The Stark Truth

Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
Subscribe to RSS

Waiting list for U.S. Open volunteers at Chambers Bay

February 13th, 2014 by cstark

The United States Golf Association is accepting waitlist applications for volunteers interesting in working the June 15-21, 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. There are  no guarantees at this point as enough people have signed up to fill all positions. Once again, you can be put on a waiting lift.  Click on this link for information.


Redemption for Ashley Wagner — the pride of Seabeck — in Sochi

February 9th, 2014 by cstark

Ashley Wagner wasn’t happy with her score (63.10), but it was good enough to put her in fourth place in the ladies’ part of the team figure skating competition at Sochi.

The figure skater with Seabeck ties is Kitsap’s closest connection to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Her parents Eric and Melissa Wagner were Central Kitsap graduates, and her grandfather, Mike James, was the park superintendent at Scenic Beach State Park in Seabeck for 35 years. Eric’s military career took the family around the globe and Ashley describes herself as a military brat, but she considers Seabeck her home. She spent most of her summers there.

“It’s the one place that we’ve always gone back to, no matter what,” she told Meri-Jo Borzilleri, a freelance writer who profiled Wagner for The Sun prior to the 2010 national championships in Spokane.  “I always knew it would be there, I knew people from there, I had friends from there, family. It was just one place that was always familiar. And that’s why I call it home.”

Her family and friends in Seabeck are, no doubt, proud as the can be.

Wagner’s making her first Olympic appearance and the two-time national champion got there after falling twice and finishing fourth at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Her selection caused quite an uproar. She might not have been happy with her score, but her performance was solid and proved that she deserved to be there.

Christine Brennan of USA Today wrote:

So, afterward, she naturally found herself being asked about redemption more than a few times, that having become the theme of the evening.

“To the people who doubted I belonged on this team, yes,” she said. “But really it was more about proving to myself that I could get beyond that competition and that I wasn’t a nervous wreck and that I was that strong, hard-headed competitor that I know that I am and that my mother has been dealing with for 22 years, so that was good for me.”

 


Quick Hits: Kelly, Seahawks, Hammel & more

February 7th, 2014 by cstark

QUICK HITS AND THOUGHTS

Wonder if the PGA tour will ever get around to correcting the info on Troy Kelly’s bio? It still says he’s a graduate of West Sound Academy in Poulsbo, where he was a first-team all-league guard. Kelly was a first-team all-league guard … at Central Kitsap. Kelly, coming off knee surgery after playing in just 10 PGA events a year ago, gets his 2014 season started next week at the Web.com Tour’s Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship in Bogota, Columbia. Kelly gets five Web.com Tour tuneups, and will have 14 more PGA Tour tournaments to earn $577,828 to keep his full-time playing privilege.

I’m looking forward to listening to Bremerton’s Bree Schaaf, who will be covering the skeleton competion at the Sochi Olympics for NBC. Follow her on Twitter @BreeSchaaf. Skeleton will be held over four days, Feb. 13-16. Schaaf was a bobsledder in the last Olympics, placing fifth at Vancouver.

In case you missed it, as I did while playing in Vegas last weekend, South Kitsap grad Jason Hammel several national media outlets reported that he had signed a one-year deal for a reported $6 million with the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander, who spent last season with the Baltimore Orioles, could earn an extra $1 million in incentives, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The Cubs have not confirmed the report, pending Hammel passing a physical. Hammel, 31, was 7-8 (4.97 ERA) in 23 starts and three relief appearances last season. He missed time with soreness in his right elbow.

I still can’t get that first play of the Super Bowl out of my head. Might have been the earliest turning point in the history of big sporting events. Denver’s mistimed snap ended up as a safety for the Seahawks. It was only 2-0, but you had a feeling, at least I did, that it was going to be Seattle’s day.

