Monday, June 13, 2005


Considering the length of my June Gloom to-do list, maybe it is just as well that I missed that trip to Oregon State last weekend. The local time in Corvallis is 1958 and no way that I could go up there and still pounded through my end-of-semester, end-of-career check sheet.

After 30 years at LBSU, I took the golden grip and will now be sort of a snow bird, heading to Florida six months at a time, usually September to February, then back here for more baseball, the end of hoops, and whatever else is on the sporting menu. I figure by February we may have filled the big three positions on campus, (in apparent order of importance to fans) athletic director, men’s basketball coach, and President.

In the mean time the bosses at the Gazette will let me write the first of each month starting in August, likely one of those “where are they now” columns with a little rumor control mixed in. When the Dirtbags return to action I will pick up the weekly assignment that I have enjoyed the past few years. Meanwhile, let’s wrap up the 2005 business starting Dirtbags in the Major League draft.

First up shortstop Troy Tulowitzki became the highest-ever 49er draft choice, going seventh overall to the Colorado Rockies who employ former LB coach Dave Snow as a scout. Snowman said he took that job when he learned who owned the team (Coors beer). The other high pick was pitcher Cesar Ramos the 35th overall pick San Diego. The eight Bags drafted in the first day tied with Arizona for the school with the most selections in day one.

Another Padre choice was first team All-American Neil Jamison, followed by Marco Estrada, Steve Hammond, Cody Evans, Brian Anderson, Chris Jones and finally slugger Sean Boatright. Boats has told us that he and fellow slugger Jordan Struble will play in a Orange County college leaguer this summer and look for bigger bucks after the 2006 season.

So our teams wrap up 2005 with no post-season glory but once again the Beach keeps its title as the number one party school in the land. Hold on, I’m talking about those nice NCAA parties such as the Blair Field baseball regional where everybody heaped praise on the locals, from employees like Steve Janisch and Cindy Masner to super boosters like Les Robbins, Randy Gordon, Houston Bob and too many others to mention. On the heels of the great job that Brian Gimmillaro and the above community folks did at the women’s volleyball championships, there is no doubt that Forty Niner-ville is destination one for NCAA post season events, even if we end up giving out the hardware and not getting it.

Last add my schedule, this Fall I will visit with those headline-hunting Miami Hurricanes such as novice motorcyclist Kellen Winslow. Emergency room nurses have a nickname for motorcycle drivers; they call them ''Organ Donors.'' Another Hurricane mis-step was by Clinton Portis who stiffed teammate Ifeanyi Ohalete on a deal to buy his number. That reminded Miami writers of Giants punter Jeff Feagles who persuaded Eli Manning to pay for a $12,000 family vacation in exchange for his No. 10, which Manning wore at Mississippi. Feagles switched to No. 17, which has since been bought by Plaxico Burress, who will pay for Feagles' new outdoor kitchen. Feagles is perfectly willing to sell his current No. 18. “I think a golf trip to Ireland or Scotland might be on the horizon,'' he told The New York Daily News.”

Our closing quote is from a UCLA alum who often leaves before the final, whistle, buzzer or batter. "Well, if we can't beat the opponent, at least we can beat the traffic!"—DR. DAN

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Blair Field said goodbye to the college kids Monday night and will get ready for their pro tenants next week when the Long Beach Armada finally gets a home game. You will know they are in town when you see a pirate ship just beyond the left field wall and plenty of room in the stands.

The Long Beach NCAA Baseball Regional was highly successful at the box office and concession stands. Inside the chalk, well nothing came easy and the curtain was dropped on Dirtbag 2005 with a dose of disappointment. The positives were great crowds all weekend, including a record 3,233 Saturday night. Even without beer sales the concessionaire and his landlord, LB Parks and Rec, made a bundle as did the NCAA who I think has become fond of 49erville as a post-season venue.

The flip side is of course that Mike Weathers and his LBSU team would have preferred to not be such a gracious host on the field. On Friday the 49er faithful were mildly amused when an assortment of Rhode Island mistakes led to an eight run outburst early enroute to an 11-2 win.

