Monthly Archives: November 2011

Some thought-provoking reads: Baseball contracts, Steve Jobs, Uncle Sam’s Backyard

This has been one of those glorious falls Saturdays where I’ve been able to carve out a little time and read a few things that I’ve put aside.

The dog is doing what she does best — sleep; my wife’s off to a baby shower with my mother (yeah, I’m gonna be a grandfather for the first time, my dad’s going to be a great grandfather for the first time, and that’s a little surreal to think about) and I’m sort of watching the Army-Air Force game because Larry Dixon’s running the ball for the Black Knights.

I’m sure your interests aren’t the same as mine, but I’m gonna share what I’ve been reading anyway.

I never knew much about the late Steve Jobs, and I was anxious to read Rolling Stone’s piece by Jeff Goodell on the man who gave us Apple and so much more. “Life is something that happens in a flash,” Jobs told Goodell. “We just have a brief moment her, and then we are gone.”

We’ve had a couple discussions in the office about what kind of money Albert Pujols is going to make on his next contract, and we’ve speculated …

(Let me interrupt this post to announce that Larry Dixon just scored on a 13-yard TD run to give Army a 7-0 lead)

on where Sir Albert might land. Whatever he signs for — and it’s been suggested he could get between $220 and $270 million over six or seven years — will be too much. Nobody’s worth that kind of money, and those big deals always seem to come back to haunt the franchise’s that get duped into shelling out the mad money. Joe Posnanski breaks down some of the big-money deals that have been signed in recent years. The Twins owe Joe Mauer $161 million over the next seven years. Posnanski points out that Mauer played in 82 games this year and has hit 12 home runs the last two years.

For my money, Mike Silver, formerly of Sports Illustrated and now Yahoo! Sports, is the best NFL writer around. I’m not a big NFL guy, but I find Silver’s rants and opinion to be pretty much right on. His latest column is about the Browns’ Peyton Hillis, who has become a major distraction for the franchise run by Mike Holmgren. In his weekly rankings column, he writes about the Lions’ nasty attitude and he wrote this to say about the No. 26-ranked Seahawks: “When Pete Carroll gets “hormonal” do Seahawks fans reach for the Midol?”

Ken Goe of The Oregonian writes that Ducks’ coach Chip Kelly is downplaying the significance of tonight’s rivalry game between Oregon and Washington.

There is a visceral dislike here for the UW football program that dates for some to 1948, when California and Oregon tied for the conference title and Washington’s vote for Cal sent the Bears to the Rose Bowl,” Goe writes. 

I think was on my third, maybe fourth, cup of coffee when I got to Uncle Sam’s Backyard. The blog is written by my pal and former Sun staffer John Wallingford,and I was looking forward to catching up on his ramblings. He’s back in Pennsylvania now, traveling home with his wife, Becky, and son, Max, and feline companion, Lester. Wally’s written about some interesting people and places they came across on their cross-country trip. His latest post is about a nuclear plant that’s located close to where his mother and sister live. It’s always good catching up on where he’s been and what he’s doing. If you’re looking for comments on the world of sports, don’t bother. But if you want to be entertained, provoked, educated, well, you’ll probably enjoy this blog. (Warning: some of the effin language might turn some of you off).

Here’s samples of what you’ll come across:

What does it all mean? Is there anything close to a thread that ties this ramshackle narrative together?
We’re here on the road, like so many before, trying to make sense of the American experience. Where’s Ken Burns when you need him?
Into the second decade of the 21st century, you have to wonder if we’re approaching the end of the road-trip era. Should the world’s oil supplies peak and produce Mad Max-style chaos, nobody will be wandering the highways and back roads, especially at the obscene rate of 13 miles per gallon.
It’s hard to see the end from here, though, the way the great army of semis maraud across the country night and day, making 1,000 miles per every 200-gallon tank of diesel. You’d think we were living in the 1950s, when domestic oil supplies seemed bottomless and everyone in Oklahoma City had an oil well in their backyard. 

