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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 October, 2012

Schaaf blogs about Olympic track-and-field athletes turned bobsledders & Wednesday links

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Bremerton’s Olympic bobsled pilot Bree Schaaf, who had a torn labrum repaired on her hip during the offseason, gets back into the swing of things at this weekend’s team trials at Lake Placid, N.Y. Here’s the story I wrote about Bree’s comeback.

And here’s a story Bree wrote about some Olympic track and field athletes, including hurdler Lolo Jones, who have been recruited by the bobsled team. Bree’s among a handful of U.S winter athletes blogging for teamusa.org.

Bree writes:

“You can’t help but wonder why someone would venture away from a lucrative (and notably WARMER) sport such as track and field, even if just to try bobsled for fun.  Perhaps it’s somewhat akin to when Wham-O upped the game on the Slip ‘n Slide by adding a splashdown pool at the end.  Maybe these ladies were looking for a little more excitement at the end of a sprint? I know first-hand that when you train so singularly for one Olympic moment that it can take a long time to find the inspiration to go another 4 years.  Bobsled may be the perfect shakeup to refocus their talent.” 

Wednesday links

Nike says it will continue to “support” Livestrong, but if it is really upset about Lance Armstrong, then let them take the money the company made off him over the years he was cheating – tens and tens of millions – and give it all to the fight against cancer.

That’s what Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports writes about Nike’s reaction to severing ties with Lance Armstrong. Armstrong also stepped down as chairman of “Livestrong,” the organization that’s done so much good in the fight against cancer. Wetzel wonders  if that was necessary in this commentary. In part, in reads:

“… Armstrong was no threat to anyone anymore. Banned from competition, stripped of his titles, aging, he had plenty of time for foundation work. He can’t win anything again. He can’t beat anyone again. He’s done as an athlete.

This should’ve been time to regroup and reload in a different way. This should’ve been time to stand stronger behind Armstrong because, from here on out, his purpose could be clear and true. This should’ve been a time for Armstrong to gain some maturity and grace and fight harder against the disease that tried to kill him.

The stakes remain way too big to let the fraudulent world of elite cycling destroy his work with Livestrong.”

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Spokane’s Mark Rypien, the former Washington State and NFL quarterback, just turned 50 and he’s giving the PGA Champion’s Tour a shot. Rypien shot a first-round 81 during the tour’s qualifying tournament on Tuesday.

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Bud Withers of the Seattle Times caught up with ex-Idaho/Wyoming/Washington State/Miami/Seahawks/Oregon State/ 49ers/Idaho/Arizona State football coach Dennis Erickson, who is helping his son coach football at South Albany, Ore.

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Raul Ibanez gives former Kansas City third baseman Kevin Seitzer credit for helping him find his batting stroke. It was May of 2001 and Ibanez’s big-league career was going nowhere fast at the time. In this story by SI.com’s Albert Chen, Ibanez also talks about what he learned from Edgar Martinez and Jamie Moyer as a 24-year-old rookie with the Mariners.

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Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin describes Bremerton’s Marvin Williams as a “true pro.”


UPDATE: Bobsledder Bree Schaaf is sliding at U.S. team trials & links on Pac-12, Lincecum, Wilson and closers

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The U.S. bobsled and skeleton teams will hold their team races in Lake Placid, N.Y., this weekend, and Bremerton bobsledder and Olympian Bree Schaaf will be sliding. Schaaf, fifth at the 2010 Olympics in Whistler, B.C., competed with a bum hip last season and had surgery at the end of the year. Schaaf was expected to get on the ice this weekend, but plans have evidently changed. She will compete for a spot on the World Cup team. I hope to talk to the Olympic High grad sometime today. Look for an update later.

