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


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