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 May, 2011

Young Spieth impressing at Byron Nelson Classic; Begay in U.S. Sectional Qualifier at Gold Mtn.

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

“See Tomorrow’s Stars Today.”

That’s the slogan for the U.S. Junior Amateur that will be played July 18-23 at Gold Mountain. Last time I looked, one of those young stars, Jordan Spieth, was tied for 16th at the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Classic. The 17-year-old Texan, winner of the 2009 U.S. Junior, will be among those coming to Bremerton in July. He’ll be attending his high school graduation later tonight.

In other golf news, the U.S. Sectional Qualifier on June 6 at Gold Mountain includes Notah Begay, Troy Merritt, Jason Allred, ex-Huskies Derek Berg, Corey Prugh and Brock Mackenzie, current Huskies Chris Williams and Charlie Hughes. Begay was Tiger Woods’ teammate at Stanford and has four second-place finishes on the PGA Tour but has struggled in recent years. Here’s the full list of names and tee times:

Player Tee Time
Allred, Jason 10 7:20 am
Barry, Mike 10 7:50 am

Begay III, Notah 10 7:20 am

Berg, Derek 10 7:40 am

Block, Michael 10 8:10 am

Bomar, Billy 1 7:30 am

Chan, Kim 1, 10 am

Crampton, Sebastian 1 7:40 am

Denton, Trey 1 7:40 am

Dompier, Chris 1 8:00 am

Ellis, John 1 7:10 am

Ellis, Nick 1 7:50 am

Feenstra, Tim 10 7:00 am

Fritsch, Brad 10 7:50 am

Grube, Rob 10 7:10 am

Habig, Joshua 10 7:30 am

Hadwin, Adam 1 7:10 am

Hayashi, Kyle 1 7:20 am

Heffernan, Wes 1 7:20 am

Hoffman, Matt 1 7:20 am

Honeck, Creighton 1 7:50 am

Hughes, Charlie 1 8:00 am

Johnston, Matthew 10 7:00 am

Justesen, Erick 10 8:00 am

Kemmer, Dodge 10 7:20 am

Lai, Jeff 10 8:10 am

Mackenzie, Brock 1 7:10 am

Merritt, Troy 1 7:00 am

Mossfeldt, Kyle 1 7:40 am

Ogden, Clay 1 8:00 am

Packer, Sean 1 8:10 am

Parker, Tyler 10 7:10 am

Pidgeon, Luke 10 7:30 am

Prouty, Brian 10 7:30 am

Prugh, Corey 10 8:00 am

Rangel, Jeff 1 7:00 am

Risdon, Dustin 1 7:30 am

Rosendahl, Tobias 1 7:00 am

Sahl, Daniel 1 7:50 am

Sherwood, Nick 1 8:10 am

Slover, Cody 1 8:10 am

Todd, Jarin 10 7:10 am

Vaughan, Sandy 10 7:00 am

Wasylowich, Kris 10 7:40 am

Wentworth, Kevin 10 7:40 am

Whisman, Travis 10 7:50 am

Williams, Chris 10 8:10 am

Yip, Ryan 1 7:30 am


‘Death to Flying Things’ … he’s baaa-aa-cckk!

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I was knee-deep in state high school coverage, answering phones and reading copy last night, and didn’t get a chance to see this catch by Franklin Gutierrez — the center fielder Dave Niehaus named “Death to Flying Things.” In case you also missed it:

<a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15259563">http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15259563</a>

Speaking of the M’s, they could be in first place by the end of the night. They’re only a half-game back of the Rangers in the AL West and have Felix Hernandez going against the Yankees tonight. Texas hosts Kansas City.


Update on Kitsap’s pros

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

FIRST, THE BASEBALL GUYS:

Willie Bloomquist (Arizona Diamondbacks): Bloomquist is 3 for 13 since coming off the disabled list last week. The South Kitsap was sidelined by a hamstring injury after getting off to a great start. He’s hitting .293 with seven stolen bases, although he hasn’t stole one since being actived. Bloomquist has played seven games at shortstop and nine as a left fielder and has yet to make an error.

