BY Steve Rudman 12:01PM 12/27/2010

2010: August Rewind

Sportspress Northwest takes a look at 2010 month by month

Seattle's Fred Couples (back to camera) congratulates Bernhard Langer after he won the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee by three strokes in early August / PGA Tour photo

TOP 5 STORIES

To no one’s surprise, the Mariners ousted Don Wakamatsu as manager (along with several coaches), inevitable when the club is on a relentless march to 100 losses. But Seattle wasn’t all about negative in August. The region hosted two major golf tournaments — the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee and the Boeing Classic at TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge — and the Storm continued a parade to the WNBA postseason.

5. Seahawks sign a No. 1 (Aug. 6), trade an ex-No. 1 (Aug. 18)

On Aug. 6, the Seahawks finally ink the first No. 1 pick of the Pete Carroll era, offensive tackle Russell Okung, to a six-year deal worth $58 million, with $30 million of that reportedly guaranteed. Carroll, irked that it took so long to get Okung’s name on a contract, says, “This could have happened sooner, unfortunately. It was killing him not to be here.” Two weeks later, Carroll demonstrates that, while he may have a soft spot for USC players, he isn’t going to let sentiment get in his way by dispatching former Trojan Lawrence Jackson, the club’s No. 1 pick in 2008, to the Detroit Lions for a sixth-round choice in 2011.

Bill Leavy

4. Super Bowl referee admits his gaffes (Aug. 6)

NFL officials almost never fess up to their mistakes. But Seattle fans did receive an acknowledgment from Super Bowl XL referee Bill Leavy that officiating mistakes contributed to the Seahawks’ 21-10 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 5, 2006. “It was a tough thing for me,” says Leavy. “I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter, and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that.” Leavy did not specify any plays, but two in particular hurt the Seahawks. With Seattle driving for a tying TD, OT Sean Locklear was called for holding on a pass completion that would have put the ball at Pittsburgh’s one-yard line. Matt Hasselbeck’s next pass was intercepted, then Hasselbeck was penalized for an illegal low block while attempting a tackle and assessed a 15-yard penalty. The Seahawks hotly disputed both plays.

3. Storm falter, recover as WNBA playoffs commence (Aug. 25)

The Storm enter August with an WNBA-best 22-2 record, and suddenly stumble with a pair of two-game losing streaks. They fall at Minnesota and Tulsa Aug. 1 and Aug. 3, and stumble twice more on Aug. 13-15, at Connecticut and Washington. But when the Western Conference semifinals arrive on Aug. 25, the Storm (28-6 during the regular season) are ready, and dispatch the Los Angeles Sparks in two games.

2. Langer earns $755,000 for six days’ work (July 31-Aug. 2, Aug. 26-28)

At the beginning of August, more than 30,000 Northwest golf fans show up at Sahalee Country Club, most hoping to see Seattle native Fred Couples, a Senior Tour rookie, win the U.S. Senior Open Championship. After igniting the throng with a short birdie putt on the first hole, Couples knocks himself out of contention on the second hole, when he triple bogeys, staking Bernhard Langer to a three-shot lead. Couples can’t get closer than two strokes the rest of the day as the German shoots a bogey-free round of 67. At the end of August, Langer returns to Seattle and wins the Boeing Classic at TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge by three strokes over Nick Price. So much for a bad economy: Langer pockets $755,000 in prize money for his two victories, spread over six days. “Maybe I should move here,” Langer jokes.

1. Mariners cashier Don Wakamatsu, coaches (Aug. 9)

Five days after receiving a spirited vote of confidence from GM Jack Zduriencik, Don Wakamatsu is ousted as manager of the Mariners, becoming the fifth individual to be relieved of, or quit, the position since Lou Pinella left for Tampa Bay in 2002. Wakamatsu took bench coach Ty Van Burkelo, pitching coach Rick Adair and performance coach Steve Hecht with him, all deemed the most responsible for the worst Mariner team in franchise history. Wakamatsu, widely accused of losing control of his clubhouse after Ken Griffey Jr. abruptly retired in June (many blamed Wakamatsu), is replaced on an interim basis by Tacoma Rainiers manager Daren Brown. Wakamatsu went 42-70 in 2010 after an 85-77 mark in 2009.

