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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 January, 2013

Tuesday links: Deer-antler spray in the news; MLB has another BALCO-like crisis to deal with

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Radio waves and deer-antler spray, the latest way to get an edge on the playing field? Hologram stickers? Are you kidding me? SI.com has published a story about a company called Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.) and its connection to high-profile athletes like Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis said he didn’t use deer-antler spray, which contains a banned substance (IGF-1),  during his recovery from a torn bicep. Here’s the Yahoo Sports! report. A longer version of the Sports Illustrated story will be in the magazine that hits newsstands Feb. 4. You will  shake your head and wonder what’s next?

And that’s not the only news breaking on the Tuesday before the Super Bowl. A-Rod’s back in the news. A Miami Times report names Alex Rodriguez and other MBL players in a story about how performance enhancing drugs. (A spokesman for A-Rod has already issued a denial). Rodiguez’s account was paid through Aug. 30, 2012, according to the report in Yahoo Sports! This could lead to another BALCO-type scandal for baseball and suspensions for the players named. Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz and Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez are among the players named. The same clinic has also been connected to players who have already served suspensions: Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon. MLB is investigating.

And some stories coming out of the Super Bowl:

The future of the NFL is debated in this story by FOX Sports. Bernard Pollard of the Ravens predicted that the NFL won’t be around in 30 years, and President Obama said if he had a son he wasn’t sure if he would let him play football.

If Seattle ever lands a Super Bowl, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco won’t be in favor of it. If northern cities earn the bid, as New York has for the 2014 game, he thinks stadiums should have a retractable roof.

Mike Sando of ESPN raises an interesting question, wondering if option runs means less contact for NFL backs like Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch, who now operate in systems where the option is valuable part of the offense.

San Francisco’s Randy Moss calls himself the best wide receiver ever.

Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports! says the Harbaugh brothers aren’t even close when it comes to naming the No. 1 siblings in sport. Who do you think he picked as No. 1?


Congrats to Shane Moskowitz for breaking 4-minute barrier in mile

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Did you see where Shane Moskowitz,the former Central Kitsap distance runner now competing at Oklahoma State, ran a 3:59.48 mile during an indoor meet at the University of Arkansas?

And Moskowitz placed sixth!!!! Three Oklahoma State teammates also dipped into the 3:50s. The race was won by Patrick Casey of Oklahoma (3:56.28).

I’m hardly a track and field expert, but the four-minute mile has always been a magical number. It’s been nearly 60 years since Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile, covering the 1,760 yards (or 1,609.344 meters) in 3:59.4 in 1954.

I googled and I binged, but I couldn’t come up with an answer as to how many male runners belong to the club that was started by Roger Bannister in 1954 when he ran 3:59.4. Five years ago, someone said 1,000 runners had broke the 4-minute barrier.

The world record for the mile? According to the IAFF, which oversees records, it’s owned by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, who ran a breath-taking 3:43.13 mile in 1999. The Moroccon runner also holds the indoor mile record (3:48.45), set in 1997. The female record for the outdoor mile is held by Svetlana Masterkova (4:12.56).

Moskowitz, a sophomore in eligibility, helped the Cowboys win an NCAA title in cross country in November.  He won a state cross country title and four state track and field titles (in the 1600 and 3200) at Central Kitsap. He’ll run the 1,500 meters this spring for the Cowboys.

Somehow, you get the feeling that Moskowitz will go even faster. And you have to be pretty fast to break the 4-minute mark. It’s the equivalent of running 4 miles at the speed of 15 miles per  hour, or running 14.91 seconds per 100 meters. Nice goin’ Shane.

 


Kelly withdraws from Farmer’s Insurance Open

Friday, January 25th, 2013

It’s not the start Troy Kelly wanted, but the PGA Tour is a long season.

After missing the cut in last week’s Humana Challenge and carding a 5-over 77 in the first round of the Farmer’s Insurance Open on Thursday, the 34-year-old Central Kitsap grad withdrew from the tournament at Torrey Pines. He told tour officials he was sick, but his dad, Bob Kelly, said this will give him an extra day-and-a-half to work on his swing at his home in La Quinta, Calif., before heading to Phoenix for the Waste Management Open. Kelly Monday qualified into the Phoenix tournament in 2011 and tied for 57th. He missed the cut at Phoenix last season.


