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Seattle Mariners’ rotation has fans ‘Smyl-yng’


Seattle Mariners’ rotation has fans ‘Smyl-yng’


The World Baseball Classic this spring has taken many of the every-day, Seattle Mariner hitters out of the lineup and away from the team’s clubhouse. Lost in the shuffle of that group has been starting pitcher Drew Smyly, who is pitching in the classic for the American squad.

If you have been following the Mariners this spring training on the ROOT Sports Network, you probably haven’t thought much about Smyly with the success of James Paxton, Chris Heston and some of the other arms with the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz. since he is away from the team and not pitching regularly. Before the WBC started, Smyly (1-0) pitched in two games for Seattle, going five innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five.

Then came his turn to face some international players in a U.S.A uniform.

His success continued in his start for the Americans when he tossed 4.2 innings with eight strikeouts in a win against the potent lineup from Venezuela. His spring stats combined so far have yielded 9.2 innings, four hits and 13 strikeouts. That’s a pretty impressive start to his Mariners career.


It’s no doubt Smyly has fans ‘Smylyng’…(get it…smiling/Smylyng…) so far, but for some reason the 27-year old left-hander has teased his prior teams with excellent spring trainings as well.

In Smyly’s five-year career, he has gone a combined 11-2 with a 3.26 ERA in 85.2 innings with a WHIP of 1.05 and 70 strikeouts to go with it. Compare that to his 2016 stat line in Tampa Bay, and Smyly was a different pitcher – finishing 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA in 175.1 innings with a more human-like WHIP of 1.27. (WHIP is calculated by adding walks + hits/Innings Pitched in case you didn’t already know that.)

His career numbers are somewhere in between the two spikes with a record of 31-27, a 3.74 ERA and a WHIP of 1.20. With more emphasis being put on the regular season starts and a much larger sample size to analyze, the Mariners might not be sure what they will get out of their No. 4 starting pitcher.


Signed in August of 2010 by the Detroit Tigers, Drew Smyly quickly made his way through the minor leagues of the organization before debuting for the Tigers in 2012. He went 4-3 in his rookie year, starting 18 games in his first taste of the majors.

He served the team as more of a reliever in his sophomore season, but posted great numbers – going 6-0 with a stingy 2.37 ERA while appearing in 63 games.

In 2014, Smyly was involved in one of the more prominent MLB trade deadline deals as he went to Tampa Bay along with shortstop Willy Adames (who I believe is one of Tampa’s top prospects this year and knocking on the door to the majors). The Tigers got that guy who is now in Boston…what was his name…oh yeah, David Price! (On an unrelated note, there is a guy who lives in the Gresham, Ore. area currently who looks EXACTLY like David Price. I walked up to him as a complete stranger and asked him, ‘has anyone ever said you look like David Price? He said, yeah, I get that all the time.’ It was super -weird. He had a Red Sox baseball hat on, backwards of course, and everything. #DopplegangerAlert)

Anyways, back to the trade.

Coincidentally enough, the Mariners were also involved in that trade. The Mariners sent Nick Franklin to the Rays and the Tigers gave Austin Jackson to the Mariners. I feel they could have made that deal a lot less complicated if they knew Smyly would be a Mariner in 2017.

Smyly’s career in Tampa wasn’t necessarily a fun one. It was highlighted by a lot of disabled list stints and lots of inconsistencies. He made only 12 starts in 2015 and had the aforementioned down year in 2016.

Did I mention he struck out eight Venezuelans? They weren’t like, local teenagers on the streets of Caracas or anything. The Venezuelan WBC team has some serious thunder. Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez and other players currently seeing every-day at bats on Major League teams faced him, got dominated and ultimately lost the game.


Pitching behind King Felix, Hisashi Iwakuma (I think I spelled it correctly WITHOUT needing to Google it for the first time ever) and Paxton, Smyly certainly won’t be expected to be a superstar. I assume he prefers it that way. Actually, he may even pitch fifth in case the M’s want to split up the lefties (with Paxton going third). No matter how you slice it, the pressure on Smyly will be relatively low heading into the season.

If he continues to pitch scoreless innings for the Americans, however, the expectations may rise.

