Monday, September 27, 2004


Folks can fuss about America’s fascination with sports but at least these conflicts, except in soccer loving South America, generally aren’t about life and death.

Last week the esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the NCAA, working secretly in their smoke and/or perfumed-filled rooms, again want to tweak the landscape of college sports, this time baseball.

Now all of what follows is subject to affirmation, modification, or rejection by the NCAA Presidents later this Fall, but take a gander.
First of all spring practice would not begin until the first of February and games on the first of March. Those New Year’s day practices would all be gone, and by extending the season only one week the 56 games would be crowded into some four game weekends, two contests in the mid week, and obviously a lot of double headers. In total three weeks are gone.

Competitively it may be that these changes would play into the strength of the Dirtbag program, lots of good pitching. Not all great, but probably a deeper staff than other schools, especially the Northern and Eastern teams that have long been jealous of the head start that warm weather Western teams enjoy.

The negatives of course include money, as colleges who end their term before their season have to feed and shelter their troops and of course during the term players will miss a lot of class in the compressed format. Stay tuned, the NCAA’s big boys are really playing hardball for a change.

NAME DUSTING-The only silver lining in the proposed NCAA new baseball calendar is the fact that LB featuring Troy Buckley and the wide open spaces of Blair Field is a pitching magnet.

Your ladies of the spike split last weekend and reportedly the kinder, gentler Gimmillaro is letting his young ‘uns learn on the job. Those of us on the press table have noticed a lot more praise although Brian still insists that confrontation occurs being the scenes with good effect. “It helps good players get better.”

Two of the best of the baby boomers are Mariko Crum and Alexis Crimes. Their fans love to see them terminate with a big swing but both players sear they love the block party more than scoring.

Water Polo world figure Rich Foster is keeping score on how often we mention his favorite sport so I have to catch up by reporting that LBSU will hit the road next weekend for the NorCal Tournament in Stockton. Last weekend the locals whipped Redlands 10-4 Sunday morning, took a power nap then routed Chapman 17-2 Sunday afternoon.

Last add water working. The Beach pool is busier than ever with youth swim and water polo clubs featuring great youth coaches and Rich is still angling for a national training center for aquatics and volleyball, perhaps near the Belmont Pool

Beach tennis is also improving with the signing of Aussie Stephanie Bengson. She was ranked No. 18 in the Australian National 18 and Under Rankings. Head coach Jenny Hilt-Costello figures the new comer will “make an immediate impact on our line-up.” The other two Down Under wonders are Nicole Bouffler and Alanah Carroll.

More ladies news, the word is out that another tall talent is coming to Beach volleyball. 6'4 Middle Blocker Naomi Washington has given a commitment to LBSU. Our v-ball source Randy Loughlin gushes that “Naomi came in at #52 on John Tawa's top 100 recruits for 2005. In fact all five recruit's for 05 made the top 100 according to prep volleyball. Naomi enjoyed her visit to the Beach so much, that she cancelled a recruiting visit to Hawaii.”

The last LB team reporting in is the 2005 Edition of Long Beach State Men’s Volleyball which begins a five week practice regimen starting with the Black ‘n Gold Intersquad match on Friday at 5:30 pm in the Gold Mine. The next weekend on Saturday, Oct 9th is the Alumni Game and then the team travels up to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for the Can-Am Tournament on Friday and Saturday October 15 & 16.—DR. DAN

Sunday, September 19, 2004


It is hard to call a bus trip to Stockton a ride to Broadway but for Niner women’s volleyball the dress rehearsals are over, the reviews are promising, but now the act must open on the road in front of a usually critical crowd.

Like Long Beach the folks at Pacific don’t have a lot of autumn options, no football in the place that once claimed Amos Alonzo Stagg. The Beach of course had a version of that gridiron legend in the late George Allen but until basketball season starts these schools count on their volleyball programs for alumni and student excitement and a little infusion in the cashbox.

Finishing a nine game homestand with a flourish, the 2004 edition of our Ladies of the Spike seem to have solved the sidelining of team leader Erika Chidester with a rotation of rookies including freshmen like Heather Hetzer, Kristen Voyson, Dyanne Lawlor and especially Alexis Crimes. Mix in sophomore smashers Mariko Crum and Robin Miramontes and give them targets from senior setter Jillian Mazzarela and this baby boomer edition looks pretty darn good. The backrow business is anchored by juniors Heather Laudato and Sarah Kroneberger so if Chidester takes a red shirt year to heal a sore shoulder this bunch might run the table in 2005 and make a bid this season.

