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 June, 2012

Moyer vs. Hultzen: It’s a sellout

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

If you were thinking about going to tonight’s PCL game at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, forget it. It’s sold out.

Watching Jamey Moyer (now with Las Vegas, a Toronto Triple-A team) and Mariners’ prize prospect Danny Hultzen in action is certainly more appealing than watching the M’s take on the Red Sox at Safeco Field.

Moyer, 49, is trying to pitch his way back into the big leagues. He spent 11 of his 25 MLB seasons in Seattle.

Hultzen, 22, is trying to pitch his way on to his first big-league roster. The M’s selected him with the second overall pick in 2011.  Should the M’s rush him to the majors?

Hell, yeah. Let’s see what he’s got.

 


Rodeo news: Thunderbird Rodeo this weekend; Abbott hired in Texas

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The 8th annual Thunderbird Pro Rodeo will be held Friday-Sunday at Thunderbird Stadium at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.

The event benefits Corey’s Day on the Farm for the special needs children and Bremerton Kitsap Athletic Teams for special needs youth and adults.

About 200 contestants will compete for $8,100 in added money.

A barrel race will be held 6 p.m. Friday. The rodeo begins at 7 p.m. Saturday with a concert featuring Brian “Buck” Ellard to follow at 9 p.m. Sunday’s rodeo starts at 1 p.m. with military and dependents admitted free. Gates and beer garden open 4 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

Admission is $10 (pre-sale online at thunderbirdrodeo.com) and $12 at the door. It’s $9 for seniors, military and 4-H members, $6 for children 7-11.

A VIP pass for $50 is good for the whole weekend and gives fans access to the hospitality area to eat and view the rodeo.

Abbott lands in Texas

This is old news, but I don’t think it was ever reported locally. Frank Abbott, who helped grow the Kitsap Stampede into one of the top rodeos in the country, was hired as the public events director in Sommervell County in Texas. Here’s a link to an April story. Sommervell is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Cowboys Christmas: 31 stops and $3.3 million

This one is courtesy the PRCA:
It is called Cowboy Christmas not because it is the busiest week of the rodeo season – there are a few weeks that have more events – but because the Fourth of July week offers the most money in the shortest span of time during the regular season.
This time around there will be 31 rodeos that begin and/or end during the week of July 1-7 with total prize money in the (ritzy) neighborhood of $3.3 million.
Cowboys trying to work their way to the year-end Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will crisscross the Western United States trying to compete in as many as nine rodeos and improve their standing.
Trevor Brazile broke the Cowboy Christmas earnings record last year with $39,993 in a single week and over the years six men have surpassed $30,000 during the Fourth of July week.
There figure to be four rodeos that week with more than $250,000 in total purse – Ponoka, Alberta; St. Paul, Ore.; Cody, Wyo., and Greeley, Colo. – and another half dozen with more than $100,000.

 

 


Shooting from the hip on a sunny Sunday

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Shooting form the hit on a Sunday morning while listening to Kris Kristofferson’s classic song Sunday Morning Coming Down.

Baseball: 

Port Orchard’s Willie Bloomquist has had three straight multi-hit games for the Diamondbacks, including a 3-for-5 game Saturday against the Cubs and has his average up to .299. Stephen Drew, Arizona’s regular shortstop, is close to returning after breaking his ankle in mid-season a year ago. There’s been talk that the D’backs will platoon Drew and Bloomquist. I bet manager Kirk Gibson starts moving Willie around, playing a little third, some outfield and shortstop.

Todd Linden has an eight-game hitting streak at Triple-A Fresno. The DH/OF/1B from Central Kitsap probably needs to hit with more power on a consistent basis before the Giants start thinking about giving him another shot at the major-league level.

Jason Hammel (8-2) has gone 19 straight innings without allowing an earned run. After a one-hit complete-game shutout, he came back to throw a 5-hitter over 8 innings in a win over the Washington Nationals on Friday. The right-hander from South Kitsap struck out 10 and didn’t walk a hitter. Could an All-Star game be in Hammel’s future? It’s not out of the question.

Title IX: 

In case you missed it, here’s my column on some of the top women’s athletes who’s come through the Kitsap area. And remember, this is just some of the top females who’ve graced our gymnasiums and playing fields.

