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 September, 2010

Thursday Links: Gray Back on Stage

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

He’s Got Game on the Stage, Too:: Gonzaga’s Steven Gray, the senior guard from Irondale — the small community outside of Chimacum — is back on stage. The Bainbridge grad is acting in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The play opens Oct. 22. Check out this link.

Jocks and agents: Current Seahawks defensive end Kentwan Balmer name came up in a Yahoo! Sports investigation into the scandal that’s surrounding the North Carolina football program. Balmer’s agent, Gary Wichard, has been tied to former North Carolina assistant John Blaker. Yahoo says it has records that shows Balmer, a former Tar Heel, reportedly paid for the lodging of NC defensive tackle Miles Austin while working out at a facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports writes about why this case is so important. Ultimately, it could show how agents are getting their fangs into players.

Seattle U and the WAC: Will the Western Athletic Conference invite Seattle U to join the conference? The Redhawks made a presentation earlier this week, along with other colleges, at a meeting in Dallas. The other schools included Montana, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State and Denver. The two Texas schools plan to move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Montana, a member of the Big Sky Conference, is still weighing its option.


Marvin: Nice Guy, Nice Player, and Best Years Are Still Ahead of Him

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Where did all the time go? Seems like yesterday I was interviewing Marvin Williams, then a 15-year-old sophomore, in front of Bremerton High School. Back then, the storyline centered around his decision to stay at home and play with his friends instead of hopping the ferry to attend O’Dea, where the spotlight would have been much greater.

Now he’s 24, preparing to embark on his sixth NBA season with the Atlanta Hawks. He’s a year older, a year wiser, but it’s hard to imagine him being more mature. He’s always been mature beyond his year.

Marvin knew what was important to him, even when he was 15. He’s earning millions now, but he hasn’t changed, which is what makes him special in this day and age of big-money, big-egoed athletes. There’s nothing self-centered about Marvin, who still runs the floor with the guys at the YMCA when he’s home. He still hangs with his homeboys and close friends. 

Williams is coming off a summer in which he went to Africa for a volunteer basketball camp, conducted a hoops camp of his own at Bremerton High and he talked about his involvement with Emmanuel Apostolic Church and the Marvin Williams Center, which is scheduled to open in downtown Bremerton in 2012. On the day he was leaving Bremerton to go back to Atlanta, he stopped by the BHS gym to attend the memorial service for coach Les Eathorne before heading to the airport.

Now it’s time for Marvin to get back to business. The theme hasn’t changed. Fans and critics are still waiting for second overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft to break out. Marvin just shrugs his shoulders. All he wants to do is win, like he did at North Carolina where he was the sixth man on the NCAA championship team.  Statistics, honors, playing time … it’s not a huge deal for him. Marvin doesn’t demand the basketball, it’s not in his DNA. 

This is what the late Eathorne had to say about Williams after the Bremerton lad announced his decision to turn pro after one year at North Carolina.

“He such a good kid,” Eathorne said of Williams. “I think he had no choice. They wiped out his team in the draft, and if he went back it would be somewhat like high school where he had four guys guarding him. So I think the move was the right one.

“Whether he will be a success or not, the game is rough and he’s going to have to keep working on the weights, and he’s going to have to get mean. And I like him the way he is. I don’t want him mean.”

Mean or not, he’s a versatile 6-foot-10 forward with a lot of skills. And do I have to remind you that he is only 24. While it seems like he’s been around forever, his best basketball years have hardly passed him by.

If you’re never watched Marvn play, or even if you have, check out this video.

It will be interesting to see if his role in Atlanta expands under new coach Larry Drew. That’s the buzz, but we’ve heard that before.

In the meantime, here’s a couple early reports on Bremerton’s hometown pro:

This comes from Hoopsworld.com:

When the Hawks were thoroughly dismantled and subsequently swept by the Orlando Magic in last season’s playoffs, losing by an NBA-record margin of 25 points, most theorized that Atlanta’s run with the current roster had run its course.

Marvin Williams thinks otherwise and believes the team got closer after the demoralizing series loss.

“I hope so. Obviously no one liked the way we fell out of the playoffs. It was embarrassing. Taking nothing away from Orlando, obviously they’re a great team but I don’t think anyone in here (players) thinks Orlando is 25 points better than us night in and night out,” explained Williams to HOOPSWORLD.

