My Mountain West football predictions

July 22nd, 2014
By

Here's how I filled out my ballot for the Mountain West football media predictions. I'm with the majority in picking Boise State to win the Mountain Division and one of three voters taking a flyer on Nevada in the West. The numbers in parentheses are the place the panel voted the teams.
The list of players that follows are my choices for the preseason all-conference team (chosen from a short list provided by the Mountain West).

MOUNTAIN DIVISION
1 Boise State (1)
2 Utah State (2)
3 Colorado State (3)
4 Wyoming (4)
5 Air Force (6)
6 New Mexico (5)
WEST DIVISION
1 Nevada (3)
2 Fresno State (1)
3 San Diego State (2)
4 San José State (5)
5 Hawai'i (6)
6 UNLV (4)
QUARTERBACK
1 #16 Chuckie Keeton - QB - Utah State
RUNNING BACK
1 #27 Jay Ajayi - RB - Boise State
2 #7 Joey Iosefa - RB - Hawai'i
WIDE RECEIVER
1 #81 Devante Davis - WR - UNLV
2 #3 Josh Harper - WR - Fresno State
TIGHT END
1 #86 Kivon Cartwright - TE - Colorado State
OFFENSIVE LINE
1 #74 Kevin Whimpey - OL - Utah State
2 #73 Cody Wichmann - OL - Fresno State
3 #66 LaMar Bratton - OL - New Mexico
4 #71 Ben Clarke - OL - Hawai'i
5 #51 Ty Sambrailo - OL - Colorado State
DEFENSIVE LINE
1 #53 Brock Hekking - DE - Nevada
2 #55 Eddie Yarbrough - DE - Wyoming
3 #3 Travis Raciti - DL - San José State
4 #90 Kennedy Tulimasealii - DE - Hawai'i
LINEBACKER
1 #1 Jordan Stanton - LB - Wyoming
2 #40 Max Morgan - LB - Colorado State
3 #31 Ejiro Ederaine - LB - Fresno State
DEFENSIVE BACK
1 #13 Derron Smith - DB - Fresno State
2 #5 Donte Deayon - DB - Boise State
3 #21 Brian Suite - DB - Utah State
4 #17 Kenneth Penny - DB - UNLV
PLACEKICKER
1 #47 Jared Roberts - PK - Colorado State
PUNTER
1 #29 Scott Harding - P/RS - Hawai'i
RETURN SPECIALIST
1 #24 Carlos Wiggins - RS - New Mexico
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1 #16 Chuckie Keeton - QB - Utah State
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1 #53 Brock Hekking - DE - Nevada
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1 #24 Carlos Wiggins - RS - New Mexico


Reader suggests stricter pitch limits

July 12th, 2014
By

Hi Mr. Reardon,

I have a 14 year old grandson who pitches for a Pony league team.
Like you, I am very concerned about youth Tommy John injuries and therefore very much appreciate your reports on the subject.
In my opinion only being concerned adults is not adequate responsibility for our youths and we need to as you mentioned: "err on the side of caution" to protect future sports prospects.
Therefore, if I may suggest, all youth baseball teams should abide by what the National Little League does. That is to limit the number of pitches per game and set a minimum number of no pitch days between games. Over zealous coaches might not like such a ruling mostly  because of the must win attitude in spite of the risks involved.
Admittedly it might be an impossible task  to get all leagues to adopt such a rule.
Therefore in seeking a solution, may I propose that perhaps The State of Hawaii should pass a law that is identical to the Little League Rules regarding number of pitches per game and rest days between games for various ages.
All of this is a suggestion and I hope you would agree and push it to fruition.
Myself and many others I know read your articles religiously, so thank you for that and look forward to more of the best.

Aloha,

Masa Nakamura

Reader response on downsizing stadium

July 2nd, 2014
By

Dave,

Today's column on Aloha Stadium is especially interesting because it's a prominent facility, important to our State and all in our Honolulu community.
 I'd like to share some food for thought:
1) Our current stadium is fine when it's full and embarrassing when it's not. I'd love to see UH football, Pro Bowl and other events at our stadium filling it to capacity.
That said, that's seldom the case.
Like many others, I experienced first hand the feeling of putting on an event at Aloha Stadium that falls short of great vision and intention.
In 2005, we put a group together for our "Aloha Soccer Cup" with the Los Angeles Galaxy & DC United (Freddie Adu).
We had great support organizing the event and selling tickets, as well as volunteers putting on the practice sessions we hosted for both teams.
Despite all of our support, our best efforts resulted in a approximately 15,000 people enjoying the event.
Those that were there had a great time but our small team of organizers were left with an empty feeling because our results fell short of our expectations and our venue was too big.
Waipio was not an option; our old Honolulu Stadium would have been perfect.
 2) The 30,000+ option being considered might be good but is its location ideal?
Maybe, if the rail has a transit stop nearby.
Since the rail isn't scheduled to reach UH-Manoa, how about a new stadium at UH-West Oahu?
Regardless of size, the location might be good for those willing to use the rail and the site has loads of potential.
 3) Aloha Stadium is still a great site but may be best as an alternate use.
Thanks & Aloha,

Paul Shinkawa

Wie gives Hawaii a major winner ... 57 years after Pung's DQ

June 23rd, 2014
By

When Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women's Open on Sunday, I tried to recall if any other golfer from Hawaii — man or woman — had won a major.

