Monday, April 30, 2007


After a career of athletic hop-scotching, Vic Cegles has found something he really likes to do. Stand alongside his own coaches and athletes while they collect championship hardware. As an assistant Cegles’ sporting sojourn ran through academies at Bucknell, West Virginia Wesleyan, Carnegie Mellon, Arizona State and Temple before he became the top cat for LBSU athletics almost a year ago.

That background in mind, the temperatures were hot but on Sunday afternoon the Niner women’s tennis team was even hotter as they collected their fourth consecutive Big West title and a ticket to the NCAA championships that begin next weekend. Cegles smiled, shook hands and must have begun to realize that, despite the daily pressure to increase funding for such boutique sports as tennis and soccer; trophy presentations are very nice.

ROAD DUST-- The story of the Dirtbag baseball in Stockton last weekend was as much perseverance as Pacific. Pacific, the opponent, is either snake bit or not very good but, like the other Big West cellar dweller UC Davis, they also have players and coaches who see a bull’s-eye on the back of those Beach uniforms. It wasn’t easy but on Friday, after Pacific led most of the game, LBSU scored four runs in the last three innings to escape with an 8-6 win.

On Saturday the Niners led 5-0 after five and then had to sweat out an 8-4 win thanks in large part to the 117 pitches thrown by Andrew Liebel a career reliever who previously, in a busy game, might throw 7 to 17.

The final drama was on Sunday when LB and the Tigers battled for 14 innings, (five hours and 45 minutes) before the Niners (27-14, 7-2 Big West) survived and swept Pacific. Combined with Fullerton’s collapse, the Beach and Riverside now share first place half way to the finish line. So how did the polls react, mixed results. Baseball America moved the Beach in at #24, Rivals is at #19, but unranked by Collegiate Baseball and ESPN. The RPI dropped to #9 and likely won’t go up this weekend when RPI # 73 SLO comes in.

The other good news from the Delta was softball’s series win over the lady Tigers to keep LB playoff chances alive. The Sweethearts of Swat have UC Davis on campus this weekend while at Blair the Beach boys take on Cal Poly trying to hold on to the BWC top spot. Cal Poly, tough anywhere, is at least a bit easier on the road as is Riverside who comes to town in two weeks. The remaining road trips for the Bags are to UCSB and CSUF.

So how bad did that Riverside trip make the Fullerton faithful feel? This quote from their web board tells it all, “Exhausting weekend, freeway, a loss, more freeway, freeway, a loss, more freeway, freeway, a loss, more freeway.” Fullerton fell out of the BA poll.

Going inside, those passionate hoop-a-holics at the LBSU will likely have to wait another couple of weeks before their 2007-2008 basketball roster and coaching staff is finally set. Interviewing was hot and heavy on both fronts last week interspersed with those NCAA-allowed small group workouts. The most recent pairings are 7 footer Andrew Fleming and 6-7 Arturas Lasdauskas dueling and drilling, the four guards in their own small group exercise and Chris Peys by himself. Peys, the 6-5 sharpshooter out of LB Poly, missed the final six games of the season with mono and because he had to drop a couple of classes, will use summer school to regain his eligibility.

Now for our closing quote we go to our opening salute. Talking to the campus press after he first arrived last May, Mr. Cegles was asked what he could do to get more students at the courts, pools, courses, etc. to turn the program around. “Yes, it all starts with the students," he said. "But you have to win." Pass the silver cup please.—DR. DAN

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


When he was just a little kid Manny McElroy probably fell off his bike and a parent probably made him get right back on. Manny is now 6-6 and 220 before lunch but his baseball dad Mike Weathers watched him tumble over the weekend and said, with a steely resolve Sunday afternoon, “we are sending him right back out.” Now please keep this a secret from Manny but if he thought that a four run, two homer inning versus UC Davis was tough, he might not want to read the press clips from San Diego State’s last game. The Aztecs batted around in four different innings en route to a 31-0 win over Air Force. Ouch. Blindfold please.

The more reasonable numbers are these. LBSU is in the mid twenties in the polls at 23-14 and 4-2 Big West, coming up against a team coached by one of the all time greats, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Tony only hits fungo’s now but his team (27-17) has a plus .300 batting average and is a likely competitor of BWC teams seeking post season invites. As is the case for most mid weekers, pitching may end up being Johnny Whole-staff, particularly if Aztec righty Charles Nolte (0-0, 9.00) follows recent form. Fire up the propane and see for yourself.

DUSTING TO FIT—for SDSU Nick Romero enters at .359 average and the closing star is Stephen Strasburg (1-1 record, 2.36, seven saves)…the Aztecs' 31 runs represented the most ever in a home game and the final score was the team's largest margin of victory against a collegiate opponent…Right fielder Frank Lo Nigro had five hits in the game including two home runs and scored six times…in the MWC SDSU is second to TCU and on a five game win streak with 10 Ws in their last 13…lots of chat about ex Dirtbag players going on but how about bat boys…Danny DiBennedetti (or similar) has signed with St. John's who had the national pitcher of the week last week in sophomore lefty Scott Barnes…he had a no-no and now will get some offense to go with his arm…more where are theys—doing just fine in the high minors are Jason Vargas, on the Mets farm, has a solid 3.42 ERA facing the tough AAA hitters and Evan Longoria, who’s pop is still a Blair regular, went 2-5 recently to up his average to .310…Mike Gallo, working for Colorado’s AAA Sky Sox has six appearances and has been half good, three of the outings resulted on no earned runs including Sunday’s clean one inning effort against Portland… Kasey Olenberger is another AAA Bag toiling for the Angels' Salt Lake City Bees, 2-1 and a 2.60 ERA plus a 19/6 K's/BB's ratio…and what about Donnie Hume and Brandon Decker…last year in conference play, Hume was a perfect 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA and as a freshman in 2005, was one of the team's midweek starters…Donnie pitched a scoreless inning against San Diego State on February 27 last year and this year, oh that’s right, he’s in the other dugout where he has the best ERA of any Aztec starter, 3.07 and a 4-2 record and Decker is a regular in the outfield…the folks that use the expression, “usually reliable defense” might have LBSU in mind…both the hitting numbers (batting average up to .281 from .278 in ‘06) and pitching, top notch at 3.38 team ERA (down from 3.64 in ’06) are improved but the team fielding is .966 (.967 in 2006 but a nation’s best .980 in 2003) or off…last year the Beach missed the post-season for the first time in six prior seasons and for just the third time since 1989…that was after playing the second-toughest schedule with 21 games against ranked opponents including three of the top-eight national seeds and actually beat two teams which were ranked No. 1 in the nation (Rice and Texas)

Stockton, California is not the end of the earth but I think you can see it from there…this weekend both the baseball and softball bunch head there but alas the games times these big and little numbers from recent LBSU golf Alum John Mallinger…with his tie for third last weekend John upped his 2007 winnings to $778,751 good for 40th on the US list and 173rd on the world list…he is hitting the little white thing at 71.6 strokes per PGA round…more golf—today Beach golfers Kay Hoey and Brett Lederer each won individual BWC titles…now that’s a neat double play…back on campus, the marketing interns are beating the bushes for folks to help support “THE premier event in collegiate women’s water polo: the 2007 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championships, to be staged at the Joint Forces Training Base pool in Los Alamitos, CA from May 11-13, 2007.”…there I did my part…and if you are more of an arm chair fan write a check for the kids from the Bluffton University baseball team who were in that awful bus wreck in Atlanta…Contributions can be made by check payable to Bluffton University and mailed to Citizens National Bank, 102 S. Main Street, Bluffton, Ohio 45817….and now we close with the only two tools you need in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape…if it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40…if it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape….happy trails all you all—DR. DAN

Monday, April 23, 2007


Stockton, California is not the end of the earth but I think you can see it from there. I know that on the map Stockton is just 83 miles inland from San Francisco, 45 miles south of our state capital, Sacramento and within two hours of Stockton you will find Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the wine country and other diversions. This April weekend however you will find a lot of 49er athletes staying in Stockton on an important field trip that will go a long way in determining if they will still be playing in June.

Through an oddity in Big West scheduling, both LBSU baseball and softball play at the University of the Pacific and both squads need to win their series to stay in the hunt for post season play.

The baseball bunch (23-14 but with just two losses in the conference) need to take advantage of the host Tigers who are a toothless and winless 0-9 in the Big West. That means the Beach is in the top four of a league that usually never sends more than three teams to post season so there is both a clear and present danger an opportunity. Lose to the last place team and get into a deep hole or win and keep the pressure on and the RPI up. Games are Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Meanwhile, Kim Sowder’s Sweethearts of Swat are 7-5 in Big West softball after winning the series against first place Fullerton two weekends ago and sweeping Riverside last weekend. Pacific checks in at 7-2 in conference and some experts say that the winner of this series should finish in the top three and historically (but not always) three teams get NCAA invites. Softball plays a double header on Saturday and a single game on Sunday.