Saturday night momentum shifted dugouts and despite a gritty comeback the Beach boys could not overcome the cardinal, gold and blue. The first two colors are those of the Southern Cal Trojans and the blue, well there was this Estrada-squeezing home plate ump and a rush to a bad judgment by blue’s brother at first. In the books it goes as a 6-4 Ian Kennedy win, no shame there, but a plethora of errors, mental and physical. Sunday the Beach was as flat as that unsold keg of beer and lost to Pepperdine when once again the Niners dug a hole, couldn’t climb out and the Bags packed their bags for the season.

In his post game press conference Weathers said that the numbers from this season were about what he expected before the outstanding pitching raised national eyebrows. “I never figured that our pitching would be that good but we just couldn’t get our hitting and fielding up to that level.” And next year skipper, “we got some good kids coming back but we will have to see what the draft does to us.”

Three signees have attracted pro attention but all of them were recruited because Weathers and chief talent scout Troy Buckley have a hunch they will pass on anything other than a big pay day and come to college. The best of the new hurlers is Vance Worley, a strong arm with a variety of pitches. Insiders feel he could be a Friday starter by his sophomore year. A raw mound talent is Bryan Shaw, all the physical tools but in need of grooming by the Buckley pitching academy. The best of the recruited hitters is Andy Lopez who some say is in the mold of D-bag center fielder Sean Boatright.

Mention of Boats of course brings up the guys who will return. “I hope they all come back”, said Weathers of his 14 juniors but for sure Troy Tulowitzki. Marco Estrada and Cesar Ramos will sign and go. Boat is 50-50 to stay and anchor the outfield but with just 98 healthy games in three years he may not want to risk never having a pro bus ride and take what ever MLB offers. Even then the Beach will return with three fourths of the infield, Sindlinger, Longoria, and Godfrey, with Longoria likely moving to short opening up third for another JUCO slugger.

The pitching staff returns 6-7 Jared Hughes who has blossomed as a power pitcher, junior Cody Evans who at least got a lot of schooling this season, and freshmen Matt Fitts, Donnie Hume and Andrew Liebel. The cupboard will be different in 2006 but it won’t be bare. –DR. DAN


Forty Niner baseball fans (we use the official nickname since big crowds have a lot of pre-1989 Dirtbag era followers) were mildly amused Friday night when an assortment of Rhode Island mistakes led to an eight run outburst early. Saturday night the shoe was on the other foot and despite a gritty comeback the Beach boys could not overcome the cardinal, gold and blue.

The first two colors are those of the Southern Cal Trojans and the blue, well there was this Estrada-squeezing home plate ump and a rush to a bad judgment by blue’s brother at first. In the books it goes as a 6-4 Ian Kennedy win, no shame there, but a plethora of errors, mental and physical, that sets of a very busy 24 hours at Blair just like it will be in F-land, 6-5 losers to Arizona.

At Blair Friday was an evening for executing a plan against an opponent who’s RPI (222) recalled a sitcom of the same number, Saturday night was thermo-nuclear war where little went to form especially a shocking four run fifth. In the stands on one side were the well-heeled escaping-from-LA USC aristocrats mocking the clean-living, hard working, 49er faithful. Fortunately the turnout of Pepperdine fans we see today is more modest in numbers and attitude. Veteran Cesar Ramos finally gets the call for LBSU opposed by talented Wave freshmen Barry Enright who already has a 9-1 record. Barry was the WCC freshmen of the year, Cesar, albeit a long shot, made the final cut for National Player of the Year. Game two at 5 would be Jered Hughes, but first games first. Last night sophomore right-hander Ian Kennedy went 8 1/3 innings and closer Paul Koss struck out All-America shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with two outs and runners on the corners Saturday in that disappointing 6-4 result. A record crowd of 3,233 witnessed one of LB’s shakiest gun fights in many a year. A game Marco Estrada (8-3) took the loss but he could have sued his usually great defense for non-support. In the bottom of the second, USC won the home team coin flip, Troy boy Hector Estrella hit a tailor-made double play ball to short but Sindlinger's throw bounced in the dirt and into the D-bag dugout as two runs scored for the Trojans. LB had an answer in the third on Sean Boatright's RBI double to left, scoring right fielder Steve Velazco. USC intentionally walked Tulowitzki for runners at first and second with two outs then Kennedy got Evan Longoria to pop to center. The game got tied in the fourth when Jose Hernandez hit a fly ball that three USC fielders lost in the lights and it fell for a double. Sindlinger then blooped a single to center to make it a 2-2 contest. In the fateful fifth Vieira was hit by a pitch as the lead off and but the sac by Estrella worked when Brandon Godfrey’s throw to make the force at second was ruled, that blue crew again, too late. One out later the home crowd gasped as Buck and Weathers sent out lefty Steve Hammond to play the percentages to get lefty hitter Matt Cusick. It didn’t work and now all the Niner fans were sick too. He singled, as did Jeff Clement and when the throw from right field got past Longoria one more was in and then more misery as Hammond's wild pitch plated another SCer.