Williams has also become an easy scapegoat when criticism is showered on the team. Of course, a lot of that stems from the organization selecting him before Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 draft. However, Williams doesn’t care about doing the dirty work on a team filled with talent and says the criticism doesn’t get into his head.

“Never.  Anybody that knows Marvin Williams knows I play to win. It’s not about if you have four points or forty points.  No one will remember that. I was a sixth man on a national championship team and no one can ever take that away,” stated Williams to HOOPSWORLD.

“They might not have known my stats, but they know I won a national championship in 2005. So at the end of the day, that’s all that matters (winning). I don’t ever feel underappreciated. I love my teammates and I love being in the city of Atlanta” continued Williams.

The new motion offense will put Williams in more favorable situations to score efficiently. Williams remains a critical part of the Hawks’ framework because of their lack of depth at small forward.

And this comes from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog Hawks Fan Nest:

There is one veteran who comes into camp with possibly more questions than anybody else, and this is Marvin Williams. Like it or not, he’s now a veteran. Going into his fifth (actually sixth) year, all the cliches about development and “turning the corner” are over with. Yes, we’ve hashed this one to death, but the question STILL remains: Can Marvin become the type of  player who deserves to be a member of the starting unit? He was back in 2008-2009, as he was the year before that. But this is a League that doesn’t work off of what you were able to do a couple of years ago. The question is, what can you do NOW? Some people feel Marvin has a lot to prove, and this coaching change will prove whether or not he can, or can’t. Others feel that Al Horford or Josh Smith has a lot to prove. Still others will assert that Joe Johnson, as the league’s highest paid player this last offseason, has more to prove than anybody. Which veteran player do you feel has the most to prove?
 

Monday’s Quick Hitters: The KAR and Other Stuff

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The Kitsap Athletic Roundtable? That’s the new name of the club that was known for years as the Bremerton Athletic Roundtable, and in recent years as the Kitsap County Bremerton Athletic Roundtable (try putting that in a headline). Interim president Dusty Anchors made the announcement at the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday. This non-profit club’s been around 40-plus years and it wants to make sure that everybody knows the club serves people throughout the region, not just Bremerton.

KAR is throwing its first Halloween Pumpkin Bash on Oct. 30 at the Comfort Inn and it’ll cost you just $10 to get in the door. Everybody’s invited to come dressed as a sports figure. You know somebody will show up as Mel Kiper and there’s got to be a Ty Willingham lookalike out there? Or a Dawgfather? Or Gary Payton? All you have to do is find a Sonics’ jersey No. 20, slap on a pair of gloves and trash-talk all night. Cash prizes will be awarded to the best costumes. All of the proceeds will go to youth and amateur athletics in the region.

Old School: Stanford linebacker/fullback (Owen Marecic) scored two touchdowns 13 seconds apart during an impressive 37-14 win over Notre Dame on Saturday. Marecic scored on a 1-yard run and returned an interception 13 seconds later for another TD.

The bigger story is Stanford’s 4-0 and ranked No. 16 in the country. Coach Jim Harbaugh’s turned the Cardinal into the most physical team on the West Coast. Harbaugh’s brought that Big 10 mentality to Stanford. It reminds you a little bit of what Don James did when the former Kent State coach came to Washington.

Playmakers: Lost in the Seahawks strange win over the Chargers on Sunday was the continued emergence of rookie Golden Tate and the two sacks and all-around outstanding play of defensive end Chris Clemons.

Tate caught four passes for 33 yards and had three punt returns for 44 yards. He, like the rest of the Seattle’s offense, disappeared in the second half, but it’s only a matter of time before he finds his way to end zone.

And even though the Seahawks were shredded for 518 yards by the Chargers, Clemons showed some much-needed pass rushing ability off the edge. He’s not got three sacks and four quarterback hits in two home games.

Give Boise credit: All of a sudden Boise State’s gone from the blue-turf darlings to the  most-hated college football team in the country. The Broncos beat Virginia Tech, they beat Oregon State, and they get disrespect because of a so-called weak schedule. Sure, the Broncos have some easy games ahead in the Western Athletic Conference, but they’ll be challenged by the likes of Fresno State, and Nevada. The strength-of-schedule stuff doesn’t play out anymore. South Dakota just went toe-to-toe with Nebraska before falling 17-3. I think Boise would be challenging for a league championship if they were in the Pac-10, Big 10, Big 12 and even the SEC. All they do is win. If Boise rolls the table again, they deserve to play for the national championship.