Gold Mountain Jr. Am champ Spieth turns pro

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Jordan Spieth, who won the U.S. Junior at Gold Mountain in July of 2011, has turned pro and is using a sponsor’s exemption to play in this week’s Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

FYI: Central Kitsap grad Troy Kelly is struggling in the first round. He was 5  over through 13 holes and last in the field of 156.

UPDATE: Kelly wound up with a 5-over 77 (four bogeys, one double bogey, one birdie) and is tied for last, but at least he has good company. Ricky Fowler and Geoff Ogilvy also shot 77s. All three played the South Course at Torrey Pines. Spieth shot an even-par 72 on the North Course.

Kelly got his birdie on the par-3, No. 3 hole. He hit his  9-iron to within 2 1/2 feet from the cup. Kelly tees off at 10:10 a.m. today on the North Course.

 


Report: M’s, Felix talking about extension; Griffey going into M’s Hall of Fame

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Mariners and pitcher Felix Hernandez are talking about an extension. His sources tell him the M’s are considering a four-year, $100 million offer. He offers some other interesting speculation about the Mariners, foreseeing a possible starting outfield of Mike Morse in right field, Michael Saunders in center field and Raul Ibanez platooning with Jason Bay or Casper Wells in left.

And with the M’s still in need of a catcher to platoon with Jesus Montero, Rosenthal suggests free agent Kelly Shoppach as a logical candidate. Shoppach played for Wedge in Cleveland, hitting 21 home runs in 2008 when Victor Martinez went down with an injury.

The Mariners announced Tuesday that Ken Griffey Jr. will go into the club’s Hall of Fame this summer. Induction will take place Aug. 10 at Safeco. M’s play Milwaukee Brewers that day. Griffey’s been a special consultant to the club the last two years. Wonder what they consult him about?

Mariners Fanfest is Jan. 26 (Saturday) and Jan. 27 (Sunday) at Safeco Field. It runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Here’s a list of players who are scheduled to appear along with Wedge and GM Jack Zduriencik.

Seattle’s Taijuan Walker is rated the second-best right-handed starting pitcher in MLB.com’s list of baseball’s top prospects.

What will shorter fences at Safeco Field mean to the hitters? MLB.com writer Greg Johns talks about it in this video.

Here’s a look at Seattle’s top prospects by position.


Saturday links: Zags-Butler, Sonics, Armstrong, M’s & more

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

It’s not Duke-North Carolina, it’s not Washington-Washington State. For me, it’s more compelling than that.

It’s No. 8 Gonzaga (17-1) vs. No. 13 Butler (15-2), two men’s basketball programs that symbolize what’s good about college hoops.

Saturday’s showdown in Indianapolis (ESPN, 6 p.m.) features a couple teams that aren’t afraid to take on the big boys, and they’re not afraid to do it on the road.

Butler’s been to a couple Final Fours, and this could be the year Gonzaga gets there, partly because of Kelly Olynyk, a mobile 7-footer who is the most improved player in college basketball. Olynyk’s already had 33- and 31-point games, and has become the Zags’ best offensive force since Adam Morrison. Figuring he wouldn’t get much playing time a year ago with Robert Sacre and Elias Harris up front, Olynyk decided to redshirst last season.

*** ***

Here’s an open letter from a Sacramento basketball fan to SuperSonics’ fans, which followed a letter from the producers of Sonicsgate to Sacramento Kings’ fans.

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Everybody has an opinion about Lance Armstrong.

Michael Rosenberg of SI.com writes: Without doping, Armstrong would be a nobody.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, author or two books about Armstrong, says the cyclist has apologized to her. In her most recent column about Armstrong, published Dec. 15, Jenkins says she’s not angry at the man who duped the cycling world.

Rick Reilly of ESPN.com is having a hard time forgiving Armstrong. He wrote:

It’s partially my fault. I let myself admire him. Let myself admire what he’d done with his life, admire the way he’d not only beaten his own cancer but was trying to help others beat it. When my sister was diagnosed, she read his book and got inspired. And I felt some pride in that. I let it get personal. And now I know he was living a lie and I was helping him live it.