I would like to see 13 wins and 30 starts. Is that optimistic? Maybe but I feel it is realistic. He is 27 years of age now entering his sixth season, so hopefully the maturity factor will help his game a little bit. He really just needs to stay healthy.

I don’t expect him to fan eight hitters every 4.2 innings he pitches, but if he can even out to 9k/9IP ratio, I think manager Scott Servais will be pleased.


The WBC has had an interesting effect/affect (See one of my previous columns where I rant about the difference in those words) on the Seattle ball-club this spring. Maybe Smyly seeing the quality of players in the ‘big-game’ environment this early will help his preparation for the regular season.

He has always pitched well in March – that has never been an issue. This is his first-year pitching for Team USA, so it will be interesting to see if the talented left-hander can finally turn a successful spring into a successful season.

Go Mariners…and good luck Ducks! And in a random thought, April the giraffe – we are rooting for you. Please just have the baby, so our social network feeds can feature something else.

Prime Fighting 9 gives birth to future stars of the Northwest


Prime Fighting 9 gives birth to future stars of the Northwest


Editor's Note: You can catch Prime Fighting 9 on CSN at the following times- 3/19 @ 12:00AM, 3/23 @ 8:00PM, 3/24 @ 11:30 PM, 3/26 @ 7:00PM

The Vancouver based fight promotion, Prime Fighting, closed the books on another successful event this past Saturday night. Prime Fighting 9 took place at the Clark County Event Center in Ridgefield, Washington and the fans that were lucky enough to be in attendance witnessed the first steps of some of the brightest young starts in the Pacific Northwest. The exuberance of young fighters is often on full display come fight night, but the scene at Prime Fighting 9 was mostly intense and focused. As I walked around the dressing rooms before the fights, a few of the fighters were already pacing with nervous anticipation. The emotion shown from the fighters on this card were very real. On a night when so many of these young athletes made their debut as professionals, it was clear that these fights meant more than simply wins and loses. If this card represents what you can expect to see in the future from Prime Fighting and their athletes, we are in for a treat.

This card was full of finishes as 7 of 9 scheduled bouts ended by TKO or submission. There was a lot to like about this card, below are my top moments from the night. And don’t forget, if you missed this event you can see it on Comcast SportsNet Northwest next week. It airs on March 19th, 23rd, and 24th.  Set your DVR’s!

  1. Rogue Combat Academy Comes up Big

Rogue Combat Academy (RCA) truly shined at this event. With two fighters making their professional debuts the stakes were high for the Central Point, Oregon gym. That being said, from the minute their first representative, Tristan Lindi, stepped into the cage it was clear that the coaches from RCA had a game plan and he was following it to a tee. He used a dominant wrestling game to overwhelm and smother his opponent for nearly three full rounds before getting the stoppage. Following the victory, I spoke to Lindi who said,

“It went pretty much how we planned it. He checked a kick of mine early and that effected my movement so I just went back to dominating on the ground. My cardio felt great and even with the five-minute rounds I could have kept smashing. I felt great.”

If Lindi’s performance was dominant his teammate, Austin Vanderford’s was perfect. There was no more dominant winner on the card than Vanderford. With his coaches giving him instruction, he put on a ground and pound clinic that left his opponent a bloody mess. The debuts of these two fighters could not have gone better and the corner work from RCA was direct, vocal, and most importantly absorbed by the two young athletes.

  1. Another Star Emerges from Gracie Barra Portland

The Gracie Barra fight team is never lacking in talent but there is another star in the making at this gym and his name is Johnny James. At just 22 years old, James is still a bit raw but this young man definitely looks the part getting off the bus. In any other world, he would probably be playing football but fortunately for fight fans he stepping into the cage instead. He had a very dominant performance on Saturday landing a series of leg kicks that seemed to only get harder as the fight went on. The kicks eventually caused his opponent to lose so much mobility that he got an easy takedown and eventually the stoppage. James did show his inexperience early with some looping and out of range striking but he began to clean up those issues as the fight wore on. He will undoubtedly continue to blossom under the tutelage Fabiano Scherner, Ian Loveland, and crew.

