Monthly Archives: June 2009

Weekend Planner: Rodeo, Drags, Pumas, Jackets, Football, Golf, Running ..

OOOPS!: It was pointed out that I had Howie Stalwick playing in Saturday’s East-West football game in Everett. Now Howie’s a heckuva an athlete, but I think our freelance writer from Idaho’s a little old to be knocking heads with our state’s best football players.

I meant to write Howie McDonald. Howie Stalwick, I’m sure, would be quite proud to be mistaken for the young Mr. McDonald.

Sorry about that, Howies.

Looking for something to do this weekend. There’s something for everybody, and it’s all right here in our own backyard and it doesn’t include the myriad of youth events and tournaments going on. Hope you can make time to get out to one of these events:

RODEO: The Thunderbird Pro Rodeo gets going with barrel racing Friday at 6 p.m. and there’s full rodeo performances on Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). This is a quality event, featuring NFR quality cowboys and the top upcoming talent in the Northwest. There’s a concert after Saturday’s show and music in the beer garden, too. And it’s all for a good cause with all proceeds going to Corey’s Day on the Farm for special needs children and the Northwest Burn Foundation.

DRAG RACING: The Handlers Association, now in its 50th season, is hosting its biggest event of the season on Sunday. It’s the NHRA Division 6 National Open. The quarter-mile strip on the backside of Bremerton National Airport will be hopping. Read all about it here.

SOCCER: Saturday’s 7 p.m. match between the Kitsap Pumas and the Spokane Spiders at Bremerton Memorial Stadium is “Buck a Brat” Night. Uli’s Homemade Sausages from Poulsbo supplies the Brats. The Pumas (8-0-2) still haven’t lost in United Soccer League Premier Developmetn League play and if you haven’t been to a game, check it out. You can’t beat those $5 end zone seats. … You can get two-for-one tickets for the uncovered grandstand section if you stop by an Emerald City Smoothie. Those tickets normally go for $8. … Look for a feature on the Pumas in Saturday’s print and online editions. French midfielder Aziz Dieng has finally arrived and he’s supposed to be a special player. He’d been delayed nearly two months attempting to gain his visa.

BASEBALL: The West Coast League team opens a three-game series against the Kelowna Falcons at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. Games start at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday. Kitsap’s 4-7, but the season’s young. Kelowna is 8-4 and second in the East Division. There’s $2 domestic beer in the second, fifth and sixth innings in the beer garden. Look for a profile on fourth-year outfielder Doug Buser in Sunday’s print and online editions of The Sun.

FOOTBALL: The West Sound Saints open their semi-pro season on Saturday at Silverdale Stadium at 6 p.m. … You want to check out the new Hood Canal Bridge? Keep driving and you can watch the Kitsap Bears, our other semi-pro football team, take on Olympic Peninsula in a 7 p.m. game at Port Townsend’s Memorial Field. … The East-West All-Star Classic, featuring top Class 4A and 3A players in the state — including Central Kitsap RB/LB Howie Stalwick McDonald and North Kitsap QB Kevin Stringer, starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at Everett Memorial Stadium.

GOLF: The 52nd Kitsap Amateur is Saturday and Sunday at the Kitsap Golf & Country Club. It’s free to the public. Round one leaders will be teeing off Sunday at 2:30 p. on No. 10.

RUNNING: If you see more skinny people than usual running across the bridges on Saturday, they’re participating in the Bridge 2 Bridge Run. The 3.1-mile race starts (9 a.m.) and finishes at Evergreen Park. Day of race registration is available. Show up early.

M’s vs. Padres: Ichiro HR, 2B, 1B ….. Infield IB.

UPDATE: No cycle for Ichiro, but he adds another infield hit with one out in the eighth. He took a full hack, and the ball rolled about 10 feet in front of catcher Henry Blanco, who couldn’t throw him out. That’s four hits for game and 104 for the season — 33 of them of the infield variety, including six in his last five games. That’s ridiculous.

Branyan and Beltre follow with hits, loading the bases for Mike Sweeney, is 3-for-3 with an intentional walk. Sweeney comes through with a choppper up the middle to drive in two runs. It’s now 8-3. Make it 9-3. M’s add a run on Jose Lopez’s doubleplay grounder. David Aardsma gets the day off. Miguel Batista in for the ninth.

