Tuesday, May 26, 2009


For some reason this year Hollywood has found fascination with cold war movies where a super power tries to lure a defector into their camp, helping their own cause and hurting their rival. That sporting version of that historical genre was re-opened this week when the most decorated freshmen golfer in LBSU history, Lee Lopez, asked for a scholarship release to transfer to UCLA.

Lee was the secret ingredient in the 49ers recipe to win the 2009 BWC title by one stroke and the team leader that weekend was Lopez who tied for second place with a 228, well ahead of LB’s senior All-American Kay Hoey. That outcome climaxed a fabulous freshmen year which featured a slew of top ten tourney finishes, second at the SDSU tourney, 10th at Fresno, eighth at Pepperdine and third at UCI. And now, who knows, stay tuned. Insiders say that LBSU will not grant her a release and allow Lopez immediate eligibility in Westwood.

The raiding of nuggets from the 49er treasury has a history. Ivan Verbercht, an emerging mid-major front court basketball talent was smuggled down to USC in 1984 to be a practice player. In 1998 the Beach lost softball all-star Nina Lindenberg to Fresno State where she was a three time All American and National Team member. In 2005, a great volleyball player named Ali Daley bailed for UCLA. How does this happen? A loophole. Scholarship documents are basically year to year to protect the school in case a student-athlete ignores the student part and has bad grades or, er, ah, major deportment issues.

Switching to good news, like two weeks ago at the Players, it was another walk not spoiled by LBSU alum John Mallinger who banked $234,000 and a hunk of FedEx points playing golf at the Byron Nelson last weekend. His story is quite impressive from a skinny hundred pounder at Escondido High to a final Sunday regular on the PGA tour. His first coach was his high school athletic director Steve Bridges, followed at Long Beach State by Bob Livingstone. The rest of his education came via hard work on five different minor tours, from the Canadian to Hooters.

At LBSU John was the team captain in 2000 where Coach Livingstone applauded Mallinger for being the best at understanding how to juggle golf and school. Both men are proud that in his senior year he never missed a class and Livy told the Daily 49er, back then, "He is the leader, he leads by example." Update: John is in town this week according to the talented insider named Bob Livingstone who reported that John “just cracked the top 100 in the OWGR (Official World Golf Ranking at #96) and is all excited about coming out this week to play in one of our gin games at El Dorado GC this week. He’s also going to the wedding of one of his best friends, Steve Mena (a current 49er).”

Switching to walks, hits and things baseball, we wrote of the hopes for 2010 Dirtbag roster last week and despite the 25-29 record (which ended swept into the gloom of Fullerton Sunday night) the cash box totaled over 7,000 tickets sold. For years the teams played each other six games a season, three here and three there. Update, starting next season CSUF and LBSU will return to the old formula and play two three games series with only one series counting in the Big West trophy dash. As is increasingly obvious, LBSU is really an encoded acronym for Long Budget State University and getting three games in front of a full house with a high RPI opponent for a half tank of bus fuel is a choice that the budget bosses at both places could not resist. Beats traveling to South Carolina any time.

More diamond chat, at least two Dirtbags, pitcher Jake Thompson and shortstop Devon Lohman, will head to the prestigious wood bat bunch in the Cape Cod League and others will likely head to Alaska, Wisconsin and the Midwest circuits, or one of the So Cal leagues. Then of course some guys will rehab at home, Kellen Hoime, or summer school. Only pitchers Adam Wilk (second team) and Charlie Ruiz (honorable mention) made any of the All Big West selections. Better news on the overall LBSU front, the Beach won the annual BWC Commissioner's Cup as follows: 1. Long Beach State, 2. Cal Poly, 3. UC Irvine; 4. UC Santa Barbara; 5. UC Davis; 6. UC Riverside; 7. Pacific; 8. CS Northridge and last, and clearly overall the least, 9. CS Fullerton.

Runner-up closing quote from a Miami web boarder (not water boarder) when he was quizzed by Purdue fans who wanted to ask their Miami Hurricane counterparts what the Boilermakers would be getting with recently transferred Robert Marve. “Outside of the drinking, the bar-fighting, the rampant egotism, the desire to want to be handed the QB job with no competition, the poor academics, the rule breaking, the lack of leadership, and the lying, you've got a physically gifted QB.”

