Tuesday, April 28, 2009


When the Dirtbag baseball team made the trip to Stockton a week after the Tigers mauled Fullerton for two of three, the homeboys bus ride north was, well, sort of nervous. The cure, the season’s best offensive effort, 34 runs, three wins and moving above .500 in conference, (7-5). With the team batting average up to .299 and deadly on the base paths (87 steals compared to opponents 28), the ride home was almost giddy as the team reflected on the fact that the Niners are now fourth in a conference that sent four to post season the last two years.

More good news, after Tuesday night in Westwood, next up the BWC last place UC Davis Aggies (1-11) come into Blair this weekend. Even though Davis made the NCAA’s last season, I worry for Davis particularly on Saturday when there will be 1,000 swinging and swaying likenesses of Evan Longoria all around the yard. The occasion is a marketing promo bobblehead doll giveaway. I hope to put mine on one side of my Misty May with Bob Maxson on the other side. Game times are 6:30 Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday but you won’t be ahead if you’re behind on Saturday.

Meanwhile the other diamond nine at the Beach, softball, won their series with Fullerton and with three game sets at UC Riverside and Pacific left, Kim Sowder and her kids still have legitimate post season hopes. Cal Poly is a run away leader but the Niners are one game behind Fullerton in third. Win those next two series make up some more ground and the league’s good RPI should squeeze three teams into the playoffs.

Last of the playoff info, tennis and golf have won their respective Big West championships and have regional invites for next weekend as the coaches try to fine tune their lineups and avoid the dreaded injury bug. Tennis goes inter-sectional with a match in Palo Alto versus LSU who whomped the home girls 6-1 last year. LSU has a deceptive record of 13-10 but return five aces from last year’s team. Golf plays in a actual team format in Tempe, 15th seed, but with two major talents, fresh faced freshman Lee Lopez and senior and a half Kay Hoey they have a chance to advance.

MIXED GRILL--I know that the downtown marketing folks have a promotion called Putt Putt on Pine but keep that wallet in your plaid pants this weekend because some of the kids hanging out in front of Smooth's Saturday afternoon are members of the men’s and women’s golf teams at LBSU.

In BWC baseball UC Irvine is ranked nationally from first to sixth, and historic power Fullerton outscored Davis 22-1 up there. The real scrap is on in the fight for third place between the Beach and Cal Poly who comes to Long Beach the next to the last weekend of the season just before Long Beach plays their final three at Fullerton. Could get warm.

The CSUF/LB rivalry on the men’s side is historically heated but now it has spilled over to the ladies side. Last Saturday in their two losses to the Beach, CSUF head softball coach Michelle Gromacki threw some equipment and was tossed herself for arguing what she thought was an uncalled balk.

Where will they be---after 10 years at Long Beach State Marketing boss Tim Dickson will be leaving to accept a position in the athletic department of his Alma Mater, The University of the Pacific…title and salary upgrade also—he will be External Affairs/Major Gifts Director.

After plugging tennis camps and the Jewels of the night I have made new friends so men’s volleyball has asked that you mark your calendar for their Black and Gold Gala set for Wednesday, May 20, 2009 inside the swank ocean view law firm offices of Keesal, Young, and Logan in downtown Long Beach. The $150 a head gives you food and drink better than Bernie Madoff is getting, even before he moves into the grey bar hotel. The boosters will be honoring the 2009 men's volleyball team and Wall of Honor inductees (Scott Touzinsky ('04), David Lee ('04), Miles Pabst ('73), and Darrell Auxier ('73). Oh yes, it is also a bon voyage to Coach Alan Knipe who will now world travel as the USA Men's Head Coach for the next three years.--DR. DAN

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There is something about the month of April that is a strange cocktail of the joy of sport and the realities of money. After all April 15th is the government’s red letter day, unless your investments are actually in the black. Fund raisers and fund drives abound yet the drive for gold medals, trophies and the like is frequently obscured by the stats of matches, games, and tournaments. And this April for Long Beach State, the prospects of preparing to pay the quickly rising scholarship bills for their 300 student athletes is once again shaken and stirred by post season expectations.

Last weekend the amazing women’s tennis team picked up their Big West gold, the men’s volleyball team qualified for the MPSF tourney and the diamond sports of baseball and softball kept their hopes alive, softball sweeping UCSB on national TV and baseball winning a series against Northridge. Celebration first and cost accounting when we get around to it. Perhaps that mean’s the month of May.
In April however it is about fun and games. This weekend the Dirtbags (17-18, 4-5) are in bucolic Stockton somewhat puzzled by the normally toothless Tigers weekend series win over Fullerton. Light hitting LB did win their series over pitching-smart CSUN but clearly has a lot of work to do.

