Monthly Archives: April 2013

Kitsapers in the pros: SK grad Hammel faces M’s Tuesday night

With Willie Bloomquist on the disabled list in Arizona, Baltimore pitcher Jason Hammel is the only player with Kitsap ties now playing in the major leagues.

The Orioles’ right-hander, a 2000 grad of South Kitsap, will make his sixth start of the season Tuesday against the suddenly-hot Mariners at Safeco Field.

Hammel is 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA. He started on opening day and is considered the ace of the Orioles’ staff. He’s lasted at least six innings in all of his starts and is 3-0 with a 2.50 on the road this season.

Hammel is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners.

Rookie Brandon Mauer (2-1, 1.89 in his last three starts) will be on the hill for Seattle.

As for Bloomquist, the veteran utility player started the season the DL with a right oblique pull. He’s been playing some games at the Diamondbacks’ training site in Scottsdale, but there’s no word on when he’ll be activated. “He’s getting better, but he has a ways to go,” manager Kirk Gibson said last week.

In the minors:

Aaron Cunningham, another SK grad, is playing for Round Rock, a Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. He’s 8-f0r-34 in his last 10 games (.235) and hitting .239 overall for the Express, who are based just outside of Austin, Texas. The outfielder has one home run and 6 RBI. He was a sixth-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2005. He’s got 452 at bats in the big leagues, playing with Oakland (2008-09), San Diego (2010-11) and Cleveland (2012).

Todd Linden, a 32-year-0ld CK grad, is on the 7-day disabled list at Fresno. When he’s played, he’s been used at first base and as a DH. He sat a lot early as the Giants wanted to get Brent Pill a lot of at bats as Pill was coming off an injury. Linden’s hitting .286 in just 35 at bats with one home run. I asked a minor-league instructor this spring if Linden has a chance to get back to the big-league Giants, and he said it was possible, but only as a left-handed hitter. Linden’s been a switch-hitter is entire career. He’s currently hitting .320 as a lefty and .200 from the right side. He was the 41st overall pick in the 2001 MLB draft.

Drew Vettleson is off to a tough start for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, an advanced Class A club in the Florida State League. The outfielder from Central Kitsap, Tampa’s 10th-best prospect according to MLB.com, is hitting .136 in his last 10 games (6-for-44) and .202 for the season with a .220 on-base percentage. He was the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Hansen: Odds of landing Kings aren’t ‘impossible’

If Chris Hansen is going to lose his battle to bring the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, he’s going to go down fighting.

Despite an unfavorable 7-0 vote from the NBA’s relocation committee on Monday, Hansen wrote the following on his sonicsarena.com site:

“While we are disappointed with the relocation committee’s recommendation, we just wanted to let you all know that we remain fully committed to seeing this transaction through.

“As you are all well aware, we have a binding transaction to purchase the Kings for what would be a record price for an NBA franchise, have one of the best ownership groups ever assembled to purchase a professional sports team in the U.S., have clearly demonstrated that we have a much more solid arena plan, have offered a much higher price than the yet to be finalized Sacramento group, and have placed all of the funds to close the transaction into escrow.

“As such, we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governors meeting in mid-May.”

The odds don’t look good, but Sacramento still has some hoops to jump through, and Hansen still has a binding agreement with the Maloof family to buy the Kings. And the Board of Governors, comprised of league owners, could vote in Hansen’s favor.

Hansen said the odds aren’t impossible of turning the Kings into the Seattle SuperSonics. He wrote on his site:

“When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible. While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind.”

All along, I’ve felt the NBA should keep the Kings in Sacramento and award Seattle an expansion team. There’s been no talk of expansion and it likely won’t happen until David Stern, the commissioner, steps down 2014 in Feb ruary of 2014. I’m still holding out hope that it will happen. If you have two wealthy ownership groups — and both are willing to build new arenas — it seems like it would be a win-win situation for every owner in the league. It will only drive up the value of existing franchises. Hansen and his ownership group, which includes Steve Ballmer, have ponied up a league-record $550,000 million to purchase the Kings’ franchise. Money, as they say, talks, doesn’t it?

