Monthly Archives: April 2015

Thursday musings: NFL Draft, Mayweather-Pacquiao, M’s …

Just the numbers, with a little commentary sprinkled in as we head to a big weekend for sports fans:

NFL Draft/Seahawks

9: That’s how many ex-Oregon Ducks are on the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster. Somehow, I think head coach Chip Kelly is going to make it No. 10 when the Eagles figure out a way to trade up for the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft. Latest rumors have Cleveland dealing a pair of first-round picks to Tennessee for the No. 2 pick. The Eagles would then package QB Sam Bradford to the Browns and Kelly gets the Duck he really wants. Mariota could be the next Russell Wilson, but he won’t have the same level of talent around him if he winds up in Philly.

11: The number of picks the Seahawks have in this week’s draft. With Seattle reportedly not picking up the option on Bruce Irvin’s contract and rumors of a possible trade with Atlanta, the Hawks might have a serious need for an outsider linebacker. How about former Washington star Shaq Thompson, who could also project as a safety or running back?


$40,955.25: Someone paid that much for a ticket to Saturday’s fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, according to StubHub.

$6,820: Via StrubHub, the average price for a ticket to a fight that has brought boxing out of the dark ages.

I’m not predicting a winner, but I am predicting a rematch. The fighters are expected to split $300 million this time around, why not do it again?


.328/.316: Batting averages of prospects Chris Taylor and Jesus Montero at Triple-A Tacoma.

.229/.205/.194/.192/.121: Batting averages of Austin Jackson, Rickie Weeks, Logan Morrison, Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino.

It’s still early, but if things don’t change by the middle of May, I’m going to figure out a way to get Taylor and Montero in the lineup. Taylor’s a better defensive shortstop than Brad Miller, who should be able to play the outfield or even first base. Montero can be the fulltime DH if you keep Nelson Cruz in RF, or split time at first with Morrison. Release Weeks, try to trade Ackley and hope Jackson and Zunino, both stellar defenders, can figure it out at the plate.

4-0: That’s Felix Hernandez’s record. This is his 10th fulltime season as a starter, and it’s crazy he’s never won 20 games, but that’s because he was part of a lot of bad Seattle teams. He was 19-5 in 2009 when he was second in the Cy Young balloting. He was 13-12 in 2010 when he won the Cy Young and 15-6 a year ago when he should have won the award, but finished second to Cleveland’s Corey Kluber. Prediction: Felix gets to the magical 20-victory mark this season and wins another Cy Young.

10: Numbers of home runs Nelson Cruz has hit thus far. That puts him on pace to hit 77. Here’s a look at his latest blast, measured at 483-feet.

MLB predictions

The Nationals, Mariners, and Indians were among the trendy preseason picks to make a big splash this season. The Nats (9-13) just crawled out of the NL East cellar; the M’s (10-11) are third in the AL West and Cleveland (7-13) is last in the AL Central.

The Astros (14-7) and Yankees (13-9), picked for last-place finishes, are first in the AL West and AL East. Not many of the experts gave the Royals much love after reaching the World Series, but KC (14-7) is proving everybody wrong.

The Dodgers (13-8), Cardinals (14-6) and Tigers (14-7) are among the predicted favorites off to solid starts.

Chambers Bay/U.S. Open

$249: That’s what it’ll cost a Kitsap County resident to play Chambers Bay from May 1-July 12, providing you can get a tee time. Here’s my column after playing Chambers Bay this week.

Chambers Bay is already creating quite a buzz for the uniqueness that it offers.  Ryan Palmer said it wasn’t a championship course.

Kentucky Derby

149: This is the 149th edition of the Kentucky Derby. Horse racing is just a blip on the sports radar anymore and the Derby will take a backseat to the fight in Vegas, the NFL Draft and NBA and NHL playoffs. For those of you interested, American Pharaoh is the 5-2 favorite and it’ll break from the No. 18 post position on Saturday. Here’s the derby odds.

