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

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

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 cover32.com., 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.


Kitsapers in the Pros & More

Monday, August 18th, 2014

KITSAPERS IN THE PROS:

Jason Hammel, a 2000 South Kitsap grad, has struggle since being traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland Athletics. Hammel is 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA with Oakland. He gave up three home runs in three-plus innings in a loss against Atlanta on Friday. He was 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA with the Cubs.

South Kitsap grad Willie Bloomquist is done for the year after undergoing micro fracture surgery on his right knee. The Mariners utility player hit .278 in 47 games, playing seven different positions.

Drew Vettleson is hitting .230 with seven HRs and 23 RBI for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Vettleson, 23, an outfielder from Central Kitsap, has hit two HRs in his last six games but is only hitting .204 in his last 10 games. The left-handed hitting Vettleson is hitting .280 vs. lefties and .198 vs. righties. All seven of his HRs have come against right-handers.

South Kitsap grad Aaron Cunningham, an outfielder, is hitting .255 with 0 HRs and 31 RBIs for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A club of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cunningham, 28, has hit .323 (10-for-31) with 5 RBI in his last 10 games.

Brady Steiger, a first baseman/third baseman, is hitting .167 for the Staten Island Yankees, a short Class A club in the New York-Penn League. The former South Kitsap and Lewis-Clark State star just returned from injury and has played in just two games since July 21.

SAYING ALL OF THE RIGHT THINGS:

Rhode Island Little League coach Dave Belisle, following an elimination loss at the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, puts things in perspective for a bunch of kids. Great speech.

SPEAKING OF LITTLE LEAGUE:

How can you not pull for Mo’ne Davis? She’s the talk of the Little League World Series.

CONGRATULATIONS:

To the Bellingham Bells, who won the West Coast League championship on Monday night, winning the deciding game of the best-of-three series against the Corvallis Knights. Good buddy Jim Clem is the pitching coach of the Bells and we had the pleasure of hosting the team twice this summer on trips to Bremerton to play the Kitsap BlueJackets. Classy bunch.es

NOT SO CLASSY:

Johnny (Finger) Manziel threw as many obscene gestures as he did touchdown passes in Monday night’s exhibition game. Not a good sign for the Browns.

READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL:

Aug. 23: FCS No. 1 Eastern Washington vs. No. 17 Sam Houston State in college football’s season opener in Cheney. Kickoff 12:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Aug. 28: Washington State Cougars vs. Rutgers, in Seattle (CenturyLink), 7 p.m., FOX Sports. Thursday game is intriguing. Cougs looking to get off to a good start against Scarlet Knights, now a member of the Big Ten.

Aug. 30: Washington Huskies vs. Hawaii in Honolulu, 7:30 p.m., CBS. Chris Petersen era begins.

Sept. 4: Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers. Thursday night game on NBC (5:30 p.m.) kicks off NFL season. Doesn’t get much better, does it?

Sept. 5: Friday Night Lights has a delicious opener. South Kitsap vs. Central Kitsap at Silverdale Stadium, 7 p.m. Biggest game in the county.

Sept. 5: WSU at Nevada, 7:30 p.m., ESPN. Nevada not what it used to be.

Sept. 6: Washington’s first home game under Chris Petersen vs. Eastern Washington at Husky Stadium, 1 p.m. Washington barely pulled one out, 30-27 over EWU in 2011 at Husky Stadium.

 

GOLF JOKE:

Mike, an avid golfer, was teeing up for a very difficult shot.

At that moment a funeral procession went by.

Mike stopped, stood still with his hat over his heart, and bowed his head.

His golfing partner looked at him and said, “Mike, that was kind and decent of you to show such respect for the dead.”

Mike replied, “Yes, we would have been married twenty-six years come tomorrow.”


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

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

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.

 

 


Tuesday links: World Cup, Raul, Sherm and The Jet

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Here’s some reading material before you settle in for the U.S.-Belgium World Cup match (1 p.m., ESPN):

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports upset the Belgians with this column about why the U.S. can’t lose to Belgium.