Let’s Play Two:

Looking for something to do on what looks to be a mostly sunny Sunday? The BlueJackets play the Walla Walla Sweets in a 4 p.m. West Coast League doubleheader at the Fairgrounds. It’s a good brand of baseball, and the price is right.

It’s LeBron Time:

Even the harshest LeBron James critics had to be impressed with how he played while leading the Miami Heat to an NBA championship. And get used to it.  He’s only 27. How many rings will he wind up with? It won’t surprise me if he wins four or five more. Nobody in the league can deal with his combination of size, speed, strength, and unselfishness on the court. He plays defense, he’s a clever passer and although he’s not a great outside shooter, he’s not bad. Has there been a more gifted player? I don’t think so, although he still has a few more titles to win before we can put him in the same class as Michael Jordan.

 

Flynn’s No,. 27:

You probably already saw this, but in case you didn’t, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski ranked Matt Flynn of the Seahawks as the No. 27 quarterback among the 30 projected starters in the league.


Willie Bloomquist vs. the Mariners

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Port Orchard’s Willie Bloomquist was an under-appreciated and under-used utility player on a 2008 Seattle Mariners’ team that was 61-101.

It was Bloomquist’s final year with the team that drafted him (third round, 1999, out of Arizona State). Only players left from that 2008 Seattle team are Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki.

Bloomquist, 34, is having another solid season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are about to begin a three-game series against the Mariners in Phoenix. Monday’s game starts at 6:40 p.m. (ROOT).

Always a streaky hitter, he had 12 multi-hit games over a recent 19-game stretch that raised his average from .212 to .297. He’s back down to .286 now, which is still 20 points above his career average. And he’s still starting at shortstop on a regular basis.

A lot of so-called experts said Bloomquist could never be an everyday shortstop, but he’s handled the role since Stephen Drew suffered a season-ending ankle injury in July of 2011. Drew might make it back sometime this year, but the D-backs aren’t concerned, not with Bloomquist playing the way he’s been playing. He was among Arizona’s most valuable players a year ago as the D-backs won the NL West.

Bloomquist might be playing the best baseball of his career. Manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammel talk about Willie’s work ethic in this story.

Bloomquist is no Omar Vizquel or Carlos Guillen, but would the M’s have been better off with Bloomquist at shortstop instead of Yuniesky Betancourt, Jack Wilson, Brendan Ryan and others that have been used at that position in recent years? Just asking.

 

 

 

 


Remember Beau Hossler?

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

One of the fun things about Gold Mountain Golf Club landing all of these major tournaments in recent years — the U.S. Amateur Public Links, NCAA West Regionals, Husky Invitationals, last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur etc. — is following the careers of the young players who have played in those tournaments.

Just looked at the U.S. Open leaderboard from the Olympic Club in San Francisco and guess who’s tied for ninth at even par?

Beau Hossler. He was 16 at the time and really fun to watch at Gold Mountain last summer. He was the medalist in the Junior Am and eventually lost in the quarterfinals, but you knew this kid, like Junior Am champ Justin Spieth, was going to go on to bigger and better things. Hossler, now 17 and playing in his second straight U.S. Open, shot a 70 on Thursday. The last time I looked, Spieth was even through seven holes.

The young guns just keep coming, and those who have ventured out to Gold Mountain to watch those major tournaments, have had a chance to watch a lot of the future stars of tomorrow.


More night kickoffs for Husky football

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

The starting times and TV information for five of Washington’s games for the 2012 football season were announced by the Pac-12 Networks on Thursday. Three of those game will have night kickoffs.

The UW’s opener against San Diego State on Sept. 1 at CenturyLink will start at 7:30 p.m. and be televised by Pac-12 Networks.

The Thursday, Sept.  27 game against Stanford, also at the Clink, will start at 6 p.m. and be televised by ESPN.

The Friday, Nov. 2 game at Cal will start at 6 p.m. and be televised by ESPN2.

UW’s Sept. 15 home game against Portland State will start at 1 p.m. and be on Fx.

The Apple Cup game in Pullman on Nov. 23 against WSU will start at 12:30 p.m. and FOX or Fx will carry the game.