20: This is the 20th season of horse racing at Emerald Downs, which opened April 18. There will be racing Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend at the Auburn track.



Tough break for Drew Vettleson

Central Kitsap grad Drew Vettleson, a former first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays, missed eight weeks a year ago after getting hit by a pitch on his right wrist while playing for the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A club of the Washington Nationals. He broke his pisiform bone. Surgery was not required.

Vettleson started the season once again at Harrisburg, and suffered another injury in the first game of the season while fouling off a pitch. The left-handed hitting outfielder broke a hamate bone in his left wrist.  It required surgery and he’s expected to miss 4-to-8 weeks.


Big weekends for Curtis Wildung, Riley McKean & more updates on local collegians

This is another update on local collegians, the baseball edition:

Kingston grad Curtis Wildung was named to the team of the week. The Pacific Lutheran catcher, a four-year starter, was 5-for-7 with four doubles in two wins against cross-town rival Puget Sound last week.

Wildung drove in three runs, scored four and added a walk and stolen base for the Lutes (23-8, 15-6 Northwest Conference). Wildung’s hitting .283 for the season. He played for his uncle, Brent Stenman, in the summers on North Kitsap’s Senior Babe Ruth squad.

George Fox’s Riley McKean, a sophomore from North Mason, had one of those dream games on Saturday. McKean, a third baseman, was 6-for-6 with two home runs, four runs scored and six RBI in a 15-4 win over Lewis & Clark. McKean was 1-4 with an RBI in the first game, a 7-1 win. The big day raised his average to .293. George Fox is 16-19 overall, 12-9 in conference play.

More baseball updates:

Kasey Bielec (North Mason, sr.) continues to pound the baseball for Central Washington. The first baseman/second baseman is hitting .396 for the Wildcats (18-21, 9-15 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) with four home runs, nine doubles, three triples and 30 RBI. He has walked 17 times and been hit by pitches eight more and has a .481 on-base percentage. … Tanner Romo (South Kitsap/Everett CC, jr.) hasn’t got untracked offensively (hitting .121 in 31 at-bats) but has played well defensively at shortstop and second base for CWU.

Third baseman Shane Matheny (Olympic HS, fr.) has started all 35 games for Washington State (18-17, 5-10 Pac-12). Matheny is hitting .229 with a home run and is third on the team in RBI with 13.

Logan Knowles (South Kitsap, fr.) is starting at third base for Navy. Knowles has made 19 starts and appeared in 25 games for the Midshipmen (26-13, 8-4 Patriot League). The former SK pitcher/infielder is hitting .234 with two doubles and six RBI.

Linfield pitcher Joe Stevick (Olympic HS, sr.) has made 10 relief appliances for the Wildcats (24-9, 14-7 NWC). He’s 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA. In 18.1 innings, he’s allowed 18 hits and has 10 strikeouts and just two walks. Stevick was part of a D3 national championship team in 2013. Scott Brosius, an 11-year MLB veteran who won three World Series rings with the Yankees, coaches the Wildcats. He’s a Linfield alum.

Landon Cray (Chimacum, jr.) has helped Seattle University (19-15, 11-1 Western Athletic Conference) move to the top of the conference standing, although he’s been out of the lineup of late with an injury. The center fielder is hitting .299 with a .417 on-base percentage. He has a homer, six doubles, three triples and six stolen bases. He was 72-10 in high school as a pitcher and once struck out 20 batters while throwing a no hitter.

Corban 1B Daniel Orr (Kingston/Everett CC, sr.) is hitting .272 with 23 RBI for the Warriors (21-23, 9-11 NAIA West). Orr was 7-for-15 with a couple home runs in a four-game series against NAIA power LC-State over the weekend. Former all-state and all-NWAC player led Corban in about every hitting category a year ago, finishing with a .374 average and 48 RBI.