Tuesday links

ESPN.com released its midseason reports on Pac-12 football teams. The report on the Washington Huskies pegs Bishop Sankey as its most valuable offensive player, and cornerback Marcus Trufant as the Huskies’ top dawg on defense. The report on the Washington State Cougars points out that the Cougs’ defense, led by Travis Long, is surpassing expectations, but the WSU offense has struggled, failing to score touchdowns in two games. Moody WR Marquess Wilson is the offensive MVP to date.

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I’ve argued for years that baseball closers are overrated in the sense that it’s not that difficult to find somebody to come in and get three outs in the ninth inning. Tim Keown of ESPN.com writes a column about it. Look at the Mariners. In recent years, the M’s have had David Aardsma, Brandon League and now Tom Wilhelmsen. If something happened to Wilhelmsen, they’ll find someone else to close games. Stephen Pryor might be next in line. Closers are valuable, but they’re not hard to find.

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Everyone’s got an opinion about Russell Wilson, Seattle’s rookie QB who is turning doubters into believers. Here’s Mike Silver’s take on the undersized QB for Yahoo! Sports.

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Tim Lincecum’s starting to look like his old self again. The former Liberty High and University of Washington pitcher seems to have found his mojo again for the San Francisco Giants. After two stellar postseason outings as a reliever, it looks like Lincecum will get the start in Game 4 for the Giants. Trivia: Chris Lincecum, Tim’s dad, was once a pickup player for the Kitsap Outsiders, a semi-pro baseball team that played its home games at Bremerton’s Roosevelt Field in the early 1970s.

 


Things click for Blixt on PGA Tour

Monday, October 15th, 2012

I’ve written this before, but one of the cool things about Gold Mountain Golf Club’s ability to host all of the prestigious tournaments — the U.S. Public Links, U.S. Junior, NCAA West Regionals, Husky Invitationals, etc. — is that you get a chance to see the stars of tomorrow.

Jonas Blixt was a guy who passed through on his way to the PGA Tour. Blixt, a Swedish golfer, was a senior at Florida State when he played in the NCAA regionals in 2009. Kyle Stanley, the Gig Harbor golfer who was at Clemson at the time, was also in that field. So was Jamie Lovemark, a USC star. I talked to Blixt and Stanley that year for a column on the globalization of college golf.

Stanley won a tour event earlier this year, and Blixt had his breath through moment on Sunday by winning the Frys.com Open. Blixt has made 13 of 19 cuts and is No. 35 on the money list with more than $2.1 million in winnings. Stanley is No 32, winning $2.3 million. Stanley had a heart-breaking second at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego earlier in the year, then won at Phoenix the following week.

Money update

The top 125 money earners on the PGA Tour keep their cards for another season. With two tournaments left — this week’s McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, Ga., and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Nov. 8-11, Troy Kelly is safe. Kelly, a Central Kitsap product, missed the cut at the Frys.com Open and only dropped two spots — from No. 107 to No. 109. Another ex-Husky, Richard H. Lee, is No. 134.

Kelly and Lee have both made 11 of 22 cuts. Lee, a former winner of the Bremerton City Amateur, has four Top 25 finishes, and one top 10 and has won $540,133. His tie for sixth in Las Vegas at the Justin Timberlake Childrens Open was worth 4156,335. Kelly has been in the Top 25 just once, but the second-place finish at the Greenbrier was worth $658,800 and he’s now at $786,832.

Two weeks ago, Kelly didn’t think he would play the final event if he didn’t have to. If he misses another cut this week, he might change his mind. Seems like it would be nice to end the year on a good note. Lee, meanwhile, has no choice, although a top 10 finish this week would propel him well into the Top 125.

Veteran Billy Mayfair is currently holding down the No. 125 spot with winnings of $612,361.

No. 126 is Kevin Chappel ($610,948), a former UCLA standout and another of those golfers that has passed through Gold Mountain.

Lovemark, considered one of this can’t-miss guys, is No. 195. He’s played in 16 PGA events and has won $109,572. He’s won another $61,808  in 11 Web.com (formerly the Nationwide Tour) events.

