Friday, February 29, 2008


Welcome to the post-Oscar production of “When Mid-Majors Collide” even though I know that the big Hollywood hit was “When Worlds Collide”. That original material came from a 1932 sci-fi novel and it wasn’t until the film (starring one of my teenage crushes, Barbara Rush) came out in 1951. But for sub-prime schools like Wichita and Long Beach State, it is all about mid-major baseball. This early season session won’t make or break either program but there will be great pitching, coaches on opposite sides of the start date debate, and mostly black and gold in the stands.

Over time the series has had some unusual runs. Long Beach at one time beat WSU nine in a row but most recently the Shocks have collected six of the last seven. Tonight’s mound matchup is another Friday night dandy--Rob Musgrave (0-0, 1.69) vs. Andrew Liebel (0-0, 0.00). Both guys were great last weekend but neither got a win. If Andrew thought it was a chilly when he snuffed Rice’s murderers row that was nothing like what the Augusta, Kansas press reported was “ice inside the confines of Eck Stadium and the temperature in the 30s” for Friday afternoon’s opener with Fordham. The senior Shocker had a no-hitter through five, but in the sixth he gives up three runs and two hits, before WSU survives 4-3.

Tomorrow more mound talent in the form of WSU’s Aaron Shafer (RHP, 1-0, 1.50) up against Vance Worley (0-0, 2.57) who got the Beach deep but also did not get the W. Sunday’s pairing will have LB’s freshmen Jake Thompson (0-1, 1.50) facing Anthony Capra if he makes a record recovery from emergency appendectomy on Saturday, or somebody else if he doesn’t. For years the Beach and the Shocks had world class pitching coaches, the now departed Troy Buckley for LB and the controversial assistant Brent Kemnitz at WSU. Talking offense, as usual the homeboys will look to junior shortstop Danny Espinosa (two more doubles in Tuesdays loss to USD) while Wichita State third baseman Conor Gillaspie is the best in the Midwest at his position. The Achilles heel for the Dirtbags is strikeouts, 36 strikeouts in four games and far too many of the backward K variety, i.e. looking. On Tuesday Manny McElroy gave up five runs on six hits over the first 3.2 but newcomer Tyler Topp pitched four shutout frames in relief. Likewise, Wichita State struggled with D-2 Emporia State then managed to pull out a 6-3 victory, upping their record to 3-0. Oh yes, WSU had some K issues as well, three Emporia State pitchers combined to record 13 strikeouts. "We didn't adjust well," WSU Head Coach Gene Stephenson said. Been there, done that.

OTHER DUST--Florida's softball team was off to its best start — 19-0 before they met LB Freshman fire-baller Brooke Turner, and after her 16 strikeouts it was see you later Alligator…where are they, ex Bag John Bowker is a long shot to make the Giants' Opening Day roster but last year he set a franchise record with the Double-A Connecticut Defenders---22 home runs, and 90 RBIs in 139 games, finishing in the league's top five in six offensive categories…some say he looks like a young J. D. Drew…my pal Perry M. likes hoop news so here is a guess at non conference games for the 49ers next season…at home, Montana State, New Mexico State and Temple with BYU, Idaho State and USF as roadies…Rivals weekend must sees and the rest of the Big West…Fullerton at Stanford: “Two of the Golden State's most historic programs meet this weekend. The Titans swept last season and Stanford swept in 2006...Riverside at Nebraska: “In a battle between two of the nation's best conferences, UC Riverside hits the road to take on motivated Nebraska. The Highlanders are coming off a series split with Washington, Huskers are coming off a road series loss to Stanford…temperatures are expected to be in the upper 40s and low 50s”…San Francisco at Irvine: “The Mike Gillespie era began with a pair of wins from Nevada and a mid weeker over LMU…USF split a road series with Hawaii”…elsewhere, Cal Poly at USD, LaSalle at CSUN, UCSB at LMU, Utah at Davis, and Washington at Pacific…also tonight and Saturday the #2 vollley lads are in the Gold Mine…last add awardees, Danny Espinosa (hitting .533) and Andrew Liebel earned the first Big West Player and Pitcher of the Week accolades… Liebel pitched 8.0 innings, struck out a career-high 11and retired 12 consecutive batters—DR. DAN

Sunday, February 24, 2008


First all the LB lads rolled out the tarp in the hopes that Mother Nature would do her thing quickly and their would be baseball again this weekend. With that chore accomplished, the vet and the rook gathered for the media throng (Abby of the campus paper, Bob K of downtown and me.) For the second time in as many games, the so called underdog Dirtbags beat #3 Rice (3-2) and did it with their patented little ball brand, pairing smothering pitching with just enough offense. The vet of course is the red hot Danny Espinosa, shortstop extraordinaire, and the rook, is surprising Devin Lohman, shortstop heir apparent.

