ichiro Suzuki (.314 average, .366 on-base percentage) are the only hitters producing.

You can’t really be that surprised by the anemic numbers put up by designated good guys Ken Griffey Jr. (.226) and Mike Sweeney (.158). If they get hot, it’s a bonus.

I don’t think anybody was counting on Adam Moore (.207) and Rob Johnson (.167) to produce much either. If they hit .250, everybody will be happy.

Milton Bradley (.204) and Jose Lopez (.238) aren’t tearing it up either, but they’ve shown signs of breaking out.

But what about Figgins? The M’s signed him to a four-year, $36 million contract? That’s a lot of dough for a small-ball player who’s only made one All-Star team (he was a late addition in 2009) and is 32 years old.

He’s currently in an 0-for-16 slump and is batting .183.  He has walked 16 times, which is tied for fourth in the AL. But what’s alarming is that he’s struck out 23 times. Only eight players in the majors have whiffed more to date. If you’re a power hitter, the strikeouts are tolerable. If you’re 5-foot-9 and your game is all about getting on base, then you need to put the ball in play.

Based on his career stats, Figgins’ start is an aberration. When the M’s signed him, the they thought they were going to be able to drive opponents crazy with Ichiro and Figgins a the top of the order. But if he doesn’t snap out of this slump pretty soon, manager Don Wakamatsu should drop him to the No. 9 hole in the lineup.

Hey, at least Figgins and Ichiro would still be batting back-to-back.


UW’s Emmert Leaving for NCAA; Friday Night Lights for Huskies

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

There’s been a lot of news coming out of Montlake lately.

Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar’s signed a 10-year contract extension last week, and now it looks like he’s about to land Terrance Ross, a highly-touted prospect out of Portland. That could mean Terrancec Jones will join Ross in signing with the Huskies. Stay tuned.

Washington announced Monday that it’s moving its home football game against UCLA to Thursday, Nov. 18. Can you name the last three football games Washington played that were not on a Saturday. Answer below.

Now comes the news that UW president Mark Emmert is leaving his post to become the president of the NCAA. Emmert brought current athletic director Scott Woodward with him from LSU. Woodward hired Steve Sarkisian and locked up Romar.

Emmert arrived six years ago when the UW athletic department was hitting rock bottom, and he deserves some credit for cleaning up the mess that Barbara Hedges left.

Sarkisian’s in his second-year of trying to clean up the football mess. His squad, which has high expectations this fall, will be on display Friday night at Husky Stadium. It’s time for the annual spring game.

To get you in the mood, here’s some Jake Locker highlights. No surprise, but  Locker’s the No. 1-rated prospect in this look at the 2011 NFL Draft.

Here’s the UW’s roster.

And here’s some fan information about the spring game, courtesy of the UW Sports Information Department:

Time:  6:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium
Admission:  Free (UW Student-athletes will be accepting donations for local middle school PE programs)
Parking:  $7 in E-1 (recommended).  $15 in E-12 (will fill up early)

Select-A-Seat:  Begins at 5 p.m. in East end of the field. All available season ticket seating locations will be tagged and ready for purchase.

Kids Zone:  Begins at 5:30 p.m. on East Practice Field.
Live Coverage:  TV – None.  Radio – 950 KJR AM.  Internet – Video & Gametracker on GoHuskies.com
Delayed Coverage:  TV – UWTV & FSN Northwest (schedule on GoHuskies.com)
Concessions:  Limited number of concessions stands will be open.  Regular menu.