Anthony Kim, who was second in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2006 at Gold Mountain, has fallen off the map. Once a rising star, he’s battled some physical problems and who knows what else. He played in just 10 tournaments this year, making two cuts and $33,960.

Luke Donald (Northwestern) and Dustin Johnson (Coastal Carolina) are others who also played in college tournaments at the Bremerton city-owned course.

There’s no guarantees, but I think current University of Washington start Chris Williams will start showing up on those tour money lists in the next couple of years.


Quick thoughts following Seahawks’ 24-23 win over Patriots

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Seattle’s 24-23  comeback win over New England  is a sure sign that the Seahawks are a franchise on the rise.

Seattle rookie QB Russell Wilson took advantage of an inexperienced Patriots’ secondary, but Wilson, finally given some protection, showed off a big-time, accurate arm. He completed 16 of 27 passes for 293 yards and three TDs. No picks. Anybody still think Matt Flynn should be starting?

Seattle’s defense gave up 398 passing yards, but what do you expect when Tom Brady is throwing 58 passes. The secondary also picked Brady off twice, forced him into a couple of intentional grounding penalties, one at the end of the first half that cost the Patriots a chance to kick a field goal. I thought the Hawks rattled Brady, who had just one interception coming in, and that doesn’t happen often.

“Tom Brady’s never played a game in Seattle and I don’t think he’ll want to play another one,” said NBC’s Dan Patrick.

Earl Thomas picked Brady in the end zone and almost had two more. Richard Sherman got his third interception of the year. Kam Chancellor (11 tackles, 7 solo) and Brandon Browner (6 solo) had some big tackles.

Rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner was all over the field, finishing with 14 tackles, 7 of them solo. Linebacker K.J. Wright had 10, 8 solo.

Special teamer Leon Washington showed why he is so special. Washington’s late punt return set up Wilson’s winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice. That was a big, big play.

Doug Baldwin finally looked like the Doug Baldwin everybody’s been expecting to see. The slot receiver has been battling some nagging injuries, but he looked healthy on Sunday. Two catches for 81 yards, including a 24-yard TD and he also drew a pass interference penalty. Baldwin, Rice, Golden Tate, Braylon Edwards. The receiving corps, at least for a game, looked like it might be good enough to get it down after all.

And how about Edwards’ 10-yard TD catch on a fourth-down pass with 7:21 letf? Wilson threw it early and Edwards came back to make a great catch as the defender had his back to the ball.

Seattle made a lot of great plays, and they needed every one to win. They needed Russell Wilson to outplay Tom Brady and he did.

They won despite gutty Wes Welker getting loose for 10 catches, 138 yards and a TD. Welker took a couple of big, big hits, but kept coming back.

They won without getting a sack, although Chris Clemons had three QB hits and the Hawks were able to force Brady into some poor throws.

They won with Marshawn Lynch rushing for a pedestrian 41 yards on 15 carries.

They played a relatively clean game in the penalty department, finishing with four for 35 yards. And the one on Breno Gincomino, the oft-penalized offensive tackle, wasn’t really his fault, as commentator Dan Fouts pointed out. Wilson should have stepped in the pocket, but he drifted left and Gincomino ended up grabbing his guy to avoid a sack.

A big win, but could Seattle have pulled it off on the road? The 12th Man was so loud  my windows in Illahee were shaking. Not really, but that loud home crowd gets another assist.

All in all, one of the best wins since the Seahawks’ Super Bowl season, but it won’t mean much if they lose Thursday at San Francisco. The Seahawks and Niners, thumped 26-3 by the New York Giants, are both 4-2. But the Seahawks are 0-2 in the NFC West and 0-3 would be a tough hole to dig out of it.

San Francisco lost its starting left tackle, Joe Staley, to a concussion. If he can’t play in four days, that’s got to be good news for Seattle. Here’s ESPN.com’s quick recap of the 49ers-Giants game. And here’s ESPN.com’s quick recap of the Seahawks-Patriots game.

