Monday, May 21, 2007


You could call last weekend’s drama at Blair Field a Christmas play. The star was clearly 16th ranked Riverside who rolled out pitching triplets that played Scrooge to 11th-ranked Long Beach State. Of course good theatre needs an opposite character so the Dirtbag baseball team, deadly to all opponents in a 13 game winning streak, switched costumes and became Santa Claus.

The Scrooge part started on Friday with UCR’s James Simmons, a projected first round draft choice, followed on Saturday by sore–armed sophomore Matt Montgomery who came in with a mere 30 or so innings all year and like Simmons had a near complete game. Up two wins and the series clinched, on Sunday the Highlanders mixed starter Pat Cassa with closer extraordinaire Joe Kelly to broom the Bags out of first place and likely out of the pleasure of hosting an NCAA Regional.

By the end of the weekend the Beach’s ride to the post-season was smashed like whatever Paris Hilton was parallel parking. In three games the Dirtbags looked an awful lot like Santa Claus giving their visitors fourteen walks, nine errors, six wild pitches, two passed balls, one hit by pitch and a partridge in a pear tree. And no timely hitting.

If all of that seemed tough for the LB youngsters, going from Blair Field to Fullerton this weekend is analogous in terms of pressure to moving from a toaster oven to a nuclear reactor. With the help of other teams there is still a slim chance of winning the Big West and hosting a regional but I’m making my plans for a visit to San Diego or Tempe. Stay tuned and bring your ear plugs to Nutwood this weekend.

HAPPIER DUSTING. -- There were nice words and nice numbers for the Dede Rossi swan song at CSULB’s Jewels of the Night athletic scholarship fundraiser. Nearly $60,000 was raised in the live auction and every one of the silent auction items had a lot of action. And before the dancers hit the floor, the retiring but never shy Ms. Rossi was made the official Queen of the Night with an almost-diamond tiara presented by President King Alexander.

It was a moment of relaxation for the prez who will shake some 6000 hands of new grads before the weekend is over and probably twice that number of family and friends. Commencement ends a remarkable year for LBSU and their rookie president, who got over a potential faculty strike, hired a board room full of new VPs, replaced a llightning rod AD with a steady and popular guy from back east, and hired a new basketball coach.

Up next are serious talks with the NCAA over major infractions that go back two and a half years. “We will meet with the NCAA in August and propose self-imposed penalties. Hopefully they will be impressed with how I handled problems at Murray State and what Coach Monson did at Minnesota.” If the NCAA trusts Alexander and Monson the University hopes the forthcoming punishment will be a bit more lenient. Last add hoop issues…insiders expect that since the offending parties have already been dispatched the punishments will include a multi-year restriction on junior college recruiting and loss of any post-season possibilities. That might not be so bad since the Monson formula is to build with preps and next year ain’t likely to be too good anyway.

Now, more misery loves company for other ranked diamond outfits…last weekend it was No. 5 Texas sweeping No. 11 Texas A&M; No. 7 Arizona State sweeping No. 19 Oregon State; and No. 20 Missouri sweeping, No. 13 Oklahoma State…meanwhile in the Monday polls LB didn’t fall off the radar, #19 in Rivals, #20 in USA/ESPN and #22 in Baseball America.

Last add baseball. I don’t have a dog in these PAC 10 fights but you might. The hot topic, besides spring football, is the 8-13 conference record by the defending national champions from Oregon State, the recent slump of UCLA (losing five of their last six) and the just a game or so above .500 overall record of USC. Not to worry fans, the NCAA still loves the revenues from fall football.—DR. DAN