Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Back at you to sprinkle a little Autumn Dust on your sporting plate, this time coming to you from deep in the heart of the south where football lives and the Top Ten is just a bulls-eye on your back. Matter of fact, the topsy-turvy gridiron deals happen everywhere, in the north, west and east, not just the south.

Enough of the oblate spheroid chatter, for most of 49er-ville it is the time of year for tracking the ladies of volleyball, tennis and soccer, the gentlemen of water polo, secret practices for basketball teams and the scoreboard on fundraising to keep all of the above in uniform.

Soccer 2009 has become an enigma of sorts with some impressive wins and puzzling defeats. Last week the Niners (4-5) lost at LMU 1-0, but are still perfect (0-0) in the Big West since they open the conference season today (Thursday) hosting Pacific in the Big West opener at 3 p.m.

Volleyball (8-3, 1-0) is still basking in the shutout beat down of the UCLA Bruins two weeks ago which was followed with a workmanlike conference opening 3-0 win over Fullerton in historic Titan Gym. Next up are Friday and Saturday night visits from UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. Buy tickets and bring friends-- it is a great way to stimulate the LBSU athletic economy and become a neighborhood hero.

Same book, different chapter. I am guilty of teasing Niner women’s basketball coach Jody Wynn about 6-4 volleyball all-American Naomi Washington coming out for basketball (ala Danielle Scott a number of years ago. This could happen January 2nd when the Big West hoop season begins. Calling my own bluff I asked Naomi if she would consider joining the basketball team this Spring. “I will be playing for money overseas and I think I have had enough of school for a while.” Imagine that, pro volleyball cash over another semester at the Beach! Washington’s siblings both played college hoops, her sister at Oklahoma and her brother at Texas Tech.

My memories of the late Long Beach State football player Darryl Wright are many but perhaps the fondest are Dirtbag road trips with the big offensive lineman. Darryl was tasked with finding a fine, yet inexpensive, gourmet dining stop for our post-game. Driving around one weekend night I saw a fancy restaurant with a big (and almost empty parking lot.) “We don’t go there” Darryl would admonish, “you got to find a place with a line outside the door.” I was hungry, as usual, but DW was right as usual. His memorial celebration will be October 9 between 2 and 5 p.m. at Tantalum.

NAME DROP DUST—Fall colors are changing. For 23 seasons before stepping down longtime LB assistant coach Debbie Green was wearing the Black and Gold. This weekend she will sit on the Gaucho bench as a volunteer assistant mentoring her daughter Dana Vargas, all with the blessing of LB coach Brian Gimmillaro. “I can’t think of [anything] better. ... We’ve talked about it for years.”

Only two of the expected 18 Dirtbag newcomers, Matt Wallach, the son of former Fullerton Titan and Dodger Tim Wallach, and Millikan senior Jon Singleton decided to pass on college in favor of pro ball. The incoming LB group has nine pitchers and, coincidentally, nine pure freshmen. Best of the pitchers is San Jose native Nate Underwood but for the wide open spaces of Blair Field, Coaches Mike Weathers, Troy Buckley and Andy Rojo have a lot of speed but must find some reliable offense because as of press time you still can’t steal first base.—DR. DAN

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Welcome to September, derived from the Latin for “should of”. Now we are not talking about the trivial or mundane “should of’s” like selling houses or buying Bernie Madoff. No time for that stuff because the long awaited sports year at LBSU finally launched and for the 49er faithful, high hopes began to slide into cold reality.

When they lifted the 2009 LBSU curtain the opening acts featured women’s volleyball who lured #15 San Diego and #2 Texas into the Pyramid and women’s soccer who had watch the #5 ranked UCLA unload their bus at George Allen Field.

Last Friday’s volleyball contest pitted teams of little people that try to win with quickness and cunning instead of slams from skyscrapers. The score sheet said USD won 3-1 but LB “should of” prevailed in games one and four. Didn’t happen.
The next night the giant people from Texas led by 6-4 Destinee Hooker, an NCAA two sport all American (high jump and volleyball) were out played by the Beach queens of quick in games one and two. Games three, four and five were battles but the Niners (0-2) got away from their full swings and went down playing more taps than the Marine Band. You kind of think that the team “should of”…

Their coach Brian Gimmillaro told his young team, “We had a chance to do something they'd never forget," after the match, and he was right.

