Sunday, February 27, 2005


The leaves will not turn brown and gold this weekend but some of the alums will. It’s what they call homecoming at the Beach, minus football tail-gating, plus catered meals, minus floats and parades, plus those revisionist colors of black and gold.

For a school founded in 1949 there are not trunk loads full of history, but remembering President Maxson’s explanation for his athletic support, Long Beach State will put on their best face this Saturday when Homecoming '05 cranks up in front of the Pyramid. This is important because the Prez once said, I paraphrase, if people are going to judge us like a county fair, I want to have the prettiest pig on the porch. Translated, if the general public likes athletics, and later feels good enough to write a check, let’s have a good looking program. He also added something about watering the green spots but you get the drift.

The pre-party gets underway at 1, becomes really serious about 3 and goes inside at 5 for basketball. After parties, sure, the best should be when some of the old football group gathers around their indomitable lineman Darrell Wright. With attendees coming in from as far as Hawaii these almost senior citizens will marvel at the Mid, celebrating its tenth birthday, and the other new buildings on campus. They can even enjoy performances by the alumni band, “The Big Brown Music Machine” and wear what ever colors they wish, check books optional.

CATCH UP DUST-- When he was five Dirtbag Marco Estrada was pitching pebbles along the streets of Senora, Mexico. When he was 15, 16, and 17 he couldn’t make it off the Jayvee baseball team at Sylmar High. He finally made the varsity as a senior but nobody came calling. Things are better now.

In the shadow of names like Abe Alvarez, who now has a World Series ring for his one day in the bigs, and Jered Weaver, all universe last year, Estrada is the unknown gunslinger. Marco upped his record to 2-0, lowered his ERA to 1.59 and was part of outstanding weekend of pitching that led to a sweep of San Diego State, and at least some confidence restored as the Beach boys head to ranked Baylor this weekend,

For the weekend a lot of folks got experience, Mike Weathers used 18 different players on Sunday, and on Saturday, once he and third base coach Don Barbara were excused from the playing field by a thin-skinned and rabbit-eared ump, even a couple of assistants got some extra work. For SDSU coach Tony Gwynn it was a nightmare. In each of the first two games errors let Long Beach score the two unearned runs they needed and after the Friday loss his star reliever, who blew a cinch double play by throwing the ball to the backstop, punched the wall in the locker-room and broke three bones in his pitching hand.

On the more gentle side of the campus, the Beach softballers did not have a winning weekend but own the State of Texas. In the Palm Springs tourney they beat third-ranked Texas and 13th ranked Texas A & M and still are awaiting the eligibility of their best hitter.

Next number is zero which is the point on the pain scale that All America shortstop Troy Tulowitzki says he feels about his mended hand. The stitches came out on Monday and so far so good.

Last add Niner women. If they win their way into the NCAA Big Dance it will be because of Aisha Hollans. The fiery one leads Mary Hegarty’s team in per game points (16), rebounds (9) and trips to her doghouse. Only one team from the Big West will get an NCAA invite but the Beach could pick up the regular season title on their way to Anaheim by winning two road games this weekend, Thursday at Cal Poly and the big one, Saturday at Santa Barbara.—DR. DAN


Pardon my yawning but this post midnight Dusting comes after a day that began with Scott’s noisy garage sale, a trip to the post office to ship some books, baseball at Blair, tail gate pizza with Dr. John before women’s hoops, and out in time to catch the action in the neighborhood Saturday night poker game.

So off we go with no particular rhyme or reason. When he was five Marco Estrada was pitching pebbles along the streets of Senora, Mexico. When he was 15, 16, and 17 he couldn’t make it off the Jayvee team at Sylmar High. He finally made the varsity as a senior but nobody came calling. The unknown gunslinger upped his record to 2-0, lowered his ERA to 1.59 and the Beach won 2-1 without the Aztecs giving up a single earned run. Ditto from Friday. Neil Jamison closed this one for his second save. A former Niner, SDSU’s Alex Hinshaw--in town for Fall bal a couple of years ago, injured went to a JC, was signed by Texas, never got in and landed at the Steve Fischer home of all transfers SDSU—fell to 0-3 despite fanning seven and walking just one. He lost because with two outs in the second, Bradley got that one free pass moved to second on a single by Tito Cruz and when Chris Jones then hit an everyday fly to centerfielder Quintin Berry he dropped it and it was Berry Christmas for the second day in the row. Friday night two Dirtbags came home on an error. Saturday the offensive coaches were exiled to the locker room tunnel-not a bad field view from there-so Troy Buckley and Timmy Mac managed the rest of the winning business. That scenario came when the diminutive home plate ump Ruben Chivara tossed Dirtbag hitting coach Don Barbara and Head Coach Mike Weathers after an awfully high strike was called on Scott Bradley. “I guess I thought it was a bad call or otherwise they wouldn’t have me leave. What surprised me was that he really didn’t give Herman a chance to say anything.” I checked with a couple of golfers at Big Rec and they swear it was high too. Guess Tony Gwynn better be careful this afternoon--on second thought, I think Tony, a lock for the Hall in 2007, is ump-proof.