My buddy, Don Lay, and I chatted with one of Richard Sherman’s proud cousins at the Palace Station sports book on Super Bowl Sunday in Vegas. Yoseph (didn’t catch his last name) grew up in Compton and works for the schools in Las Vegas. He sported a braided pony tail (says long hair is a family trait) and was decked out in Seahawks’ gear. Asked if he thought Sherman would ever be a national figure, Yoseph shook his head. “I thought he might make the NFL, but as a wide receiver,” he said. “That’s what he played in high school.” Yoseph’s phone was full of photos Sherman was sending to family members and friends, some on the day of the game.

How amazing would it be if Hawks’ owner Paul Allen could become a two-time world champion this year? His Portland Trail Blazers have a legit shot.

Anybody looking forward to seeing what Percy Harvin can do for a full season if he’s healthy?

The first recruiting class of Husky football coach Chris Petersen wasn’t highly rated but the coach landed six in-state recruits, including the two best in Bellevue’s Budda Baker and 6-8, 285-pound lineman Kaleb McGary from Fife. That’s huge. Baker, a defensive back, will likely return punts and kickoffs and don’t be surprised to see him on offense, too. I’d envision the Huskies using him on fly sweeps and in other situations where they can take advantage of his electrifying talents.

Willie Bloomquist wore No. 16 the first time around with the Mariners. It wasn’t his choice. The South Kitsap grad was assigned the number when he was brought up at the end of the 2002 season. He wore No. 18 in Arizona, but that number was already taken by Hisashi Iwakuma, so he settled on No. 8 for his second tour of duty.

Speaking of Iwakuma, let’s not go to sleep on this guy. Based on last year, you could make the argument that he could be Seattle’s best pitcher. Yes, even better than Felix Hernandez. Iwakuma was 14-6 in 219.2 innings with a 2.66 ERA and 1.01 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). Hernandez was 11-10 in 204.1 innings with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.

The Alex Rodriguez circus won’t be doing business this year. A-Rod dropped his lawsuits against MLB and the players’ union. It’s pretty much an admittance of guilt. Now the only question is: Will he come back to play in 2015? He’s got to sit out 211 games, so he would be eligible to join the Yankees sometime in May of ’15. He’ll be 39, but there will be plenty of incentive. Rodriguez is scheduled to earn $61 million for the 2015-2017 seasons. 

Congratulations to the Bremerton Knights for winning a Class 2A state bowling title, and good luck to the rest of the local prep athletes and teams as they head into the postseason.

I jumped the gun on that last one. Bremerton leads the state bowling tournament after the first day. Good luck Knights! Same for the rest of our teams and athletes who will be starting the postseason in the near future.

 

 


Meet the 12th Mann

January 28th, 2014 by cstark

We wrote about Poulsbo’s Patrick Seahawk Duncan a couple weeks ago.

Yeah, Seahawk is his legal middle name.

Here’s another one for you. Seattle Seahawks fans named their baby Cydnee Leigh 12th Mann. Yep, read about it here. She’s adorable.

 


Prime Time gets primo interview with Beast Mode at Media Day

January 28th, 2014 by cstark

Marshawn Lynch lasted 6 minutes, 20 seconds at Super Bowl Media Day before escaping the big stage.

Deion “Prime Time” Sanders of NFL Network hunted Beast Mode down, and the interview with the Seattle Seahawks star was priceless. Here’s a portion of it.

“You look good,” Sanders told Lynch, who was wearing sunglasses and had the hood of his Seahawks’ jacket pulled up.

“(Bleep), so do you,” said Lynch, fingering Prime Time’s suit coat.

Sanders told Lynch it looked like he was ready to play.

Lynch: “Yep, that’s what time it is.”

Sanders then asked if Lynch was a little shy.

Lynch: “I’m just about that action boss. … I ain’t never seen no talk win ya nothing. Been like that since I was a little kid. I was raised like that.”

 Asked if he was excited about the game, Lynch, wearing sunglasses, said, “Hell, yeah.  yeaaahh!”

Sanders then said some think the Seahawks will be in trouble if Lynch doesn’t get untracked.

Lynch: “They gonna have to stop all of us. I’m a beast, but we got some dogs.”

Sanders: You don’t like podiums do you? What is your thing?