GAMES OF THE MONTH

  • Aug. 14: Josh Bard delivers four hits, including a grand slam, Jason Vargas allows three runs over 7.0 innings and Mariners defeat the Cleveland Indians 9-3 at Progressive Field, winning their third consecutive series.
  • Aug. 20: Felix Hernandez (9-10) blanks the Yankees on four hits over 8.0 innings, Russell Branyan smacks two home runs and the Mariners defeat the Yankees 6-0. The Mariners win their third game in a row and improve to 7-3 under interim manager Daren Brown.
  • Sounders striker Fredy Montero. (Drew McKenzie/Sports Press Northwest)

    Aug. 28: Fredy Montero’s two goals help Seattle Sounders FC defeat the Chicago Fire, spoiling Freddie Ljungberg’s much-anticipated return to Seattle for the first time since leaving for Chicago during the mid-season break. Chicago scores in the 28th minute following a questionable hand ball in the 18-yard box. That leads to a penalty converted by the Fire’s John Thorrington. But Montero equalizes in the 36th minute. Montero then heads home the winning goal in stoppage time to keep Seattle’s playoff hopes alive.

NOTABLE

  • Aug. 1: Francisco Liriano matches a season high with 11 strikeouts, Jason Kubel snaps out of a slump with a three-run double and the Minnesota Twins beat the inept Mariners 4-0 for the second consecutive game. The Mariners, who had two hits, manage three runs in the series, lose their seventh in a row and stumbled to 15-39 on the road.
  • Aug. 1: Sue Bird scores a team-high 16 points and adds 10 assists, but the Storm fall to the Minnesota Lynx 72-71 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
  • Aug. 3: Franklin Gutierrez hits a go-ahead solo homer in the fifth, and the Mariners snap a seven-game losing streak by defeating the Texas Rangers 3-2. Seattle starter Jason Vargas (7-5) allows three hits and two runs and picks up his first win in a month. Overall, four Mariner pitchers combine on a four-hitter.
  • Aug. 3: Scholanda Robinson scores a game-high 21 points and Tulsa forces 26 Seattle turnovers in defeating the Storm 84-75 at the BOK Center. It marks Seattle’s (22-4) second loss in a row and its first losing streak of the season.
  • Aug. 4: David Murphy clubs a go-ahead, three-run home run, Michael Young adds his first grand slam in three years and the first-place Rangers beat the lowly Mariners 11-6 on a night when the Rangers are purchased at an auction by a group headed by former pitcher Nolan Ryan. The Rangers break the game open by scoring five runs in the fifth.
  • Aug. 4: Fredy Montero is voted Major League Soccer’s Player of the Month for July. Montero contributed two goals and three assists in five games, helping Seattle to a 3-1-1 record.
  • Aug. 5: David Murphy belts his second go-ahead home run in two nights, this one to break through against Felix Hernandez, and Tommy Hunter dominates the Mariners in a 6-0 victory at Safeco Field. Murphy drives in the game’s first two runs with his seventh homer and Hunter shust down the woeful Mariners over 6.2 innings. Seattle falls 23.5 games behind the Rangers.
  • Aug. 5: Lauren Jackson scores 31 points and pulls down eight rebounds as the Storm (23-4) snap a two-game losing streak with an 82-83 win over Connecticut at KeyArena.
  • Aug. 6: Chone Figgins has two hits and drives in three runs, Ryan Langerhans has three hits, including a home run, and Luke French allows one run over eight innings as the Mariners romp to an easy 7-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The Mariners score their most runs since an 8-1 win over Detroit on July 4.
  • Aug. 6: Jake Locker becomes the 25th quarterback named to the watch list for the Manning Award. Locker, a senior from Ferndale, had previous been named to watch lists for the Dave O’Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
  • Aug. 7: Seven different Storm players score in double figures as the club sets an WNBA record for largest margin of victory with a 46-point blowout (111-65) of the Tulsa Shock at KeyArena. Led by Lauren Jackson’s 12 points and 10 rebounds, the Storm also set a WNBA single-game record with 57 rebounds.
  • Aug. 8: Jason Vargas scatters four hits over 6.0 innings, Casey Kotchman produces a two-run single in the sixth, and the Mariners defeat Kansas City 3-2 at Safeco Field on Seafair Sunday. The Mariners take two of three from the Royals, winning their first series since taking two of three from the New York Yankees June 29-July 1.
  • Aug. 8: Steve David and the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto hold off Dave Villwock over the final five laps to claim the 60th running of the Seafair unlimited hydroplane race on Lake Washington.
  • Aug. 9: The Mariners welcome new manager Daren Brown by collecting their first triple play in 15 years, the highlight moment in Seattle’s 3-1 win over the Oakland A’s at Safeco Field.
  • Aug. 10: Felix Hernandez escapes a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, fans a career-high 13 batters and the Mariners provide Brown with his second victory as Seattle defeats Oakland 2-0.
  • Aug. 10: Three Huskies earn spots on watch lists for national college football honors. Senior linebacker Mason Foster makes the Bednarik Award list, junior wideout Jermaine Kearse makes the Biletnikoff Award’s listing and senior quarterback Jake Locker earns a spot on the Maxwell Award list.
  • Aug. 10: The Storm improves to a league-best 25-4 with an 80-70 win over the Atlanta Dream. Lauren Jackson finishes with 14 points and eight rebounds.
  • Aug. 13: Less than a week after a 46-point victory over the Tulsa shock, the Storm (25-5) lose by 20 — 88-68 — to Connecticut.
  • Aug. 14: UW announces that highly touted freshman running back Deontae Cooper has torn the ACL in his left knee and that surgery will sideline him for the 2010 season.
  • Seahawks quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. (Drew Sellers/Sports Press Northwest)