Now our winning closing quote this from favorite son John Mallinger. Asked what he likes about being on the big tour, “I'd probably say all the perks. Every week we get some type of deal in our locker. We got BlackBerries, Wii systems…You don’t have to go to the course anymore, you can just play in your living room. Unfortunately, that doesn't pay too well.”—DR. DAN

Monday, May 18, 2009


Jordan Casas along with the rest of the 300 plus 49er student athletes played student this week with final exams. Casas and his Dirtbag team mates have one more appointment left, a Friday until Sunday series at Cal State Fullerton in a rivalry that is often both surprising and serious. With no conference tourney in the Big West, the Beach boys are mathematically eliminated from the post season but Jordan has studied his Dirtbag-Titan history.

In the ashes of Sunday’s loss to Cal Poly, Jordan pointed out that in the past two seasons Long Beach won their season ending series with the foe that lives behind the Orange Curtain. The Titans look a cinch to make the tourney and even host the first round. Having their super regional at home, well, the Dirtbags could be the spoiler in that scenario and it’s a business the team and coaches want to undertake before they put up the “Wait until Next Year” banner.

When they do unfold that 2010 game plan, the cupboard could look as full as it has in years, especially if the MLB draft doesn’t scoop up every junior in sight with their miniscule mid to late round bonuses. Casas leads the talented sophomores which includes hitters Devin Lohman, John Hill and Jonathan Jones, catcher Kellen Hoime and pitcher Jake Thompson. The fire tested freshmen are led by Derek Legg and Andrew Gagnon and there is a U of Miami transfer Joey Terdoslavich who will be a sophomore in eligibility. Until last weekend we would have ended our list right there but when defensive specialist Kirk Singer was penciled into the line-up, because of the rash of injuries, had an eight RBI weekend and pumped his batting average up a hundred points plus.

The great unknown of course is what the juniors do. The Friday night pitching ace is junior lefty Adam Wilk who has flourished this season after his first two years in the pen (the bull pen not the place where USC athletes reside). Wilk, 7-3, 2.77 ERA along with Charlie Ruiz is now very draftable. Ruiz has 11 saves but has seemed more mortal of late. Hitters on the “go or stay” junior bubble are Steve Tinoco (.348), Taylor Krick (.321) and TJ Mittelstaedt (.318.). Mix in some new recruits and the glitter may return to the black and gold.

DUSTING UP--After softball valiantly battled in the Westwood Regional, everybody else, except for a scattering of track and field folks, have turned in their uniforms .With no pro draft, Kim Sowder’s softballers have a ton of talent returning on the mound, Brooke Turner and Taylor Petty, but have Big West hitter of the year Jennifer Griffin moving on as well as sluggers Danielle Linke and Jonae Perez.

If you think that the Titan-Dirtbag game needs a national stage, well ESPN-U agrees. It’s on the telly Friday night at 7 p.m., but unless you have kettle corn and funnel cakes in your living room you might need to fight the freeway and go on down. CSUF will also be auctioning items for the Jon Wilhite Fund. Jon was a former Titan pitcher who was seriously injured in the accident that killed Angel pitcher Nick Adenhart. Autographed items by former Titans and 49ers Major League baseball players include collectables from Kurt Suzuki, Bobby Crosby, Jason Giambi, and Mark Kotsay. Last add, the CSULB alumni will party like it was 1989 in the parking lot pre-game on Saturday, reserve at 562-985-1606.

Our closing quote is from LBSU links legend Paul Goydos, who took a one-shot lead to Sunday’s 16th hole in the Texas Open then missed career win No. 3 with back-to-back bogeys. He did win $353,800 but fell apart on the 70th hole. "Unfortunately we play 72," I do like the consolation prizes in the PGA.--DR. DAN

Friday, May 15, 2009


Another weekend and the 49er faithful (faith both shaken and stirred) will limp into Blair searching for parking and playing for pride. On the road again to Fullerton next weekend, this is the last set of home games and the school has emptied its special events list. Tonight of course is possibly the last Friday night home work by junior lefty Adam Wilk who has flourished this season after his first two years in the pen (bull pen not the place where USC athletes reside).