Jason Hammel (Colorado Rockies): For the fifth time in nine starts, Hammel allowed two earned runs or fewer in his last appearance, but left with a no-decision and has only two wins in those outings.The right-hander, another SK grad, is 3-3 with a 3.59 ERA. He’s struck out 33 and walked 18 in 57 2/3 innings.

Aaron Cunningham (Triple-A Tucson Padres): The outfielder from South Kitsap was going great-guns when the Padres stopped in Tacoma earlier this month, but then went into a mini-tailspin. He’s come out of it, though. Cunningham carried an 8-game hitting streak (14 for 35 with 8 RBI) into Wednesday’s game against Omaha and was hitting .293 with four homers and 34 RBI. The big-club Padres are struggling mightily on offense, and Cunningham seems like he would be a good fit with San Diego.

Jared Prince (Single-A Myrtle Beach): Prince, 25, is hitting .233 with 2 HRs (both in the same game) and 17 RBI in the Carolina League.

Drew Vettleson (Tampa Rays, extended spring training: The Central Kitsap will be assigned to his first rookie-league team soon.

THE NBA

Marvin Williams (Atlanta Hawks): Keep him or trade him? That’s the debate in Hotlanta, where the Bremerton product is still under contract for about $8 million a year through 2013-14. The contract could be a stumbling block if Atlanta wants to deal the 6-9 forward.

GOLF

Central Kitsap grad Troy Kelly missed the cut last week, but he’s still No. 7 on the Nationwide Tour money list. There’s still a lot of golf to play, but the top 25 earn their way on to the PGA Tour for the 2012 season. The next tourament is the June 2-5 George’s County Open at College Park, Md.


Kitsap links and news: Rodeo, Kyler Talbot, Willie B., Troy Kelly and the Babe Ruth World Series

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown told me the county hopes to have somebody under contract within the next two weeks to run the Kitsap County Fair and Rodeo. They’re contracting out the position after Kitsap County Fair and Events Manager Frank Abbott announced his resignation in March. Nobody, including Abbott, has given a reason for Abbott’s resignation. Under the leadership of Abbott and former county employee Lauran Erickson, the rodeo has grown in stature and been recognized as one of the best in the country for its size. Erickson and Abbott originally contracted with the county and later hired as county staff. Erickson left the county in 2008, leaving Abbott in charge.

There’s been a lot of conjecture about the future of the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo and Xtreme Bull Riding event. With the county pulling back some of its financial commitment and the state of the economy, will it be able to maintain is status as one of the Wrangler ProRodeo Million Dollar Tour events? One of the requirements is $10,000 in prize money for each of the seven judged events.

No doubt, you can expect changes. Down the road, I wouldn’t be surprised if the county elects to contract with an outside party to run the rodeo. The public-private partnership was a good one for a lot of years, but it’s probably time for a change. It’s time to separate the rodeo from the fair. Let rodeo folks run the rodeo and fair people run the fair.

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Silverdale’s Kyle Talbot won an offshore powerboating championship in 2010, and he got the 2011 season off to a victorious start, winning the Cat outboard class at the Smokin’ the Sound race in Biloxi, Miss. Talbot races this Sunday in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Here’s a photo from the race in Biloxi. And here’s another.

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Port Orchard native Willie Bloomquist was activated by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. He missed 21 games with a right hamstring injury.

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This story on golfer Troy Kelly, 32, talks about how the Central Kitsap grad, ranked No. 5 in earnings on the Nationwide Tour, is thriving after hip replacement surgery. The former University of Washington player shot a 3-under 69 in the first round of this week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am in Carolina. The tournament’s played on three courses — two in South Carolina and one in North Carolina.

