Sunday, February 27, 2005

HOMECOMING JUDGES, COLORS AND SPORTING NINERS ALL ON THE MOVE

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

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