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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 May, 2010

Willie B. a Bobsledder?; Jordan’s Statue Looking Hawkish

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

–Move over Bree Schaaf, Port Orchard major leaguer Willie Bloomquist is talking about giving the bobsled a shot after his playing days are over. Here’s Bob Dutton’s story in the Kansas City Star. KC catcher Jason Kendell says he’ll be the brakeman for Willie. Schaaf, of course, is the Bremerton Olympian who placed fifth at the Vancouver Winter Games in February.

–And in case you missed it, here’s a diving catch Bloomquist made on May 25 against the Rangers. And he threw out a guy at home in the same game. Watch it here.

Michael Jordan’s statue outside the United Center in Chicago looked a little different when fans showed up for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday.

–Two of five Golfweek.com writers predict Washington will win the NCAA championship, which begins Tuesday in Chattanooga, Tenn.  The top eight of 30 teams after stroke-play qualifying advance to a match-play format.

–Remember Eric Byrnes? The M’s let the veteran outfielder go earlier this year and it didn’t take him long to get back on the field. He’s playing slowpitch softball and digging it. His team recently turned a triple play. Read this story by Gregg Doyle of CBSsportsline.com.


Steven Gray Blogs From Africa

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Bainbridge High grad Steven Gray has been part of a group of students and faculty from Gonzaga who have been in Africa this month. The Gonzaga basketball star recently posted this compelling blog about what he’s learned during his time in Zambezi, Zambia. “When I am able to take a step back and look at the generosity people show and sacrifices they make, it seems and sounds so simple, and yet proves so hard to do,” Gray writes. “All they have done is love us, they have shown me how love can make your life so fulfilling, their love has been felt at our core.”


The All Ex-Mariners Team Headed by Beltre, Thornton, Soriano, Franklin …

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

With the Mariners struggling like they have for the first two months of the season, it’s time to look around and see what the ex-Mariners are doing.

By and large, they aren’t doing all that well, particularly the position players. Unless I’ve overlooked somebody, Adrian Beltre’s the only one having an All-Star type season.

There are some relief pitchers, however, the M’s probably wished they’d hung on to, particularly Matt Thornton of the White Sox, Rafael Soriano, now with the Rays, and Ryan Franklin of the Cardinals.

Here’s my all ex-Mariners team, based on their play this season. If I missed anybody, let me know:

Catcher: Not a particularly deep position. Jamie Burke, where are you? Yorbit Torrealba (.271 through 25 games), who played the last half of the 2005 season is Seattle, is splitting time in San Diego. He remains one of the best defensive catchers in the game. Jason Varitek (.273, 6 HR in just 55 at bats) has been relegated to backup duty in Boston. I know, I know. Varitek never played a game with the M’s, but he was a first-round pick who played in Seattle’s minor-league system. And I couldn’t find another ex-Mariner catcher on a roster.

First base: Russell Branyan was in Seattle just for 2009, and the M’s opted not to go after him when he became a free agent. Probably a good decision. He’s hitting .235 (4 HR, 11 RBI in just 85 at bats) since coming back from a back injury.

Second base: Couldn’t find a regular, so I’m putting Ronny Cedeno, starting at shortstop for the Pirates (.252, 4 HR, 13 RBI), here. Cedeno was with the M’s for part of the 2009 campaign.

Shortstop: The much-maligned Yunieski Betancourt (.280, 3 HR, 16 RBI and, hey, only 16 strikeouts so far) gets the nod over Detroit’s Ramon Santiago (.260, 25 games).

Third base: Adrian Beltre, one of my all-time favorite Mariners, is having an outstanding season for Boston. He has five HRs and 33 RBI to go with that .341 average and slick glove-work at third.

Outfield: The M’s might have given up on Shin-Soo Choo too soon, trading him to the Indians for Ben Broussard in July of 2006.  He’s been pretty productive for the Indians, and is hitting .302 with 7 HRs and 25 RBI. He could have been the M’s starting left-fielder the past three years. Raul Ibanez of the Phillies (.250, 3 HR, 20 RBI) is off to a slow start, but he can turn it on anytime. Jose Guillen (.266, 11 HR, 32 RBI) is stroking it for the Royals. Adam Jones of Baltimore (.255, 5 HR, 15 RBI) still hasn’t lived up to the hype, so he’s a backup along with Scott Podsednik (.293, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 14 SB) on this team.