And in case you missed it, here’s my story on the Babe Ruth World Series that’s coming to Kitsap County in 2012. This promises to be a pretty cool event. Kudos to the Public Facilities District, Kitsap County, Port Madison Enterprises and Rotary Clubs of Kitsap County for stepping up to the plate with their financial support. Robert Faherty of Babe Ruth, Inc., a vp and commissioner who was on hand for the ceremonial signing of the contract, said fans will be surprised how good the competition will be among the 13-year-olds.

“… so know all of a sudden they turn a double play and you see a kid throw it really well. He’ll throw a curve ball and a kid strikes out. Another kid hits a 380-foot home run. It’s just really good baseball because the teams are very well tested before they get here. They can overcome a few runs down or comeback. The baseball’s  a lot better than people think. It’s not local league 13-year-old play. It’s the teams that have won state touraments and district tournaments. Some players will obvioulsy start to stand out. As wild as it sounds, you’ll going, Man I really I want to see that California shorstop. Or the centerfield from Oakland can really run. … I think when you watch the games, and kind of give yourself a chance to get into it you’re going to be surprised..

“The hometown team may be at the biggest disadvantage., Even though they may have the advantage of being at home and sleeping in their own bed, they are not being tested along the way. But you’ll have a lot of people there rooting for the host team. Everybody’s gonna be pulling for someone.”


Saturday’s thoughts: League, Huskies, Sounders, Seahawks, steroids, Hubie Brown …

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

How can Mariners’ closer Brandon League go from being practically unhittable to where he’s at right now? In his last four games, he’s allowed 12 hits, 10 runs (all earned), walked 0 and struck out 3. His ERA: 30.00. In his previous five appearances: 5 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts. He doesn’t need a pitching coach, he  needs a psychiatrist.

The next time the University of Washington stages an event like the one at Bremerton’s Harborside Conference Center last week — Huskies Celebrating Huskies —  they might think about promoting it a little bit. They sold 75 tickets and the crowd was less than that for football coach Steve Sarkisian, men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar and women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff. I found out about it by accident at a Kitsap Athletic Roundtable meeting earlier in the week and we did run an notice in the paper, but I’m still waiting for a press release, e-mail or phone call telling us about the event, which was open to the pubic.

The UW, or any organization for that matter, would do well to bring in the gang from Gold Mountain Golf Club to run things. They continue to go above and beyond when it comes to putting on first-class events. USGA officials said the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links was off the charts. There’s no doubt in my mind that the U.S. Junior Amateur, which kicks off with a players’ dinner on the USS Stennis on July 17, will be a huge success.

There’s been a lot written this week about the Sounders-Timbers rivalry that dates back to the late 1970s and the old North American Soccer League. Shortly after being hired by The Sun in 1975, I found myself covering the Sounders at Memorial Stadium. I remember Paul Crossley making those long beautiful runs down the right side and make crosses to the middle of the field. Mike England anchored the defese. Tjeer Van’t Land, a Dutchman, was a forward. The hard part for a rookie reporter was making sense of the Scottish brogues and English accents. It didn’t take long to figure out the game and the strategies, but the language barrier was difficult.

How does Olympic College’s baseball team lose 1-0 to Everett when it out-hits its opponent 9-1? Hey, it happened Friday night at the Fairgrounds.

Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb and Kyle Orton have all been mentioned as quarterbacks the Seahawks might be interested in. Right now Charlie Whitehurst’s the only guy signed to a contract. Even if Matt Hasselbeck is willing to give Seattle a hometown deal, I think it’s time to go in another direction. Give Charlie a chance. I thought he looked pretty good in the season-ending must-win over the Rams. I know I’m in the minority here, but I’d like to see how he’d do over a four- or five-game stretch.

You know the saying, “Don’t believe everything you read?” Well, don’t believe everything you hear either. Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has an interesting take on ESPN’s reporting on the Seahawks interest in Hasselbeck.

I don’t follow the NBA like I used to, but 77- year-old Hubie Brown remains a treasure. The guy who coached the Kentucky Colonels to the 1975 ABA championship breaks the game down better than anyone in basketball history.