Wilk (along with Charlie Ruiz now very draftable) is 7-2, 2.68 ERA and 4-1, 2.03 in conference. Saturday begins with a Salute to the Services and two post game parties, the massive Jewels of the Night in the Pyramid and the popular, semi-private affair at Bill and Marcia Scharfen’s home. I’ve been to both but as much as I like Bill’s restored classic cars, us Medicare recipients limit ourselves. There is more ball on Sunday, the "Be The Match" project for Bone Marrow donations and the last game senior salute, a Kodak moment for catcher Kip Masuda and pitchers David Born, Anthony Carrillo, Dustin Rasco, and Tyler Topp.

Those details out of the way we should mention the Niner opponent, the Cal Ply Mustangs, are in a log jam for third place in the Big West along with LBSU, UCSB and Riverside. The ‘Stangs (33-16, 11-7, RPI 48) have lost six of their last nine games after improving their season record to 30-10 in late April. For SLO to survive they will need to finish strong this weekend with their old foe the 49ers (24-24, 10-8) and next weekend when they host Riverside. Accomplish that mission--get a ticket to the NCAA dance. Stumble, and the post-season dream is filed under wait until next year. The same is true for the team formerly known as the Dirtbags who may just be relegated to playing spoiler (although my poker pals always say that if you have a chip and a chair). Midweek for SLO and LB was grim, on Tuesday Pepperdine jumped out 5-0 lead and beat Poly 8-4 while Long Beach’s MASH unit got spanked 15-2 by UCLA. Although iffy this weekend, six key Niners have been on the DL of late, Jones, Casas, Metzger, Tinoco, Masuda and Young.

NOTES ON MY NAPKIN--Admission Saturday is free for servicemen and servicewomen (vets, fire folk and cops too) plus one free guest…the Bags partner with the Soldiers' Angels charity to send care packages overseas. Fans are asked to bring new, unopened items and write messages to the troops…Cal Poly had national rankings of No. 18 by Baseball America and No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball, their best record since moving to Division I 15 years ago and their best chance to make D-1 post season….like LBSU last year, the Stangs won two of three games opening weekend against then-No. 3 Rice and topped Fullerton 7-4 last Sunday…Long Beach had a nightmare on Nutwood last weekend getting swept by Santa Barbara in the fire-moved series…the Beach went 38-21 a year ago, finished tied for first in the BWC at 16-8 and hosted an NCAA regional…49ers have eight Big West titles, made 19 regionals and the College World Series four times (1989, 1991, 1993 and 1998)….LB is hitting .293 as a team but the 49er pitching staff has a 4.99 ERA with opponents hitting .297 against it with 59 errors in 48 games for a .967 fielding percentage…good historical notes, the 49ers own a 78-41 advantage, including wins in 16 of the last 18 meetings including a sweeping SLO in Baggett Stadium a year ago, 7-3, 6-2 and 3-2…The Mustangs own a .326 team batting average and Adam Buschini leads the Big West with a .409 average and a .678 slugging percentage. …Kip Masuda has asked for a fifth season via a medical redshirt…Dirtbag Baseball is legend for “little things” and 2009 LB has great numbers in stolen bases, 110 (record 123; Jordan Casas, 21) and sacrifices, 51, which ranks among the nation's best… In softball the Big West extended its multi-bid streak to 25years as three teams’ made the NCAA Tournament. Cal Poly (playing Nevada) Cal State Fullerton (playing LSU) and Long Beach State who drew UCLA in it’s first game Friday…know about the campus ban on selling beer?...they solved that problem at Cal Poly by just not selling beer, if you buy a $450 top level seat you become a member of SLO's Athletic Club: Crew Coast, and they pour for free

Last writing, super fan John Connolly’s family has set the dates for his services: Monday, May 18 a ‘Celebration of John' at Acapulco Inn, Noon - 3pm, (5283 E 2nd St) and next Friday, May 22 a Funeral Mass at St. Anthony's Church, 10am, (600 Olive Ave, Long Beach)…keep an eye on the umps for us John—DR. DAN

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I had a preliminary title of this week’s Diamond Dust of “Where Are They Going?” By Sunday afternoon, except for softball, the headline had morphed into “Wait until Next Year”.