DUSTY NAPKINS—although Tennessee snuffed the Beach softballers in the Palm Springs morning game the No. 23-ranked homegirls got their biggest upset of the season, with a 1-0 win over No. 3 Texas and their All-American/Olympic Gold Medalist pitcher Cat Osterman…inside results included the Niner ladies and men both sending Idaho basketball teams packing to the WAC with nifty victories…speaking of famous faces, PT photo ace Cristina Salvador did a photo essay on the opinions of some Dirt a lock for the Hall in 2007bag faithful, Rhonda Nitschky, Bob and Carol York, Kristy Kierrulff and Rod Mitchell, and Daniel Robles…I think they were all quizzed about steroids but nobody confessed...or maybe it was about Canseco…numbers up…zero was the point on the pain scale that Tulo says he feels about his mended hand…stitches come out on Monday…more medical muses, Danny Mocny took infield today and trainer’s will evaluate…Cody Evans will get the Tuesday night start with Pepperdine in the annual Blair Butane festival…good guy and former Niner athletic genius Steve Holton is in the Final Four for the AD’s job at Indiana State…his chances are increased since the search committee has asked the spouses to come along…next LB in the news connection…Temple’s coach John Chaney was suspended for the rest of the regular season by former LBSU provost and now Temple president David Adamany …if the Niner women win their way into the NCAA Big Dance it will be because of Aisha Hollans…the fiery one leads Hegarty’s team in points, rebounds and trips to her doghouse…Scoring at home, or at least watching scoring…Justin Turner blasted two home runs and Fullerton defeated UNLV 10-4; Riverside clinched the series beating No. 9 Arizona 3-1; despite home runs by Jimmy Van Ostrand and JJ Owen Santa Clara beat SLO 8-5;; Pacific evened their series with the UCLA Bruins winning 7-5; A bases-loaded throwing error in the bottom of the ninth by the Anteaters allowed the game-winner to score Clemson in a 5-4 Tiger vic; Oregon State (8-1) defeated the UCSB 6-4; and because we have no ego, George Washington 5, Miami 4…kill the light on your way out.—DR. DAN

Saturday, February 26, 2005


SDSU starter Bruce Billings finished 2004 by winning in five straight starts for a 6-1 overall record. In 2004 Cesar Ramos was named second team All-American after going 12-4 with a 2.29 ERA over 19 starts. Both fellas threw their hearts out last night for eight innings, both struck out ten opponents, and both then handed it over to relievers.

In the top of the ninth the Beach’s Brian Anderson gave up a walk and a hit but held ‘em right there. In the bottom of the ninth Aztec reliever Shaun Burke gave up a walk and a hit but threw a sure double play ball to the backstop allowing the tying and winning runs to come home and permitting the LB part of the 1,323 to exhale. The win for the Niners (22nd ranked and now back to level at 6-6) saw the homeboys change from gift-giver last weekend to gift recipient. The W was set up when Aztec skipper Tony Gwynn sent out Billings to try the ninth despite 116 pitches. Four pitches later Brandon Godfrey had walked to lead off but Evan Longoria, trying to lay down a sacrifice, popped it back of the plate, where 6-2 catcher Jorday Swayden made a diving catch. One on one out. Godfrey tagged up and then Jamie Huizar singled right side before Jordan Struble walked to load the bases. Tito Cruz, 5-11, 190 struggling at the plate and not hitting his weight (.189 avg.) was supposed to make something good happen. Cruz’s comebacker to Burke was picked up without a problem but the throw was awful--high and wide--and suddenly it was game over, losing streak over, and Anderson a winner.

“Cesar pitched his best game of the year and kept us alive during an ugly streak,” a relieved Mike Weathers would note in post game. “We have been trying to get our hitters loose; we have tried in practice to be super aggressive, swing hard, kind of running playground games to take the pressure off our hitters. Maybe this will loosen our guys up.”

SCOREBOAD DUSTING-UC Riverside's first game in 2005 against a ranked opponent was a rollercoaster affair but the Highlanders out slugged #9 Arizona 12-8…it was the Wildcats second loss of the season and first defeat at home…no so Big West lucky was UCI when a pair of errors in the bottom of the eighth by the Anteaters allowed the eventual winning run to score as Irvine (6-3) dropped the series opener 3-2 at Clemson …more local woes felt by UCSB when Oregon State’s Dallas Buck and reliever Kevin Gunderson ruined the home opener 4-2…more road woe Fullerton scored early then UNLV got 4 in the 7th and 2 in the 9th to beat the Up-Titans 6-5…up north Stanford shutout USC 6-0, ASU beat upcoming foe Baylor 5-3, upcoming Houston beat LSU 2-1, upcomings UOP and UCLA are in Westwood and the Bruins beat the Tigers 9-0, and recently’s, Saint Mary’s and Cal, went 11 before the light was gone and left tied at 4-4…The Miami Hurricanes baseball team (9-2) ended its two-game losing streak in convincing fashion with a 12-1 win against George Washington…did I say that the road weary (they were in Gainesville last weekend) Canes have started a 12 game homestand…GW by the way has a great library...back to where are they’s how about a Coach’s Kid trivia quiz…Tony Gwynn’s son (always called Anthony after the PA did the Jr. bit during his first Aztec game and he went 0-4)…he’s now #11 for the Huntsville Stars, the Brewers AA team…and who was the most recent coach’s kid from LBSU?...answer follows... strikeout artist Alex Hinshaw, 11 Ks in 10.2 innings, goes against Marco Estrada,19 Ks in 20 innings, in what could be an offensive carbon copy of last night…oh well it was fairly fast—for college ball—2:57…conference comparisons--nobody in the MWC has a winning record while everyone in the BWC is at .500 or better except for CSUN who is 5-6 and weathered out in Reno yesterday…oh well there are those neon buildings with games inside I hear…and the trivia answer, last coach’s kid at LBSU…Casey Snow son of Dave and before that Johnny Gonsalves son of John…and we close with this hot news…a legendary Dirtbag has a deal and is going to the big league camp on March 4…that legend of course is Possum Nakajima who will be a trainer in Dodger town throughout the summer…no news on JW but if it isn’t soon I am taking over for Boras and getting the damn thing done—DR. DAN

Friday, February 25, 2005


He hasn’t swung anything other than a fungo since September 30, 2001 but every where the student baseball group from our sister institution in San Diego goes they are known as Tony Gwynn’s San Diego State Aztecs. And boy do they go places--that is part of their problem--but forgive Long Beach State if they worry about their own issues.