The SEC will announce the starting time for the Sept. 8 game at LSU.

Starting times for all other Husky games will be announced six days before the day of the game.

Click here to get more information from the UW website.

Here’s Washington State’s press release about four games that have been scheduled for TV.

 

The Associated Press filed this story about the Pac-12 Networks announcement:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The new Pac-12 Networks will launch the inaugural football season by airing 15 games the first three weeks of 2012.

The Pac-12 Networks announced Thursday that it will kick off its 35-game schedule with six games the opening week of the season, starting with Northern Colorado-Utah and Northern Arizona-Arizona State on Aug. 30.

With the addition of California at USC on Sept. 22, the networks will televise at least one game from each of the conference’s 12 schools during the first four weeks of the season.

The Pac-12 Networks, created last summer, will air 850 sporting events a year – 350 nationally and 500 regionally.

The conference also signed a 12-year television contract worth about $3 billion with Fox and ESPN, which will air many of the most high-profile games.

 


Motorsports mastermind Tom Fox dies at 77

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Tom Fox, the oldest of four brothers who made a mark in the world of motorsports, died earlier this month in Mooresville, N.C.

Cancer claimed Fox, 77, who stayed involved with the sport he loved right up until the end.

Two weeks before he died, Tom was helping younger brother, Bob, work on a car and trailer. He was also helping Bob’s sons, who are also racers, said his daughter Teresa.

“We grew up with parts on the kitchen table,” said Teresa. “You’d get woke up at 2 a.m., when the guys who were getting ready to go to whatever race they were going to — and they were always running to a race — fired off the motor.”

Another brother, Leon Fox, died in 2002 after a battle with cancer. Jim (Teeny) Fox still lives in Bremerton.

Their parents, Alma and Corneluis “Connie” Fox, moved to Bremerton from Nebraska, which is where Tom was born.

The Fox brothers, who all left their own mark in auto racing, were inducted into the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

Tom and his buddies used to sneak onto the abandoned Navy runway at night and it led to organized drag racing at what is still Bremerton Raceway. Tom and Harry Penor started the Crankers Car Club. Tom Fox later raced on the dirt oval at Silverdale Speedway. NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula I — the master fabricator was part of them all at times during his career.

Tom told me he regretted passing up an opportunity to go to Europe to work on Formula 1 cars in the 1957, but his career took off in other directions once he concentrated on building cars. He aligned with Tom Sneva to form one of the best open-wheel teams in the Northwest, moved to Europe and built Formula 1 cars for Mario Andretti and other drivers. He was known as one of the top chassis builders on the NASCAR Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup). He hooked up with noted Indy Car crew chief George Bignotti, and later built the car and it’s been reported that he was instrumental in the setup of Tom Sneva’s car that won the Indy 500 in 1983.

Early on in his life, when he was still in Bremerton, Tom designed something they called the “Poguar.” It was a Pontiac-powered Jaguar, said his son John Fox, who lives in Bellingham. “I remember seeing a picture of it. It was a goofy looking. I think it made Hot Rod Magazine.”

He operated Tom Fox Automotive for a time on Park and 7th Street in downtown Bremerton, but it didn’t take long for the oldest brother to move into the big-leagues of racing. He eventually settled in South Carolina, and later North Carolina, and he never stopped tinkering with or thinking about race cars.

“I tried stuff nobody wanted to try,” Tom Fox said during that 2008 interview. “I never thought about anything else. I’d think about them damn racing cars 16 to 18 hours a day. Still do. It’s been a good life. I’ve done a lot of stuff. Like I said, I’ve been blessed.”

A July 22 celebration at the Bremerton Elks Club will be held for Tom Fox.

 

 


R.I.P. Cal Decker, we’re gonna miss ya

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Cal Decker died last week, and this place we live in isn’t going to be the same.

Cal Decker made you laugh, he made you think.

He was a good man, Cal Decker.

Cal was 85 in his early 80s, and working out at the gym used to be part of his daily routine. He was still playing golf six months ago, but his heart finally gave out. He had a bad fall recently and never got back on the course.

Cal was part of a trivia team in a contest hosted years ago at the Cloverleaf when I first met him. My team didn’t stand a chance against Cal. Nobody has as much sports knowledge as Cal Decker.