*** ***

With Becky and Max asleep, I raise the blinds and drive out of Norman in the direction of Oklahoma City. First up is Moore, a ghastly piece of sprawl that gave the world Toby Keith. Enough said.

*** ***

The gravitational mystery that attracts me to eccentrics, cranks, lunatics and out-and-out freaks has reached full flower.

Characters are falling in upon me so fast I can’t keep up with them. They’re everywhere. They’re talking with God in ancient languages, getting stabbed in the heart by God, riding in upon beaten tricycles like tarnished gods in surreal wastelands.

And then there’s Nelson, whom I met this afternoon at Smith’s grocery store in Kingman, (Arizona) after shelling out roughly $1,150 for six tires and an oil change.

Nelson: Corpulent slob in motorized cart who thinks Rush Limbaugh is God. He didn’t tell me this, it’s just an educated guess.

Nelson accosted me near the seafood counter, apparently seeing in me a kindred spirit. He leaned in with a conspiratorial nod and offered the following gem.

Well, nevermind, I’ll let him tell you. I was so inspired by his eager buffoonery that I ran right outside and grabbed my camera, tracked him down in the soda aisle and told him I had some friends in Washington and Pennyslvania who’d love to hear him tell his joke.

You’ll have to go hear for the joke and to see the picture of Nelson.

Husky Stadium: Memories from the stadium by the lake

They’re going to take a wrecking ball to Husky Stadium next week and begin work on a $2o0 million rennovation. The track will be removed and the stands will be moved closer to the field. Suites will be added and it will still have a similar look — the view of Lake Washington to the east will be retained.

UW coach Steve Sarkisian said he’s “excited for the sledgehammer to come,” and get the project started in this Associated Press story.

Check out Art Thiel and Steve Rudman take a look at Husky Stadium in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

 The Husky Stadium we know has been a big part of a lot of lives. What are your favorite memories?

Here’s a few of mine:

Sept. 17, 1966: Washington beat Idaho 19-7. This was my baptism to Husky football. I was an eighth grader, living in Shelton. My family moved from Montana the previous year so I didn’t have any ties to the Huskies or any sports teams in the state. Bob Turner’s family (I can’t remember his parents’ names) were kind enough to invite the new kid to the game. I have vivid memories of walking through the campus after we had parked. It was the first time I’d been on the UW campus, too, and that was pretty cool taking in some of the buildings and atmosphere. I think we sat in the west end zone for the game, but what I remember most about the game was massive Idaho fullback Ray McDonald, who would go on to lead the nation in rushing that year with 1,329 yards and become a first-team All-American. He was 6-4, 248 pounds and ran a 9.9-second 100-yard dash.

The 67-68-69 seasons: My family moved to Bremerton in the winter of 1966 and the next fall I was catching the ferry, along with a bunch of my buddies, and hopping on a bus to go to Husky games. We didn’t make ’em all, but we always bought the end zone seats at the Lake Washington side of the stadium. I think they were $5. Great view, especially when the action was close to our end zone. The games weren’t all that memorable, but the team’s weren’t very good: 5-5 in 1967, 3-5-1 in ’68 and 1-9 in ’69.

1970 season: I was a senior at West Bremerton and had the good fortune of going to all of the Husky games with my high school football coach, Chuck Semancik. High school coaches and players from all over the Puget Sound would crowd into a classroom in the athletic department building before the game and it was a treat watching Semancik interact with the Husky assistants. They knew him well, and respected him. Bo Cornell, a fullback, was the main offensive threat, that year. This was a year before Sonny Sixkiller would emerge and the Huskies started flinging the ball all over the field.