UPDATE: Wak’s seen enough. Jakubauskas is done after three batters in the 7th. Mark Lowe takes over with runners at first and second, no outs. Seattle 6, San Diego 3. Lowe gets out of the inning. Fielder’s choice, pop up, walk to load bases to Adrian Gonzalez. Kevin Kouzmanoff hits the ball hard, but right at Ichiro.

UPDATE: Chris Jakubauskas takes over in the seventh. Washburn gives the M’s another quality start. Six innings, six hits, two runs. If the M’s hold on, the 34-year-old lefty will get his first win since April 21. He’d only received only 22 runs of support ove rhis last nine starts.

Jakubasuskas gives up HR (to Edgar Gonzalez) and double  (Henry Blanco) to the first two batters he faced, drawing a visit from M’s pitching coach Rick Adair.

UPDATE: Padres get a 2-run HR from Chase Headley to make it 6-2. Until then it had been a tough day for the Pads. Scott Hairston and manager Bud Black were tossed in the second inning. Hairston didn’t like a strike call and when umpire Marvin Hudson ejected him, Black came out and got a quick hook, too.

Also, third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff gave up on a popup close to the wall in foul territory that he should have caught. Headley, the left fielder, booted a ball ealrier and just had a ball go off his glove that looked catchable.

UPDATE: Ichiro grounds out to short to end the bottom of the fifth. He’ll get at least one more at bat in his quest for the cycle.

UPDATE: Who said the M’s can’t score runs? Wald Balentien just hit a moon shot that carried into the upper bleachers above the scoreboard board in left center. Estimated distance: 428 feet. Score in the bottom of the fifth: M’s 6, Pads 0.

UPDATE: With a .126 hitter (Ronny Cedeno) and a runner at third (Franklin Gutierrez) and one out, what do you do? Bunt. Manager Don Wakamatsu made the cal, Cedeno got the ball down and the M’s lead 5-0.

UPDATE: Ichiro just lined a single to right. He’s a triple away from the cycle and now has recorded five straight multiple-hit games and has an 8-game hitting streak (.470/16-34). He’s now batting .367.

DH Mike Sweeney is also 3-for-3.

Greetings from Safeco.

So far so good for the Mariners, who lead the Padres 4-0. Ichiro Suzuki hit his 29th career leadoff home run in the bottom of the first and catcher Rob Johnson later hit a 3-run double.

Padre starter Wade LeBlanc lasted 52 pitches, getting the hook in the top of hte second after Ichiro doubled (later caught stealing) and Russell Branyan walked.

That’s where it stands heding to the bottom of the fourth.

This is the M’s getaway gme. If they can hold on, they’ll be 37-35 before leaving for a 10-day, 9-game trip that will take them to Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. It’s not a make or break trip, but it might help management figure out if they’re buyers or sellers heading to the second-half of the season.

What do you think? Do you trade Jerod Washburn, pitching today, for Dodgers’ outfielder Juan Pierre? There’s been speculation about that deal.

With Yunieski Betancourt injured, should the M’s deal for a shortstop? Or do you keep putting .128-hitting Ronny Cedeno out there?

Groz, 710 to Air Seattle U Games?

Cameron Dollar dropped some news during the Kitsap County Bremerton Athletic Roundtable meeting on Wednesday in Bremerton.
Charles Garcia, a 6-foot-9 forward who originally signed with the Huskies, is going to play for the Redhawks, he said. One of the top-rated players to come out of the JC ranks, didn’t meet admissions standards for a JC transfer at Washington, making it possible for him to join Dollar’s first Seattle U squad. I thought we had a scoop, but when I got back to the office, news hound Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times already had a story on it.
Dollar did drop some other news about his program:

Seattle U is currently negotiating with 710 ESPN radio to broadcast its games, Dollar said. Dave Grosby of KJR is expected to be part of the broadcast team.
And Dollar said his dad, Donald, who has 46 years of coaching experience — most recently as an assistant at D-11 West Georgia — would be part of his coaching staff.

Ben Eisenhardt, the 6-foot-10 center from Bainbridge who originally signed with Seattle, asked for and was granted his release. Eisenhardt plans to follow Joe Callero to Cal Poly. This happened in May but somehow slipped by us. Callero was at Seattle U when Eisenhardt, a first-team all-Metro Leaguer, originally signed.