He writes:

Belgium has just 11 million people, which is like, what, a Dakota and a half? (Not certain since I was too lazy and distracted to look it up. You want worker productivity? Go hire a Belgian.)

These guys are Canada-Lite, one of these perfect, nice, polite, pretty countries that take pride in the fact they all ride bikes and recycle and don’t unilaterally invade other sovereign nations.

There is no place for someone like this on the global stage of the World Cup, where each match is life and death … literally in some places if you blow a critical assignment.

Jason Whitlock of ESPN.com writes about World Cup fever and the lessons our pro leagues can learn from it.

He writes:

Again, the point of a season-end revival is to showcase a sport as the best. The World Cup, the Super Bowl and the Final Four are primarily gigantic marketing events. They entice fans and media to come and worship for a month, a week and three days, respectively. These events are impossible to ignore. They help grow and maintain soccer, football and college basketball congregations.

It’s puzzling, and counterproductive, that the NBA and MLB haven’t constructed a season-end revival. Eight years ago it was still fashionable to laugh at and ridicule soccer in this country. And now the World Cup is drawing NFL-size television ratings and a lifelong football groupie is analogizing Cristiano Ronaldo to Joe Montana.

 

Joe Posnanski writes about Raul Ibanez, who is back in Kansas City with the Royals.

Posnanski writes this about the 42-year-old ex-Mariner:

There are a million Ibañez numbers I could throw at you to blow your mind — here’s just one: He hit 276 of his 303 career home runs after age 30. That’s 91% of his home runs. That is BY FAR the highest percentage among the 137 players in baseball history who hit 300 home runs.

He hit as many home runs after age 30 as Harmon Killebrew, more (at this moment) than David Ortiz, more than Yaz or Frank Thomas or (how about this one?) A-Rod.

Or this stat: Ibañez is one of only 15 players in baseball history to have more than 1,000 RBIs after age 30. With one more RBI for Kansas City, he will tie a pretty good player named Willie Mays with 1,091 RBIs after 30.

Or this stat: Ibañez has scored almost as many runs after age 30 (945) as Derek Jeter (977).

Or this stat: Ibañez has hit more doubles after age 30 than Stan Musial did. Or George Brett. Or Wade Boggs. Or Barry Bonds.

And just because y’all can’t get enough of Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks, here’s where you can check out Sherman columns for Sport Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback (mmqb.si.com).

In his love letter to coach Pete Carroll, Sherm wrote:

I can’t imagine what life in the NFL would be like for me if he hadn’t used a third-day pick on a still-raw cornerback. I get texts from guys across the league which remind me how good we’ve got it in Seattle. They ask, “Is he really as cool as he seems?” and “I hear you guys have fun at practice?” Yes and yes. All he asks is that we be ourselves and protect the team’s reputation by not saying anything controversial.

In case you missed it, here’s Todd Dybas’ story on Mariners’ rookie James (The Jet) Jones. Don’t know if the nickname’s catching on, but don’t you think it should? Jones is now up to 17 steals after pilfering three on Monday night in Houston, when he went 4-for-5 at the plate.


Grading the Seahawks’ draft

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. gives the Seattle Seahawks a C-plus for their drafting prowess this year. SI.com gave the Hawks a B-minus. They got a B-plus from CBSsports.com. What do you think?

Here’s Kiper’s thoughts:

Seattle Seahawks: C+

Top needs: WR, DL, OL, TE

Needs: B
Value: D+

Summary: There simply isn’t a better player development program in the NFL right now than Seattle’s. The players the Seahawks draft — the players I’ve spent many hours evaluating and making calls on — are often players that evolve, improve and become something new after Seattle drafts them. While they’ve had some notable misses in Round 1, both in value and development, they’ve been awesome thereafter. So when Seattle moved down to No. 45 overall and still had the chance to take either Stephon Tuitt or Marqise Lee, both players that would have been nice fits at pick No. 32, you almost had to laugh because you knew the Seahawks would go in another direction. Paul Richardson was the pick, and he hits a big need, though his lean frame is a concern. The key will be that he maintains his explosiveness as he adds some needed strength. The presence of him and a healthy Percy Harvin, will keep safeties on high alert. I also thought O-line was a necessity, and Justin Britt adds depth, but he was my 21st-ranked offensive tackle, and struggles to create any movement in the run game. I saw him as a likelier fit in the third or fourth round. Again: They trust their development, and they showed it again when they took what I’d kindly refer to as a deep sleeper in Jimmy Staten, a D-tackle I had at No. 44 at the position in my rankings. The Seahawks know what they are doing, but it’s fair to say they had a couple value questions again today. I look forward to seeing what becomes of these players.