Lynch: “Lay back, kick back, mind my business, stay in my own lane.”

Sanders: He told Lynch that NFL Network and former star back Marshall Faust loved him.

Lynch: “That’s huge. He’s a great.”

Sanders: “We all love you.”

Lynch then went third-person on us.

“That’s big time. Beast Mode love and appreciate that.”

Here’s the full interview.


Lolo Jones pick causes some controversy for U.S. bobsled

January 24th, 2014 by cstark

Was Lolo Jones deserving of her spot on the Olympic bobsled team?

Jones earned the third and final brakeman spot, ahead of former Olympian Emily Azevedo, who helped push Bremerton’s Bree Schaaf to fifth at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and Katie Eberling.

Jones was an Olympic hurdler who transitioned to bobsled a year ago.

“I should have been working harder on gaining Twitter followers than gaining muscle mass,” said Azevedo in a USA Today story. 

Azevedo and Eberling didn’t blame Jones, but questioned the selection process.

Schaaf, like Azevedo, is basically an alternate for Sochi in the event someone is injured between now and then. Schaaf will be there regardless as she will be working as a skeleton analysis for NBC.

 


Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman …

January 21st, 2014 by cstark

Everybody’s got an opinion about Richard Sherman, who has become the face, ah, make that the voice, of the Seattle Seahawks. The Internet is full of Sherman stories. Before we get to some of them, here’s my quick thought on what transpired at the end of Sunday’s game at CenturyLink:

It’s an emotional game, and Sherman clearly got caught up in the excitement and energy of making a game-saving play in the biggest game of his life, but he’s apologized for taking the attention away from his teammates. I didn’t mind the post-game rant, I rather enjoyed it and I’m a card-carrying AARP-member. I didn’t like the choke sign. That was bush-league. Can he tone it down? Sure, but this is a supremely confident athlete. He’s a smack-talker, but he’s not a thug. He wears his bravado on his sleeve like Muhammad Ali. He’s the mouth that roars, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the bright lights of Super Bowl media week in New York. You’re not going to get a lot of boring, cliche-like answers from him, but I don’t think he’ll give Peyton Manning and the Broncos any bulletin board material either. Richard Sherman’s too smart for that, and I think he’ll learn from how he reacted following the Seahawks’ NFC Championship game.

The most disturbing part of the Richard Sherman saga? Reading some of the ignorant and racially-implied online comments directed toward Sherman on the Internet. That tells me more about their character than his.

He talks about that and more in this revealing interview with Rachel Nichols of CNN.com.

Love him or hate him, Peter King of mmqbSI.com says everybody is fascinated about the Seahawks’ cornerback.

“I think this story has really caught on because everyone loves a villain,’’ said Dr. Annemarie Farrell, a professor of sports management and media at Ithaca College. She is an expert in fan behavior. “There’s not a ton of villains on either of these teams that people can talk about. We can’t all talk about Peyton Manning every day all the time. That’s boring. Sherman, on the other hand, put himself out there, and America really latched on. That’s why it became a bigger story than the game.

“There’s a lot of different storylines with Richard and reasons for why this blew up, but I think a really important one here is race. This seethes into this narrative of race in America and race logic. Think about who Richard Sherman is. He’s a kid from Compton who graduated second in his class and went to Stanford to earn a degree in Communications. He’s at a critical point in his football career, makes a huge play, then a reporter sticks a mike in his face. What does he do? He not only speaks, he shouts. And now you have an angry, almost violent black man, in a very passionate moment, yelling on national television.’’

Stanford coach David Shaw was the defensive coordinator when Sherman played for the Cardinal. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News asked him about Sherman.

“Bill Walsh said you want guys with high character who are great players and great people,” Shaw said.  ”But every once in a while, you have to line up and defend Jerry Rice. And the guy who does that has to be on the edge. That’s where Richard is.”

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports writes:

There is nothing wrong with not liking Sherman. As sure as he is free to act as he chooses, fans are free to judge him on that and react accordingly. That’s part of the deal. The only mistake is to assume that everyone in the NFL should act the same way – or more specifically act like you think you would act if it were you who was playing the game.

