Friday, March 27, 2009


Our word of the weekend is irony. It is at least ironic that for the season when the best Blair Field scoreboard ever is up and flashing, the home team dare not look at it. Forget the out of town scores, the 2009 Niners have to focus on what’s on the other side of the diamond, not across town, across county or across country. Translated: un-ranked UNLV (13-10) continues its road swing after losing two mid-weekers to Oklahoma State 8-2 and 15-1. Throw in a home loss to Air Force and you have two proud but struggling ball clubs. Both the Rebels and LBSU are on three game slides with the Beach on the same down swing, losing Saturday and Sunday at Wichita State and Tuesday at San Diego.

So let’s map out some islands of identity in a sea of anonymity. Translated find your own silver linings. Although only 7-12, LBSU is hitting .288 as a team, paced by Steve Tinoco, who is hitting .385 (20-52) with four home runs and 10 RBI followed by TJ Mittelstaedt (.291) who has played four positions, hit in eight spots in the lineup, and is a guy that the media relations folks an on-base machine, reaching at a .458 rate and leading the team in RBI, walks and triples. Next up on the contribution list is sophomore shortstop Devin Lohman, who has played in, started all 18 of the team's games, and had a nine-game hitting streak. The pitching has been up and down, sort of like that wicked splitter that closer Charlie Ruiz throws in the direction of home plate. Normally at this part of the Dust we would report that Coach Mike Weathers, is 270-164 in his seventh year with the Dirtbags, 549-444-2 overall in his 18th season as a collegiate head coach, but as you should know he ain’t in the dugout tonight, wasn’t there on Tuesday and will miss tomorrow finishing a three game suspension for violating the new NCAA spewing rule.

Maybe Mike will be text messaging his old rival Curious George Horton who has been suspended for three games himself following his ejection from Sunday’s loss to Washington for arguing a call at first base on a double play. His umpire’s report indicated that Horton’s hat touched the umpire during the incident. Physical contact with umpires carries an automatic three-game suspension.
NAME DROP DUST--Now since we are in our new once a weekend Dusting, here are the expected starting pitchers beginning with tonight’s talented lefties, Jeff Urlaub (3-1, 4.34 ERA) and Adam Wilk (2-1, 3.34 ERA). Saturday, Tanner Peters (3-1, 2.90 ERA) goes for the Hustling Rebels against Jake Thompson (0-4, 7.39 ERA) who has fallen off the bike recently but gets back up and tries again…On Sunday UNLV starts Andrew Beresford (1-1, 5.05 ERA) against Andrew Gagnon (1-2, 5.92 ERA)…The Rebels have fattened their resume with four game series against lightweights Butler and Maine. .. Drew Buerlein leads the offense, hitting .442, one of four Rebs that are hitting over .400 to start the year…The all-time series between Long Beach State and UNLV is dead even, both teams have won 28 games…Now to my version of the spewing heard round the college baseball world. I was in the right field box seats. Lohman was taken out on a wide, hard, and somewhat spike high slide to second base. My pal Craig Kimber, (who once held the record for most base hits in a LBSU game-5 vs. Pepperdine on 2/27/73) had wandered over to the LF picnic area. When Weathers sprinted over there to visit with the third base umpire Joe Maiden, Craig listened in. “Mike never said one of the magic words; he just kept asking the ump if he would take a look at second base.” Apparently though, Mike neither fully swallowed that call, nor his St. Patrick’s Day Green Beer/Gatorade and the moisture may or may not have escaped the skippers lips…insiders say that the next controversial play Mike will send out new special assistant Amy Winehouse…conspiracy theorist say that this is a season on the jinx…on Tuesday Tre Dennis, leading off as the DH, was hit by a curveball on the first pitch, turned to trot but was instructed to stay in the batter’s box for “failing to make an attempt to evade the pitch”…now the final word from our Southern Gentleman pal Gordie Verrell reporting from his plantation in Newport News, VA, “I'm not too sure but I think down here in good ol' Dixie we have a drink called Mountain Spew…and how does a guy called Weatherman get docked for "spewing"?—DR. DAN

Monday, March 23, 2009

Magnifique and Words Fairly Foreign to the Forty-Niners

Last weekend was one of those times when I exchanged a press row seat for my electric chair, that being the one in front of my TV/computer, handy for rapidly surfing back and forth around the LB sporting landscape. Not as comfortable as my recliner, but very convenient for raiding the refrigerator while tracking athletic contests in Arizona (softball), Utah (volleyball) and Kansas (baseball).

