Category Archives: Seattle Mariners

Mariners come home in last place; is it time to panic?

They were supposed to challenge for first place this season.

Twenty-eight games into the season, the Seattle Mariners are in last place, seven games out of first in the AL West. They’ve lost six of their last seven.

What’s up?

“I think the baseball gods are testing us a little bit,” said manager Lloyd McClendon following a second straight walk off loss to the Anaheim Angeles on Wednesday.

I wonder if McClendon believes in the Church of Baseball? You know, the one Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) talked about in the movie “Bull Durham.”

Annie’s philosophy:

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring… which makes it like sex. There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I’d never sleep with a player hitting under .250… not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there’s a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I’ve got a ballplayer alone, I’ll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. ‘Course, a guy’ll listen to anything if he thinks it’s foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. ‘Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball – now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake? It’s a long season and you gotta trust it. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.

Baseball gods or no baseball gods, other than Nelson Cruz (,333, 14 HRs, 26 RBI) and Felix Hernandez (5-0, 1.73 ERA ), there’s not a lot to get excited about right now when it comes to the Mariners.

Annie Savoy wouldn’t have a lot of choices when it comes to finding a hitter to sleep with. Other than Cruz, Robinson Cano (.263), Kyle Seager (.255) and Seth Smith (.250) are the only players hitting above .250.

This is a bad baseball team right now. Fernando Rodney has eight saves, but a 5.56 ERA. Hishaski Iwakuma is on the DL, Taijuan Walker (1-3, 8.74 ERA) and James Paxton (0-2, 5.08 ERA) were thought to be can’t-miss prospects, and now you know why they play the games.

It’s frustrating for the fans because the franchise had such lofty expectation coming into this season. The Mariners were considered, by just about everybody, a pretty good bet to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2001.

Seattle opened the season as 12-1 favorites to win the World Series, one of the four favorites in MLB according to the sports book Bovada. The odds have dropped to 33-1 and the Mariners now own the fourth-worst record in baseball.

Is it time to panic?

The Brewers (9-19, .321), Phillies (10-19, .345) and Indians (10-16, .385) are the only MLB teams with worst records than Seattle (11-17, .393).

Catcher Mike Zunino is hitting .177 and the strikeouts (31) keep coming.

Dustin Ackley is off to another slow start, hitting .182.

The team is hitting .236 with an American League-worst .289 on-base percentage. Only San Francisco (63) has scored fewer runs than Seattle (65). That’s an important statistic, right? Scoring runs is the name of the game.

Only Toronto (109) and Boston (95) have walked more hitters than Seattle (90) pitchers. Opponents are hitting .256 against the Mariners; the league average is .251.

Seattle’s also not getting it done on defense. The Mariners are tied for 10th in fielding percentage (.982) and have made 19 errors in 28 games.

I repeat: Is it time to panic?

Will Zunino figure it out at the plate?

Will Cano find a semblance of a power stroke? He’s on pace to hit 6 home runs.

Will Smith, Seth Ruggiano and the Rickie Weeks — three off-season acquisitions — come to life. So far, only Smith has produced and his numbers are marginal at best.

Austin Jackson’s on the DL with an ankle injury, but the center fielder wasn’t getting the job done anyway.

The M’s have already started making moves. Chris Taylor was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma and is now starting at shortstop. Brad Miller is reportedly not happy about being turned into a super utility player. And if Miller is the super utility guy, where does that leave Willie Bloomquist? Can a team afford to carry two super utility guys?

What happens to the offense if Cruz goes into a slump, and you know it’ll happen at some point. What happens if Hernandez hit the wall at some point? Will others step up?

Is it time to panic?

As bad as the results have been thus far, I think it’s too early to throw in the towel. Check back after the upcoming home stand. The Marineros play Oakland three times, the Padres visit for two and Boston invades Safeco for a four-game series.







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.



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.