2014 draft picks
Rd Pk Pos Player College
(2) 45 WR Paul Richardson Colorado
(2) 64 T Justin Britt Missouri
(4) 108 DE Cassius Marsh UCLA
(4) 123 WR Kevin Norwood Alabama
(4) 132 OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis Boston College
(5) 172 DT Jimmy Staten Middle Tenn. State
(6) 199 T Garrett Scott Marshall
(6) 208 S Eric Pinkins San Diego State
(7) 227 RB Kiero Small Arkansas

Here’s what SI.com (Chris Burke and Doug Farrar) had to say:

As usual, the Seahawks drafted unconventially, ignoring need at times in favor of players with specific athletic skills. The lack of a dominant guard could come back to bite them later, and I’m not totally sold on the prospects of second-round offensive tackle Justin Britt. However, getting Colorado speed receiver Paul Richardson, also in the second round, could be a major steal.

Alabama’s Kevin Norwood, a bigger target for the end zone and the red zone, adds a key component to Seattle’s offense. UCLA defensive lineman Cassius Marsh, who committed to Pete Carroll back in the USC days before changing his mind, reunites in an end/tackle role. Watch out for Marshall offensive tackle Garrett Scott as the possible sleeper pick — he has a lot of the qualities you’d like to see in a top-flight pass-blocker.

I have to knock Seattle down for passing on the two best guards in this class — Xavier Su’a-Filo and David Yankey — because it is a position of enormous need that wasn’t sewn up in free agency, either.

Grade: B-minus

Pete Prisco of CBSports.com gave the Hawks a B-plus.

The Seahawks traded out of the first round to add picks and added a lot of good players. Second-round receiver Paul Richardson can fly and I love fourth-round picks Cassius Marsh and Kevin Norwood. Grade: B-plus

Here’s how NFL.com wrapped up the Seahawks’ draft: 

Another draft in which Pete Carroll gets the guys he wants where he wants. There were perhaps some reaches in there, but you have to really like adding Richardson and the underrated Norwood on offense. Marsh can be very versatile in the Seahawks’ scheme.

Bleacher Report gave the Hawks a B:

Upgrading at wide receiver was important for Seattle and without many other holes, the team’s draft was solid.

 


It’s Sherman’s world and he’s getting the respect he deserves

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Guess who is back in the news?

Yep, Richard Sherman of your Seattle Seahawks.

Time Magazine named the brash Seahawks’ cornerback one of the 100 most influential people.

“Sherman’s rant solidified his reputation as one of the brashest and most candid players in the buttoned-up NFL,” writes Time’s Sean Gregory. “More important, it sparked a national conversation about race, stereotyping and sportsmanship. When critics labeled the dreadlocked defensive star a ‘thug,’ Sherman, a Compton, Calif.–raised Stanford graduate, engaged the debate, asking if the term was today’s way of calling him the N word? In a heartbeat, Sherman altered the discourse and emerged as the smartest voice in the room.”

On Wednesday, Sherman and NFL players Larry Fitzgerald and Arian Foster discussed race during a couple of standing-room only sessions at Harvard. SI.com was there to cover the story.

Three months after Sherman was called a “thug” after his animated on-field interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews following the NFC Championship game, he’s being praised for getting the conversation started with regards to race.

“The lashing we’ve taken isn’t that crazy,” Sherman said in that SI.com story. “You see us still walking, talking, moving, grooving. I think the fear of the backlash and the media perception and the judgment and the criticism is starting to get tempered. How much bad can you talk about a person? How much negativity can you bring a person? … The criticism eventually stops. It eventually turns around and turns positive.”