Regrettably the Niners went 1-2 in baseball falling to traditional power Wichita State, got swept in softball by sixth ranked Arizona State, and lost two to BYU. The good news is that things should get easier this week, baseball is at home for a series with UNLV, softball is at home for three with UC Davis, tennis hosts Dartmouth and volleyball will at least play close to home at USC and Pepperdine. And I can save on that Edison bill.

Now to a new feature of the Dust when the box score news is a bit depressing. We call it “Mining for Web Gems”. First of all we now interrupt the "who’s going coach the women’s basketball team announcement watch party" for a basketball men’s basketball non-conference schedule update. Names being kicked around include three from the Thanksgiving weekend at the 76 Classic in Anaheim (UCLA, Minnesota, Butler, Clemson, West Virginia, Minnesota, Texas A&M and/or Portland), on the road at Arizona State and Texas, a return game owed Wisconsin Green Bay and likely a stop to or fro with a Midwest power like Illinois, Notre Dame, Indiana, etc. At home insiders expect an out of conference visit from the U of Denver.

Where are they—Back when Beach baseball made those Omaha trips, the skipper in those days Dave Snow wasn’t great about remembering names so he coined nick names for almost everybody, “Possum” was the equipment guy from Japan Yusuke Nakajima, I was Boog Powell and the bat boy, one Daniel Carson Benedetti, was called, well he was called, “Boy”.

Danny dreamed of becoming a real Dirtbag with a full-sized uniform but it never happened. His parents, John and Cindy Benedetti, never gave up on his college dream. The encouraged him to try the JC route, which he did at Irvine Valley where he was picked as captain, batted a team-best .345 in conference games. Next up was a genuine D-1` scholarship to Big East entry St. Johns and so the black and gold turned to Red Storm Red.

An All-BIG EAST second team selection as a catcher last year, Danny had 41 starts, batted .342 with 14 doubles, 19 RBI, and he threw out 19-of-37 base stealers. This year his team is unbeaten in conference and this Boy is hitting .313 after Sunday’s 2-3, 2 RBI performance.

Finally as you know tennis is a gentile sport and the 49ers have a wonderful collection of foreign players who know that curtsy and kisses stuff. Post reporter JJ Fidler says one such player is freshman Anais Dallara out of Valbonne, France. Flash back to her first match and Dallara picks up the story. “In France we kiss on the cheek to say hello. You don’t do that here. But I didn’t know. I was so embarrassed.” No worries, to date Anais has kissed off her opponents. She has a 13-3 mark in singles and 10-1 in doubles teamed with fellow freshmen, Manhattan Beach’s Rachel Manasse. Magnifique!—DR. DAN

Monday, March 16, 2009


For many years Mondays around Long Beach baseball would be spent checking on the three, four or five national polls. And fearing Tuesdays. This year, regrettably the opposite is true, no polling places but instead of mid week miniseries that seems to be the time to shine for the Beach Boys. Back on Wednesday February 25th the Niners shook off the losing of two of three to USC and walloped LMU 9-6 jumping out eight zip after six. On Tuesday March 10 our jet lagged lads welcomed top 15 U San Diego and pasted them 17-3. Not that Weathers and company wouldn’t prefer winning weekend series, but you take what you get.

