Monday, June 26, 2006


The time has come for the Dust to collect some rust, travel here and there, and let you enjoy some of the other Gazette talent in this the fun and games section of the newspaper. I will come back the first Thursday of each month beginning in August, tracking down all the news that fits to print.

Until then we leave you with some deep philosophy that sums up the past year at Long Beach State. “Sometimes you are the bug sometimes you are the windshield.” “Successful recruiting is the double coincidence of wants.”

The “bugs” analogy sort of explains the almost-but-not-quite year in basketball, volleyball, baseball, and most every other LBSU sporting entry. Next year ought to be better in all of those areas if that “double coincidence” stuff comes true.

In the case of baskets, note I did not say the basket case, if they are not holding own hoop camps this summer then the 49er basketball coaches are going to other folks’ camps. “We have three scholarships to give next year (looking for two combo guards and a big post player) but everybody will be on the road this summer and see abut 3,000 players,” Mary Hegarty told her boosters recently, making the double coincidence point real important.

The ‘big post” already in her program is Amanda Foster and the coach has a warning for other teams. “You might be able to get her to give you a charge, but if you do you will feel it for a long time.” Larry Reynolds lost two coaches, got one new one, but largely figures that the talent coming back is good enough, since they have about a gazillion upper classmen to fill the court.

Baseball of course is a revolving door of lots of JUCOs (can you say one and done) plus a mixture of freshmen and sometimes someone who actually comes back. In no particular order the 2007 entry will have something old, like returning closer Brian Shaw who has been effective with the Palm Springs Power this summer, and somebody new, as in the bionic arm of Kyle Harper, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander out of Orange Coast College. His has past prep stats and a pro future (Cleveland drafted him in the 17th round two weeks ago). He will feature a lot of gas (fastball that tops out at 94) if shoulder rehab goes well.

Back from the old offense is Robert Perry, an anchor in CF and finally finding his hitting stroke, Danny Espinosa doing well in the Cape Cod league but puzzling Coach Weathers by playing third not short, and Brandon Godfrey. The new guys include T.J. Mittelstaedt who hit .397 for Mission Viejo High, good power (17 home runs in ’05 and ’06 and 10 stolen bases in 2006) plus two, until now, lightly used transfers from Cal. There may be another transfer or two but right now this fall will see players from junior colleges and other four-year schools and six freshmen. Nine of the 13 are hitters but Blair Field has a way of humbling even the most optimistic batsman.

Switching to football you will recall that in January Onye Ibekwe was booted from the 49er basketball team. In April he crashed an NFL workout for skier Jeremy Bloom, inspired by basketballer turned tight end Antonio Gates. Update, full-contact drills open July 28 but SF Coach Dick Nolan notes ``some people don't like playing after getting hit,''. Onye notes, ``I'm bracing myself for it,' it's probably going to take me a couple hits to get used to it but I'm very physical. I think I can go up with these guys.”

Our closing quote and final note comes from former Niner footballer Darryl Wright who remembered the old days of road trips around the then PCAA. “The coaches would look for one of those “all you can eat” buffets but anybody in line after about the 30th guy had to look for another buffet!” Happy recruiting coaches, may you get what you want and want what you get.—DR. DAN

Monday, June 19, 2006


There have been too many comings and goings to author a coherent column so let’s move fast with a session of names on our napkin starting with a much discussed Salt Lake City pitcher named Jered Weaver.

Just when his folks Dave and Gail got used to having two sons in one clubhouse (Brother Jeff also being an Angel employee) the Anaheim brass sent the 4-0 younger son back to the minors. Meaning, who knows--positioning for a trade, keeping Bartolo Colon’s confidence up, sending a message to Jered to listen and follow directions, you tell me. Colon by the way gave up four runs -- two earned -- and nine hits in seven innings as the Angels lost to a full house of grumpy fans in the Big A Sunday while Jered worked before about 5,000 down on the farm.

Last add JW, if you believe the local media Jered Weaver is the second coming of a Dodger rookie named Fernando Valenzuela and still he sits in the SLC ready room with a 4-0 record and an earned-run average of 1.37.

Meanwhile just sitting in a hospital room these days is former 49er football lineman and baseball super fan Darryl Wright who is recovering from foot surgery at the Country Villa rehab hospital in Seal Beach. If you can get through on his cell phone (usually busy with fellow Bruin football fans) give DW a call at 562-900-3805 or bring your sports section and stop by for a chat and a restaurant review or two.

The first work for Evan Longoria was earlier this week when he took the field for Hudson Valley of the Short-Season, New York-Penn League. Evan will spend another week with the club before moving up to Visalia in the California League following the Single-A league's all-star break.

