Monday, April 28, 2008


Mother Nature, Father Weathers and the Big West Schedule Maker all got on the same page by the end of April and for Long Beach baseball the result was that the amazing Dirtbag Dream Machine is back on the road to the post season.

For a while it looked like the Beach boys had blown an engine, flattened four tires, and couldn’t find enough change in the sofa to fill up the gas tank. Mother’s effort was to turn up the heat home and away which in part was responsible for melting eight of their last ten opponents including sweep weekends over Northridge and Pacific. Father Weathers played tough love and Russian Roulette with his batting order and his bats and despite some more injuries, it worked out. Corder went down, Corder went up. Rylan was on the bench, then in the interview circle after a four hit effort. It is true that the winning came over the bottom dwellers of the conference so we’ll credit the schedule maker for giving the homeboys a breather when they needed it.

So this weekend they should get back at least one competitor from the disabled list, Brandon Godfrey, but in his absence sub Rylan Sandoval has jumped into the .300 club hitting .319 overall and .450 in conference games. The Killer Ts have also produced when it matters, with BWC numbers like .346 for TJ Mittelstaedt, .348 for Steve Tinoco and .448 for Jason Tweedy. “Gosh I got to wonder,” Weathers sighed, “how much more we would have won if Tweedy hadn’t been out 18 games with that hand injury?”

With no mid-week game to tire the youngsters, LB takes the bus and three bats up to Davis for a weekend with the formerly first place Aggies. “I limited them to two bats to keep things simple (the 33 TPX is hitting .376) but we added one more” Weathers quipped. Lots of ball to play but for the moment the Niners are still tied for first in the loss column. The beauty contest of the polls and RPI will play into the NCAA selection process but where you finish in your own league is very important.

HOT SPOT DUST—They ran a great MPSF tournament, and played one good game, but the third-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team woke up Sunday still praying for the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Volleyball Championships coveted at-large bid. They got it and start tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m. in the Bren Event Center on the campus of UC Irvine. The Niners (23-6) rematch with red hot Pepperdine, just 16-10, but featuring a healthy wonder from down under, 6-7 Australian Olympian Paul Carroll. The other semifinal will pit No. 1 seed Penn State (28-1) against No. 4 seed Ohio State (20-7).

Two other hot spots on the Beach docket are women’s tennis and softball. Breezing through three mercy ruled 4-0 wins at ritzy Indian Wells, senior tennis star Stephanie Bengson got a visit from mum and dad, tied the school-record for combined wins and helped her team to earn another automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament in two weeks. LBSU also reached the NCAAs in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Last of the good news gang is women’s softball (38-12) who broke records and upped their lead in the Big West to three games. Jessica Beaver became the all-time career leader in RBI (112) and pitcher Brooke Turner threw her 15th shutout of the season as Kim Sowder’s club swept Riverside. These Sweethearts of Swat play their final regular season series on the road this weekend at old rival Fullerton and then hope to host a NCAA Regional.

Now direct and unedited from Baseball America your weekend wrap-up-- “25. LONG BEACH STATE Last Week: 3-1. Overall: 26-15, 8-4 in Big West. (10-9 vs. Top 25). Weekend Series: 7-3. The Dirtbags got two walk-off wins to sweep their second straight series against one of the Big West's bottom-feeders. They trail first-place Cal State Fullerton by just 1.5 games. Sr. 2B Jason Tweedy (3-for-4, 3B, 3 RBI) led a 10-hit attack Friday in support of Sr. RHP Andrew Liebel (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K). Tweedy was one of four Dirtbags to record three-hit games in Saturday's slugfest, and he singled and scored the winning run on an error in the bottom of the ninth. Jr. 3B Rylan Sandoval (4-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI) led a 16-hit barrage Sunday, and So. DH T.J. Mittelstaedt singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 11th.” So #25 in BA with more 25’s in Rivals and ESPN, Collegiate Baseball in at #29 and NCBWA likely in the low twenties.

Last add- hoop happiness. Dan Monson stopped by baseball with four kids in tow, including baseball named youngsters Maddox and McGuire, and was glowing about plucking a pair of coveted Connecticut prep school scorers for next year. T.J. Robinson (6-7, 210, St. Thomas More) signed first and then lured Larry Anderson, 6-6, 215, via Jordan High and Winchendon Prep to pass on Xavier and come to the Beach. "We feel these two really add athleticism and qualities to our basketball program that we were lacking this year," said Monson. Amen Brother.—DR DAN

Sunday, April 27, 2008


On an April afternoon hot enough to melt your sneakers, Mike Weathers wasn’t all that disappointed that for his 49er baseball team the shoe was finally on the other foot. “We have had a lot of games where our pitchers had to carry our hitters but today the shoe was on the other foot.” Make that feets, or even feats, because when you realize that the Pacific Tigers came to the yard in a hitting mood and put up crooked numbers in the second, fourth, fifth and ninth innings just surviving 14-13 deserved a sigh of relief.

It took all of seven Dirtbag pitchers to get the Beach over the hump against a no-quit Tiger team that came off the mat with eight unanswered runs in the middle innings to lead 10-6 after just five. At that point both UOP and LB traded knockout punches for the rest of the four hour drama and in the end the 49ers upped their season report card to 25-15 overall, 7-4 in the Big West and tied for first in the loss column.

What was left of the dehydrated Dirtbag fans thought that it was over when the Niners exploded for five runs in the bottom of the eighth highlighted by a Jason Corder three-run homer over the boards in straight away center. That made the score 12-10 and even his Cal transfer pal Travis Howell got into the extra base action. Although he labored stretching a stand up double into three bases, once he got his breath the big catcher did earn an RBI for driving in Rylan Sandoval who had doubled and stole third on another one of those suspicious Tiger arms. Three run lead, at home, no problem. Houston Bob we do have a problem. Down 13-10 entering the top of the ninth inning, the Tigers faced the task of collecting three runs against previously unhitables Nick Vincent and Bryan Shaw. Nick had allowed just two runs on the season with opponent's batting a miserable .115. But these are the hungry and no-quit Tigers. Leading hitter Adam Ching, Mike Walker and Nick Longmire all singled off Vincent who was pulled for Shaw who was clobbered on his first pitch for a game-tying double along the chalk rightside. Exhale, in the ninth the Beach parlayed a Tweedy single, a Tinoco sac and a blast through second by Peterson that was ruled an error. Final, 14-13, and no folks, we didn’t block the extra point.