It didn’t take Tyler Ludlow (South Kitsap, fr.) long to adjust to college pitching. The 1B/DH is hitting .366 with nine home runs and 37 RBI for Jamestown University (N.D.). Nick Torres (Bremerton, fr.) also plays for the Jimmies (17-14, 7-5 North Star Athletic Association). Torres has appeared in six games as a relief pitcher and has a 7.04 ERA with a save.

A.J. Konopaski (Port Angeles, sr.) is having another solid season for Pacific Lutheran. He led D3 in saves (13) and earned All-American status as a junior. He has nine saves and a 1.26 ERA in 14.2 innings for the Lutes this year.

Whitworth’s Arory (also goes by A.J.) Milyard (so., North Kitsap) has appeared in seven games for the Pirates (22-13, 13-8 NWC), all in relief. He has pitched 13.1 innings and has an 8.10 ERA.

Around the NWAC:

Olympic College: Alex Sablan (South Kitsap, so.) leads the Rangers with a .353 batting average and 22 RBI. He has 11 doubles and two triples. … Matt Noll (Bremerton, fr.) is the Rangers’ third-leading hitter with a .260 average. Batting leadoff, he has four doubles and a triple. … Go to for complete OC and NWAC statistics.

Edmonds: Outfielder Jesse Moore (South Kitsap, redshirt fr.) is hitting .322 with five home runs, 27 RBI and 10 stolen bases for the defending NWAC champs. Paul Gehring, former Bremerton High, Olympic College Centralia CC and York College catcher, is the top assistant at Edmonds.

Tacoma: Catcher Riley Paschal (Central Kitsap, fr.) is hitting .176 in a backup role for the Titans.

Pierce: Conner Sharp (South Kitsap, fr.) has appeared in four games, pitching six innings with a 9.00 ERA.

Bellevue: Outfielder Dylan Vchulek (Bainbridge, fr.) is among the NWAC’s top hitters with a .356 average, 10 stolen bases and five RBI. … First baseman Tino Peleti (Bainbridge, fr.) is hitting .212 with a homer and six RBI for the Bulldogs. … Tracy Casey Bohlmann, former Central Kitsap, Bellevue and Hawaii Pacific Hilo pitcher, is an assistant at Bellevue.

Everett: C/DH Tyler Pinkerson (South Kitsap, fr.) is hitting a robust .364 in 21 games for the Trojans. … Shortstop Kevin Whatley (South Kitsap, so.) is hitting .219.

Shoreline: Drey McInnes (Bremerton, fr.) starts at shortstop and bats leadoff for the Dolphins. He’s hitting .226 with a home run.

Green River: Catcher/infielder Rob Ackerley (Bainbridge, fr.) has played in 23 games and is hitting .253.

Yakima: Pitcher Shane Crowell (North Kitsap, fr.) is 3-0 with a save and 4.21 ERA. In 21.3 innings, he’s allowed 22 hits, 11 runs, struck out 10 and walked five.

Grays Harbor: 1B Bryce Gourley (.200 in 11 games) and OF Mitchell Gourley (.229 in 15 games), both from Port Orchard, are playing for the Chokers.





Gold Mountain alums doing OK in the Masters

At least six golfers who have passed through Gold Mountain on their way to successful PGA careers were playing in the Masters the past two days.

You probably have heard of some of them.

Justin Spieth is having a historic tournament, setting a record for the lowest score through 36 holes (64-66—130). Spieth’s connection to Gold Mountain? The lad from Texas won the U.S. Junior Amateur  in 2011.

Dustin Johnson set a Masters record with three eagles on Friday enroute to shooting a 67. He’s tied for third at 137, a really good score, but seven back of the Spiethmaster. Johnson was at Gold Mountain in 2004 when he tied for seventh in the Husky Invitational while playing for Coastal Carolina.

Jonas Blixt is tied for 19th after rounds of 72-70. Blixt was a senior at Florida State when he passed through Gold Mountain for the NCAA regionals in 2008. Blixt tied for second with Spieth at the 2014 Masters, which was won by Bubba Watson, and was fourth at the 2013 PGA Championship.