“I think that last year I had some holes in my game,” Espinosa offered in self analysis, ”but right now I feel real confident.” Espy’s early season tale of the tape-hitting .556, and on Saturday scoring all three runs, cranking a double and a home run, and being the pivot point in three double plays. Add young Mr. Lohman, who played short in high school and “just enough second base to feel pretty comfortable” and you had the offensive heroes in the first two wins. “I love working out there with Danny and to be able to learn something every day.” And his secret to those productive at bats (hitting .500 with a team best .571 on base %), “I see my job as making their pitcher work harder, and to let my team mates see a bunch of pitches.”

Speaking of pitching, for the second day in a row the Beach kept the visitors in check until round two of the late inning magic. The Bags took advantage of a Rice fielding muff to strike first for a run in the bottom of the first inning. Espinosa doubled to right-center. Slash Peterson put the ball in play and the subsequent boot allowed Espy, green lighted by third base coach TJ Bruce, to score from second base. In the third Espy, big fly over the wall heading toward Big Rec’s #17 upped the LB lead to 2-0. Rice would chip away with single runs in the 4th and 7th but the winning margin was coming up Dirtbag in the 8th. Espinosa led off with a single to right and advanced to second on a nifty sacrifice bunt by Peterson and the wonder rookie Lohman singled and Espy found a space at home not covered by Rice’s catcher Adam Zornes. All that was left at that time was for closer “B” Bryan Shaw to bring the umbrellas out with a 1-2-3 top of the ninth. Vance Worley threw 88 pitches to get the Beach to new guy and closer “A”, Nick Vincent, in the eighth and his scoreless inning paired with Lohman’s GWRBI put the W in Vincent’s column and the S in Shaw’s.

DUST THAT FITS WE PRINT--The third-ranked 49er men's volleyball team said goodbye to Columbus with another win over Ohio State…30-27, 30-27, 30-23…the Niners are 12-1 and once again heavy hitters Paul Lotman,20 kills, and Dean Bittner, 16 kills, powered the Beach who next appear on retro night in the Gold Mine Friday, March 1 when they host Cal State Northridge at 7 pm …both hoops teams are at UCI on Thursday, ladies first at 5 p.m….New Mexico State crushed the Beach men 80-48 at the Pan American Center while the Beach ladies just barely avoided giving CSUN its first BWC win, surviving 49-48…as usual Karina Figueroa led the 49ers (24 points, and a career high five three-pointers.)

Back to the bases, another rookie will get the start for LB, freshman righty Jake
Thompson who passed on a senior year across the street at Wilson, and got Weather’s
nod over senior Manny McElroy…Manny will go on Tuesday against San Diego and Kyle
Blair (he had a fancy 9-2 record and 0.31 ERA)…Rice meanwhile heads home for six games in six days, starting with Texas A& M Corpus Christi Tuesday…in the fall the
Niners had UCD’s number in three games that did not count…SDSU won two of three
from USD over the weekend….BWC scoreboard, lots of double headers..
UCSB 8, Marist 4; UC Irvine 8, Nevada 7; Cal Poly 16, Alabama 7; TCU 4, Fullerton 2; Northwestern 3, Northridge 2; Pacific 4, Houston 3; Riverside 6, Washington 3;
Davis 3, Fresno State 1; Santa Barbara 13, Marist 4; Cal Poly 6, Alabama 2;
Washington 19, Riverside 4; Fresno State 7, UC Davis 0…with the two losses expect
San Diego to drop out of the top ten, but not far…around the basin UCLA split a DH with Oklahoma, as did Pepperdine with Wake Forest…USC had won two over FIU and will
employ a 10 a.m. Sunday start to try and fool mother nature—DR. DAN

Saturday, February 23, 2008


One of the starting pitchers globe-trotted with Team USA last summer, the other guy drifted back and forth from Pomona to Long Beach. One guy was the national freshman of the year, the other guy worked out of the pen before injured team mates forced him into starting. One was second team All America the other guy was second team all Big West. News Flash: Andrew Liebel, the other guy, fanned 11 over eight in his duel with Rice’s rocket-armed Ryan Berry, the Dirtbags loaded the bases in the tenth and Danny Espinosa’s jolt to the wall sent most of the 1,894 opening-nighters home happy.