Softball has a nice overall record (27-17) and a shot at first place Fullerton this weekend on the campus diamond but those three one run losses to Cal Poly are hard to forget. A strong finish, bolstered by that nice TV showing, should set up at least a NCAA at-large berth.

In men’s volleyball Coach Alan Knipe isn’t ready to talk about his new post guiding the USA to a medal in the 2012 London Olympics. The jut-jawed Irishman will have nothing to do with future thinking; he is very much in the present with his talented but occasionally inconsistent 49er team who earned a quarter-final berth in the MPSF tourney Saturday at second ranked Pepperdine. Alan’s quotable colleague Andy Read is optimistic. “All the adversity the guys have stared down throughout the season has hardened our spirit and resolve. The team has sharpened its game in the crucible of fire” Send me in coach.

Enough of sports. It is time for low, medium or high finance. Tennis is one under-budgeted outfit that has to raise a lot of their own dollars or Euros, (if you check the passports.) If you have a dream of being a millionaire tennis dad like Richard Williams, sign up your children for the Beach Youth Tennis Camp, a series of one week sessions ($145) June 22--August 14. Not only will this investment in your 401 K kids allow the progeny to learn from Jenny Hilt-Costello and other college level coaches, but also from 49ers all-time great Hannah Grady. Hannah and her team whipped arch-rival UC Irvine last weekend to win their sixth straight Big West championship.

Camp sessions run from 9 until noon on the brand new LBSU courts and instruction meshes with afternoon session of the classic 49er camp. Enrollment (call 562-985-4336) is $145 for each week with a family discount available. Next up for Hannah and the Beach gals is their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament beginning May 8.

More on the star watch, the questions I get the most these days are from down in the dumps boosters who measure the program only by MLB draft choices. Well that lineage won’t end this spring. Junior pitcher Adam Wilk was just named the Big West Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 13-20 as announced by the conference office Monday. Adam is not only settled in as a solid starter but for the pro talent scouts he has a big bonus, a lefty. Last Friday he had another impressive performance in the Dirtbags 1-0 shutout win over Northridge with eight scoreless innings. Fanning six, giving up just four hits and retiring the last 12 batters he faced.

Last number note, the 2009 LBSU Annual Fund Drive is underway with an added sense or urgency in light of the state’s overall fiscal crisis, increased costs for room, board, tuition and fees, and the student body’s reluctance to tax themselves more for athletic scholarships. A salesman or woman will call but in the mean time --enjoy the fun and games.—DR. DAN

Friday, April 17, 2009


Steve Rousey has been a fan favorite in 49er-ville for fifteen years. It started back in 1993 when he tutored the pitchers for Coach Dave Snow. Those teams claimed two Big West titles, made three regional appearances and the College World Series semis behind NCAA Pitcher of the Year Daniel Choi and a staff that was first nationally in saves (21) and second in strikeouts (528.) Choi dropped off the map (at least the North American version) for life back home in Korea but Rousey soldiered on to Northridge under Mike Batesole who, after two years left the job for him and went to some place called Fresno State.

Steve was popular in his LBSU days and it is not unreasonable to suggest, that coming into Blair with a woeful record of 131-239 has added to the warm fuzzies from 49er fans. So this weekend will his red and black just relax and enjoy the distant roar of the Grand Prix engines? Not so fast my friend. LBSU is among six teams with but four losses in conference and everybody else has more than that. The early leader is the CWS-hungry marsupials from UC Irvine, 8-1 but in that all important loss column think what another Niner seven game win steak would do. CSUN has a series win over UCSB and took a Friday game from Fullerton. The Beach pitching rotation got tweaked again. Tonight is reliable Adam Wilk (4-1, 3.02) up against Ryan Juarez (4-2, 5.48), Saturday CSUN starts Justen Gorski (1-2, 3.05) to test LB rookie Andrew Gagnon (2-4, 4.97) and on Sunday CSUN has Billy Ott (1-2, 7.07) against Jake Thompson (2-5, 5.74). Last weekend Jake was sick (a bunch of meds and a trip to the ER.). On Tuesday CSUN used six pitchers who allowed only seven hits in a win over lowly CS Bakersfield (8-24) by a score of 3-1. Meanwhile at the U with a View (Pepperdine) 21-14, Weathers and staff used six of their own, gave up 11 hits but got a 5-4 W. The key ingredient was perfect defense that broke the Waves and ended LB’s five game losing streak. The kind of medicine the Dirtbag machine needs for the stretch drive.

