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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 February, 2012

Kelly out of Honda Classic after first PGA Tour reshuffle

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Troy Kelly is no longer in this week’s PGA Tour Honda Classic in Florida.
The former Washington Husky and Central Kitsap golfer dropped 10 spots to No. 31 after the Tour’s first reshuffle, which occurred following the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico, where Kelly posted his best Tour finish, a tie for 37th. The order is used to fill fields until the next reshuffle following the Houston Open, April 1.
Kelly, who has won $38,578 after making three cuts in the first six events, will play in the March 8-11 Puerto Rico Open, and might attempt to Monday qualify in the March 15-18 Transitions Championshp in Florida, said his father Bob Kelly. Bob said Troy also has a good chance of getting in the Houston Open.
Kelly will drop down and play in three Nationwide Tour events — the Chitimacha Louisiana Open (March 22-25 at Broussard, La.), the Soboba Golf Classic (April 5-8 at San Jacinto, Calif.) and the TPC Stronebrae Championshp (April 12-15 at Hayward, Calif.).
In you’re not familiar with how the reshuffle works, here’s an explanation. Kelly’s one of 50 players on Tour this year who either qualified through the Nationwide Tour (he was 11th in 2011) or Q-School. Based on how he finished last year, Kelly entered the PGA Tour ranked No. 21. After a tournament has been filled with past winners and the top 125 players on the previous year’s money list, players from the group of 50 fill the rest of slots in order according to their ranking.

Kelly ranks No. 41 in driving distance (295.5) on Tour and 142nd in stroke average (72.05). Click here for all of his Tour statistics.


Another Marvin trade rumor

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Atlanta’s Marvin Williams to Cleveland for Ramon Sessions?

Bremerton’s Williams has been been rumored to have been on the trading block before, but nothing ever materialized.

Maybe this is the one?

Same news, different source.


Hammel’s goal: pitch 200 innings for Orioles

Friday, February 24th, 2012

In this Baltimore Sun video, Jason Hammel says his goal is to throw 200 innings for the Orioles this year. The South Kitsap grad was traded to Baltimore from Colorado last month.

Brady Sizemore’s injury in Cleveland could open the door for Aaron Cunningham, acquired by the Indians in an offseason trade with San Diego. Cunningham was among a handful of outfielders in the mix for the fourth outfielder’s job and now he has a chance to start in one of the corner spots if he has a good spring training.

Willie Bloomquist turned 34 in the offseason and the South Kitsap grad is back for his 11th big-league season, and second with the Diamondbacks. He helped the club win the NL West and get into the postseason a year ago and was rewarded with a two-year $3.8 million deal. He actually turned down more money from the Giants to stay in Arizona, where the Arizona State grad lives.


Marvin denies asking Hawks for a trade

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Chris Broussard of EPSN reported earlier on Tuesday that Bremerton’s Marvin Williams wasn’t happy with his role in Atlanta and wanted to be traded.

According to the Hawks’ PR guy, it’s not true. “You know that’s not me,” said Marvin.

The Hawks are in New York to face Jeremy Lin and the Knicks on Wednesday.

Williams missed Atlanta’s last game to attend the funeral of a relative.

 

 


Bracketology: It’s that time of year again

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Joe Lunardi’s become sort of a household name for rabid college basketball fans. He tries to sort out the pairings for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Of course, it’s an impossible job, but it’s kind of fun to follow his bracketology.

Lunardi’s latest post on Friday had Gonzaga going to the NCAA East regional in Portland (Oregon, not Maine) as a No. 5 seed, and it had Washington or Miami as a No. 13 seed. It’ll be interesting to see his new brackets. The Zags were upset by San Francisco and Washington played perhaps its best game of the season against Arizona.

It would be fun if the NCAA could stick Gonzaga and Washington in the same regional. It’s a game we’d all like to see on a yearly basis. Don’t know why they can’t make it happen. Play it in Seattle one year, Spokane the next.

Lunardi also had Arizona as a No. 11 seed and Cal as a No. 9 seed.

I haven’t watched much college basketball this year. Didn’t make it to a single Husky game and I usually see at least a half dozen. So I don’t really have a great feel for how it’s all going to shake out, but from what I have seen, Kentucky looks like a Final Four lock.