When your coach is a former major league all-star, a home town hero for 20-years with the San Diego Padres and a nice guy you get invites from coast to coast and in between. SDSU (2-8) opened the season getting swept by Texas, got the same broom from NC State in Raleigh last weekend and after a Tuesday with the Titans travel to Mobile for always tough South Alabama next weekend. LBSU meanwhile jetted out to a fancy 5-1 record before the Dirtbags turned into a MASH unit on spikes. Five losses later the coaches are a mix of medics and shrinks trying to give the Beach boys that feel- good-feeling again. The problem is that, as we noted last weekend numbers, lie. Cal came in with ERAs fatter than a Titan ego and went home with a gift sweep scoring 13 times on nine unearned runs. SDSU arrives with a similar chip on their shoulder and that spells danger again. Their pitching is young but talented. On offense the team is hitting .384, Garrick Evans sports a .385 average, Tim O’Brien, .367 and Evans, Clemson transfer, was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week going 7-for-17 (.412) with a home run, double, three RBI and four runs scored. The Propeller Heads on both team’s web boards are all second guessing the coaches but slow starts don’t forbid fast finishes—assuming the injured heal. Out this weekend is the surgically-repaired Tulo, the hobbling-hamstringed Boatright , crash Mocny who hit the wall, literally the outfield wall, in the fall and then re-banged his shoulder last weekend, and maybe Jamison who got a come-backer to his pitching arm. The bright news is that the national spotlight has not totally disappeared, the 49ers are ranked 22nd in this week's Sports Weekly/ESPN poll, is hitting .303 as a team with a still impressive 2.39 earned run average. The defense, well, stay tuned.

NEW STREAK DUST—Last weekend’s rotation of Ramos, Estrada and Hughes will stay the same going against Bruce Billings (RHP, 1-1, 5.87), Alex Hinshaw (LHP, 0-2, 9.28) and Andres Esquibel (RHP, 1-1, 5.27)…The LB vs. SD series began in the Niner’s year one, of baseball in 1956…the Weather-man explained the Boatright at bat with the bases loaded late Sunday as a “Kirk Gibson kind of thing. The trainers said that if we needed an at bat that might win the game we could use him.”…double play and a hobble back to the bench….for the fifth time in the last six years, SDSU has been picked to win the regular-season Mountain West Conference championship, the tough non-conference schedule is designed to help boost the MWC RPI but the Aztec players and their coach get tired of the team being known just for their skipper…

The NCAA will release on Monday the names of schools that have and have not met the new graduation rate targets…from the Miami Herald, “baseball, it seems, is the sport that will become most controversial in this formula, as top teams lose many of their players to the draft after three years, and many others transfer because the sport doesn't require players to sit out a year as with football and basketball”…”And even if a baseball player is in good academic standing, if he leaves early for the draft and has one course left to complete in the summer that he would have had he stayed, the team is penalized... obviously it's a system that still needs to have some things addressed to be a better accurate picture of a student-athlete's academic success. Baseball is one of our main concerns, as are basketball and football. There still needs to be some discussions about the individuals who leave in good academic standing. Our thing is you're penalizing kids for being good athletes when someone is throwing millions of dollars at them. If they leave and they're not in good academic standing, then we should be penalized and you're penalized for kids leaving in good academic standing.''

Speaking of leaving, I already miss seeing Armando Contreras hanging with the Prez…final note, make your Saturday a double dip and help break the women’s basketball crowd record tomorrow night in the ‘Mid…guaranteed good time.—DR. DAN

Monday, February 21, 2005


It was a weekend of opposite streaks around 49er-ville and that’s good and bad.

For baseball the winners at Blair field last weekend were visiting Bears from Cal Berkeley and the grounds crew who got up early, stayed late and performed turf magic to get three games. The groundskeepers beat back Mother Nature even though the Dirtbags rolled the tarp better than they did ground balls.

The good streak is this new Big West men’s basketball winning streak that hit three in a row after a season in which the team and the coach had been given up for dead. Victories over Riverside, Fullerton and Irvine raised the Niner nation flag at least in the Southland and a win in just one of the final two games with Santa Barbara and Cal Poly will save the season and the skipper.

Another not so good streak was experienced by women’s tennis who was styling along until they ran into some gamesmanship in Stockton. For the record the team lost 4-3 but as Paul Harvey said, there is the rest of the story. Our insider source said that the seven hour match began well enough with the Beach gals sweeping the doubles. After that even the coaches went searching for the rest rooms and when the came back UOP had made the unilateral decision to move the singles to an indoor facility (no rain had showed yet) a place which the home girls practice in regularly. Virtually nobody south of Wyoming plays college tennis inside but since the home team was already on the way over the Niners scrambled to find the new place.

They found it but the tiny indoor place put some very chippy fans very close to the guests from Long Beach heckling the LB players on court and the others sitting in the stand. For a team that is enjoying a classy and classic men’s basketball season you would hope for better behavior from their other teams.

The last streak we’ll mention is the good direction for Niner ladies hoops who invite you to help them set the all time women’s basketball attendance record Saturday night during an important game from a top tier Big West competitor Idaho. The Beach gals have a four game win streak, are sitting in second place and deserve some momentum as they try and steal the regular season title from those bully girls at Santa Barbara. So everybody bring two friends to the game Saturday night, set the record and have some fun, rain or shine.

BONUS DUSTING—A match race I would pay to see, Sean Boatright vs. his gal pal Charlene Deardorff, star sprinter from the track team. Of course Boats is still recovering from that pulled hamstring while the blonde blitzer recently ran a 7.51 60 meters winning the meet at NAU. Sean should play baseball again this weekend but Charlene will be on the track in Washington.

While pre-game field prepping made for a long weekend, the Niner baseballers were not too good in-game giving up ten unearned after allowing a mere 22 all last season. The cure may well be nice weather this weekend and the arrival of some slump busting medicine in the form of until now hapless San Diego State. One says hapless because the Aztecs and their celeb coach Tony Gwynn are a 2-8 and fresh from a southern spanking (lost all three) by North Carolina State in Raleigh. Games are 6:30, 2 and 1 this weekend.