LEFT TURN DUST—The next three weekends are not exactly high octane foes, Northridge 15-20, Pacific 13-18 and UC Davis 6-25…series wins if not a sweep or two seem mandatory…two special events coming up, tomorrow will be a 20-year reunion celebration for the 1989 Dirtbag team, and Sunday's game is Dirtbags Breast Cancer Awareness day…for the TIVO/VCR crowd you can tape the Sweethearts of Swat when softball hosts a double header tomorrow and baseball Tuesday at SDSU…more speed, The D Bags run a lot but the best I the BWS is CSUN’s Jeff Pruitt 19 stolen bases in 20 attempts...Long Beach State is 11th in the nation in stolen bases with 73, and is 11th in the country in sacrifice bunts with 38…the LB stolen base record is 123 (1980)…impressive also is that of the top three hitters, Steve Tinoco (.343), Brian Metzger (.340) and Jonathan Jones (.330) Tinoco and Jones have perfect fielding percentages…ironically former Long Beach State pitcher Jered Weaver was supposed to help fellow teammate Nick Adenhart move in with him last Sunday...if you go by a Wells Fargo branch you can join me in a small donation to Benefit Fund for ex-Titan Jon Wilhite, it is account #3980643658…from the chat rooms, Maxpreps selected the best ever baseball player from each state and Alaskan Chad Bentz (LBSU 2000-01) made the list…Chad was the second pitcher, after Jim Abbott, to play in the Majors after being born without one of his hands…those coin collecting Niner athletes in the stands turned in an impressive $2,109 most of it headed to the Miller Children’s hospital…expect concession prices to drop this summer since the Armada got a judgment in their favor from a lawsuit versus Jose Canseco for an amount of $258,750…collecting, hummm…Closing Quote from the City of Long Beach Director of Golf Bob Livingstone who’s favorite definition of the sport is “An ineffectual endeavor attempting to get an insignificant pellet into an obscure hole with entirely inadequate weapons.” DR. DAN

Monday, April 13, 2009


Wandering out of the second level of the Pyramid Saturday night I noticed that the name plates for the women’s basketball staff were gone but in the big office on the corner Jody Wynn, surrounded by Sesame Street pink plastic storage buckets, two kids and one husband was in, working, and hardly nameless.

Jody had a nice view of her new court and did occasionally look up to see the work of four departing volleyball 49ers, Dustin Watten, Luke Shea, Daniel Fabry and oh, yes, Coach Alan Knipe who soon departs for duties with the US national team. Back to those storage containers, inside was a mixture of coaching notes and day care playthings. Wynn earned her bachelor's degree in exercise science from USC in 1996 and a master's in education from Pepperdine four years later. She then married a fellow Wave assistant. Derek Wynn, and gave birth to daughters, Jada and Kaeli. The little girls seemed at home and will become frequent visitors to Mom’s (and likely Dad’s) new work place.

With the door open and the Coach smiling I decided to sneak in a question or two. “A lot of fans realize that you have no unused scholarships right now but on the web there is talk of rebuilding through bounce backs, transfers, particularly those from California that might even be able to pay their own way while sitting out the required one year. It that in your plans?” LBSU gave her a five year contract but Wynn isn’t the patient type and went to work earlier this week looking over the 7, 8, or 9 seniors who will be “competing from scratch” for playing time this fall. On paper that could be good news for the home team or bad news, if you remember that last year the team was a miserable 8-21 and missed the BWC tourney.

Translated, expect a shorter returning roster before the summer is over, news of some hot juniors to early sign and a few select transfers to announce. When the word of the new look Niners get out, the faithful hope that Jody, husband and kids will have to share her time with emails and phone calls that will make the once storied program go all atwitter again.

LOOKING BACKWARD DUST—Outside of volleyball, last weekend was dismal, especially on the diamonds. Both hard and soft were swept on the road but get a fresh start this weekend back at home. CSUN comes to Blair for a three game baseball series and on Saturday ESPN U will bring their cameras to campus for the softball visit from Santa Barbara.

Next on the national front, No. 1 Texas A&M dropped out of the baseball rankings after losing a weekend series to Kansas State, which was one of four teams to move into the rankings this week. Is this the dreaded parity sweeping through college baseball, three of the newcomers are unfamiliar faces in the rankings. Kansas State and Gonzaga are ranked in the top 25 for the first time ever, while Kansas makes its first appearance since 2006 and our beloved D-Bags are still MIA.

