Tuesday, February 23, 2010


On the left side of the diamond tonight are the 23rd ranked UCLA Bruins who scored 40 runs in three easy weekend wins. On the right side is the 2010 Dirtbag baseball machine, a model that the skipper Mike Weathers suspects has a clutch built by Toyota and may be recalled at any time. “We simply aren’t getting the clutch hits” the skipper mumbled, finding the Niner offensive mileage underwhelming. In the first three games, 25 Dirtbags were left on base, over half of them in scoring position, just three earned runs and, as has been pointed out by others, a once-feared running game that is upside down (one stolen base and three caught stealing.)

The good news, in large part, the defense has been okay. Tonight Buck rolls out promising pitcher Eddie Magallon, the pride of Paramount High, the lad who picked up 25 wins games in his four seasons on South Downey Avenue. Arguably the best of the newcomers Eddie had a sparkling 8-1 record and 1.21 ERA in his junior year and 7-3, 2.10 ERA last spring. I’ve got clothes that weigh more than he does. The opponents offense posted a .398 team batting average, while the pitching staff logged a 3.00 ERA, totaling 42 strikeouts and five walks in 27.0 innings. UCLA outscored the opposition, 40-10, and registered at least 10 runs or more in each contest although the competition was fairly lightweight. The Bruins will start senior right-hander Garett Claypool who owned the Beach last season totaling 15 strikeouts in 10 innings. Entering his sixth season as UCLA's head baseball coach, John Savage has established the Bruins as a top national competitor. UCLA has finished third in the Pac-10 Conference each of the last four seasons under Savage's guidance.

NOTES ON MY NAPKIN—Maybe you can officially call Troy Buckley coach in waiting but insiders say the new title is a bureaucratic maneuver to up Bucks pay and, if and when, make his move to head coach easy, sort of like Pete Manarino to Kim Sowder, George Allen to Willie Brown, Joe Harrington to Seth Greenberg and of course Dave Snow to Mike Weathers...last year Andy Rojo was the #1 assistant and in charge of
but now TB has what he needs too…now how does a two game losing streak feel? well the up-Titan skipper Dave Serrano is now on a three game suspension for spilling or at least bumping into umpire Larry Randall….the OC papers said Serrano appeared to make belly-to-belly contact with Randall, who stumbled as he turned away and fell to the ground in short right-center, and then maybe more contact after the ejection

As much as the Long Beach tennis set enjoys their new digs with banners fluttering, sensational scoreboard and a sparkling new sound system, the program will have their eyes on Indianapolis Thursday with the hopeful resolution of the eligibility question about their best player, Slovakian slugger Klaudia Malenovska. Klaudia played a bit in a country neighboring her native Slovakia for a small time women’s club team and accepted a few hundred dollars to take care of travel expenses…a Saturday feature is the pre-match dedication of Court One in the name of all-world netter Hannah Grady…Surprise of the college baseball season has been the fast start by Oregon who took three decades off loved their CA stops, comfortable wins over the big names from Fullerton and Long Beach State plus a laugher LMU on Monday…next four games in Hawaii …49er fans who chafe a bit about being in a mid major conference like the Big West can at least dine with the silver spoon set in baseball this year with 17 games against PAC 10 opponents…next year the Niners will have 21 games against the PAC 10...hoop head scratching…last year women’s basketball was so buried in the Big West basement they missed an invite to the conference tournament…a few seniors depart and four returnees leave the program and what happens? The Jody Wynn’s (8-5) are on the verge of finishing in the top four and earning a first round bye…The men, (isn’t it darkest before the dawn) slumped out of town last weekend after an on court lashing by first place Pacific (74-52) and a coaches locker-room lashing (1:35)…Daddy Dan however found the cure back at his alma mater, the U of Idaho…his Beach kids, 8 point underdogs, won by 11..UCI volleys LB in the Mid tomorrow and Davis and Pacific are the Beach hoop foes this weekend, women hosting Thursday and Saturday and the men visiting on those same dates.—DR. DAN

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Sometime after 6 p.m. Friday Mike Weathers, head coach and now landlord of Long Beach State baseball will stroll to his Blair Field home plate to meet with the umpires and Pepperdine skipper Steve Rodriguez. The usual business is going over ground rules, locating fair and foul territory and of course, putting on your game face. Thirty minutes later Mike will focus on what’s going on inside the chalk lines, not the expected profit center outside the stands in the food and beverage lines.

In these chaotic financial times the toy department of a University has to be creative and the powers at budget-crunched LBSU opted to take over the contract for running the venerable 54 year old off-campus baseball stadium from dugouts to drinking and dining.

As a Lynwood kid Weathers was six years old in 1956 when the stadium (wisely named for a sports writer) opened with a graceful design featuring excellent, and even shady, viewing, pitcher friendly wide open spaces and room for upwards to 3,238 seated fans. Nervous parents, strolling scouts and cheap skates beyond the outfield wall often push the crowd count even higher.