Last add celeb coaches. They don’t work in the big city with bright lights but basketball boosters in Ames, Iowa and Blacksburg, Virginia love their Long Beach coaching imports this week. Former LB coaches Wayne Morgan—his Iowa State team beat Kansas-and Seth Greenberg--his Virginia Techsters upset Duke—are now the Cinderella’s for the NCAA tourney. Heck, while we’re bragging let’s take credit for launching the career of Arizona legend Lute Olson. Can you say cradle of coaches?—DR. DAN

Saturday, February 19, 2005


It was a contest of opposite streaks Friday night. Cal coming in off of two consecutive wins and the Bags after two consecutive losses. Make that three and three, not in favor of the home boys. “Cal looked like we wanted to, they moved runners, got some key hits, had good pitching and took advantage of mistakes”, Mike Weathers would say after a long post-game center-field circle. All that is in the past. The great thing about the grand old game is that you rinse that that losing feeling out of your hair (and your field) and start fresh today.

Game one will feature the Niners secret weapon, (on none of those pre-season all star lists) Marco Estrada makes his fourth appearance with the hopes that he and perhaps Anderson and Jamison can hold the Bears to say, six hits. Whoops been there and done that. Game two will get the first start by much bally-hooed Jared Hughes who was a potential first rounder as a high schooler but still seeking college kudos. The key to victory may be mental-the players need to get over the absence of injured hitters and start moving the metal.

Enough paralysis through analysis how about a brief recap of Friday night. Starter’s Adam Gold and Cesar Ramos had leaky D behind them but the second inning tally by Cal was earned. Six K’s, six hits and one walk in 98 pitches for Cesar. Gold worked seven innings, walking two and fanning three in his 110 hurls. Offensively the Beach was quiet for half a game. In the fifth Hernandez flared one to left where every step soaks your socks but then Ecker fanned before Jose heisted second (salute to Gordy Verrell). Velazco then worked a walk which brought up Chuck who gazed at strike three. Godfrey then got a boot by Holder at first to keep the frame alive for Longoria with a Bag on every bag and finally a turnabout is fair play and Evan knocks in Jose and the Mouse. Once again the Beach gets down early and begins a comeback. Anderson starts the seventh but in the top of the 8th it got scary for BA when a walk and a steal put Errecart in scoring position. Good news a shallow fly was gathered by a flying Fernandez in CF. With six outs still left the Niners still had chances but Bear closing ace Travis Talbott K’ed three in the 8th and another in the 9th and that was all she wrote.

DIAMOND DRY DUST- It was a Cruz decision to go for the force at second that elongated the Bear fourth and would end up costing Ramos two unearned runs…in the right field corner waiting for his cell to ring was former Niner Jered Weaver…bittersweet on the day that pitchers and catchers reported to camp for the Los Angeles Angels…match race I would pay to see, Sean Boatright vs. his gal pal Charlene Deardorff…of course Boats is still recovering from that pulled hamstring while the blonde blitzer recently ran a 7.51 60 meters winning the meet at NAU…Weathers on his defense…”we need to have a great ratio of strikeouts to walks and right now that hasn’t been of Dirtbag quality”…This Wednesday’s Weather Report Radio show from Cirivello’s may bring out the health department since there will be a mouse in the house…that of course is the popular terminator of fly balls Steve Velazco…great job by the Blair crew Friday afternoon with a nice assist from the pumps of Houston Bob and friends who sucked the water over the right field fence before they went to church (AKA the AI) and pumped some amber beverages…Huizar went 2-3 but is still struggling at the plate…the coaches think it’s adjusting to better pitching, reading off speed stuff, seeing better pitchers in D-1 ball…this falling behind stuff is getting to be a pattern, last weekend the Beach went down by five and came back to within a run, by four and came back to within a run and the same last night…could turn a coaches hair grey…or greyer…Tulo’s early analysis of his busted hand—hard to sleep on…more pitchers in the house… two Titans, Ryan Schreppel and Lauren Gagnier had the night off when SC was too soggy…Brian Anderson and Neil Jamison both kept their ERAs perfect with three more shutout innings…All you need to know about the shocking volley loss was that hitting errors (where have we heard that before) killed the comeback.—DR. DAN

Friday, February 18, 2005


In our public policy courses we often use a little paperback entitled “How to Lie with Statistics.” Critics of government (and we know who you are and where you sit) always figured that bureaucrats were up to something sinister but baseball will do that to you as well.

On paper the stats for our scholarly visitors from Cal Berkeley are miserable. Three starters with ERAs between 8.38 and 10.0, a very modest .265 batting average, and every other number (except their SATs) pretty pedestrian. Beware; these Bears are like objects in your rear view mirror, closer than you think. So let’s look at those numbers and names. Tonight the retooled lefty Cesar Ramos (2-1, 3.18) faces Cal righty Adam Gold (0-1, 10.03); tomorrow Marco Estrada (1-0, 1.80) gets moved up into Cody Evans’ place and faces Brandon Morrow (0-0, 8.38), while on Sunday Jered Hughes, off of a strong finish at USC, takes on Bear Eric Dworkis (0-1, 10.00). As a team the Berkeley’s were tabbed to finish seventh in the Pac-10 off of a 25-31 2004 season but they are on a roll beating LMU the final two games at Westchester this past weekend but lost two of three to Irvine the prior weekend. Their coach however has high hopes. “This team has talent - young talent," said head coach David Esquer who aims to bring the Bears back to their first regional since 2001. "We are going to have to rely on the progress of our young position players and improve the quality of our defense. The progress and development of our pitching staff will also be a key to our success. But, this is as motivated and hard-working a group as I've ever had. You mix that with our talent and we have a chance to surprise some people." See, objects can be closer and numbers often lie.