On Friday the post season hopes of tennis and golf had been packed away with the strings and spikes. Both teams won their way into the NCAA regionals but failed to advance. On Saturday, in what seemed like a break, UCSB had to move their Dirtbag series from their home field, usually full of rowdy students and funky promotions (“Beat the Beach” towels, free food, flowers, etc.) to Fullerton’s the empty and fire-free campus. Sadly the trip to Titan-land ended with that usually foul flavor of most every trip to Fullerton.

Free admission, free parking and no hecklers, the two mid level Big West teams played on against a background of a hundred or so parents and friends. The Gauchos scored first in all three games, beating a hard-luck Adam Wilk 3-0 in the first game, running away 14-4 in game two and jumping out with a quick three on Sunday before falling behind 8-4 then cracking the LB pen for seven in the eighth effectively dashing the post-season dreams of the Dirtbags.
Want your sunny side up? Then salute Kim Sowder and softball, who may have been the last team selected for their umpteenth NCAA tourney. Loaded with youngsters, the Beach begins the road to Oklahoma City at Pacific-10 Champion UCLA (41-9) Friday at 3:30 p.m. LBSU (34-19) finished third in the Big West Conference with a 15-6 record but did beat UCLA 2-1 on March 8. The other regional entrants are Fresno State, who LB mercy-ruled 8-0, and UNLV coached by ex Niner skipper Pete Manarino.

Back to baseball, theories abound as to what happened. Some say that team played about to the level of talent left after the 2008 massive MLB roster raid. Others say that the late season separation of two seniors, Manny McElroy and Ryland Sandoval, disturbed the tender psyche of the Beach boys. Then there are the usual issues of schedule, parity and injuries.

Three Niners were knocked out of the UCSB series. Jordan Casas got a spike caught on Saturday and re-injured an ankle, Brandon Metzger was banged on his elbow and Jonathan Jones took a baseball in the face Sunday. Casas may miss a number of games, which might include the next two Big West weekends, Cal Poly coming to Blair Friday and back at Fullerton to close the season.

May Sadness—The smiling Irish face of super fan John Connolly left us on Sunday after a short but difficult bout with leukemia. There will be a gathering upcoming to remember but not to bury John as we all need him.

Next to the games themselves, the drama at Blair seems to be as much about beer as ball. Yes the City and the University are working on an operating agreement for CSULB to run the stadium year round but, forgetting the finances, most fans want to know if the foam will still be poured. They solved that problem at Cal Poly by just not selling beer. If you spend $450 a year for a top level of seat you become a member of SLO's Athletic Club: Crew Coast, and get it for free.

Wanna party closer to home, then the annual Jewels of the Night auction, dinner and dance is this Saturday night in the Mid and Wednesday the Black and Gold gala fund raiser for men’s volleyball is in the ocean view law offices of Keesal, Young & Logan.

I Want to Host and Now I Don’t Dept. UC Irvine, hopeful of a baseball national title to bookend their volleyball crown, has changed its mind and will submit a bid to be a NCAA host site for baseball. Other West bidders are San Diego State, Arizona State and Fullerton. Paperwork due by May 15, sites announced May 24, assuming the bids get read. LBSU had a “staple gate” moment some years back when the NCAA claimed that the Niner application was never reviewed because it was inadvertently connected to another proposal. See you between ball games and buffets.—DR. DAN

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


The next two names on the Dirtbag schedule played yesterday when Pepperdine snuck past UC Santa Barbara 8-6 at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium where the Beach travels to this weekend. The contest was a continuation of an April 7 contest that was postponed due to rain and the result upped Pepperdine’s record to 25-19 while the Gauchos dropped to 23-19.

