Sunday, December 19, 2004


We here at Christmas Dust hope you haven’t maxed out the plastic because we have some gift suggestions for the 49er sporting set.

This report comes from the South Florida not the North Pole but Santa still knows who has been naughty and who has been nice.

Let’s start with the sweethearts of swing, the ladies tennis team of Jenny Hilt. She and our gals would like healing of all the hitters, an angel or two to build out the tennis complex and patience in the international admissions office. Oh yes, beating back UCI and some of those rival coaches who shift seeds faster than a carny pitchman.

For Pete’s sake, that’s veteran softball skipper Pete Manarino, another Big West title can wait if he can get his truly young squad to hit and field. The pitching looks stronger than his mom’s Christmas soup but the there are still a lot of roster spots yo for grabs.

For Mike Weathers and the Dirtbags a case of post-season poise would be nice.

Our hot stove league web wizard Jeffrey from his Dirtbag Blog reports that a Nor Cal baseball buff has the Beach picked pre-season 16. The report reads, “LBSU upset Stanford in the regionals last season, before [being] upset themselves by Arizona in the supers. Golden Spikes winner Jered Weaver was a first round draft pick, but last year's #2 starter Cesar Ramos (12-4, 2.29) is back to anchor the rotation. All of the key relievers return as well led by closer Neil Jamison (3-5, 4.35, 12 SV). Meanwhile at the plate, five offensive starters are back with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.317-7-44) again expected to lead the offense. Ramos will be an outstanding starting pitcher again for the Dirtbags, but numerous other players are going to have to step up for Long Beach to overtake Fullerton in the Big West.”
I think the Titans and the Beach will split it up as usual but Jeff and I agree that the Bags will need at least two outfielders, a first baseman and a catcher to perform well on both offense and defense. He adds, “The loss of Mike Hofius at first leaves a defensive void that will be tough to replace. And the D'Bags have got depth at catcher, but it remains to be seen what offense will come from the position.”

For basketball coach Larry Reynolds a home grown seven footer would be nice and we ran across a Californian over on the Islands who fills that bill, but wait, where have I heard that name Alex Graham before? Oh yes, that was last years gift and it was returned. So what for Mr. Reynolds, how about a giant can of white out to erase the pre-season and start the Big West race in with a fresh 0-0 mark. They start Tuesday and Thursday on the central coast tour at UCSB and SLO before home games again Pacific and CSUN.

Now back to the ladies side of the gift list, all Mary Hegarty really needs is a chemistry set to settle her talented club down and get wins. She has height, international experience, speed, and a favorable schedule the rest of the way. Incorporating new comers Hollans and Santos with her returnees, and finding time for talented Jeanie Saunders is a difficult formula but like a lot of your Christmas presents there is some assembly required.

Back to the inside net set, no gifts other than health is needed for newly minted AVCA Coach of the Year Alan Knipe and his powerful 2005 team and rightfully celebrated NCAA host coach of the century Brian Gimmillaro. You knew that Brian and his boosters would run a first class tourney and I would hate to the host site for the next few years and try and match the Long Beach experience that out of towners enjoyed. Plus the downtown cash registers will be smiling for a long time this spring.

Finally some stocking stuffers for the little people behind the scenes, like trainers Dan Bailey and Debbie Williams–maybe a year off from MRI’s, the academic tutors, maybe players turning stuff in on time, Events boss Michol Coppock –a chance to actually sit down during a game and Pat West and the friend-makers in fund-raising --people stopping by her desk to give a hug as well as a check.

And finally, a million bucks to the ever patient editing of Harry Salzgaver and the Gazette gang for opening up the space for our weekly chat. And Happy New year too.–DR. DAN


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