Washington’s non-Saturday appearances (since 1960)

»  Friday, Aug 31, 2007 at Syracuse – ESPN

» Sunday, Sept. 5, 2004 vs. Fresno State – FSN

»  Thursday, Sept. 9, 1999 at BYU – ESPN


Head Scratchers: About Lions Park, Turf Fields, Marvin and the Thunder

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Some things that make me shake my head and wonder whatinthehell’s going on:

  • Have you been by Lion’s Park lately? It’s all torn up. Where’s Field #3? What a great field for women’s fastpitch and youth baseball. Now, it’s gone. Lions Park seemed pretty good to me the way it was. I’m not sure the city can justify, in my mind, spending whatever money they’re doing to make whatever improvements they’re making at the waterfront park in east Bremerton. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for parks and green space. But Lions Park, like I said, seemed just fine the way it was. It has a boat launch, softball fields, picnic areas, a path for walkers and playground equipment.
  • Hopefully, our parks and school leaders will have enough vision in the future to put field turf, or some sort of artificial turf, on the infields on our baseball and softball fields. Hey, folks, in case you didn’t notice, it rains a lot in this area. They’ll pay for themselves over time. Over and over again. Imagine how many games you could play at Legion Field and on the main baseball field at the Fairgrounds if they were turfed.
  • Speaking of turf, how is it possible that South Kitsap doesn’t have a turfed field at Joe Knowles Stadium at the high school? How many years will it take? That said, there’s currently a group in the South Kitsap community looking into re-doing the field. Let’s hope they put the wheels in motion and get something done. Bainbridge, North Kitsap and Central Kitsap all play football and soccer on turf fields. The kids in Port Orchard deserve a new field, too.
  • Marvin Williams’ haters are having a field day in Atlanta. Check out some of these comments on this Atlanta Journal Constitution blog by Mark Bradley. One guy even blamed the Hawks’ playoff woes on the “curse of Marvin.” Wonder what the tone will be if Marvin and the Hawks bounce back and beat Milwaukee and make a deep run in the Eastern Conference finals? It could happen, ya know. The Hawks are deep and, by know, I think everybody’s figured out that Marvin’s never going to be a 20 ppg scorer in the NBA, but there’s still room for good guys with his size and all-around skills.
  • A couple years ago, it was cool to be a Thunder hater. Afterall, owner Clay Bennett took our Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. Admittedly, I paid little attention to the Thunder, or NBA for that matter. But now you can’t help but wonder what things would be like if the Sonics hadn’t left town, as this SportingBlog points out.  They lost 62 games in their final year in Seattle, but they”re the hottest story in the game right now after taking two straight from the Lakers. Now, I find myself pulling for the Sonics, er, Thunder. That Kevin Durant kid turned out to be pretty good, huh? And Sam Presti, the young GM, seems to be doing OK, too. So I’m a little confused about my feelings. There’s a part of me that wants to turn the TV off when the Thunder play, but they’re so darn much fun to watch, I can’t do it.

Five Things About Things You Might Not Have Heard About

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

* When former “Tonight” show host Conan O’Brien brought his live comedy show to Spokane’s INB Center last Friday, he knew how to appeal to the local audience: He wore the No. 32 Gonzaga basketball jersey of former Bainbridge High School star Steven Gray.
Obviously, O’Brien knew about Spokane’s love affair with Gonzaga basketball. He wondered aloud about the “Zags” nickname, however.
“Why don’t they call them the Gons?” O’Brien asked the crowd. “Who got to decide?”

* Olympic College athletic director Barry Janusch is expected to announce the new men’s basketball coach next week. If the name sounds familiar, don’t be surprised.

* Heard of the PoSox? It’s a Port Orchard-based boys 13 Sandy Koufax baseball team coached by Eric Canton, Mark Knowles and Daryl Matheny. The PoSox (Port Orchard Sox) is a takeoff of the ChiSox (Chicago White Sox). The kids wear replica uniforms of the old White Sox, complete with old-style hats.  I’m going to try and catch one of their home games at Pendergast Park.