BACK UP DUST—While the softball gals had an easy weekend, after a routine Friday night the baseballers had to work and work in what you could call “Midday in the Ballpark of Good and Evil”. Playing a UC Davis team that brought a lineup of unknown soldiers to town, the Niners had to watch the Aggies jump out to a 4-0 lead Saturday afternoon and hang on to win 6-4. On Sunday UCD had a 3-1 lead but this time the Beach bats came alive and 17 hits later the Niners won the game 9-6 and the series 2-1.

The best news of the weekend happened to Dwayne Larson. He is the guy that hangs the letter “K” on his box seat fence to salute each strikeout a 49er pitcher gets. Larson has been on dialysis for over two years awaiting a new kidney. On Friday his wife Karen said they found “a perfect match from a donor in her twenties. The match is as good as if he was receiving it from an identical twin”. Maybe you too can be a twin, consider adding “donor” to your driver’s license.

Now if that Stockton drive is over your gas budget Jenny Hilt Costello and her #2 seeded women’s tennis team welcomes you to find your way to the BWC championships this weekend…her booster prez says, ”just hop on 10 to Palm Desert, exit Washington, turn right and go 3 miles and look for a 10,000 seat tennis stadium on your right at Miles Ave”…on Friday the Beach will wax CSUF then actually get a workout by practicing among themselves. Saturday onward will be tougher but the net gals have the hardware to prove it can be done.

We close today with a hoop scoop of sort for the good-news-hungry 49er fans. New head coach Dan Monson and his lone assistant Vic Couch are involved with small group workouts, limited to four players at a time. Not a scheduling problem since at this time they only have five kids in the program. So while the smaller guys have their own session, seven footer Andrew Fleming works out with just the coaches. Insiders say that Monson thinks that the little-used big guy (29 minutes all last season) “will be very good before he leaves”. How soon does “good” arrive? Another source said, “In the week we have been working him out he has gotten better every day”. Now that’s more good than evil.—DR. DAN

Sunday, April 22, 2007


We will call this one “Midday in the Ballpark of Good and Evil”. Act one was that sigh of relief from the night before when the old and grizzled Dirtbags of LB survive a late inning scare from fuzzy-cheeked and usually knocked around UC Davis. Act two was supposed to be more of the same except Aggie Kyle Mihaylo did not stick to the script. You see LB had a recently repaired and unbeaten starter Manny McElroy and frankly Blair visitors are not supposed to hit the ball hard. Or far. Or over the wall. Especially the center field wall. More evil to follow.

A couple more unknown Aggies, Kevin James and Brandon Oliver singled, then coach Rex Peters took a page out of the Dirtbag playbook and ordered a nifty bunt to move the runners before a crisp ball to the right side drove in two more runs. And, just when you thought the evil was over, Matt Dempsey hit another big fly. 4 zip Aggies but surely the good would come soon. It might have except this fellow Brad McAtee wouldn’t fold on cue. In fact he went eight solid, scattered seven hits and allowed frustrated all but the hardy handful of Davis devotees camped in the third base bleachers. Oh there was some good if you don’t mind burning a guy you wanted to save for Sunday. Versatile Andrew Liebel, pitched the remaining 7.1 and gave up but one earned. The offense however pretty much sputtered. The good in you wanted to think that the Beach would take control in the sixth and get everybody to dinner early.

The leadoff went well when Mittelstaedt singled to right and Nelson to left. Everybody moved up on a wild pitch and surely the wheels would come off the Aggie war wagon now. But Morgan couldn’t get it done and the whole plan crashes when Capon grounds into a double play. Still matters were not hopeless at 5-2 if only the Evil Aggies would just stay put. They didn’t. UCD adds another score in the 8th and then the last hope was that the come back kids- who had seven of those already this season (two of them when trailing by as much as seven) could do it again. In the ninth Weathers tried all sorts of pinch hitters but an Espinosa double, and singles by Cline and Tinoco weren’t enough when Shane Peterson, today’s starter, fanned. End of story and the Aggies (13-22) earn their first ever D-1 victory over the Dirtbags.

ABBY’S ANGEL DUST—The best news of the weekend has to be that the very Special K guy who hangs the Ks for Niner pitchers has a new kidney…Dwayne Larson has been on dialysis for over two years while real docs looked for a match but on Friday his wife Karen said they found “a perfect match from a donor in her twenties. The match is as good as if he was receiving it from an identical twin”…maybe you can be a twin, consider adding “donor” to your driver’s license...what Dwayne missed was one of the best pitching efforts of any visitor, and it came from an obviously overlooked freshman who only earned second-team All-North County honors out of Poway...Nelson and Cline each had two hits for LB but the best swinger was UCD’s Matt Dempsey who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored…good news for the Beach class of 2026 with the acceptance of the bended knee proposal by Sean Boatright to his long time gal pal and LBSU track champion Charlene Dierdorff…can you say hit and run…how important is today’s series decider, well the evil option would be awful to team psyche and RPI…we got an indication of how much the RPI doesn't like Long Beach's schedule when that Tuesday loss to LMU saw the Dirtbags fall from third to fifth… meanwhile the BWC continues the standings shuffle with these scores…Cal Poly 3, UC Riverside 0; Fullerton 2, Pacific 0; Santa Barbara 6, Irvine 5 and UCLA beats CSUN twice…Friday night leftovers from Nutwood… UOP and CSUF combined to hit 11 batters, one shy of breaking the NCAA record of a combined 12 hit batters in a game…in 2005 LB and CSUF dosed a combined 10…guess it doesn’t hurt in the dugout…the shooting at Virginia Tech made some wonder about what are the plans for contact athletes in an emergency…at Miami football coach Randy Shannon has a plan…”We have a log in our office with a phone list of every player and have their email address, and their text messages, and their parents numbers…when we have to contact all the players, team meeting, crisis, anything, it's something we can all split up and get it done in a matter of two minutes.”…odd circumstance for the other diamond group, women’s softball…they were also playing a doormat and after winning easily 8-2 in game one fell behind UCR 5-1…in this case however Kim’s kids chipped away to come within one run in the fifth via a two-run homer from Jessica Beaver…a double in the sixth got the Beach the lead but that was short lived as UCR had an answer two-run bomb of their own…to the final frame, another Beaver blast, and a run on a wild pitch clinched the series.—DR. DAN

Saturday, April 21, 2007


It wasn’t a tale of two cities but at least it was a tale of two games. In the first game, or at least the first six innings, your Fighting 49ers were poised, passionate and efficient. They scored six for Omar Arif and despite his mid-80s stuff, Omar made only one mistake, Aaron Hanke’s big fly over the left center fence. Score heading into the 7th, home boys 6, visitors 1. In the seventh Coach Weathers said, “We started making the physical mistakes, we weren’t backing up bases, we couldn’t pick up throws and I just didn’t see some guys really competing.” Translated, trouble with a capitol T.

The Aggies, who Weathers said “our team should know these guys never quit”, rallied for three in the seventh. Jacob Jeffries reached first on a tough error by the just returned Danny Espinosa to start the inning. Schafer singled, and then a sacrifice bunt set matters up for Matt Dempsey who singled Jefferies home followed by yet another single and one more score on a throwing error by Jason Corder, the Dirtbags' right fielder. Paul Gonzales, a lightly used senior, turned the Dirtbag water off from the fifth inning on giving up only one hit and fanning three. The anemic or at least inconsistent offense frustrated Weathers. “I have a hard time reading these guys. Our at-bats got worse as the game wore on and if you let a team hang around.” his voice trailing off. The happy news was that Omar Arif (now 2-5) notched his first win since beating USC in game two of the season. The RBI guys for the Beach were Shane Peterson and Taylor Krick, two each. Closer Bryan Shaw wobbled in the 9th when Davis had the tying run on third with two outs, but he got a strikeout to end the game at 6-5 and earn his team-high seventh save.