The Lions of course remember that windy February afternoon but have other issues. Like a disturbing nine game losing streak no thanks to Hawaii, Riverside and UCSB. At least the Niners pick up a W now and then, for example the last two Sundays have been good, wins over South Carolina and the other day a 6-5 come from behind sweep-avoiding win over Washington State. Still working with some fragile newcomers, the victory was important and maybe occasioned by the tough love message from Mike Weathers in which he at least verbally stripped the club of their coveted Dirtbag status. The final margin was made possible by a Rylan Sandoval's run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth inning and nifty closing by Charlie “What Do You Think of that Splitter” Ruiz. Even the other dugout grudgingly gave LB a compliment. "We had a golden opportunity and let it get away from us," WSU Head Coach Donnie Marbut said. "Give credit to Long Beach State, but we had a chance to sweep a fine club on the road and did not get it done." The skipper in the other dugout tonight comes in a little warm. When Hawai'i had added three insurance runs in the eighth ex-Titan and Lion Head Coach Jason Gill was ejected for “arguing” a play at the plate.

NOTES ON MY NAPKIN—Busy LB training room…freshman standout Derek Legg is suffering from an oblique and groin injury and Jordan Casas' ankle ailment will cancel both guys tonight…if we see Senior catcher Kip Masuda it will be his first duty since returning from a hamstring injury…we do expect promising Jeff Lease to start for the Niners…This just in from Wolf Blitzer on election desk…student athletes are still playing ball of some sort and many of the 49er faithful and some admins are still floating doomsday scenarios…update--there is no apocalypse at Seventh and Bellflower…odd side effect, the some important student athletes who got the bad news on Friday from BLR did not adjust well in their competitions…they had worked very hard for the BLR passage…TJ Mittelstaedt got his stroke going with a triple made out of pure hustle… “I was just trying to be more aggressive than normal knowing that they’d want to get ahead in the count,” Mittelstaedt said about his last at-bat. He was 2-for-3 in the game with two RBIs and started at second base for the first time since his sophomore year in high school…Ruiz put out the Cougar fire in the 8th but Dustin Rasco entered the game and pitched a scoreless ninth to collect his first save of the season…overall Sunday was a strong day for the Big West, Cal Poly 11, California 4; Cal State Fullerton 4, Rhode Island 3; Pacific 10, Houston 2; UC Irvine 5, Tulane 4; UC Riverside 15, Columbia 5; and UC Santa Barbara 25, St. Mary's 11…when UCR 14-3 got in the polls this week the wags said “With the consistency and nice wins the Highlanders have put together so far this season, it only was a matter of time before they were ranked” that makes up to five teams fighting for the two maybe three post season spots, CSUF, UCI, UCSB, SLO and …now UCR…crowded up Wichita State who beat Pepperdine two of three and hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a DH today with a single tomorrow...for the youngsters in the 25 man Dirtbag travel party, the weather might not be nice (37 to 56 with rain on the weekend) but the underground batting cages, erector set stadium and outdoor BBQ areas are impressive.—and welcome my green beer drinking Century Club St. Patrick’s dance team tonight--DR. DAN


After a more than memorable week that was, athletically Long Beach State might just deserve a pause to reflect and relax. The basketball teams are going through their exit interviews and making plans for off-season conditioning.

In the case of Coach Mary Hegarty, she herself will go through her own exit interview while her former boss, athletics director Vic Cegles, tries to manage the free advice that landed on his overflowing voice and email machines.

The folks lighting up his office electronics are split between those hoping for a return to glory with a new women’s basketball coach and those who see the end of the world, or worse, because the students did not pass that athletic fee referendum.

“We are going to be fine, there is a lot of interest” Cegles said using AD-speak that is purposely designed rein in the speculation that CSULB, renamed these days as Cal State University Low Budget, is having its darkest days since opening in 1949.

So with the LB sneakers and those long basketball shorts packed away, what else is going on to give the faithful a break. Well, baseball for example is on the road this weekend at a fairly average Missouri Valley Conference entry, Wichita State, back where Dorothy lives. The Beach lads had a 2-2 week, winning their mid week contest over USD and the Sunday game against Washington State, but lost twice to the water logged Cougars keeping skipper Mike Weathers puzzled.

Softball fared better winning four of five and now head east, well as far east as Tempe, Ariz., to take on defending national champion and sixth-ranked Arizona State. The three-game series gets underway on Friday with first pitch set for 7 p.m. (PT) and a doubleheader Saturday. Finally men’s volleyball, winners of their own tourney last weekend, goes up the mountain to Provo for a two night date with BYU. Peaking at the right time, the Niners knocked off third ranked Penn State Saturday.