Jamie Fritz, who manages Sherman’s marketing deals, told ESPN.com: “We live in a world where so many are politically correct, so many are all about media training. There’s one thing that you can count on from Richard, and that is that he’s always going to speak his mind.”

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times defends Sherman. He writes:

“… he is the example of everything that is wrong with some modern professional football fans. A guy fights for three hours and winds up throwing the punch of his life in the most important professional moment of his life, and America expects him to immediately start blowing kisses?”

Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune is among those who finds Sherman refreshing:

“You want classy? Go to the opera. Sherman sounded like football. Good for him. Good for our entertainment.

“Admit it, you loved it, too. Stop lying to yourselves. It’s a bad habit, it’s patently phony, and people are already pointing at you and talking about you.

“Sherman was himself. He was a thing, and it was hysterical. He was funny, colorful, entertaining. This is not a G-8 meeting, people. It’s entertainment.

“It’s entertainment that includes a guy suffering a torn ACL for our pleasure.

“It’s entertainment that includes players welcoming the early stages of brain damage for our pleasure.

“Wise up, folks. When you’re asking people to bring on early dementia and early death, yeah, there’s a chance they’ll be geeked up.

“And when a player makes the key play in a conference championship game and has a live mic stuck in front of him, then yeah, there’s a chance he’ll still be geeked up.”

Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News writes that Sherman has made it all about himself.

“Richard Sherman may make you root against him, against his team, root even harder for Peyton Manning to come win the big game in Eli’s house. But Sherman’s face was as much the face of his sport as Peyton’s was on championship Sunday. His voice, like it or not, drowned out everything else, even all that noise in Seattle.

“He hits town in a week. It is more likely Richard Sherman runs out of saliva before he runs out of material. Peyton may light him up in the game, it’s happened to loudmouth defensive backs in Super Bowls before. Until then, Sherman will think all the bright lights of the big city are about him.”

ALSO: According to vegasinsider.com, the favorite is just 1-5 in the last six Super Bowls and 3-9 in the last 12 against the spread. Several Vegas bookies had the Seahawks as early favorites, but the line moved in Denver’s favor and the Broncos are now 2-point favorites. That line, of course, could move as we get closer to the game.


Blue Friday links

January 17th, 2014 by cstark

You might have heard about the football game that’s going to be played on Sunday in Seattle: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers (3:30 p.m. FOX) for the right to advance to the Super Bowl.

I’m working on a story about Poulsbo’s Patrick Seahawk Duncan (yes, he changed in middle name to Seahawk). In the meantime,  here’s a few samples of what people are writing about the game. No, wait, I mean THE game:

Gonna start with this piece about the culture of the 12th Man as witnessed by an outsider. Really captures the passion of the Seahawks’ fans, and includes a video of the Seahawks anthem, or at least one of the anthems that’s been recorded by local artists.

Pete Carroll or Jim  Harbaugh? Who’s the better man? Who’s the better coach? Rick Reilly tackles those questions in this column on ESPN.com.

John Clayton, ESPN.com’s professor of football, calls the Seahawks-49ers rivalry one of the best in the NFL since he started covering the league in the early 1970s. He rates the top five rivalries in that time.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com studies the tapes of the first two meetings between the Seahawks and 49ers and he has some interesting thoughts on the matchup.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be handshakes after this one,” says Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman.

Sherman praises fellow cornerback Byron Maxwell in his MMQB.com column. He writes: “At this point, he’s well-prepared, and he’s playing as well as any corner in the NFL …”

Who has the edge? NFL.com experts break it down position-by-position.

This Associated Press story deals with how the 49ers are going to try and handle the noise-factor at CenturyLink.

And this Associated Press story addresses the noise issue from a Seahawks’ defensive standpoint.

Want stats? Here’s AP’s capsule look at the 49ers and Hawks.

The year’s Final Four — Seahawks vs. 49ers in the NFC, and Broncos vs. the Patriots in the AFC — doesn’t get much better. Check out CBS.com’s rundown of the two games.

