Friday, February 27, 2009


When storied college baseball programs like Long Beach State and Cal hook up, the fandom often wishes for the opponent to roll out a lightly used starter. On Wednesday, this weekend’s guest Golden Bears upped their record to 3-2 on the strong arm of freshman right-hander Matt Flemer in his first collegiate outing. Long Beach, meanwhile, evened its season mark at 2-2 when Adam Wilk, no starts at all last season, pitched seven strong giving up just two hits as the Niners survived LMU 9-6.

With those lads already burned for the weekend, this is expected to be another weekend of Blair ball: lots of fly outs in the wide open spaces, stealing a base here and there, errors looming large and hitters muttering on the way back to their bench. The rotations are typically tentative in the early season, but expect Jake Thompson, lefty newcomer Jeff Lease and impressive freshman Andrew Gagnon working the Friday to Sunday starting shift. Da Bears will likely go with Kevin Miller (7.2 ERA), and strike out artists Blake Smith (7 Ks in his last outing) and Brian Diemer (8 Ks). Pitching and defense has always been a Beach trademark, so the team took some inspiration from the lively bats at LMU. TJ Mittelstaedt was 3 for 3 for the 49ers and Jonathan Jones drove in three runs with two doubles. The Bags opened an 8-0 lead and needed it when the Lions scored one in the seventh and five in the eighth.

Mid-weekers of course are strange, just ask the blue bloods at UCLA and USC. Riverside, who beat Cal twice up there, smacked the Bruins 11-1 while Pepperdine took advantage of five Trojans errors and the Waves opened a 7-0 lead after two innings en route to an 8-1 victory at Dedeaux Field.
Looking backward, I guess I know the reason why I left my palatial estate in sunny Florida, put aside my surfboard, and returned to Long Beach. I like basketball, volleyball, softball, and tennis but I love college baseball. The players are good and hoping to be great. The prices are right, the coaches are risk takers, and the fans don’t sit on their hands. Last weekend Long Beach and Southern Cal coaches sent a lot of question marks out on the diamond, eleven newcomers for each side. Mike Weathers would have had an even dozen, but starting pitcher Sandra Bullock went on the DL (Disappeared List). When the weekend came to an end the Beach boys finally hit a high note and got the Sunday win to avoid a sweep, a dark moment that LB put on SC last season.
Both teams had good starting pitching, but having only three weeks to get everybody ready, the relief corps raised more questions than the amount of Obama’s bailout or the breed of the new first puppy. On Saturday with the game scoreless following an impressive Jake Thompson start, Weathers sent in his 6-6 senior Manny McElroy. After Manny walked his first batter, SC Coach Kreuter went to his dugout to pinch hit for his 6-6 struggling slugger Mac Sullivan. Noting that big Manny was missing the plate, Kreuter sent out his own “Eddie Gaedel”, 5-7 freshman Shane Boras. Famous father in über-agent Scott Boras, Shane does not have much of a strike zone. He walked, Dustin Rasco inheriting the two-on-nobody-out mess, then gave up a couple of hits and one inning later game over – four-zip. Full house at Blair and inside this Trojan Horse wasn’t a movie star but a gimmick kid on scholarship because of Daddy’s fame and fortune (part of the latter courtesy of former Dirtbag Jered Weaver)…Last add famous places, next weekend the Bags travel to South Carolina to open their brand new $25 million dollar stadium with it’s 6400 chair backs…oh, and those perches are filled with good old boys who know your mama’s name.

CLOSING QUOTE: That Eddie Gaedel reference was to a 1951 publicity stunt by maverick St. Louis Browns owner and showman, Bill Veeck, in a game against the Detroit Tigers. Under strict orders not to attempt to move the toy bat off his shoulder, Gaedel still hinted he might be tempted to swing at a pitch. Veeck then promised “to bring a rifle to the game and shoot him if he tried.” Detroit catcher Bob Swift, on his knees and laughing, offered his pitcher Bob Cain this piece of strategy: "Keep it low." See, how can you beat baseball? -- DR. DAN

PS- just back from a chilly four hour plus come from ahead loss to Cal so time out on all those compliments to the grand old game.....


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