DOPPLER DUSTING-Cal’s amazing soph slugger Brennan Boesch (.385) and freshman infielder Josh Satin (.344) are on fire offensively and fellow sophomore Chris Errecart was picked as the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week for his LMU efforts….he went 7-for-13 (.538) with a double, two home runs and six RBI…and how about a terrible Thursday for UC Irvine...the Eaters were held to four hits and one run as BYU whipped the just nationally ranked Irvines 5-1…and the Cougars were playing their first game…at the same time, we will call it T time, the UCI men’s hoop coach Pat Douglass, who got a technical playing at the Pyramid last year, and has two in his last four games this season, killed his team’s comeback chances in that 55-50 BWC tourney clinching win for the Beach…and as expected the Niner ladies cruised to victory 66-47 despite playing time reductions as punishment to three LB stalwarts, Hollans, Saunders and Mack…and how did the different (7 p.m.) start time for the Thursday TV hoop show go…well KVMD play-by-play guy Geoff Witcher was MIA until the 16:45 mark of the first half and Don Ford had to go solo…and two anthem singers, including a costumed youth group, never got to warble…hope they could come and do a baseball game this spring…last add starting gate…very likely that due to field issues all three games at Pacific will be 11 a.m. affairs which isn’t fun for players or fans…the inside report on Tulo’s surgery is that the broken hamate bone was removed and sutures tie the tissue for ten days, then the first cast is replaced and with normal healing the pain goes away and the hitter returns by the opening BWC series against Riverside…elsewhere on the med front Sean Boatright will DH this weekend and then see when outfielding is back in the picture…Chuck had the same hand injury last year and he and the pro scouts have no concern at all about Tulo’s return to form…”you have to keep your cardio up but jogging is awkward with the cast so mostly you stay on the exercycle”… rain permitting these BWC games this weekend San Francisco at Cal Poly, Fullerton at USC; Northridge at Riverside; more BYU at UC Irvine; Santa Barbara at Fresno State; and Pacific at Hawaii…speaking of good numbers a bunch of Dirtbag baseballers were honored last night as Fall 2004 academic all stars--Boatright, Donnie Ecker, Steve Hammond, Cole Jacobsen, Chris Jones and the LBSU BWC all-academic poster boy Danny Mocny…his mug will be in the lobby at the BWC basketball tournament along with the Beach’s best female academic-athlete Nicole Bouffler who’s Niner tennis team hopes to go tomorrow at No. 67-ranked Pacific (5-1) and Sunday at No. 44-ranked Sacramento State…softball cancelled their trip to San Diego...last add travel…the 2006 D Bag road trips will include two-steppin’ in Texas, a series at Austin with UT and the Rice tourney in Houston—DR. DAN

Monday, February 14, 2005


The original and real Doctor Dan in my family was my dad’s uncle Dan, who along with his brothers Timothy (my granddad) and Maxfield (my middle name) practiced medicine back in West Virginia. My point is don’t take my medical advice vary seriously but there are two kinds of cholesterol, the good and the bad.

Same for today’s sporting malady—frustration, the good and the bad. The good frustration was evident in a full dose last Saturday, remarkably helping the Long Beach men’s basketball team get well, or at least well on their way to sneaking in the Big West Tournament next month.

Figuring that the CSUF Titan’s love to run and were leading the conference in scoring with every starter averaging double figures why not slow the game down and, er, ah, frustrate Fullerton?

After all the Titan’s had being running wild in winning their last five, three on the road, so why not change the music, and try a little “Sweet Georgia Brown”, the theme for that famous Harlem Globetrotter clock burning “weave”. Outcome, frustrated Fullerton is held to 63 points, 38.9% shooting and perhaps the LBSU hoop program has found some medicine to get themselves off of life-support and into the post season party.

Next entry in the frustration file has to be the Dirtbag baseball bunch. Twice last weekend the Beach boys got within a run of USC and twice it was too little too late. Mind you the Weatherman (Mike the coach) got to see a lot of players but until the trainer’s turn his power supply back on, returning sluggers Troy Tulowitzki and Sean Boatright, the pressure will be on pitching and defense.

On the other diamond the other field boss Pete Manarino is off to a good start but is still awaiting eligibility clearance of slugger Oli Keohohou. His team is a nifty 7-3 on the season but privately the skipper reveals that with the BYU transfer his team might be 10-0.

Back inside, the much discussed Mary Hegarty-Aisha Hollans moment of frustration came when the 49ers watched CS Northridge use an 18-7 run to get back in a game and win 66-63. A different result and the Beach gals would be in first place heading for a showdown with Santa Barbara for an outright title. Lack of defense by player Hollans frustrated Coach Hegarty but the final chapter is yet to be written and if the lesson was learned then this Niner basketball team might be the first in a decade to make the big dance. The men last went in 1995 and the women last partied in 1992 and that’s too long for any kind of frustration.

FINISHING DUST—The bright side of the baseball story is that coaches have already looked at 16 hitters and 11 pitchers, something that frankly the club wished they had done earlier last year. The dark side, an average of 10 Dirtbags per game left on the base bags. Another PAC 10 team is up next when Cal comes in for a Friday, Saturday and Sunday series.

The basketeers meanwhile are down to their final six contests, with Irvine and Davis next up, the men here and the women there. Likely Larry’s lads are in the BWC tourney with one more win, that being over Cal Poly, although also beating Irvine would seal the deal. The ladies are looking to get a top seed with a bye to the semis.

No word from Cal Tech on a Richter scale reading from that home plate collision Sunday afternoon between 5-9, 158 pound outfield mouse Steve Velazco and USC’s 6-2, 220 pound catcher Jeff Clement. Clement blocked the plate, denied a game-tying tally but Velazco popped up with a smile.

Our closing quote is from Seattle Times columnist Dwight Perry, on the UCLA basketball team's “poor attendance at Pauley Pavilion or as Bruin fans refer to the sight of all those empty seats: Pauley unsaturated.''—DR. DAN

Friday, February 11, 2005


Last month LBSU hosted the college baseball media day and SC’s Mike Gillespie was moaning about having to spend the season reading newspaper clips about Dirtbag pitching in general and Jered Weaver in particular.