In related news, Sherman’s expected to become the highest paid cornerback in the NFL before the season starts.

He’s been an All-Pro two of his first three years in the league, the fifth-round draft pick from Stanford will reportedly receive a long-term contract extension from the Seahawks.

“Whatever they feel I am due, I will take it as respect,” Sherman told NFL Media’s Albert Breer on Wednesday. “It’s all about respect in this game, and the only way people respect is the dollars.”

Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest was right on with this tweet:

“Apparently, it’s #Seahawks Richard Sherman’s world, and we’re just renting”

By the way, Sherman’s world includes 916 thousand followers on his Twitter account: @RSherman_25

 


And the Super Bowl champion Seahawks open the 2014 season against …

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Drumroll please ….

Wednesday night, ladies and gentleman, is the night many of you have been waiting for. We’re just a little over three hours away and I can feel the excitement building. The world might stop spinning for a few minutes.

I’m sure some of you have planned NFL Schedule Release parties. The NFL Network has a three-hour show planned, starting at 5 p.m. ESPN2 is also televising the announcements live. Can’t get enough of that NFL, you know. NBA TV ratings, no doubt, will take a hit. The Seattle Mariners are lucky they played a day game on Wednesday. Well, maybe it doesn’t matter when the Mariners play. Seattle and all of the surrounding towns are all about the Seahawks these days.

Tonight we find out who the Seahawks will open defense of their Super Bowl title against. It’ll be a Thursday night game on Sept. 4. Will it be the rival 49ers, or will the league give us a Seattle-Denver rematch? How about a You Mad Bro II — Tom Brady and the Patriots against Sherm and the Legion of Boom? Or maybe the  NFL will send the Green Bay Packers back to the Northwest?

We already know the opponents. Tonight, we find out the times and dates of their games.

Seattle’s home games will be against: Dallas, NY Giants, Denver, Oakland, Green Bay and the NFC West rivals Arizona, San Francisco and St. Louis.

Seattle road games: Philadelphia, Washington, Kansas City, San Diego, Carolina and NFC West rivals Arizona, San Francisco and St. Louis.

Will the Seattle Seahawks play on Thanksgiving? Will they end the season against the 49ers? Regardless of who and when they play, I’ve got a feeling it’ll seem like it’s prime time all the time for the Hawks. Will their long trips — at Philadelphia, at Washington and at Carolina — be spread out? Will the Seahawks get the Chargers in September when the sunny weather could make for a nice road trip? 

Once the schedules are announced, get ready for  the hype and analysis. If you’re an NFL fan, it’s one of the best days of the off-season. At least, it’ll give you something to talk about until the NFL Draft on May 8-10.

This schedule stuff is so big that news outlets are trying to be first when it comes to digging up information:

The New York Giants schedule has apparently leaked and shows them playing at Seattle on Nov. 9: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/giants/prime-time-players-giants-night-games-2014-schedule-blog-entry-1.1766624 …


Baseball, father-sons & other Thursday stuff

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Attended the Mariners’ home opener on Tuesday with my dad and son. Something about baseball and dads and sons that’s special. Mix in my best friend, who is like a brother to me, another son to my dad and another dad to my son and it was a really special day.

But back to that original thought about baseball and dads and sons. Baseball’s different than any other sport and it all starts, I think, with playing catch.  No words are necessary. There’s just something magical about it and the sound of the ball popping in the leather glove.

My dad, now 89, would probably have a tough time playing catch today, mostly because he blew out his arm while throwing so much batting practice pitches to me and my friends while growing up.

Some quick thoughts on the Mariners:

You can’t help but be impressed with the easy-going, relaxed way Robinson Cano plays the game. He oozes confidence and that’s going to rub off on some of his teammates. I think it already has.

It’s so early, but manager Lloyd McClendon seems to be making all of the right moves. We’ll see, but he seems to have a good eye for talent. I like that he settled on Abraham Almonte as his center fielder and leadoff hitter early on. I rolled my eyes at first when he handed the first base job to Justin Smoak, but it retrospect that was a good, confidence-building move. If guys don’t produce, I think McClendon has a deep enough bench and enough talent at Tacoma — Nick Franklin, Endy Chavez, Cole Gillespie — that he won’t hesitate to make a move. He’s already rotating Michael Saunders, Logan Morrison and Stefen Romero in right field.