                                                                                                                                            *** ***
The Mariners trade catcher John Jaso and wind up with former prospect Mike Morse from the Washington Nationals in a three-team trade that also involved Oakland. You’ve got to like Morse’s power (he hit 31 homers in 2011 and 18 during an injury-plagued 2012), and perhaps this means the M’s will rush 2012 first-round pick Mike Zunino to the majors to share catching duties with Jesus Montero. I liked Jaso. He was a lefty who hit lefties and was a lot better behind the plate than advertised. But you get the feeling that the M’s are going to give Zunino every opportunity to make the big club.
Could Zunino turn out to be the Mariners’ version of Buster Posey?
                                                                                                                                           *** ***
David Letterman on Manti Te’o and the Notre Dame linebacker’s imaginary girl friend: “Some people are better off with imaginary girl friends.”
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The Mariners also made a move in the broadcast booth this week, hiring 29-year-old Aaron Goldsmith to be Rick Rizzs’ sidekick. Nothing against Goldsmith, who called Pawtucket Red Sox games a year ago, but I was hoping long-time Tacoma Rainiers announcer Mike Curto would have gotten the job. But it’s not surprising that the M’s went with a young guy, somebody who can learn the ropes and be ready to step in when Rizzs retires.
Curto welcomes Goldsmith to the Pacific Northwest in his informative and fun blog — Booth, Justice and the American Pastime.
                                                                                                                                               *** ***
I’m recently retired, but still writing a weekly Thursday column for The Sun and doing some other stories. A Q&A with Willie Bloomquist of the Arizona Diamondbacks, recently named to Team USA that will play in the World Baseball Classic, will publish on Sunday, Jan. 27.
In case you missed them, my columns this month have been about Mike Crotty, the former Notre Dame football player now living in Bremerton and coaching at O’Dea; Don Thorsen, the former Central Kitsap basketball star who was inducted into the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame, and Mike Krug, WestSound FC soccer coach who was a finalist for US Youth Soccer’s Competitive Coach of the Year Award.

Wanna laugh?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Check out this video on deadspin.


Baby boy and new putting approach for Troy Kelly

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Troy Kelly got his new year off to quite a start. He and his wife, Jen, celebrated the birth of a baby boy — Mason Michael Kelly — earlier this month.

That’s why Kelly, a Central Kitsap grad and former Washington Husky golfer, didn’t play in the season-opening Sony Open in Honolulu.

But armed with a new putter and physically fit after he and his brother and caddie, Ryan Kelly, put themselves through a grueling fitness program, are ready for the 2013 PGA Tour season.

It starts this week in Kelly’s adopted hometown of La Quinta, Calif. Twenty-eight months removed from hip replacement surgery, he’s entered in the Humana Challenge, which will be the first of four straight tournaments.  It used to be a five-day tournament, but it’s a 72-hole event now. Starts Thursday and winds up Sunday (noon-4 p.m. daily on the Golf Channel). The tournament is co-sponsored by the William J. Clinton Foundation. The Palmer Private course at PGA West is the host course, but the Nicklaus Private course and La Quinta Country Club are also used during the first three rounds. Kelly tees off at 10:20 a.m. on No. 10 at the Palmer course on Thursday.

From there, he goes to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open, Phoenix for the Waste Management Open, and Pebble Beach for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. After a week off,  he finishes the west coast swing at the Northern Trust Open outside of Los Angeles.

Unless he plays himself into some of the big invitationals — the Masters, The Players Championship, U.S. Open etc. — the No. 251 player in the world is looking at playing in about 22  or 23 tournaments. Of course, that could all change if you have some major success early and lock up another tour exemption. As he found out a year ago, all it takes, sometimes, is one good finish.

Kelly, 34, made 12 of 23 cuts in 2012 an finished 119th on the money list with $786,832. The top 125 secured their cards. His only top-10 finish, a second at the Greenbrier Classic in early July, saved is season. That tournament paid $658,800 and got him a spot in the British Open. Here’s a column I wrote that memorable day from Kelly’s 19th Hole, and here’s Kelly’s reaction to his best finish.