Speaking of all stars, Evan’s old team mate and current Lake Elsinore pitcher Neil Jamison was named to the California League All-Star team that will play the Carolina League All-Stars on June 27 in Salem, Va.

More on the minors are also a couple of good ex-Dirtbags who have left the big club in San Diego for AAA duty in Portland, Paul McAnulty and Terrmel Sledge. “The main purpose is to help us win games up there (in San Diego),” Sledge said. “It’s not like they want us to lose down here. It’s a trickle-down effect. Every organization goes through the same deal. It’s part of being in the minor leagues; you’ve got to battle through it and deal with what we have.”

McAnulty has been inconsistent at the plate but did have a 5-for-5 game last week and is being trained now as a catcher. “This guy doesn't have to go over there and be a Hall of Famer,” Padre head scout Grady Matt Fuson said. “But he has such good instincts and passion for this game, if you can spend some time and give him the little nuances and fundamentals and technique, he just might be OK.”

Back on campus the Beach women’s volleyball bench has added a former player from the 1998 National Championship team Melissa Ohta to the coaching staff. Ohta completed her degree in Psychology and graduated Cum Laude in 2001. Her former coach and now paymaster Brian Gimmillaro gives us our closing quote, “Melissa is ideal in representing this program. She is an excellent teacher and student of the game. We are happy to welcome her back to her alma mater.” I agree coach; I just wish she still had eligibility.–DR. DAN

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Just killing time before the College World Series takes over the tube you might have slipped over to the Niner press release on the summer location of Dirtbag returnees. Missing one, yes, that would be the talented lefty Donnie Hume who has asked for and been given his release.

The list of the traveling Niners includes three more players to the highly regarded Cape Cod League, Big West Freshman of the Year Danny Espinosa, freshman righthander Vance Worley (both with Chatham) and first baseman Brandon Godfrey (Yarmouth-Dennis). North to Alaska are two freshmen talents, righthander Andre Lamontagne and catcher Kip Masuda playing for the Peninsula Oilers and pitchers Andrew Leibel and Shane Peterson playing for the Anchorage Bucs. The Midwest league gets Ted Pattock and AJ Pinocchio playing for Eau Claire, while the Clark Griffith League out of Virginia will feature freshmen redshirts Hunter Hewitt and Russ Lowell playing for Fairfax.

Today the CWS fans and teams signed autographs, the Friday contestants scrimmaged or similar and then everybody went back to Johnny Rosenblatt for an all team BBQ before the hostilities begin. In our pledge to root for ABF, (Anybody But Fullerton), we start with this report on the North Carolina starter who gets the first shot at the sometimes hot sometimes cold Titans as told to the Omaha World Herald.

“No, the NCAA hasn't lifted its ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at championship events. Miller Time, as any Tar Heel fan has come to know, is that two- to three-hour period each week when Andrew Miller takes the mound. It leaves them feeling a little giddy, watching the tall left-hander mow down opposing hitters. He performs that feat with such efficiency that he's earned himself a boatload of honors. He's also positioned himself to become a rich young man: The Detroit Tigers made Miller their first pick in the recent free agent draft.

Not bad for a guy who once thought he wouldn't pitch past high school.
"It wasn't until I was 17 or 18 that I realized that maybe I could pitch in college," Miller said. "I had always played the game for fun. You look at all the kids that start playing baseball in little league, and a lot of them get weeded out by the time they get to high school.

"I assumed that when I got to college, I would be one of those guys that got weeded out at this level." Some exposure on the showcase circuit before his senior year in high school started altering his thinking.
"I kept showing up ranked at the top of the lists," he said. "I started thinking then that I might have a future."

Right now, as the song goes, Miller's future is so bright that he has to wear shades. He will make at least one start in Omaha - on Friday night when the Tar Heels face Cal State Fullerton at 6 p.m. Any additional work will be determined by how long North Carolina remains alive in its first CWS appearance since 1989.
When it does end, Miller is expected to take his 95-mph fastball and his nasty slider to professional baseball. Plenty of opposing coaches will be there for him if he needs help packing.

"He's as dominating a pitcher that I've seen on the college level in a long, long time," said Mike Martin, Florida State's coach the past 27 seasons. "In my book, he ranks right up there with Paul Wilson, Ben McDonald or any of the great ones that have pitched in Omaha. Andrew Miller is the real deal."
His No. 6 pick provides the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Miller with extra motivation for the postseason run. And any disappointment he felt about his draft status was erased Saturday night when the Tar Heels wrapped up their fifth trip to Omaha.
"I know it sounds corny, but this is storybook stuff," Miller said. "Getting a chance to go to Omaha is by far the best thing that has happened to me, even better than the draft. You grow up watching the College World Series on television, and it's such a cool place.