Both Berry and Liebel looked sharp in their 2008 debuts, both scattered five hits but the Niners’ closing arguments of David Roberts and Dustin Rasco kept the Owl hitters caged. In the bottom of the tenth, Zach Barger got his second hit of the night with a single up the middle, big Travis Howell played perfect little ball with a sac, and then Barger advanced to third on a wild pitch. Rice got a K for the second out, but Chris Nelson and TJ Mittelstaedt walked before Espinosa's game-winning hit. “I knew that they didn’t want to get behind on me so I when I saw a pitch just a little up…” Espy reported post game. Up it was, over Aaron Luna’s head, and game one is in the books with a W.

DOPPLER DUSTING—The Rice coaches passed on the idea of playing two games today…Sunday’s rain chances are higher then the hems on Oscar’s red carpet…The other hot Niner team this spring is men’s volleyball…Paul Lotman recorded a career-high 32 kills and Dan Alexander added a career-best 18 kills as the third-ranked Beach Boys (11-1) beat Ohio State, 30-27, 30-22, 28-30, 30-27…also on the road is men’s hoops in the Bracket Buster game tipping at 5 p.m. our time, opposed by old rival New Mexico State…Rice will try a Liebel like move themselves today, starting three year closer Cole St.Clair...his velocity is back up to 90 mph but arm issues will limit him to four innings…expect senior righty Chris Kelley, who made 14 starts a year ago, to pick up the slack… that pre-game party atmosphere in the left field picnic zone was a flock of Owls, Rice friends and alums including my personal physician Dr. Susan Keisner…the hundred plus met pre-game with Rice athletics director Chris Del Conte and coach Graham…an outstanding academic institution, just under 5,000 students, Rice has a campus about the same size of LBSU, 285 acres (vs. 300)…Wichita State will have a similar party next weekend…

Today’s Beach mound duties go to Vance Worley who is finally healthy, knock on wood…Weathers told Baseball America,. "He's very healthy; his body is in as good of shape as it's ever been. He's throwing the fastball back up to where he was coming out of high school, 90-92 mph.”…if there is Sunday ball it will be the kid who not only ditched class, he ditched his senior year, Jake Thompson…his transfer to Wilson High didn’t work out so he GEDed his way to the LBSU…at least he gets to pitch at 7th and Park…more Weather report--was the skipper surprised about Liebel? “No, we told him he was a starter and that’s what starters do”…on his offense, “we hit the ball pretty hard but both of us were up against very good pitching”…the rest of the Big West on opening day, Erik Komatsu had five RBIs as Fullerton beat TCU 11-5; Ben Price doubled in the bottom of the ninth inning as Riverside got a 3-2 win over Washington; Jake Jefferies went 4-for-5 and UC Davis got an upset 4-2 victory at No. 18 Fresno State, the first official D-1contest for the Aggies; Ryan Fisher 3 for 4,a double and a pair of two-run home runs to lead 22nd-ranked UC Irvine to a 6-0 shutout over Nevada; UC Santa Barbara beat Marist 9-0; Pacific lost 3-1 to Houston; CSUN lost 13-7 to Northwestern and Alabama squashed Cal Poly10-1…two top ten upsets, unranked Georgia beat #5 Arizona 9-7 and unranked San Diego State whipped #9 San Diego 11-2…despite the ten innings, Friday’s LB-Rice game was played in a deadline friendly two hours and forty-one minutes…games at Pepperdine and UCLA were rained out…besides Espy and Barger, LBs freshman newcomer Devin Lohman (42nd round draftee by Colorado) got two hits, Howell doubled and Peterson and Tweedy singled…

Our closing quote is from 70 something Wayne Graham…”We know their pitchers will throw strikes, and they're not going to beat themselves. I think if either team doesn't play good defense, you're in trouble. You're going to have to pitch and play defense in that park. And you're going to have to play small ball and defend small ball."—DR. DAN

Friday, February 22, 2008


College baseball isn’t played on paper. Sometimes it goes on during a sweltering afternoon in the swirling dust of Northridge. Often, like tonight, it is played in the misty chill of an evening where pitchers are throwing gas and the fans feature butane and blankets. IMHO, on paper, the 2008 Dirtbags start this season with their best chance ever of going to Omaha. Ever. My credentials to make this prediction are two fold. 1. I don’t believe in jinxes. 2. I have been on this beat since 1975 and after studying the 2008 wild west (including top ranked UCLA) I do not see a better team in this region. Period. Film at 11. June 14th. Write it down.