In the 8th Kennedy hit Tulo followed by Longoria's RBI double. He scored on an RBI groundout by Chris Jones and the lead was now just 6-4. The ninth however was more bad news. Pinch-hitter Tom Wolf knocked out Kennedy with a single up the middle, Jacobsen then singled pinch-runner Tom Sarti to third but Troy reliever Paul Koss got Tulo a 1-2 fastball to end the game and set up the need to win three in a row to advance.

SUNDAY MY DUST WILL COME—web posters lamented the loss saying, “the B.S. call at first base in the top of the 9th ... SC 3rd baseman made a good snag on a grounder, did a 360 degree turn to make the throw to first, pulled the 1st baseman off the bag ... our guy was called out. Not sure why we didn't wave Mocny into home in the 9th, if you're gonna put a PR in then put his feet to work - would have scored easily”…Meanwhile on Nutwood Fullerton stranded 17 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the ninth inning, as second-seeded Arizona escaped with a 6-5 victory over the top-seeded Titans in a winner's bracket game on Saturday night in front of a Goodwin Field record-crowd of 3,654….The Titans entered the bottom of the ninth trailing, 6-3. They scored twice and had the bases loaded with no outs but failed to score another….Tuffy now plays Missouri who’s Tigers scored in six of the first seven innings Saturday to beat Harvard, 14-6…Arizona, who improved to 39-19 overall awaits in the nightcap… ironically if the Cats win and ASU also does the super regional would match UA with the Sun Devils… First things first, beat Pepperdine or the Bags pack their bags, hug teammates and end the season early—DR. DAN

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Jose Hernandez came to the ball park Friday an unknown soldier. A batting average just a bit higher (.196) than his weight (170). In the press room the computer spits out pretty name tags anticipating the stars of the game. Sometime about the fifth inning the media guys had to get out a magic marker and make one for Jose because he single-handedly lifted the Beach to a scintillating 11-2 win over the Atlantic 10 Champion Rhode Island Rams and at the same time altered the name tag on skipper Mike Weathers from “what is he thinking” to “genius.”

Hernandez, an almost forgotten freshman was half of the stunning lineup twist that Weather’s offered up in the expectation of a long hard weekend. The other half of the equation was the almost forgotten Cody Evans who, like Jose, worked early in the season then primarily rode the pine. Hernandez’s line, from the nine hole, 3-5, a run scored and 5 RBIs. Evans, 7 innings, six hits, 2 runs, 6 Ks and a recovery from predictable first inning wobbles. “I always seem to have trouble in the first but Jose really helped me to settle down” Evans noted post game. Jose, who sheared away any Ram hope of an upset with a second inning three run bomb delivered to the fire guys beyond the left field wall, just gushed said his eyes got real big when he saw the Dirtbag welcoming committee waiting at home plate. “I just loved it when those guys started pounding on my head.” And his secret for getting prepared? "I was nervous, but my teammates, coaches and Ken Ravizza helped me settle down. This was the biggest game of my career so far and I had to stay calm." That makes sense since he had not had a hit since March 6 and made the most of his first start since April 20. Evans with his first LB win matched career-highs with seven innings and six strikeouts before handing the ball off to reliever Matt Fitts and Brett Andrade who threw blanks at URI in the eight and ninth, saving the big relievers Anderson and Jamison for another day, likely today. Other big bats for the Beach were catcher Chris Jones who drove in a pair of runs, hitting 2 for 3, Evan Longoria, three hits and an RBI, Boats a massive homer, and a triple by Godfrey. Tulo’s line was one hit, a run scored but the best glove work since Michael Jackson moved to Neverland.