As we noted in the Dust a year ago, “It was Friday the 13th and even without Jered Weaver striking out 10 straight batters in front of the Blair Field crowd of 3,163, you had the feeling that the 2004 Dirtbags could care less about their occasional offense as long as pitching and defense save the day. Just like their puzzled PAC 10 brethren from California, USC could only get two hits and one score while Weaver was on the mound and when he finally retired, after 97 pitches, 74 strikes and 14 Ks, the closing combo of Brett Andrade and Neil Jamison slammed the door with three more strikeouts and hardly a long foul ball.” Gosh that was fun. Fast forward to this year and it looks like the Boys of Troy have this pitching thing figured out themselves. From the USC web site, “Five Trojan pitchers struck out 16 batters in a combined shutout as the Trojans opened the 2005 baseball season with a 6-0 non-conference shutout of the San Diego State Aztecs Tuesday at Dedeaux Field.” It was the first opening day shutout for USC since 1988. The mound masters included Brett Bannister who earned the win, Junior transfer Jack Spradlin who had the best effort with three innings and even today’s starter Ian Kennedy, (pitcher-of-the-year rival of Cesar Ramos) stuck out the side in the ninth. Trojan bats only got eight hits but racked up six runs, paced by Matt Cusick who reached base three out of his five at-bats (one hit and two walks). Third baseman Billy Hart and catcher Jeff Clement also had extra base hits. The game was quick, a mere 2:41 but the attendance was only 702. Meanwhile the Beach boys already have six contests in the books, are ranked just outside the top ten and 5-1 on the season after a series sweep at home at Blair over a game Saint Mary's squad. That brought flu-ailing Mike Weathers’ record to 126-63 as he starts season number four, but already he has had to use the eraser on his 2005 lineup card missing his three and four hitters, Junior shortstop All-American Troy Tulowitzki (hand injury, who was hitting .526 (10-for-19) on the season and junior outfielder Sean Boatright (hamstring). The rest of the 49ers are batting .326 as a team and using stingy pitching again, a 2.67 ERA. The weatherman, not Mike, of course knew that pitcher’s prefer Blair so the original Friday starters will work the wide-open spaces today. Ian has that one perfect inning and Ramos is 2-0 on the season with a 2.25 ERA (12 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 9 SO).

ELEPHANT DUSTING--how can you go through a session of dusting without us picking on the Titans…seems that at their well attended opening series with Satanford last weekend there were no game programs, no media guide and no little FM Stadium Booster for their internet broadcast…from a whiner on their web board, “for the 50+ scouts in the stands watching the games...we have the biggest crowd in a two day span (over 6500) not to capitalize by having marketing material for sale about our squad, how much MONEY has the university lost just this weekend alone? at $10 per media guide over $50,000 plus, 2 days worth of programs @ $1.50 a piece over $6,000 dollars...and what’s up with the field? Parts of the field looked deader than my gopher infested front lawn”…Titan true bloods are meaner on CSUF than I am…The BWC sked this weekend, Northridge-UCLA, SLO-Pepperdine, UCSB-San Jose and CSUF-Fresno State, Riverside-Nevada and UOP in the River City Classic…Troy is ranked # 34…our Saturday guess is that Cody Evans (0-0, 1.54) will look for his first D-I win against righty Zack Kalter…the Bags moved up in all three national polls this week, ranking as high as No. 12 in Sports Weekly and Collegiate Baseball, No. 17 in Baseball America…and now for my pal Jason P of USC, this note from Seattle Times columnist Dwight Perry, on the UCLA basketball team's poor attendance at Pauley Pavilion: ``Or, as Bruin fans refer to the sight of all those empty seats: Pauley unsaturated.''—DR. DAN

Sunday, February 06, 2005


After weekends with Devils in the desert, (Arizona State in Tempe) and Angels in Blair Field (Saint Mary’s), college baseball gets real serious this weekend when Long Beach State takes on recently-suffering but perennially-powerful Southern California.

Standing proud at 5-1, the Niners go to SC after having to come from behind twice to sweep the Gaels in their home opener but without the heart of their offense Sean Boatright and Troy Tulowitzki. Boats sunk to his knees with a bad hamstring at ASU and last Saturday a freak hand injury led Tulo to the training room for as much as a month. “If there is anything good about this” one insider noted, “these things are coming early.” And he might add, there is a pretty impressive set of spare parts in the Dirtbag dugout.

One good place to see that is the stat sheet where 17 different players have contributed on offense, ten pitchers on defense, nine Niners have stolen bases and several are newcomers coming up large. On Sunday Tom Sarti, who did not even make the traveling squad to Arizona went 2-4 and drove in three runs and stole a base, the trademark of Dirtbag baseball.

The Trojans brain-trust, who played their first game on Tuesday, spent the weekend in the bleachers at Blair filling up a couple of notebooks. They know all about the Friday night ace of the Beach pitchers, Cesar Ramos, and will send their best arm, Ian Kennedy, against him. Both men were on the USA team last season. Kennedy fanned 40 in 26 innings with the USA squad so expect more radar guns Friday night than at a CHP convention. Games are Friday at 6:30 down there, Saturday at 2 here and Sunday back at USC.

DIAMOND KING DUST--The No. 19-ranked Long Beach State softball team improved to 4-1 on the season last weekend and play at Stanford this weekend. The Beach is one of only eight schools around the nation to be ranked in the Top 20 in both softball and baseball. The others are big buck programs at LSU, Texas, Stanford, Washington, Georgia, Florida State and Arizona

Just like the spare parts that the baseball bunch has to call upon, chats with insiders on Super Sunday expect more people moving around the Beach in the near future.

The latest announcement came from baseball booster Jimmy Mac, wearing Philadelphia Eagle green at the lively party at Coach’s Sports Grill who will move to Las Vegas after the season. The game was good but the party was even better since Stan Anderson has added lobster to the menu on weekends so I could pass on the hot dogs and chicken wings. Beyond the coming and goings of friends and alums, you can also look for movements inside the org chart of 49erville, with repercussions beyond even that hot topic of men’s basketball.

Speaking of hoops, with only three wins this season you can understand why teams losing to LB, such as Idaho a couple of weeks ago, can get upset. After Larry’s lads beat them the Vandals lived up to their name. Upset with the upset they put their sneakers to the music cases of the Niner pep band and caused several hundred dollars in damage..