Tennis remains at home with a pair of out of conference matches, Friday against Louisville and Saturday hosting Denver. Still unbeaten in Big West play, the home girls were staggered a bit when upstart Nevada took the net queens down last week.

Back to baseball, as usual clean Gene Stephenson of The Shockers has under scheduled his team again, lots of Arkansas Pine Bluff and North Dakota State etc. For the youngsters in the 25 man Dirtbag travel party, the weather might not be nice (37 to 56 with rain on the weekend) but the underground batting cages, erector set stadium and out door BBQ areas are impressive.

NAME DROP DUSTING—Sunday’s hitting hero was TJ Mittelstaedt, two-for-three with a double and triple and scoring the game-winning run. On the pitching side of the Niner stat sheet newcomer Charlie Ruiz went from despair to delight on the weekend. He actually struck out four in the ninth on Saturday (three wild pitches and a passed ball) and lost but his wicked splitter was caged on Sunday and he got the win.

The real March Sadness in the loss of the fee referendum but I have confidence that President Alexander will use some sort of line-item veto to pick some projects and facilities. It is clearly the direst financial landscape since the campus opened in 1949 but I for one do not buy into the doomsday scenarios.

Last add, my NCAA dark horse is my father’s alma mater, West Virginia University, and the inspiration for our closing quote. “Being a Mountaineer isn't something the athletes have to do, it's something they get to do”. –DR. DAN

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Weekends are made for WSU this month, tonight the first of three with the Pac Ten’s Washington State University baseball team (3-8) and next weekend at a fairly average Wichita State University ball club back where Dorothy lives.

Washington State has lost nine of the previous 12 meetings with the 49ers going back to 1988 when the Cougars won 15-3 and 6-5 in a Fresno tourney in the last of the John Gonsales era which featured the notable Cougar, John Olerud who pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts in 1995. My favorite Coog was Lasorda’s nemesis Tom Niendenfuer who survived the Palouse to make the show. In 1996, the 49ers swept four games, including a three-game series at home (6-2, 19-0, and 9-8) as well as a game by a 6-2 count in Seattle and another sweep .by the Beach in 2003.

For next weekend’s WSU as usual clean Gene Stephenson of The Shockers of the other WSU, as in Wichita State U. has under-scheduled his team again, lots of Arkansas Pine Bluff and North Dakota State etc . But they are back home for a three-game series this weekend against No. 11 Pepperdine and then will work on the Dirtbags. But no more looking ahead, we have got to keep this hit streak going. In their last two games, the Dirtbags have hit .400 and scored 27 runs on 34 hits,--eight doubles and even five home runs. That’s a lusty slugging number of .694, against a previously undefeated South Carolina squad and Tuesday’s tasty 17-3 romp over U San Diego. Washington State was swept on the road at Arkansas , rebounded for a 2-2 split against Oklahoma at home. The Cougars are led offensively by Patrick Claussen and Shea Vucinich. Claussen leads the team with a .436 batting average, while Vucinich has 13 hits with 3 doubles and two home runs.

DOT, DOT DUST---next the Cougars stay warm and dry this next week play9ing at nationally-ranked Pepperdine then head back to the NW for a three-game series against South Dakota State….the mound plan, usually less than 100 pitches, is: LH-Matt Way-WSU (0-2, 2.00 ERA) RH-Jake Thompson-LBSU (0-2, 4.58 ERA) tonight, Saturday with RH-Jared Prince-WSU (0-1, 3.71 ERA) LH-Adam Wilk-LBSU (1-1, 3.94 ERA) and Sunday RH-Chad Arnold-WSU (0-1, 6.55 ERA) RH-Andrew Gagnon-LBSU (1-1, 4.70 ERA)…In 2009, Washington State seeks its fourth-straight winning season, something the Cougars have not accomplished since 1994 when a 35-26 record capped a run of 37-consecutive campaigns with a mark above .500….Looking backward it was Rice sophomore right fielder Chad Mozingo who went 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and three runs scored and No. 20 San Diego got torched again, this time only allowing nine runs…it was game one of a four-game weekend series in Houston…in our Adam Zunino special his old team Nevada beat Oregon 6-5 for coach Gary Powers 800th win…looking forward-- Jason Gill is now the skipper at LMU and may be nervous especially if his boss Bill Husak stops on his way home…Bill still lives here from when he was a top LBSU Asst. AD years ago…missing in action visiting the white coats is super Niner fan Art Johnson…come back soon…