I was the guy who predicted the M’s would win the AL West. That was mostly predicated on the rest of the division slipping back some, and the M’s strong starting pitching. If it stays healthy, I think Seattle stays in the race all the way. James Paxton’s visit to the DL for a strained lat doesn’t seem serious, but he’s a key element to the rotation. I think the big lefty is just as good as Taijuan Walker, who is working his way back from injury, as is Hisashi Iwakuma. If they stay healthy, I’m sticking to my pick.

Corey Hart gave us a glimpse of what he could do for the M’s on Tuesday. I wasn’t impressed with his first two swings as he fell in an 0-2 hole against Angels starter Hector Santiago. I turned to my son and said, “Is this guy going to be the next Richie Sexson?” A couple seconds later he Hart crushed a pitch for a three-run moonshot home run to left. He lined a ball over the dead center-field fence for a homer in his next at bat. It got out about thisquick. If he stays healthy, Hart could be a steal at $6 million plus incentives.

One more M’s thought: Felix Hernandez is among a lot of MLB players who wear their baseball hats a little crooked, but new closer Fernando Rodney takes that look to a new level. His hat is practically sideways. How does it stay on his head?

More stuff

South Kitsap grad and Chicago Cubs’ starter Jason Hammel got his second win and had a little fun with first baseman Anthony Rizzo after the game.

North Mason grad and Central Washington infielder Kasey Bielec is third in batting (.398) in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Bielec, a junior, has five home runs and 28 RBI for the Wildcats (18-13, 11-9 GNAC). He was 4-for-6 on Sunday in a split with Western Oregon.

North Kitsap grad and former Kitsap BlueJacket Dan Jewitt of the Omaha Mavericks was the Summit League Player of the Week last week. The junior outfielder hit .526 (10-for-19) with six RBI and two doubles. Jewitt’s hitting a team-high .400 for the Mavericks (14-12, 3-3 Summit), starting 15 of the 18 games he’s played.

Drew Vettleson’s still looking for his first hit at Double-A Harrisburg. The Senators outfielder is hitless in 16 at bats. The former Central Kitsap star  was traded to the Washington Nationals by the Tampa Bay Rays organization prior to the start of spring training.

Jason Day and Steve Stricker. If I was in a Masters’ pool, I wish I had one of those guys. Wonder how long Fred Couples will contend? You know he will. He’s always on the top of the leaderboard for a couple days, then he fades. Maybe this is the year he hangs tough?

Richard Sherman’s second annual celebrity softball game will be July 20 at Safeco Field. More information here.

Don’t forget, Willie Bloomquist and Bree Schaaf will be at Port Orchard’s McCormick Woods on Thursday night, helping the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable raise money for the Elton Goodwin scoreboard and Elton Goodwin Foundation. Starts at 6 p.m. Everyone’s welcome. Lots of silent auction items available: Robinson Cano signed jersey and bat, Felix Hernandez signed jersey and ball, Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners tickets etc…


Seahawks and DeSean Jackson? Read the latest buzz

Friday, March 28th, 2014

The Jared Allen watch has ended for Seahawks’ fans, but it’s time to start a DeSean Jackson watch.

The Eagles released the star wide receiver on Friday, and it didn’t take long for everybody to start speculating on Seattle’s chances of signing him.

Here’s some of the buzz:

Here’s what Doug Farrar of SI.com wrote about the Seahawks’ possible interest in Jackson:

There are two things we know about Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll — they’ll turn every stone to improve their team, and they will take risks on players with “interesting” pasts. They took a shot on Marshawn Lynch in 2010, and Lynch rewarded the team by becoming the heart of the franchise. Lynch played with Jackson at Cal, and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane has Cal ties as well. The Seahawks need a speed receiver with Golden Tate moving on to the Lions and Percy Harvin’s injury status as a constant variable. This is a team with a fairly strong locker room, which could help. And if Jackson is looking to sign with a winner and will take a “prove-it” deal to do so, there are few better options.”