Now to the games, If you like college baseball more than political primaries, congressional hearings, or colonoscopies, then you know that the national countdown clock has been ticking toward tonight since Oregon State’s improbable title last summer in beautiful suburban Omaha. So let’s get to the ping of my favorite precious metals-- Scandium Alloy teamed with 100% Carbon Nanotube—and this weekend’s top pairing, 13th ranked Long Beach hosting Number 3 Rice. The Owls got the National Title in 2003 and have been outstanding every year since. Rice finished fast again last season, third place at the 2007 College World Series and a fancy 56-14 mark. Two of those 56 wins were over LB in a series at Rice, but all time LB is 2-2 including a 4-3 freeze-out victory in 2006. Fast forward to the present and the Bags won’t exactly need name tags. Virtually every position has a returnee, sometimes more than one. Around the horn expect Cape Cod all star Shane Peterson to leave the bullpen for full time at first base, Jason Tweedy’s at second, USA team member Danny Espinosa at short, and Brandon Godfrey and Taylor Krick battle at third. The wide open spaces of Blair will belong to TJ Mittelstaedt in LF, a healthy Chris Nelson chasing stuff in center and another platoon in right, Jason Corder and Zach Barger. Behind the plate will be starter Travis Howell with Kip Masuda as a back up and as usual, the home folks hope that the post Troy Buckley pitching product will still be very good. The rotation will be a jugs gun delight, Andrew Liebel, Vance Worley and freshmen Jake Thompson versus Rice stars Ryan Berry (11-3, 3.01 in 2007), Santa Ana native Cole St. Clair (9 saves last year) and Matt Langwell (8-2, 2.35.) Rice is 14-2 in their season-openers under skipper Wayne Graham, a four-time national coach of the year (17 seasons, 740-284 overall but a more modest 219-147 in road games.)

CLEAN UP DUST—the baseball pollsters had the Owls all over the rankings…NCBWA 3rd, and ESPN 4th, Collegiate Baseball 6th and Baseball America 14th… the Dirtbags highest mark is 13th in Baseball America, #17 in Collegiate Baseball and #19 in the coaches poll…four western clubs UCI, CSUF, ASU and Oregon State made the CWS last year…and the winningest teams in the decade Rice, Florida State, Oral Roberts, Texas, South Carolina, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Georgia Tech,,, Baseball America Prospect Handbook's 2008 list of the top 100 college draft prospects include 4 Niners, Shane Peterson #48, Bryan Shaw #63, Danny Espinosa #73, and Vance Worley #82…around the Big West on weekend one, Marist at UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine at Nevada,, Northwestern at Cal State Northridge, Washington at UC Riverside, Cal Poly at Alabama and Fullerton at TCU…as much as the Niners like their record on the MLB draft, how about dem Owls…the Rice baseball team tied a collegiate record last season with no less than 14 members of its baseball program selected in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft., including all world Joe Savery in the first round (19th overall)…bad news for the Beach, four of that group turned down their pick up trucks and return this season, Adam Zornes, Jon Runnels, Chris Kelley and 7th rounder and Saturday pitcher Cole St. Clair…while insiders expect LB’s offense to have great balance, Espy, Peterson, Godfrey, Nelson, TJ and Taylor clearly the visitors power supply is Aaron Luna, MVP of the Conference USA Tournament, .315 and led the Owls in home runs (13), RBI (66), walks (48), slugging percentage (.570) and on-base percentage (.447)…can you say pitch around him...let the games begin—DR. DAN

Friday, February 15, 2008


If you like college baseball more than political primaries, congressional hearings, or colonoscopies, then you know that the national countdown clock is ticking until next Friday where from Miami to Maine, from Boston to Blair Field, the ping of my favorite precious metal-- Scandium Alloy teamed up with the 100% Carbon Nanotube-rings out across the land.