Quick hits from the desert: Troy Kelly, Joey Dean, Seahawks, questions & more

Some quick hits on a Tuesday night from Super Bowl country:

TROY KELLY is entered in this week’s Humana Challenge, the PGA Tour event in La Quinta,  Calif. Kelly, a Central Kitsap grad now living in Tacoma, still has PGA status because of a Major Medical Extension he received after going through knee surgery in the 2013 season.

Kelly has 10 starts and needs to make $563,133 or 353.837 FedExCup points to retain his status. I’m not positive, but I think Kelly has to use those 10 starts this season. He missed two PGA cuts earlier in the fall, and took some time off to give an aching body some rest after not playing well. Kelly cashed in just two of nine Tour starts in 2014.

Kelly, now living in Tacoma, was based out of La Quinta for a few years and is familiar with the Nicklaus and Palmer courses at PGA West.

In case you missed it, Bob Kelly (Troy’s dad) operates Hackers Bar & Grill at Madrona Links in Gig Harbor.

JOEY DEAN is MCing the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet at Kiana Lodge on Saturday (11 a.m. social hour, dinner and program at noon). The 1984 Olympic High state championship baseball team is among the teams being inducted. Dean was in the class of ’83 at Oly and played football and baseball. He’s also got some motorsports history and, of course, remains one of the most popular singer/songwriters in Kitsap County. Nice for Joey to give back to the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable, the non-profit that puts on the annual HOF shindig.

PLAYED SOME GOLF Tuesday in Gilbert, Arizona, where the weather was outstanding (76 degrees), and the company even better. The golf game? I’m not talking about mine, but Glenn Carden hit ’em straight and far while shooting a 78 at Western Skies Golf Course.

SOME OF US DEBATED this question on Twitter Sunday night: What’s the greatest game in Seattle sports history. Was it the Seahawks unbelievable NFC Championship comeback victory over the Packers on Sunday, or the Mariners’ win over the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALCS in 1995?

For me, it’s the football game. It was stunningly, mind-blowing, coming from 12 down with 3 minutes left to win the way they won after playing so poorly on offense. I’m a baseball guy but to be in a position to win back-to-back Super Bowls trumps what Edgar, Junior, Randy and Lou’s Boys did on that magical night in the Kingdome.

What do you think?

IF YOU COULD SPEND an evening with one Seahawk, who would it be? Russell Wilson? Marshawn Lynch? Richard Sherman? Earl Thomas? Jon Ryan? Pete Carroll? Who’s your guy?

PETER KING of writes that the Seahawks need to feed the Beast if they want to win Super Bowl 49. I couldn’t agree more.

QUICK, NAME the only team to beat the Seahawks and Patriots this season? Yep, Kansas City.

BROADCASTER BILL WALTON called the Pac-12 basketball game between Utah and Arizona in Tucson on Saturday. Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic tailed Walton at the Pac-12 Networks crew before and during the game.

At one point, Walton wished Muhammad Ali a happy 73rd birthday and shared a favorite Ali quote: “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can surely make something out of you.”

ANOTHER PAC-12 BROADCASTER, MIKE MONTGOMERY, got a call from former South Kitsap athlete and Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote recently. “He said, ‘You’ve got a face for radio’ and hung up,” said Montgomery during a recent broadcast. Heathcote and Montgomery, the former Stanford and Cal coach, are both part of the Montana coaching tree. Heathcote, 87, is still living in Spokane, and remains an avid follower of Gonzaga and college hoops.

I WROTE ABOUT ASHLI PAYNE, sophomore guard at Umpqua CC, last month. I’m glad to see I didn’t jinx the Olympic High grad. She’s eighth in the 32-team Northwest Athletic Conference in scoring (17.28 points), sixth in rebounding (8.83), ninth in assists (4.28), 10th in free-throw shooting (82.3%) and 20th in steals (2.13). You can see why her coach, Dave Stricklin, thinks she’s the best player in the NWAC.