Finally, overwhelmed by all the notes and numbers, I finally trashed that stuff and asked a player parent what happened. From a Dirtbag mom, “Two many five out innings.” Short and simple. Footnote--1988 was the last losing season, 14-45, and 2006 was the year LB finished second in the Big West, (29-27) and missed post-season.

Back to chasing the ball that doesn’t move when you swing, LB native John Merrick through a 66 on the Augusta Master’s course and pocketed $242,813 with a lot of his home course members from Virginia Country club looking on. That is just slightly more than the size of their locker room gin games. Finishing sixth he makes next year’s field as well and will be joined by Niner alum and 1998 champ Mark O’Meara.

Looking for that tennis note, well it is a timely break in action for the Beach who saw there new French star get tripped up walking to the courts at Pepperdine. Healing well we hear and the black and gold will again be heavy favorites at Indian Wells for their umpteenth BWC tourney title.

Last add, there will be some Hard Rain at the Pyramid next month when the 15th version of he DeDe Rossi inspired Jewels of the Night opens its doors for an evening of auction, appetizers, friend and fund raising. The good news is that unlike year on in 1994 the big blue roof has been water-proofed and celebrants will stay dry unless your table has some rowdy celebrants. Now retired, Ms Rossi will hopefully be on had to check out this year’s band and the work of another DD, that being event chair Bruce “Double D” McRae one of the big shots at UPS and a rumored city council candidate. Auction items, food and band info at the event’s web site, www.jewelsofthenight.com. May 16, mark the date.—DR. DAN

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Notes on my napkin while hiding the Easter eggs at the senior center and getting ready for what Long Beach State has to call “The Week That Is”. I mean how often do you try and snap a one game losing streak by beating a home town Hall of Famer and then travel to the new diamond darlings of college baseball? That dear readers is mission for Mike Weathers and company and it starts this evening with Tony Gwynn’s red hot SDSU Aztecs, 22-11 and finally inside the top 20.

Hiding by the way is our word of the week, and reminds us of this crazy Big West trophy dash, which has six, seven or eight teams still in the hunt and Fullerton ain’t in first! Oh yes, if you think that the BWC standings will give you the answer, well, think again. Last weekend the Dirtbags (having just re-earned their nickname) beat pitching-rich UC Riverside two of three while UC Irvine, #5 in the polls and next weekend’s foe, went into F-town won the first two and went extras for game three before the Titans avoided an Anteater with a broom. Close at the top and actually close top to bottom. Eight teams already have at least two wins so no clues about where that NCAA immunity idol is hidden. For the lineups tonight there is some addition and subtraction. For the Niners add Steve Tinoco who will try that ailing hamstring but catcher Kellen Hoime and second baseman Derek Legg will get the night off. SDSU meanwhile gives the pro scouts the night off saving their potential top MLB pick Steven Strasburg (6-0) for his regular Friday night conference duties. The Niner staff night will start with either Manny McElroy or Jason Markovitz followed by a parade of familiar lefty/righty guys depending on who Tony sends up, maybe himself.

ALL THE DUST THAT FITS--On the softball side the Lady Niners (24-14, 5-1) are out in front of the pack but travel to their chief rival, Cal Poly SLO this weekend. In tennis the Beach ladies swept through their regular season a perfect 8-0 and now have non-conference matches at Pepperdine and LMU prior to the Big West Tournament, beginning on April 17 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. For men’s volleyball we turn the reportage over to acerbic assistant coach Andy Read. “We did drop eight straight league matches (five of them going five games) so if you were there you gotta admit you got your money’s worth!”…The Beach has three more matches to play, the first two at home Friday Night against UCSB and CSUN on Saturday then finish the regular season at UCSD. The MPSF tourney begins in two weeks but right now there are three teams fighting for two playoff spots: UCLA 8-10, LBSU 8-11, and UCSD 7-12. Stay tuned, the outcome is well, hidden…The hard core recruiting fanatics around the LBC are still shaking their head about a legacy that got away, that would be the Ricky Wise, son of 49er great Francois Wise. Ricky was pretty much the go to guy at Irvine last season and an all Big West second teamer. So if the LB family felt deserted on that kid imagine Fullerton who’s think that former major leaguer Tim Wallach was the greatest Titan of all time. Well his kid, Orange Coast pitcher/first baseman Brett Wallach has signed with Long Beach. Like his dad, Brett is an iron man, hitting .391 with a team-leading 31 RBIs, a 4-1 pitching record with a 2.95 ERA and 63 strikeouts. ..Closing note, is our popular Fullerton slam…ESPN had to bring in extra lights for Titan Field to get that yard up to TV broadcast standards last weekend…Blair Field of course also flunked the TV light test but I figured that it is an excuse to use the shadows to hide concession prices….where are they, Brian Shaw will start at the Diamondbacks Visalia Rawhide on at Lake Elsinore on Thursday...Shaw was a 2008 second-round selection and the right-hander has a mid-90s fastball...last outing for SDSU was upsetting, UC Davis came back for a 6-5 victory at Tony Gwynn Stadium Sunday…sort of like that 4-3 UCR upset of LB… the Aztecs were led by Erik Castro, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Cory Vaughn added two RBIs to account for the team's run production….SDSU also has Beach transfer Brandon Decker playing well (.315)…midweeker for UCI is at UCLA, sort of a Dan Guerrero classic since those schools are two spots on his tax return…have a joyful Easter Sunday and a equally pleasant IRS Wednesday—DR. DAN

