Monday, January 01, 2007


I trust that we agree that New Year’s predictions are indeed different than New Year’s resolutions but what could be more fun than combining both annual expeditions and guessing where we will be at the same time next year.

I will save the toughest topic, basketball, for later. Instead we begin with baseball where at lot of the heavy lifting already has been done for us by so-called experts.

The 2007 Niner baseball line-up obviously underwent some remodeling with kids leaving early for the pros (like the next major league Dirtbag Evan Longoria), transferring to SDSU (Donnie Hume, Brandon Villalobos and Brandon Decker) and even some graduating.

According to the pre-season prospectus the projected starters include six new guys. The catcher would be Travis Howell, last playing for Cal where he never quite hit to his HS average of .506. His job will be to handle a mostly new pitching staff featuring Manny McElroy, out of Bakersfield where he was a JUCO All-American (10-1 with a 1.97 ERA), Vance Worley (4-7,3.82 ERA but lots of Troy Buckley bull pen time) and a lefty transfer from TCU, Omar Arif, not to be confused with Omar Sharif. The rescue work should come from of two of Buck’s 2006 boys, Bryan Shaw, who had a solid 2.25 ERA and Andrew Liebel (3.00).

Around the horn at Blair Airfield (it is a big yard) will be a couple of new guys and seven familiar faces. At first is Brandon Godfrey, a two-year starter who batted .298 last year and the rest of the double play combo is in place in the form of 2B Matt Cline (.308 with 26 runs) and shortstop Danny Espinosa, Big West Frosh of the Year (.281 with 23 RBIs.) Now third base and right field are where you import some JUCO power such as 3B Jason Tweedy, (.327 with 42 runs in 2006) and RF Kyle Morgan, out of Bakersfield (.363, 10 homers, 43 RBIs).

The rest of the bats will come from speedy Robert Perry in left, Chris Nelson, out of Temecula (.333 with 39 runs and 25 RBIs.) in CF and another Temeculan, versatile Shane Peterson, as the DH. Peterson (honorable mention BWC) hit .328 season as a frosh but can play 11 positions and pitch pretty well too.

So how about that prediction stuff? The experts just aren’t sure. Ranked #30 nationally in the preseason, a wag connected to the Fullerton web site says the Beach should finish 4th in the Big West behind the F word, Irvine and Riverside and just a breath above Cal Poly. Film at 11.

For basketball, the resolving and predicting business is precarious. In the media polls the men received 18 of 20 possible first place votes and the women’s team got three. After leading the nation in scoring last year (83.3) the men’s brain trust resolved to keep up the pace but they check in this week with a 71.4 to 70.2 scoring differential. The ladies resolved to grow on that split BWC title last year but are 3-11, out-scored by 15 a game and averaging 18 turnovers per game.

This week the gents have Thursday and Saturday Pyramid visits from UCSB and SLO while the ladies travel to those same schools. Prediction, Larry Reynolds will win enough to make his new AD worry and Mary Hegarty will lose enough to make her AD worry. Happy New Year.—DR. DAN


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