Marshawn link; Mariners lineup; Kitsap’s Umpqua connection rolling

A Marshawn Kind of Way: This is an intriguing profile of Beast Mode. Lynch didn’t agree to an interview following the Seattle Seahawks win over the Eagles on Sunday, but MMQB writer Robert Klemko does a pretty good job of telling Marshawn’s story from people who know him and understand him. .

“He’s an introvert, but he doesn’t want to conform,” says former Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. “What made Seattle perfect, and allowed him to flourish, was the fact that Pete Carroll never made him conform. Pete never gave him a dress code. Him talking to the media was not treated like part of the main thing. It’s a set of rules somebody at Park Avenue came up with, and they mean nothing to him.”

“The best teammate I’ve ever had,” said Seattle linebacker Malcomb Smith.

“There are days when I don’t feel like dealing with media,” says Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, a friend of Lynch’s. “People think he’s hiding something because he doesn’t want to talk. He does his job and does it well, and he’s not interested in other things. There are people who use the media to give false perceptions of who they are. He’s not interested in any of that. He just wants to ball.”

Mariners Lineup

Would you be happy if the Seattle Mariners 2015 Opening Day lineup looked something like this?

1. Austin Jackson, CF

2. Melky Cabrera or Alex Rios, RF

3. Robinson Cano, 2B

4. Nelson Cruz, DH

5. Kyle Seager, 3B

6. Logan Morrison, 1B

7. Dustin Ackley, LF

8. Mike Zunino, C

9. Chris Taylor or Brad Miller, SS

Felix Hernandez, P

Everything’s in place except for the No. 2 spot in the batting order. The Mariners are believed to be the front-runners to sign Cabrera, who is coming off a year in which he hit .301 with 16 home runs and an .808 OPS for Toronto. The switch-hitter seems like an ideal  fit. The M’s are also believed to have targeted Alex Rios, who hit .280 with a .709 OPS for Texas last year. Either would be a significant upgrade, although I’m still intrigued about the upside of James Jones. He stole 27 bases in 108 games a year ago and we saw the excitement he brings to the game when he’s putting the ball in play.

Maybe the M’s will pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade and wind up with Matt Kemp or Justin Upton? Lookout Landing takes a look at which player would provide you with the best value going forward.

Lighting it up for Umpqua

Umpqua Community College’s Ashli Payne (so., Olympic High) had 35 points and 10 rebounds, and Sawyer Kluge (fr., Bremerton) added 16 points and seven rebounds in a 69-63 win over Lane in the championship game of the Bellevue College Bulldog Classic this weekend. Kluge had 31 points and eight rebounds against Big Bend; Payne went for 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists in that game. Umpqua, second at the NWAC Championships a year ago, is off to a 6-0 start. Payne’s averaging 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds; Kluge 16.3 and 5.3.

Links and quick hits: Villopoto to forego Supercross series to race in Europe


Nobody has ever won five straight AMA Supercross Championships and Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto has a chance to do it, but he has decided to compete in the FIM 450 World Championships in Europe in 2015. Villopoto has reportedly signed a multi-million dealt to race in Europe. Here’s the link to the story on his own website A couple side notes: Villopoto, 28, was nominated for his third ESPY this year, and he also threw out the first pitch at a Padres game in late August.

Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson says he used to be a bully when he was a young kid.

“Truthfully, I used to beat people up a lot,” Wilson wrote for, a new website started by Derek Jeter. “Many of you readers probably think I have been Mr. Goody Two-Shoes my whole life, but honestly, I was a bully growing up. In elementary and middle school, I threw kids against the wall. I rubbed their heads in the dirt at recess. I bit them. I even knocked teeth out.”

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated digs into the suspension of ESPN’s Bill Simmons. Interesting stuff, indeed. Simmons was suspended for three weeks after calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar on his podcast.