BONUS DUST---The home team’s today, by coin flip, will be Pepperdine and USC so that mean’s the Beach will be back in their familiar first base dugout but as the visitors…SoCal’s Matt Cusick and Roberto Lopez starred for SC when each drove in a pair of runs in the critical first and Pepp never recovered…the boys of Troy added two runs in the 4th helped by an error by starting pitcher Paul Coleman (9-3) who was nervous from the anthem on…outside the yard one of the web guys (Niner Alum) figures that the Oakland A's, who were mired in an 8-game losing streak, got Bobby Crosby back and now have won every game since…“ the hitting has started to click, the defense is much better and his teammates are thrilled to see him back at shortstop. Some guys just seem to be more important to a team than just their numbers.”…at the LB super regional pairing in Corvallis pairing Oregon State needed a walk off home in the ninth to beat Ohio State who, like the NFL, is without Maurice Clarett…they drew a sellout crowd of 2,612 fans and OSU faces St. John's (40-16) tonight…the Red Storm beat Virginia 5-3…no smiley faces for Wichita State as Mike Pelfrey took a tough loss despite scattering eight hits in his complete game effort and striking out seven…more from the Weatherman, "Obviously getting to the Saturday win bracket was our objective and we did that…Cody was a little nervous, but he settled down and gave us the last few innings with some good pitches."…on Jose can you see the future… "He hasn't played much and hasn't had a hit since March, but we've had trouble in leftfield and I felt we needed a change….He stayed in there for what he did in the first inning. He's one of our best outfielders and he's only a freshman…as add ask Mike, “You might not agree with who I play or how I do things, but there comes a time when players are called on to step up. Jose hasn't played in a long time and he's changed some things during that off time and stepped up. Tonight he had the game of his life."…and how did the skipper sleep Friday night?”Facing Ian Kennedy is enough not to sleep because he is one of the best in the nation”…and on not using Cesar Ramos: "I feel both (Hughes and Estrada) match up better with USC. It's nothing against USC, but the other two can't be forgotten. Righthanders are better suited for USC.”…nice guy in the media tent was URI’s Frank Leoni, as upbeat and optimistic as his Wave counterpart Steve Rodriquez was downbeat and dour…Leoni on his team’s performance, “Besides the one bad inning we had, I think we played OK. We played a little bit tight. We made some mistakes like leaving pitches in the middle of the plate. Long Beach State is a good team and they took advantage of the mistakes we made. ”…around the conferences SEC is 9-0 so far but the Big West is perfect at 2-0 since a spelling bee did not break out on Nutwood and the F word crushed Harvard…Leoni again on the atmosphere getting to his rookie Rams, “Our guys didn’t do a good job controlling their adrenaline. They were fine in batting practice, but once we took the field and starting warm-ups you could see them starting to press. That carried over into the game…we were just shooting our bullets too quick.”…and Josh Nestor, Rhode Island Catcher on Cody Evans “All pitchers are good when they pitch for a good ball club. We respect each and every one of them. He had a good fast ball and a good slider on top of that.”

Even though the Dust was free many complaints about subject-verb agreement and the small print…well we will make the print real, or really, big…ticket counts from yesterday, Fullerton, 3604; LB, 2452; LSU 4990, Tulane, 3967; Oregon State, 2612; Texas, 5047; Clemson, 4925; Mississippi, 6701; Nebraska, 7669; Miami, 2360; ASU, 2280; Georgia Tech, 3261; Tennessee, 3123; Florida State, 6025 and Florida and Baylor had weather issues but they are playing today…scary numbers about Ian Kenned…he is nicknamed "Ike," has been the Trojans' No. 1 starter for two seasons and the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year….11-2 with a 2.44 ERA (103 1/3 IP, 73 H, 28 ER, 34 BB, 144 SO, .199 opponents' batting average) and struck out 14 in seven innings on May 13 against Washington State…that’s all fine, he hasn’t seen Jose yet—DR. DAN

Friday, June 03, 2005


Champions. What a nice word, a destination, a destiny, nine letters that can last a lifetime. College baseball and basketball have a pretty uncomplicated system to disperse that honor; in fact every collegiate sport except D-1 football does it the same way.