Bullied by the BCS billionaires north of the warm weather, the uniform start date of February 22 sends all NCAA teams into these-games-count-action after a 45-day window for fall workouts and 21 days this month. Big West teams of course begin with non conference games and against some pretty good opponents--UC Irvine at Nevada, Northwestern at Northridge, Washington at Riverside, Marist at UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly at Alabama, Fullerton at TCU, Pacific at Houston, UC Davis at Fresno State, and of course, the best match-up in the land--Rice at Long Beach State.

To launch the media frenzy LBSU again hosted a coach chat in the Pyramid, ironically a good locale since for most of the schools in attendance, UCLA excepted, baseball will be counted on to distract the alums and faithful from fairly dismal basketball seasons.

We now sort-of report on what the programs and coaches had to say, in the order that they were seen (but some say not clearly heard) on the CSTV feed.

UCI—MIKE GILLESPIE--The leadoff was the venerable and recently well-traveled Mike Gillespie who SC awkwardly “retired” in 2006…last summer he coached minor leaguers in Staten Island, and then watched the dominoes fall his way in the perfect storm of Oregon-Fullerton-UC Irvine. He’s the Irvine and told everybody, several times, that the Anteater is a feared mascot, unlike the marsupial he used to tease when he was a Trojan (which he now infers is something you hide in your wallet from your mom, wife or whatever). Mike brought with him his lead-off guy; the scarily quick Ollie Linton who the skipper said has matured as much as he can bat wise. The question is will Ollie see anything he can drag and get on and get around? The ace of the staff is Scott Gorgen, he of the 13 wins last year and 2.83 ERA. After that, it is a new staff trying to improve on 47-17--a tall mountain to climb for anybody even if the coach has won a CWS title.

UCLA—JOHN SAVAGE—Set up by Mike as the #1 team in the USA, Savage clarified that the Bruins are ranked from #22 to #1 depending on the flavor of the poll…”I think we will be really good but you got to know that our own conference picked us third…however, our seventh place team from last year, Oregon State, ending up winning the national championship so we think it is a pretty good conference.” The blue boys won the LB regional last June (first since 2000) and have three big bats back, Decker, Cohen and Bradford.

CAL POLY—LARRY LEE—you might think that all the coaches are full of hope this week but the head of Cole Slaw-Larry Lee, is a bit discouraged after he lost his Saturday guy Matt Leonard last week…”we only have 15 starts in the guys coming back so a lot of new folks will have to step up…” Larry also lost man mountain first baseman Adam Buschini but still hopes that “defensively up the middle we should be fine…”…well they did have great D with Dave Snow and some guy named Ozzie Smith back in the ‘70s…offense you say, that topic makes Larry frown “in the cage we hit the ball real hard”…maybe batting lessons from their wise and loquacious radio guy, the mayor Dick Morrow (class of ’55), can return the thunder to the Central Coast

UCR—DOUG SMITH—the new home of good pitching, the Highlanders will feature string-bean righty Joe Kelly (150 over a 6-1 frame) and home town hitter Joey Gonzalez, .356 last year and the BWC freshmen of the year, plus a bunch of other guys from their 2007 regional team…best of all for the league, UCR now has an improved non conf schedule (Washington, Nevada, Nebraska, Texas Tech…) which helps everybody’s RPI

CSUF—DAVE SERRANO—on his return to Nutwood, Serrano brings his national coach of the year award and will wear the number (18), saluting the coach that as a player he “admired the most”, a former Titan assistant named Dave Snow...”our cupboard is full that’s for sure and I am very happy I got to bring my staff over with me (Sergio Brown and Greg Bergeron)…in case you wondered, word is that the Titans are quietly paying off their almost head coach Rick Vanderhook who occasionally comes to campus but not to the ball field…Serrano’s bunch will start with more different platoons than the Marines in Baghdad…”we are still figuring these guys out and I hope that this team can be unselfish until we get things settled…with this compressed schedule we have to have one and a half starting nines and a lot of pitchers”…no tears though, Jeff Kaplan anchors the starters and Adam Jorgenson closes...the Elephant Boys press guide is a massive 130 pages (LB is a tight 88) but USC goes over the top as usual with 160

CSUN—STEVE ROUSEY—to understand what the former Niner pitching coach thinks about his 2008 team reread virtually the same speech he has given the past three years but I love Steve because, like me, he loves alliteration…the motto this year is “elevate expectations”…Rousey also said that he will use “one and a half starting nines, (getting a theme here?) with six starters ready”…the Mats have 17 freshmen in town, the most in the USA along with UNC Ashville…wonder if the newcomers saw the yard before they signed up