Here’s a couple different takes on the Hope Solo story. Kate Fagan of equates Solo’s alleged assault of her 17-year-old sister and nephew to what Ray Rice did and thinks USA Soccer should suspend her immediately. Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic has a different take on the issue. Coates writes that there is a reason why we have a “Violence Against Women Act,” not a “Brawling With Families Act.”

Nobody wants to host the Olympics, writes Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. 

“Essentially the entire world has told the IOC it’s a corrupt joke,” he writes.

Quick hits

I’M STILL THINKING about Kansas City stealing seven (count ’em, SEVEN) bases in its wild-card victory over Oakland. And I’m think the Seattle Mariners need to find a way to keep James Jones in the lineup. Of course, a lot of that will depend on the development of Jones. He hit .250 with 27 stolen bases in 108 games (312 at bats). He hit .292 in June and looked like he could be the Mariners’ everyday center fielder. Then he crashed. He hit .287 before the All-Star break and .114 after. The M’s traded for Austin Jackson and Jones went back to Triple-A Tacoma before being recalled in September. It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of Mr. Jones. He could become a valuable piece of Seattle’s puzzle. Speed kills. If it’s not Jones, then they need someone like him.

I’VE ALREADY GOT a lot of positive feedback about my column on the late John Jarstad and his thoughts about the late Roosevelt Field in downtown Bremerton. Roosevelt was located just off the Warren Avenue Bridge, next to Olympic College. It’s now a … parking lot. It pains me to write that. Anyway, here’s the column in case you missed it.

OLYMPIC COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL coach Beth Donnelly has put together another strong team. The Rangers were second in the NWAC (Northwest Athletic Conference) and already own a victory over North Division rival Bellevue. They play an excellent brand of volleyball. Go see it for yourself. Next home games are Oct. 10 (Shoreline) and Oct. 15 (Edmonds).

LARRY DIXON KEEPS moving up Army’s career rushing list. The senior fullback from Olympic High is currently seventh in Army history with 2,424 yards on 400 carries. He has carried 62 times for 338 yards (5.5. per carry) and four touchdowns this season for the Black Knights (1-3), who host Ball State (1-3) on Saturday at 9 a.m. PST (CBS Sports Network).

“AMERICA’S ST. ANDREWS” a book about Chambers Bay written by Blaine Newnham, is available at Chambers Bay and can be ordered online at The book chronicles the story of how Chambers Bay, which opened in 2008, was selected to host the 2015 U.S. Open.Robert Trent Jones Jr., the chairman and master architect of RTJ II, has written the book’s foreword.



Hawks’ Wilson still proving doubters wrong; Is there a ’95 run in these M’s?

Back from Cabo and my mind’s still a little mushy, but these thoughts have been rattling around my brain:

Russell Wilson: The Seattle Seahawks’ QB hasn’t won everybody over. Ron Jaworski at ESPN ranks Wilson the ninth-best QB in the NFL. This Buck Stanton guy at, wrote last month that Wilson is the most overrated player in the NFL. Here’s what he had to say:

Yep, he’s 24-8 during his first two NFL seasons. And there’s no taking away his Super Bowl ring. All of that makes Wilson’s résumé look great. But in reality, there are a ton of quarterbacks – many of whom are much-maligned – who could have won a title with the Seahawks last year. For now, he’s a modern-day Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer. He can’t carry a team.

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless of ESPN’s First Take aren’t sold on Wilson either. Here’s what they had to say the day after Seattle’s Super Bowl victory.

Me? I’m sold. He’s not the prototypical QB like Andrew Luck, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t an elite quarterback. He’s got a ring and his numbers do not lie. As Warren Moon put it, maybe the game is evolving in a new direction? Maybe Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger — traditional pocket passers — will fade away. Maybe mobile, athletic guys like Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III will become the prototypical quarterbacks of the future.