HIT PARADE DUST--Robert Perry extended his hit streak to 13 games and Matt Cline and Chris Nelson each had a triple and a single…the set up work was well done by David Roberts who pitched 1.2 shutout innings and it was a career-high six and one-third innings by the TCU transfer Arif who lowered his ERA to 2.96…with righties come up today and tomorrow expect TJ Mittelstaedt to return to the leadoff spot...Brandon Godfrey in a cast for two more weeks with that fifth metacarpal fracture…sneaking in the scores…Riverside 3, Cal Poly 1; Fullerton 18, Pacific 1; Irvine 10, UCSB 5; USC 8, Washington 5 with CSUN/UCLA and LMU/San Diego PPD…post-seasoning by Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt, “I think CSUF is automatic and UCI, UCR and LBSU will all be major factors down the stretch, and I wouldn't rule out the possibility of all four receiving regional bids…over at the PAC 10 once again it is Stanford and USC neck and neck…oh that would be neck and neck for the conference cellar…Stanford is at the bottom with a 1-9 and the Boys of Troy a notch above at 3-7…maybe the best of the big boys league is a team that the Niners are 2-0 against, UCLA…the Bruins and Arizona are both 9-1 but UCLA still has a big mountain to climb after an 8-14 start…if both USC and UCLA fall short by season end that could help three other So Cal teams you might be thinking of…odd finances dept….UCI, which will play host to the four-team NCAA men's volleyball championship in 2008, is playing Hawaii tonight in the quarterfinals of the MPSF but the powers that be rented out the 5,000-seat Bren Events Center moving the game to tiny Crawford Court (capacity 760)...speaking of numbers the University of Denver (another non-football school) is musing about leaving the Sun Belt and might like the Big West…trivia time—Friday’s contest was only the third night game for UCD this season…More regional host chat…the revenue for the host generally comes from Ticket Sales, and added sponsors…Blair is a city owned so the concession sales don’t help nor does the merchandise sales because each host is consigned a big block of cotton, caps, pins etc. that they have to sell before they can unload their own lids and linens…the NCAA takes care of all the expenses for the visiting teams…more post-season chat…this info from the crack LMU baseball SID Alissa Zito…the West Coast Conference no longer has the two division playoff, it’s regular season #1 vs. #2…that effectively eliminates LMU a point differing from the expectations of some, myself included, that the Lions (18-22-1) would be in a WCC playoff…hoop scoops, campus insiders say that Dan Monson thinks, based on those four player spring workouts, that 7 footer Andrew Fleming “will be very good before he leaves.”…then, courtesy of the Riverside Daily Bulletin…Larry Reynolds is moving back to Riverside, next job unknown with his aide John Masi looking at a JUCO AD post in the Central Valley…the paper also squelched a rumor that UCR AD Stan Morrison would be reassigned and Masi would return as AD and hire Reynolds…now for those that bemoan the recent scary play of the 49ers, consider for a moment the former bullies of college baseball LSU…No. 15 Mississippi State got a CG by a sophomore and beat the Bengal Tigers 12-3 to drop LSU to 21-18 and almost off the NCAA radar…so quit fussing and count your blessings—DR. DAN

Friday, April 20, 2007


Tonight Blair Field, the best and most historic baseball stage in the Big West, welcomes it’s version of the hit show, Dancing With the Stars featuring the old pros, the Long Beach State Dirtbags (21-13) and the nervous newcomers, the UC Davis Aggies (12-21). So far Davis has been the not-ready for prime time players but their skipper Rex Peters has hope tempered with realism. “I’ve heard they're not as good as in years past, but they still manage to win ball games and are right in the thick of the conference hunt."

Rex is right, especially when the fragile health of LB forced Mike Weathers and company to play a dangerous game of dominoes on the left side where errors at third, short and left field have been costly. Often a team ranking high defensively in the national stats the Beach is only 4th in the BWC in fielding (.967). Fortunately the legacy of good pitching continues where the Niners check in with a Big West best 3.26 team ERA but a weak .275 batting average and an inflated total of 289 men left on base in 34 games. Crunching the numbers, it looks like the mound men may have to carry the weekend again. While the Bags lost their Tuesday tilt to LMU 6-5 (stranding 18) the visitors used the big bats of Jacob Jefferies (3-for-4 and a homer) and Daniel Descalso (4-for-5) for a 5-1 victory over St, Mary’s. More from UCD’s skipper, “Long Beach always plays well against us and we have yet to beat them in a Division I game. I think we're 0-6 against them in the past few years and we haven't really been in any one of those games. They've seemed to handle us pretty well and they're just one of those teams we have a hard time matching up with. Going to their ballpark is tough because it's a bigger park and a tough place to hit. We have our work cut out for us”.

Into the circle tonight will be the Niner’s Omar Arif, reliable in grinding out innings followed by the parade of early, middle and late relievers. Davis will try Trevor Fox (3-5, 4.21) to start and go from there.

RULE BOOK DUST—From the UC Davis’s horse mouth… (my pal Dr. Doug West is a star faculty member in their vet med school)…”UCD is in its fourth and final year of reclassification to NCAA Division I status... Officially, UC Davis (like all other institutions currently reclassifying) is a Div. II institution until its first active year of Div. I (for UC Davis, that's in 2007-08)... Davis began counting last year as a Div. I team for its opponents strength-of-schedule…and all their teams become official members of the Big West Conference in 2007-08…the top hitter in the league lit up the Niners last weekend, Jorge Andrade, Jr. who is banging at a .410 rate and I gave him my nomination for the National College Baseball Writers all American team…still on my watch list is the guy with the top Big West ERA, Andrew Liebel and his 2.06…the Dirtbags moved up to No. 25 in the coaches poll and are one of four Big West programs in the top-30 in one of the major polls this week….while most of last week was a slow, chilly grind the highlight might have been a foul ball that bounced into Perry Moore’s box seats followed by youngsters diving on, over and around the former LBSU AD, all for a $5. baseball…Perry is tough though and was the first big star I interviewed back when I was a cub reporter as a high schooler in Parkersburg, West Virginia…Perry was a nationally noted decathlete at Maryland and lived across the river in Ohio…he and I later connected when PM was the assistant basketball coach at Florida when I was the sports info assistant for that sport…Danny Espinosa is a game time decision after missing the last five with that troublesome back…now you might have thought that last weekend they were giving kids all the free Starbucks they could drink but those lively voices on the public address were really the Junior 49ers who took over the field for their annual day of running the show. Marketing whiz Henry Ngo got to the yard early and distributed the youngsters to all the important posts around the yard, PA, scoreboard, music, seed and shirt tossing, the inter-net broadcast and everything other than counting the cash in the Dugout store…if you are an RPI watcher be aware that when CSUF was sweeping the UCD series, the Titans fell from 17th to 22nd…the F word will tumble more with their weekend visit from lowly Pacific…now we put on our tie-breaking gloves to see if we can get rid of some of those guys crowding the second place spot in the BWC…these series could help, Riverside at Cal Poly; Pacific at Fullerton; and UC Irvine at UC Santa Barbara…Northridge goes out of conference to play at UCLA—DR. DAN

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Officially tonight we are offered another cross town rivalry featuring teams and coaches with a lot in common. Both teams are on four game win streaks, both coaches have been or will be head coach of the prestigious USA baseball program, both feature an Elvis in a starring role and most of the guys in the dugouts know each other pretty well. And on April 17 at least, the players, coaches and fans are convinced that, records aside, if they can put together a string of wins they will have an opportunity to get on that road to Omaha.

For LMU they dodged the showers and then drowned St. Mary’s up in Moraga 8-0 and 8-2 to improve their record to 17-22-1, and 5-4 in the West Coast Conference that has nationally ranked Pepperdine but a playoff between the West and Coast divisions in late May where anything can happen. The resume for the Beach is clearly more impressive. Ranked #23 in the Rivals poll, #25 in the USA/ESPN poll and continuing a home stand that has upped their record to 21-12 and 4-2 in the Big West the Dirtbags will bring out the smoke and mirrors again trying to hide the crowd in the training room while giving all sorts of guys more playing time than was planned at the first of the year. For example freshman lefthander Adam Wilk (2-0, 4.24) gets the LB start this evening but will be able to see a lot of other first and second year men around him. LMU’s will send Xavier Esquivel (0-2, 4.54) into the circle with his variety of fastballs and sliders. Both guys will be on short leashes and must keep their pitches down to stay around long. Now to the Elvis tease. You know the Long Beach Elvis, aka Joe Ballsinger, but the LMU Elvis is WCC royalty this week. He is Elvis Herrera West Coast Conference Player of the Week after hitting .556 (10-for-18. Against Saint Mary's on Friday, Herrera drove in five runs, the first time a Lion tallied five RBI since March of 2006. Last of these parallels, the Beach also had Player of the Week honorees, two of them. Shane “Slash” Peterson and closer Bryan Shaw got the BWC good words this week. Peterson batted .562 last week around his mound chores and Shaw got a win and a save to lower his ERA to a team leading 1.78.