Physically, mentally, there’s no way of relating to how tough it must be to get up for another game in four days, a road game no less against a team was considered by many to be the class of the NFC. Pete Carroll and his coaching staff have their work cut out for themselves this week.

 

 


Seabeck’s Ballou is youngest competitor in Ironman in Hawaii

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Dane Ballou, a 2012 Klahowya grad, is the youngest person competing in Saturday’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Ballou turned 19 on Sept. 21.

The 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon brings together the best triathletes in the world.

Ballou qualified by placing second in the 18-24 year-old division of the Ironman Coeur d’Alene in June.

Ironman.com caught up with Ballou in Kona this week. Here’s a Q&A that was posted Friday.


Friday links: M’s Lincoln on arena threats; Hasselbeck and son; UW-USC and amazing ‘bouquet’ TD toss

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Art Thiel of Sportspressnw.com gets to the bottom of the Mariners’ thoughts on why they oppose the SoDo site where Chris Hansen wants to build his new arena. It’s all about parking, or lack of it, and traffic congestion, says M’s CEO Howard Lincoln in the exclusive interview.

Thiel also threw in this zinger at the end of the Q&A.

Last question: Is the club for sale to outsiders, or is it for sale among the current owners via selling of shares to a new majority owner?

Lincoln: I’ll say the same thing I said before . . . pure nonsense.

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You gotta like Matt Hasselbeck, right? The best QB in Seahawks history is so genuine, and down-to-earth. Check out this interview following Tennessee’s Thursday night win over the Steelers. Son Henry joined his dad on the NFL Network show.

Trent Dilfer, a former teammate with Hasselbeck in Seattle, told USA Today’s Matt Davis that Hasselbeck “saved his life,” during a trying time in 2o03 following his son’s death. Read the story here.

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The Orange County Register breaks down the USC-Washington game. This is Washington’s fourth straight game against a Top-12 program, and I like their chances. Some of Washington’s biggest wins have come against the Trojans — the 13-3 win in 1981 on a windy, stormy day at Husky Stadium over Marcus Allen and the Trojans is my all-time favorite Husky memory. I can still see the ponchos swirling in the air. More recently, Washington upset USC 16-13 at Husky Stadium in Steve Sarkisian’s first season in 2009. They say it might rain on Saturday and the Trojans turned the sprinklers on for Thursday’s practice. The rain won’t be a factor. I think the keys will be Washington’s pass protection on offense and ability to stop, or at least slow USC’s rushing game. Keith Price is due for a big game.

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“He threw it bouquet style, like at a wedding.” That’s how the announcer described this over-the-head, no-look game-winning touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal in an Ohio high school football game. You’ve got to see it to appreciate it.


SK grad and Orioles’ pitcher Hammel makes biggest start of career

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Jason Hammel will face the New York Yankees in the fifth and deciding game of the American League Divisional Series today ( 2 p.m., TBS) at Yankee Stadium.

One hitter the 2000 South Kitsap grad won’t have to worry about is Alex Rodriguez, who has been benched by manager Joe Girardi.

A key for Hammel, according to this statistical breakdown, will be how his slider is working. When it is, he’s had good success against the Yankees.

The 6-foot-6 right-hander had knee surgery and missed a couple months after the All Star break. This will be just his fourth start this mid-July.

I think it’s almost in his favor,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s got some bullets left where a lot of people may not.”

Hammel said the knee is not an issue and he’s proud to get the start in a game of this magnitude, in this story at MLB.com.  

Sun staffer Jeff Graham caught up with Hammel earlier this year after a start against the Mariners on July 2 at Safeco Field. Hammel said he felt like he came of age this year when asked to talk about the success he was having.

“Guys get to this age, you start figuring it out,” Hammel said. “You starting figuring out the league, learning how to pitch, learning how to make adjustments on the fly. I think that’s where I’m at now.”