Still want to scout the Gauchos, easy enough, they play Pepp again tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Malibu. Tonight of course starts another of LBSU’s must win weeks, even Tuesday Ws are necessary when your overall record is 23-20, (with 11 games left). The same for the Waves who are in fifth place in the WCC. At least LB (10-5) is in sort of a three way tie for second in the BWC.

Meanwhile back on campus, he is the President of the 25th largest University in the nation, a noted scholar, very likely the Chancellor-in-Waiting for the California State University system, and, oh yes, the third base coach for his daughter Madison’s soft ball team. At the end of this month F. King Alexander, cap, gown, sash and mortar board, will be the prime greeter for the thousands of new graduates who will parade across the campus in regalia that is colorful, festive, and dignified. The connection, well, when the Prez fielded a hot foul ball in one of Madison’s recent games she looked over at her dad and remarked, “Gee, you did that and you don’t even have a costume on.” Maybe Madison has figured this thing out, athlete’s are just regular people in a costume-- long pants, short pants, sneakers, spikes, skirts, visors, hats and helmets.

MIND DUSTING—Back to the bases, while UC Irvine is still number one in the nation, the Eaters are having second thoughts about hosting a NCAA regional. Anteater Ballpark has only 999 fixed seats, no room for media and other delegations that go with hosting a regional, the prospect of losing money meeting the NCAA minimum and the good feeling the team had wining on the road at places like Round Rock, Texas, Lincoln, Nebraska and Wichita, Kansas…while the Dirtbags played and swept cellar-dwelling Davis the Long Beach State softball team had to battle back from a 3-0 deficit to claim the rubber game Sunday in its series against UC Riverside. The 49ers improved to 31-19 overall and 12-6 in the Big West Conference and have but one series left, at Pacific Friday and Saturday but even though Cal Poly and Fullerton are ahead of the Beach, the BWC’s excellent softball RPI should squeeze three teams into the playoffs…this weekend of course is at laid-back UCSB, followed by a home set with SLO and then moving from the microwave into a nuclear reactor with the final three at Fullerton…wrapping up, the Beach Bags may have gotten too far behind, just nine conference games and two mid weekers left to build on a modest 23-20 overall record. Good RPI yes, good conference mark we think so, bad year for the Pac 10, certainly, but even if everything goes perfectly will it be enough?... the no surprise department, LB head women's basketball coach Jody Wynn has completed her staff hiring husband Derek Wynn, Bishop Alemany High coach Jeffrey Cammon and one of USC aide Laura Freimuth as assistant coaches…Derek Wynn spent five years at USC and the same at Pepperdine…Anxious to see The Beach in a national championship and not burn all your gas money? The 42nd Annual United States Intercollegiate Archery Championships (USIAC) will be held on the athletic fields of CSULB May 14-17…it is a club sport but the hardware is real and admission is free…the two western voices on the 10 member NCAA baseball committee are Coach Pat Murphy of Arizona State and Fullerton AD Brian Quinn…The Titans have a five-game week, they host Arizona tonight and tomorrow then travel to SLO where they are expecting the biggest crowd since the Jared Weaver 2004 victory tour…the park capacity is only 1700 but on a lonely Friday at Cal State Cole Slaw they’ll sell 3000 tickets …done for their careers at LB are two seniors, Manny McElroy and Rylan Sandoval, on the “team rules” rule…the 25 man travel roster for the UCSB trip (not withstanding those $140 a night hotel rooms) will include Kip Masuda, player number 26 but permitted as a “bull pen catcher”…Kip’s applying for a medical red shirt year… The Dirtbags, who beat Pepp on April 13, scoring four times against the Waves’ bullpen in the seventh inning to win 5-4, have won nine of the last 12 sweeping UOP and UCD.

UC Santa Barbara has been struggling after opening 2009 winning nine of its first 11 games and a top 25 ranking, the Gauchos have dropped the last six…special Mom’s Day salute to one and all but especially to Jake Thompson’s mom Diane who leads the bone marrow donation program and to Christina Casas, mother of Jordan and the long suffering wife and travel partner of Jordon’s Dad Peter …they make the long drive down from Monterrey but can’t read this tonight because Christina talked her hubby onto a cruise ship that sails into Santa Barbara on Friday.—DR. DAN


Friday, May 01, 2009


When the Dirtbag baseball team (now 20-20) 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 ride home was almost giddy after 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 .297 and deadly on the base paths (88 steals compared to opponents 29) the future is right in front of the 49ers, fourth in a conference that sent four to post season the last two seasons.