Tony Wroten update: The Garfield basketball star says he’s going to announce his college decision on Oct. 7. It seems he’s narrowed his choices to Louisville and Washington.

COLLEGIANS

North Kitsap senior Nick Benish  has committed to George Fox, one of the top NCAA D-3 baseball schools in the country.  The Bruins from Newberg, Ore., were 87-41 the past three years. Benish, a catcher, is currently playing for Baseball Northwest’s scout team.  (Note: This corrects an earlier post that said Joe Benish was going to George Fox. Joe’s the older brother, also a catcher,  who just finished his CC career at Skagit Valley). 

This doesn’t surprise me, but Howard McDonald, a sophomore linebacker from Central Kitsap, leads Eastern Oregon in tackles after five games with 47. McDonald’s had 6.5 for loss.

Brandi Hamre, a junior from Central Kitsap, has three goals and four assists for the 7-0-1 Seattle Pacific Falcons, who are ranked No. 8 nationally in the NCAA D-2 polls.

Washington State’s Ruby Roberts, a freshman from Kingston, won the Erik Anderson Cross Country Invitational on Saturday in Spokane. Washington State on Saturday. Roberts covered 5,000 meters in 18:27.71. It was her second varsity victory.


Seahawks vs. Chargers: Thoughts From Qwest

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Down to the Wire

It’s come to the last possession. Chargers, trailing 27-20, take over on their own 45. Two completions and San Diego’s down to the 12. There’s 26 seconds left. Chargers have no timeouts. Delay of game moves ball back to the 17. Third down: incomplete. Gates triple-teamed. Fourth down: Thomas intercepts Rivers’ pass at the 5. That’s two picks for the rooke and the Seahawks are going to win, 27-20.

Un (blankety blank blank) Reel!

Leon Washington just retrned a kickoff 98 yards for his second touchown. And they’re not even going to review it and do it over. Seahawks are back on top: 27-20. 6:24 left.

Biggest Play So Far

Chargers call a timeout before a 3rd-and-goal at the 2. The Seattle linebackers have done a nice job covering TE Antonio Gates in the redzone. Let’s see if the can keep No. 85 from catching a TD pass. Wow. A wild, wild, wild scramble by Rvers resulted in him floating a TD pass to Gates, but San Diego is called for holding on the play. It’s now 3rd-and-12. And guess what? Rivers goes right back to Gates, hitting him 2-yards deep in the end zone over the middle. A two-point play ties it up. Will they go back to Gates? Nope, they got to Naanee. He catches it, but it doesn’t countl Naanee stepped out of bounds and came back into the field. Time for another do-over. This time, Rivers (yeah, you guessed it) goes back to Naanee. That’s two touchdown passes to Gates and two two-point conversion passes to Naanee. But it only counts for eight points.

It’s tied folks: 20-20 with 6:39 left.

That’s Why He’s a No. 1 Pick

Safety Earl Thomas, Seattle’s rookie from Texas, just picked off a pass that somehow  slipped through the hands of Antonio Gates and into his. The 34-yard return set the Seahawks up on San Diego’s 11. We’ll see if they can cash in. Nope. They had to settle for a 24 yard Mare FG. Seattle 20, San Diego 12. 11:30 left.

End of Third Quarter

Seattle 17, Chargers 12. Chargers got a FG late in the quarter. Seahawks are at midfield after Leon Washington’s nearly broke another kick return for a TD.

Sack! Safety!

Linebacker Brandon Siler just blew past the Seahawks left tackle Tyler Polumbus and dropped Matt Hasselback for a safety. Seattle leads 17-9 with 4:31 left.

Clemons Time

Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons just picked up his second sack and third tackle for loss on the day. He could be the speed pass-rusher the Hawks have lacked for a while. He plays in Seattle’s 4-3 alignment, lining up opposite the Chargers tight end. He was a linebacker at Georgia and had a career-high 7 sacks for Oakland in 2007 and the Seahawks got him in the trade with Philadelphia for Darryl Tapp.

Rivers, Chargers Respond

Good thing about down 17-0 when you have Philip Rivers on the your fantasy team. You figure the Chargers are going to come out and wing it and they did. Rivers needed 3 passes to cover 80 yards (the payoff was a 3-yarder to Malcom Floyd) and the Chargers are back in it, 17-7, with 12:33 left in the third quarter.