MIDWEEK DUSTING—the weekend waxing of Northridge (W 11-2, W 4-2, W 7-2) featured a variety of heroes, including the Cal connection, Jason Corder on Saturday with 2 RBIs and Travis Howell on Sunday with four in a three-hit afternoon...the roster for the LB MASH unit as of press time wasn’t known…maybe Espinosa comes back and maybe Brandon Godfrey, the latest training room citizen…McElroy looks on the mend but Whorley has a long way to go…As a team LMU is hitting better than the Beach (.287 to .274) but the pitching and defense is below LB standards, a 4.92 team ERA (LB is 3.26) with a .961 fielding percentage (LB is ..967)…Eric Farris has the biggest numbers for the Lions, .367, is in his third season with LMU baseball and is off of an all star summer in the Cape Cod League where he had a top-10 batting average...LMU Coach Frank Cruz was The USA coach in 2004 and Weathers runs that team this summer…if Espinosa stays out again coaches are feeling better about the defense of Jason Tweedy at short…but his bat is still a struggle...up next for LB is conference trainee UC Davis. On the weekend the Aggies lost all three to Fullerton, twice on Sunday 6-3 and 9-8…for the F word it was Evan McArthur day in game one (he went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs) but in the second contest UC Davis (12-21) had a five run sixth inning and closed to a one run deficit but with a time curfew for Titan travel home the Nutwood Nine held on to win…more road news, Beach softball is at UCR this weekend after winning their series over Fullerton…on the post-season dreaming front Barry Faulkner of the Daily Pilot reported that UCI has bid to host an NCAA regional June 1-4…that requires a $25,000 commitment which the Eaters hope will be recouped by ticket revenues…let’s see…Anteater Ballpark has 901 permanent seats and a lovely grass berm behind the first-base dugout…their brag figure, grass and seats, is 3,500 spectators…more on the newest Dirtbag fan, Vic Couch, who will assist the second newest fan, Dan “Perpetual Motion” Monson…some of the big names he has worked with Aaron Robinson and Brent Lawson, key guys in Minnesota’s 2005 NCAA Tournament team…at Anaheim Servite his team won the state championship in 1991…and if you dare to think that defense was missing from last year’s 49er squad you might like to know that from 1983-1985, this VC was a two-year starter at forward for Santa Clara and the defensive leader for the Broncos…including guarding guys like John Stockton, Reggie Miller, Kevin Johnson and A.C. Green...and maybe best of all Vic and his wife Sherry have a son named…drum roll…Juston Kace…last add on Baseball America dissing the Dirtbags…not so says BA’s Aaron Fitt… “the final discussion was between LBSU and NC State…it's tough to overlook Beach's 12-10 record vs. top 25, but their 5-4 record in weekend series hurts them.”…sounds like work to be done.—DR. DAN

Monday, April 16, 2007


One characteristic of the sports fans I know is that they have a secret desire to see the future. And the mode of transportation they take to the future is usually statistics. Ah, but the stat lady is a fickle goddess who frequently disappears just before she was supposed to sing.

It is early but such is the case with this crazy 2007 Big West baseball race. Based on all the names and numbers coming into this season, the pre-season polls had the big three in the Big West as Fullerton, Riverside and Irvine. When the dust settled last weekend the leader board was topped by Cal Poly with a three way tie for second between Santa Barbara, Fullerton and Long Beach. Riverside is way down in fifth and Irvine is sixth.

So what’s up coach? The first testimony came from Dave Serrano of UC Irvine whose club lost two of three to the team picked fifth in the conference pre-season poll. Afterwards he told the press, "Cal Poly impressed me as much, if not more, than Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State. We put ourselves in a good position after [winning series] against Fullerton and Long Beach, but we kind of negated that this weekend." Those lying stats.

Meanwhile at Blair Field the Weather Report remains partly cloudy, interesting since the chief tenants, Dirtbag baseball, got five wins last week, a completed game and a regular win over #7 Pepperdine and a sweep of Northridge. In all the Beach boys are on a nice run raising their overall record from 13-11 March 31 to 21-12 after Sunday’s 7-2 beat down on Northridge. But is skipper Mike Weathers happy? “Let’s put it this way, we overcame ourselves”. Translated: improvement but not that silly perfection that coaches all want.

“Of course I want us to score every time we have a chance but I do see a lot of our guys getting better” the Beach boss said. Figuring he was in a good mood we asked about the upside down Big West race, a contest that might have as many as five teams trying to get one of the usual two or maybe three NCAA post-season invites. “It’s way too early to get into that stuff.” Right coach, check back with you later.
STATIC DUSTING-- Having just collected my first social security check I am willing to accept aging but I don’t like hearing that forever-young Misty May really isn’t (forever young). Misty and her Beach volleyball partner Kerri Walsh lost over the weekend in the semis of the Miami AVP tournament. The loss broke a seven-tournament winning streak for the dynamic duo that have been named AVP Team of the Year the last four seasons and won 13 of 15 AVP tournaments last season. The tour continues with the Dallas Open this weekend at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Back on campus another front running Big West team was Fullerton softball who came into town a perfect 6-0 in league and left as losers of their series to Kim Sowder’s 49er club who keeps battling injuries and ineligibilities. The Sweethearts of Swat head to Riverside this weekend while their baseball brothers host UC Davis in a non-conference series.

Back to the boy bases…the polls were not too kind, Rivals has LB at 23, ESPN/USA Today at 25 and the College Writers at 29…one of my faithful readers said, “I was shocked that Long Beach State wasn't back in all of the polls. What more does a team have to do, going 5-0 on the week with a two-game sweep of a top ten team? Only Michigan did better, going 6-0 with a sweep of Ohio State, and they are now in most of the top 25s/30s. I know the polls don't mean much beyond fan discussions and debates, but they do become important when it comes to making the post-season tournament muster…”…

Same super fan also noted as many others did that despite other sources saying that Manny McElroy (now 2-0) had made his first start since February he actually started an ORU game last weekend…the skipper looks for a third post-rehab start this weekend vs. Davis. Encouraging.

Last add on that perpetual motion machine Dan Monson. The new hoop coach hasn’t stopped promoting his new era men’s basketball program visiting gyms big and small and players, mostly big. Dan now has a car pool partner in his former Minnesota assistant Vic Couch who was a successful prep coach at John F. Kennedy High in Fremont and Servite High in Anaheim before college stops at Santa Clara then Minnesota.—DR. DAN

Sunday, April 15, 2007


If you are looking for the Weather Report at Blair Field today it remains partly cloudy, interesting since the chief tenants, Dirtbag baseball, are on a five game win streak dating back to last Sunday in Irvine. You get that forecast from those post-game chats with chief meteorologist and head baseball coach Mike Weathers. Breaking the outfield circle, Weathers started and stopped then said, “Let’s put it this way, we overcame ourselves”. Translated: a 4-2 win that was anything but pretty.

From the beginning on Saturday afternoon there was ample evidence that his side lacked much energy and struggled with CSUN senior Joe Rocchio. Sure LBSU (20-12, 3-2) scored a single run in the bottom of the first but the next run of innings saw lots of squandered opportunities. The visitors (13-24, 1-7) answered with a run in the second and before the day was done had the bases full in the top of the ninth. Omar Arif once again ate some important innings (4.1) before the committee appeared, Dustin Rasco, Adam Wilk, Andrew Liebel and Bryan Shaw. Shaw walked a guy and gave up a hit then with the sacks fill of CSUNs finished by striking out the side, including John Parnham and Jowen Murray-Thornton on back-to-back Ks. So what rained on the Niner parade, back to the skipper. “We were not being aggressive enough, particularly with the fast ball. We weren’t base running very well and (with new basketball coach Dan Monson looking on) we weren’t very good at taking care of the ball.” Translated two more errors but in the end enough offense to overcome the nine guys left on base and those boots.

The scoring came thanks in large part by Weathers punching a couple of offensive buttons in the form of Jason Corder (2-3 and 2 RBIs), Robert Perry (2-4 despite a botched suicide squeeze) and the continued offensive presence of Shane Peterson (2-4 and a run scored.). On the other side obviously Northridge field boss Steve Rousey wasn’t pleased about leaving nine runners aboard through the first eight innings. He still had a chance in the ninth when Jon Sakurai, Richard Cates, and man mountain Jorge Andrade, Jr. were able to get on via error, single, and walk, respectively. Andrade reached base four times and continued to look every bit the best hitter in the Big West (.393, .615 slugging % and a healthy .434.on base %). Today a couple of full sized righties go into the circle. Backed by a considerable following of parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and neighbor kids, 6-2 Edwin Quirarte (4.53,2-5) will try and replicate some of his fine 2006 work like those six scoreless innings against Nevada, seven strikeouts against New Orleans, and, this will make you shudder, a four-hit, complete game shutout over Santa Barbara. The Beach will ask 6-6 Manny McElroy to go as far as he can (hopefully three plus) and then, in no particular order, Roberts, Rasco, Wilk and as needed Liebel and Shaw.