NET DUST--Back to the present, volleyball’s Big West road gets bumpy away from the home grounds starting Thursday in Stockton and then Saturday at Northridge.
This from web board wiseman LB Rob on the work of Robin Miramontes. “overall she reminds me of former great Veronica Walls in what she could bring to this team, and her demeanor reminds me of Jessica Alvarado, a vocal leader type. When she is hitting from the right side she is money. I hope she develops that left handed control that Walls did by her senior year.”

More net notes, the Food Doppler was so well received I have elected to keep balancing a plate in one hand and a paper and pen in the other. At the Sideline Spikers deal on Saturday Tayyiba Haneef was saluted for her Olympic work in Athens and for her new pro team in Japan. They play in suburban Tokyo and go by the team name, “The Bamboos”. And her teammate is also tall and talented, Elisha Thomas another Niner ex.

More Haneefing- her dad Mo credits her high jumping background for “giving her great body presence, something we call catting.” Translated, athletes in that sport need to be able to adjust in the air and land on their feet, like a falling cat. And does he see some of his daughter in freshmen Alexis Crimes. “I’m too close to really say but they both have a lot of enthusiasm”, And hops.

This note on Crime time. Coach G has decided to hold his 6-3 freshmen phenom out of the late rotation in game threes when the Beach has a comfortable lead. The idea to give the remaining players the feel of life without the new jumping jack. This theory may have to be put on hold with the tough Tigers of Pacific looming on the road.

Last volley, Gimmillaro likes the “sound and lights” at the Long Beach Arena in that practice match for the 2004 NCAA Final Four venue. “You can really hear the ball and see it so well on that dark court and with those lights.” Okay, but how about court level scoreboards so fans and coaches don’t get blinded staring at the scoreboard raised so high about center court?

Moping up some baseball stuff. Last week mentioned a mystery pitcher from an Orange County; he is Cody Evans, a Weaver-built 6-4 righty from Golden West CC. Final new guy is Oklahoma transfer Kyle Bradbury who will walk on with a dream of being a Dirtbag. He had only 30 at bats for the Sooners last season.

Closing nautical note. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested? Answer-Obsession.--DR. DAN

Monday, September 13, 2004


Hi Boss, got tired of watching the weather channel so I went back to the food channel and got this great new invention, The Food Doppler. This machine gives me an updated line on all buffet lines and happy hours around town and that means I have an overload of notes on my napkin.

Here goes. A pricey but always fun chow-down is dining with the LBSU Hall of Famers which this year will induct that sand-eating gold medalist Misty May. The dinner is set for Thursday, October 21 at the Westin Long Beach Hotel. Need a warm-up? Then attend the awards dinner after the HOF Golf Tournament on Monday, October 4 at Old Ranch Country Club. Reservations via Pat West at (562) 985-4662.

Now if you like to wear something more original when dining then visit the costume-optional Halloween Haunt 4-person beach VB tournament at Huntington Beach Pier on Sunday, October 10. Everybody gets candy and drinks and the really lucky get a nifty tee shirt or something equally grand! Proceeds support Long Beach State Men’s Volleyball.

Looking back, the last supper for super Niner fund raiser Sean Pyatt was last week during the Jared Weaver baseball fundraiser at Chimayo’s in Huntington Beach. About a hundred partied with Weaver, Mike Weathers and Niner faithful. On display was Jered’s Roger Clemen’s trophy about which one wag in the crowd complained that the Rocket ‘s stance in the trophy was “too open”.

Weathers said that the Dream had won every major award “except that Johnny Bench thing.” Yeah, coach Bench was a catcher. A nice party for an unemployed college dropout. Love to kid a future millionaire.

Back to Sean, he will return to Arizona available for a new assignment and another Niner good guy, Bobby Jezyk, headed back up north for a teaching credential. We’ll miss them both.
After a less than blissful trip to Hawaii, LBSU ladies soccer continues their seven-match road-trip in San Diego Friday while men’s water polo takes on the best in the USA at the USC tournament at Troy-town Saturday and Sunday.More Dirtbag info gleaned from my hard work in the hors d’oeuvres line at the Weaver cocktail party. HH Hitting guru Don Barbara says that “every offensive position will be up for grabs” in fall ball but pitching genius Troy Buckley will rest his ace Cesar Ramos this fall and look for the rest of his 2005 starting rotation from Jamison, Anderson, Andrade, Villalobos plus a hard throwing Santa Clara transfer. Runners up will be set-up guys and closers.