No. 14, 1981: By now I’m married and my in-laws have season tickets to UW games. Right off the 50-yard line in the second deck. My late father-in-law was a hurdler for the Huskies in the 1930s and was a die-hard Husky fan. This was the date of a huge game against No. 3 USC. I remember walking up the concourse to our seats. We were under cover, but the wind was blowing so hard (60 mph gusts at times) we were still getting wet. It was one of the nastiest, gloomiest bad-weather games I’ve sat through, but you didn’t even notice. Ponchos were swirling in the air and when linebacker Fred Small recovered a kickoff that had crazily bounced into the end zone, Washington had stunned the Trojans 13-3. Marcus Allen had rushed for over 200 yards for seven straight games, but UW held the Heisman winner to 155, averaging about 3 yards a carry on that wind-swept, rainy day. The Dawgs went on to beat Iowa 28-0 in the Rose Bowl.

Sept. 22, 1990: This was the “I just saw purple. No numbers. Just purple” game. That’s what USC QB Todd Marinovich said following Washington’s 31-0 win over No. 5 USC.

Nov. 16, 1996: Watched this one from the press box and it was over after the first quarter. Corey Dillon rushed for 222 yards in the first 12 minutes against San Jose. Dillon was a treat to watch, the closest thing the Huskies have ever had to a Jim Brown.

Nov. 18, 1995: I wasn’t there in 1997 when Ryan Leaf and the Cougars beat the Huskies to clinch a trip to the Rose Bowl, but I was there two years earlier when Leaf, a brash freshman from Montana, almost beat the Huskies at Husky Stadium in his first career start in 1995. Left threw for 291 yards in a 33-30 loss and, at the time, I wondered if there would ever be an athlete from Montana as famous as Ryan Leaf.

Sept, 19, 2009: It’s Steve Sarkisian’s first season following Tyrone Willingham’s 0-12 swan song. It’s Sark’s third game and the Huskies knock off No. 3 USC 16-13, giving Husky fans everywhere hope that this just might be the coach to return the program to national prominence.


Here’s five memorable games from Jim Lambright:

Everett native Jim Lambright ranks his five more memorable games at Husky Stadium during his days as a UW player (1960-65), assistant coach (1969-93), head coach (1993-99) and fan (1999-present). Lambright, who is also a consultant for the construction crew that will begin renovating Husky Stadium early next week, touched four different decades when talking about his five more memorable games. For Lambright’s first-person account of each game, log on to



1)      Oct. 1, 1960: No. 17 Navy 15, No. 3 Washington 14

The largest crowd in Husky Stadium to date watched with split emotions as the Huskies lost to a Naval Academy team that had plenty of local rooting interest.

Lambright says: “I was a redshirt freshman that year, and I was actually an usher, because you had to have a way to earn room and board back then.  I was not a very good usher, because I was sitting there in the upper deck watching the game. It was a tremendous game to watch. There were a lot of Navy fans, and it was a huge game. It was one of those games you had no idea would be that well-attended. It left a mouth-open impression, just sitting in the upper deck and listening to all the people in awe.”


2)      Sept. 22, 1990: No. 5 Washington 31, No. 21 USC 0

UW’s defense wreaked havoc on the Trojans and USC quarterback Todd Marinovich, who was so beaten down that after the game he uttered the famous words: “All I saw was purple.”

Lambright says: “There was a picture in the paper the next day of the USC quarterback sitting on his (rear), with the headline: ‘All I saw was purple.’ As a defensive coordinator, you like those sort of pictures. That pretty much said it all.”

3)      Nov. 22, 1975: Washington 28, Washington State 27

A late interception return touchdown by Al Burleson gave the Huskies new life, and then Spider Gaines scored the game-winner on a 78-yard reception in what remains one of the most memorable Apple Cup games of all time.

Lambright says: “I have to go back to the game, the Washington State game with Al Burleson. It was (WSU coach) Jim Sweeney’s swan song, and late in the game, they were beating the tar out of us. It was wet and rainy, and three-quarters of the fans had left the game. Then late in the game, there was a fourth down, and Sweeney’s players talked him into going for it. They were at their own 30 or something like that. So he gave us a chance. And Al Burleson intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown to give us hope. Then, of course, Spider Gaines catches the pass and we come back and win the game. Years and years later, you heard all these stories of all the fans scrambling to get back in their seats after being in their warm, dry cars heading home. I got to know Jim Sweeney pretty well over the years, and he was the kind of guy who did that. If he had to do it all over again, I’m sure he’d go for it on fourth down again.”