Keegan Bradley won a PGA Championship in 2011, the same year Spieth was running the table at the Junior Amateur at Gold Mountain. Bradley played his college golf for St. John’s and he found his way to Bremerton for the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links. He lost in the second round of match play. Bradley is tied for 27th at Augusta after rounds of 71-72.

Florida’s Billy Horschel also lost in the first round at the 2006 APL. He missed the cut at the Masters, as did Luke Donald, a native of England who was playing for Northwestern when he finished in a four-way tied for second at the 1998 Husky Invitational. Donald was the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year in 2011, when he won four events and wound up as the No. 1-ranked player in the world. Horschel tied for fourth at the 2013 U.S. Open and made 23 straight cuts at one point during that season.

Did you know? The University of Washington will host the NCAA West Regionals on May 14-16 at Gold Mountain.





Getting excited about the Pumas and US Open Cup

The Sun’s soccer expect, Jeff Graham, is home with his newborn baby, so I’m going to ramble on with a little soccer news about your hometown Kitsap Pumas.

If you’re a fan of the Pumas, you probably know by now that they will open the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup against FC Tacoma of the National Premier Soccer League on May 13. The game will be played at Mount Tahoma High School at 6:30 p.m.

The winner of the first-round game will play the Sounders FC 2, the first-year USL side, on May 20 at Starfire Complex in Tukwila at 7:30 p.m. Here’s the complete Round 1 and Round 2 draw.

The Pumas’ 1-0 victory over the Laredo Heat for the 2011 USL Premier Development League championship at Bremerton’s Memorial Field remains the highlight for the franchise, which hosted the Final Four. Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Here’s Jeff’s game story and my column after that championship match.

The Pumas, which lost the PDL championship game to the Michigan Bucks 2-1 a year ago, are one of 91 teams competing for the championship of the United States. The Open Cup is the second-longest, continuously- running soccer tournament in the world. This is the 102nd edition and my favorite memory was the run the Pumas made in 2011.

Kitsap won a first-round match on the road at El Paso, took down a solid Colorado Rapids side at home in the second round and then traveled across the water to take on the Sigi Schmid’s Sounders. Before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,811, the Pumas hung with the MSL boys before falling, 2-1.

It was great drama and entertainment and the performance carried the team, then coached by current Seattle University head man Peter Fewing, to the PDL championship later in the season.

Now, they’ve got another chance to make a run in a really cool tournament. It looks like new coach Cameron MacDonald, an assistant a year ago, has done a nice job of assembling another quality team, one that will challenge for another PDL championship. The Northwest Division is comprised of just seven teams. Here’s the Pumas’ PDL schedule.

If they can get past Tacoma FC and Sounders 2, they would likely face a team from the North American Soccer League (Division II). Third-round winners will earn dates with a team from the MSL.

The odds are against it, but how much fun would it be if the Kitsap Pumas could find a way to earn another shot at the MSL Sounders, who won a record fourth US Open Cup a year ago?

Also: Here’s a look at Karamba Janneh, an exciting striker signed by the Pumas. He placed for the Ocala Stampede, which lost to the Pumas in the national semifinals, a year ago. … The Victoria Highlanders, one of the most successful PDL teams in terms of organization and attendance, ceased operations in February, but recently announced they will field a team in the Pacific Coast Soccer League, an adult league based in British Columbia.

Opening Day: Thoughts and links about the Mariners

Before you hear the umpire yell “Play Ball!” today at Safeco Field, here’s some thoughts about the Seattle Mariners, one for every inning of today’s game (1:10 p.m., ROOT TV):

1, The Skipper: After going through Bob Melvin, Mike Hargrove, John McLaren, Jim Riggleman, Don Wakamatsu and Eric Wedge, I think the Mariners have finally found the right guy to lead this club in Lloyd McClendon. He seems to have that right mix of fire and steadiness. He knows how to keep his veteran stars like Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano happy, and instill confident in the role guys. He’d been a manager before in Pittsbugh, and worked seven years under Jim Leyland in Detroit. Seattle improved 16 games in the win column in McClendon’s first year. He’s got more talent to work with now. It should be, as all of the pundits are telling you, a fun season.