UCSB—BOB BRONTSEMA—15 years later Bob still toils in the peoples republic of Isla Vista…the Gauchos were 23-31 last year and may not get that much this season with just six fielders and two starting pitchers back, but one is Mike Ford, freshmen All American last year…just to keep the skipper happy there is another old timer around, Mike Martin, in his sixth season after red shirts, injuries and NCAA appeals…good guy to know if you want a restaurant review of where the kids will be torching the sofas on Saturday night

LBSU—MIKE WEATHERS—the host skipper started his speech with a report on the recent coaches convention, highlighting the fact that A. he doesn’t like the new stuff, B. he flipped President Alexander to his side on the rule changes, C. his team has improved their APR (magical academic standard) from 869 to 990 and D. his coaching hero is a Maine transplant who is the coach at Clemson, Jack Leggett …Leggett is fighting the good fight to undo the national start date …the West did have four teams in one CWS bracket last year, UCI, CSUF, ASU and OSU, so maybe that made the Ads in the North and East choke on their Cheerios…as to the 2008 Dirtbag team, “well last year we exceeded our expectations early on then…” yep that would be the regional stumble but this year “we expect a lot” and the guys who have to deliver have some very nice resumes, 21 got a lot of PT last year…around the horn expect Cape Cod all star Shane Peterson to leave the bullpen for full time at first base, Jason Tweedy at second, USA team member Danny Espinosa at short, and Brandon Godfrey and Taylor Krick battling at third…the wide open spaces of Blair will belong to TJ Mittelstaedt in LF, a healthy Chris Nelson chasing stuff in center and another platoon in right, Jason Corder and Zach Barger…behind the plate will be starter Travis Howell with Kip Masuda as a back up…as usual, hopefully in the post Buckley era, the pitching looks good, versatile Andrew Liebel, Vance Worley and Manny McElroy have been to the wars and JUCO phenom Taylor Topp joins his talented Riverside City coach Andy Rojo in the black and gold…even freshman RHP Jake Thompson (6-3, 210) (who skipped his senior high school season to go to college) has a big upside and should figure along with returnees Rasco, Roberts, Shaw and Wilk…the schedule is loaded, LB is home for 15 of their first 20 all beginning with perennial power Rice Friday through Sunday…the national wise guys have the Niners between 13 and 25 but the Rivals chat room wags predict, based on the tough early sked, the D-bags will be the first of the top 25 to fall out

PEPPERDINE—STEVE RODRIQUEZ—the quip a minute S-Rod says his main guys have to be like Bugs Bunny, “popping up everywhere”, case in point pitcher Brett Hunter, “he will start on Fridays, close on Sunday and show up on those Tuesday/Wednesday things”…sounds like the union trouble-maker Dick Rogers ought to be contacted…like LB last season, the Waves might have peaked a bit early…Pepp plays Wake Forest 4 times in 48 hours to open but it is at the U with a View in Malibu

U SAN DIEGO—RICH HILL—last year they had a ton of wins (43-18) but two and BBQ-ed in their own regional…but Rich still likes to pick on Gillespie (“I was on a coaches conference call with Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, Eddie Sutton, and Mike and the topic was how to fix your Ovaltine before a nap’)…his style again will be good pitching and a “grind it out” offense…his best guy may in fact be the number one overall pick, lefty Brian Matusz plus another pre-season AA, lefty Josh Romanski…the recruiting class was rated #1 in at least one poll…all the old and new Toreros will be at Blair on Tuesday Feb 26th, it is another BYOB night (for you rookies that is bring your own butane)

LMU—FRANK CRUZ—the Lions of course play the Beach twice, but LMU is paranoid about everybody…”so many coaches have switched dugouts around the town that nobody has a secret”…Gillespie was headed there before he got UCI, the well traveled Niner assistant Doc Strauss worked on the hill, and of course the Orange County shaking and baking involved a lot of photo copies of play books….the Lions will lean on WCC Freshmen of the Year Angelo Songco and a bunch of transfers including former Dirtbag Russ Lowell who had one appearance for LB in 2007

USC—CHAD KRUTER—the good news this season is that the boys of troy get an ESPN2 TV date playing Southern U in a battle of baseball and bands (Inner City Classic) at that new Major League sponsored youth park in Compton…Kreuter is in a bit of a hot spot, has two first year guys helping out, and needs to get way better than the 27-29 number from last season
VENEZUELA—HUGO CHAVEZ—oh, sorry got my notes mixed up… Coach Chavez is the oil guy chewing those cocoa leaves…but if gas prices stay so high I may import a supply of the wacky tobaccy for Mike and Elvis Joe.