SUNDAY MY DUST WILL COME—Brian Martin finished the day 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored, for the Tigers...Corder who leads the BWC in slugging got HR number 10 in the third to go with his bang in the eighth…SID reports that he is the first Dirtbag since Evan Longoria in 2006 to hit double digits, and just the second player since 2002 to reach 10…his 18 career home runs is ninth all-time…now for those who like to worry, the signature win for the Tigers this season came back on March 21 when Pacific scored nine runs in the fifth inning to shock then No. 17 Stanford 10-6 at Sunken Diamond…the heroes that day were relief pitcher Larry Holscher who earned the win, junior Cole Akins who picked up the save and J.B. Brown who drove in three…more SID stuff…a farm report on former Dirtbags…Mike Gallo has a 2.16 ERA in relief at Double-A New Hampshire... Jeremy Reed, .323 for Triple-A Tacoma with a four-hit day Thursday... Neil Jamison, 1.93 ERA for Double-A San Antonio.... Steve Hammond is 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA for Double-A Huntsville... Jared Hughes 1-3 record and 3.48 ERA in four starts for Single-A Carolina... Cesar Ramos is 2-2 overall, 4.26 ERA on the Padre farm... Carlos Muniz has not allowed a run in five appearances in Triple-A New Orleans…you can track the big leaguers yourself…soft sided news…Brooke Turner struck out 11 Highlanders in game one to hold on for a 2-1 victory, and Bridgette Pagano smacked a two-run homer to help put Long Beach State softball ahead for good in a 4-3 win in the second game against UC Riverside. Turner's 11 K's gave her 198 on the season, setting the Beach single-season record….Turner has posted double-digit strikeouts for the seventh time this season...Now my Saturday iPhone Out of Town BWC scoreboard: UC Irvine 11, New Mexico 6; Northridge 14, Riverside 5; UC Davis 3, Fullerton 2; and UCSB 8, Cal Poly 4… Corder on his key homer in the eighth, "I was looking for something up in the zone, and frankly I was very surprised he came over the plate.”… In a spacious yard that amaze visitors the media guide will remind you that the wide open spaces develop good characters….the career home run leader is Jeff Liefer (30) and the single season champ was Jaeme Leal (24)…Jason Giambi flashed his HR power after he got big, I mean got to the big leagues…five current MLB Bags--Crosby, Tulo, Bowker, McAnulty and Longoria all led the team in big flys in their best years...give the critters some cash and play the SPCA 50/50 today—DR. DAN

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Happy Days are here again, or at least they were on Friday night when all the usual Dirtbag suspects gathered at Blair for a 10-3 win over Pacific, a 21st birthday celebration, and all the Big West party guests getting tight. We explain. The wire to wire win upped the LB record to 24-15, 6-4 in the Big West, tied for second with UCSB, UC Davis and UC Riverside, all one game behind Fullerton in the loss column. The defeat dropped the Tigers to 8-29, 2-11with their seventh consecutive loss. The birthday celebrant was Danny Espinosa who turned 21 and went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and two walks. Other stars include starter and winner Andrew Liebel (5-2, 2.20 and six Ks), the T boys, Steve Tinoco, 2-3 with two runs scored, Jason Tweedy, 3-4 and three RBIs and TJ Mittelstaedt, 2-4 and two RBIs. That offense allowed Weathers to work his picket fence offense with scores in each of the first four frames.

“We did a pretty good job,” the skipper would say post-game, “but their walks (ten on the night) helped us. Six of our runs came from guys who walked.” Obviously the leading LB hitter, Shane Peterson (.372), was someone that former Toronto and Stanford star Ed Sprague wanted to be careful with. Petey got two of the free passes but still hit his sixth homer, a three-run shot in the fourth that sent UOP starter Tyler Waldron to the showers. The same Beach partiers go to work again today featuring red hot Vance Worley (5-2, 3.44) against UOP’s Mark McCain (1-3, 3.81). Missing again will be Brandon Godfrey who hurt his shoulder in practice on Wednesday causing Weathers to comment, “we won’t have him the rest of the weekend and I doubt he will be ready for Tuesday.” At that comment the press corps, me, Mark the broadcaster and Bob from the big city paper, did a triple take before Weathers remembered this next week has no mid week game. “Gee “the skipper said sheepishly, “I would have been here by myself at 3 on Tuesday and wondered where everybody was.”

SCATTERED DUST—Top-seeded Long Beach took the first step toward defending its position as three-time defending BWC tennis champion with a 4-0 victory against No. 8 UC Riverside Friday morning and took on UC Santa Barbara this morning…No. 2 seed UC Irvine faces CSUN in the other semi… for his16th-straight start Liebel pitched into the seventh…ironically that streak started at Pacific April 27 of last season…before that he was went 9-3 in 54 career relief appearances….Father Know’s Best…Shane Peterson’s pop Brad, in shorts during freezing temps, kept a promise to his kid by wearing long sleeves and long pants Friday night…we have to keep an eye on Brad since his passion in life is batting practice which is no longer the practice for the Beach…”I still go early and watch the other team take batting”…and yes the Bags are still rotating the two 33 and 34 TPX bats…keeps things simple is the word from the clubhouse…since the R boys, Roberts and Rasco, worked scoreless eight and nine expect closers Bryan Shaw (0.52) and Nick Vincent (0.96) to be on the board at least by Sunday…catcher Travis Howell flashed the good D again when he threw out two would-be base stealers….he has nailed 14 of 25…an added attraction for the Saturday, May 10 game against UCSB will be a post game fireworks show , sponsored by the City of Long Beach, there for the start time has moved to 6 p.m….Pacific's leading hitter, shortstop Adam Ching, went 0-2 and his averaged dropped to .299 leaving the Tiger starters without a .300 hitter…a volleyball salute to a fan with the screen name of “qwerty”…Thursday night the Pepperdine students decided to take over the end bleachers and when the LB students decided to go down there and mute their taunts (with taunts of their own) game management kicked the locals back to mid court…none of these seats were reserved so qwerty, with his Dirtbag baseball tee on, stood like that unknown rebel in Tiananmen Square through all 32 service errors…tomorrow the NCAA will give the Niners another chance as an at large since they won the regular season and finished 23-6…or they won’t, taking both Pepperdine and BYU…as web wit Go Beach says, “You live by the serve, you die by the service error.”…our last add is our reminder for the Joe Jost's bartender reunion after today’s game... Ken Buck is donating all proceeds to LBSU athletics…so slide on down to 2803 E. Anaheim St. for a special, pickled egg and a schooner…all sorts of celebs from ageless Keith Cordes to aging Dan Smith, Doug Shea and countless other guys who drank and spilled more than they sold—DR. DAN

Friday, April 25, 2008


It is spring and on many college campuses back in my day a little streaking was a favorite with the kids. Then again, I suppose, it depends on what kind of streak you are on. For tonight’s guests from bucolic Stockton, the University of the Pacific baseball Tigers, color them unhappy streakers. The striped ones come in having lost six in a row and frankly are tired of opposing ranked teams like Cal, Fullerton and Long Beach.