Hammel struck out Ichiro twice that day at Safeco with a nasty slider. Will he have it working today?


Sterns sounds positive about Seattle landing another NBA team

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

There hasn’t been a lot of news on the NBA front since Chris Hansen’s plans to build a new arena in SoDo were approved by the Seattle city council last month.

If the arena is built, what team is available? Sacramento? Could Seattle get an expansion franchise?

NBA commissioner David Stern was asked during a news conference in Milan if he thought Seattle would have a team within five years.

Stern said he was hopeful that within five years a new arena and new team would be in town.

Here’s a link to Stern’s news conference in Milan.

 


‘Whaddya gonna do?’ Trojans get ‘Biebered’

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

“We just got Biebered.”

That was the refrain from Olympic High soccer coach Steve Haggerty, pointing out that several of his players opted to go to a Justin Bieber concert at the Tacoma Dome instead of the Trojans’ soccer game. Oly lost to North Kitsap 3-0.

To use another well-known refrain from Hags, one of our all-time favorite high school coaches: “Whaddya gonna do?”

NEXT TIME Mariners’ GM Jack Zdurienck plays the “patience” card, check out this story by Steve Rudman of sportspressnw.com. As young as the M’s are, they’re not that much younger than the A’s, Nationals or Tigers, three teams currently involved in postseason play.

JAMES LEPP, the former NCAA champion from Washington, is giving competitive golf another shot. He’s one of the contestants on Golf Channel’s Big Break reality show. Lepp went into business, and is owner of Kikkor golf shoes. Yeah, that’s why the UW tournament at Gold Mountain is called the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational.

WASHINGTON golfer Trevor Simsby won his first collegiate golf tournament on Tuesday, helping the Huskies to a second-place finish at the Pac-12 Preview in Oregon. Pretty impressive finish considering the UW played without world amateur No. 1 Chris Williams. Simbsy tied for second at the Husky Invitational last month at Gold Mountain.

QUESTIONS

Anybody miss the NHL?

Anybody know that Dominic Boddie, the former South Kitsap football standout, is a walk-on running back at the University of Washington? He’s studying chemical engineering.

Anybody ready to crown the Texans as Super Bowl champions?

Anybody like those 7:30 p.m. college football starts? Didn’t think so.


Wayback Machine features the late, great Bremerton athlete Don Heinrich

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Former Bremerton and University of Washington football star Don Heinrich, the Kitsap Sun’s Athlete of the Century, is profiled on the Sportspressnw.com site. David Eskenazi and Steve Rudman have written a Wayback Machine piece about the former leader of the Warren Avenue Gang. There’s some great photos, and anecdotes.

Don’t know that I’d ever read the story about Heinrich committing to Oregon and later being talked out of his decision to become a Husky.

Did you know that Heinrich quarterbacked the first game in Dallas Cowboys history?

Did you know that Heinrich held all of Washington’s passing records until Sonny Sixkiller came along?

Jim Wiley, who played with Heinrich at Bremerton and the UW, said, “Don was something special in the huddle. He had the knack of making everybody feel he was important. After a half-dozen or so plays in a game, he would start asking offensive linemen questions: ‘OK, what have you got to tell me? Who have you found that’s soft?’ His big asset is that kind of secret sense of looking at a defense and knowing what to run against it.”

Heinrich became an announcer for the 49ers, Huskies and Seahawks following his NFL days. He died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 62 on Feb. 29, 1992, at his home in Saratoga, CA.

Here’s our Athlete of the Century story, written by Chris Barron.

Here’s a link to a story about the 1947 Bremerton Wildcats that Heinrich led to an unbeaten season.

(Side note: At the last Kitsap Athletic Roundtable meeting, Bremerton’s Frank Kidrick brought one of Heinrich’s old UW letter sweaters to the meeting.)

 


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