SDSU—TONY GWYNN—he wasn’t there (along with UC Davis and UOP) but then Tony travels in the off and on season and the Aztecs still play in the baseball poor MWC so you just never know…that’s all I got, if you want more and to find out who’s on top in June please see my ex-wife Carole Merrill from Let’s Make a Deal, she can tell you who and what is behind Curtains Number One, Two and Three

2008 Big West Coaches Poll Results
1. Long Beach State (5) 77
2. Cal State Fullerton (4) 74
3. Cal Poly 58
4. UC Irvine 52
5. UC Riverside 51
6. UC Santa Barbara 29
7. Pacific 24
T8. Cal State Northridge 20
T8. UC Davis 20
( ) First-place vote

Monday, February 11, 2008


Loving alliteration as this column does, today we report on SAD and ADD. The SAD explains some of those long faces around town this week, S-A-D being an acronym for Seasonal Affected Disorders which is another way of explaining that football season is now finished, done, completed, finito. Get over it.

Having said that, Long Beach State hasn’t lost a gridiron game since, well, since CSU budget blues cut the sport altogether in the early nineties. If only we could say the same about the sneaker set, the expected cash cows for Niner Athletics. Both the gentlemen (4-16) and the ladies (4-15) raise the second acronym flag, A-D-D, as in “it is Always Darkest before the Dawn”. Translated, plenty of good seats available but not very good products on the court. Help is on the way but for now, a legitimate cash crisis.

Part of that dollar dilemma is that losing chills the box office (attendance) but an even more ominous cloud is the current state budget which will squeeze every corner of the 320 acres of LBSU including athletics. The general fund is smaller and expect an increase in tuition and fees which makes life hard when you have to fund-raise for a couple hundred scholarships,

However, in this hoop hysteria, there is one bright spot, iron horse Donavan Morris who averages just under 38 minutes and 20 points per game. Worth the price of admission.

The ladies finally got all their walking wounded on the court but alas, the lassies, are virtually on the bottom of the Big West. The women, who play at home today (Thursday) and Saturday will make the conference tournament because the ninth team, Northridge, is winless on the season (0-18). Now stay tuned for the men’s post-season report because that matter is cloudier than that leftover pitcher of Super Bowl daiquiris.

We can’t predict what Dan Monson and company will be doing March 12-15 but, going into their road trip to Davis and Pacific this weekend, LBSU is in that dreaded ninth spot for an eight team tourney. The good news is that one can hope that the NCAA penalties will come soon, that they will be effective this season, and the school can take the proposed one year post season ban this season when the club doesn’t have a snowball’s chance anyhow.

BUFFET DUST—The banquet season has been in full bi-carb for sometime and it occasionally makes for strange table talk. Ex Dirtbag and current Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was the guest of honor, as major league player of the year, at the Santa Clara County Hot Stove Awards banquet. But now, from the San Jose Mercury an awkward moment.

On the dais with Tulo (who just signed a six year, $31 mill contract) was Ed Montague, the dean of major league umpires entering his 32nd season. “As the night wore on, they realized that Tulowitzki has been ejected from exactly one of his 180 major league games. By the crusty Mr. Montague. “It wasn’t my first and it won’t be his last,” Montague told the crowd.”

Last add Tulo, he will be one of the honored ones February 12 at the Century Club Hall of Fame Banquet along with fellow Niners Alexis Crimes, Misty May and coaches Jenny Hilt-Costello and Mike Weathers.

Last add money train, golf alums Mark O’ Meara, Paul Goydos and the kid John Mallinger are still cashing PGA checks. O’Meara has his millions locked away behind the gates of his Orlando enclave. Mallinger is single and has made the weekend in all three tourneys this year but Goydos is a single dad who told the OC Register that although the girls miss him when he is on tour the $1,229,355 pop brought in last year “takes care of a lot to trips to the mall.”

Finally, our closing quote fits for a lot of angry folks these days, political and sporting, "We don’t argue - we just have intense moments of fellowship.”—DR. DAN