On campus the 25th ranked women’s’ tennis team is home for a week or so and yesterday they improved to perfect 6-0 in the Big West with a 6-1 win over UC Santa Barbara…the only cloud on the horizon is a tough match with Pacific up there next month…the Tigers haven’t scheduled as tough as the Beach but they are still perfect in conference….back to bases, Tuesday’s romp had more crooked numbers than Bernie Madoff’s check book….17 runs on 17 hits ..Steve Tinoco was the star Sunday at SC and junior transfer Tre Dennis had the shine Tuesday 3-for-4 and reaching base six times…Tinoco stayed hot on Tuesday as well, sparking four and six run rallies in the second and third, a seven consecutive hits at-bat streak…finally, the Niner Nation has sent troops all over the landscape this evening, with volleyball in Mid and hoops playing UOP at the Big West barn dance down in Anaheim,--DR. DAN

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Even though both schools were founded in 1949, in this mid-major sporting landscape there is not much to compare a small, elite, religious school like the University of San Diego (pop. 7,200) and CSULB, or LBSU (or heavens forbid, Dirtbag U) and their 37,891 students. However tonight when the lads step, skip or scuffle over chalk you will see programs more similar in a baseball sense then they are different.

For the record both teams used early seven run outbursts to avoid a broom job. USD (7-6) got a huge crooked seven-run lead early and beat San Diego State 10-7 Sunday afternoon at Tony Gwynn Stadium and the Bags (3-7), jumped out 7 zip and beat South Carolina 10-7 deep in the heart of Dixie.

Admittedly the Beach may still be too green to make a big run this year but a series of little runs would be nifty. The Toreros dropped from 16th to 23rd have a ton of talent and seemed ready to make another post season run and jet lagged or not LB has to be ready for this one and then again for the weekend visit from Washington State.(1-8 with their mid week exhibition against British Columbia weathered out).

Getting philosophical, intercollegiate athletics--or debate, or drama, or dance—all represent the intellectual value of cultural enrichment and socialization, etc. Until Sunday night I was clinging to that concept because of serial disappointments with the two game losing streaks for baseball, volleyball and softball teams, a first place buzzer beater loss in men’s basketball and just another beat-down for women’s basketball. Sunday however buoyed my spirits with Dirtbag baseball long balling their way to a win on the road over previously unbeaten South Carolina, softball small balling their way over seldom-beaten UCLA, tennis keeping their Big West record perfect and the recognition that a bye to the semi-finals of the conference tourney is truly something to celebrate.

In baseball the weekend featured a lot of grits and biscuits, more doubles than a twins’ convention and more homers than refs at a Big West basketball road game. Reading the chat rooms made me realize that if being a pessimist was an Olympic sport there would be a lot of gold medalists in Niner-ville. In the stands tonight will be a bunch of other Niners (ready to vote yes on Beach Legacy tomorrow and Thursday) softball’s Sweethearts of Swat. Sunday (again) it was Sophomore Brooke Turner tossing a gritty two-hitter to lead LBSU to a 2-1 victory over No. 3 UCLA (23-3). She was followed by her freshman “trainee”, Taylor Petty (10 Ks), who snuffed Syracuse, 4-1, in the nightcap. Oh yes, and when parents run the snack bar it is always worth the wait in line. The Beach is now 15-9 and off to the National Invitational Softball Tournament in San Jose this weekend.

The big deal for the Dirtbags on Sunday was a breakout game by outfielder Steve Tinoco. Enjoying the southern hospitality, Stevie T went five-for-five with three home runs in support of talented freshman Andrew Gagnon who collected his first win of the year, striking out seven in five innings of work with closing arguments from Charlie Ruiz and the lad the Long Beach Post likes to call, Dustin “The Dirty Little” Rasco. LB got the early lead in every game against the Gamecocks who can swing very well. Please note, that isn’t a crack on their “bandbox” ball park but it won’t remind anyone of the wide open spaces of Blair Field.