Can Derrick Rose and the defensive-minded Chicago Bulls take down the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals? I think they’ve got a chance. Looks like a seven-game series to me.

Canada hasn’t produced a Stanley Cup champ since 1993, but are the Vancouver Canucks really Canada’s team? Read on.

I was wondering the other day if there are any players out there who use a Nellie Fox model wood baseball bat. Probably not. Everyone’s gone to a lighter bat with a skiny handle to get more bat speed. I used to use the Nellie Fox bat, which had a fat handle, and I’d choke up. You don’t see much of that anymore, although Barry Bonds, steroids and all, choked up and I heard he was a pretty good power hitter.

Speaking of hitting and baseball, numbers are down and it probably has a lot to do with the fact that steriods aren’t part of the game anymore. Joe Posnanski writes about it in this piece.

Speaking of steroids, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel writes: “Anybody else wondering if Tiger’s prolonged winless streak is due more to the fact that his old swing coach has been fired or the fact that his old blood doctor has been indicted?”


Reminder: Big Dawgs Sark, Romar in Bremerton tonight

Monday, May 9th, 2011

In case you missed it, Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian and men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar are scheduled to be the featured speakers at a UW athletics and alumni event tonight (Monday, May 9) at Bremerton’s downtown conference center next to the ferry terminal. It’s billed as Huskies Meeting Huskies.

It gets going at 6 p.m. and is expected to last a couple hours. Cost is $60 for adults and includes a buffet dinner.

This event replaces the old Husky Coaches Tour that used to make a yearly stop at McCormick Woods Golf Course in Port Orchard.


M’s fooling you, too?

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Don’t look know about the Seattle Mariners have won eight of their last eight games to pull within a game of .500 (16-17) and three games of first in the AL West. After starting the season like it was headed for its third 100-loss season in four years, Seattle’s now playing winning baseball.

Did anybody see this coming?

Felix Hernandez’s gutty nine-inning pitching performance was one thing on Friday night, but how about those hits in the bottom of the ninth that produced the winning run in a 3-2 victory over the White Sox. Jack Cust singled, pushing his average to .200. Jack Wilson, fooled badly on a changeup, somehow looped a single to right field (raising his average to .243). Then Brenden Ryan, the hyper-shortstop who is still fighting to get over the Mendoza line (Ryan’s at .191), singled in the game-winner.

It’s amazing what a little offense will do for a team. Through the M’s first 15 game, they were outscored by 33 runs and were 4-11.

Since that stretch, the M’s have outscored opponents by 20 runs and are 12-6.

I still cringe at times watching Wilson and Ryan foul off fastballs right down the middle of the plate. Good big-league hitters don’t miss those pitches. During a conversation with Aaron Cunningham this week, he emphasized how important that was. “You’ve got to be able to hit a fastball if you want to play up there,” said Cunningham, the the South Kitsap grad who’s now in the Padres organization with Triple-A Tucson. You can read about Cunningham and his drive to get back to the big leagues in Sunday’s editions. You can look for it later tonight online.

So what do you think? Is this a mirage? Have the M’s done enough to convince you that they can win with the players they’ve got? How much credit do you give Eric Wedge? And what about Brandon League — he’s perfect in nine save opportunites and looked absolutely filthy on Thursday, throwing a 97 mph fastball with a nasty sinker to close out a victory over Texas. 

Suddenly, there’s a few players to get excited about besides Felix. League, Justin Smoak, Michael Pineda.


Kelly shares lead in Nationwide golf event

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Former Central Kitsap and University of Washington golfer Troy Kelly played the first nine holes at the University of Georgia Golf Course 3-under-par and shares first place in the Nationwide Tour’s Stadion Classic at Athens, Ga. Kelly had three birdies and no bogeys over the front side of the par-71 course.

Kelly’s top finish on the Nationwide Tour was a solo second at the Chattanooga Classic in 2009.

UPDATE: 12:37 p.m.