Ann Miller reminded me that David Ishii had won some on the Japan tour.

And she mentioned Jackie Pung.

Ah, yes, Jackie Pung … one of Hawaii's all-time sports greats, period. Winner of five LPGA tournaments in the 1950s.  Famous for celebrating with hula at the 18th green.

She was second at the U.S. Women's Open in 1953 and tied for third in the LPGA Championship in 1958.

And in 1957 she needed the fewest strokes to finish the U.S. Women's Open at Winged Foot in New York. But Pung fell victim to one of the worst things that can happen to a golfer — forfeiting victory due to an incorrect scorecard.

As the tournament ended, it seemed Pung had won. And in reality, she had taken one fewer stroke than Betsy Rawls to complete the tournament. The 72 for her final round total on her scorecard was correct, but the 5  for the fourth hole was wrong.

Pung and her playing partner, Betty Jameson, both wrote down 5 for the hole (per the rules, keeping each other's score), but both actually took 6 strokes to complete the hole.

Although the total score Pung signed for was correct, the scorecard was deemed incorrect and she was disqualified.

Pung was a popular player, and in the '50s even the top woman pros struggled financially. USGA officials, reporters and fans took up a collection. Reports vary from $2,000 to $4,000 being raised for her. She would have received $1,800 for first place.

 

Observations from a soccer enthusiast

June 16th, 2014
By

Dave,

I appreciate that you wrote a column on U.S. soccer today.  I’ve played all my life, and at 56 I’m still playing.  I’ve followed the U.S. national team closely since the World Cup in 1994 (that was the year of the baseball strike.  And sports channels across the nation gave a few minutes of air time for the World Cup, but much more for the nail biting developments of the baseball strike….).

I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve noticed that local sports columnists across the U.S. somehow feel compelled to write a token column during every World Cup while ignoring the sport almost entirely during the four year periods between the event.  So I don’t pay much attention to them (like the World Cup A-Z ditty that your colleague wrote the other day).   But since your column focused on a long-lived story, I thought I’d add some observations that you might find worthwhile.  (But no offense if you don’t, or if you’re not interested.  I have no pretenses that everyone should be interested in soccer just because I am).
First, the U.S. has qualified for the World Cup every time since 1990 — and that is not easy.  Yes, we don’t play in Europe or South America where the national competition is harder, but qualifying for the World Cup in North America is no picnic.  We have to compete against the likes of Costa Rica (just knocked off perennial powerhouse Uruguay 3-1), and Mexico (just beat Cameroon — a historically great team).
Second, like most teams that get the World Cup a lot, the U.S. has had some good years, some mediocre ones, and some flameouts.  We made it to the Quarterfinals in 2002 after beating Portugal in group play (no one expected that), and thoroughly dominating Mexico in the first knockout game.  We lost to Germany 1 - 0 in the next round, after hitting the post twice and outplaying them.  The U.S. played respectably in the 2010 Cup, even though Ghana beat us in the first knockout game.  But Ghana is a very, very good team.  No one in the world of soccer doubts their ability.  And the year before that, the U.S. reached the final of the Confederations Cup after beating Spain 2 - 0, and losing to the Champion Brazil 3-2.  Not too shabby.
Even historically great soccer nations have terrible tournaments, like Spain losing 5-1 the other day, France and Italy bombing out in the first round in 2010, and England seemingly never failing to underperform.   But that’s international soccer.
If you want to read a good book about what makes some countries successful vs. unsuccessful, and which countries will probably emerge as global powerhouses, you should read Soccernomics (written by two economists who crunched a lot of data).  It explains a lot.
Your column focused on Kyle Rote, a guy I remember.  But Kyle, as dedicated and talented as he was, could’t hold a candle to modern U.S. players like Dempsey, Bradley, Howard, and others.  These guys have proven themselves in the top professional leagues of the world.  And others are following in their footsteps.  Meanwhile,  the MLS is pulling off a quiet miracle by not just surviving 20 years, but coming out with a great product and dedicated fan base with a stable business model.  If you attended a game in Portland or Seattle, you wouldn’t believe you’re in the U.S.  The fans are over the top in their enthusiasm.  Obviously, soccer is not for everyone, and I can appreciate that.  Neither can anyone convince me that a sport like golf is an interesting game to watch.  It’s all personal.
Final thoughts — while the U.S. is in the famous ‘Group of Death’ this cup, the only reason any group gets that name is because all four teams are considered capable of getting through the group.   That’s the working definition of that term.  And I can assure you that Germany, Portugal, and Ghana is not taking the U.S. lightly.  And re having a foreign coach, the US has had American coaches before (Arena, Sampson, Bradley) with some success and some failure.  There’s nothing noteworthy about the particular nationality of a coach — it’s what their vision is, how they choose players and motivate them, etc.
Regards,
Keith Mattson