Refuse to lose: I’ve been thinking a lot about the Seattle Mariners’ run in 1995 when they came from waaaaay back to win the AL West. They were 11.5 games behind the Angels on Aug. 23. When I looked Saturday, they were seven back. The Angels just lost their best starting pitcher, Garrett Anderson, for the season, and the Oakland A’s are scuffling. Seattle entered Sunday with a 1-game lead over Detroit in the race of race for the AL’s No. 2 wild-card spot. Yeah, I was the guy who picked the M’s to win the AL West at the start of the season. People thought I was crazy. Well, I still think they have a chance. They’re playing with a lot of confidence, and that’s huge. Here’s what a few of those players on the 1995 Mariners said about their magical late-season surge:

LEE ELIA, BATTING COACH: “We get hot, they (Angels) get cold, and all of a sudden, we cut the gap pretty good. I can remember walking out when the other team was taking BP, and I came back into the coaches’ room and said, ‘Is this a special night, bat night or something?’ They said, ‘Why.’ I said, ‘There’s 35,000 people out there.’ The juice the people brought to the park, that kicked us. That got us going.”

MIKE BLOWERS: “Junior missed a ton of time, and when he came back, we were playing real good baseball. One of his first games back, he ended up hitting a home run off John Wetteland, upper deck, to win a game. We all looked around. If this guy is healthy and ready to go, we had a chance to do something special. His injury had been so serious, we didn’t know what we’d get. He comes right back and turns a 96-mph fastball right around. We all smiled and said, ‘Here we go.’ ”

JAY BUHNER, RIGHT FIELDER: “I think that’s when everyone kind of said, ‘Hey, something really special is happening.’ We got on a roll, and we had an unbelievable amount of confidence. We had the mentality we could beat anyone. Anyone could be the hero. People were contributing in every way, from top to bottom. The few games we did lose, we thought we just ran out of outs.”

Yankee numbers: I was a big-time Yankee fan growing up, then went through a period where I fell off the bandwagon. Then, I jumped back on, mostly because of Joe Torre. Liked him as a player, and he always struck me as a classy guy when he became the manager of the Yanks. And then I had the opportunity to cover the 2000 Subway World Series when I was working for CBS Sportsline, and I learned to respect Torre even more. The Yankees were an easy team to pull for. Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Paul O’Neill, Don Zimmer, Torre.

Anyway, I think it’s pretty cool that the Yankees are going to retire Torre’s No. 6. When Jeter’s No. 2 is retired, and they might as well do it on the final home game of the season instead of delaying the inevitable, every Yankees number form 1 to 10 will be retired. Thurman Munson (No. 15) and White Ford (No. 16) also had their jerseys retired.

No. 1 Billy Martin

No. 2 Derek Jeter

No. 3 Babe Ruth

No. 4 Lou Gehrig

No. 5 Joe DiMaggio

No. 6: Joe Torre

No. 7: Mickey Mantle

No. 8: Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey

No. 9: Roger Maris

No. 10: Phil Rizzuto

Fantasy football: My league drafts tomorrow. Let the trash talkin’ begin.

If it comes down to pitching, M’s have a chance if they reach postseason

Take a look at these starting rotations and tell me which one do you want for the postseason. And consider that it’s possible to get by with just three starters in a seven-game series. I’d put the staffs in this order. It’s no guarantee for success, but if the Mariners get to the postseason, I like their chances. In addition to those top three starters, Seattle’s bullpen has been baseball’s best.


Jon Lester 11-7, 2.59 ERA

Jeff Samardzija 4-8, 2.91 (2-7, 2.83 with Cubs; 2-1, 3.09 with A’s).