SUNDAY MY DUST WILL COME—more Quitarte family news, he has two sisters and three brothers, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2005 and was also recruited by Arizona State, LMU, UCLA and UC Irvine… next Tuesday the Bags host LMU then future Big West opponent UC Davis in a non-conference series next weekend,…the homestand then finishes with the fighting Tony Gwynns and San Diego State the following Tuesday…a couple of fine efforts by play for pay D-Bags yesterday…Chris Gomez grand slammed for Baltimore in the sixth inning to put the Orioles past Kansas City and Terrmel Sledge was the Dodger killer going 2-3, 2 runs scored and upped his Padres average to .389 in a 7-2 rout of the Azule…on the smaller diamond the ladies of softball made a nice comeback yesterday after dropping the first of a three-game series to Cal State Fullerton by a score of 3-2, the 49ers came back to give the Titans their first Big West Conference loss and evened the series at one game a piece with a 3-0 shutout win…Kelly Cross tossed the three-hit shutout and the 49ers got eight hits, including four doubles to flatten the Titans….where are they…after transferring from LBSU to Chico State for his senior year, shortstop Edgar Sedano is batting a team-leading .408…hum, think he might have been useful this weekend…the Saturday scoreboard around the league--UC Irvine 3, Cal Poly 2; Fullerton at UC Davis PPD to play a DH today; UC Santa Barbara 8, Pacific 7; and Washington 12, UC Riverside 6…also in the boxes on Saturday the finest closer in recent LB memory Gabe Gonzalez retired from the show and now in the teaching biz and as noted above, Dan Monson with a mystery pal who might be a possible assistant…and just because the Titans were rained out they still get picked on…a mighty mite 5-6 guard Junior Russell got out of his LBSU commitment and has signed with Fullerton to play in Historic Titan Gym…one Titan wag noting that CSUF has three under six footers coming in said, “I like the new team and finally I am taller than the players”—DR. DAN

Saturday, April 14, 2007


If the new sheriff in the Big West town was supposed to be UC Irvine then who let Barney Fife have the keys to the Mayberry Jail? And what about some of the old gunslingers like dem cowpokes at Long Beach State? That’s what I wonder on this separation Saturday after Cal Poly ripped the heart out of UC Irvine on the Anteaters own grounds and Long Beach State ran Northridge out to pasture with an 11-2 hog-tieing of the Matadors. Translated, half way through the season and in their second conference series, the young guns on the 2007 Forty Niner baseball team (19-12, 2-2) are tougher than a lot of people think.

Previously the most versatile two-way Dirtbag was Joe Ballsinger who does a mean Elvis air guitar early in the game and Tequila on the trumpet late. Move over Joe, Shane Peterson has a neat act of his own, pitching the first five without an earned run, fanning six and then going 2-4 with 4 RBIs, enough to single handedly beat no-luck Northridge (13-23, 1-6). Irvine of course had won beat the tough two some of Long Beach and Fullerton and was supposed to slap around Cal Poly who was just a game or so over .500 on the season. Instead the Mustangs found a 157 pound sophomore southpaw Derrick Saito in the pen to pitch 4.2 strong closing innings and Cal Poly defeated No. 17 UC Irvine 5-4. While some in the smallish Blair crowd of 854 cheered the Eaters going down, others worried that if SLO is real then the conference might have four teams (adding Fullerton to the mix) fighting over three NCAA post-season bids. Shane’s coach Mike Weathers said the sophomore star didn’t have any one outstanding pitch but “he’s got a moving fastball and that new curve that Buck has him throwing. Troy calls a real good game” Peterson himself talked about his offense to the post game press “I’m seeing the ball well” and felt “good” at the plate." As important however was his throwing the ball over the plate. Zero walks, six Ks and a chance for the battered Beach pitching unit to save Liebel and Shaw. David Roberts and Andre Lamontagne split the final four striking out eight more and allowing only one base runner. Peterson again, "The coaches tell me to give them three good innings” and he did while guys like freshman TJ Mittelstaedt and senior Matt Cline bothered the visitors all night. TJ got on base four times (two walks, a single and a hit by pitch) and Cline, batting in the nine hole, went 2-4 and scored twice. Today LB rolls out hard luck hurler Omar Arif who has the best ERA of the starters (3.07) but the worst record (1-5). The issue for Northridge clearly is defensive control, two recorded errors, numerous poor throws last night and a suspect bull pen. Senior righthander Joe Rocchio (1-4, 4.09) goes for CSUN which means that all of those left handed Bag bats will get a lot of business again today.

DUST BUSTERS—While both Shaw and Liebel were on the board to pitch if necessary the day off will help this weekend if the Beach wants to hit and pass the 20 win mark…Liebel was solid against Oral Roberts allowing only one hit and was victimized in his 5 2/3 innings against Pepperdine by weak D…Sunday is still a possibility but the coaches would like to continue bringing Manny McElroy along for 3-5 frames…Shaw has his ERA down to 1.85 and could go back to back….more MASH stuff, shortstop Danny Espinosa has been scratched for the weekend because of that pinched back nerve…and Vance Worley will not even be cleared to soft toss for another two weeks…that would put his return around the time of the all important series May 4-6 against Cal Poly….oddly the only Bag boot Friday came from leftfielder TJ Mittelsteadt (a former infielder) who allowed the ball to get through to the LF wall …”the older guys really help me stay calm and that helps me at the plate too” TJ noted…the error allowed two unearned runs to score and gave short lived hope to CSUN with an early 2-0 lead…as a program the Matadors are sitting on 1,398 wins in program history, leaving them two shy of the 1,400 milestone…the other numbers from Friday, Cal Poly 5, UC Irvine 4; Fullerton 9, UC Davis 2; UC Santa Barbara 14, Pacific 9; and Washington 8, UC Riverside 2--.DR. DAN

Friday, April 13, 2007


Forget Friday the 13th, for our numbers edition of Diamond Dust the number is 1812 as in that really fine overture by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and that really fine (and surprising to some) season record by Long Beach State baseball. The Dirtbags got to that number Tuesday night with what skipper Mike Weathers said was his “best ever win—how many times can you beat Pepperdine in 45 minutes.” Forgetting Mikes new math, (the :45 was the clock on completing a game that was actually 63 days long) the 49ers get back to the Big West this weekend trying to lap hit-happy Northridge.

To accomplish that vroom, vroom moment the Beach will have to grit their teeth, cross fingers, and avoid ladders, black cats and other such superstitions that come with a very unsettled pitching rotation. Exhibit one is Shane Peterson (1-1, 3.97) who had four RBIs in that Tuesday two-step over Pepperdine but has to start on the mound tonight against CSUN ace Jimmy Jolicoeur (5-2, 4.02). LB’s season-long Friday guy, Vance Worley, will be shelved a couple more starts with triceps tenderness. VW swears that his absence has nothing to do with the fact that the Mats offense shone last weekend with 24 runs on 37 hits (in a not so crisp 11 hours, 17 minutes.)

Beyond the mound mystery, there is this bad game of dominoes that the Beach had to play starting with game three of the ORU series when shortstop Danny Espinosa went missing with a pain in the back. Coaches, trainers, et al worked on “releasing a muscle pinching a nerve” all week but Espy is still listed as a game time decision. When he went out that shuffled an infield that just didn’t click defensively, Tweedy having to cover short and auditions at third by Krick and Pinocchio. At first base on Tuesday senior Brandon Godfrey gave way to Peterson because, as Weathers would say, “we probably should have given Tweedy some experience at short before Danny went out so I decided that we ought to get Shane ready at first. “ Slash hit well but made one actual and one mental error at first and it took another ninth inning rally (the third this season) to save the game. Another shuffle was moving Robert Perry (9-44 coming in) down the order and TJ Mittelstaedt up the order. “I told Robert that the seven spot has been good to a lot of our guys over the years and sure enough he hit a home run. TJ is a good leadoff, knows the strike zone and has a great on-base percentage (.429),” Gotcha coach. CSUN comes in upside down at 13-22, 1-5 BWC and losers of 12 of their last 14 with eight beats by a single run. Backward glance, a similar Matador team won the series 2-1 over LB last season.

