Sunday, March 19, 2006


I didn’t personally see Vanna White turning letters at Blair Field last weekend but I am told that you can’t spell “pride” without R-P-I, or for that matter, R-I-P. The word games were played among the 49er faithful, some of whom said win or lose you play the best to build your RPI (a ratings index) for NCAA selection committees in late May. Others say you play for pride every game. A third group was discouraged to the point that they were almost ready to write RIP on the 2006 season.

After a promising start, (a season-opening sweep of USC, another over Illinois-Chicago and a 9-4 record), the three losses to Wichita State leveled the Beach record at 12-12 and marked the worst stretch of LBSU weekend baseball since 1988. Not since then has a Niner team lost more than two consecutive weekend series—they lost back to back weekends in 2004, 2001, 1991, and 1990. 1988 you will recall was that long dark season of 14-45 that turned around a year later with season one of Dirtbag ball under Dave Snow—50 and 15.

So other than pride what are all of these word games about. You might wonder why we just used R-P-I and R-I-P, but that is in part because the Dirtbag D, as in defense, featured quite a few Es as in errors. On Sunday the Beach had a nice little lead then three errors led to six un-earned runs, all of this happening in the friendly confines of their home field as oppose to, say the notoriously unfriendly spaces they will visit at Fullerton this weekend. Pack your earplugs and smuggle in your beer.

BRACKETLESS DUST--The tonic for the baseball disappointment was a stop by the Pyramid to observe the inside job by senior Duncan Budinger who tied his career-high with 28 kills while hitting .590 as #3 Long Beach State rolled to a 30-16, 30-26, 30-27 win over No. 11-ranked Ohio State. The tweaked lineup of Budinger and Robert Tarr on the outside and Kevin Cape in the middle has been sensational. Add guys like All-American setter Tyler Hildebrand and versatile Paul Lotman and this team seems to have the magic combination at just the right time. Northridge comes in Friday night.

Friday afternoon LBSU takes on Ohio State for a softball double-header and will once again feature a big name in pitcher Michelle Turner who won both ends of a double header last weekend and perhaps the best name on campus, freshman hitter Breezy Goad who leads the team with a .339 average. A 5-2 pocket rocket out of Norco, Breezy is the kind of athlete that makes games fun.

Our closing quote today comes from ex Dirtbag and AL Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby speaking to the South Florida Sun Sentinel on that World Baseball tourney. Six years ago, when the A's shortstop was still at LBSU, he played on a Team USA club that beat Cuba. So watching a Dream Team collection of Team USA players fail to qualify for the semifinals of the inaugural World Baseball Classic was particularly hard on Crosby. "Yeah, I was disappointed," he said. "I was pretty surprised they lost. I expected they would get farther than that, but it's not something where I'm ashamed they didn't get there. It's nothing like that."—DR. DAN


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