Here’s a really good story by Jerry Crasnick about McClendon carrying the torch as the only African-American manager in the majors.

 2, If Fernando Rodney stumbles, and I don’t know why I think he might, I’m not worried. Yoervis Medina, Carson Smith, Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmsen — part of a bullpen that was as good as any in baseball a year ago — all have what it takes to be closers. Farquhar saved 16 games in 2013 when he was thrust into that role. Here’s an analytical look at why some think Rodney, who had 48 saves in 2014, might fall off a bit in 2015.

3, Expecting big things:   When Taijuan Walker got an opportunity last season, he wasn’t ready for it. Physically, yes, but mentally, no. Now he’s ready to take steps toward establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. Walker’s delivery is so smooth and the ball just flies when he releases it. You wonder how he generates so much power. It’s kind of like a Freddy Couples drive. Effortless. He starts the season as Seattle’s No. 4 starter. He might be No. 2 by the end of the year.

4, Reason for caution: I wrote about it last month, and several others have made the same point. The outfielders are going to have to prove to me that they can produce on a consistent basis. Based on what we saw a year ago I think it’s justified to be a little concerned about center fielder and leadoff hitter Austin Jackson (.229/.267/.260 slash line after coming over from Detroit). And, OK, I don’t follow baseball like I used to but I’d never heard of Seth Smith or Justin Ruggiano until the Mariners acquired them. Dustin Ackley? He’s a career .245 hitter. Rickie Weeks is the one piece I’m reasonably confident about. To borrow a quote from Lou Piniella, “He’s a professional hitter.”

5, Experience: I like the fact that the Mariners are no longer a young team. This is a veteran team, with stars like Hernandez, Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and Hiashi Iwakuma. There are no rookies on the club. Art Thiel of sportspress.nw writes that the Mariners have no one younger than 24 or older than 34 in Monday’s starting lineup. I also like the fact Seattle won’t be counting on Justin Smoak this season.

6, Speaking of Iwakuma: With King Felix and Walker, and talented lefty James Paxton and  newcomer J.A. Happ garnering a lot of preseason attention, Hishashi Iwakuma tends to get   overlooked at times. We forget how good he is. When he’s got the splitting diving, he’s one of the premier pitchers in the game. Remember 2013 when he was 14-6 and finished third in the Cy Young balloting (Felix was eighth that year). Kuma ranked second in the AL in WHIP (a club-record 1.006), third in ERA (2.66), innings (219 2/3) and opponents’ batting average (.220), fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.40) and quality starts (23), and fifth in opponents’ OPS (.630). He battled some arm issues a year ago, but still managed to make 28 starts and finished with a 15-9 record and 3.52 ERA. The arm was strong this spring, and I think you can look for another All-Star type of season out of the right-hander, who is in the final year of a 3-year, $20  million deal.

7, Beer: Yes, it’s expensive, but the options at Safeco Field are endless. I bet you can’t sample one of each before the end of the season.

8, In case you missed it: This is the preview about the Mariners from Sports Illustrated, Lookout Landing, and a prediction column by Larry Stone of the Seattle Times about the Mariners putting it all together after years of disappointments (there are also links to other previews stories). And Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (his stuff also appears in The Sun) had a good story on Opening Day starter Felix Hernandez.

9, Road trip: The Mariners are in San Francisco to play the defending World Champion Giants on June 15 (Monday, 7:15 p.m.) and 16 (Tuesday, 12:45 p.m.), and the Giants are in Seattle June 17 (Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.) and June 18 (Thursday, 7:10 p.m.). That’s a four-game series I’d like to see.