* My curiosity got the best of me last week. I decided to take in the flat-track roller derby show at the Kitsap Sun Pavilion on Sunday, April 18. The Rat City All-Stars took on the Charm City Rollergirls from Baltimore, Md. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was entertaining for a while. Never made it to the beer garden, which could have made the show more entertaining. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend it, but I don’t know if I’d go back for more. The male cheerleaders were a kick, some of the nicknames were funny and it got physical at times, but not as physical as I thought it might be. I lasted about 30 mintues.  I think Rat City was up 29-5 when I left. They ended up winning 145-103.

* Did you know that Young Hector (alias was Hector H. Conrow) was a Bremerton heavyweight boxer in the early 1900s? Young Hector was 3-0 when he took on a guy named Jack Dempsey Sept. 28, 1916 at Murray, Utah. Dempsey KO’d Hector. Dempsey, who would go on to win the world championship  beat him again two months later (11-28-1916) in Salida, Colo. Young Hector’s last fight was Aug, 8, 1922 at the Elk’s Club in Bremerton. He fought Willie Keeler for the Pacific Heavyweight Championship.  Hector won on points and retired with a 17-10-4 record.


Seahawks 2010 Schedule Has No Prime Time Games — Again

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

The Seattle Seahawks 2010 schedule was announced and there’s no Monday Night or Thursday night games. It’s the second straight year the Hawks has not had a nationally-televised game. It’ s hardly a surprised. Seattle’s hardly been a prime time kind of team the past couple of seasons.

Planning a road trip? It’d be a gas to watch the Hawks take on the Saints in New Orleans on Nov. 21. That would be my pick if I wanted to visit one city and go to an away game.

Here’s the full schedule.
2010 Seattle Seahawks Schedule

Preseason

Day                Date                  Opponent                                  Time (PT)           TV

Saturday        Aug. 14             Tennessee Titans                           7:00 p.m.              KING 5

Saturday        Aug. 21             Green Bay Packers                       7:00 p.m.              KING 5

Saturday        Aug. 28             at Minnesota Vikings                     5:00 p.m.              KING 5

Thursday        Sept. 2              at Oakland Raiders                       7:00 p.m.              KING 5

Regular Season

Day                Date                  Opponent                                  Time (PT)           TV

Sunday          Sept. 12            San Francisco 49ers                      1:15 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Sept. 19            at Denver Broncos                        1:05 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Sept. 26            San Diego Chargers                      1:15 p.m.              CBS

Sunday          Oct. 3                at St. Louis Rams                         10:00 a.m.            FOX

Sunday          Oct. 10              Bye Week

Sunday          Oct. 17              at Chicago Bears                          10:00 a.m.            FOX

Sunday          Oct. 24              Arizona Cardinals                         1:05 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Oct. 31              at Oakland Raiders                       1:15 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Nov. 7               N.Y. Giants                                  1:05 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Nov. 14             at Arizona Cardinals                     1:15 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Nov. 21             at New Orleans Saints                  1:05 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Nov. 28             Kansas City Chiefs                       1:05 p.m.              CBS

Sunday          Dec. 5               Carolina Panthers                          1:15 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Dec. 12             at San Francisco 49ers                  1:05 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Dec. 19             Atlanta Falcons                             1:05 p.m.              FOX

Sunday          Dec. 26             at Tampa Bay Buccaneers             10:00 a.m.            FOX

Sunday          Jan. 2, 2011      St. Louis Rams                              1:15 p.m.              FOX


Video of Villopoto’s Crash in St. Louis

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

We’d planned on talking to supercross rider Ryan Villopoto this week. But it looks like the season might have ended for the Poulsbo dirt-bike rider, who suffered what’s been reported as a broken leg in this crash Saturday night at St. Louis:

Villopoto was leading the race at the time. Villopoto and Ryan Dungey collided earlier in the race. Villopoto won his first main event Supercross race in teh 450cc class at Seattle a year ago. Another victory at Qwest Field might have been  enough to propel him into the series lead. Now, if the reports about Villopoto’s injury are accurate, Dungey’s all but wrapped up the title. He increased his points lead from 12 to 36 with three races left.