4)      Nov. 4, 1989: Arizona State 32, Washington 24

The Sun Devils use a shotgun formation to pile up yardage on the defenseless Huskies, who use that game as motivation to completely retool their defense. UW would go on to win 33 of its next 35 games, including a share of the 1991 national title along the way.”

Lambright says: “What you have to group in, if we’re going to have a reunion of the ’91 national champions, is the game that really set us up for that from a defensive standpoint. We were playing Arizona State up here, and they could’ve scored 1,000 points on us. We couldn’t stop them. They were running the shotgun, and we had no way of defending it because we had no way of disguising what we were doing on defense, and they just destroyed us.  Coach (Don) James came in the next day, after we were done reviewing the film as a defense, and he said: ‘Do you think we can win if we keep doing what we’re doing? Or do we need to try something different on defense?’ We all pretty much agreed that we had to change. So that Sunday evening, we had a meeting and we changed the entire defense to an attacking defense designed to make sure we controlled the line of scrimmage. We had to go after them before they came after us; we had to dictate the game. We created a way to get after quarterbacks and offenses. We had two more games that season, against Oregon State and WSU, of course, and we doubled our number of sacks in those games. Then we went down to the Freedom Bowl and destroyed a pretty good Florida team and held them to seven points (in a 31-7 win). So that one sticks out because of the change we made. After that, we started to go to Rose Bowls back to back to back. That had a lot to do with the changes we made after that game, and then you couple that with getting really good players.”

5)      Sept. 4, 1993: No. 15 Washington 31, No. 12 Stanford 14

Lambright’s first game as head coach ended up being a laugher, as the Huskies pounded Stanford and head coach Bill Walsh. Beating Walsh made it one of the most satisfying games of Lambright’s life, while a pre-game gesture by players to honor former coach Don James is still fresh in Lambright’s mind.

Lambright says: “My first game as head coach, we were facing Stanford, and to honor Coach James, we had the team walk out of the tunnel, and all of them held an arm up in praise of Don. He was up in the press box, and instead of running out of the tunnel, they all walked out and held up a hand to him. And Bill Walsh, the Stanford coach, was a very mouthy guy. He was very strongly against us, saying these terrible things and making several references to us being not ethical people. So it was a wonderful thing to go out and kick their (tails).”

D-Backs sign McDonald, making Bloomquist’s status uncertain

Willie Bloomquist and the Arizona Diamondbacks seemed like a good fit. Arizona picked up the its half of the mutal option on Bloomquist, but the Port Orchard native declined his option and opted for free agency.

Bloomquist, who wound up being the starting shortstop for the Diamondbacks for most of the last three months of the regular season and in the postseason, is now in limbo. McDonald signed a two-year, $3 million deal. He’s a middle infielder, primarily a shortstop. Stephen Drew, Arizona’s starting shortstop, is recovering from ankle surgery.

Bloomquist, an Arizona State grad who lives in Scottsdale, can play multiple positions. He made $900,000 last year and would have made $1.1 million if he’d agreed to the option in his contract.
The Diamondbacks online site reported these quotes:
“I am declining it with the hopes of renegotiating something longer than just next year,” Bloomquist said on Monday. “I hope we can work something out as we would love to stay here.”

“We really haven’t had any dialogue since they declined,” GM Kevin Towers said, referring to Bloomquist and his representative, Scott Boras. “We’d still like to have Willie back, we just seemed to have more dialogue with Johnny Mac and his advisers over the last few days. I think for us based on the holes we had in the middle of the infield we wanted to act quickly versus sitting around and waiting for the market to kind of open up and find out where guys are at and where dollars are at on guys. I get the impression from Willie’s side that that was what they wanted to do.”