Record Run

Leon Washington returned the opening kickoff 101 yards for a touchown. Seattle’s old record was 97 yards by Maurice Morris on Oct. 22,  2002. Hawks up 17-0.

End of Half

Seattle 10, San Diego 0. On a 3rd down play, Seattle called a QB draw. Hasselbeck gained 2 yards for a first round, and the Hawks rushed the kicking team onto the field to try and field goal but time expired. Don’t know about you but the final 1:38 of this half has left me a little dazed and confused.

Seattle’s held San Diego to 139 total yards, forced two fumbles, sacked Rivers three times and hurried him a lot. Seattle’s passing game generated 199 yards, but just one TD.

Another Review

That’s three inside the final 1:38. this one comes on the San Diego kickoff return. Darren proles appeared to be stripped of the ball by Kam Chancellor, but officials ruled the SD returner down on the field before he lost the ball. And the ruling goes … to Seattle. Seahawks ball at the 24 with 0:47 left.

Seattle TD, and It Stays on the Board

After a 3-and-out, Seattle got the ball back. Golden Tate’s 13-yard return plus holding on San Diego before the punt gave Seattle the ball at the 41 with 1:13 left. A pass interference call moved it to the 9 and Hasselbeck connected with TE John Carlson for a TD with :53 left on the next play. This one was also reviewed, but Carlson was in the end zone and Seattle leads 10-0.  Drive: 3 plays, 41 yards in 22 seconds.

Call Goes San Diego’s Way

Paul Oliver punched the ball out of Deion Branch’s arms before he reached the end zone at the end of what looked to be a 42yard TD. The ball rolled out of the end zone for a touchback, so San Diego takes over at the 20. Seattle still leads, but it’s 3-0 instead of 10-0. We’ll see if this play comes back to haunt ‘em. You get the feeling the game’s going to come down to the last possession.

Touchdown or Not?

Hasselbeck gets the ball to a wide-open Deion Branch for a 42-yard TD with 1:38 left, but the the play is being reviewed. Did Branch lose the ball before he crossed the goalline? After seeing the replay, I think he did. This one should come back. We’ll see if the officials in the booth see it the same way.

Defense Rocking

San Diego finally got a drive going but David Hawthorne’s bone-rattling tackle on RB Mike Tolbert forced a fumble and the Hawks recovered at the 7. A couple plays before, Raheem Brock sacked Rivers (that’s three so far in the first half for Seattle’s defense) and Junior Siavii popped Rivers’ helmet off with his shoulder pads as the Chargers’ QB was headed to the turf. Seattle’s really attacking on defense. San Diego lost starting RG Louis Vasquez with a knee injury in the opening quarter and don’t have a lot of depth up front.

Hasselbeck Picked Again

First play after Tate’s punt return, the Seahawks got for it all but Hasselbeck pass is underthown and picked off in the end zone. He’s now been intercepted five times.

It’s Golden

Rookie Golden Tate, who made his debut a week ago, has caught three passes for 24 yards and just returned a punt 31 yards to give the Seahawks the ball at San Diego’s 46. Tate’s looking more and more like the real deal. His 8-yard catch , following a 25 yard by Justin Forcett and a 37-yard pass to John Carlson, set up Seattle’s FG.

Defense Gettin’ It Done

Seattle’s defense is flying around and making things difficult for the Chargers. Chris Clemons and Brandon Mebane have sacks and the Chargers are making QB Philip Rivers rush his throws.

Pre-Game

Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan, a Seattle icon duirng his days as a player and coah with the SuperSonics, raised the 12th Man Flag.

A Chargers’ fan dressed in a headless costume with gigantic arms and Jinx 1 scrolled across his back, was a big attraction as he walked in front of the stadium. You had to see it.

Pete Carroll was throwing 40-yard spirals before the gae. He took a couple shots at the goal post. His first was wide right, the second one hit the goalpost and bounced back.

Olindo Mare kicked a 56-yard FG in pre-game. His career-longest is a 54-yarder.


All About Ichiro and Another 200-Hit Season

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

It was appropriate on a day that Ichiro Suzuki reached the 200-hit plateau for a record-tying 10th straight year that his teammate, Felix Hernandez, would be a hard-luck loser of a 1-0 game.

Ichiro gets two hits and gets a standing ovation and more adulation. Felix gives up two hits and gets another loss.