Scott Kazmir 12-4, 2.53

Sonny Gray 12-5, 2.87

Jason Hammel 9-9, 3.70 (8-5, 2.98 w/Cubs; 1-4, 7.15 w/A’s)


Felix Hernandez 12-3, 1.97

Ishashi Iwakuma 9-6, 2.94

Chris Young 10-6, 3.27

Roenis Elias 8-9, 4.19

James Paxton 2-0, 2.76 (5-0, 2.01 in seven career starts)


Max Scherzer 13-4, 3.24

David Price 11-8, 3.11 (0-0, 3.24 in one start w/Tigers after being traded by Rays)

Justin Verlander 10-10, 4.74

Rick Porcello 13-6, 3.06

Anibal Sanchez 8-5, 3.37


Garrett Richards 12-4, 2.58

Jared Weaver 12-6, 3.59

C.J. Wilson 8-7, 4.74

Matt Shoemaker 9-4, 4.02

Tyler Skaggs 5-5, 4.30 or Hector Santiago 3-7, 3.84


And then there’s the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation, the best in baseball and the reason why the Dodgers will be favored to win the World Series:


Clayton Kershaw 13-2, 1.82

Zach Grienke 12-7, 3.77

Hyun-Jim Ryu 12-5, 3.39

Dan Haren 9-9, 4.57

Josh Beckett 6-6, 2.88 (Beckett, brought in as the fifth starter,tossed a no-hitter in May)

Covering all bases: Katie Lee, Bill Carter, M’s attendance & more

Congrats to Katie Lee for her strong showing at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships at The Home Course in Dupont. Lee knocked off Annie Park, the 2013 NCAA champ from USC, 1 up in the round of 64 but lost the next day.

Park and Erynne Lee, Katie’s older sister, are good friends and were teammates on the U.S. Curtis Cup team. Erynne Lee’s taking summer classes prior to her senior year at UCLA. Katie Lee’s also going to UCLA, but will reportedly concentrate on her studies. She will also be the team manager of the women’s golf team. After this week, you wonder if she’ll have second thoughts about putting her clubs away. UCLA coaches are probably thinking the same thing.

… Bill Carter and the Blame are playing at Brother Don’s in Bremerton on July 31. Carter’s a Central Kitsap grad who once played in the Chymes of Freedom. He’s been based in Austin for years and will do a lecture at the Port Townsend Blues Festival and Workshop the day before. His song  “Anything Made of Paper,” was named one of the top 50 Songs of 2013 by American Songwriter Magazine.

… The crowds were pretty good for the Mariners’ three-game series against Oakland before the All-Star break: 32,971 on Friday, 39,204 on Saturday and 25,944 for Sunday’s finale. Almost 100,000 (98,119) for three games. But it’s nothing to get excited about. Despite putting a pretty good product on the field, the fans aren’t exactly flocking to the friendly confines of Safeco Field. Seattle ranks No. 24 in MLB, averaging 23,858 per game. Oakland, always trashed for its low attendance, is No. 23, pulling in 24,137 a game.

… I like the Oakland A’s. There, I said it (or at least wrote it). Maybe the A’s should be our hated rival, kind of like the 49ers are enemy No. 1 when it comes to the Seahawks. But I can’t dig up any hatred for Oakland. It’s a fun team to watch, and the A’s are not coached by Jim Harbaugh.

… Not very kind, but my buddy tells me the Mariners have their own Group of Death. It’s called Ackley, Smoak and  Miller. Ouch!

… Speaking of attendance, the Sounders pulled 64,207 for its game against rival Portland on July 13 and are averaging 42,771 fans a game at The Clink.

… Hard not to like Bjorn Bjorke, the Olympic College golf coach who works for the Ryan Moore Golf Club. Good golfer, good coach, good guy. Here’s a story I wrote about the 34-year-old South Kitsap grad.

… Didn’t watch it, but they tell me the Seattle Seahawks stole the show at the ESPYs.

… If you were the Mariners’ GM, would you pull the trigger on a trade with the Rays for lefty David Price and utility man Ben Zobrist? Who would you give up?

… The Cave Singers are putting in another appearance at the Hi-Fidelity Lounge in Bremerton on Friday, August July 18. Good band. Check ’em out.

