Monday, December 27, 2004


Wait until next year. Whoops, it is next year.

The great thing about the toy department of life is the hope that springs from inside a wrapped box. An unsung fan favorite, a generous gift from a long time booster, a buzzer-beating, bottom of the ninth, eagle from the fairway, drop shot at the net, corner kick with a triple block.

True enough we had some of all of those in 2004 but 49er fans always toast the new year with the expectation that the coming year will restore order, bring back the golden days, defeat the evil empires where ever they may be, in Fullerton, Santa Barbara, Irvine, or Davis.

Did I say Davis, yes indeed because you will begin to see a lot of UCD on those refrigerator schedule magnets in the coming year. The Aggies have married into the Big West family and frankly in their mind LBSU is the gold standard to which they aspire. From top to bottom over the years the best of the Big West has been the Beach . Niner sports has a storied tradition in almost everything, not withstanding a checkered recent history.

Getting back to the moment, the best of this next year will likely be Beach baseball and men’s volleyball.
The Diamond men always seem to be around the top 25 and Collegiate Baseball ranked the Dirtbags No. 14 in its pre-season national rankings. They do so based on tradition, coaching and a trio of pre-season All-Americans, left-handed starter Cesar Ramos who was first team selection, and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki a third team pick along with closer Neil Jamison.
Players are a big part of the Niner winning picture but don’t forget the coaching of Mike Weathers, Troy Buckley and Dion Barbara. Last season was the second time in school-history that the team has produced back-to-back 40-win campaigns. The 49ers have been ranked in the top-25 to start the season in 13 of the last 16 seasons. The 2004 season ended a base hit shy of Omaha at 40-21 an in their second-straight Super Regional

The Niners open the season January 28 at No. 11-ranked Arizona State and have a ton of other top teams in their path, include, Texas, Fullerton, Stanford, Baylor, Wichita State, Pepperdine and UC Irvine. To get you all warmed up the Niners have a hat trick of festivities starting with the Annual Lead-Off Dinner on Thursday January 20 featuring American League Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby . Followed by Alumni golf on Friday at Big Rec and baseball exhibitions on Saturday at Blair. Pat West at 562-985-4662 can give you the inside pitch.

Now the other good “next” on the Beach line-up is guided by the reigning AVCA Coach of the Year Alan Knipe. In just his fourth season at the helm of the 49ers, Knipe guided his team to a 28-7 (18-4 MPSF) record and a runner-up finish in the 2004 NCAA National Collegiate Men's Volleyball Championship. The Beach owned win streaks of seven matches twice during the season, won 14 of 15 matches in February and March and did not lose to a single unranked opponent in 2004. The Beach loses All Americans Scott Touzinsky and David Lee but return a slew of hitters and Tyler Hildebrand, the All-America First Team setter.

Closing football memories. The late George Allen was selected as a coach for one of those college all star games in Hawaii and true to his life pattern was actually scouting the East All Stars as well as his West team. After he passed his son Bruce was asked to represent George. Bruce’s pal and a LBSU fund raiser Merle Makings was with us in Las Vegas for a Niner basketball game against the Running Rebels. Merle asked Bruce who his dad thought would win. “Dad said that we (the West) had a terrible draft and he felt sure the East would win.”

I was chatting with Merle at the old Stardust and a couple of rounders overheard our conversation and bee-lined to the sports book, saying, “wow we got a tip from George Allen, I wonder if they take action on all star games.” P.S. The West won.–DR. DAN


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