    Aug. 14: After replacing starter Matt Hasselbeck in the second quarter, Charlie Whitehurst throws for 214 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yarder to Mike Williams, leading the Seahawks to a 20-18 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the first preseason game of the Pete Carroll era.

  • Aug. 15: Despite 15 points from Swin Cash and seven assists by Sue Bird, the Storm (25-6) drop an 80-71 decision to the Washington Mystics at Verizon Center.
  • Aug. 16: Former Mariner Adam Jones drives in Nick Markakis with a walk-off bunt in the bottom of the 11th inning, giving Baltimore a 5-4 comeback win over the Mariners at Camden Yards. It’s Baltimore’s 10th walk-off win of the year, an American League high.
  • Aug. 17: Luke French (2-3) allows three hits over 7.2 innings (took a one-hitter into the eighth inning), Matt Tuiasosopo belts a three-run homer and drove in four runs, and the Mariners shut down the Orioles 4-0 at Camden Yards. The Mariners enter the ninth inning with a 1-0 lead. After a Franklin Gutierrez single and a Casey Kotchman walk, Tuiasosopo unloads off Armando Gabino, his second homer of the season.
  • Aug. 17: Kavario Middleton, dismissed from the UW football team on July 20 for violating team rules, tells the Tacoma News Tribune that he will transfer to Nebraska. Middleton says he is “overjoyed” by the move to the Cornhuskers. He also does not deny failing multiple drug tests, reportedly the reason for his dismissal from the team.
  • Aug. 17: Lauren Jackson’s 24 points, Camille Little’s 14 rebounds and Sue Bird’s eight assists propel the Storm (26-6) to a 68-64 win over Minnesota in front of 7,394 at KeyArena.
  • Aug. 18: Matt Tuiasosopo blasts a three-run homer for the second game in a row, David Pauley allows four runs and wins his second straight start, and the Mariners complete a series win over Baltimore with a 6-5 victory at Camden Yards. It marks the Mariners’ fourth consecutive series win, a season high.
  • Aug. 19: Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian wins the 100-meter freestyle at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Irvine, CA., clocking a meet record 48.15. Adrian also earns a gold medal as part of the U.S. 400-meter relay team.
  • Aug. 20: Swin Cash, 1-for-10 from the floor entering the fourth quarter, goes on a 10-point spree in the final period to lead the Storm to a 78-73 victory over the Phoenix Mercury. The Storm improves to 27-6.
  • Aug. 21: The Huskies receive eight votes in the preseason Associated Press football poll. Three Pac-10 teams, No. 11 Oregon, No. 14 USC and No. 24 Oregon State, make the top 25. Stanford (81) and Arizona (15) also receive votes. Washington’s opening opponent, BYU, receives 19 votes. Seven of Washington’s 12 opponents are mentioned in the opening AP poll.
  • Aug. 22: Favored Noosa Beach, trained by Doris Harwood and ridden by Ricky Frazier, captures the $203,125 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs, clocking 1:34.80 and earning top prize of $96,250. Jersey Town finishes second, a length and a half back, with defending champion Assessment third. Assessment’s third-place showing ends trainer Howard Belvoir’s bid to win an unprecedented third consecutive Mile. Noosa Beach wins for the fifth time in six local starts in 2010.