START YOUR ENGINES DUST—the happy note these days is that the talented Bryan Shaw is, in the skippers words, “back to being the old Bryan Shaw”...his ERA is below 2 at 1.92 and the record up to 4-2…Liebel (2.06) and Roberts (2.50) help with the closing arguments…this weekend anybody could pitch anywhere, Arif for sure will get a start and McElroy will go as far as his rebuilt arm will take him…young guns Dustin Rasco (1-0, 3.38), Adam Wilk (1-0, 3.94) and Andrew Lamontagne (1-0, 6.35) give T-Buck lefty righty buttons to push…back to our music appreciation class, the 1812 is a work best known for the sequence of cannon fire which is sometimes performed, especially at outside festivals, using one or more real cannons…that brings us to the hitting issues for the Niners, as in the modest team batting average of .272… with just a handful of hitters over .300…reason--mostly Blair as the Mats will find out tonight and tomorrow…on Sunday, who knows…the strained LBSU budget is glad that Troy Buckley doesn’t put in for frequent mound miles…14 different pitchers have appear and ten of them have ten or more innings…maybe the PA guy needs extra pay for filling with sounds…Where are theys—Jared Hughes off to a great start with a 5.2 innings and a miniscule 1.69 ERA…Evan Longoria has started hot with the Montgomery Biscuits on the Tampa Bay farm where is around .400 and a kicking .800 plus slugging percentage….not such a good start for Jeremy Reed… the Ex Dirtbag outfielder and the Mariners' starting center fielder on Opening Day the past two seasons, began this season with the AAA Tacoma Rainiers…unable to hit lefties his batting average is .211 but still a phone call away from going back to the bigs…"That's the bad side of this job, having to do this, especially this time of spring," Seattle manager Mike Hargove said. "[Cutting] Jeremy was one of the toughest ones I've ever had to do. It was not fun, but we all felt it was the right thing to do."…and how about the ex coach who developed one of the best LB pitchers of all time Daniel Choi…that would be Steve Rousey who worked as the pitching coach for three LB All-Americans, including ‘93 national Pitcher of the Year Mr. Choi…oh yes, unless he chats with umps, he’s in the third base dugout all weekend as the Mats head coach—DR. DAN

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The answer is Ernie Banks ,Colonel Henry Potter and Dan Monson. The question is--name a guy who likes to play two, the actual head of a MASH unit, and the healthiest pitcher wearing a Dirtbag baseball cap.

If you thought that this would be a boring Tuesday before tax day you may have overlooked the drama that is Dirtbag baseball. Enter stage left is number 14 in a Cubs uniform Ernie Banks who made famous the catch phrase,”Let's play two!" as in finish the 7-7 February 6 tied game with the top of the Pepperdine order batting in the bottom of the ninth. That MASH unit crack is about the growing Dirtbag DL list featuring Vance Worley (MRI, no tear but a flexor inflammation that needs to cool down) and Danny Espinosa (likely a pinched nerve in the muscle fibers). And the new guy on the mound, that would be the just hired and widely heralded Dan Monson, an Idaho all sports whiz who is now the messiah for men’s basketball at the Beach.

Whew, those sentences are long. Monson will be on a pitch count, one. Bryan Shaw will try and finish what he was trying to finish in the suspended game. Adam Wilk and a host of other Bags (Arif, McElroy and Peterson) work game two. The Waves will use Brett Hunter (5-2) and/or Adam Olbrychowski (5-1) sometime this evening. I feel better.

WARNING--ELIPSIS DUST-- A three-dot symbol used to show an incomplete statement... Ellipses are used in on-screen menus to convey that there is more to come…poll watchers got eye strain looking for the Beach but they are in the “Others receiving votes”-Long Beach State (64) which makes LB #26 in the ESPN Coaches top 25 poll…one of those voters is Rob Walton of Oral Roberts…putting another blog on the fire is Zack Hample and his Watching Baseball Smarter, a neat stat geeks read… Hample is an obsessed fan and a regular on…he is to baseballs (nearly 3,000 collected from major league games) what our Tom Patterson is to cards...back to the present, the hot bat in February was Mr. Espinosa…the Pepps had a 7-0 lead over LBSU in Malibu but then 49ers took advantage of eight walks and a dramatic three-run home run by Danny in the eighth inning…I did not call that shot but a gaggle of parents nervously shifting behind the press box with the score 7-4 did…”I bet he hits one now” they said and I scoffed…The Waves won all three last weekend and are 7, 8, and 10 in the polls…they got LMU to hit into four double plays, won their season-high seventh straight, improved to 26-8 overall and at 6-0 have virtually wrapped up the West Coast Conference title…also on Saturday the Big West’s new Sheriff, UC Irvine, played some small ball, snow ball, Augie ball, or whatever when Dave Serrano mixed eight bunts, five infield singles, three stolen bases and 14 hits smacking the up-Titans 12-4… that win gave Cal Poly the top spot at least until they visit the Anteaters this weekend…around the loop on this Tuesday… USC at Fullerton; Irvine at UCLA; Hawai'i at Pacific; Riverside at San Diego…49er fund drive is on and if 25 percent of the web board woofers back up their enthusiasm with checks …that ellipsis again…Monson should be able avoid the sticker shock of SoCal real estate with that $1.5 mil buyout from Minnesota…one gets the feeling though that this guy is more into redemption and rebuilding then the Benjamin’s…still on the bucks beat…at 11:00 am on April 29th well fed cows will patrol a 60 x 40 yard area on George Allen Field and if they make a deposit on your square in this Cow Chip Bingo game you win $500 to $2,000…twenty bucks a, er, ah, chance…with that we establish a moratorium on bovine by-products but lift our moratorium on basketball chat…as you know new skipper Don Monson is playing telephone tag with coaches and players (he has upwards to eight scholarships open) and one of nominee 6-9 Los Al big man Clint Amberry…he’s of interest because the late Jim Lineberger (he established the LBSU Free Throw award) would love Clint and especially his grand dad Dr. Tom Amberry who’s book “Focus and Concentration” helped him enter the Guinness Book of Records with 2,750 consecutive made free throws…closing notes…arguably the best baseball team south of Oregon State, Pepperdine should be a top-16 national seed…they swept Saint Mary’s and LMU the last two weeks and have lost one series all year, at UNLV...Blair is tougher air than Malibu which should slow down Adrian Ortiz (.438), Danny Worth (.373) and Luke Salas (.353)…7 Niners are over .300 but the team batting average is a very modest .269…defensively the Bags are .967 but the recent infield shake-up, with Espy on the bench, does make one nervous—DR. DAN

Monday, April 09, 2007


Thanks for checking in on this just-before-tax-time, right-turns-only edition of notes on the new basketball boss press release. That press conference of course ended 18 days of wild guessing, dissing, praying and promoting of coaches from across the street and across the country.

As reported elsewhere, the winning recipe, as selected by the Cal State head chefs King Alexander and Victor Cegles, was the 45 year old Washington born, Idaho bred son of a coach, Dan Monson. He had 11 years in the building and two years in running the wildly popular Gonzaga program and six years and seven games trying to fix the mess at Minnesota. “I had been to two of these new coach press conferences before but this is the first time I said I was really happy.”

“I am not here to make this another Gonzaga but continue the great Long Beach tradition.” That notion seems to have caught on since his cell phone traffic which dropped from a hundred a day to three or four after he left the Big Ten job for the Big West is filling up his voice mail again. “We are going to take our time hiring assistants because we are going to build a program not just a season.” That one season approach got the Beach to the Big Dance last month but at the price an NCAA inquiry that has months more to run.
MONSON SEASON—One of the passionate LB partisans recalled the well known JFK quote, “A rising tide lifts all boats” in the future hope that a new coach will result in winning conference championships, filling the Pyramid, and setting a high bar for all the campus sports. Unspoken is that the present athletic budget has a serious shortfall, tuition and fees are going up there is a new salary package (six years $200,000 plus incentives tied to player academic performance, post season appearances and ticket sales.) That leaves a question. This time next year will the Athletic Ship of Long Beach State be “Rising with the Tide or Bailing Water?”

Now two looks at jewels, starting with the diamond variety. The baseball Niners beat Oral Roberts two out of three last weekend and slick fielding shortstop Danny Espinosa won even more admiration. For three straight games the Golden Eagle’s radio guy Geoff Haxton watched Espy go deep in the hole, stop the baseball, turn and throw bullets around Blair. Finally, Haxton let out a big sigh and said, “That guy rips the heart out of a team.” The Beach will host Northridge this weekend amid the roar of Grand Prix engines and Big West umpires.