Assembled in the other dugout, (assuming the plumbing works this weekend—if not on folding chairs out front) is a team that has seen the dark side of streaking up close and personal. On March 25 the Beach lost a 7-5 game to Pepperdine, the front end of a never to be repeated ten game road trip. Five more losses followed before an Andrew Liebel win at UCR, then another streak of four more beat downs. Unlike the contestants in that UFC deal, college teams can’t just “tap out” and go home. You play on. Fueled by some chicken soup for their Dirtbag soul (and no batting practice) last weekend LB pounded Northridge. They clearly need more of the same this weekend because the rest of the schedule has the three teams ahead of the Niners in the Big West, Davis, UCSB, and of course Fullerton. Toss in Cal Poly and mid week tests with Fresno, SDSU and the 2007 NCAA champs Oregon State, you gotta believe that every W is precious. End of sermon, now back to your regularly scheduled baseball game.

END DUST—In case you want to win a bar bet with one of those Joe Jost’s alumni mixologists coming in tomorrow (including old FBI guy Keith Cordes), ask them the last time UOP beat LB at Blair…it was a cool ten years ago in 1998, the last year the Niners made Omaha…back then the Tigers won 5-1 on a get-away Sunday in what would be a 43 win LBSU season which ended up in Rosenblatt with the elimination of Florida State and Miami…ASU ended the dream…in their last four contests UOP pitchers have been hit hard three times, 14, 15, and 11 runs allowed, then played CSUF tight in a 2-1 loss last Sunday…now some gems from the Pacific players blog done by Tiger BWC scholar athlete Brett Manning….”we couldn't get the hits we needed in key situations down the stretch…but the parents had another great BBQ after Sunday's game”…then before their fund raising golf tourney, “the weather was sunny, but a little chilly with the wind blowing. Bobby Wheeler had the big shot of the day getting a hole in one and a good chunk of change in his pocket for it”…then this note about playing at SLO, “our weekend was spent at gorgeous Shell Beach taking on Cal Poly…we stayed at The Cliffs Resort, right on the beach with breakfast every morning looking out over the ocean and the beach about 100 yards from our hotel. We went down in the mornings and explored the tide pools just below our hotel. We caught some crabs, saw a bunch of starfish and an eel” …now aren’t those kids a better read than BAs and ERAs?...required basketball note, Tricia Cullop, a popular LB women’s hoop assistant some years ago, continues to climb the coaching ladder and was just named head coach at Toledo…Joan Bonvicini, is a finalist along with Cori Close for the UCSB job and, if she gets it, expect Millikan’s star senior to switch from Arizona to Goleta…the volley lads wait until Sunday for a mercy vote after serving up a mess last night to Pepp

Now baseball and nothing else…UOP had no mid weeper but the Niners did losing to ninth-ranked San Diego…tomorrow is the Salute to the Services Day and Sunday the Salute to Animals Day…free admission tomorrow to any public safety worker or the military…in the BWC loss column the Niners are just one behind Fullerton (9-3), UC Santa Barbara (6-3) and UC Davis (6-3)…UCSB is at Cal Poly and Fullerton will host Davis…tonight’s mound match-up is Tyler Waldron (2-4, 4.74) challenging Andrew Liebel (4-2, 2.04) and hopefully his offense…LBSU's team ERA is 3.11, Pacific's 6.51 but the LB stats are eye-popping the third-best ERA in the nation and the fewest walks allowed per nine innings in the land…Liebel is 28th nationally in ERA and 23rd in strikeouts per nine innings (8.14)…in just BWC games resurgent Brandon Godfrey is hitting .379, Steve Tinoco, .364, Danny Espinosa, .343, and Peterson, the BWC POW leads the club in overall average (.373) and RBIs (39)…Jason Corder has nine home runs, a .325 average and 36 RBIs…our closing number is still pitching, LBSU is 18-1 when leading after six innings so score early and often—DR. DAN

Monday, April 21, 2008


So many Notes on My Napkin that I get ink on my face every time I wipe off that excess ranch dressing. If you are patient we should land on something to interest almost everyone, if not, well, it’s free!

The diamond affairs went very well last weekend with softball beating UCSB two of three to take sole possession of first place in the Big West and Dirtbag baseball swept Northridge to still hang around in the top 25 and make up ground in the BWC pennant chase.

Both clubs are back in town this weekend sandwiching games in and around the MPSF volleyball championships. The inside stuffing, digging and killing begins tonight (Thursday) when the regular season co-champion Niners play the giant killers from Pepperdine at 5:30 pm. The Waves beat UCLA in Westwood while the other co-champ, BYU, took down the Final Four hosts, UC Irvine. The Cougars play Northridge in game two Thursday with the two winners meeting in Saturday's night’s championship match. Saturday also starts the Big West Tennis Tournament in Indian Wells where the Beach ladies are top seed again.

Back on the bases, Pacific is next on the Dirtbag map for three this weekend at Blair Field. Friday night will feature the amazing Andrew Liebel and his 2.04 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 70.2 innings. Liebel and his mound mates are among the national leaders in the various pitching categories (number one in walks allowed) but everyone, especially coach Mike Weathers, is finally excited by the offense. Tired of critiques and comments by couch coaches, a visit to Northridge was the tonic the hitters seemed to need.

On campus diamond mining comes up on Kaleidoscope Saturday with the campus rolling with townies and hopefully checking out the LB-Riverside double header beginning at noon. Sunday is a single game. At Blair the weekend has a number of worthy side shows called Beach Heroes Weekend. Saturday all military, public safety and service organization members get in free with Strikeout for Services giving fans prizes and the Soldiers’ Angels relief organization collecting items for care packages to be sent to our troops overseas.

Now if that seems a bit somber we have a brief infomercial from a real pro that would be big game Danorama, Dan Smith. An almost-millionaire auto industry exec, (his employer markets Ford, Volvo and NASCAR) Smitty was the Beach’s secret weapon in that slump busting win over Pepperdine last Tuesday. Dan spent his formative years pronouncing behind the bar at Joe Jost’s saying, “okay, who had the Special and who had the Diet Pepsi?” I made that diet Pepsi stuff up, but he did work at Joe’s long before his SID gig at LBSU followed by school teaching, Pyramid public addressing and then the real world.

This weekend he checks in to promote a Joe Jost’s bartender reunion Saturday ahead of, during, and after the 2 p.m. Big West game with Pacific. Smitty says, “We got 20 or more old bartenders coming back, some from the 1960’s. Ken Buck has decided to make Saturday a fundraiser for LBSU Athletics, and is donating all proceeds from food and drink sales.” Joe’s is located at 2803 E. Anaheim Street, and the festivities continue post game. On Sunday the worthy baseball partner is the SPCA LA who will run the 50/50 raffle and give prizes (not four legged) to selected fans.

Next up for the Niners is another ranked team, 3 p.m. Tuesday at the University of San Diego. USD reentered the top-10 this week in the latest Collegiate Baseball top-30 poll, jumping three spots to No. 9. The Beach has an acceptable number in the latest Baseball America top-25 poll, number 25, which is fine considering the stumble of early April. Both teams have winning streaks, the Toreros are on a season-high 12 gamer as they posted a 4-0 record this past week. LBSU had a 4-0 week as well. The Toreros then won their games by a combined score of 20-3 and LB won their four by a combined score of 39-5.