Sure, Ichiro’s an incredible hitting machine. His bat control is amazing, and he’s so consistent that we sometimes take him from granted. But as the M’s speed toward another 100-loss season, you wonder if the team wouldn’t be better without him.

Is his style of play selfish?

That’s a question posed by Evan Bruschini in this column in the Bleacher Report. He breaks Ichiro’s statistics down and points out that with the Mariners trailing late in one game, he did bunt with two outs and a runner on first in 2004 while chasing George Sisler’s single-season hit record. Ichiro’s bunt was good for a hit, but the runner didn’t score.

Bruschini, however, defends Ichiro. He suggests that management might have encouraged him to sacrifice wins for a hitting record.

“Ichiro is a revolutionary,” writes Bruschini. “Like most revolutionaries, he will not be fully appreciated until his war on slugging is won.”

Bruschini makes some interesting points, but I’m of the belief that wins are the only stats that really matter. I’d prefer Ichiro sacrifice some of his slap-hits for extra-base hits. Of course, he’s now 36 and his best years might be behind him, but I always wonder what would have happened if Ichiro had tried to turn on more pitches or drive balls to the gaps. He might not have reached 200 hits every year, he might not have hit  .300 some seasons, but I think the M’s might have won more games with him hitting .290 average with 18 home runs and 80 RBI.

That said, Ichiro remains perhaps one of the most interesting personalities in all of sport, certainly the most unique to ever pass through Seattle. We’ve had the pleasure of watching him play for 10 years, and we still don’t know him. He’s managed to remain aloof, never letting anybody into his world.  The way he’s handled the media (avoided the media?) is almost as admirable as the way he can put a bat on ball.

Here’s a few links to stories about No. 51 that you might enjoy:

Frank Deford, writing for NPR, wrote about Ichiro’s style in this story: “What he does is like singing Gilbert and Sullivan when everybody is listening to rock.”

Teammate Chone Figgins talks about Ichiro’s work ethic is this MLB.com story.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times wonders what kind of hitter Ichiro might evolve into over the final years of his career. Read his blog post here.

And, in case you missed it, we got hold of Wee Wille Keeler a year ago to talk about Ichiro’s achivements after he broke Wee Willie’s American League record of eight straight 200-hit seasons. At the time, Wee Willie had been dead for 86 years, but we managed to track him down. Enjoy the story.

As Wee Willie once said, “Keep your eye clear, and hit ‘em where they ain’t.”


Tuesday Links: Stuff You Might Want to Check Out

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Have you read about the 60-year-old junior college kicker? Read about him here. Mmm, I’ve still got a couple years of eligibility left. I wonder … nah.

Have you seen the video about the Ohio University mascot tackling Brutus, the Ohio State mascot? Here it is.

Check out this freeze-frame of the broken piece of bat that struck Tyler Colvin of the Cubs on Sunday. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports wrote about the danger of maple bats back in May. His lead: “Someone’s going to die at a baseball stadium soon.”

There’s no tripping in baseball. Wait, yes there is. Look at this video of outfielder Matt Diaz taking down a Phillies fan who was on the field.

Why can’t the Mariners hire someone like this guy? Joe Posnanski makes a good case why Ron Gardenhire is the best manager in baseball.


Jud Gets In a Jab During Roast of Bobby Knight

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Jud Heathcote, the Don Rickles of college basketball, was among those participating in a roast of Bobby Knight on Monday night.

The South Kitsap grad and Hall of Fame coach from Michigan State wasn’t able to attend the roast in Hammond, Ind., because he’s recovering from a broken hip. That didn’t stop him from dishing his former Big Ten coaching  rival.

Heathcote, on video call from his home in Spokane: “I thought he got pretty good distance” on that throw, referring to Knight’s famous incident where he tossed a chair across the basketball court.

Heathcote said most people don’t like Knight when they meet him. “But after they get to know him, they hate him,” Heathcote said.

Everybody ought to listen to Heathcote at least once. Here’s a story from the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet in 2006. Jud was the MC and he kept everybody laughing.


Shots From the Dark on a Lazy Sunday

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Seahawks: A power outage prevented me from watching the second half of Sunday’s Seahawks-Broncos game, but I’d already seen enough. That first-half Seahawks performance ranks up there with some of the stinkiest I’ve seen from that franchise. They had a TD called back by an obvious hold (on Sean Locklear), QB Matt Hasselbeck threw two awful interceptions inside Denver’s 10, they fumbled a punt that led to a Denver touchdown and it seemed like they had more penalties than positive plays.