This opening weekend will feature a first pitch from major league alum Troy Tulowitzki and then contests against three familiar faces, Pepperdine, 31-23 last season, baseball newcomer Oregon, 14-42 under old pal George Horton Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and then a Sunday afternoon jaunt behind the Orange Curtain to Fullerton, 47-16.
The homeboys have work to do after a 25-29 effort in 2009 but the Dirtbags do return 15 lettermen and seven starters from last year's team and 80% of the team's offensive production. And, perhaps most important, defensive help in the form of pitching guru Troy Buckley who’s back after a coaching stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Both the Beach and the Waves defeated their respective alumni in scrimmages but the temperature now goes up for both sides. Newcomers will be featured, the Waves offering up a talented left-handed pitcher Jordan Luvisi and LBSU a promising right-handed slugging transfer from Miami, Joey Terdoslavich. Let the games begin.
PICK UP DUST—Mixed messages out of the LBSU basketball world, but both sides of the gender divide still have legit hopes for making the top four and that first round Big West tournament bye. The Niner women are pumped after their first season sweep over UCSB since 1990-91. Jody Wynn’s secret weapon is a revival of the old Jerry Tarkanian “mosquito defense” which forced the defending champ Gauchos into 22 turnovers.

Dan Monson’s bunch have balance (three players in double figures Saturday night) and now head to Moscow, Idaho for a Saturday contest with the Vandals, tough road visits to Davis and Stockton and a lot of scoreboard watching along the way. Tennis upset San Diego State last weekend, visits Riverside this Friday and hosts UC Irvine Saturday at 11 a.m. Men’s volleyball is at home to play Cal Baptist tonight (Thursday) and Kim Sowder’s softball team, 2-2 last weekend in Las Vegas, goes back to Glitter Gulch this weekend for five games including tests with Georgia Tech and Oklahoma.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Diamond Dust already in progress. Weekend pitching rotation is just a guess but it is likely that the Beach will turn to Jake Thompson and Andrew Gagnon. The most depth is in the outfield where returnees TJ Mittelstaedt, Jordan Casas, and Jonathan Jones sparkle but veterans throughout the infield should put the Dirtbag express back on track. Where are they now…one of the better LBSU broadcast voices will be calling the action for New Mexico, where our pal Wayne Smith is now employed…calling Lobo home games in football and men’s basketball will be Scott Galetti who did baseball for Long Beach State and the High Desert Mavericks, the single-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners…more Bag info, Jake Thompson enters his third season in the rotation while Gagnon comes into his second, and both will be relied to repeat the innings they tallied last season while anchoring the rotation…The date was Sept 24, 1989 vs. Fresno State and Long Beach lost starting quarterback Paul Oates late in the first half with a knee injury. Freshman Bill Grudza came on in the second half and led Long Beach with 48 yards rushing and today, as Bill Brady, he is the new head of athletic development for LBSU…trying to guess a Saturday starter for Oregon you might try senior righty Justin LaTempa a “hard thrower with a fastball that gets into the mid 90’s when healthy, which has been an issue. He has had an interesting journey thru college, starting out in 2006 pitching at Irvine before transferring to Golden West College, undergoing arm surgery and ending up at Oregon. He has a chance to be drafted in the first 10 rounds with a good SR season…the rest of the Ducks are not so good, last year they put up these numbers, Batting Average – .227 (NCAA ranking – 287 out of 288); Runs Per Game – 2.8 (288); Home Runs – 16 (280); Stolen Bases – 60 (132) but old #8 wit the pencil behind his ear does like small ball like HBP’s – 45 and Sac Bunts – 49 (26)…D 49er writer Daniel Ramirez has Buck on the Niner starters Thompson and Gagnon… “Those two guys have as good of stuff as anybody in the country, but what they haven’t learned how to do yet is perform and win,” Buckley said. “That’s a step that they’re going to have to take and that they’re going to have to understand mentally, emotionally, mechanically, but they’re going to have to go out and experience [winning].” Thompson had a 5.61 ERA behind a 4-7 record and 42 strikeouts a year ago. Similarly, his teammate Gagnon went 3-7 with 44 strikeouts and a 6.32 ERA…Weathers said that sophomore Branden Pinder likely will throw on Sunday, rounding out the weekend starters…best athlete on campus these days is lady hooper Kristina Figueroa who last weekend averaged 25.0 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game. She shot 50.0 percent from the field and posted an even more impressive 66.7 percent clip from beyond the arc…on Saturday at Millikan’s Baseball Opening Day, critically ill Dallas Humphreys (via Jake Thompson’s mom Diane) will have a Match the Marrow event registering bone marrow donors, and Long Beach Memorial will have a blood bank as well. All blood donated to Memorial will help the Humphreys family offset their care cost at the hospital. Show up any time between 9am and 3pm…see you at the yard—DR. DAN

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


A lot of college baseball marketeers like to suggest that their game is where you can see tomorrow’s stars today. True. Parking and concessions are cheaper. True. Alums, even those fond basketball memories, have developed a fondness for diamond action. True. So what’s missing in this equation? Oh, something about winning championships, or at least post season invitations.