And I’m a big Murray State fan. Caught part of their game againt St. Mary’s, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Racers make a deep run.

One thing we do know: Butler needs to win the Horizon League Tournament to get into the tournament this year. The Bulldogs — NCAA runnerup the last two years — have won four straight, but they’re 17-12 and unless they pick up Jeremy Lin, we’re not going to be reading much about the Butlers this time around.

 


Marvin still going hard for his college degree

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Some Kitsap-centric linkage to check out on a Saturday morning:

Bremerton’s Marvin Williams is still on a mission to get his college degree in African-American Studies from North Carolina. He was only a Tar Heel for one year, but he returns to Chapel Hill every offseason to take a few more classes. He said his parents never pushed him to go back. He’s doing it for himself and for his college coach, Roy Williams, who gave him the opportunity to play in Chapel Hill.

According to this story, he even spends time working on his school assignments during the NBA season.

“If I was to be able to inspire kids to either play basketball or get an education I would take the education,” he said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished a few things in my life, I’ve made it to the NBA. But once I get my degree I feel like that will be my greatest accomplishment.”

FYI: You can catch Marvin and Hawks on TV Saturday when they play at Portland (CSN, 7 p.m.). Wonder if Marvin will still be in the league when Seattle gets a new franchise?

RV is still the guy to beat on the Supercross circuit. Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto is coming off a monster season in which he swept everything, and he’s back on top after six races heading into Saturday’s race at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. SPEED is televising it live at 5:30 p.m.

Kasey Dunn, the former North Kitsap/Idaho star and former Seahawks assistant had the pleasure of coaching Justin Blackmon at Oklahoma State this year. He’s considered the top wide receiver available in the draft. Dunn offers some insight into what makes Blackmon so good in this story.

Erynne Lee, the UCLA freshman from Central Kitsap, led the top-ranked Bruins women’s golf team to a second-place finish at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational  earlier this month. She was third overall. And Lee led the Bruins again the following week as UCLA won the Regional Challenge. She was third overall again in that tournament.


Thiel, Kelly take opposite views on The Commish

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Art Thiel of Sportspressnw.com isn’t so quick to let David Stern off the hook. While Steve Kelly of the Seattle Times writes that it’s time for Seattle fans to forgive the NBA commish for his role in the departure of the Seattle SuperSonics, Thiel says no, no, no.

You’ll be able to read more from Thiel in The Sun when the Mariners head to Japan for their two-game series against the Oakland Athletics. We’ll give you more details later, but we think you’ll enjoy the content Thiel will provide from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Meanwhile,  here’s some more linkage:

In case you missed it, here’s Jim Moore’s latest Monday column for The Sun. The Go 2 Guy is encouraged about the possibility of the NBA returning to Seattle, and the possibility of an NHL team sharing a new arena.

Side note on the Go 2 Guy: I was listening to his afternoon show on 710 ESPN one day last week and learned that he put down a $20 bet on Kyle Stanley to win in Phoenix the week after the Gig Harbor golfer blew it at San Diego’s Torrey Pines. Stanley was a 50-to-1 shot that week. Bottom line; Go 2 Guy’s return was $1,000, which pays for a lot of gas for his frequent trips to Pullman to watch his beloved Cougs.

Former Mariners catcher and current broadcaster Dave Valle helps give children in the Dominican Republic hope. Read about it here in Tim Brown’s Yahoo! Sports piece.

Jeremy Lin is the new Tim Tebow. Tweets, TV clips, he’s the new face of the NBA. If you can’t get enough of the former Harvard star, read Adrian Wojnararski’s story in Yahoo! Sports here.

Anybody who’s read anything I’ve written about Willie Bloomquist over the years knows  he’s one of my favorite athletes, and it’s not because I’m a homer. Well, maybe a little bit. But I like the over-achieving types who prove the so-called experts wrong. I admire the way he plays, always have, dating back to his high school days at South Kitsap. If he was so horrible, he wouldn’t be embarking on his 10th year as a fulltime player in the majors; the Arizona Diamondbacks wouldn’t have started him for most of the second half of the season, trusting him during a pennant race and eventually in the NLCS. So all of you Willie fans,  forgive me while I suggest that you read another anti-Willie rant. In this Baseball Prospectus piece by Geoff Young, he’s called the Pavement of baseball.