Troy’s still tied for first through 11 holes. Gotta run. Here’s the leaderboard in case you want to check for updates.


Quick hits and links: Villopoto, Hammel, Kelly, M’s, Hawks, more …

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

POULSBO’S RYAN Villopoto is a top-five finish away from winning his first AMA Supercross 450cc championship. RV won in Salt Lake City on Saturday night and can wrap up the title this coming weekend in Las Vegas.

JASON HAMMEL of the Colorado Rockies has got the stuff to be a No. 3 starter and a 15-game winner. The South Kitsap grad improved to 3-1 with a win over the Pirates on Saturday night.

OLYMPIC COLLEGE’S baseball team took on Bellevue, top team in the NWAACC North, this weekend. After getting bombed 13-0 in the opener, they lost 6-5, 4-2, 2-1. They’ve all lost 1-0, 2-0 and 3-2 to Douglas (B.C.) and 4-3 and 7-5 to Skagit Valley. As close as they are to breaking through, the Rangers will never do it unless they can figure out a way to win those close games.

GOLFER TROY KELLY tied for 24th at the South Georgia Classic, good enough to for an exemption into this week’s Nationwide Tour event, the Stadion Athens Classic at Athens, Ga. The Central Kitsap grad is now 78th on the money list after two tournaments and looking for a high enough finish to get some status on tour. He had to Monday qualify for this week’s tourament, and he led the way with a 65. This week’s winner, Ted Potter, Jr., was also a Monday qualifier.

EVEN BAD teams have good weeks. Hey, last year’s Mariners figured out a way to win six in a row at one point. This year’s team is coming home after a 5-1 road trip. Pretty impressive and it could have been a 6-0 trip. If Ichiro doesn’t lose the ball in the sun,  if the M’s could have gotten Felix Hernandez some runs … One month in, I think it’s still too early to figure these guys out, but if they play more like they did this past week than they did earlier in April, the season’s going to be interesting.

I DIDN’T SEE the entire broadcast of Sunday’s game at Boston, but caught the part where they were comparing Hernandez to Luis Tiant. I’ve been thinking that for the past two years. The way he turns his back to the hitter on his delivery, it’s really close to what El Tiante used to do. Not sure if it gives him more power or gives him a better rhythm, but I’m pretty sure it makes it harder for the hitters to pick up the ball.

THE EXPERTS didn’t like the Seahawks draft so much. Mel Kifer gave it a D+, his lowest grade of all 32 NFL teams. Here’s Kifer’s assessment:

Top needs: QB, OT, WR, DL

Summary: By passing on Andy Dalton, the clear impression is that Seattle has other plans (or hopes to) at quarterback. Could it be Carson Palmer or Kevin Kolb? I hope the Seahawks have better plans for quarterback than they appeared to in terms of adding value here. Carpenter fits a need, but was a reach with better tackle available. Moffitt can help this offensive line, but I didn’t see guard as a top need. Wright was a reach on my board, as was Durham, a wideout out of Georgia who may have been around much, much later. The Seahawks then made some sensible picks in the secondary, but at what impact that late? They did nothing really to help the defensive line and their sense of value was questionable. The positive might be that this is a very young team, and you suspect Pete Carroll expects improvement. I just don’t know if he added much this weekend.

Other draft analysts also were scratching their heads over some of the Hawks’ picks. Everyone seems to like their first-round pick, Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter, but they seem to think Seattle didn’t need to use a first-round pick. As for the criticism of Kris Durham, who wasn’t invited to the combine, the Seahawks said they liked him because of his size. He gives Seattle another big (6-foot-5) receiver to go with Mike Williams.

Former Seahawks’ QB Trent Dilfer was critical, saying the Hawks “absolutely whiffed”  with their picks.

It’s hard for the average fan to get excited about offensive linemen, but that’s where it all starts. If the Seahawks got it right this year, with top picks Carpenter and John Moffitt, everybody’s going to be happy about this year’s draft.


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