With the 31st Pick, the Indianapolis Colts Take … Jake Locker

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Tired of the glut of pre-draft stories?

Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports has some fun with his Ultimate Mock Draft VI. Current NFL players are eligible for his creative draft.

For instance, the St. Louis Rams, with the first pick, take … quarterback Peyton Manning.

Silver has the Detroit Lions tabbing QB Tom Brady with the second pick and cornerback Darrelle Revis going to Tampa Bay with the third pick.

So, you get the idea of how this works.

I found it interesting that Silver has the Indianapolis Colts using the 31st pick on Washington QB Jake Locker. Silver wrote:

“If you’re one of those people who’s dismissive of Pac-10 football and hasn’t seen the Washington senior-to-be play, you have no idea why I’m putting him in this draft. But a year from now – trust me – you will. For one thing, he makes Tim Tebow look like a dude in concrete cleats, and he’s playing for a coach who’ll actually prepare him to run a pro-style offense. Bill Polian knows what I mean, and besides, the Rams stole his franchise quarterback 30 picks ago.”

Some think Locker would have been the top quarterback available this year if he’d opted make himself eligible for the draft following his junior year. When all of the so-called draft experts were touting Locker, they were also knocking the other quarterbacks available this year.

Here’s what they were saying about Sam Bradford in November::  Too many questions, including arm strength, durability and an ability to transition into a pro-style offense. Now most people are projecting the Rams to make him  the No. 1 overall pick. He’s been compared to former Dallas star Troy Aikman.

Here’s what they were saying about Jimmy Clausen: Outside of Locker, most agreed he had the biggest upside because the system at Notre Dame prepared him for the NFL. But they questioned his leadership and poor decision making at times. Now, he’s suddenly the Browns’ QB of the future. A lot of people think Mike Holmgren’s going to use the No. 7 overall pick on Clausen. And the Bills, who pick at No. 9, are reportedly interested in Clausen, too.

Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy are the other big-name quarterbacks available. Neither has ever been projected to be a first-round pick. Tebow’s likely to last until the third round, maybe longer, and McCoy is projected to go in fourth round, if you want to gamble on a Kyle Orton-type player.

Depending on what you’re reading, Tony Pike, a 6-foot-6 gunslinger from Cincinnati, projects higher than Tebow and McCoy.

As for Locker, he’d look pretty good in a Seahawks uniform.With all of the holes the Seahawks have right now, it seems possible that the Pete Carroll’s Hawks might be in a position to have that No. 1 overall pick in 2011.

The Seahawks needs? Let’s start with the offensive line, then there’s wide receiver, running back, safety, defensive line. If they keep their picks (No. 6 and No. 14 overall), I say they pick offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga from Iowa and Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant. Remember, this is clearly an uneducated guess.

You want an educated guess? Check out Eric Williams’ Mock Draft here. E-Dub’s a former Sun Staffer who covers the Seahawk for the Tacoma News Tribune.

A couple more links on Locker:

His Heisman campaign is about to begin, writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

The Seattle P-I wonders if Locker can win the Heisman.


Five Things

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

* Brent Stenman’s in Reno for a regional Babe Ruth meeting and he’s reported that Robert Faherty, the Babe Ruth commissioner who visited Kitsap earlier this week, had some good things to say about North Kitsap’s bid to bring the 2012 World Series for 13-year-olds to the Fairgrounds.

Stenman said Babe Ruth CEO Steve Tellefson congratulated him for the excellent impression the local folks made on Faherty. And Faherty said the group was close to being awarded a World Series.

“It sure seems to be looking good,” Stenman wrote in an e-mail.

* Bree Schaaf’s heading to the other Washington next week. The Bremerton bobsledder and other U.S. Olympians will be feted by the White House and others on Capitol Hill during a three-day visit (April 20-22). Schaaf doesn’t have an itinerary yet, but is pretty sure the  bobsled team is going to the Baltimore Ravens headquarters. Coach John Harbaugh and an assistant came out to Park City, Utah, and spoke at our congratulatory Olympic Team dinner prior to going to Vancouver for the Games.