Farrar also lists some other possible landing spots for Jackson.

Here’s what USA Today had to say why Seattle might be interested in Jackson:

They have to replace Golden Tate. The combination of DeSean Jackson and Percy Harvin would be both scary for opponents and scary for the Seahawks. It would be must see TV.”

Thirty minutes after the Eagles released him, Jackson’ spokesperson told USA Today that six teams had called inquiring about his services. Jackson also released a statement denying any involvement with gangs.

From RantSports.com:

“If signed with the Seahawks, Jackson would immediately take over as Seattle’s top receiver. While they have Percey Harvin, he’s an injury waiting to happen and can’t be relied upon. Doug Baldwin showed some promise during their run to the Super Bowl, but is best suited as a No. 3 receiver. After that, the amount of talent is questionable at best. Jackson would bring legitimate No. 1 receiver ability to the Seahawks.

“The only issue standing in the way of a dealis Jackson’s alleged ties to a Los Angeles area gang, which are believed to have played a role in the Eagles’ decision to release him. The Cal product has vehemently denied such ties, but concerns will obviously linger. Before they get seriously involved in talks, expect the Seahawks to do their due diligence.

“Having Jackson in their offense would certainly make things easier for Russell Wilson moving forward, but off-field concerns must be alleviated first. Assuming there’s little to the gang ties story, expect the Seahawks to be big players in signing Jackson.”

More links:

Danny Kelly of fieldgulls.com wraps it up pretty good in this piece. It even includes a photo of Carroll and Jackson in Jackson’s living room when he was a high school all-american. Jackson originally posted the photo on Instagram.

Brady Henderson of 710 ESPN Seattle writes, among other things, about Jackson’s connection to Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll — he recruited Jackson when he was at USC — and to former Cal teammates Marshawn Lynch and Brandon Mebane.

Five days ago, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.nbc.com reported that the Seahawks had no interest in Jackson. Friday, after Jackson was released, Florio had changed his tune, writing that the Seahawks were one of the teams previously interested.


Jared Allen takes the money, and who can blame him?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Let’s see, Super Bowl or a four-year, $32 million deal with $15.5 million of it guaranteed?

You can’t blame defensive end Jared Allen for taking the money the Chicago Bears threw at him. That’s a lot of dough.

Besides — and you might not want to hear this — there’s no guarantee the Seattle Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl next year? The New England Patriots (2004 and 2005) are the last team to repeat. The Hawks might be the favorite going in, and deservedly so, but repeating will not be easy.

If you believe what you read, Seattle offered Allen a two-year, $12 million contract — and about $8 million of it was guaranteed. Not chump change, but it’s not $32 million and the guaranteed money is the big thing. He’s getting nearly twice as much guaranteed money in Chicago.

Hey, it would have been nice to throw Allen in the mix with Michael Bennett, Brandon Mebane and the rest of Seattle’s defensive linemen, but you can’t blame the former Vikings’ star for saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

It’ll be interesting to hear what Allen has to say during his press conference with the Bears’ on Monday.

And it’ll be interesting to see what the Seahawks do in the draft. If they were willing to pay Allen that much, it tells me they must feel there have a need for another top defensive end. There’s also a need for another offensive lineman, and the Seahawks could use another wide receiver, too. They are reportedly still in the mix to bring back Sidney Rice, whom they released.

Here’s a look at the Seahawks free agency scorecard:

Free agents lost: Wide receiver Golden Tate (Detroit), defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (Tampa Bay), cornerbacks Brandon Browner  (New England) and Walter Thurmond (NY Giants), offensive linemen Breno Giacomino (NY Jets) and Paul McQuistan (Cleveland) and safety Chris Maragos (Philadelphia).

Players released: Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, wide receiver Sidney Rice.

Free agents re-signed: Defensive end Michael Bennett, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, kicker Steven Hauschka,  defensive tackle Tony McDaniel and tight end Anthony McCoy.

Free agents signed from other teams: Former Jacksonville WR Taylor Price, CFL wide receiver Chris Matthews.

 

 


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