Last add anger management, you might have read that former LBSU coach Seth Greenberg’s Virginia Tech team was killed at Duke and he was ejected with his second technical foul. He refused to comment specifically about the officiating after the game…"I feel bad for my wife and daughters because obviously I embarrassed them and that's not something I wanted to happen," Greenberg said of the ejection. "I'll say this. I did not use profanity, until I was tossed." Timing is everything Seth and I know the understanding Dr. Jerry Buss is waiting for your resume—DR. DAN


Welcome to Super Sunday and our spare parts edition of Diamond Dust. Like the Martha Stewart menu from the Grey Bar Hotel, sometimes a winning effort requires substituting an ingredient here and there.

Saturday for example newcomer Evan Longoria was on the bench observing a taut little thriller between the Niners and Saint Mary’s when all universe short stop Troy Tulowitzki skied a pop-up to first that the Gael’s dropped. It was just confusing at the time since the LB runner scooted on home only to be sent back since the ump ruled that the goof occurred in foul territory. Tulo was later walked and nobody suspected anything until he was pulled the next inning due to extreme pain in his left hand. It seemed that he had injured that hook bone in his hand and even a tough guy had to give it up.

Back to Evan, he came in and played the position defensively like a perfect spare part and then, in the first extra inning experience for the Bags, banged a lead-off double over third and started an inning that would result in LB winning it’s second series of the season with a 2-1 escape over SMC. After Longoria’s big rap Weather’s went Snow Ball with a bunt that nobody could get, the Gael’s loaded the Bags with Bags via the intentionally walk before another spare part, pinch hitter Chris Jones, laid down a perfect suicide squeeze and the 49er faithful filed out feeling happy and relieved.

Speaking of great relief, there was more of that for the Beach on Saturday in the form of Brian Anderson (2.0 innings, 3 Ks and no hits) and Neil Jamison (1 inning, 1 hit, 1 K and the W). The first seven innings was quite the duel between the impressive heat of the Dirtbag Saturday Special Cody Evans throwing heat and the Gael’s Joel Fountain throwing, well, puzzling slow stuff that had more curves and bends than your Hooter’s waitress.

SUNDAY MY DUST WILL COME—SMC’s Fountain tired in the eighth inning after 101 pitches in his D-I debut…an error and a walk got him in trouble and Tito Cruz tied the affair with a clutch hit right side...Evans tossed 81 pitches, 50 through the first five innings…Tulowitzki had know immediate swelling but saw the docs after the game to e-ray for a break…if it is that hook bone the repair is pretty standard and might only cost him a couple of weeks…the Beach had but eight hits after lust hitting at ASU…the Niner average through the first five is .321 while the opponents are hitting .265…of course there is this little matter of averaging 10 men per contest left on base…as usual the team ERA is brilliant, 2.20 to the other guys 4.87 but it is awfully early…if Norm Chow does bolt USC for the NFL Trojan baseball boss Mike Gillespie loses a secret weapon…he told the media day throng that “Norm Chow has agreed to become our offensive coordinator."…USC starts their season Tuesday with SDSU…in their 5-2 win over CSUN Niner tennis showed some depth when fiery Claudia Argumendo came in replacing Sandra Rocha, who missed the match due to a family emergency, and won going away 6-1, 6-1…after spending half of Thursday night in Mary Hegarty’s dog house, Senior guard Aisha Hollans had a stat line to brag about last night with 17 points, eight steals, eight assists and seven rebounds as LBSU crushed Pacific 74-48…meanwhile in Stockton our men go the other end of that romping stuff losing on TV 87-58…the Weather report, “I was pleased about the way that we kept creating things and didn’t give in to the frustration that guy gave us…finally I decided that we just needed to get it done so we squeezed”…today’s starter will be Marco Estrada opposed by whatever is left of all those SMC right-handers but expect Jared Hughes to get in for LB now that all his issues are settled…he looked big (6-7, 230) in pre-season stuff and throws very hard and with Anderson and Jamison already worked twice it should be his turn…he was a rumored top draft choice out of HS before he dropped in draft status when he decided to go to college, first at Santa Clara, alma mater of Niner pitching whiz Troy Buckley, then the Beach…from the scoreboard Cal Poly 8, San Jose State 7; Fullerton 4, Stanford 3, next week’s visitors California 5, UC Irvine 4 (11); UC Riverside 7, San Diego 4; Nevada 1, Pacific 0; Arizona State 10, Gonzaga 8 and…nah, can’t go there every game—DR. DAN

Friday, February 04, 2005


Baseball made simple. Under three hours, almost balmy. Your starter Cesar Ramos goes six scoreless and two out of three of his pen friends give the Gaels nada. Number 14 wins 5-1and the offense bangs out 13 hits with nary an error.

“We said that coming in we wanted to reduce our strikeouts” Dirtbag skipper Mike Weathers would offer post game and until the seventh only two Ks. “I like the effort by Jamie Huizar and Steve Velaczo who really battled for their hits (two each.” In all the Niners had six guys with two hits, adding Tulo, Chuck, Tito and Brandon to the parade. And what about Senor Ramos? “It’s pretty nice when you can be successful as he was without your really good stuff.” Yeah through six CR was at least OK. Andrade followed without success but that made it even more interesting for the home fans that had never seen Steve Hammond and Andrew Liebel who settled Saint Mary’s down and closed with a flurry of fans and fly outs. Fore the record the Beach boys scored first in the first when an RBI single drove in one and the margin was upped to 3-0 after RBI singles from Godfrey and Velazco. The insurance, not needed on this night, came in the seventh provided the scoring when a two-run double from Sindlinger made it 5-1 and set the stage for our righty Cody Evans vs. their righty Joel Fountain today and maybe just maybe the first mound sighting of the big boy from Santa Clara Jared Hughes.