Where are they—ex Niner hurler Kasey Olenberger, started and was the losing pitcher in Italy’s Olympic loss to the Netherlands. Grandma came from the old country nut at least some baseball player we know made Athens.

Back to calorie counting, those ardent Sideline Spikers have taken on the task of furnishing the food for the Player's Choice" Potluck Post-match social in the Ukleja Room this Saturday night after the UC Riverside match. Taffy Barr at 562-420-2680 has the list of what the gals want and after the players load up members can chase the scraps. Last add food and fun. The Coach’s Chat at Busters was supposed to be off the record but maybe somebody talked about winning 20 basketball games, some coaches want to get their players down to 240 and some want to get them up to say 140. And they all want their charges to stay off the police blotter this year.

My old college room mate Steve Grogan has a solution for that situation. “You know a lot of pros get in trouble with drugs because they have too much money. I live on a boat in San Francisco and if they ever bought a boat I can promise you it would keep them broke and out of trouble.” Amen.—DR. DAN

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Summer is a time for sporting optimism. Everybody still has a chance, most teams have a blank slate, and newcomers bring new hope. September however is when the rubber hits the road, court, field and pool. Exhale--so far so good.

For Forty-Niner fans fall is especially fragile since a number of years ago LBSU determined that women’s volleyball would be replacing football as the Beach’s athletic point of pride. The shoulder pads and tackling dummies were sold or mothballed and replaced by hot new uniforms and players who matched the fabric of their lives. Nineteen years later, facing the most off season injuries in his career, Coach Brian Gimmillaro was nervous knowing that that he is the athletic bell cow for the Forty Niners fall fame and fortune. So far so good. His team is a perfect 3-0 and, unless a spelling bee breaks out, will go to 4-0 Saturday night when the Niner plays Yale.

Outside on the greens of George Allen field the Beach brass changed veteran soccer coach Peter Reynaud for hot JUCO guy Mauricio Ingrassia. So far very good, three wins and a tie and a stifling defense led by a mere sophomore Natalie Messina, an energizer bunny out of Santa Rosa. LBSU posted its second and third shutouts of the season, thanks in large part to Messina's defense. She earned the 49er Classic's Most Outstanding Player prize over the weekend and will lead her team to paradise when the Niners play in Hawaii this weekend, Saturday vs. Duke and Monday, Sept. 13 at Hawaii.

Finally we have upbeat news on water polo and tennis. Now at 3-1 after a weekend in the Navy (Invitational) the 49er water polo men will play its Alumni team on Sunday at 12 pm in the Campus Pool. And while you are in that neighborhood you should note that the long awaited improvements on the tennis court are underway. More to do, but so far so good.

LEFTOVER DUST-A long time ago we claimed that former Dirtbag pitcher Chad Bentz, the Alaska lad who plays with on one hand, was a new daddy. That was premature, based on one of those ultra-sound pictures. Now he reports is a real pop, “baby girl, with all ten fingers and toes.”

Next up on bare skin notes, our info source for info about LB Jam pal Dennis Rodman has always been his wife. Just to keep the other babes at bay Michelle has been getting attention with her tattoo reading ''Mrs. Rodman'' running from one side of her waistline to the other.

This important data came from the Miami MTV awards show which also lured Olympic Gold medalists Misty May and Kerri Walsh, who then flew back to CA, went on Leno, visited boy friends and then won another Beach tourney last weekend in Chicago. “They are keeping this schedule,” Misty’s dad Butch said, “Because these kids are so dedicated to building the sport while they have the spotlight.” The ultimate beneficiaries, Butch said, are folks like Brittany Hochevar, and other just below the limelight volleyballers.

At the risk of having an opinion I really don’t like what folks call sports-hate radio and agree with a writer who said that it has “made the arena angrier, meaner and reactionary, too often putting the ''jerk'' in ``knee jerk. There's too much name-calling, hostility, arguing, smearing, jealousy and sewage.” Another reason is that in print journalism you can re-read and to that end I have created an archive of old Dust columns and you can find it on this link:

Our closing quote comes from one of sports wisest philosophers, Yogi Berra, “I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat. And if it keeps up, I change bats.”—DR. DAN