So what you do take from Seattle’s 1-1 start? Are they as good as they looked in Week 1 or as bad as they looked in Week 2? How many games do these guys win? Give me a number. They look like an 8-8 team to me, which just might be good enough in the NFL Worst.

Marineros: Speaking of power outages, I headed to Safeco Field and caught the final six innings of the Marineros (it was Latin night at the ballpark) loss against Texas on Saturday after the UW-Nebraska football game. Is it just me, or does every M’s hitter (except Ichiro and Chone Figgins) swing from their you-know-what every at bat, even when they’ve got two strikes? To borrow a phrase from modern-day baseball, these are in desperate need of a new “approach.” It’s one thing if you’re Russell Branyan and you have a chance for your bat to run into the baseball once in a while, but Josh Wilson, Tuiasosopo, Jose Lopez … c’mon. And, by the way, isn’t it about time the M’s give up on Tuiasosopo. He’s a poor man’s Mike Morse.

 The consensus from Row 14, Aisle 144: We think the pitching staff is in decent shape, though it might be nice to pick up a veteran arm that could be used as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter.  Move Figgins to third, start Dustin Ackley at second, leave Jack Wilson at short, put Justin Smoak at first (at least give him a shot), use Josh Wilson as your utility infielder and go out and find a veteran catcher than can start 120 games, or at least split time with Adam Moore. We’d trade Ichiro, but we realize that’s about as likely as CEO Howard Lincoln doing standup at your local comedy club. So, it’s Ichiro in RF, Franklin Gutierrez in CF and Michael Saunders in LF unless you can add a veteran who’s a .300/20HR/100RBI kind of hitter.

While on the topic of baseball speak, how’d the word “command” become so popular when talking about pitching? “I had good command,” said so an so. Or announcer might say that so and so “has lost his command.” What they’re saying is “I threw strikes where I wanted,” or “his control isn’t very good.”

And one more thing: You may or may not know that there is a campaign to name a block of 1st Avenue South in Seattle after Ken Griffey Jr.? Here’s the website, where you can sign a petition if you think it’s a good idea. Wonder if Griffey will ever talk about his mid-season retirement? Wonder if Griffey would show up if they named the street after him?

Kitsap Quick Hitters

Running: Our own David Nelson, yes the editor of the Kitsap Sun, was 19th overall in the Top of the Mountain Marathon in Logan, Utah, this weekend. He covered the course in 2 hours, 53 minutes and 12 seconds. Over 3,000 runners participated.

Hall of Fame: Here’s information on how to get a ticket for the Sept. 25, Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame. The list of inductees is included with the story. The guest speaker is Pete Rose, who will be given an honorary Hall of Fame certificate. Nah, just kidding. But isn’t it about time baseball should honor this man in Cooperstown? Here’s a recent Q&A with Pete from ESPN.com.

Baseball: Olympic College’s baseball team started fall practices last week. The Rangers have moved their practices and games to Gene Lobe Field at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds & Event Center. They previously played at Legion Field. The move should be a positive one in terms of recruiting.

Golf: Port Orchard’s Bjorn Bjorke, the golf coach at Olympic College who works at McCormick Woods Golf Course, leaves this week for Bridgehampton, N.Y., where he will play in the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the Atlantic Golf Club.  The tournament starts Saturday, Sept. 25. The field of 264 will be reduced to 64 for match-play after 36 holes. The Mid-Am is limited to golfers who 25 by Sept. 25 with a handicap of 3.4 or less.


Washington-Nebraska Game Thread From Husky Stadium

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

We’ll provide you with some random thoughts and observations from today’s Husky-Huskers game at Husky Stadium.

Fourth Quarter

Fifteen minutes to play. A few fans have left, but the majority seem to be hanging in here. Locker’s still behind center. I can’t emphasize enough what a tough day the pride of Ferndale is having. Looking toward campus, the fans are starting to stream out of the stadium now. I’m going to shut ‘er down, and try to get down on the field for the final minutes. It’ll be interesting to hear Sark and Jake’s take on this one. With 13 minutes left, Locker’s passed for 71 yards. The former Heisman Trophy candidate has completed 4 of 18 passes and has been intercepted twice.