"There are times when you think your chances of getting there are slim to none. When it does happen, it's an unbelievable feeling. I've never been so excited when we had a chance to dog pile after the super regional, knowing that we were going to Omaha."
Miller is 13-2 with a 2.11 ERA and 119 strikeouts. He has pitched into the sixth inning of all but one of his 16 starts. In six regular-season games against nationally ranked opponents, he is 5-1 with a 1.27 ERA.

More on Mr. Hume. As in 2005 Donnie was mostly a midweek starter but got a couple of weekend goes as well. His 2006 numbers were 4.22 3-4 19 appearances with 9 starts…opponents hit .291 and he hit them 7 times…last year was actually a bit better, he appeared in 11 games with two starts, going 1-1 and compiling a 2.37 ERA over 19.0 innings... gave up 20 hits and struck out 13 and walked just five…out of High School DH Lettered two years in baseball, earning all-league honors as a senior at pitcher and as the league’s offensive player of the year… batted .535 in 2004, producing a 1.29 ERA on the mound while producing a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage… went to the same high school as Major Leaguer Jermaine Dye…and now, nobody knows for sure

Back to the past the Paul McAnulty experiment is moving forward. McAnulty, a Padres prospect, had never played third base before farm chief Grady Fuson put him there in March. McAnulty described the ride as bumpy, but Fuson is committed to getting McAnulty spot duty behind Triple-A starter Justin Leone. “This guy doesn't have to go over there and be a Hall of Famer,” Fuson said. “But he has such good instincts and passion for this game, if you can spend some time and give him the little nuances and fundamentals and technique, he just might be OK.”

MIXED DUST—The Titans and Oregon State plane pooled to Omaha yesterday. The Beavers got on first and picked one side of the plane at 7:30 a.m. and fly out of Eugene to pick up Cal State Fullerton in Ontario before heading to Omaha….On the CSUF trip as non players is Vinnie Pestrano, disguised as a color commentator for their inter-net thing and Veteran SID Mel Franks…Folks are still talking about who preserved 49er Jered Weaver’s last Angels effort by reversing and error originally assigned to him by Franks…Kansas City's only run came on a mistake, actually two of them. Neither involved pitching. With a runner on second and two outs, Mark Teahen tapped a little bouncer to Weaver's left. He chased it, but the ball glanced off his glove. Weaver continued running to first, but he never turned around to look for the ball. Kendry Morales' throw hit him in the back and rolled into the Royals dugout, allowing Doug Mientkiewicz to score the only run Kansas City got off Weaver…the first call was an error but our psychic scorer on Miller Road in Newport News, VA (Gordon “Get it Right” Verrell) sent thought waves to Franks…Mel worked the Angel game when Ed Munson's consecutive-games streak as the Angels' official scorer dating to 1980 ended…Franks, (who ended Munson's streak of 2,003 games) took the error away from young Weaver and lowering his amazing ERA a bit more…and that will be the talk of Salt Lake if the LAA of A still send him down…payday notes the following is a list of Major league players by position with salaries of $5 million or more: Pitchers...64; Outfielders...37; First basemen...17; Third basemen...11; Catchers...7; Shortstops...7; Second basemen...6; Designated Jacob Brower, son of Kurt, will stay as an infielder...enjoy the games and remember ABF—DR. DAN

Monday, June 12, 2006


After last week’s academic treatise on the symbiotic confluence of sport and higher education, the email box has overflowed with suggestions that we return to the always popular name-dropping-rumor mongering Notes on My Napkin. I did my best to set a higher tone but as the musical maestros Def Jam said it’s time to “Give “em What They Want.”

With our local college talent on the sidelines or in the recliner, it’s time to delete some aging Dirtbag baseball notes. The bright spot of course is the first round, number three over all, selection of Evan Longoria by Tampa Bay but not taken and hopefully coming back is Dirtbag centerfielder and lead off man Robert Perry who will join Freshman All American and LB shortstop Danny Espinosa plus some young pitching talent as the nucleus for the 2007 team.

Back to the draft day, I figure that the emergence of former Dirtbag and former MLB hold out Jered Weaver made some millions for Luke Hochevar (yes the baby brother of volleyballer Brittany Hochevar). A year after he spurned the Dodgers Luke became Kansas City’s number one pick last week. Picks two through four all had pre-draft deals in place: Stanford's Greg Reynolds ($3.25 million, Colorado Rockies); Longoria ($3 million) and Houston right-hander Brad Lincoln ($2.75 million, Pittsburgh Pirates.)