… While researching this story about Bremerton’s Marvin Williams, I was shocked to find out that Kevin Durant led the NBA in technical fouls with 20. Yeah, really. Look it up.

… An 0-for-19 slump has dropped Drew Vettleson’s batting average at Double-A Harrisburg to .200. The Central Kitsap grad had hit three home runs and driven in 11 runs for the Washington Nationals farm team.

… South Kitsap grad Brady Steiger, the former Lewis-Clark State star, is having trouble getting untracked at Class A Staten Island, a Yankees’ farm club. He’s hitting .168 overall and is just 4 for his last 32.

… Aaron Cunningham, another SK product, is hitting .253 at Triple-A Reno. He’s still looking for his first home run for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ affiliate.

… Ripken Reyes, the son of former standout Olympic High athlete Paul Reyes and Central Kitsap grad Heidi (Westhoff) Reyes, is playing in a baseball tournament in Seattle this weekend. Reyes, a middle infielder from Stockton, Calif., has already verbally committed to the University of California. He’ll be a senior next year. Ripken was one of 40 players invited to the Team USA U-17 national development camp, which takes place Aug. 4-8 in Cary, North Carolina.

… Young softball players, ages 8 to 18, are invited to an Olympic College softball skills clinic on Saturday (July 19), 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Pendergast Park in West Hills. Cost is $60. OC head coach Dan Haas, assistants Dick Thompson and yours truly, plus OC players will be hand on to provide instruction. Hope to see you there.



The Jet, Willie, Seahawks, Hammel, World Cup & more

Here we go, in no particular order:

Dude can fly: James (The Jet) Jones is up to 14 steals (he’s been caught once) through Tuesday and considering he didn’t get his first one until May 1, that’s pretty impressive. Michael Saunders led the Seattle Mariners with 13 steals a year ago. Ichiro (438 steals during his time in Seattle), Jose Cruz (290) and Harold Reynolds (228) are Seattle’s all-time leaders in steals, but the M’s have never had a lot of speed guys. Willie Bloomquist (71) ranks No. 11 in steals in franchise history. Jones, if he’s as good as I think he might be, could pass Willie in the summer of 2015.

Speaking of Willie: The South Kitsap grad is hitting .278, and get this — the M’s are 18-7 when he starts (through Tuesday). That’s the stat that matters, right?

Sherm shuts up: Richard Sherman’s never been at a loss for worlds, but he reportedly isn’t speaking to the media, upset with the Seattle Times because the newspaper published the address of his new home. Got to side with Sherm on that one. Some things don’t need to be printed, and that’s one of ’em.

Speaking of Seahawks: Sherman, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have all been nominated for ESPYs. 

World Cup fever: Portugal’s late goal in extra time against the U.S. in the World Cup was a punch to the gut, but it didn’t take long for me to get over the 2-2 tie. I’m really looking forward to see how Jurgen Klinsmann’s boys do against Germany on Thursday (9 a.m. ESPN). Klinsmann is a former German star, a legend in his country. He played on West Germany’s 1990 World Cup championship team and coached the 2006 German World Cup team. Germany is now coached by Joachim Lowe, a protege of Klinsmann. The U.S., which needs a tie to move on to the round of 16, has five players who grew up in Germany. This one promises to be emotional. I can’t wait.

Speaking of soccer: How ’bout those Pumas? Kitsap’s soccer club is 6-0-4 and has opened a seven-point lead in the Northwest Division of the PDL. Coach Andrew Chapman, the Olympic High grad who has turned Peninsula CC into an NWAACC power, seems to be making all of the right decisions. The Pumas are one of six unbeatens in the 64-team league. Kitsap won a national title in 2011, and it looks like the Pumas are going to make another serious run this summer.