  1. Steven Southern and Kevin Boehm Have a War

Steven Southern of Vancouver Elite MMA and his opponent, Kevin Boehm of Art of War MMA, had a fight that truly set the bar for the rest of the professional bouts on this card. Southern came out like a man on fire; he was landing his strikes from range, inside, and even in the clinch. Southern made a mess of Boehm early when he landed a blow that clearly broke the nose of Boehm. Through a round and a half this fight appeared to be nearly wrapped up for Southern. That, however, was not the end of the fight and Boehm made a truly valiant effort to in trying to swing things back his way. Boehm leaned heavily on his wrestling in the latter moments of the fight and if not for some crafty submission attempts by Southern he may have turned things around. However, the damage done early was too much for Boehm to overcome as Southern took home the decision. Great performance from both fighters and Boehm’s tenacity certainly won over many in attendance. A bloody and exciting affair.

All Star Coach Bio: Peter Hawley

All Star Coach Bio: Peter Hawley

I have been coaching high school and middle school football, youth basketball, youth and middle school wrestling, middle school volleyball, middle school track and high school baseball for the last 16-year span.

My dad is the one that helped develop my love for not only playing, but coaching sports. As a child, growing up with a defensive coordinator and PE teacher for a dad, we learned to be the first one to the field and the last one to leave. To this day, my wife will contest that this trait is strongly ingrained into my personal belief as a coach. When I was a child I sat at games and asked a lot of questions about schemes and the reasons decisions were made both on and off the field. 

In high school I played three sports; football, basketball and baseball. I was selected to play in the Shriners 2A-3A football game. During my senior year of high school I tore my pectoral muscle and would end up a red shirt the following year in college for the baseball team. As I was practicing and waiting for my pectoral muscle to heal I joined the football team. My arm never healed, so I decided to help coach baseball at the local high school and finished out my football career. 

While on the football team I visited with a handful of NFL teams and worked with a professional long snapping coach. From these experiences, I learned how to break down skills and drills for the sports that I loved.  

From baseball, I joined the ranks of coaching high school football. I was blessed to coach with my dad. This would be one of two times I would coach with my dad. The other time is when I was working with a middle school student with special needs. This student chose to go out for wrestling and needed a personal 1-on-1.  Not only did my dad show me how to coach, but how to deal with students to help them grow as young men and women, no matter what ability they bring to the team. 

As a coach and an educator, I love to watch student growth take place in many shapes and forms. Not only do my students grow and mold into young men and women, I have grown as a coach and an educator. To this day my goal is to help coach coaches as they are wanting to learn the trade of a middle school coach.

All Star Coach Bio: Jeni O'Neil

All Star Coach Bio: Jeni O'Neil

Volleyball has been a love of mine since I was 9 years old. I remember going to a HS volleyball game when I was a 4th grader and while most kids my age were off socializing, I was memorized by the game going on in front of me. The intensity and grit of the game provided such a rush for me. I marched home and begged my mom to get me signed up because I wanted to learn all I could about this amazing sport. Back in that day though, club volleyball wasn’t available for kids until 7th grade and I remember having a countdown. From the moment I turned a 7th grader, I lived and breathed for volleyball playing for Kalama HS, Cowlitz Volleyball Club and Western New Mexico University. 

When I stopped playing though I knew that there was too much love for the game in me to give it up completely and that’s when I turned to coaching. I had some pretty phenomenal coaches thru out my years of playing and I wanted to be that inspiration for the younger generations.  I made my coaching debut as a MS coach and I instantly fell in love. I realized quickly that coaching was much more than just loving the game but also about empowering the athletes to want to be the best they could be through their work ethic and competiveness. Sometimes I think I fell in love more with coaching then I had when playing because the relationships I have built with the athletes over the years is incredible and there’s not a day that goes by that I am not thinking of ways to better improve myself as a coach. 

I coached a MS team for a few years as well as a JV team before I was asked to be the assistant at our local community college, LCC. That was a great year for me because I got a taste of teaching and implementing strategy of the game in addition to teaching skills. In 2008, I was named the Head Coach at Kalama HS (my alma mater) and I worked hard to build the program. It definitely takes a village though and I have been extremely blessed with two assistant coaches who give so much to me and the program. 