Thursday, April 02, 2009


For the sporting citizens of Long Beach State it is officially Spring Break. Parking is not a mess but the budget still is. The diamond teams have gotten their groove back but volleyball and water polo and tennis haven’t. The white puffs of smoke expected to come out of the Pyramid when big decisions are ready to be handed down weren’t visible just yet. Being a 49er fan does build character.

Starting with the good news, the Dirtbag baseball team, working on a run of six games in eight days has their suspended manager Mike Weathers back on the job and against UNLV the team first rediscovered their patented picket fence offense, solid defense, and team speed. Softball got two of three from pitching rich UC Davis but faces hitting rich Northridge this weekend. Baseball then put on disguises and went on the road for single games at Santa Clara and Cal. In front of car loads of family and friends, the NorCal kids were especially smoking hot, Lohman, Jones, Metzger, Hoime, Casas, Sandoval, etc. On Tuesday TJ Mittelstaedt hit two home runs to lead the 49ers to a 14-4 spanking of Santa Clara and even got a W out of Jason Markovitz in his first start of the year and then crushed Cal 19-7 forcing Bear catcher Dylan Tonneson to say, "This was just a brutal game…every aspect of the game was brutal. It's embarrassing." The Dirtbag bus back was, er, ah, celebratory. Laundry on Thursday then LB will host UCR for three Friday through Sunday, get Monday off to rediscover their classes, and has San Diego State in town on Tuesday night.

Now switching from the locker room to the board room, AD Vic Cegles and President F. King Alexander are still sweating the state budget and likely will (or if they are not deadline friendly) have made some decision on implementing some customized portion of the Beach Legacy Referendum plan. Translated, impose an increase in student fees not withstanding the result of the advisory vote from the students. The increase in tuition, housing and scholarship costs plus some crumbling infra-structure has to be addressed.

While the women’s basketball coaching search (down to eight we are told) goes on, one of the favorite stats that all ADs truly love is salary savings. Former coach Mary Hegarty collects her checks until summer but all the assistants in the lady hoop budget line are now off the payroll and that saves over $16,000 a month.
Back to the present, LBSU women's soccer coach Mauricio Ingrassia hasn’t gotten his dream stadium but he has signed another large and class, nine freshmen and one transfer. A couple of the newcomers to watch are Alexandra Balcer, from Arizona, and Shannon Bullock sister of current Niner, Lindsay Bullock, and no relation to the shy starlet Miss Sandra Bullock.

Last Add. Just finished my service on the College Baseball Hall of Fame committee (seven categories by era) and not too many of my choices got in. I did not vote for Rafi Palmeiro's or his college coach, Ron Polk although I admired Coach Polk for being an outspoken critic of the NCAA. My choice of Branch Rickey (Pre 1947) got in but Dick Groat (47-63), Mark McGuire (78-87), Travis Lee (88-98) and Coach Wally Kincaid will have to wait another year.
Not sure how good or bad UNLV was, but the sweep of the Rebels was aided by a ton of errors forced by using the Beach’s outstanding team speed. This season LB has 54 stolen bases and their opponents just 22. Riverside has good arms but bad bats; they lost two of three to Fullerton, scored only five runs and allowed 23. Tennis stumbled to 15th ranked Fresno State but is still unbeaten in the Big West.

Our closing quote will appeal to fans that are furious about concession prices at Blair field. Fullerton of course plays on campus and hence no beer, not even the $10 big gulp cup that is charged at LB home games. On their recent trip to Arizona State, also a dry venue, this advice appeared on the CSUF web board. “For any of Titans (they needed a drink yesterday losing 3-1) coming out to see the games, you should be aware that no alcohol is served in Packard Stadium. They check bags but not cargo pockets.” Hum, I lost a ham sandwich once in my cargo pocket. DR. DAN