PICK UP DUST—The Mid will be buzzing tonight with not only with lady’s basketball but also a bleacher full of good-deed doers in the form of a bunch of Long Beach Girl Scouts. The difference, the players shower and go home but the scouts don’t shower, continue eating and spend the night. See, Duke has fans who spend the night waiting to get in the gym and Long Beach has fans who spend the night before they can leave the gym….color Idaho as upset and flunking music appreciation….after Larry’s lad beat them two weeks ago the Vandals lived up to their name…upset with the upset they put their sneakers to the music cases of the pep band and caused several hundred dollars in damage...I say flunk them all!...speaking of temper tantrums you read that Seth Greenberg’s Virginia Tech team was killed at Duke…Greenberg was ejected from the game with 4:39 left after receiving his second technical (he received one in the first half). He refused to comment specifically about the officiating after the game…"I feel bad for my wife and daughters because obviously I embarrassed them and that's not something I wanted to happen," Greenberg said of the ejection. "I'll say this. I did not use profanity, until I was tossed."…timing is everything Seth and I know Dr. Buss is waiting for your resume… almost over-shadowed in the Bobby Crosby excitement is the bright prospects for Jeremy Reed now in the employ of the Seattle Mariners. The Seattle papers expect JR to be the everyday center fielder, “playing the same position for the same team of his childhood idol, Ken Griffey Jr. "A lot of guys are penned in," said M's general manager Bill Bavasi.”We've penciled him in."…ink is better…Saint Mary's travels to Sacramento in the River City Classic next weekend opening against Pacific on Friday, then playing Sacramento State and UC Davis…now some notes on today’s Beach starter Mr. Evans…in the Cape Cod League last summer he struck out 41 and walked just 16 over nine starts and 51.1 innings….At Golden West he was ranked fourth in the state in ERA, producing a 2.98 ERA over 84.2 innings, which included a 9-2 record over 11 starts and three complete games… also had three saves… ranked amongst the state’s leaders in wins and strikeouts… gave up 83 hits and struck out 78 and walked just 17… named first team All-Orange Empire as a sophomore… team won the Orange Empire in 2004… went 1-0 with a 6.59 ERA as a freshman over 13.2 innings... gave up 15 hits... struck out 14 and walked five with a .268 opponent batting average…oh yes his high school team won the CIF Championship in 2001…from the Friday scoreboard UC Irvine 10, California 1, San Diego 7, UC Riverside 1; Nevada 5, Pacific 4, CSUF 5, Stanford 3 and that breath-taking score you have been waiting for…Miami 12, High Point 5… and when that’s all the news that fits we print—DR. DAN

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Last weekend a duel in the desert with Devils so naturally this weekend a home date with Angels, or at least the Saint Mary's baseball bunch called the Gaels.

Like opening a Broadway play in New Haven, the 2005 cast of Long Beach State baseball went on the road to work out the kinks in their new production, won the series from #9 Arizona State and got rave reviews from a mob of pro scouts. Tonight the show opens on the Dirtbag main stage at Blair field where the Niners (40-21 in 2004) are heavy favorites over a Gael force that was only 14-41 last year.

The Beach's inspiring opening in Arizona included what wedding planners call “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue”. The “old” were returning stars like the infield workers Troy Tulowitzki, Chuck Sindlinger and Danny Mocny supporting the mound work of Cesar Ramos and set-up and shut-down relievers Brian Anderson, Neil Jamison and Brett Andrade. The “new” came in the form of outstanding pitching from new guys Cody Evans and Marco Estrada and an out-of-no where reliever named Steve Hammond. The offense also came up with some new muscle in JUCOs Evan Longoria, Jordan Struble and freshman surprise Jose Hernandez. The “borrowed” was the traditional move ‘em over and hit ‘em in offense that the Bags have used in the past that ain’t perfect yet but has outstanding promise.

In the mind of hitting coach Don Barbara there are still too many runner’s left on and too many strikeouts but 24 runs in three games from a top ten team at their place is evidence that the future is bright. Oh yes, we save the “blue” for the curious-calling Pac Ten umpires who at times were scarier than the Devils. SMC has a little scare in the form of hitters Sam Carter and Delaney Gallagher who had outstanding sophomore campaigns. Gallagher has switched to third base this year over from first where he hit a team-leading .330 in 55 games and recorded 16 doubles and 28 RBI. The X factor for SMC will be junior college transfers--12 of them including five pitchers. If the Beach keeps up their eight runs per game output you will likely you will see all of them by Sunday.

FINISHING DUST— The pitching plan is LB lefty Cesar Ramos (1-0, 4.50) against Gaels righthander Kevin Trouchez, then our JUCO pitcher (Golden West) product Cody Evans (0-0, 1.93) against SMC’s righthander Joel Fountain and then back to Marco Estrada (1-0, 1.50) on Sunday against who ever is left for the Gaels…now some special stats gleaned from the Dirtbag baseball blog…for the series ASU gave more doses than the flu clinic hitting eight batters, missed five other times with wild pitches and committed four physical errors and a bunch of mentals, i.e. picked off runners and giving up an extra base with poor outfield technique. The Niners hit .336 (39 hits in 116 at bats) and worked the Devil pitchers for 7 walks…sad news this week is that a friend and fixture at 49er events for decades, Al Fujimoto, passed away over the weekend…Vietnam vet, respected banker, tireless fund-raiser and volunteer, Al was always front and center on the scorer’s table and the press box and working for his alma mater behind the scenes…services at 10 a.m. tomorrow…in hoops last night both teams lost to CSUN but the baseball note is that last year’s Dirtbag trainer Tyler Hickok has hooked on with the Matadors and covers the lady hoopsters…More trainer news…latest medicine man is Nate Peck who of course had a short honeymoon when Sean Boatright pulled a hammy and will likely miss CF work until either the Cal or SDSU series…no polls this week but next week they return…games of note around here are Northridge @ UNLV; Nevada @ Pacific; Pepperdine @ UC Santa Barbara; San Diego @ UC Riverside; San Jose State @ Cal Poly; Stanford @ Cal State Fullerton; Texas @ San Diego State 6 pm; UC Irvine @ California; and last weekend’s foe ASU hosting New Mexico State…More on schedules…Boyd’s world has named the folks with the toughest road to Omaha and they include USC at 1, UCLA at 3, CSUF at 4, UCSB, 5, UCR 10, LB at 12, UCI 14, SLO at 16 and even CSUN at #18. As they say on Cops-- life in the West is tough—DR. DAN