He was a walking history book with a great mind. Ask him questions about baseball, horse racing, boxing, golf — especially golf — and odds are he’d have the answer.  (Music, too). I’ve never met anyone who knew as much about Northwest golf or cared as much about it as Cal, who graduated from the University of Washington. I cherished the day I rode over to Seattle to watch the Pac-10 golf championships one day with him at the Seattle Golf Club. Jim Stevenson put the trip together.

“Cal was always up for anything,” said Stevenson, who used to golf twice a week with Cal at Rolling Hills. “Cal was a cool guy.”

He was a man for all seasons. The guy was smart. Street smart, business savvy and just a helluva lot of fun to be around.

He was a charmer, a wonderful story teller. He used to own bars and restaurants on first street in Seattle, so you can imagine some of the stories he had to tell. He owned horses at Longacres, and he worked in the King County Assessor’s office for a time. Harley Hoppe, who ran for governor, was his boss and friend.

Everybody, it seemed, was Cal’s friend.

A lot of people knew him as a golfer. Cal used to be first one out on most weekday mornings on the Olympic Course. Hell, I think he might have had a key to the place. He played around the greenkeepers, who were out in the morning, mowing and placing pins and doing what greenkeepers do while the rest of us are sleeping.

After his round (usually nine holes in recent years), Cal made the rounds at Jimmy D’s in Gorst, Romeo’s and Kelly’s 19th Hole, where owner Bob Kelly was another of his good buds.

I was sifting through some stuff recently and came across a letter Cal wrote me. He wanted to know what I thought about his idea of re-naming the Olympic and Cascade Courses at Gold Mountain. He wanted to call one the Fred Couples Course, and the other the JoAnne Carner course — honoring arguably the two biggest names in Northwest golf. He thought it might help Gold Mountain gain some more notoriety and could possibly lead to some major exhibitions, featuring Couples, Carner and other top pros.

The idea never gained traction, but somehow, someway, I’ve got a feeling that somebody’s going to put together something to honor Cal Decker. Maybe it’s a golf tournament with money raised going toward a golf scholarship? I think Cal would like that.

Here’s Cal’s obit, which published in the Thursday, June 14, print edition of The Sun.

Here’s a story I wrote about Cal when Gold Mountain hosted the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships in 2006.

 

 


All things baseball: Nicknames, Kitsap updates, draft

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Diving right in:

The unbeaten Kitsap BlueJackets, rained out Monday at Walla Walla, play a West Coast League baseball doubleheader today. First game starts at 5 p.m. Walla Walla Sweets. Ya gotta like that nickname. Can’t be many teams named after an onion.

Speaking of nicknames, what do you think of the Joliet Slammers? The mascot of the Frontier League club in Illinois? J.L. Bird. Joliet, of course, is a prison town. One of the suggested names for the team was the Joliet Jakes, in honor of the John Belushi character in the “Blues Brothers” movie. Couldn’t do it because the name is copyrighted.

Another of my favorite nicknames also has a prison theme. The Deer Lodge Wardens. I lived in that Montana city for a spell, and there was a time when I wanted to grow up to be a Warden.

Fueled by Vitamin R and maybe some other stuff, I remember sitting in the garage with a buddy, knocking around possible names for the baseball team in Seattle that would eventually be called the Mariners. We came up with, we thought, the perfect name. The year was 1976 and everybody was going to be celebrating the Bi-Centennial of our country. And what could be more American than having the Red, White and Blue Sox in the American League? Yep, the Seattle Blue Sox. I still can’t figure out why I didn’t win the name-the-team contest.

And, just in case you didn’t know, the BlueJackets aren’t named after some native bird. BlueJacket is a tern for an enlisted sailor in the Navy. The Bluejackets’ Manual is the also the basic handbook for U.S. Navy personnel. And the Bremerton BlueJackets were a minor league baseball team that played in the Class B Western International League from 1947-49. Home field? Roosevelt Field. Every time I drive by that concrete parking lot next to the Warren Avenue Bridge I think of Roosevelt Field.

You gotta favorite team  nickname? C’mon, let’s hear it.