The players I have had the pleasure of coaching aren’t just my players. They become family and over the past 9 years I have had phenomenal athletes and kids come through the program who strive for excellence and have the wiliness and desire to want to learn. As a coach it’s about figuring out what makes each player tick then implementing and motivating to allow for each player to come together as a team. For this sport, team work and camaraderie is essential and it’s my responsibility to ensure that is happening. In the gym we work hard, outside of the gym we have fun. As a coach I find balance between the two as I want the girls to love the game and have fun but teaching discipline within one’s self is such a great gift and I learned it as a player so I try to facilitate that into my teams as well. 

This past season my team won the State Championship for the first time in school history. This will always go down as one of the best days of my life. The joy and love that was shared on that day between the coaches, players, parents, fans and school was one of the most incredible moments and I am so proud of each and every player. This is a memory that will last a lifetime.  

Coaching Experience 
2003-2004- Kalama MS Head Coach
2005-2006- Kalama JV Coach
2007- Lower Columbia Community College Asst Coach
2006-2008- Cowlitz Volleyball Club 18’s Coach
2014- Current- Aces Volleyball 14’s Coach
2008- Current- Kalama HS Volleyball Head Coach

All Star Coach Bio: Davontra' Ford

All Star Coach Bio: Davontra' Ford

Coach Tra’ began his cheer career in 2007 when he was convinced by one of the current members of his high school’s team to try out. From that moment coach Tra’ was hooked!

With a background in dance, drama, and musical theatre Coach Tra’ really created a strong passion and overall love for the sport! After doing 3 years of cheerleading in high school Coach Tra went on to compete and coach as an all-star cheerleader in the Portland Area. Building an even stronger desire to continue on this path Coach Tra became a member of the Portland State University cheerleading squad bringing home a 4th place finish at College Nationals.

In 2011, Coach Tra began a new career as an instructor for the Universal Cheerleading Association and has been employed by Varsity for the past 5 years. Through Coaching, Camps and Choreography Coach Tra has traveled all over the country learning new techniques and coaching methods. Currently alongside being the owner of Dynasty Ford Cheer Coach Tra is the Head Coach at Portland State University and Moutai View High School in Vancouver Washington.

Coach Tra only hopes to help those around him find a passion and sport that they absolutely can love doing!

All Star Coach Bio: Geoff Marlatt

All Star Coach Bio: Geoff Marlatt

Geoff Marlatt is the Banks High School Golf Head Coach. Geoff was born in Salem, Oregon in 1966. He graduated from Hillsboro High School and attended Portland State University. Geoff is a Real Estate Broker at John L. Scott Market Center. Prior to that, he worked for Pacific Coast Restaurants for twenty years becoming the General Manager of Riverplace Newport Bay and Manzana Rotisserie Grill. He finished out his restaurant career as the General Manager at Gustav’s Pub where he worked for seven years.

Geoff has been playing golf since he was five years old and got his passion for the game from his father, Gordon Marlatt. His father was the Assistant Pro at Illahe Hills in Salem, Oregon. Geoff was a member of the Oregon Junior Golf Association throughout his childhood and High School years. He also caddied for the LPGA Portland Ping Team Championship for four years, the US Senior Open at Portland Golf Club and the Winco Web.com Open at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. He is currently a member at the Forest Hills Golf Club. 

Geoff became the head coach of the Banks High School (BHS) Golf Program three years ago. His focus was to influence the student athletes in ways that would help them develop their golfing abilities but more importantly, build skills that would help them to be successful in all aspects of their personal and professional lives. Geoff strives to build character, integrity, sportsmanship, and team unity. He empowers the athletes to be engaged, responsible for their own actions and those of their teammates, willing to learn, compete to their utmost abilities; and strive to get better every day. For the 2017 season, he plans to add StrengthsFinder to the BHS Golf program. This powerful tool will aid each athlete in identifying their talents and teach them how they can work together and support each other using their strengths. His vision is to create a well-recognized and respected golf program in the Cowapa League. Coach Marlatt promotes a fun and enthusiastic learning environment that the athletes will remember fondly after high school and to foster a love of golf that they will continue to enjoy into adulthood.