DH: Guillen or Ibanez could fill this spot, or veteran switch-hitter Carlos Guillen, the former Seattle shortstop with the Tigers (.311, 1 HR, 8 RBI).

Utility: Infilder/outfielder Willie Bloomquist is hitting .192 with four SB, but, once again, the Port Orchard native is producing when he gets some at bats. After not playing for what seemed like a month, he’s 5-for-12 in his last four games.

Starting Pitchers

Jamie Moyer, Phillies: The one-time Ancient Mariner, now 47, is 5-4 with a 4.55 ERA, averaging better than six innings per start. Could he still be pitching when he’s 50?

Freddy Garcia, White Sox: The Chief is 3-3 with a 5.68 ERA in eight starts.

Carlos Silva, Cubs: One of the worst signs the M’s ever made is 6-0 with a 3.52 ERA, but he’s benefited from a ton of run support. We’ll see if he can keep it up.

Joel Piniero, Angels: He’s pitched better than his record (3-5, 4.95 ERA) indicates.

Fifth starter: You could throw in struggling Gil Meche of the Royals (0-4, 6.66 ERA) or R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballer with the Mets (1-0 in two starts) who’s still bouncing around.

UPDATE: I overlooked Derek Lowe of the Braves (6-4, 5.50 ERA), who would certainly be part of the starting rotation.
Relief Pitchers

Matt Thornton, White Sox: 2-2, 1.89 ERA in 19 games. He’s been, perhaps, the premier setup lefty in the game. In 19 innings, he’s struck out 28 and allowed just nine hits.

J.J. Putz, White Sox: Putz is having a nice comeback year. Not a closer any more, he’s 0-2 with a 3.68 ERA. In 15 games and 14.2 innings, he has struck out 18 and walked just three.

Ryan Franklin, Cardinals: He’s been effective as a starter, long and middle reliever, and now closer. Franklin’s 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 20 games. He has 10 saves, 13 strikeouts, one walk.

Rafael Soriano, Rays: In his first year with Tampa, after leaving Atlanta, he’s 2-0 with 1.40 ERA and has 13 saves.
Arthur Rhodes, Reds: Another lefty setup guy, Rhodes can still get people out. He’s 1-1 with a 0.47 ERA in 21 games. He’s struck out 19 and allowed 8 hits in 19.1 innings.

Other options: Miguel Batista of the Nationals (0-2, 4.60 ERA in 17 appearances) and George Sherrill of the Dodgers (0-1, 7.36 ERA), who is scuffling after an All-Star season in Baltimore.

Manager: Lou Piniella (Cubs) is the obvious pick, but Jim Riggleman (Nationals) would be my choice.


Golf Phenom Could Be at Gold Mountain Next Summer

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Did you pick up on the story about the 16-year-old who made the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas last week. Not only did Jordan Spieth make the cut, but he was in contention under the final nine. After three rounds in the 60s, he shot a 72 and tied for 16th. Spieth, was the sixth-youngest player to ever make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour.
Spieth will try to defend his U.S. Junior Amateur Championship on July 19-25 at Egypt Valley Country Club in Grand Rapids, Mich. If he does, he’ll join Tiger Woods as the only player to win back-to-back Junior Amateurs. Woods won three a row. Spieth, if he wins at Egypt Valley, could get his third straight at Bremerton’s Gold Mountain, which is hosting the 2011 Junior Am.  By then  he’ll be a household name for golf fans.



Just Wondering …

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

* Who’s Seattle’s most hated sports personality? Former Sonics owner Clay Bennett, I think, has been replaced by an 18-year-old from Portland. Yeah, Terrance Jones’ about-face on where he is going to play college basketball – he signed with Kentucky after saying he was going to Washington – didn’t sit too well with Husky fans. And he knows it. Jones tweeted: “Yeah most hated player n 2010 goes 2 me.”

* Did you now that Kentucky and Washington are both playing in the Maui Invitational this year? Can you imagine the buildup for that first-round matchup?

* When will women’s softball commentators on ESPN quit talking to its viewers like they’ve never watched a game before. It drives me crazy. A little commentary’s OK, but they don’t have to explain every pitch or break down every at bat. The game’s been around long enough now that people get the nuances of the sport.