* June 17. Mark the date on your calendar. That’s the night of the Kitsap County Sports Banquet, which will honor the area’s top male and female athletes from our high school area and Olympic College. Top coaches will also be recognized. The event will be at the Kitsap Golf & Country Club and there will be a new format. It’ll be announced shortly. Bree Schaaf’s tentatively scheduled to be the featured speaker.

* Randy Johnson, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Monday at Safeco Field, was asked about the 1998 season when he was locked in a contract dispute with the Mariners. Fans accused him of not giving his best effort. He was 9-10 with a 4.33 ERA in Seattle, and after being traded to Houston, he was 10-1 with a 1.28 over the final two months of the season.
“Admittedly, the six inches between my ears were a little clouded in ’98,” he said. “Being in trade talk and all that was a major distraction.”

Johnson said it was simply a “business,” deal. He was 35 and had no idea that there would such a market for him at that age. Of course, Johnnson went on to pitch another 10 years. He reached 300 wins and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

* Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto is on a roll. He’s won seven main events on the Supercross circuit, and the Kawasaki rider has closed within 12 points of Ryan Dungey for the overall points lead with four races left. Villopoto will be in Seattle next week, trying to defend his title at Qwest Field.

* Just came across a 1989 edition of the Kitsap Sun, which included a feature on Bremerton High basketball coach Casey Lindberg, then a senior with a picture-perfect jump shot. His coach at the time, Larry Gallagher, told him: “If you were 6-2 or 6-3, you could write your ticket anywhere.” Lindberg was 5-9. Les Eathorne, his stepdad, was quoted in the story: “We don’t care about him being All-American. We just want him to be all-Bremerton, just be as good as you can be.”

* Bob Kelly’s back at the Kitsap Gofl & Country Club, working as an instructor. Stop by and say hello. He’s one of the good guys in golf. Kelly was the club pro at KG&CC years ago. His sons, Ryan and Troy, are probably the top two golfers the area has produced in the last 20 years. Troy Kelly is aching to get back on tour. He lost his PGA Tour card and has been waiting to get fulltime status on the Nationwide Tour.

Update on Troy Kelly. He’s playing in this week’s Fresh Classic in the Bay Area. He shot a 2-over 72 on Thursday. It was an up-and-down round with three birdies, an eagle and a bogey on the front side (32) and two double bogeys, two bogeys and a birdie on the back (40).


How ‘Bout Those Pumas?

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

I wasn’t able to make it to Saturday’s friendly at Bremerton Memorial Stadium,  but the Kitsap Pumas’ 3-2 win over the Portland Timbers seemed pretty significant to me. This is the same Timbers’ side that beat the Seattle Sounders 1-0 and tied the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 earlier. The Timbers also beat the Vacnouver Whitecaps 2-0.

The Whitecaps, like the Timbers, will be joining the Sounders in Major League Soccer in 2011.

So you’ve got to tip your cap to the Pumas, a USL Premier Development club that’s making significant strides in its second season. They’ll be in action again Saturday at Bainbridge High, taking on Gonzaga University in another friendly at 1 p.m.

There’s people out there who know soccer a lot better than I do. I’d be interesting in hearing your thoughts on Kitsap’s second-year pro team. How much better are they than a year ago?

And while I’m at it, here’s a story on “footballer” David Gray, a Kitsap midfielder from Scotland who hasn’t arrived yet. The story in the East Kilbridge News points out that the Pumas play their home matches “in the village of Bremerton.”

Gray, a promising 21-year-old who’s looking forward to coming to the state, said: “The team plays at the local college stadium, which is well taken care of, but they have big plans to build a stadium and training facilities in the coming years so that excites me.