Our closing number comes from newly minted (real) millionaires. As you know by now, former Dirtbag Evan Longoria spent six whole games as an underpaid MLB rookie before negotiating a 6-9 year, 18 to 44 million dollar deal. The devil is in the details but, like Troy Tulowitzki last year (same agent); both lads have opted for long term paycheck security. In January Tulowitzki, with one year of MLB experience, signed a six-year $31 million contract. Are Danny Espinosa or Shane Peterson next? Hum, tell them both I’ll trade either guy my 2010 paycheck for theirs!—DR. DAN

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Thanks to one and all for your slump-busting remedies. Despite Tuesday’s lovely romp over Pepperdine we are not absolutely certain that all is right with the Dirtbag world but for the moment the planets are back in order. So what happened that brought about the 10 zip vic?

Suggestions. Despite the pain that it caused batting practice fan Brad Peterson (father of you know who), Weathers cancelled the pre-game swing show in favor of fielding. In the dugout the Niner hitters had a choice of two red and silver bats, the TPX 33 and the TPX 34. No whites, yellows, lucky purples, one for each of my walk-up songs. Nope, pick one and get up there. If the next guy needs it he goes and gets it. Bat boys take a half night off.

Maybe it was the public addresser? That would have been big game Danorama, Dan Smith. A millionaire auto industry exec, Smitty, who’s early years of pronouncing consisted of working behind the bar at Joe Josts and saying, “okay, who had the Special and who had the Diet Pepsi?” was spot on. I made that diet Pepsi stuff up, but he did work at Joe’s long before his SID gig and then some teaching and then the real world. Everything Smitty said worked, including the Dating Game TV music trivia.

Another possibility was the gaggle of water polo lovelies that sat first base side and drove Elvis Joe nuts, hanging out two rows up, sort of like a flock of canaries just outside of the reach of your cat. But then, with win #20 in their pocket, maybe the Forty Niners of February are back.

So what about that game and of course that very special cycle? From the visitors perspective they cryptically wrote “The #6 Pepperdine baseball team managed just seven hits and was shutout for the second time this season in a 10-0 loss to #24 Long Beach State on Tuesday night at Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif. The Waves are now 4-4 vs. Top 25 opponents this season.” Ah, but the drama was in the details and on the 50th anniversary of the first game at Blair Shane Peterson made his own entry in the history books. Officially the press box historian didn’t know if it had ever officially happened before but for sure it officially did Tuesday night. Peterson began his game of games with an opposite field home run in the first then got the tough part of the trick with a triple to center in the third. The easy part of the equation was taken care of with a fourth inning single and with the lead at 7-0, except for the hard core skeptics worried about a late inning collapse, all the attention turned to Peterson’s at bat in the sixth. Mom Sue picks up the tale here, “I got a cell phone message from the LaMontagne's (parents of Andre of last year) who said they had been watching Game Tracker and knew after the fourth he had a chance at the cycle and they were driving over with their camera.” With photogs at the ready, in a patented lefty goes down the right field line move, Petey sent one toward the tarp by the outfield wall, and, well let Shane describe it. “I knew I needed the double and I guess that tarp made it easy for me because I couldn’t get to third.” He better not had gone to third because most of the 500 or so left in the yard were hollering “Stop, stop!” when he hit second base.

While most of the drama was done two more events would unfold. In the bottom of the eighth Peterson would come back up to the plate. Sue said, “there are two more ways to get on base and we really didn’t want the hit by pitch.” Shane opted for the base on balls, the seventh of the night giving up by Wave pitchers, and what we call the “super cycle: single, double, triple, homer and walk.” When I suggested that to Weathers he feigned a hearing problem, “did you say Super Sized?” Okay coach, leave the food humor alone. The second event of note was not remotely funny. That would be a hard collision between second baseman John Burk and shortstop Danny Espinosa with one out in the ninth where both went down. Burk got up but Danny was in real pain, bent over and holding his right arm to his chest. It took a long time but eventually Espy hobbled off. We later learned that Burk’s knee hit him in the chest and the er, ah, sensitive region. Post game Dan’s dad said that he will be sore but okay.

For the record Peterson went 4-for-4 with five RBIs while Jonathan Jones, Steve Tinoco and Robert Burk each added two hits. Brett Lorin evened his record at 2-2 with the first five shutout innings. He fanned five, walked two and scattered four hits on 99 pitches. David Roberts, Nick Vincent and Bryan Shaw finished the Waves with just two more hits. This weekend however, the action moves up to the SF Valley and a hitter’s haven, CSUN. Of course that might also be good news.

DONOR DUSTING--Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, Michael Eisner. Oh yes, Vic Cegles. All these folks are CEOs who believe that the big bottom line depends on balancing the portfolio. The first three guys make their money mostly on cars, can openers and cartoons. Mr. Cegles has a portfolio of sports, and like Lee, Jack and Michael, when one market is down he hopes that another is up.

Cegles you see is the CEO of CSULB athletics. Despite a miserable won-loss result in basketball the spring always brings hope. For a while, say the first 20 games, baseball was a hot stock, the last 13 have been colder than Enron. The good news is that three other sporting divisions are busting off the charts, men’s volleyball wrapped up their conference title and will host the MPSF championship tournament. Women’s tennis was a perfect 8-0 in the Big West and goes into post season as the top seed. Softball is tied for first and has the best freshman pitcher in the land.

Certainly there are more than four sports on the Beach’s lush 320 acres but in the spring, the big five games are baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis and the annual fund drive. Expect Vic and his fund raising staff and volunteers to be on your line and in your mailbox. LBSU Athletics provides operating budgets to eighteen intercollegiate varsity sports and their goal is to have the cash in hand by June 30.

In a nutshell they want your bucks to fight present and future opponents and perhaps, those stingy folks in Sacramento. You can earmark your gift to a favorite part of the 49er athletic portfolio or a little bit to everyone. Unless somebody else taps you on the shoulder first, you can join me and check your check in with Pat West at 562-985-4662.

PICK UP DUST—While the town is alive with the roar by the shore, most of the Beach athletic teams will leave their earplugs behind and head north. Long Beach softball travels to meet the other team tied for the conference lead, UC Santa Barbara in a three-game series Saturday and Sunday. As noted above baseball has their three game series Friday through Sunday at the rock pile known as the Northridge baseball field, and tennis visits Fresno Friday afternoon. A couple of teams will play at home, track hosts their annual Long Beach Invitational Saturday and water polo welcomes Irvine today (Thursday).

Admittedly the scoreboard results from Blair last weekend were bleak but the box office (and concessions) was brilliant. The three game series drew great crowds, 2181, 1304 and 1655 and the market for frozen lemonade and beer was robust. The attendance average for the Dirtbags is 1519 per home game, just a bit under the 1856 average that basketball drew if you don’t count the homecoming game. Still left is a giant crowd pleasing series with Fullerton. As far as the Anteaters, apparently they like the idea of real seats, not wanting grass stains on their Gucci jeans as is the circumstance with their home games.