Third Quarter

Locker just hit Jermaine Kearse for a 45-yard TD pass. But it comes of the heels of an 80-yard TD run by Nebraska QB Martinez. So we’re three plays into the third quarter and there’s been two TDs. Score: Nebraska 35, UW 21.

Maybe Locker will bust loose this half? Even if he does, the UW defense needs to figure out a way to stop Nebraska.

Old school: Looks like all of the Huskers are wearing high-top black shoes. Nice. They always said black shoes make you look slower, but Roy Helu Jr. just looked pretty fast on a 65-yard TD burst down the sidelines. Nebraska 42, UW 21. (The drive: 4 plays, 76 yards, 1:43 time of possession). So that’s three TDs in seven plays this half.

Hey, a stop: Washington just forced Nebraska to punt for only the third time.

More of the same: If there’s been any knocks about Jake Locker as a QB, it’s his throwing accuracy. He just missed a wide open Jermaine Kearse on a deep route. He aired it out 60 yards, but a wide-open Kearse could not get to run under it. Then he overshot a quick screen and topped it off by throwing an interception that was returned 31 yards for an interception. The ball was poorly thrown, behind his intended receiver. Nebraska 49, UW 21, 8:21. You know, if this was an NFL game the boo-birds would be out, calling for a quarterback change.

Fast and the Furious: Washington’s getting a taste of how quick and physical the Nebraska defense is. Their running backs can’t get to the outside and Locker’s throwing more balls off his back foot because of the Huskers’ pass rush.

Sea of Red: Seeing all of these thousands — some say as many as 20,000 Nebraska fans are in the crowd — gives you an idea why the Big 10 liked the idea of adding the Cornhuskers to the conference. Northwestern, Indiana and Illinois will now have a chance to sellout a home football game.

So much for a BCS Bowl: Nobody expected Washington win 10 or 11 games and earn a trip to a BCS Bowl this year. Now, the question is whether the Huskies will be able to get to six or seven wins and earn a trip to a lesser bowl. At the start of the season, I thought they might get to eight, or even nine, wins and wind up in the Holiday Bowl. Hard to say that now, although I have to keep reminding myself the Huskies are playing Nebraska, which could be a BCS-calibre team.

End of quarter: Nebraska 49, UW 21. Official attendance: 72,876.

Halftime Thoughts

Washington’s going to need more breaks — another fumble recovery, interception or special teams play … something — in order to hang wit the Huskers. And Locker’s play is perplexing. Clearly, Washington’s plan was to try and run the ball and control the clock. It worked on the 80-yard drive. But, somehow, Washington’s got to loosen the Huskers up with the pass. Maybe Nebraska’s taking away the passing game. Jermaine Kearse has been the target of just one pass.

It is a great day. After all of that rain on Friday, I was prepared for the worst when I woke up. But it’s a sunny, shirt-sleeve kind of day. Probably 100 boats, or more, are anchored off the shore in Lake Washington. It’s a good day to impress recruits. An upset victory might be enough to sway some kids. Right now,  Mariners’ CEO Howard Lincoln probably has a better chance of becoming a standup comedian than the Huskies do of winning this game.

First Half

I just lost, somehow, all of my game posts. Man, they were enlightening, too. Oh well, UW just got a big break when they stripped the Nebraska backup QB and came up with the fumble. Polk scores from 6 yards out and the Huskies are back within a touchdown: Nebraska 21, UW 14, 5:06 left in half.

Nebraska negated that momentum with a quick TD to go up 28-14 and that’s the halftime score.

The game started bad for Washington’s Jake Locker, and it hasn’t gotten much better. Locker threw an interception on the UW’s first possession that led to a two-play 48-yard drive — a 24-yard run and then a 24-yard pass from Taylor Martinez to Mike McNeill for the TD.  A 55-yard pass set up the Huskers’ next TD to make it 14-0 with 10:45 left in the first quarter.

Suddenly I was filled with Week 3 memories from September, 2008. You remember that day? Oklahoma steamed over the Huskies 55-14 at Husky Stadium.

But Washington regrouped and marched 80 yards. They passed just once and pretty much just pounded it at the Huskers. Locker capped the impressive drive with a 7-yard scramble for the TD.

The crowd noise seemed to bother Nebraska for the next couple series, and Washington’s offense bogged down against a defense that’s as good as advertised. The Cornhuskers started grinding itupfront  out and Martinez — boy he is quick — started making things happen with his feet and with his arm.