Charlie Pierce on Jason Collins

Charlie Pierce, of Esquire and the Boston Glove, nails it again, this time as a contributing writer for Grantland.

Oh, dear God, couldn’t SI have come up with a better cover headline than “The Gay Athlete”? There literally are thousands of gay athletes, at every level of sports, from Legion baseball all the way to the majors and back again, from high school football teams in west Texas all the way to the NFL. We just don’t know who they are yet, and it would be considerably more dangerous for a center on a Christian academy basketball team in Kansas to come out than it was for Collins, which is the truest measure of how far we really have to go. When one of those kids comes out, and when he is supported by as many people as are now congratulating themselves for supporting Collins, then you can come talk to me about our day of jubilee.

That’s a paragraph lifted from his story on Jason Collins’ decision to come out.

Villopoto clinches third straight Supercross title

There has never been a doubt, and now there’s absolutely no debate: Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto ranks among THE very best AMA Supercross riders in the history of the sport.

Villopoto joined Bob Hannah, Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath as the only riders to win three straight 450cc class titles in a row when he won his ninth race of the season on Saturday night at Salt Lake City.

I caught a recent airing of the CBS special: “Ryan Villopoto: A Champion” and it not only gives you a lot of insight into the sport, but into his personal life, where he spent three years estranged from his Poulsbo family. If you get a chance to see it, I recommend it.

In the meantime, congrats to RV and his crew. He finishes the regular supercross season at Las Vegas on May 4, then it’s off to the motocross season, which he missed a year ago after blowing out a knee in his race in Seattle.

Time for heads to roll in Marinersville?

Dave Cameron at U.S.S. Mariner doesn’t pull any punches in his latest post. He writes:

They needed this April to not happen. Embarrassing is the only word I can use to describe this. The team is publicly stating that they think they can win while starting Endy Chavez,Raul IbanezRobert Andino, and Kelly Shoppach. They traded for Aaron Harang to save the pitching staff. This roster is embarrassing. This roster is probably going to get everyone fired. This roster should get everyone fired.

He’s right. This roster should get everyone fired. It was flawed from the get-go. There was a recent game where the M’s trailed Texas 1-0 in the seventh inning with two outs. They had the comically slow Jesus Montero on second base and not-s0-dangerous Brendan Ryan at the plate. Do you think a pinch-hitter might be in order? Or perhaps a pinch runner? Manager Eric Wedge didn’t make a move. Of course, I’m not sure if he had any options. This is a bad baseball team. Embarrassing is the only word to describe this team. It’s tough to love these Mariners. That was the headline on a column I wrote last week.

Like Cameron, I’m not much of a Wedge fan. He points out that there’s not really anybody on staff that would do things differently, so if the M’s do fire Wedge, they’re going to have to bring somebody in from the outside. I think that should be their first move.

And if Wedge is gone, then you’ve got to get rid of GM Jack Zduriencik, too. Do you wait until after the draft, which is six weeks away, or do you just pull the trigger now and clean house? That’s a tough call as Cameron explains during his post.

My 88-year-old father says they should swap the M’s roster with the Rainiers’ roster. That’s a bit drastic, but why not give shortstop Carlos Triunfel a shot? He looked pretty good during a September call-up a year ago and is hitting .321 right now. Nick Franklin, who has been flipping at shortstop and second with Triunfel, is hitting .325. Call ’em both up. Put Dustin Ackley in left field, which is where I felt he always belonged. Say goodbye to Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez and Robert Andino. I’d keep Raul as a DH/pinch hitter if you had a spot, but this team doesn’t have that luxury.

And let’s see what Danny Hultzen can do? He’s 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA (25 strikeouts, six walks). We’ve been teased so long about the so-called Big Three (Hultzen, Paxton and Walker). Give Hultzen a shot. He’s got to have better stuff than Harang and he seems like a mature player that could handle some adversity if things don’t go well at first.

And, of course, it’s time for new leadership on top, too. Don’t know if you can do it during the middle of a season, but wouldn’t it be nice if Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong called a press conference to announce that they were stepping down from their positions and that they’re bringing in a new team president to run the show.