Writers — one who covers the Seahawks and one who covers the Niners — break it all down.

And a late story: Brendon Mebane, the unsung hero on Seattle’s defensive line, a story by Doug Farrar for SI.com’s MMQB.


49ers-Seahawks: Greatest rivalry in sports?

January 13th, 2014 by cstark

Seahawks vs. 49ers: The Trilogy.

That’s what some are calling Sunday’s NFC Championship game (3:30 p.m., FOX). Granted, it’s the third meeting between the Hawks and Niners this season, but this rivalry goes back to 2007, when Pete Carroll was coaching at USC and Jim Harbaugh was coaching Stanford. Stanford upset the Trojans that day, and two years later the Cardinal did it again. The 2009 game featured the now-famous post-game meeting when Carroll, apparently upset that Harbaugh attempted a two-point conversation late in the game with a healthy lead.

Carroll asked Harbaugh: “What’s your deal?”

Harbaugh came back with: “What’s your deal?”

Here’s the deal. These coaches, and these teams,  don’t like each other.

There are those who believe that Manning vs. Brady is the greatest rivalry in the NFL. It dates back to when Peyton Manning was slinging passes for the Indianapolis Colts and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the toast of football. Manning, now with the Broncos, will take another shot at Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship game on Sunday (noon, CBS). By the way, Brady’s won 10 of 14 career meetings against Manning.

I think the Seahawks-49ers rivalry has eclipsed the Manning-Brady rivalry. Maybe it’s just because we’re so close to it, but these two West Coast rivals have forged perhaps the greatest rivalry in all of professional sports. The survivor of this game will be a lot like the cowboy who manages to hang on for eight seconds against the biggest, toughest, most physical bull in the world.

The teams are similar in makeup, featuring the most complete and feared defenses in football. The Seahawks have the best defensive backfield, and they’re deep and talented in the other spots, too. The Niners are loaded along the defensive line, and like Seattle, don’t have any weaknesses on that side of the ball.

Knowing the defenses are so sound, the offenses don’t ask a lot out of young quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, although both have been electrifying at times.

The Seahawks ram Marshawn Lynch behind a pretty good offensive line; the 49ers have Frank Gore, and perhaps the best offensive line in football.

The Seahawks have Percy Harvin, providing he’s cleared after sustaining a concussion late in the first half of the win over the Saints on Saturday. We’ve only seem a glimpse of the guy, but it’s pretty clear that Harvin is a rare talent, and opens things up for the Seahawks on offense. The rest of the receivers are sure-handed and have shown an ability to make big plays when they get open,. The 49ers have Anquan Boldin, who is as clutch as they come, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. As good as Seattle’s secondary is, these receivers will be tough to stop.

It’ll be interesting if any bulletin board material shows up during the week.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford, called his ex-coach a bully and said he was part of the reason why he dropped to the fifth-round in the NFL draft. Cornerback Brandon Browner said he wanted to “put his hands around Harbaugh’s neck.”

San Francisco running back Anthony Dixon, in a tweet before the Week 2 game, which turned out to be a 29-3 Seattle victory, tweeted: “Extra weight on the racks all week getting less sleep preparing for these She-Hawks,” he wrote. “I love hostile environments Imma feel right at home.”

Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright responded: “lol the she hawks!! I’ll be sure relay the message to the fellas. Its gone be a long night for you and the forty whiners.”

Dixon and Wright both deleted their tweets.

After San Francisco beat Carolina 23-10 to earn a shot at the Seahawks, Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin tweeted: “Wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Pete Carroll talked about the game on his ESPN 710 Seattle radio show Monday morning.

“I think it’s the matchup that everybody wanted like to see,” Carroll said. “We don’t mind it one bit and they don’t mind it, either. It’ll be a great one.

“These are the two teams everyone was talking about early in the year, so it’s interesting how accurate all the (soothsayers) were. There’s not a better matchup you could find right now in the NFC. We’re thrilled about it.”