Our closing quote this week comes courtesy of volleyball assistant coach and resident wit Andy Read. Andy was celebrating the MPSF title which allowed the Beach to beat out BYU as the tourney host. “Provo is a nice place to visit, if you can't get into the Tehran Hilton...but for the Beach fans, the Pyramid is best place on earth for men's volleyball.” DR. DAN

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Welcome to tonight’s episode of Dirtbag Mystery Theatre. Although this newsletter (and any attachment) is believed to be free of any virus or other defect that might affect the mood and disposition of any person who receives and opens, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that they have the inner strength and mental health to follow the 2008 baseball team as it goes down dark cellar steps, on long and winding roads, and into alleys loaded with tough guys and unspeakable danger.

If you thought that folks wonder about where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, where Ameilia Earhart landed, or if there is a Loch Ness Monster--that’s nothing like the puzzled faces of 49er players, coaches and fans. Almost everything has been tried. No jerseys are buried under home plate. Tried clubhouse open, clubhouse closed, coaches fussing, and coaches hugging. Import old heroes from previous CWS teams, double the gummy bear stash that parents sneak to players pre-game. Nothing has worked and a season on fire has turned to a season on the brink. Will the next installment of “As the Dirtbags Turns” be happy or sad, hopeful or bad? Well, we will find out shortly. Tonight Pepperdine, 8-5 winners up there on game one of that dreadful losing streak, sends the same villain, Robert Dickman (3-3, 5.54 ERA) against our big Brett Lorin (1-2, 4.40 ERA). The Dirtbags won all three meetings last season, including a 6-3 win over the Waves in the NCAA Regionals but these Waves are hot again, 4-3 vs. Top 25 teams this season and as high as #6 (Rivals poll) with Nick Gaudi 4th in the nation in saves (9) and Eric Thames tied for third in the nation with six triples. Oh yeah, Pepperdine leads the WCC with a .972 fielding percentage and has turned a WCC-best 44 double plays. The Beach report is a bit cloudier. Expect the son to shine at least during pre-game where the fiftieth anniversary of Blair is celebrated commemorating the April 15, 1958 contest between Long Beach State and Long Beach City. The Niners first coach, John McConnell, and his all-conference third baseman Jack Brick will participate along with the family of then LBCC coach Joe Hicks.

On Sunday the story was bloop (all those dying duck singles by Irvine) to bleep (mutterings by the LB fans as they realized that the one time darlings of 2008 had lost 11 of their last 13 after that 17-3 start.) Need more worries; LBSU is 3-6 this year in mid-week games, losing the last four. The positive, well right fielder Jason Corder leads the Big West in homers (9) and slugging percentage (.705), is batting .347 and he has seven of those homers in the last ten games! Your regularly scheduled program will return after this break.

CURSE BUSTING DUST—If misery loves company say hello to Texas 31-12 losers to Missouri…more hope while Pepperdine is 17-3 at home they are just 4-8 on the road this season…and while some foes dig at the Niners for just producing pros and not trips to Omaha, the alums are impressing again…the most recent three are Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay), Carlos Muniz (Mets) and John Bowker (San Francisco)…that brings the LBSU MLB head count to 31 players, ten at the current time….who have played in the Majors, including 10 this season…Bowker became the first Giant ever to homer in his first two MLB games…and how about SDSU’s Stephen Strasburg, a one-hit, complete-game shutout in San Diego State’s 1-0 win over Utah last Friday with 23 strikeouts…unverified and just filling space, these musings from a web poster named Beach Backer…”softball improvements desired are lighting so that night games may be played; new score board; and sinking the dugouts and making the top of the dugout flat so that spectators can see better…plan to construct an Athletes Center between the present Athletic Admin Bldg and the softball complex to house lockers rooms, etc for all (outdoor) sports”…back to bases, Pepperdine is averaging a WCC-best 7.76 runs per game, leads the WCC with 31 stolen bases, and is hitting .326 with two outs… IN the BWC the (surprise!) leader is UC Davis is 5-1, followed by UCSB and Fullerton at 6-3 and Irvine at 5-4…the Dirtbags are 2-4 but have bottom feeders CSUN and Pacific the next two weekends

My web and arm gem for the weekend was by catcher Travis Howell throwing out the nation’s top base stealer, Anteater Ollie our Perry Moore basketball moment…two hoop helpers with LB roots are moving on… Fullerton assistant Jason Levy (one of Seth Greenberg’s boys) has accepted a similar job at Loyola Marymount, where his pal Billy Bayno took over as coach…Scott Coopman (basketball operations guy for Dan Monson) heads to Pepperdine in the same post…Aaron Fitt of BA sees “UC Davis is the dark horse…I do think Davis is in good shape to make a regional”…the rest of the BWC today… Westmont at UC Santa Barbara; Sacramento State at UC Davis; UC Irvine at San Diego; Cal State Northridge at UCLA; California at Pacific; Fresno State at Cal Poly; San Diego State at UC Riverside and USC at the F word…conflicted fan tonight, David John Pylman who met his bride Joan in the CSULB dorms at Brooks College, got his degree from LBSU, worked in LB academic affairs for years and now is the official scorer for inside contests at Pepperdine…he also has and does officiate all sorts of sporting activities from bands and flags to volleyball, softball and the like...hope he doesn’t steal our hit and run signal—DR. DAN

Sunday, April 13, 2008


In the cool of Friday night Mike Weathers turned up the heat on his disappointing and disappointed Dirtbags. For the first time in his memory Weathers cancelled the outfield chat circle and brought the disheveled LB troops inside his Blair bunker. Saturday his team used a stirring two out nightmare in 94 degree temps to melt upstart Irvine 5-1 and, for the moment, restore order in the college baseball universe. More good news, the extra heat came from familiar faces, Vance Worley and Danny Espinosa. Worley (4-2 and 119 pitches) effectively mixed his fast ball down, his two-seamer left and right up and sliders “when necessary.” The offensive leader was Espinosa, two for three Saturday (5 for 7 on the weekend so far) and two more RBIs for a second day of slump busting. So Mike Weathers, is Espy back? “Not yet, he still owes me a few more games”. Ok skip but he apparently has earned his way out of the eight hole.

For Worley the complete game was tiring but satisfying after bumps in the road at Cal and Riverside. The ‘Eaters flirted with scores a couple of times in the first six innings before pesky Ollie Linton, (the nation leader in steals) banged a two-out single up the middle to drive in Dillon Bell (3-4 on the day). That caught the Niners attention in their half of the seventh. Brandon Godfrey opened the frame with a walk and Howell sac'd him over, but Burk went quietly on a 4-3 putout. Jonathan Jones in the leadoff spot singled in the tying run to set up the two out and much awaited power surge. The Beach would get bookend triples from TJ Mittelstaedt and Espinosa. TJ plated Godfrey and when Peterson beat out a bunt and Corder arrived via an error, the Espy three bagger put a crooked number on the aged and blinking scoreboard. The UCI coaches wore a path to the mound trying to stop the bleeding but none of their four pitching selections were successful. After Vance was done the four game losing streak was also history and made the UCI fans pack their brooms.

