Monday, June 02, 2008


Unless you win the College World Series, the final out of a college baseball season is always the toughest. Fans and friends, players and parents, alums and students that tailgated, traveled, hugged and hung-over together now just seem to dissolve and disappear.

That scenario began to happen late Sunday afternoon at Blair Field when the ending was written on the 2008 Long Beach State Dirtbag baseball season, a passion play in three parts. Part one was the rousing opening scene at 17 wins and just three losses. Part two, the mid season funk and part three, a flourish at the end with Big West hardware headed to the 49er trophy room.

While at times it is easier to explain the Russian missile codes than the NCAA selection criteria, Long Beach did earn the right to stay in their home sweet home. Not only that, the Beach boys got the top seed in a talented field of teams ranging from the sophisticated University of California, the rough and ready Bulldogs of CSU system sister Fresno State and the small, private and silver spoon folks from the University of San Diego.

After the visitors unpacked their bats and hats they all expressed appreciation for Blair Field and the arrangements that CSULB had made for their stay in LB. That was especially true for the pitchers who by and large love the wide open spaces that yielded a mere two homers all weekend. The bunting fluttered in the breezes, a tent city provided hospitality to the visiting brass, and the media even had their own chow hall.

Enough of the artistic and hospitality success stories, the home boys and their supporters, were trying again to get out of their own regional. Despite the tee shirts and signs that said the road to Omaha Begins in Long Beach a number of folks suggested that in the future the 49ers might be better off playing on the road, the route they took to their previous four College World Series trips in 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1998. Case in point, Irvine took the road all the way to Omaha last year and, having just won the regional on the home field of the University of Nebraska, might do it again this year.

So what about the Niners next year--reload or rebuild? At the moment it looks a lot like rebuild. Gone will be the entire infield including the exceptionally talented Shane Peterson and Danny Espinosa. Both of the “Cal” guys, Berkeley transfers Travis Howell and Jason Corder are seniors and the heart of the pitching staff, Liebel, Worley, and Shaw have either gone pro, cap and gown or both. There are some promising recruits and underclassmen but Mike Weathers and staff are hopeful that Brett Lorin and Nick Vincent, both draft eligible, stick around to anchor the 2009 Dirtbag pitching corps and that matter along with the rest of the roster unfolding over the summer.

Which brings us to our annual shift in the Diamond Dust writing schedule. From now until late January this column will appear in the Grunion Gazette on the first Thursday of each month, catching you up on the athletically significant or just plain interesting people at Long Beach State. For my blog ( we write whenever the mood strikes but the Florida based email list is a bit schizophrenic so you might want to use that RSS feed feature that notifies you when something new has been posted. Of course my email is the same and I love your tips and tidbits, factual or otherwise! Last add, don’t tell Arnold and his tax men but I plan to hang out in LB over the summer except for some secret side trips…but I will get my six months and one day in FLA somewhere along the line! Be good to yourself and each other--DR DAN


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