Locker’s Heisman Trophy chances are taking another big hit. He’s thrown for just 20 yards. He’s 2-for-10 with the interception. Nebraska has out-gained the UW 247-123.

Pre-Game

There’s a little over 14 minutes on the clock and the stadiums’ starting to fill up. The west end zone is a sea of red. And, wow, just noticed the east end zone beneath the large video scoreboard is about 3/4ths red. They’re saying there’s as many as 20,000 Nebraska fans at today’s game. No wonder the Big Ten liked the idea of adding Nebraska to the conference. Schools like Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois now have a chance of selling out a home football game.

Just took a closer look as the Star Spangled Banner was played and there’s red everywhere. Behind the Nebraska bench on the south side, way up high on the north side above the Don James Center.

Controversy

ESPN.com reported that UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Reggie Bush looked like an idiot with the way he handled the Heisman Trophy bru-ha-ha. Haven’t had a chance to read what Sark put up on the gohuskies.com Website after that report.

Who’s Gonna Win?

Like a lot of you, I’ve over-analyzed this game. No way Washington’s offensive line can handle Nebraska’s defense? But the Cornhuskers haven’t faced a team as good as Washington. The No. 8 Huskers beat Western Kentucky (49-10) and Idaho (38-17). And the stadium’s going to be loud. Will Nebraska freshman QB Taylor Martinez handle the noise and the pressure? Will Jake Locker take the team on his shoulders and play like a Heisman Trophy winner? Can Washington’s receivers get loose against a pair of the best cornerbacks in the country in Prince Amukamarfa and Alfonzo Dennard?  Has Washington been sitting on anything strategically, saving it for this game? I doubt it, but we’ll find out.

The pick: Hesitantly because I think Washington has a chance if things break right early, but I’m going with Nebraska, 31-22. Huskers are just too dominant up front on both sides of the ball.

In Case You Missed It

Hansville’s Joi Niemeyer, a student at the UW and former North Kitsap and Kingston athlete, is among Playboy’s girls of the Pac-10.

HOF for Benji

Benji Olson, the South Kitsap who became Washington’s only two-time first-team AP All-American, will be inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame on Oct. 29. Olson, a guard, went on to play 10 years in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans.


Willie Bloomquist Traded to Reds

Monday, September 13th, 2010

It’s been a while since Willie Bloomquist has played in any meaningful games, but he’s going to be in the middle of a pennant race for the final 19 games of the season after the Port Orchard native was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds leads the St. Louis Cardinals by six games in the NL Central.

If the Reds reach the postseason, Bloomquist won’t be eligible because he was acquired after the Aug. 31 trade deadline.

Kansas City announced the trade before Monday afternoon’s game against Oakland. Bloomquist was traded for either cash or a player to be named later.

The former Mariners utility player signed with the Kansas City Royals two years ago. He set career highs in most offensive categories a year ago after starting 105 games for the Royals. He found himself back in his utility role this season with the Royals. He’s hitting .265 in 179 at-bats. He played in 72 games. He was hitting .302 over his final 52 games.

Even when Bloomquist was with Seattle (2002-2008), everybody always said he would be better off in the National League, where a versatile player like him could be used in a number of roles on a daily basis. The NL does not have a designated hitter and manager’s tend to use their rosters more because of the need for pinch-hitters and pinch-runners.

Bloomquist, 32, is in the final two years of a $3.1 million contract and will be a free agent. While he won’t be eligible for the postseason, at least he’ll have a chance to show the Reds and the rest of the National League what he can do over the final 19 games.

I caught up with Willie earlier this season when the Royals were in Seattle to play the Mariners. Among the topics we discussed was his desire to give the sport of bobsled a shot when he retires. You can read that story here.

Here’s a blogger who doesn’t see why the Reds acquired Bloomquist.

ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer has a similar take on the deal.

Bloomquist has clearly become the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, the only people he seems to please are the managers he plays for. The analysts and outsiders have never given, or ever will, give Bloomquist respect. Call me a homer, whatever, but the guy is a valuable addition to a major-league roster. When he gets regular at-bats, he produces. And how many guys can play seven positions, and play them all well.

Dick Kaegel , who covers the Royals for MLB.com, points out that Bloomquist was hitting .355 with runners on base (27-for-76) and that the nine-year veteran was a positive influence on the younger players on KC’s roster.


Available on Kindle