  • Aug. 25: Felix Hernandez allows two runs over 7.1 innings, Jose Lopez drives in a couple of runs, and the Mariners snap a four-game losing streak by beating Boston 4-2 in the second game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park. Hernandez becomes the fourth pitcher in franchise history with 1,000 career strikeouts, joining Randy Johnson (2,162), Jamie Moyer (1,239) and Mark Langston (1,078).
  • Aug. 25: Swim Cash pours in 20 points, Lauren Jackson grabs nine rebounds and Sue Bird hands out 12 assists as the Storm take Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals with a 79-66 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks at KeyArena.
  • Aug. 27: Senior quarterback Jake Locker and junior offensive tackle Senio Kelemete are named the offensive captains while senior linebacker Mason Foster and senior safety Nate Williams are selected defensive captains.
  • Aug. 28: Lauren Jackson scores 24 points and pulls down nine rebounds, leading the Storm to an 81-66 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks that enables Seattle to advance to the Western Conference finals opposite the Phoenix Mercury.
  • Aug. 28: Nick Blackburn and newly acquired Brian Fuentes baffle the Mariners on two hits, Denard Span has an RBI single in the third inning and the Minnesota Twins defeat the Mariners 1-0 at Safeco Field. The Mariners get blanked for a league-leading 12th time.
  • Aug. 31: Felix Hernandez holds Los Angeles to three and no runs over 7.0 innings, Adam Moore’s RBI single highlights a three-run rally in the eighth, and the Mariners defeat the Angels 3-1 in the second game of a three-game series at Safeco Field. Hernandez reaches 200 strikeouts for the second consecutive season when he fans Erick Aybar in the seventh inning. Randy Johnson and Mark Langston are the only other pitchers in club history to have multiple 200-strikeout seasons. Hernandez finishes August with a 3-2 and 0.82 ERA, the second-lowest ERA for any month in franchise history. Langston compiled a 0.50 ERA in September 1988.

EX-SEATTLE/STATE ATHLETE OF THE MONTH

Vancouver native Greg Biffle captured the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 on Aug. 1, snapping a 54-race winless streak in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. Biffle earned $205,850 after edging Tony Stewart, driving a Chevy.

SAID

  • “It was a lot of fun to be here, I can tell you that much. The fans were great. I’m kind of an emotional guy. I’m not really an emotional player. But I can hear them (the fans), and it was fun.” — Fred Couples, after finishing second in the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee
  • “Right now, Don is our manager. This is our manager and this is our club.” — Jack Zduriencik, Mariners GM, issuing a vote of confidence to manager Don Wakamatsu on Aug. 4
  • “The truth of the matter is, I lost confidence in Don, Ty and Rick. New leadership is needed and it is needed now. To look around and see so many players having subpar seasons is very disturbing. This has been difficult to watch.” — Jack Zduriencik, Mariners GM, after firing manager Don Wakamatsu on Aug. 9
  • “I can’t tell you how happy I am to be in the winner’s circle with this horse. It is a dream come true.” — Doris Harwood, after training Noosa Beach to victory in the Longacres Mile on Aug. 22

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