Husky-Ducks links

Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell, when asked about Pac-10/12 running backs, said there’s no way the UW’s Chris Polk ranks among the top-5 backs he’s seen in 29 years: Campbell told The Oregonian:  “I think (UW’s Chris) Polk is good but he’s not as good as Steven Jackson or Ken Simonton or LaMichael (James) and probably not as good as Reggie Bush.”

Die-hard Cougar, Go-to-Guy Jim Moore, has nothing but nice things to say about Husky Stadium.

Former Husky QB Brock Huard says current Husky Keith Price QB sounds like Avery Ward and plays like Charlie Ward, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida. He also reveals that teammates call Price “Teeth” because he’s smiling all of the time. Huard, now an analyst for ESPN and radio host on 710 ESPN, wrote about the top sophomore quarterbacks in the country is this ESPN insider piece.

The Autzen Zoo, an Oregon Ducks fans site, poses this question: How much longer will Oregon own the Northwest?

Ralph Russo of the Associated Press picks the UW to upset Oregon 38-33.

Silverdale’s Erynne Lee PNGA Player of the Year; where’s she rank among Kitsap’s best-ever golfers?

Coming on the heels of her being named the state player of the year by the Washington State Golf Association for the third time in four years, Silverdale’s Erynne Lee was named Women’s Player of the Year by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association on Tuesday. It’s the second time Lee, a Central Kitsap grad now playing her first year of college golf at UCLA, has won the award. She’s was also a two-time WSGA junior player of the year and a former PNGA junior of the year.
Lee, 18, won the Washington State Women’s Amateur by defeating her sister Katie Lee by two strokes with a 54-hole total of 3-under par, 213.  A few weeks later, Lee reached the quarterfinals of the  U.S. Women’s Amateur at the Rhode Island Country Club. Lee also played in the U.S. Women’s Open, won the Washington State Class 4A championship and played in Canadian Women’s Tour events at Beloeil, Blue Springs and Squamish Valley.

Lee tied for 8th, tied for 25th and finished 5th in her first three college tournaments for No. 1 ranked UCLA. She has 72.0 stroke average after nine rounds. Lee is not playing in this week’s tournament in Hawaii.

In a column in last week’s Sports Paper Weekly, a Sun publication that publishes on Thursdays, Kitsap Golf & Country Club pro Al Patterson ranked Lee as the best player to come out of the area.

“Please remember,” Patterson wrote, “that Erynne is only 18 years old, but as of today she is the 40th ranked women’s amateur in the world. In 2008 she finished the year ranked 18th in the same category. She really is one of the future stars in women’s golf.”

Here’s Patterson’s top 5: 1, Lee; 2, Troy Kelly, the Central Kitsap grad and ex-Husky who just secured his PGA Tour card for 2012 by finishing No. 11 on the Nationwide Tour money list; 3, George Bayer, the former Bremerton bomber who grew up near the KG&CC. Bayer didn’t turn pro until he was 29 and won four PGA Tour events during his career; 4, Scott Alexander, the director of golf at Gold Mountain; Alexander’s a former Washington State Amateur champion and top collegian golfer during his days at Seattle U; 5, Buzz Edmonds, “the best golfer in Kitsap Golf and Country Club history,” according to Patterson. Hard to argue. Buzz won the Kitsap Amateur three times and was a club champ nine times, winning it in five different decades.

What do you think about Patterson’s list? Who else belongs on it? Randy Jensen, the long-time pro at LakeLand Village, was one of the best in the Northwest for years; Connor Robbins played at Washington,  reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur and had some success on golf’s mini tours; Ryan Kelly, Troy’s brother, could be dominant at times. If you wanted to expand the list to West Sound, you’d have to put Mark Wurtz on the list. The former Chimacum High star, who returned last summer to become the pro at Discovery Bay Golf Course in Port Towsned, won over 40 junior titles, two state high school titles and was second another year. He won over $100,000 on the PGA Tour in 1994.