His second biggest payday was the $18,000 he won at The Barclays, where he tied for 54th. Here’s a look at Troy’s 2012 season, tournament by tournament.

Kelly also tied for 54th in the Humana a year ago despite some atrocious putting.

So another year begins. A new baby boy to go with his stepdaughter, a new putter, a new clothes contract with Cutter & Buck. He’s also got deals with SofwareMedia.com and Cushman & Wakefield real estate.

He’s still represented by Gaylord Sports Management and is under contract with Cleveland Golf.

Here’s what’s in Kelly’s bag:

Driver: Classic 290, 10.5 degrees, Miyazaki Kusala Silver 61X

Irons: 588 TT irons

Wedges: 588 wedges Forged, 50, 56, and 60 degrees, Dynamic Gold S400

Putter: Taylor Made

Balls: Titleist Pro Vix (2009)

Also: Kelly’s dad, Bob Kelly, says Troy, one of the longest hitters on tour, also has a couple of Adams hybrids in his bag.

The Kelly brothers have been working with PGA pro Mike Shy, one of the founders of Vector Putting. It’s a scientific approach to reading greens and predicting the break on putts.

Did you know?: Russell Henley, the PGA Tour rookie who won the Sony Open on Sunday, is the guy Kelly finished second to in the Stadion Classic, a Nationwide Tour (now Web.com) event in 2o10 in Georgia. Kelly won the $99,000 first-place check, his biggest payday until the Greenbrier, because Henley was an amateur.

 


Seattle SuperKings? Nah, but NBA could return to Emerald City for 2013-14 season

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

So word’s spreading fast that the Sacramento Kings might be coming to Seattle. And it could happen as early as next season. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen, the hedge-fund manager who is trying to build a new arena in SoDo, would be the owners of the SuperKings (just kidding about the name).

This is not a done deal and there’s sure to be a lot of unknown. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA guard, said he is trying to secure local ownership and keep the team in California.

Art Thiel, of Sportspressnw.com, as usual, is on top of the news surrounding the story.

Seattle basketball fans are giddy, but if this deal happens, they should be warned that they won’t be getting a playoff team. There are no Kevin Durants on the Kings’ roster. Durant played his rookie season in Seattle before owner Clay Bennett whisked the team off to Oklahoma City.

Isaiah Thomas, the former Husky star from Tacoma, is a backup guard. Aaron Brooks, who played at Franklin High in Seattle and Oregon, is also on the roster. Jimmer Fredette, the former BYU star, is a second-year player for the Kings. Oft-troubled center DeMarco Cousins is Sacramento’s top player, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds. Keith Smart, the former Indiana star, is the head coach.

The Kings (13-22) are one of the worst teams in the West. It would almost be like starting over with an expansion team.

I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but how about Jack Sikma as head coach?


Six questions to ponder for Seahawks

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

The Seahawks are not only good enough to beat the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday (10 a.m., FOX), they’re playing with house money.

There’s no pressure on these Seattle birds, who have not missed a beat since getting on a roll with a road victory over the Bears.

The Falcons are the No. 1 seeds, but haven’t been soaring like the Hawks. Atlanta is coming off a loss to Tampa Bay and has lost two of its last four games. There’s also the fact that Atlanta is 0-3 in the playoffs under current coach Mike Smith. The Falcons will be dissed big-time if they don’t win this one. Think they’re feeling a little pressure?

But if you’re a Seattle fans, there are questions. Here are six that come to mind?

Q1: Can the Seahawks overcome the loss of defensive end Chris Clemons, their best pass rusher?

As good as Clemons is, Seattle should be able get it done without him. This is an opportunity for first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin to make a name for himself on the national stage.

Q2: Can Seattle sustain the energy and focus that’s gotten them this far?