The LBSU women’s soccer team (1-1-0) succumbed to the steady offense of No. 5 UCLA. Trailing just one nil at the intermission, the Beach booters melted in front of their 1000 fans when the Bruins added three second half goals to set up a 4-0 victory. The crowd of 975 worked hard for the home girls but the Bruins out shot the 49ers, 19-7.

Long Beach soccer embarks on a Midwest road trip this weekend as it heads to Kansas Friday and No. 11 Missouri Sunday. On campus volleyball will be a heavy favorite in home contests on the weekend facing Maryland Baltimore County and Indiana State (coached by ex Niner Traci Dahl) on Friday and Northeastern on Saturday.

NAME DROP DUST--Paul Goydos got the air time, a good slot in the upcoming FedEx tourney and another wad ($202,000) of prize money last weekend but ended up ninth at the Barclays PGA stop after Sunday blues. His long range targets are Champions Tour events and moving up in the World Golf Ranking, especially those small/invitation only fields.

Good news for baseball is that the Buck Stops Here. That would be Coach Troy Buckley who was missing while the Dirtbags suffered last season (25-29, 5.18 ERA). On road trips I took with the team in his seven seasons, especially to Northern California, Buck always had to run a gauntlet of pitchers, parents and scouts back to the bus. Five of Buck’s boys have MLB paper, Jered Weaver, Jason Vargas, Abe Alvarez, Jared Hughes and Andrew Carpenter.

Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon has sent his new wife, Jaye, to find, purchase and decorate his new Long Beach ocean area four-bedroom home listed in seven figures. I hope that Evan Longoria gets a little piece of that deal.

Recent LB hoop star Donovan Morris (14.8 points in 25 games during an injury-riddled senior season) signed a nine-month contract to play professional basketball in Hungary, the first Niner in a while to get a pro paycheck. Dan Monson’s new bunch however looks good enough to not need a passport to play for pay.

Good news above but the recent knock on Mr. Goydos is the danger in becoming a great 54 hole player. One of the web wags I read said, “He can't keep saving his high round for Sunday.”

Fresno Grizzlies outfielder and ex Dirtbag John Bowker was named to this year's All-Pacific Coast League team, an annual recognition of the league's best players at each position. Bowker, the left-handed slugger, was leading the PCL with a .340 average and an on-base percentage of .449 entering Monday. He also had 21 home runs with a team-high 83 RBIs. In June alone, Bowker amassed a franchise record with 12 home runs in a month.

Another old ‘Bag,Robert Perry was signed June 27 by the ThunderBolts and has since wreaked havoc on the Frontier League. Through Saturday, the native of Sunnyvale product was hitting .386 for the year and .590 over the past 10 games. He had four home runs and 34 RBI.

And this complaint could be heard around the CSULB campus this week as at was down south…U of Tennessee student leader Gionni Carr said, “They’re treating us like we’re ATMs not the future of this nation.”

Despite the return of Buck, Weathers vows to keep second-year assistant Andy Rojo as recruiting coordinator, except when recruiting pitchers. “There’s no question that Troy going to MLB for a couple years is going to help us on the recruiting trail,” Weathers said. “Throw that in there with the arms we’ve had in the big leagues that Troy coached and we’re an easy program to be interested in.”

RISKY BUSINESS DUST—Big West brethren UCI and Fullerton join the Low Budget State University picture (LBSU) with plans to drop athletic programs. UCI picked men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's rowing, and sailing. Fullerton picked wrestling and gymnastics but last minute booster fundraising may give some teams a one-season stay of execution.

That leads to our closing quote on fund raising. "This isn't a long-term solution," said Brian Pajer, who is a paid coach of UCI’s Aquazots Swim Club. "But it keeps us in the water until we can figure out what to do with the future."—DR. DAN