Jon Paul Morosi of foxsports.com has already written the Mariners off for 2012. Too many questions. As in: Can Franklin Guiterrez stay healthy? Is Casper Wells  an everyday outfielder? Will Mike Carp hit his way into the lineup while playing passable defense? Is Justin Smoak going to justify the Cliff Lee trade? Where do Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi fit? Can Montero catch?

 


Stern: If new arena is built, NBA will considering returning to Seattle

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

NBA Commissioner David Stern has weighed in on the possibility of Seattle landing another NBA franchise.

And, yes, he said there’s a possibility.

Read his comments in this Salt Lake Tribune story. 

The story, originally reported by the Seattle Times, suggests that it’s possible Seattle could wind up with the Sacramento Kings if their arena deal falls through. SuperSonics broadcaster Kevin Calabro weighs in with his opinions, suggesting that it’ll be tough to move the Kings.

Christopher Hedges is the 44-year-old hedge-fund manager who has been working behind the scenes on the deal to build a new arena and bring a team to Seattle. Can he swing the deal by himself (or with partners) without public money?

If public money is required, then this deal won’t fly.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited about the possibility of having an NBA team in Seattle? There’s also talk about an NHL team sharing the same building, which would be built on property south of Safeco Field. Would you rather have a hockey team?

The Seahawks,  Mariners, Sounders, NBA, NHL and Huskies. Are there enough die-hard sports fans in Pugetropolis to support all of those teams?

 


Kyle Stanley bounces back on PGA Tour, at Spencer Levin’s expense

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

One week after Kyle Stanley blew an 8-shot lead in the final round of the Farmer’s Insurance Open at San Diego, the golfer from Gig Harbor came from nine shots off the lead in the final round to win the Phoenix Open.

It was his first PGA Tour victory and the fact he could come back one week later  and win — after such a monumental collapse — says a lot about the young man.

So this week it’s Spencer Levin, a golfer with Bremerton ties, who walks in Stanley’s shoes. Last week Stanley seemed on his way to victory when he took a triple-bogey eight on No. 18 and ended up losing a playoff to Brent Brandt Snedeker.

This week, Levin took a triple on No. 15, an relatively easy par-5 at the TPC Scottsdale Course, and he never recovered and finished third after shooting a 75.

Now, all eyes will be on Levin at this week’s Pebble Beach Pro Am. Can he put the tough loss behind him?

Levin’s already won $462,000 this year, and over $4.5 million in his young career. He’s not a terribly long hitter by PGA standards, he’s only 5-10, 170 pounds, but he just might be the best young player on the planet who hasn’t won on the PGA Tour. Now all eyes will be focusd on him, just like they were focused on Stanley this week after his meltdown at Torrey Pines.

Levin’s bound to have a few fans in the Kitsap area cheering him on.

Levin’s grandfather, Bucky, was a 1948 Bremerton High grad. His son and Spencer’s father, Don, was a professional golfer in the Sacrmento area.. Spencer’s proud great grandparents were the late Roy and Florence Levin..

Roy, who belonged to the Kitsap Golf & Country Club, rarely missed a Bremerton Athletic Roundtable meeting and always had something nice to say about everybody.

Florence was the first non-Indian child to be born in Manette. She was 101 when she died in 2005. Boy, she’d marvel at the new Manette Bridge. Florence used to ferry across to Bremerton and walked two miles to high school. At that time, there was no Manette Bridge, and the ferry cost just 3 cents.

She’s also be pretty proud of her great grandson.

As for Stanley, who grew up playing at Canterwood Golf & Country Club, the win gives him a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour and earns him a spot in this year’s Masters. He’s already won just under $1.8 million this season.

 

 


Bad hip explains a lot about Bree’s bobsled season

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

I’ve followed Bree Schaaf’s progress as a world-class bobsled pilot this season from afar, and from judging her finishes in World Cup races in Europe it seemed like the Olympian from Bremerton had taken a step back.