Back to the baskets, the Mary Hegarty version of Coach Chat overflowed the patio at Pete’s last week, prompting new AD Vic Cegles to quip “I came 15 minutes early and I was 45 minutes late.” After he finally found a parking place and squeezed in, Cegles and about 85 others heard Mary’s hopeful lecture about the rebuilt body parts of Val Wilhoit, Karina Figueroa and Mandy Foster who the coach said will be more than enough to replace four departing scoring seniors and two dismissed undergrad guards.

Next up rumor control, is it possible that Chaffey College left-hander Brandon Villalobos, a Long Beach State transfer, who went 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA this season, will turn down 23rd round White Sox money and come back to the Beach?

Not going anywhere for men’s basketball is versatile Scott Waterman, a hustling player in his Occidental days. He has been doing academic and conditioning work for the 49ers the past couple of years and now is the young guy to balance former UC Riverside head coach, the old guy, on the Larry Reynold’s coaching staff.

Last add on the speculation set is the prospect that CSU Bakersfield is getting ready to make a run at getting into the Big West. When your school is smallish, just 7,500 students, playing up is difficult but not impossible. Notable Division I universities with smaller enrollments than Bakersfield include Gonzaga, Bucknell, Creighton, Georgetown, Loyola Marymount, Niagara, Pacific, Princeton, Rice, Valparaiso, Wake Forest, and Xavier. What the Roadrunners would bring is a good basketball venue and fan base (average of 2,213) especially when compared with the average crowds at UC Riverside, 1,399; UC Irvine 2,365, Cal Poly SLO, 2,056, at CS Northridge, 1,100; UC Davis, 1,433, and even LBSU, 1,634.

Our closing quote is from Jered Weaver in the latest issue of Angel Magazine. Asked what it meant to be a Dirtbag and was Long Beach the right choice? “Being a Dirtbag is about getting knocked down, then getting right back up, and getting in the other team's face. It's about not letting anything, or anyone, get to you.” And signing with the Niners? “That was the best decision I ever made. It definitely got me prepared and ready for where I'm today.”—DR. DAN

Monday, June 05, 2006


By former presidential edict, summer time at Long Beach State was an occasion to grab a book or two and relax from all of those “character building” contests on the court, field, or in the pool. Bob Maxson started the book report tradition but his predecessor Steve Horn loved to read as well and both men would lecture the faculty in the fall on the best of their summer reading.

“Character Building” is the term we use when flat out winning doesn’t happen enough. All of this is a preamble to my suggestion that the long awaited arrival of the new Director of Athletics Vic Cegles might be the time to turn some pages from a couple of tomes that don’t resemble a media guide.

Harry Lewis’s new work Excellence Without a Soul discusses higher education and athletics and reminded the Wall Street Journal’s Vincent J. Cannato of Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind. Cannato and I both like the “pleasantly maverick views when Lewis defends the benefits of college athletics”. Now this is where we get on the sporting track because these chaps contend that “far from being an over commercialized distraction, (college athletics) are a "source of joy" and embody an "ethos of self- sacrifice, perseverance, drive [and] endurance." Welcome Mr. Cegles to your new post at LBSU and we urge you to lead us in finding more joy and less self sacrifice. Oh yes, and if you need some money, just ask.

ALLERGY-FREE DUST—After last weekend’s NCAA baseball regionals delivered a delicious menu of surprises, the science of selection was pretty well exposed. There were 34 at-large spots and although the Dirtbags didn’t get one some of the underdogs did a fine job against the over dogs. The 49ers finished only 29-27 but went 3-0 against Irvine and played one of the toughest schedules in the country, including 21 games against ranked opponents.

Another oddity in the baseball biz was that Pepperdine, small stadium and small crowds got to host but then the Waves featured a big booster, Pamela Anderson and the best the Beach could offer was Houston Bob and Elvis Joe.

Another item on the Vic Cegles AD to do list is to worry about that NCAA mandated Academic Performance Report that grades all the schools based on how many student athletes are really students. Do poorly and a program could lose scholarships so we pass on this secret from my old Florida room mate and current South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier. “"What you do is find a senior walk-on who's going to graduate and you put him on scholarship for his senior year."

Finally, in addition to TV viewing the Road to Omaha this weekend we recommend the final day of the 2006 Division I Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Sacramento on Saturday. It is a CBS show starting about 9:30 a.m. and the Beach has a pair of excellent triple jumpers in the field, Ronald Carter and John Temidara. The lads are ranked #1 and #3 in the NCAA West Region.

Last free advice for Vic to pass on to his charges comes in our closing quote from a coaching pal of mine who gets plenty of in-game advice from parents and boosters. He says, “The best coaching job is an orphanage and the second best is a prison (no road games).”—DR. DAN