Pick your best, let them play, and when the games are over the champion is crowned. We’ll get back to football in a minute but after weeks of cyber heat on the various internet web sites college baseball leaves the spin doctors for the scoreboards. Long Beach State as you know by now begins today at 7 p.m. against Atlantic 10 Champion Rhode Island (34-19) following what should be (or has been) a heck of a 3 p.m. game between USC (37-19) and red hot Pepperdine (38-21). The RI Rams, 15-9 on the road and a .318 batting average, barely recovered from the jet lag when they got their first glance at the wide open spaces of Blair. Ram starting pitcher Dan Frederick liked it, Ram hitters, well they didn’t didn’t like it but despite the lovely sun worried when their batting practice bombs never left the yard. Ironically Frederick opened this year playing at #12 Florida and finishes it at #12 Long Beach.

So well treated by the NCAA with a home spot, top seed and a first time in the tourney opponent, what does the Niner skipper Mike Weathers have in mind for the first big step on that rocky road to Omaha? “We want to win the weekend not just the first game,” suggesting that the normal rotation should be shaken and stirred. Translated, Cody Evans gets the nod. “We told him six weeks ago to get ready for this situation. We have rolled the dice before and we are comfortable doing it again.” Other new spots are Jose Hernandez in what has been a troublesome left and suddenly slugging Jordan Struble in right.

More Ram Tough Stuff. URI could have used every means of transportation known the last week or so. They played in Dayton last weekend, took a bus to Cleveland at 4 a.m. Sunday, flew to Providence, bus and car to campus. Back out at 3:30 a.m. from campus to coach travel 90 minutes to Boston, fly to LA and then pub crawl on Wednesday night down Second Street. No word if they hit the AI because Heckie says what happens in the AI stays in the AI. Anyhow the dined, if you do that, at Legends, where the coaches tried to keep the kids awake to 10 p.m. An infielder supposedly fell asleep in his French dip but the time clock is getting adjusted. A team spokesman said that the Rams are all huge Boston Red Sox fans and loved the announcement that there game would be on at “10 Eastern” just like their pro heroes. Ironically Dirtbag AAAer Abe Alvarez is a BoSox farmhand a few freeway exits from campus at Pawtucket. Tonight’s URI hurler is big and strong and a little wild. Three WP’s this year 8 HBP’s and 30 BBs in 75 innings but he does have 3 CGs in his 4.54 ERA and 5-5 record. Their skipper is a scholarly MBA holding Frank Leoni who got the job in 1993 just after graduating but then was told it was time to fold the tent. He and some enlightened Associate Ads at URI kept it alive and hopefully building to the level of say women’s field hockey and gymnastic. Typo, nope baseball gets a mere 2.1 full rides (LBSU has 11.7) and the other two sports get 12 and 13 scholies. Now those are guys who play for the love of the game.