Husky Hoops, ‘Gifted’ Steven Gray Gets Some Love

It’s not too early to get excited about Washington’s 2009-2010 basketball season. Justin Dentmon and Jon Brockman won’t be around, but Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated is high on the Huskies.

In the same piece, he writes that Bainbridge’ Steven Gray could be the key to Gonzaga’s success.

“While 6-5 senior Matt Bouldin has proven he can be effective in all areas, much of the Zags’ prospects will hinge on whether 6-5 junior guard Steven Gray is ready to have a breakout season.

Gray tantalizes NBA scouts with his size, his athleticism, and most importantly his butter-smooth shooting stroke. (He’s a career 39.6 percent shooter from three.) The only thing Gray lacks is a superstar’s confidence to go with his prodigious gifts. “We’ve been after Steve forever to hunt his shot more,” said Few, who served as a court coach during the USA trials. “It’s just not in his personality. I tell him, you’ve got a great stroke. Be aggressive.”

Gray will be back on the Island next week, helping his high school coach, Scott Orness, conduct a basketball camp. Look for a story on the Bainbridge grad next week in The Sun.

Aardsma’s the M’s Savior

Some wise baseball exec, or analyst, once said that it’s a waste of time to spend millions of dollars on a closer. Sure, there are exceptions like Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. But, really, it shouldn’t be that difficult to find somebody to come in and handle that role. You need somebody who can hump up and throw quality strikes for an inning.

Over the years, the M’s have had their share of quality closers: Kazuhiro Sasaki, Mike Schooler, Norm Charlton, Eddie Guardado, Bill Caudell, Jose Mesa, Mike Jackson and recently J.J. Putz. Some were good for multiple seasons, some bottomed out after a year or two and were never the same.

The M’s found their current closer, David Aardsma, by accident. In 128 games prior to this season with the Giants, Cubs, White Sox and Red Sox,  he never started a game or picked up a save. I’m not sure why those organizations gave up on him. He was a quality closer for Rice, helping the Owls win a College World Series title, but was never tried in that role untilt his season. Maybe it’s as simple as Aardsma being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Anyway, he’s with the M’s now and he hasn’t allowed a run in 21 of his last 22 apearances. He picked up his 13th save in 14 save opportunties and lowered his ERA to 1.67 (best for all AL relievers) during Friday’s win over the Diamondbacks.

Aardsma, only 27, was acquired in an offseason trade with Boston for Fabian Williamson, a lefty who is a decent prospect, but still a couple years away. The trade might have been GM Jack Zdurienck’s best move. Maybe he knew something nobody else did. Or maybe the M’s just lucked into the guy. The M’s went to spring training with no clue as to who would end up in the closer’s role. They thought Brandon Morrow might be the guy, but that didn’t work out.

Turns out they had the right guy in camp in Aardsma, who is first on the alphabetical list of players who have appeared in a Major League game. They guy he moved ahead of? Henry Aaron.

The season’s still young and Aardsma could flame out before it’s over, but he’s certainly been the M’s savior to date.

Here’s a link to a week-old story about Aardsma.

You can find a statistical breakdown of his season and career here.

USL PDL: And Then There Were Five

The Kitsap Pumas beat the Victoria Highlanders 2-1 on Friday night at Bremerton Memorial Stadium and are now just one of five unbeatens in the 68-team USL PDL. Of those five, the Pumas (7-0-2) are the only first place team. Kitsap leads the Northwest Division with 23 points.

The other five teams who haven’t lost: Des Moines (4-0-4) of the Heartland Division, Ottawa Fury (6-0-1) of the Northeast Division, New Orleans Jesters (4-0-5) of the Southeast Division and Forest City London (3-0-3) of the Midwest Division.

Check out the PDL standings here.

Kitsap will try to keep unbeaten on Sunday when it hosts Vancouver Whitecaps Residency at 1 p.m.

UW Golfer Taylor Is the Real Deal

OK, I think I should get a little credit for the golf game developed by the University of Washington’s Nick Taylor. I was part of Taylor’s group during media events before the Husky Invitational in the fall of 2006 and 2007 at Gold Mountain. If he could get through a round with me, he can get through anything.