With all due respect to our UC Davis visitors, they are the BWC last- place team (1-11, 7-32) and even though Davis made the NCAA’s last season, I worry for the Aggies particularly Saturday night when there will be 1,000 swinging and swaying likenesses of Evan Longoria all around the yard. As the stat geeks will tell you quickly, Evan went 3-5 last night with 4 RBIs and a home run. The Saturday night occasion is a marketing promo bobblehead doll giveaway so don’t be late. (I hope to put mine on one side of my Misty May with Bob Maxson on the flank.)

Back to the future it’s another TGIF-AW, (Thank Goodness it’s Friday with Adam Wilk) the big lefty is 6-1, 2.42 and will be playing his ace status against UCD’s Dane Quist, (2-3, 6.65). Jake Thompson (3-5, 4.64) is against Scott Lyman (0-1, 6.91) on Saturday and Drew Gagnon (3-5, 5.50) is working the bump for the Beach Sunday against Scott Chew (1-5, 4.38).

NAME DROP DUST--Beach softball, won their series with Fullerton and Kim Sowder and her kids play at UCR this weekend…Cal Poly is the run-away leader but the Niners are one game behind Fullerton in third... the BWC’s excellent softball RPI should squeeze three teams into the playoffs…tennis and golf, who have won their respective Big West titles, use their invites next weekend as the coaches try to fine tune their lineups and avoid the dreaded injury bug…tennis plays SEC toughie LSU (13-10) and golf plays in the 21 team West regional at Tempe…good golf by fresh-faced freshman Lee Lopez and senior and a half Kay Hoey and who knows …golfers who need a pre-party Saturday keep that wallet in your plaid pants because some of the kids hanging out in front of Smooth's are the banqueting members of the men’s and women’s golf teams…

In BWC baseball UC Irvine is ranked nationally from first to sixth, and historic power Fullerton (who could knock out UCSB this weekend) outscored Davis 22-1 last weekend …the real scrap is the fight for third place between the Beach and Cal Poly who comes to Blair the next to the last weekend of the season just before the Bags play their final three on Nutwood…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…he will be External Affairs/Major Gifts Director…mid-week misery for both UCD and LB.. Joe Kohan hit a walk-off single to right field to cap a two-run ninth-inning rally and lift Nevada to a 3-2 victory over Davis Tuesday and a Tuesday night UCLA grand slam in the first inning proved too much for the Dirtbags to overcome, falling 7-5…Derek Legg was two-for-four but Johnny Wholestaff struggled from the mound…

Around the league this weekend CSUN at UCI, UOP at UCR, USF at SLO, and UCSB at CSUF…on the BWC stat leader board, bull pen aces, Born, Ruiz and Carrillo make the league top ten list as does fast as the wind base stealer Jordan Casas…nobody else...now ask me who goes post-season, well the US tax code is 3.7 million words , 17,000 pages and I would need all that and more to make a prediction…health is one issue and roster changes are another…the F word is in a fight to host and the D Bags, after last season, say they would prefer to travel, anywhere, but not host…ex Bag Danny Espinosa ranks among Carolina League leaders in nearly every offensive category, including OBP (2nd, .494), doubles (t-2nd, 8), stolen bases (t-2nd, 7), walks (4th, 14), OPS (5th, 1.019) and batting average (6th, .339)...the 21-year-old has reached base safely via hit, walk or HBP in 18 of 19 games this season…that is a classic Dirtbag stat line

Classic Dirtbags part two, super fan John Connolly is on the DL for a while at LB Memorial…John recently retired from Boeing as the master airplane maker in the Western World and almanac on all things Boston, food, drink and baseball…at the AI they are running his tab and keeping his bar stool shined…best wishes Boston John—DR. DAN