Except for the fifth-place effort at Altenberg, Germany, on one of the world’s speediest and dangerous tracks, there hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about. She was 11th, 11th, 9th, 15th and 14th in her other five World Cup races — not the kind of finishes she had in mind when she stared the season driving the USA-I sled.

“You have assumptions,” conceded Schaaf during a Wednesday night phone call from Whistler, British Columbia, where she races tonight. “You assume everything’s a progression, not a disaster. And in my mind, this season has been kind of a disaster.”

She says that, knowing she’s competed the whole year with an injured left hip that will require surgery at the end of the season.

“It makes me uncomfortable to talk about it because it sounds like I’m pumping excuses,” she said.

Two years ago, the relatively unknown American who broke in to the winter sports scene as a skeleton athlete — sliding head-first down those ice track — placed sixth in her first World Cup race on the same crazy-fast track that she’ll be competing on tonight under the lights at Whistler.

Schaaf and brakeman Emily Azevedo from Chico, Calif., returned to Whistler a year later and nearly won a medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics. They were standing on the podium, holding on to third place until the final two sleds knocked them back to fifth.

It was a remarkable performance for someone who was still learning her craft. The sky seemed to be the limit for Schaaf.

But sometimes the fight to get the top — no matter how dedicated and passionate you are — can be a struggle. Sometimes the struggles are out of your control.

In the post-Olympic year, emergency appendectomy surgery killed Schaaf’s mojo after she was seemingly on her way to establishing herself as a serious medal contender.

Now, she’s dealing with a labral tear in her left hip, a  common injury for bobsledders. (This report explains why bobsledders are subject to hip injuries better than I can). Azevedo had surgery for a similar injury a year ago, and came back as strong as ever.

It’s a chronic condition from overuse and Schaaf started noticing the pain while working out at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs this summer.

“I knew the workouts were getting significantly more and more painful,” she said.

She suspected what was going on, but wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the answer from doctors so she didn’t get an MRI right away.

“I was trying not to focus any energy on it,” she said. “I just kind of gutted it out for a while.  Hopefully I didn’t make it too much worse. … Part of the reason I didn’t want to know is that a lot of time if you don’t give the injury the attention, you don’t notice the pain as much.”

She eventually gave in, got an MRI, which confirmed the injury. She decided to compete in the World Cup season regardless.

“As a driver the only time you get better is to drive during the season,” she said.

But it’s been a battle. At 5-10, 165 pounds, she’s one of the smaller athletes in the sport and it’s been tough to maintain her muscle mass because she hasn’t been able to do her normal workouts.

Factor in what a mental grind it must be, and you can imagine the frustrations.

Plus, a new coaching staff has mixed and matched drivers and brakemen this season. Azevedo has been paired with Elana Meyers, the rookie pilot who has surpassed Schaaf to drive USA-1, at times.

Meyers won’t race the final two World Cup races — tonight in Whistler or at Calgary next week — as the U.S. has decided to have her train in Lake Placid, N.Y., which will host the world championships Feb. 17-18.

Schaaf and Azevedo will be together the next two weeks, and they’re looking forward to see if they can regain some of the magic they had during past races on North American tracks. Schaaf, the former Portland State volleyball player, will always consider Whistler her home track.

“I love the speed, I love the treachery, which I know sounds kind of sick,” he said. “It’s just one of those tracks that makes you feel alive.”

Even though the season has been a bit of a downer, Schaaf will try to turn it into a positive.

“It’s been a good test,” she said. “It’s hard when you put everything into every race, and you take it very personally, but you try not to take it personally. I wouldn’t be here unless I was a competitive person and this is just part of the learning process.

“Going through this is something that has made me realize how much I love the sport.”

If the surgery goes well, she’s hopeful for a fast recovery. At 32, the goal hasn’t changed: Win a gold medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

When she’s not sliding down those ice tracks around the world, you can hear her work as a broadcaster at Universal Sports, which televises the World Cup races on a delayed basis. Bree often serves as the color commentator for the men’s bobsled races. Coverage of the Whistler races will be live in Canada and on the internet. Check you local listings to find out when they air in the U.S.


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