Taylor, who is tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, has gone on to establish himself as perhaps the finest golfer in UW history. He was the Pac-10 Player of the Year after finishing in the top 10 in eight of his 11 college tournaments this season. He was a first-team All-American and he’s now the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world.

Scott Alexander, the Gold Mountain Golf Club director of golf and UW assistant coach, told me earlier this year that tough courses and tough conditions don’t bother Taylor. Like I said, if watching me hit by 3-iron off the tee didn’t mess him up, nothing will.

So when this 21-year-old junior from Abbotsford, British Columbia tees it up today at Bethpage Black, I’ll be pulling for him. Some of you watching ESPN’s coverage of the U.S.  Open might have watched him chip in from a bunker to end his day at 2-under through 14 holes of the second round. He shot a first-round 73 and was 5-under during his second round as he moved up the leaderboard.

Marvin Turns (E-gads) 23

Bremerton’s Marvin Williams celebrates his 23rd birthday today.

Hard to believe huh? Seems like he’s been around forever. People forget he was just 17 when he graduated from Bremerton High in 2004.  A year later, he was the overall No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft — this after his putback in the NCAA championship turned out to be the go-ahead basket in the closing seconds for North Carolina.

Now he’ s a restricted free agent, a four-year NBA veteran. The Hawks can match any offer that comes Marvin’s way. Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Mark Bradley suggested the Hawks sign Marvin and trade him because he’s not assertive enough.

Bad move if you’re a Hawks fan. Marvin’s best days are ahead of him. Don’t give up on his enormous potential. Not enough people appreciate Marvin’s game. He’s a bit of throwback in that he doesn’t throw it up every time the ball comes his way. Marvin reminds me a bit of a young Lamar Odom, the valuable Lakers’ star, because he can do a little bit of everything. I think he’s going to turn out to be that kind of impact player before his career is over.

The best part about Marvin is that he’s still Marvin From the Block. When he’s back in town, he still shows up at the YMCA with his buddies to play in the noon pickup games. He doesn’ t go hard, but he’s out there, directing traffic, having fun.

He was there the other day when I bumped into Tim Garguile, who owned the Red Apple Grocery store on Perry Avenue that Marvin worked at when he was in high school. One day, his dad, Nick Garguile, stopped by the store and saw young Marvin, one of the rising young hoops stars in the country, mopping the floor.

“My dad goes, ‘There’s something wrong with that picture, but if he’s going to be mopping that floor I’m sure as hell going to show him how to do it right.'”

For the way he carries himself, on and off the court; for what he’s done for his family; Bremerton’s fortunate to have an athlete like Marvin Williams representing the 360.

Happy Birthday Marvin.

For $5, You’ll Find Yourself Right in the Game With the Pumas

I was at the Pumas-Timbers U.S. Open Cup match last week and I have hard time believing 2,100-plus fans were at Bremerton Memorial Stadium, but that’s what they announced.
Inflated or not, it was a sizeable crowd. And the Pumas are drawing better than a lot of people expected. They say they’re averaging 1,308 fans for home matches. That’s a tribute to owner Robin Waite, executive director Ben Pecora, staff and the product they’ve put on the field. the Pumas, leading the Northwest Division of the USL Premier Development League, are currently just one of just seven unbeaten teams left among the 68 participating in the PDL’s 68-team circuit.

If you haven’t been to a game, I’d encourage it. The Pumas host Victoria Highlanders on Friday at 7 p.m. and Vancouver Residency on Sunday at 1 p.m.. You can’t beat the $5 end zone seats. It’s like being ringside at a boxing match where the blood and sweat is splattering all over people. OK, it’s not quite like that, but you really get a feel for how physical soccer can be. It’s like you’re part of the game. Sitting in the third row, I  made a couple saves the other night on shots that were wide of the goal.

I’d be curious what others think about the Pumas. Is the product better than anticipated? Do you think the team will win the Northwest Division? Who’s your favorite player? How about their tactics? Do you like the style of Kitsap’s professional soccer club?

As for those attendance figures, David Falk of the Seattle Examiner breaks down the Northwest Division’s numbers. The Pumas currently rank No. 2 in the league behind Victoria, another first-year franchise. Both teams have a desire to become part of a USL D2 league on the west coast. Click on this link to read Falk’s story.