SUNDAY MY DUST WILL COME--The rubber match today features Irvine lefty Daniel Bibona (3.15, 4-1) against Jake Thompson. Last Sunday Bibona looked great for the first five and fanned six of the first nine Titans but then he caved in for four scores. Jake, like Worley, struggled the last two weekends but his job is to burn enough innings to get to Vincent and Shaw….oh yes, and not walk too many guys…Friday footnote there were great numbers in the ticket booth and concession stands,…aided ,insiders say, by UCI fans not wanting grass stains on their Gucci jeans…Blair has real seats you know…the latest ex Bag in the bigs is John Bowker and what a 24 hours he had…playing in Fresno Bowker raced home, packed, and caught a 5 a.m. limo to SF napping along the 99-152-101…three hours of shuteye no problem…JB slashed a 2-0 fastball from Todd Wellemeyer into center for his first hit and the clubhouse kid locked it up…in the sixth they opened the locker after he “attacked an 84-mph hanging slider and almost got it wet in McCovey Cove”…the three run bomb helped but St. Louis won…our TV pronouncers today are Syracuse grad Carter Blackburn, who like Bowker, got a big break this spring when he got called up as a sub for Dick Enberg on some NCAA hoop games…the pro in the booth is journeyman shortstop Kevin Stocker who played for the Phillies, Rays and Angels... around the Big West on this wacky weekend it was UC Davis 16, and first place UC Santa Barbara 2; struggling Cal State Northridge 4, Cal State Fullerton 2; Cal Poly 10, Pacific 4; and UCLA 18, UC Riverside 7…mean while those two trophies I predicted for volleyball and tennis are now getting engraved. In a rowdy Matadome with two busses of 49er faithful on hand the Beach won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) championship with a 32-30, 30-27, 30-26 sweep of CSUN…next up everybody comes to the Pyramid April 24 and 26…tennis hardly broke a sweat and won the BWC with a perfect 8-0 record after sweeping Pacific…Softball however split with SLO and play a single again today but with Brooke Turner in the circle I put my bones on the Beach…peeking ahead Pepperdine (22-11, 5-2 WCC) comes to the Beach Tuesday night…they beat LB in the mid-weeker up there to start the losing streak and are poised for a sweep of USF today…next weekend the Niners will avoid the roar by the shore and the Grand Prix by bussing up to CSUN for three at the rockpile…the BWC standings are more complicated than the Russian missile codes…Davis, then UCSB and Fullerton are one, two, and three with Northridge and Irvine tied for fourth…stay tuned, lots of ball left especially today’s rubber match with the Anteaters—DR. DAN

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Game day for Diamond Dust on a Friday starts at the crack of ten when I retrieve a week’s mish-mash of notes, quotes and numbers. With my marketing bosses expecting a big crowd (2181 showed up) I needed to wrap the Dust before noon. Assignment completed, time for a quick lunch and a short run over to El Dorado where the Niner tennis team is in a struggle with LMU.

I am optimistic as I run by the new Fresh & Easy grocery and pick up a couple of wrapped sandwiches for the Irvine series and a suitcase of diet soda. 5:55 p.m. I roll into the Blair parking lot and everybody seems upbeat. The tri tip is grilling; the beer is flowing and at 6:25 p.m. the anthem singer was clean and crisp and quick--a minute forty-one. Andrew Liebel gets rid of the Eaters without issue in the first and second and then a sign from above, Danny Espinosa (who broke out of his funk and went 3-for-4 with two RBIs) drives in the game’s first run in the second. End of optimism. On this night Irvine had an answer for everything LB did tying up the contest with their score in the top of the third and going ahead with another single run in the fourth. The hottest of the Niner hitters, Jason Corder was saluted by ‘Eater skipper Mike Gillespie by being intentionally walked his first two at bats. Finally with first base occupied, Corder singled through the left side to score Jonathan Jones and then Devin Lohman's single gave LBSU a 3-2 lead a batter later. Optimism returns.

Now it’s just before 8 p.m. and the 49er faithful are wondering if three would be enough, after all in six of their first 13 games the Beach won with four runs or less. Sadly a couple of minutes later the Eaters answered again with two more tallies which would be followed by six more in a singles night at Blair. (17 of the visitor’s hits were singles). The Beach boys bluffed at rallies in the eighth and ninth with single runs, but four hours eight minutes later the scorekeeper closed the book and the LB skipper Mike Weathers closed the clubhouse. Scoreboard totals were correct, UCI 10-21-3 and LBSU 5-10-3. At 11:03 p.m. the LB parents and pals were still standing on the sidewalk behind the home locker room while the “Eater Nation” bus rolled south.

CHANGING SUBJECTS-- The fourth-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team received a strong offensive performance up and down the line-up in a 30-18, 30-25, 30-24 win at 14th-ranked UC Santa Barbara last night…Paul Lotman led the 49ers with 19 kills and a career-high six service aces…tonight is the monster contest however as the 22-5 Niners are still tied for first place in the MPSF at 17-4 but a win at third-ranked Cal State Northridge means the Beach boys clinch the MPSF regular season championship and the right to host the conference semis and finals April 24 & 26 in the ‘Mid…remember that tennis match mentioned earlier well that came out fine too…. Senior Stephanie Bengson broke the LB record for career singles victories in leading the 37th-ranked Niner netters to a 5-2 win over LMU Friday afternoon…the 49ers improved to 15-5 and if you are in the stands they are in action across the parking lot playing Pacific at the Billie Jean King Tennis Courts…the Beach has already wrapped up the No. 1 seed at the Big West Championships, April 24-27 at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens….last of yesterday’s Niner good news was from water polo where Dayna Wawrzynski scored four goals including the eventual game-winner in the fourth quarter as Long Beach State (12-13, 4-6 MPSF) upset No. 4-ranked Hawaii (15-7, 7-4 MPSF) 10-9 at the campus pool Friday afternoon. Kristen Stragier made 12 saves in goal for the 49ers, including 10 in the first half

Back to the bases, Scott Gorgen is beginning to take his lumps losing last week to CSUF and going just 6.1 innings giving up four runs on eight hits, walking five, with a hit batter and a wild pitch…his best work however was getting Travis Howell to roll into two double plays…10 Niners were left on base…but a suspicious call at second base by ump Frank Flugradt, (protested in two separate visits by Weathers) may have affected the LOB total... UCI did mix in home runs by Larson and Asaro, not easy at night and overall got the most hits since Feb of 2001…the current stink, er, ah stretch is now 1-10 in the last 11…Sunday’s CSTV game starts at 2:30 p.m. and the 1998 CWS team will be honored...two more Niners in the bigs, Evan Longoria (Rays) and Carlos Muniz (Mets) make the Niner number ten…can you believe that the first of the Dirtbag big leaguers, has logged 15 seasons in the show…our closing quote is from Ken Ravizza, the noted sports psychologist who is loyal to, well who ever is hot…his advice to teams is to understand “How ya gonna act when ya gotta scuffle?”…well Ken the scuffle is on—DR. DAN

Friday, April 11, 2008


Stadium Dust, March 24, 2008. “In the search for the meaning of this 2008 Long Beach baseball season, it must be significant that on a Monday morning before deadline one finds themselves clicking on the schedule/results tab and looking at losses, all three of them. I mean really, 19 games into the season, 16-3 overall, up to as high as #3 in the polls, and the Beach boys have very little evidence of their vulnerability.”