Geoff’s passion for golf and for teaching and influencing student athletes is apparent to those around the Banks community. The BHS Golf program has been unfunded by the school district since the 2015 season, so Geoff has graciously waived his coach’s stipend and he has become certified to drive the team bus, so that the golf program could survive. In addition, for the past two years Geoff helped support a successful community golf tournament as well as other fundraising opportunities that have raised the required funds to support the BHS Golf Program. 

Geoff has two Daughters Reagan, 18 years old and Devyn, 9 years old. Both of them attend school in Banks, Oregon.

All-Star Coach Bio: Tom Hewitt

All-Star Coach Bio: Tom Hewitt

I have been coaching and teaching basketball for 40 years starting at age 22

My dad put and small hoop on my garage at age five and I feel in love with hoops. When I was 12 I hit the jackpot and got the opportunity to become ball boy for the Seattle Super Sonics I worked all Sonic games from 8th grade through high school.

I played HS basketball at West Seattle which led to a scholarship at George Fox University where I played varsity basketball from 1973-1977.

After graduation I started teaching Yamhill Grade School where I coach the girls and boys. This led to a coaching job at Warner Pacific College and then George Fox University. I was named head coach at Concordia University from 1981-1984. I was head basket ball coach at Milwaukie HS 1984-198 6and Marshal HS 1986-1990 and 2000-2001. I was at Marshall HS from 1986 until it closed in 2011 and when not coaching I was teaching basketball as PE teacher. In my career I have also coached football, tennis, baseball, volleyball and golf.

During my college playing career and early years coaching, I had the opportunity to work with and be tutored by two Blazer coaches Lenny Wilkins and Jack Ramsay working at their basketball camps. They became life long role models and mentors.

After retiring I have been given a new lease on life teaching PE and coaching basketball at Marysville GS for the last four years coaching 7th and 8th grade boys and girls basketball.

Coaching Experience Tom Hewitt

1977-1978     Yamhill GS Boy's and Girl's

1978-1980     Warner Pacific College Assistant Coach

1980-1981     George Fox University Assistant Coach

1981-1984     Concordia University Head Basketball Coach

1984-1986     Milwaukie HS Head Basketball Coach

1986-2011     Marshall HS Head Basketball Coach, Teacher Golf Coach

2012-2012     Golf Coach Benson HS

2013-2013     Golf Coach Lincoln HS

2013-2017     Marysville GS PE Teacher and Basketball Coach


The legend of Luis Tiant and the final chapter of baseball in Portland


The legend of Luis Tiant and the final chapter of baseball in Portland


Looking back on my time writing about sports in Portland, there is one story that continues to resonate as a personal favorite  — Luis Tiant and his time with the Portland Beavers.

For those Boston Red Sox die hards out there, the name is simply as legendary as the memorable delivery from the pitcher who hailed from Cuba, spent 19 seasons in the majors and was generous enough to jump on a phone call with me back in 2010 for a piece I was working on for The Oregonian. It was a bitter sweet assignment. Here I was interviewing the Red Sox icon who shared these amazing memories about an intriguing chapter of his story that happened to take place with the Portland Beavers in 1981. Meanwhile, the Beavers were closing a chapter of their own in Portland as the Triple A affiliate for the San Diego Padres in the Pacific Coast League.

Sadly enough, the story on Tiant and his time pitching in Portland ran on the same day the Beavers played their last game in the city that featured 95 years of rich baseball history.

When Luis Tiant stepped off the plane at Portland International Airport in the spring of 1981, David Hersh didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry about the arrival of his new Portland Beavers pitcher.

Within minutes he did a little of both.

“Luis came in off the plane after the press conference with a box of cigars,” recalled Hersh, who was 25 at the time and the youngest owner in Triple-A baseball history. “They were absolutely the strongest cigars I’ve ever tasted. He kept waiting to see my reaction. Two puffs and I was done.”

At a hefty 6-foot-1, Tiant was the same barrel-chested pitcher whose unique delivery and signature moustache made him one of the most beloved players in Boston Red Sox history. The player who had fled his native Marianao, Cuba, at 18 to pitch for the Mexico City Tigers in 1959 remained ever a prankster at 40. And he sure loved his cigars.

 “I’d have a cigar after the game — especially if I was winning. It was a ‘victory cigar,’” said Tiant (he was 69-years old at the time and was living in Milton, Mass).