The other precious stones are those organized by LBSU’s DeDe Rossi and her Jewels of the Night fund raising team who are heading down the home stretch for the May 19th edition of their “eat, bid and be merry” event. Fifty of the hottest restaurants will be dishing out the grub, the Surf City All Stars will be playing cool music and the 49er athletic department will be making money on upwards to 1,000 donated auction items. Call Pat West (just back in town from watching grandson Travis Ramsey play for the Maine Black Bears in the NCAA Frozen Four hockey tourney) to donate an item or make your reservation at 562-985-4662.

We close with an item from our book club. The title is Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample who admits he is obsessed but clearly is one of the most talented of the stat geeks. His book gives you the “ ins and outs of pitching, hitting, running, and fielding, the difference between a slider and a curveball, how good hitters use iPods and enough other stuff to get you through a couple of rain delays. Whatever rain is.—DR. DAN

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Matt Cline had a busy night in a contest that Dirtbag skipper Mike Weathers said was "bad baseball all around. They just let us stay in the game long enough to win." And win they did 8-7 in a not-so-fan-friendly four hours five minutes that featured five recorded errors by the Oral Roberts (15-14) and several dinks and dunks that Weathers and a good part of the 1157 thought might also have been miscues. "We won but we didn't play championship baseball." The other not-so-fan-friendly moment came from an observed gesture by the Eagles man-mountain first baseman Chad Rothford who after he got his first hit of the weekend (and scored his first and only run) signaled that number to the Niner student section.

For the good guys Cline went 3-for-4 before battling ORU closer Erik Crichton (of nearby Seal Beach) to a 3-2 count with two out before his free pass pushed Chris Nelson's winning run across. Long Beach upped their record to 16-11, and notched another series win. The other good news was that the Niners troubled closer Bryan Shaw (now 3-2 and the last of seven LB pitchers) got the final two outs in the top of the ninth to pick up the win. Omar Arif (1-4, 3.20) goes for the Bags against ORU's Chris Ashman (2-3, 5.45).

DUSTING THE PEANUT SHELLS--the visitors are staying in high cotton, the Doubletree Disneyland which makes me wonder why they aren't buying a LB hotel…likely the NCAA will be around to finish looking at the possible extra benefits in the Reynolds regime…small change I suspect but I was reminded of that nifty HBO documentary on UCLA with a segment on their big buck booster Sam "Papa G" Gilbert…they say he's not around to help the current Bruins because he now resides in an er, ah very warm climate…although he was roughed up at the time the press box said that "Manny McElroy, making his first start and appearance since February 10, lasted a pre-determined 40 pitches, going two and two-third innings"…that spotty D and some timely swings by ORU resulted in three unearned runs before he left…Shane Peterson was fairly straight and flat in the 4th and allowed three runs including a solo homer…oddly ORU's Rothford was the MVP of the Arkansas regional last year but is hitting only .214 with a team leading 26 Ks this season…inside, the Beach effort was close but no cigar…the University of Hawai'i was able to survive a huge LB rally and win their seventh straight match, 30-27, 30-20, 22-30, 27-30, 19-17 win…senior salute is tonight in the Mid so for you that started the day at the Mid's 10 a.m. intro of new hoop coach Dan Monson, then migrated to women's water polo at noon before baseball you can actually not do anything worthwhile all day and night... at Cal Poly the Niner softballers lost twice to the BWC leading Mustangs 3-1 and 6-1…get away game this afternoon…nice salute to LB SS Danny Espinosa and his golden glove…sayeth Golden Eagle radio guy Geoff Haxton, who after a deep in the hole tough run, catch and throw said, "that guy can just rip the heart of out a team"…still not big crowds this weekend but the first lady of the 49ers, Pat West, had a good excuse, she was at the Frozen Four in St. Louis watching grandson Travis Ramsey play for the Maine Black Bears…sticking with post season dreams, Baseball America has picked an early NCAA 64 team field and on paper have the Niners at Stillwater with host Oklahoma State, TCU and would you know, ORU…Fullerton is pegged as a host with San Diego, Hawaii and UCLA coming in and Irvine is projected to go to Tempe with ASU, Mississippi State and Manhattan…don't book any travel just yet...scoreboarding, Cal Poly 9, Northridge 8 (11); Fullerton 10, UC Irvine 2; UC Davis 10, Pacific 5; and Santa Barbara 5, UC Riverside 4…next up for the Niners is Pepperdine Tuesday at 5 p.m. with the completion of the 7-7 Feb 6 tie game and the scheduled contest 30 minutes after…the Waves and LMU play today again on CSTV nationally and the Niner clipboards are taping as they play…the Pepps had a 7-0 lead over LBSU in Malibu but the 49ers took advantage of eight walks and a dramatic three-run home run by Danny Espinosa in the eighth inning….the game would ended by darkness before the Waves could bat in the bottom of the ninth inning….players who started and then left that game can not reenter…anybody else is fine…next weekend it is time for hit happy CSUN…Friday the Mats gave up a double to the gap in left-center for a 9-8 loss in front of 1,330 at Baggett Stadium…and our closing quote is about Evan Longoria…"We said when we took him that he was No. 1 on our draft board," Tampa Bay Devil Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said. "If we had the first pick, that's who we would have taken. He's still exceeded our expectations, and I have a feeling he's going to do that for many years to come. I have a feeling he's going to have a very, very successful major-league career." Me too.--DR. DAN

Friday, April 06, 2007


On the surface the game was sort of the way the press reported it. “Andrew Liebel (5-2) and Vance Worley combined on a two-hitter as No. 23-ranked Long Beach State (15-11) shutout visiting Oral Roberts (15-13) 4-0 on Thursday evening.” That report however forgets the mystery that still surrounds the up and down Dirtbags as we head into ORU game two on this Good Friday evening.

Normally split games occur when the starter goes six or so and you get exceptional relief for the final three or so. Last night starter Vance Worley couldn’t answer the bell for the fourth and Reliable Liebel found yet another way to contribute as the really long relief. He got the all the hitting help he would need from guys like Shane Peterson, two RBIs and a 2-for-3 effort, and Brandon Godfrey, three hits, two runs scored and a pumped up batting average of .342. Of course when an ace disappears from the deck of pitchers speculation runs around Blair faster than kids chasing foul balls. The theories in no particular order were “Buckley is saving him for Pepperdine on Tuesday,” “they are still trying to stretch Liebel out”. “I think I heard something pop.” Faced with that mixed bag of conspiracy theories we asked the aforementioned Mr. Troy Buckley who classified the move as “strictly precautionary”. “Vance had an arm injury in high school (elbow strain at McClatchy HS in Sacto) and the last pitch he threw in the third was a curve ball. He said that it didn’t feel right and reminded him of his high school injury. The trainer examined him and we sent him to the bull pen for a couple of throws but when a player has discomfort and apprehension we take them out.” Buck said the trainer did not see any post game swelling or tingling or other indicators of the dreaded UCL, the Tommy John thing.

Ironically today is the day that MIA Manny McElroy returns after missing most of February, all of March and this much of April. He will face ORU’s hard throwing righty Jeremy Hefner, Jr. (4-1, 3.68). Tomorrow ORU sends returning All American and conference Pitcher of the Year Chris Ashman who has struggled so far (2-3, 5.45) against Omar Arif. Back to our side Liebel was almost perfect down the stretch nailing the last 13 batters of the game, pitching the final six shutout innings and giving up just one hit with four strikeouts. More T-Buck, “he did a great job and was getting more strikes with his fast ball.” The Worley/Liebel opposite number, ORU's Chance Chapman, didn’t get the support he deserved. A National Pitcher of the Week following 17 strikeouts against Arkansas nine days ago, he gave up four runs (three earned) on 10 hits over six innings but the offense put more goose eggs on the scoreboard than the kids will find in the park tomorrow. More misery for the Eagles came from the position of catcher, LB’s Brian Capon threw out two and ORUs Brian Van Kirk allowed the Beach to enjoy a season high four stolen bases. Bit player in the Orange County Housewives, Steve Tinoco, got LB on the board with an RBI single before Peterson made it 2 zip with his single RBI and three zip with the same in the fifth. Godfrey, on base all day, scored from second. The last nail came from freshman TJ Mittelstaedt's who squeezed in Peterson after his second heist of the contest.