Stadium Dust, April 11, 2008. Shocking the college baseball world a couple of weeks ago, winning every series and chasing more big names than the paparazzi on Oscar night, the Dirtbags are back home from a torturous and never to be repeated ten game road trip. What happened to the pitching (one complete game win last Friday by Andrew Liebel) is one question. The staff ERA has ballooned from 2.12 to 3.29. Overall the hitting hasn’t been too bad (Peterson and Corder are both over .350 with 31 RBIs each) but when the other guys have double figures in hits every game it is a mountain to climb. Finally the defense has been shakier than Don Knotts with a none too crisp .959 fielding percentage. So what does Dr. Weathers have in mind for a cure? Well I doubt that anybody other than Dr. Kevorkian would have your road weary Dirtbags (18-12, 1-2 Big West) to try to get well against 7th ranked UC Irvine (21-5, 3-3 Big West) who sends out Anteater ace Scott Gorgen (5-2, 1.93). Liebel matches Gorgen in ERA with his 1.93 making this duel what Baseball America calls one of “the nation's premier pitching matchups.”

Saturday and Sunday the Beach will throw Vance Worley (3-2, 4.28) and Jake Thompson (1-3, 4.75) at a pair of talented ‘Eaters, Bryce Stowell (4-1, 1.96) and Daniel Bibona (4-1, 3.15).

DUST COLLECTION-at UCR the Beach went inland seeking redemption...last Friday started fine with a come from behind victory but Saturday the Highlanders turned the table with a come from behind of their own. While there was no error on the board Saturday the big UCR four run seventh was aided by a freshmen’s failure to cover first on a sac bunt complicated by a collision with the ump. Sunday’s loss included a five run third laid on the once pitching-proud Niners. Tuesday’s loss, well let’s just say that in the fifth nothing worked. Lorin gave up a single and hit a batter, the clipboards brought in Topp who walked his first hitter and then LMU’s Angel Songco grand slammed the icing on a 7-3 Lion win...after UCI’s CWS run last season the Niners now face a suddenly chipper and always chippy UC Irvine…the Anteaters shook off the off-season desertion by their Coach Dave Serrano and, with veteran Mike Gillespie calling the signals, have taken the Niners place in the Top Ten…the marsupials are hitting .301 as a team and their ERA is 2.57 ERA. LBSU is hitting .270 as a team with a 3.29 ERA…Where they might have been. Our first entry is the brother of a ‘Bag in the Big Leagues, Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby. His younger brother Blake was scouting around for colleges a year or so ago but ex-49er hitter Don Barbara lured him to Sac State. So far not a lot to report offensively with a modest .232 average…another guy who would like to have worn the inter-locking LB is a former bat boy in the Snow years. Remember that little squirt Danny “Boy” Benedetti who chased bats and balls years ago with proud parents watching on…well don’t mess with the kid now, he’s the starting catcher for St. Johns and had three RBIs and scored twice as the Red Storm washed away Louisville at Louisville 13-4 last weekend. On the season he’s hitting.322 and his team is a nifty 23-7...Three more entries in that “might have been” list. Watching the 2008 NCAA work of Davidson’s Stephen Curry you’ve got to shed a tear for Seth Greenberg. In 1992 Seth passed on a brash Canadian point guard when he coached LB State on a summer tour north of the border. Steve Nash- “what do we need him for?” Fast forward to when Dell Curry, an all everything at Greenberg’s current employer Virginia Tech, suggested his son, Stephen. Seth would only say, “Well, he could walk on.” …the third swing and a miss is Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon (132-40 in five Big East seasons). I personally got a call from Jamie asking about the Niner hoop opening which was eventually filled by Larry Reynolds. I gave him the home phone number of Bill Shumard and, well you can write your own punch line…closing numbers are up for volleyball, softball and tennis…softball is 29-10 hosting Cal Poly Saturday and Sunday, while MVB plays at the initials, UCSB and CSUN with a first round MPSF bye at stake. Tennis played LMU this afternoon and is across the street versus Pacific tomorrow at the Billie Jean King courts—DR. DAN

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


From the looks of my in-box it must be time for another edition of Notes on My Napkin. All sorts of stuff crammed in there and, hopefully, my annual application for the IRS creative fiction award (if you know what I mean.)

Painful as it may be, we start with Long Beach State baseball. Shocking the college baseball world a couple of weeks ago, winning every series and chasing more big names than the paparazzi on Oscar night. These days the Beach looks “sweep spoiled” and just ordinary. On Friday night Andrew Liebel did squeeze out a series opening win for the Niners but after that everything went from bad to worse.

After dropping six in a row, the Bags went to Riverside seeking redemption. Friday looked good with a come from behind victory but Saturday the Highlanders turned the table with a come from behind of their own. While there was no error on the board Saturday the big UCR four run seventh was aided by a freshmen’s failure to cover first on a sac bunt complicated by a collision with the ump. Sunday’s loss included a five run third laid on the once pitching-proud Niners. Tuesday’s loss, well let’s just say that in the fifth nothing worked. Lorin gave up a single and hit a batter, the clipboards brought in Topp who walked his first hitter and then LMU’s Angel Songco grand slammed the icing on a 7-3 Lion win.

This weekend the Bags stagger home but still have to face suddenly chipper and always chippy UC Irvine. The Anteaters shook off the off-season desertion by their Coach Dave Serrano and, with veteran Mike Gillespie calling the signals, have taken the Niners place in the Top Ten. The 1998 CWS team is honored on Sunday where the correct game time will be 2:30 p.m. to accommodate a national CSTV audience.

FLASHBACK DUST— I don’t know why folks around town are still thinking about the post-season but the memory of that 2004 Super Regional loss to Arizona caused one web wag to wonder. “I was there and remember it well. I asked the coaches about it and they said pitch count was the reason. Humm, the CWS was on the line, Weaver looked good, the relievers were arsonists that year and they are worried about pitch count?”