UNSANCTIONED DUST-The shine on the Niner resume came largely through the great pitching, finishing as the best in the USA at 2.44 a notch better than Nebraska (2.51) who has the shortest road to Omaha (just a tornado touchdown away from Lincoln…Looking over the LB regional field the big visiting dog is of course USC who swept the Beach, but those three games were decided by a mere four runs while the Niners traded 4-3 outcomes with Pepperdine...SC also whipped Pepp…Rhode Island (34-19) who earned the Atlantic 10's automatic berth by sweeping through all three games of their conference tournament. The defending A-10 champs defeated Dayton 7-4 in the opener, then took down Richmond 8-3 and held off No. 2 seed George Washington 9-7 in the finals. It is their first NCAA Tournament and they come in ranked 23rd in the nation in team batting average at .318 and 25th in the country in team ERA at 3.69…but now is now…six Dirtbags walked last week in campus graduation ceremonies and now that the NCAA is tracking that stuff degree completion is real important. Not such a nice walk for the underclassmen was out of the dorms to who knows where because housing closed last week and lots of out of town guys were scrambling to find three hots and a cot…joining the Beach as one of the anointed party hosts are (with the exception of newcomer Oregon State) all household-host names, Florida State; Florida; Miami; Georgia Tech; Clemson; Texas; Baylor; Fullerton; LSU; Ole Miss; Nebraska; Tennessee; Tulane; and Arizona State…neat quote is from retiring but not shy President Bob Maxson who was offered a seat next to Mike and Charlotte Weathers at the selection show breakfast party. “I turned Mike down to sit next to Troy Tulowitzki because he’s going to make a lot more money than Mike next year.”…if Tulo and Ramos both go in round one it would be the first time ever...Cal Poly insiders felt snubbed but say that would like to “toughen the schedule, unfortunately they can't do much on Tuesdays, which people traveling can more easily play someone in LA/SF than SLO…at Bakersfield they would like to come into the Big West and with a razor thin margin of 893 yes and 864 no voted in favor of the fee increase from $51 a quarter for student union and student body fees to $168 and capping in 2008-09 at $224…Dream Weaver note, Jered will be here Sat on but is signing his deal today…"When you talk about victories, he took a lot less money to play in his hometown," said agent Scott Boras, who also negotiated Stephen Drew's four-year, $5.5-million deal with Arizona before Monday night's deadline to sign 2004 draft picks. "We could have easily said, 'We want what Stephen Drew got.' You can see the difference between what a hometown situation is and what isn't." Brother Jeff told the press, “Now he's playing for a team in his hometown, and that's what he wanted," Jeff said. "It's a tough process to go through, but he never had an opportunity to sign until recently."…promised football note, Memphis unveiled its campaign for tailback DeAngelo Williams, a NASCAR-themed race-for-the-Heisman pitch built around a 7 1/2-inch model stock car that will be mailed to potential voters this summer…I will wait by my mailbox…"Our main objective is to get something a media person would receive and not throw in the trash," said Memphis sports information director Jennifer Rodrigues, who designed the campaign. "Even if the media person gave it to a son, maybe that kid will walk in the room on Sept. 5, and say, `Hey, dad, this guy is on TV right now.''…this perspective from the Big West boss Dennis Farrell concerning the cyber heat on the proposal to move all conference Saturday basketball games to afternoons when a lot of preps play…the commish says , “as the parent of two high school age boys, I fully understand your concerns , however, if we do go to afternoon games, these start times will be scheduled at a school's discretion between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m….the Pac-10 Conference plays most of its Saturday games in the afternoons for television purposes and …the attendance at those afternoon games were actually up from comparable games.” …missing in that argument is convenience for big buck business boosters who likely want to entertain in the evening hours…if the Beach wins and SC does also will it be Cesar on Saturday…he hasn’t had much luck with the boys of Troy according to the web whizzes, 2005 - Ramos Loss, 5 innings 4 runs SC won 4-3, 2004 - Ramos Loss, 6 innings 4 runs SC won 6-4, 2003 - Ramos Loss, 3.1 innings 4 runs SC won 12-7….one more football note if the BCS uses the Coaches poll instead of the AP…the 10-team Pac-10 will continue to have considerably less voting clout in the coaches' poll than the 12-team leagues -- the SEC, Big 12 and ACC. Each of those conferences can count on having seven voting coaches most seasons (out of 61) while the Pac-10 most years will have only five…"The mathematics don't work for us," sayeth Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen….meanwhile our PAC 10 rep USC will save (11-2) all American Ian Kennedy for a hoped for bout with the Beach Saturday by using Jack Spradlin against Pepperdine who will keep their normal rotation…supposedly Jack has a rubber arm and could throw some again on Monday, if necessary…hard to say what the visiting crowds will be but the beer will flow only from your trunk, per NCAA rules…URI expects about a hundred families and friends…Pepperdine had CSUF down last year but lost two in a row when they ran out of arms…and it is true that Pamela Anderson, who’s young son is a wannabe Wave bat boy, waved the Wave busses good bye Thursday…or did she buss the waves goodbye…I’ll get more info…Weathers said he had good practices last week and told me that the guys were crisp and loose that he could extend the innings for the closing arguments of Anderson and Jamison to three innings or so if necessary…Jamison is a first team Collegiate Baseball choice but Tulo and Cesar fell to third team, go figure…for the Rams Jim Harrick, old coach there and out here is a heck of a fan and suggest coaching moves from the stands…my diamonds in the rough to step up this weekend are catcher Josh Nestor of URI, red hot last weekend; Niner RF Jordan Struble, 4-7 at CSUF, Billy Hart of USC who had 7 rbis at Oregon State and Pepperdine super frosh Barry Enright…as Barbara Walters says, enjoy the view—DR. DAN