* When the Kitsap Pumas total their attendance figures, do they count players, coaches, team officials and concession stand workers? Don’t know if you’ve been to any home games at Memorial Stadium, but the figures released seem inflated to me.

* Is the Carlos Silva who is 6-0 for the Cubs the same Carlos Silva who was with the Mariners the past couple of seasons?

* Another Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals seems to be a real possibility, but would a rematch of these storied franchise be enough to get you interested in the NBA again?

* Speaking of the Celtics, have you ever seen a better play than the one Rajon Rondo made against Orlando on Saturday. It was all-out hustle, diving to grab a loose ball, and then having the sense to get up and turn it into a basket. I’m not doing it justice. This story by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports! does.

* How much longer can the M’s keep running Rob Johnson behind the plate? You gotta pull for a kid from Butte, Mont., who never played high school baseball, and you can live with a puny batting average, but only if he’s pulling his weight behind the plate. Kenji Johjima used to be knocked for his defensive work, but he looked like Johnny Bench compared to the way Johnson’s catching this season.

* Where does Shane Moskowitz, the sensational distance runner from Central Kitsap, rank among the state’s all-time great runners? Top 10? Top 5? Top 3?

* When is somebody going to build a softball complex in the Northwest that has nothing but turfed fields?


NCAA West Regionals Day 3: UW Posts Historic 29-Stroke Victory; Lee Earns Medalist Honors; Williams Gets an Ace

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

TRACKING THE NCAA WEST REGIONAL GOLF TOURNAMENT AT GOLD MOUNTAIN:

2:50 p.m.: It’s over: Washington’s day couldn’t have gone much better. The Huskies finished 20 under par and won by 29 strokes over USC. The UW’s Richard Lee (68-208), Chris Williams (65-210) and Darren Wallace (72-211) finished 1-2-3. Williams’ 65 ties the Olympic Course record previously set by Troy Kelly during a U.S. Open qualifier in 2003.  Mix in Chris Williams’ ace on No. 8, Lee’s eagle on No. 15 and Charlie Hughes’ eagle on No. 2 and you can see why the Huskies had a lot to howl about. Anyway you slice it, it was, as coach Matt Thurmond said, “a historic” victory.

11:50 a.m.: A couple of locals, Mike Tessier, and Bob Holmes, won the drawings the first two days. Tessier won a custom Ping driver, while Holmes won four tickets to a Husky football game. Another winner will be pulled out later today. Denver’s Espen Kofstad’s now 6 under and leading the tournament. I’m gonna head out and check out some golf. I’ll be back with an update later.

11:35: Chris Williams, who just finished No. 9 with a par, had a hole-in-one on No. 8. The UW freshman from Moscow, Idaho, played the front side at the Olympic Course 4-under to move within two strokes of the leaders — teammates Richard Lee and Darren Wallace. Williams has a real shot at breaking the course record today. The back nine usually produces lower scores. Stay tuned. Oh, Washington’s stretched its team lead to 23 strokes.

Also, a Kelly update: He’s 5-under for the day and sixth at the Nationwide Tournament in Raleigh, N.C.

10:36 a.m. update: The story of the day, thus far, is Eastern Michigan, which is 9 under for the day, moving from ninth to fifth. The five teams go to nationals. Washington, ho hum, is now leading by 19 strokes as it continues to pull away from the field. UW’s Richard Lee and Denver’s Espen Kofstad  are tied for the individual lead at 5 under. Both are 1 under for the day. UW’s Darren Wallace has lost a stroke to drop back to -4.

*** ***

If anybody’s coming out to Gold Mountain to watch the final round, you’ll have to hunt for a parking spot. The lot is full. There’s a tournament going on the Cascade Course and it looks like there might be more gallery out here today watching the college guys. Here’s my story after Friday’s second round.

Washington started the day with a 16-stroke lead. They can already make reservations to Chattanooga, Tenn., for the national championships. The only question today is how many strokes they’ll win by. (The Huskies are up 18 now). There’s also a pretty good battle going on for medalist honors. Washington’s Darren Wallace (-5) and Richard Lee (-4) and Denver’s Espen Kofstad (-4) were the top dogs going in to the final 18 holes. Kofstad’s playing as an individual. The low individual not on one of the qualifying five teams moves on, so this is a big round for Kofstad.

Lee and Wallace are playing their second hole, while Kofstad’s just getting ready to tee off.