Where they might have been. Our first entry is the brother of a ‘Bag in the Big Leagues, Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby. His younger brother Blake was scouting around for colleges a year or so ago but ex-49er hitter Don Barbara lured him to Sac State. So far not a lot to report offensively with a modest .232 average.

Another guy who would like to have worn the inter-locking LB is a former bat boy in the Snow years. Remember that little squirt Danny “Boy” Benedetti who chased bats and balls years ago with proud parents watching on…well don’t mess with the kid now, he’s the starting catcher for St. Johns and had three RBIs and scored twice as the Red Storm washed away Louisville at Louisville 13-4 last weekend. On the season he’s hitting.320 and his team is a nifty 22-6.

Three more entries in that “might have been” list. Watching the 2008 NCAA work of Davidson’s Stephen Curry you’ve got to shed a tear for Seth Greenberg. In 1992 Seth passed on a brash Canadian point guard when he coached LB State on a summer tour north of the border. Steve Nash- “what do we need him for?” Fast forward to when Dell Curry, an all everything at Greenberg’s current employer Virginia Tech, suggested his son, Stephen. Seth would only say, “Well, he could walk on.”

The third swing and a miss is Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon (132-40 in five Big East seasons). I personally got a call from Jamie asking about the Niner hoop opening which was eventually filled by Larry Reynolds. I gave him the home phone number of Bill Shumard and, well you can write your own punch line.

Closing numbers are up for volleyball, softball and tennis. The softball team is 29-10 hosting Cal Poly this weekend, while MVB plays at the initials, UCSB and CSUN with a first round MPSF bye at stake. Tennis hosts LMU and Pacific this weekend and have locked up the top seed in their post-season.—DR. DAN

Thursday, April 03, 2008


One of the neat things about college baseball is to wonder what might happen next to the “kids” on your team. Surely, life in the real world is nice. For example, Allen Woods of the ’07 Long Beach team now is climbing the corporate ranks at the SoCal Automobile Club, but since we met them via baseball it is especially interesting to follow the LB lads still mining on the diamond.

Certainly not a household name, even in the 49er household, in 2006 Drew Carpenter arrived in town Sac City JC. Frankly he was more popular with his teammates as a source of info about restoring cars than retiring batters. He had the size, 6-3, 225, always threw hard and sometimes over the plate. Fast forward to last week and there was Carpenter facing a true Dirtbag legend, Jason Giambi, in a spring training moment when his Phillies played Giambi’s Yankees.

Carpenter came in and retired Alex Rodriquez to end the sixth, then struck out Giambi, Jorge Posada and Wilson Betemit in a 1-2-3 eighth. The Yanks loaded the bases in the ninth with nobody out, but Carpenter escaped unscathed as Nick Green struck out, Jose Molina fouled out and Chris Woodward was caught looking.

In all four innings, six strikeouts, two hits, zero Yankee runs and one very impressed Phillie Manager, Charlie Manuel. Not invited to the big league camp, Carpenter had to come over from the minor league fields for his audition, a fact that the Philadelphia manager needled his staff about.

“From what I saw today, I think it would have been nice to see him here,” Charlie grumbled, perhaps reflecting on the poor state of the Phillie pitching staff. Drew’s observation, “It was a good challenge for me to see what I can do and see what I'm made of.”

Carpenter will start this season at single A Reading, but he told Phillies blogger Randy Miller he plans to pitch his way to the majors this season. “Hopefully, I can get there, stay there and keep doing what I did today for a long time and help the Phillies win a championship.” Just another spring day in Clearwater and without the drama of say an Angel Stadium Jered Weaver versus Bobby Crosby duel, it was a moment that college baseball fans cherish.

CHANGING DUST—For the unofficial off-campus Dirtbag HQ, Belmont Shore’s Acapulco Inn, a new look is coming soon. The rent recently soared so new investors will join Don Heckman and his crew in the Second Street saloon, remodeled with tables on the sidewalk, a grill and other niceties. Hopefully those unique LBSU collectables will remain on display.

Back to the future part two. Those traveling Long Beach sporting teams will burn some more fuel this weekend. Baseball opens the Big West portion of their drive to Omaha at UC Riverside for three this weekend; volleyball fighting to host the post season, has must-win matches at Pacific and Stanford; softball, another contender for post season, goes to Northridge; track is at Stanford; and tennis swings up the coast to UCSB and SLO. The ladies of water polo are at home today (Thursday) versus LMU.

ROAD DUSTING--Back to the past part two. After building their fast start and shiny resume largely at home, the Dirtbags are clearly road weary, not road warriors. I optimistically made the JetBlue ride up to Berkeley last weekend and came home on the jet just feeling blue. In the hotel and in pre-game the team seemed happy and loose but between the lines the Beach was tentative on defense and troubled on offense. Losing one at Pepperdine, three at Cal, then single defeats at Stanford and Fresno State has given the homeboys and their fans genuine pause for concern. Spring break continues with the weekend at Riverside but at the moment LB looks more broken than big-time.

Agreed that a lot of other noteworthy teams are having issues, UCLA and Arizona come to mind, but the ride from the penthouse to wherever we are now is at least confusing. Some wags say that the rout of Harvard and that #3 national rank was a bad omen; another web whiz offered that the national picture/story on Andrew Liebel by Aaron Fitt was like the SI cover jinx. Some of the defensive issues have been on the right side where Jason Tweedy is still out with that broken finger, and of course one member of the Dirtbag nation has lost his gal pals, that would be Elvis Joe Ballsinger who lives next door to Fritz That’s It, the just shuttered, er, ah, dance club in Bellflower. You make the call, or better yet, have the team just get the mojo back at UCR.

Last add bases. I spent a hunk of my Cal time seated in and around Dirtbag parents and that will wear you out, especially pitcher parents…even the young and lovely Diane (Jake Thompson’s mom) and Shirl (Vance Worley’s mom) make you squirm and sweat. Lot of ex Niners at the Cal series, OF Sean Boatright and his fast girl friend (a track MVP) Charlene Dierdorff, 2B Chuck Sindlinger now with the Reno minor league entry, pitcher Brett Andrade, and Steve Holton, one of the LB Admins way back when who really jump started the baseball budget in his time. Steve is the Deputy Athletic Director at Cal with football and baseball as his primary sports. After moving from fashionable Los Altos when they lived in LB, Steve and his teacher wife Judi built an expansive rancher on a golf course in Flagstaff where he was the AD for Northern Arizona and are now in a palatial mountain top tri level in the Oakland Hills. Everybody is doing well. Good things happen to good people.

Closing note. The Big West does not sponsor water polo or men’s volleyball so the LB teams are in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. One of the web wizards I read suggests that the Niner brass hang MPSF banners around campus venues to brag about that association—like BYU does. The members at the moment are LBSU, CSUN, Pepperdine, Hawaii, UCI, UCSD, BYU, USC and UCLA. Not a bad sporting neighborhood. Now back to your baseball season already in progress.—DR. DAN