Last adding--Almost 21,000 for the three game set at the other USC. I guess having well known opponent like LBSU is good for the cash box. Weather by the way, not the manager of the same name, was clear and sunny all weekend and former LBSU SID Steve Janisch, now in the restaurant business in Ft. Lauderdale, came up to see the team…LB hoops is on ESPN U this weekend and later they will broadcast the Long Beach at Fullerton baseball game on May 22…last ball note, kudos to the Slash, Shane Peterson, who is now a two-time Big West Scholar-Athlete of the Year…he was drafted in the second round by St. Louis and heads to camp this week or last week, parents are always so shy with details… a final note about a super kid named Miranda who shares her snacks with me…she is a huge Espy fan and has a signed card coming soon…her favorite sport, AYSO soccer?—DR DAN

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Sometimes writing a sports column is fast and fun. This week it’s more like trying to crack the Russian missile codes and the Cold War is over. Nevertheless, the numbers are up and we ask that you pick up your abacus and follow along the winding road of LBSU athletics.

The first topic is the men’s side of Big West basketball. Last Thursday, the 49er faithful saluted their own seniors, who beat UCI. Saturday, the 49er team saluted the Northridge seniors with a dismal 21-point loss that kicked our homeboys back into second place with two contests left.

Tonight (Thursday), the Niners are at cellar dweller Cal Poly and Saturday, LB visits their chippy nemesis, UC Santa Barbara. Now here is where the new math kicks in. If CSUN loses at Pacific and with UC Riverside already a loser to UC Irvine, the Beach boys would earn the top seed in the Big West tourney and a minimum of an NIT bid. Win the BWC tourney, then the big dance and big payday from the NCAA.

The beach hoop ladies also will make the party, but will have to play up to four games, starting Wednesday afternoon, March 11, while the lads get to chill in the hotel until Friday night March 13 and (likely) have to play only two games. Got it? This will be on the mid-term.

The rest of the Beach sports scene is scattered about the land. Baseball, 2-5, still staggered by miscues and missed opportunities, is off to the University of South Carolina’s new $25 million, 6,400 chair-backed ball park back east. Tennis winners of five in a row are off to Irvine today (Thursday) to face their traditional title threat, UCI. The Beach net set was sweating the visit from nationally ranked St. Mary’s, but beat them soundly 5-2 on Saturday. So now the frowns are all about the Anteaters’ sometimes sneaky seedings and the upcoming student fee referendum. A sport like tennis needs that infusion of new bucks and both issues featuring lots of drama and more of that “new math.”

That would also apply to #6 ranked men’s volleyball, which is in the midst of a four-match homestand, (3-2 losers to USC Wednesday) with MPSF power Pepperdine coming in Friday night. Top eight MPSF teams make the post-season. Last add, all the less than major sports also face upward spiraling costs for travel, tuition, room, board and books. Student voting is on-line next week.

Finally, Kim Sowder’s sweethearts of swat softball team unloaded on their guests at their weekend tourney, winning all five games and scoring 32 runs and yielding a mere seven. This weekend they have five more games, all at Mayfair, starting Friday and concluding with third-ranked UCLA Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Misty Dust

It has been far too long to dust without a Misty May-Treanor mention, so here we go. Our MM now has her eyes on a house in Michigan, where her husband Matt is catching up with the Detroit Tigers. Matt is a journeyman in that trade, 900 minor league games before he came up to the bigs to stay in June of 2004. Matt who turned 33 this week, is the son and grandson of firefighters and romanced Misty during rehab.

Misty, 31 this year, is still thinking family matters, especially since her Beach gold medal partner Keri Walsh is pregnant. MM is on the new Gatorade G commercial, did that “ESPN the Weekend” at Walt Disney World, appeared on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” and the “Wizards of Waverly Place” and received a “Happy Thanksgiving” text message from Tiger Woods. Film at 11.--DR. DAN