Kelly Update: Troy Kelly, an ex-Husky star and Central Kitsap grad, was 4-under through 11 holes, moving into a tie for 4th at the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, N.C. After missing cuts in his first three Nationwide events, Kelly tied for 11th last week and seems headed for another top finish this week. That’s a good sign for the 31-year-old, who has been troubled by a hip injury. Surgery is a possibility, his dad, Bob Kelly, said. We’ll try to catch up with Troy next week.


NCAA West Regional From Gold Mountain: Day 2

Friday, May 21st, 2010

IT’S ALL WASHINGTON: Not everybody is in just yet, but the Huskies are 7-under for the tournament and the UW’s Darren Wallace (-5) and Richard Lee (-4) are 1-2 among individuals. Washington has a 16-stroke advantage over second-place Illinois. Needless to say, coach Matt Thurmond’s pretty confident about making reservations to Chattanooga for the NCAA championships. The top five advance. He pointed out that the Huskies came from 17 strokes back to win the ASU Thunderbird Invitational on April 2-3, so a 16-stroke lead, no matter how safe it looks, isn’t necessarily a lock for the team championship. But it looks pretty safe to me.

MORE ON GOLFSTAT’S PROBLEMS: The web site that college golf relies on to post updated scores has been struck in an internet traffic jam. The site’s owner said it’s had too much information to post and too many people logging in to view it.

PAC-10 DOMINANCE: Southern Cal’s now second and Oregon State is fourth behind Washington. Elsewhere around the country, Oregon leads the Southern Regional and California is currently second. Stanford leads the Central Regional and UCLA is fourth at the East Regional. The top five teams at six regionals advance to nationals.

1:40 p.m. UPDATE: Darren Wallace of the Huskies continues to play solid golf. He’s 3-under for the day with five holes to play and Washington’s even as a team and eight strokes ahead of Illinois in the team race. Nick Taylor, Washington’s Ben Hogan Award finalist, hasn’t got it going. He’s 2-over par for the day and the tournament. He took a double bogey 7 on No. 5 after flying his third shot over the green and into the water.

I just arrived at Gold Mountain for the second day of the NCAA West Regionals.

Once again, Golfstats.com, which provides live scoring, is having technical problems, so the scores aren’t being updated online.

Washington was back to even when I arrived and had a four-stroke lead over Oregon State. The Huskies started the day 2-under.

A side note: Former Husky Troy Kelly, who tied for second at the NCAA Championships his freshman year, is currently tied for ninth in the Nationwide Tour event in North Carolina. Kelly started the day in third place. He shot an even par 71. After playing the first 10 holes 3-under, he bogeyed three of the final eight holes.

There was no delay today as the weather cooperated today, although came down pretty good for a 10-minute period just a few minutes ago.


NCAA Regionals Off and Running After Rain Delay

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

1:12 p.m. Diego Velasquez of Oregon State tops the leaderboard. He’s 3 under through eight holes. Oregon State (-4), Colorado State (-2), Virginia Commonwealth (+1) and Washington (+1) are the team leaders. Darren Wallace, the 2009 Pac-10 champ, leads Washington with a 2-under score through 13 holes. Freshman Charlie Hughes is even through 13;  Nick Taylor is + 1 through nine;  Richard Lee +2 thorugh 10 and Chris Williams is +2 through 11.

1:06 p.m. Was just talking to Gold Mountain greens superintendent Ed Faulk about the conditions of the course between rain storms. He and his crew were out this morning, mowing the fairways and cutting greens. When the rains came and the start was delayed, Fauk’s crew squeegeed the greens. “There was rivers,” Faulk said. “There’s a lot of water out there.” In the middle of our conversation, Faulk got a call from tournament officials, telling him the green on No. 6 was  puddling. He was off to find a squeegee. Faulk and his guys are the unsung stars at Gold Mountain. When play ends today, they’ll start cutting fairways. They’ll return at 6 a.m. Friday to cut greens and place the pins and do whatever other cleanup work is required. Faulk said he was more concerned abou the wind that was supposed to blow through the area on Wednesday night. It’s fairly common to have a couple of trees blow over in high winds on the Olympic Course,  he said. The older Cascade Course doesn’t have that problem.