THE DUST OF THE STORY—down on Nutwood, Register writer Janis Carr noted, “Maybe because “Survivor” is on at 8 p.m. and “Grey’s Anatomy” at 9 p.m. Maybe this isn’t as big of a series as expected. Whatever the reason, Goodwin Field is not even half full for the opening Big West game between No. 12 Fullerton and No. 23 Irvine.”…at Blair the announced gathering of 927 can be misleading since all crowd counts start with season ticket sales of 524…in the crowd however (and getting free advice) were the LB Big Three, President Alexander, AD Vic Cegles, and his new chief Lt. Dave Benedict…irony part two…ORU just averted a basketball coach crisis themselves when their talented young hoop skipper Scott Sutton was on the short list for Creighton until the Creighton guy did a quick U-Turn from Arkansas…lots of Eagle followers in town in part because they have nine Californians…irony part 3…back in the early eighties the Houp brothers (who had the house next to mine) split up with Ken playing at ORU and Scott at LBSU...around the Big West last night it was Northridge 8, Cal Poly 7; Pacific 12, UC Davis 10; Irvine 2, Fullerton 1; Riverside 9, UCSB 0…and around the I wish I was in the Big West it was California 0 @ Arizona 1 (11); Fresno State 7 @ Nevada 6; Hawaii 9 @ Sacramento State 6; LMU 1 @ Pepperdine 3; New Mexico 3 @ San Diego State 6; San Diego 4 @ Saint Mary's 2; Santa Clara 4 @ San Francisco 3; Southern California 5 @ Oregon State 9; Stanford 4 @ Arizona State 5; and Washington 5 @ UCLA 6… bonus Titan misery…the Nutwood Nine had the bases loaded, nobody out in 9th—then a runner is caught at home, followed by a strike out, ground out—DR. DAN

Thursday, April 05, 2007


And now back to your baseball season already in progress. Every time we sit down to dust up this important series with Oral Roberts the “you got mail” chime Bings in with some sort of breaking news. But for tonight at least Diamond Dust is a hoop-free zone so let’s set up this key match up of entries from the Big West and the Mid Continent conferences.

The visitors come in at 15-12 and fresh off the Tuesday night toasting and roasting of another ranked team, No. 8 Wichita State who dropped to a still shining 24-7, two of those Ws over the Beach at WSU last month. The Shockers jumped on the Golden Eagles early but Oral Roberts took the lead in the bottom of the fourth and never looked back. The Dirtbags, who had one and possibly two player-only meetings last weekend, had no mid-weeker and focused on fundamentals rather than their record. Both sides know that more than any sport, baseball can be characterized as a marathon more than a sprint. ORU is led by Rob Walton, 148-59 and the 2006 Mid-Con Coach of the Year-his second award in three seasons. On the first base side Mike Weathers is in is fifth D-Bag year (200-122) and will be the head coach of Team USA this summer. As a team, ORU is batting .249 with Jake Kahaulelio leading the Eagles at .320. They have a superb Friday starter in Chance Chapman (team-leading 0.95 ERA and four saves to go along with a perfect 3-0 record). Rested and psychologically improved, the Niners are 14-11, and barely hanging on in the polls at No. 27 by Collegiate Baseball. The RPI is still high at #3 but the batting average is below average at 266. Taylor Krick, in just 12 games, is leading with .378, whiz SS Danny Espinosa is batting .313 (30 hits, seven doubles, three home runs and 18 RBI.) And you asked about the pen, well reliever Andrew Liebel leads the squad in victories with four but there is still confusion about who makes the closing arguments, Bryan Shaw, Dustin Rasco, etc.

REST OF THE DUST—usual Saturday starter Manny McElory (1-0, 9.00) out since mid February has rested a torn rib cage and should work game three for the Beach…in the Sunday spanking of Irvine, LBSU and Shane Peterson shook off Eater first frame home runs, took the lead 3-2 in the fourth, added six in the fifth and giggled the rest of the way. Weathers told the press ,”We put some young guys in who haven't had a lot of chances and they're trying really to earn a spot”,…that would be freshmen Krick, Tinoco and Mittelstaedt…UCI and CSUF meet this weekend…Robert Perry showed some rare power with a homer in Sunday’s 14 hit, errorless effort…last bright light…super soph Shane Peterson fixed the first inning stuff and got his first 2007 win…Niner softball, winners of their series with CSUN last weekend, travels to Cal Poly Friday and Saturday…the LB net set beat Boston College 4-3 yesterday and improved to 12-8, BC fell to 4-12…women’s water polo has noon dates on Friday and Saturday with San Jose and Stanford…men’s volleyball (11-13) hosts Hawaii Friday and Saturday nights…Ironic parallel. In a season where both of their teams are young and learning, head coaches Mike Weathers of baseball and Alan Knipe of Volleyball can look forward to a summer with some of the best talent in the USA. Knipe was tabbed by USA Volleyball to be its head coach for the US team in the World University Games, August 8-18 in Bangkok and Weathers is the head coach for USA baseball’s 55 day tour this summer…Mike’s team will be comprised of the best collegiate sophomores and freshmen in the land and will tune up in the Northeast before the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro and another tourney in the Netherlands. Alan’s coaching staff is still up for grabs but Weathers will have Wright State’s Rob Cooper, Utah's Bill Kinneberg and UNC-Wilmington's Mark Scalf as his three assistant coaches. Guess he doesn’t need me…the best time at a ball game may not be the ball game…last weekend the Liberty High team took in the LB-UCI contest while motoring to a tourney in San Diego…the kids kept pestering their coach, a former Wichita State star, to eat dinner at a joint near their hotel…Coach said..."we are NOT going to Hooters”…then a visit with Tom Jamison, dad of Neil who as you read this is motoring to San Antonio to deliver his kid that white Ford Explorer...same as he had here “not much bonus money” Dad said…the Missons are the AA farm of San Diego and also have Cesar Ramos on the roster…too bad Steve Velazco of the ’05 ain’t around for the free mouse pads on Saturday…he and Will Skett (who carried put hid a live rodent in unis at the NMSU series) were both rodent like in their speed and cunning…last add the Niners 7-7 tie with Pepperdine will be settled at 5 p.m. next Tuesday before the regularly scheduled game…—DR. DAN

Monday, April 02, 2007


Spring has sprung, March is done, and the Beach basketball coaching carousel has finally come to a halt. Whew. Now we can get back to fussing about 49er baseball who would rather find their hitting and defense instead of the colored eggs hidden around Blair field.

The Blair affair moves up a day this weekend (Thursday and Friday nights and Saturday afternoon) due to Easter. The guests coming in are from Oral Roberts University, a team that has been hot of late winning ten of their last 14 games. Like Long Beach ORU generally struggles from the plate, hitting at a chilly .244, but pitch well, play sound defense and have a recent win over #7 Arkansas.

The 49er pitching hasn’t really been a problem this season but at times last weekend the Dirtbags seen on the Irvine diamond looked like they were visiting a foreign country. In the Big West conference opening series last weekend the normally slick fielding Beach boys fumbled, stumbled and sweated like a smuggler going through TSA at LAX. The Bags Sunday turnaround so stunned Anteater skipper Dave Serrano that he uttered the magic word that got him an early shower. Imagine his mood when his team goes to first place Fullerton this weekend.

Back to the homeboys, the future for the 49ers is either bright or cloudy depending on your glasses, rose-colored or dark. The rosy scenario is that the last two weekends have featured the two toughest nines in the Big West in Irvine and Fullerton. With the non-conference ORU visit and the possibility that Manny McElory, he of a couple of months on the DL, will be back in the starting rotation things look brighter especially looking ahead to very winnable weekends against Northridge, Davis, Pacific, SLO, and UCSB.

The dark view is that from a season high team batting average of .301 after Arizona State series in mid-March, the LB hitting numbers have fallen faster than the President’s approval rating. Today that figure is .266 despite Sunday’s 12-4 win and the defense has been as shaky as the President’s approval rating. Oh, am I repeating myself? “Some times you just have to grind your way through these things”, Niner coach Mike Weathers would say. Half full or half empty--come see for yourself.

DUST BUSSING—Niner softball, winners of their series with CSUN last weekend, travels to Cal Poly for more BWC competition on Friday and Saturday. Tennis is still on a six match road trip, women’s water polo has noon dates on Friday and Saturday with San Jose and Stanford and men’s volleyball (11-13) hosts Hawaii on Friday and Saturday nights.

Ironic parallel. In a season where both of their teams are young and learning, head coaches Mike Weathers of baseball and Alan Knipe of Volleyball can look forward to a summer with some of the best talent in the USA. Knipe was tabbed by USA Volleyball to be its head coach for the US team in the World University Games, August 8-18 in Bangkok and Weathers is the head coach for USA baseball’s 55 day tour this summer.

Mike’s team will be comprised of the best collegiate sophomores and freshmen in the land and will tune up in the Northeast before the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro and another tourney in the Netherlands. Alan’s coaching staff is still up for grabs but Weathers will have Wright State’s Rob Cooper, Utah's Bill Kinneberg and UNC-Wilmington's Mark Scalf as his three assistant coaches. Guess he doesn’t need me. —DR. DAN