The 49ers are peaking. They’ll bring an eight-game winning streak to CenturyLink. One of those wins was a 19-17 victory over the Hawks last month in San Francisco.

Nevada oddsmakers favor the Seahawks by three points. In other words, the bookies give Seattle the edge because of the home-field environment. As electric as the 12s have been in the past, you know it’ll be even louder and more boisterous on Sunday. That’s going to be tough for the 49ers to overcome.

This game might come down to the team that can control its emotions and be the most disciplined. Leave the smack-talk in the locker room. Now’s not the time to go all Jimmy Graham on the opposition. Keep your mouth shut and play. I don’t see the Seahawks or 49ers losing sight of that, not with what’s at stake.

Here’s something to chew on: The home team has won four straight int his series.

Here’s something else to chew on. Since Carroll and Harbaugh have been in the NFL, Harbaugh and the 49ers are 4-2 against the Seahawks, but they’ve been outscored 71-16 in their last games, both losses, at the Clink.

So here’s the deal: If you’re going to the game, bring some sani-wipes because this is going to be like sitting ringside at a  classic heavyweight championship  fight. Snot and sweat and blood are going to be flying.

And when Harbaugh and Carroll shake hands after the game, the winner, no doubt, will be tempted to say: “Hey, you know what the deal is? We’re going to the Super Bowl and you’re going home.”

Some links

Here’s another look at the Seahawks-49ers rivalry.

As I type this, 63% percent of the fans in this ESPN poll feel the Seahawks will beat the 49ers.

Are Seahawks trying to keep 49ers’ fans from buying tickets to Sunday’s championship game?

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that no team has an emotional leader like Jim Harbaugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kitsap’s biggest 12th Man-fan has new middle name: Patrick Seahawk Duncan

January 9th, 2014 by cstark
Monday night on this blog I posed the question: Who’s the biggest Seahawks’ fan in Kitsap County?
Tuesday morning I got my answer. I had five emails in my inbox, all promoting Poulsbo’s Pat Duncan.
When I discovered that Duncan had legally changed his middle name to Seahawk, that sealed the deal.
Yep, I’m among many who believe that Patrick Seahawk Duncan is Kitsap’s biggest fan of the Seattle Seahawks.
I suggested the story to the editors at The Sun, and they liked it. The plan was to write about this North Kitsap grad and PSNS workernext week, before the NFC Championship game (yeah, we’re banking on a Seattle victory over the Saints).
But it’s hard to keep a story like that quiet, and King-5 found out about Patrick Seahawk Duncan and they plan to air their story on Friday or Saturday.
“So my fellow 12′s my plan was to announce this at the Hawk party on Saturday but King 5 News in Seattle got wind of my antics and will be at our house in the AM to a piece on Patrick Seahawk Duncan and his lovley wife. YOU READ THAT RIGHT I CHANGED MY MIDDLE NAME TO SEAHAWK. Super fan powers are now activated. I will post an official pic later. We have a ton to do before King 5 gives you the tour of our Hawks nest.”
I’m still planning to do the story on Duncan for The Sun. He has a collection of Seahawks jerseys (around 75). His wife, Jamie, told me via email that Patrick has rotated jerseys every day since the season started.
Some of you might recognize Duncan from the 1947 leather helmet painted in Seahawks’ colors that he wears to games.
Pat’s previous middle name? William.
“It wasn’t like I was named after my grandfather or it had a special family meaning,” he said. “And my dad is a big Seahawks’ fan. He was kind of cool with it, but said I’d always be Patrick William Duncan to him.”
All of Duncan’s family and friends have Hawk nicknames. Patrick is Jesus Hawk (“once you see him, you’ll understand,” said Jamie). Jamie is Squawk Hawk because she’s pretty boisterous.
So go ahead and check out King-5 for the TV story and look for my story next week in The Sun. I’m looking forward to getting a tour of his Hawks Nest, checking out all of his memorabilia and Seahawks-related stuff and finding out what drives a guy to change his middle name to Seahawk.

Available on Kindle