12:26 p.m.: It’s wet and windy at the mountain today. It was sunny when I walked in the clubhouse about 20 minutes ago, but the skies got dark in a hurry and the rain was coming down sideways. Not a good day to be out on the links. Washington and Oregon State were tied for the lead at 4-under as a team when I arrived, but Washington’s lost ground since. Chris Williams hit his drive out of bounds on No. 10 and the UW freshman took a triple bogey 7 on that hole. I’ll beck back later. Looks like some blue sky is coming into view.

10:50 a.m.: The Huskies state-of-the-art, and very cool indoor golf facility has received a lot of attention lately. Here’s an AP story about it, and here’s a video that gives you a pretty good of what it’s all about. Golfweek.com’s Lance Ringler put the piece together while he was covering the NCAA West Regionals at Gold Mountain last September.

10:40 a.m.: They ended up delaying the start of the NCAA West Regionals tournament at Gold Mountain until 9:30 a.m. I’m going to be heading out to the course in about an hour. In the meantime, you can follow the action here. You’ll notice on the front page of Washington’s Golf Central page a picture of Richard Lee playing cornhole during the rain delay. I talked about the game in my column about Nick Taylor today. The guys in the office had never heard of it.

8:15 a.m.: The start of today’s first round of the NCAA West Regionals golf tournament at Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course has been delayed by one hour.
Weather permitting, the first players will now tee off at 9 a.m. The host Huskies are the No. 1 seed and are favored to advance to nationals.


This Just In … News About NK Babes, Bree Schaaf, Husky Football

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

I’ve got a sports section to get out, but here’s some quick hits that we’ve learned today. More details in the paper and online later:

* Olympic bobsledder Bree Schaaf has a busy week planned. She visit Naval Avenue Elementary School Wednesday morning to talk to kids about motivation, perseverance and leading active, healthy lives. On Saturday, she’ll be the grand marshall of the Armed Forces Day Parade (10 a.m.-noon), serve as the MC of a gourmet cupcake eating contest after the parade (12:30-1:30 p.m.) and appear at the Kitsap Pumas home opener against Tacoma at 7:30 p.m. at Bremerton Memorial Stadium. There’s more coming. May 28 will be Bree Schaaf Day. Mayor Patty Lent will read the proclamation at next week’s City Council meeting. Bree will  be the guest speaker at the June 15 Sports Awards Banquet at the Kitsap Golf & Country Club.

* North Kitsap Babe Ruth has been offered to host the 2012 Babe Ruth 13-year-old World Series. There’s conditions that have to be met, but it sounds like it’s a go to me. One of the requirments is a financial commitment of $45,000 that goes to Babe Ruth League, Inc., with $11,250 due when the contract is signed.

* Washington’s Sept. 18 football game at home against Nebraska will be televised by ABC. Kickoff is 12:30 p.m. The Oct. 2 game at USC will also be carried by ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 with a 5 p.m. kickoff.


Snoozin’ On the Job

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Ken Griffey Jr.’s catching all kinds of grief for reportedly taking a recent nap in the clubhouse, but he’s not the only one who’s ever slept on the job.  Jim Caple of ESPN.com wrote this piece about Griffey.

Seattle’s Shannon Drayer, a reporter for 710 AM who covers the Mariners, says  finding Griffey asleep in the clubhouse isn’t necessarily news. He’s done it throughout his entire career.

Keith Hernandez, a former Mets’ first baseman and currently a broadcaster for the team, recently fell asleep in the broadcast booth.

I still have a vivid memory of a reporter falling asleep while covering the state track and field meet at Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma. He was laying on his back near the high jump pit on a gorgeouos sunny day and all of a sudden you could hear this loud snoring coming from the right side of the pit. It was hilarious. The competition continued, and people were walking all around him as if he wasn’t there. The best part of all, the reporter’s last name was Sleeper.

Here’s a picture of a Detroit cop catching up on his sleep.

I remember pulling an all-nighter at The Sun years ago and retreating to the lady’s room to catch a few winks. I was told there was a couch in there and, surprise, surprise, there was. Yeah, I shocked some lady that morning when she came to work and found me all cuddled up in that room about 5 a.m.

If you’ve lived in Bremerton for any amount of time, or worked in the shipyard, you’ve all probably heard stories of guys catching catnap’s in the bowels of the ships they were supposed to be working on. C’mon, you know it’s true.

What’s your best snoozin’ on the job story?


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