BlueJackets bashing: Kitsap’s summer college baseball team, the BlueJackets, are off to a good start. Kitsap’s 8-5 and just a half-game back of Bellingham in the Western Division of the West Coast League (through Tuesday). They boast the No. 1 (Danny Woodruff, .453) and No. 3 (Alex Bush, .395, 2 HRs, 15 RBI) hitters. Woodruff’s an outfielder from Creighton who played in just seven games as a freshman. Bush is a 6-foot-6, 255-pound first baseman/DH who just graduated from high school in Turlock, California. He’s going to be a freshman at UC Santa Barbara. Kitsap’s second in hitting (.296 average) and eighth in pitching (5.46 ERA) in the 12-team wood-bat league.

Hammel report: Jason Hammel, the 2000 South Kitsap grad who is having a fine season (6-5, 2.99 ERA, 91 Ks, 20 BBs, 96.1 IP, 1.017 WHIP) for the Chicago Cubs, continues to be linked to the Mariners. This report says the Cubs and M’s have had serious talks, and that Chicago wants RHP Edwin Diaz, Seattle’s third-round pick in the 2012 draft, to be part of the package.

Minor league report: Brady Steiger (South Kitsap/WSU/Lewis-Clark St.) hit his first home run as a pro over the weekend. He plays for the Class A Staten Island Yankees. … Drew Vettlesen (Central Kitsap) wrapped up an eight-game rehab stint with the Auburn Doubledays. He was 4-for-4 on Friday and hit .318. The outfielder, who broke a bone in his hand when hit by a ball in April, is back with the Double-A Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators (Nationals) of the Eastern League. He was 2-for-3 with a stolen base on Tuesday. … Aaron Cunningham (South Kitsap/Everett CC) hitting .258 with no homers and 20 RBI for the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) of the Pacific Coast League.

Back on the tee: Troy Kelly, the Central Kitsap grad whose 2013 golf season was derailed by a knee surgery after playing in just 10 PGA Tour events, is resuming his comeback. He played in four events earlier, but made just one cut and wasn’t satisfied with his game, so he returned to Tacoma to work on it. There might be some rust when he plays in this week’s tournament in Newburgh, Indiana. He’s using it as a tuneup for the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic the following week in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Kelly’s got fond memories of Greenbrier, where he shot 6-under 63 in the third round in 2012 to get into contention. He closed with a 66 and wound up losing a playoff on the third hole to Ted Potter. Kelly plans to play four straight weeks. He’ll head to Illinois for the John Deere Classic in Illinois after the Greenbrier Classic before returning to Boise, Idaho, for another stop. … Kelly’s brother Ryan, his caddie, finished second in the Tacoma City Amateur over the weekend.

Coming Friday: I’ll be writing about “The Legend” later this week. That would be 83-year-old Buzz Edmonds, a three-time winner of the Kitsap Amateur, nine-time club champ at Kitsap Golf & Country Club and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. I chatted with Buzz and some of his golfing buddies earlier this week. The story will publish Friday.

Nice sendoff: South Kitsap’s three-sport star Logan Knowles, who is headed to the Naval Academy to play baseball, wrapped up his high school career by going 2-for-4 with a home run, double and 4 RBI in the consolation game of the Washington State All-State Baseball Series in Yakima. His home run was the only one hit during the weekend.

Recommended reading: Charlie Pierce, who writes for Grantland,com, among other outlets, weighed in on the O’Bannon vs. NCAA trial that is going on. He writes:

” … If you are a college athlete, you must — willingly or unwillingly — help the NCAA and its member institutions keep faith with Coca-Cola. One of the ugly moral truths about all our sports is that athletes represent one of the categories of Americans who can be legally and publicly treated as commodities, and nowhere is that truth more obvious, and more ugly, than in college athletics, where the athletes are not only forbidden from profiting from their own commodification, but also required to help the institutions they represent to profit from it. Then they have to hear the people who profit most from the commodities who play ball for them tell a judge that they’re doing it only for the athlete’s own good. This trial is about the NCAA’s desire to maintain that arrangement forever. Unless you’re afflicted with a kind of moral myopia, this is no less than grotesque.”