Kitsap updates:

Baltimore’s Jason Hammel (6-2, 3.,06 ERA) will seek his seventh win Tuesday when the South Kitsap grad pitches against Jon Lester and the Red Sox. Hammel suggested that Toronto was stealing signs in his last outing, a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays. Hammel, 29, beat the Red Sox earlier in the season.

Willie Bloomquist is hitting .349 (15-for-43) over his last 10 games, raising his average to .283. The Diamondbacks shortstop has been caught stealing seven times in 11 attempts, but that won’t stop the Port Orchard native from being aggressive on the base paths.

Cleveland outfielder Aaron Cunningham, the third SK grad currently in the major leagues, has appeared in 42 games, but is hitting .200 in just 60 at bats for the Indians. He’s 2-for-13 in his last 10 games, three of them starts. The Johnny Damon experiment’s not working out for the Indians, so maybe there’s a chance Cunningham will get more regular at-bats during the second half of the season.

In the minors:

Todd Linden got a day off after a 1-for-19 stretch and responded with a 2-for-3 night on Monday for Triple-A Fresno, a San Francisco farm club.  The veteran from Central Kitsap is hitting .267 and leads the Grizzlies with 37 RBIs. … Outfielder Drew Vettleson from Silverdale is hitting .271 with 4 home runs and 22 RBIs in 55 games for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Class A Midwest League. The Hot Rods are a Tampa Bay affiliate. Seattle teammates Joshua Sale, an outfielder hitting  .368 in 20 games, and shortstop Ryan Brett (.322, 5 HRs) will play in the Midwest League All-Star team … Poulsbo’s Jared Prince  is hitting .214, but has five home runs for the Double-A Frisco Roughriders of the Texas League. The Rangers’ farmhand has played in 44 games.

The draft:

Catcher Clint Coulter from Union High in Camas was the state’s highest pick, going 27th overall to the Milwaukee Brewers. He was considered the Pacific NW’s top player.

Other state picks so far: RHP Mitch Gueller, W.F. West (Chehalis), 55th overall (1st Rd, compensation round), Philadelphia; RHP Adrian Sampson, Bellevue College (formerly Bellevue CC), 166th overall (5th round), Pittsburgh; OF Andrew Pullin, Centralia HS, 188th overall (5th round), Philadelphia.

 


Stop by and meet Ryan Moore on Wednesday at McCormick Woods

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Ryan Moore, one of the most stylish and promising players on the PGA Tour, will be in Port Orchard on Wednesday night from 5:30-7 p.m. It’s open to the public.

Stop by and shake his hand, or ask for his autograph, said Shawn Cucciardi, among the key players in the relatively new RMG Club.

RMG Club?

That would be Ryan Moore Golf Club.

It’s Moore’s latest business venture. Cucciardi, the former GM and one of the owners of McCormick Woods, had the idea and Moore liked it and has run with it. RMG Club presently operates McCormick Woods, The Classic in Spanaway and Oakbrook in Lakewood.
RMG offers unlimited-golf memberships at all three courses, or you can buy a twi-light membership or tailor to one course. There’s several options.  The company has also talked about buying additional courses.

You can learn more about the RMG Club on Wednesday.

Moore, the most acclaimed amateur in recent history, was busy Monday, trying to qualify for the U.S. Open. He didn’t make it.

Moore and Troy Kelly, who grew up in Kitsap, tied for 25th in Columbus. They finished at even-par 143. The low 16 in the field of 132 will be in the Open field at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, June 14-17.
While Moore, now based in Scottsdale, Ariz., headed back to the Northwest, Kelly headed to Memphis, where he’s playing in this week’s St. Jude Classic.

Moore, who turns 30 later in the year, has had three top-10 finishes in 14 starts this year and sits No. 47 on the money list ($933,704). He’s won over $12 million in his career, which includes one victory (Wyndham Championship in 2009) and six second-place finishes.

In 2004, Moore won the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Public Links, NCAA Championship, Western Amateur and Sahalee Players Championship. I know one guy who thinks that alone might be enough to get him in Golf’s Hall of Fame.

Almost forgot, bring a can of food. Cucciardi said it’ll go to the South Kitsap Helpline. And if you’re interested in dinner, he said it would be prudent to call in advance and make a reservation at the Clubhouse Restaurant.


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