After winning 229 games and battling injuries over parts of 19 major league seasons, many assumed Tiant was washed up. But the pitcher whose famed windup momentarily coiled his head toward centerfield wasn’t ready to turn away from the game for good.

“People thought I should retire and let the young guys play. But who was going to support me? I went to Portland to compete. David Hersh took care of me. He put me up in the Hilton and got me a car — a newer blue Audi. He treated me right.”

A smooth-talking Philadelphia native, Hersh had purchased the Beavers in 1979 for $256,000 with nothing left to his name but $500 and a second-place Pittsburgh Pirates farm club that drew less than 100,000 fans at Civic Stadium in the Pacific Coast League. That’s when Hersh learned a lesson about baseball in Portland that would repeat itself.

“The single biggest problem is the stadium,” Hersh said. “That’s the problem now. The only way we could survive was to try and call attention to ourselves.”

His long list of promotions included an exhibition contest with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where Willie Stargell’s pre-game homerun landed on the balcony of Multnomah Athletic Club.

For Hersh, Tiant was the best gate attraction money could buy.

“That was the whole thing: How could we shake things up and add a big time attraction? We thought we were buying box office.”

“I couldn’t speak very good English but I understand racism. They treated me like a dog, but when I got to Portland, I didn’t have any problems.”

By adding a marquee name such as Tiant, the Beavers also re-introduced fans to a part of baseball history in Portland. Tiant first pitched for the Beavers — then a Cleveland affiliate with a staff that included Sam McDowell and Tommy John — in 1964 after spending his first year the States in South Carolina with Charleston of the Eastern League.

“I couldn’t speak very good English but I understand racism,” Tiant said. “They treated me like a dog, but when I got to Portland, I didn’t have any problems. When you are pitching well, people come to see you.”

By July 1964, Tiant reached the majors with Cleveland after going 15-1 with a 2.04 earned run average with the Beavers.

But even reality hits hard in the majors: Tiant was traded and eventually released from the Minnesota Twins in 1970 after fracturing his right scapula and kicked around the minors with Richmond and Louisville, before signing with the Boston Red Sox in 1971. Dubbed “El Tiante” by the Fenway faithful, he beat the Cincinnati Reds twice in the 1975 World Series and posted a 122-81 record in eight years before jumping to the New York Yankees via free agency in 1979.

“They talk today that players make too much money. But back then, if you got hurt, they’d kick you in your behind and say, ‘See you later.’ They didn’t pay to see the manager or the umpire or the owner. They came to see us.”

But in 1981, no one came to see major league baseball.

A strike and lockout plagued the game and Hersh jumped at the chance to sign the free-agent Tiant to a Beavers team comprised of future major league talent. It all came down to money.

“We were paying $250,000 for a pitcher and that’s about as much as we paid for the franchise,” Hersh said.

Even with his 11 investors, Hersh paid for Tiant by recruiting an additional partner for the franchise — David Lander, who played Squiggy on the ’70s and ’80s sitcom, “Laverne & Shirley.” If Tiant drew well at the gate, the Beavers thought they’d earn back their money. Instead, the three-time All-Star got shelled on opening night against the Edmonton Trappers in front of a paltry 4,750 fans. But once Portland hit the road, people packed the parks to see Tiant. And he didn’t disappoint. On April 17, Tiant threw a no-hitter at Spokane and a week later on Aug. 23 came within one out of throwing another no-hitter against the same team at Civic Stadium.

“He came back to Portland after the no-hitter and you’d think it was a chance to draw people, but we didn’t,” Hersh began softly. “The major league strike was over and he wanted to go back to the bigs.”

With that, Tiant’s baseball story came full circle in Portland.

Tiant finished 13-7 as the Beavers went 72-65 in the PCL and Hersh — who later was hired to be in charge of player development for George Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees — willingly let Tiant out of his contract.

The iconic player who went from the Beavers to the majors as a rookie 17 years earlier did so one last time, signing with the Pirates and appearing in nine games that season. The next season, he concluded his storied career with the California Angels.

“This was my passion. It wasn’t going to be easy. I learned that a long time ago,” said Tiant, whom is an avid golfer and still smokes a cigar a day — maybe two.

“It was a journey, but I did what I said and I came back.”