The answer to that question, at least at LBSU, may reside in the nagging suspicion by the 49er baseball faithful that the Beach is better at building draft choices than adding to the school’s trophy room.

All everything Angel Jered Weaver opened Saturday’s alumni contest with a perfect first inning. The MLB talent hunters have mined the Niner infield for years, picking up Evan Longoria, Bobby Crosby, Troy Tulowitzki, Chris Gomez and Jason Giambi with Danny Espinosa and Adam Heether leading another pack of good ones coming through the ranks.

Another case in point are the Phillies who have ex-Niner Greg Dobbs parked behind all-star Ryan Howard at first base, pitcher Andrew Carpenter in the mix for making the opening day roster and last summer the Phil’s out bid the ‘Bags for perhaps the best pure first-base prospect in their system, Millikan High’s Jonathan Singleton. Translated, no NCAA success for a really long time but lots of lads in the line-scores.

Last season the Beach posted a somewhat dismal 25-29 season after years of not only making the post-season party but serving as a regional host. Finished counting the cash from their lead-off dinner and golf tournament, the 2010 Dirtbags are back in practice awaiting that new national start date of February 19th. For the locals it will be sort of a round robin, LB starts by hosting Pepperdine and Oregon then goes to Fullerton. Oregon, reborn under old Titan coach George Horton, who also plays Pepp and CSUF in what you could call “friendlies,” but everybody keeps score.

Where are theys—at Abilene Christian ex-Niner Aaron Lambrix, a sophomore is in the pitching mix…at Blair Field, former Miami Hurricane Joey Terdoslavich hit a solo home run to highlight a 10-4 new guys beat the old guys exhibition game. Best of the newcomers, and one that got away from Fullerton, was freshman reliever Eddie Magallon.

Going outside, Beach Tennis (2-1) returns from a pair of 6-1 victories last weekend at Maryland and George Washington and anxious for their home opener against Fullerton (0-2) in a Big West match at 2 p.m. on Friday. Arguably the gold standard for LBSU sports, Jenny Hilt-Costello’s 2010 team appears a favorite for a seventh consecutive BWC title and their seventh straight NCAA invite. Good players? True. Titles? True. Happy alums and admins? True.

Closing Dust—This is a huge week for Beach men’s basketball starting with a national TV ESPN game against Fullerton in the Pyramid tonight (Thursday) and a FOX regional game Saturday against Northridge. At stake, staying on track for a top four finish and a first round bye in the Big West tournament. The lady Niners have the same high hoop hopes and play at CSUF and CSUN.

Last add conference tourneys. This March will be the 20th anniversary of LMU's run in the NCAA Tournament. After the on court death of Hank Gathers, the Lions went on to upset both Michigan and Alabama in the NCAA first round at the Long Beach Convention Center.

NOTES ON MY NAPKIN—A potential nightmare for announcers comes up on February 20th when the Niner hoop heroes head to Idaho where their head coach Dan Monson's played and his dad, Don Monson, coached. So which Monson man are they talking about…it is that “Bracket Buster” game between mid majors and the Vandals will return the trip in two years…after a nice run last year the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Committee has picked Hawaii was selected as one of four regional sites for the 2011 NCAA Tournament, alongside Regionals at the University of Florida, the University of Minnesota and the University of Kentucky...this will be the first time Hawaii has hosted an NCAA Regional since 2006…maybe football is coming back to the Beach, hummm, still not likely but a former LBSU footballer Bill Brady will leave his post as UNLV’s Associate Athletic Director for Development to replace the talented David Benedict who took that job at Virginia Commonwealth…the Brady bunch include wife Diana and three boys: Cooper, Spencer and Turner….before UNLV he was an admin at TCU…national baseball expert Aaron Fitt has some radical ideas “I actually think I've got Conference USA over the Big 12 and Pac-10, and believe it or not I like the Big West more than the Pac-10, and maybe more than the Big 12…Long Beach should be the third team in the Big West. Terdoslavich and Jake Thompson are the two main guys to watch for the draft -- could see both going as high as the top three or maybe even top two rounds.”…newest Grasshopper (Florida Marlin affiliate) is hitting coach Kevin Randel who Dirtbagged a few years ago…he spent the 2009 season as a player for the Jacksonville the Suns who won the 2009 Double A Championship. Randel spent the 2003 and part of 2004 seasons as a Greensboro Bat…the 2010 Bags return seven starters from 2009 and two starting pitchers in Andrew Gagnon and Jake Thompson…Friday in the ‘Mid are the services for Dr. John Kashiwabara but many baseball fans in the crowd will also mourn the recent passing of a great OC based writer Larry Bortstein, super fans Rick “Coach” Chapman and John Connolly among others…last number, 56 schools submitted votes to override the legislation for making the college baseball season 14 weeks with the week added to the beginning of the schedule…and it all starts on the 19th… Closing Quote: For those tempted by side bets at your Super Bowl party (not just the chip and green dip) these words from Auburn coaching legend Shug Jordan, “Always remember Goliath was a 40 point favorite over David.”…finish the wings and hit the light on your way out.-DR. DAN