That’s the main concern. If you’re a Hawks fan, you’d like to think they’re peaking at the perfect time. On the other hand, you hope they haven’t peaked too early. It’s so difficult to maintain that edge, but I’m inclined to think a lack of energy or focus won’t be a problem. Considering what’s at stake, it shouldn’t. Plus, these guys look like they’re having too much fun to wear down now. One of the most impressive traits of this team once it got on its roll is how it’s been able to play from the first snap to the last without any letdowns. You gotta like this quote from Doug Baldwin, as told to Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times: “We’re going to be physical and consistent. And we’re going to do it until the other team can’t do it anymore.”

Q3: What about the matchup with Atlanta’s skills guys — quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez?

Seattle’s defensive secondary has pretty much controlled opponents all season, but this could be the toughest challenge yet, and the one question that worries me the most. Cornerback Brandon Browner could have trouble with the speed of White and Jones. Those two were targeted 28 times and caught 17 passes for 205 yards in a 31-28 win over Seattle on Oct. 2, 2011. And Tony Gonzalez still has the ability to come up with a big plays. And if they don’t get pressure on Ryan, well, you know what could happen.

Q4: Will the loss of kicker Steven Hauschka, who was put on injured reserve Wednesday, hurt the Hawks?

You never know. The guy they signed, Ryan Longwell, 38, has loads of experience but he hasn’t kicked in the league this season. And Hauschka has been as reliable as any kicker in the league. If it comes down to FGs, it might not be good for Seattle.

Q5: Is there a chance that the Hawks got a little lucky with the schedule makers late in the season? Have they played anybody really good?

I know, I know, I know. The 49ers were pretty good and Seattle put up 42 points on their rivals, but the Niners were beat up that day. The 58-0 and 50-17 wins were impressive, but they were over the Cardinals (who had eight turnovers) and Bills. Seattle struggled to beat the Rams 20-13 in its regular-season final at home and they beat a Redskins team that was less than full strength because of RG3’s knee. And Washington wasn’t all that great to begin with, having won the mediocre NFC West.

Q6: Can scrambling QB Russell Wilson stay healthy?

We saw what the Redskins turned into after RG3s knee injury. And as good as rookie QB Russell Wilson has been, he’s been sacked six times in the last two games. And if he was not able to do the best impersonation of Fran Tarkenton since, well, Fran Tarkenton, he would have several more. And if he’s a second late going into his slide, well, Seahawks’ fans don’t even want to think about that one.

Tickets available

Interested in flying to Atlanta? Sunday’s game at the Georgia Dome is sold out , but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that StubHub.com was offering 9,000 tickets that started at $60 for upper end-zone seats.

Odds to win the Super Bowl

The Seahawks and Falcons are both listed at 8-1 to win the Super Bowl.  Denver, at 3-1, is the favorite to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans on Feb. 2.

Did you know?

Courtesy Steve Rudman of Sportspressnw.com comes this trivia: Since playoff seeding began following the 1990 season, just one No. 5 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed, in the 2007 divisional playoffs when Eli Manning led the New York Giants to a 21-17 upset of No. 1-seeded Dallas.

Seattle, a No. 5 seed, would like to duplicate what those Giants did. They defeated No. 2-seeded Green Bay 23-20 (OT) in the NFC Championship game and the AFC’s No. 1-seed, New England, 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.

Seattle’s also trying to become the third-straight wild card to win the Super Bowl, following Green Bay (2010) and the Giants (2011).

Packers or Niners?

OK, let’s say the Seahawks win. Who would you like to see them play in the NFC Championship game, the Packers or Niners? Either way, that’s a juicy matchup right? The Packers will want revenge for the Failed Mary play at the Clink earlier this season, and the Seahawks would get another shot at Jim Harbaugh (is there a more hated man in the NFL right now?) and the Niners.

Where are you watching the game?

Just wondering, where’s the best place to watch a Seahawks’ playoff game in Kitsap County? If one is looking to step out of his man cave and wants to join some fans, where do you go? The Cloverleaf and Arena are obvious options in B-town. The casinos are obvious places in the north end. Kelly’s 19th Hole usually draws a crowd in Chico. I would imagine All Star Lanes and Hi-Joy Bowl draw a crowd. What’s the best place in Belfair? Bainbridge? Anybody offering prizes and giveaways? Are there some sleeper joints out there that we should know about?

This is your chance to give your favorite place a little free pub.

 


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