 

 

 

College Football Playoff

Did you hear what they’re going to call the college football playoff that begins in 2014?

Yeah, you heard right.

It’s gonna be the College Football Playoff.

You can vote for the College Football Playoff logo here.

Wonder how much money they paid to a marketing firm to come up with that name?

Maybe simple is better. At least it’s not the Chevy/Tostitos/CenturyLink College Football Playoff.

The best part about the College Football Playoff is that there’s going to be a college football playoff.

And we’re still going to be debating the system because howinthehell can you decide which four teams are going to qualify for the College Football Playoff.

College Football Playoff. Just rolls off your tongue. I’m starting to like it.

 

NFL Draft: Some reading material

Here’s a crash-course on the 2013 NFL Draft, a three-day event which starts Thursday.

The scheduleThursday, Round 1, 5 p.m. Friday, Rounds 2-3, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Rounds 4-7, 9 a.m. TV: NFL Network and ESPN. Live Stream: NFL.com.

Claire Farnesworth, who covered the Seahawks for the Post-Intelligencer before being hired by the Seahawks, writes that other NFL teams now want to copy what the Hawks did in terms of bringing in big, physical cornerbacks  like Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. I think it’ll be tough to duplicate what those two guys have done in Seattle the last two years. The stats tell the story: Sherman and Browner have combined for 213 tackles, 21 interceptions and 70 passes defensed during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Who do you think the Seahawks should take with their first pick in the NFL draft? They’ve got the 56th overall pick.

How about tight end Gavin Escobar from San Diego State? That’s the guess from Evan Silva, a Yahoo Sports correspondent.

SI.com suggests that this might be the first draft since 1963 that no running backs go in the first round.

Here’s some interesting draft trivia from NFLdraftscout.com. An example: Lawrence Okoye, a 2012 Olympian from England, has never played organized football but drew the attention of scouts at the Super Regional Combine in Dallas. At 6-6, 300, he ran a 4.84 40-yard dash. If the NFL doesn’t work out, the discus record-holder in Great Britain has deferred admission to Oxford Law to fall back on.

Seahawks don’t have a first-round pick, but they’ve made their hay in the middle rounds in the past, writes Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times.

Russell Wilson’s story makes you wonder if there’s another sleeper QB out there that in this year’s draft.

Some bold predictions for the 2013 draft. Example: There will be at least 10 cornerbacks picked in the first two rounds.

Will the Seahawks pick another QB to battle Josh Portis and Quinn for the backup job? Here’s John Boyle’s take on that. By the way, the Hawks signed another QB, Jerrod Johnson, on Wednesday.

Seattle doesn’t have a first-round pick, but they’ve got a lot of You Tube videos of Percy Harvin, says GM John Schneider.

Here’s 15 potential steals heading into the three-day draft.

Enjoy the draft.

Villopoto chats

The Seattle TImes had a live chat with Poulsbo’s supercross superstar Ryan Villopto.

During the chat, Villopoto said he won’t retire at the end of the season. He’s signed a three-year contract with most of his sponsors and will race at least that long.

Villopto and the AMA Supercross tour is in Seattle for its annual stop this week. Race day is Saturday at CenturyLink Field. It’s really quite a show. If you haven’t experienced it, I recommend it.

 

Lutes’ Frosty Westering was an original

Talk about a double dose of sad news.

On the same day Marv Harshman died, the legendary football coach of the Pacific Lutheran Lutes, Frosty Westering, passed away. Harshman was 95 (see earlier post); Westering 85.

They were two of the most successful and well-liked men to ever coach young men in our state.

Westering’s famous saying and title of a book he wrote was: Make the Big Time Where You Are. Westering coached PLU to four NAIA national titles and later traveled the country as a motivational speaker.

Todd Milles of the Tacoma News Tribune has the story on the charismatic Westering, a man who didn’t care about wins or losses yet became the 10th winning football coach in the country. Westering wasn’t your typical football coach. He did it his way, and that meant stressing his Christian faith and emphasizing team work.