“They are a small club that are going to get bigger in years to come. They are based in a really nice small town with a lot crammed into a small place. …”


M’s Have MLB’s Ninth-Highest Payroll

Monday, April 5th, 2010

The Associated Press released its annual list of team and player salaries on Monday. The Seattle Mariners rank ninth in payroll ($98,376,667). It’s interesting to note that Minnesota, always a small-market team, has the 11th-highest payroll. That’s what a new stadium will do for a payoff. Note: The M’s were 10th a year ago at $98,904, 164, so they’ve trimmed a little over half a million while still adding players like Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley. That’s pretty good work by the front office.

The M’s players’ salaries are also listed below.

An interesting fact: A total of 433 players on MLB rosters make $1 million or more. I’ve listed the $20 million-plus club below.

Where do you think Willie Bloomquist ranks? The Port Orchard native is 359th, taking home $1.7 million this season with the Kansas City Royals.

Here’s a link that’ll get you salaries for ever club.

2010 Payrolls
By Team

Payrolls and average salaries for the opening day rosters of the 30 major league teams. Figures were obtained by The Associated Press from management and player sources and include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses. In some cases, parts of salaries deferred without interest are discounted to reflect present-day values.

Team    Payroll    Average
N.Y. Yankees    $206,333,389    $8,253,336
Boston    162,747,333    5,611,977
Chicago Cubs    146,859,000    5,439,222
Philadelphia    141,927,381    5,068,835
New York Mets    132,701,445    5,103,902
Detroit    122,864,929    4,550,553
Chicago White Sox    108,273,197    4,164,354
Los Angeles Angels    105,013,667    3,621,161
Seattle    98,376,667    3,513,452
San Francisco    97,828,833    3,493,887
Minnesota    97,559,167    3,484,256
Los Angeles Dodgers    94,945,517    3,651,751
St. Louis    93,540,753    3,741,630
Houston    92,355,500    3,298,411
Atlanta    84,423,667    3,126,802
Colorado    84,227,000    2,904,379
Baltimore    81,612,500    3,138,942
Milwaukee    81,108,279    2,796,837
Cincinnati    72,386,544    2,784,098
Kansas City    72,267,710    2,491,990
Tampa Bay    71,923,471    2,663,832
Toronto    62,689,357    2,089,645
Washington    61,425,000    2,047,500
Cleveland    61,203,967    2,110,482
Arizona    60,718,167    2,335,314
Florida    55,641,500    2,060,796
Texas    55,250,545    1,905,191
Oakland    51,654,900    1,666,287
San Diego    37,799,300    1,453,819
Pittsburgh    34,943,000    1,294,185

Seattle Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki    $18,000,000
Eric Byrnes    11,666,667
Milton Bradley    11,000,000
dl-Cliff Lee    9,000,000
Chone Figgins    8,500,000
Felix Hernandez    7,200,000
Jack Wilson    5,600,000
Ian Snell    4,450,000
Casey Kotchman    3,517,500
Jose Lopez    3,000,000
David Aardsma    2,750,000
Ken Griffey Jr.    2,350,000
Franklin Gutierrez    2,312,500
dl-Erik Bedard    1,500,000
Mark Lowe    1,150,000
Brandon League    1,087,500
Mike Sweeney    650,000
Ryan Langerhans    525,000
Ryan Rowland-Smith    440,000
dl-Jack Hannahan    416,500
Sean White    415,000
Rob Johnson    412,500
Shawn Kelley    412,500
Jason Vargas    412,500
Doug Fister    406,500
Adam Moore    401,000
Matt Tuiasosopo    401,000
Kanekoa Texeira    400,000

Millionaires, List—Top 6
Player, Club    Salary

1, Alex Rodriguez, NYY    $33,000,000
2, CC Sabathia, NYY    24,285,714
3, Derek Jeter, NYY    22,600,000
4, Mark Teixeira, NYY    20,625,000
5, Johan Santana, NYM    20,144,708
6, Miguel Cabrera, Det    20,000,000


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