Thursday, December 3, 2009

Back to Blogging

After another long hiatus away from blogging, it’s time to pick it up again, especially with the start of the holiday season. This time, I decided to lay low for a little while and give priority to the many other assorted activities in my life that keep me busy. I’ll try to get the postings back on track as time permits…

Although the UCLA team managed only a 6-6 record this year, I absolutely loved having season tickets. There’s nothing quite like college football, and the tailgate parties before every home game at the Rose Bowl were tremendous fun, especially with our good friends. Those season tickets were an incredible birthday present from Beth – and they’ll be the gift that keeps on giving, since I’m sure we’ll continue to renew. Maybe one of these days we’ll get an R.V. and park it out there early and really do it up right. Beth’s response is, “Not a chance in hell!...” For now, I’ll enjoy the comfort of my fold-up chair and ice chest…and we’ll have more tailgate parties at home, too, when the team is on the road…

Thanksgiving really is a special holiday – maybe my favorite. The daylong activities at Dave Bosson’s are hard to top, including the annual Turkey Bowl football game. I’ve resigned myself to being a spectator in recent years, but now it’s especially fun watching my boys play along with their cousins and uncles, instead of just trying to keep up with the older guys. They aren’t the little guys any more, and they’re very happy to share their on-field exploits with anyone who’ll listen…

A couple of Sid’s classmates and friends from Upland High distinguished themselves when they were named to the All-Pac 10 women’s soccer team. Both Lauren Barnes (UCLA) and Alyssa Davila (USC) earned second team honors…

A big happy 21st birthday to Sid on Dec. 14…

Best wishes to Upland High’s football team, which escaped with a narrow victory over Claremont in the final game of the regular season and finished fourth in the Baseline League to earn a wild card berth in the CIF-Southern Section Central Division playoffs. The Highlanders then beat Damien and Colony to advance to the division semi-finals against Chino Hills on Friday. The winner of that game will play either Los Osos or Rancho Cucamonga – two other Baseline League teams – in the championship game next week…

Seemingly unnoticed in Upland’s come-from-behind victory against Colony was Cole Chapman’s huge gain on a draw play as the final seconds ticked away, setting up the eventual winning touchdown with less than a minute to play…

It’s been so long since I last blogged that I never did post the pictures of Sam as the guy who crowned the Homecoming queen at Claremont High. Dressed as a king, he crowed state hurdles champion Kori Carter as this year’s queen. Coincidentally, I had the honor of crowning the queen when I was at Claremont High, dressed as Superman. As Sam noted, we were both “men in tights.”…

No matter what logic you use, Pete Carroll was wrong. The fact that Rick Neuheisel called time out didn’t mean it was okay to run up the score. Sure, Carroll had the right to run any play he wanted. But a coach with any amount of class would have continued to run out the clock. He should have continued to play and gone for a first down. Having quarterback Matt Barkley (the next Jeff George -- incredibly talented and over-hyped) throw deep was inexcusable. I know I’m a UCLA fan, but I don’t dislike USC, where I earned my master’s degree. My time there was not only valuable, but also enjoyable. I still have many friends from when I attended USC, so I try to see these things from both sides and I just can’t in this case.

Some people have said Neuheisel shouldn’t have called time out. As a coach, what choice does he have? He can’t throw in the white flag, if for no other reason than for the morale of the team. I bet all but a handful of coaches in America – Carroll included – would have called time out in that situation, too. The difference is that most opposing coaches in America would have understood the logic and would have continued to run out the clock. Any self-respecting coach wouldn’t have thrown deep, then pumped his fist, leaped in the air like a loon and celebrated like he just won the national title. This game was already over.

I compare this to a baseball team stealing bases with a 10-run lead in the ninth inning, just because the pitcher throws over to first base a couple of times to keep the runner close. Does that all of a sudden make it the right thing to do? Of course not.

Given the score, time remaining and field position at that point of the game Saturday, Neuheisel’s time out call was inconsequential. It wasn’t necessary, but it wasn’t the wrong thing to do. I don’t think the coach or anyone else on the UCLA sideline felt there was a chance to win the game at that point (especially after the awful game by the interim quarterback and the senior backup). The time out wasn’t about trying to win the game. It was about not throwing in the towel.

Carroll, on the other hand, was wrong. No excuses. No justification. No reason. Just go ahead and run up the score.

The victory was not in doubt. Carroll simply showed a complete lack of character and class. Even though I root against USC when they play UCLA, I often root for the Trojans, especially in non-conference games. I always root for them against Notre Dame, and they've brought positive attention to the Pac-10. Sports in Los Angeles as a whole has benefited from USC's success. I always respected their program and their coach. Not anymore.

I'm sure I sound like a bitter fan, but this is more than a game. This was just wrong. And it's time for people to stop saying it was okay because Neuheisel "started it by calling a time out." That's only an excuse. It was a blatant display of what not to do. Heck, I accepted the loss, but when Carroll threw it in UCLA's faces, I was outraged. The whole thing certainly filled my passion bucket.

I suspect there are a few high school recruits out there who might be thinking twice about playing for a coach with that kind of judgment and character, especially after USC’s comparatively disappointing season. Things are definitely starting to get interesting once again in our local major college football battle.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wait Until Next Year

The longer your team plays into the postseason and advances in its port, the harder it is to accept when it finally loses. So I felt the pain a bit sharper when the Dodgers dropped the National League Championship Series to the Phillies on Wednesday, missing out on a trip to the World Series. Actually, the hurt really set in on Monday, when Jonathan Broxton blew the save and Philadelphia took a commanding three-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series before clinching the title in the fifth game.

Longtime Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo (who was the team photographer when I worked for the ballclub many years ago) posted several shots on his Facebook page shortly after the game. This one says it all.

I suppose if the Dodgers had beaten the Phillies and then lost in the World Series, then it would have been even harder to stomach. But I’ll take the heartache at the end any day over the season-long torture of being a Giants or Padres fan.

I still hold out hope for the Angels – my second-favorite team – to give it their best shot, but it sure looks like a Yankees-Phillies World Series. If that's the case, I’ll still watch, because I love baseball. But I’m not really as interested. This World Series is the post-game show.

As Dodger fans have said for decades after so many seasons have come to a heartbreaking conclusion, dating back to the 1940s and ‘50s in Brooklyn, “Wait ‘til next year.”...

While we wait, there’s good reason to think a bit more about football. The prospects of an NFL team returning to our area figure to take a huge step forward today. Gov. Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the environmental impact exemption, which clears the stadium project from its current legal battles and will allow developer Ed Roski and partners to start to move forward with the stadium project in the City of Industry.

The next major step will come immediately after the season, when Roski is able to court NFL teams to move to the new Los Angeles Football Stadium. I wouldn’t be surprised if a verbal deal is already in place. I’m open to just about any organization moving to Los Angeles, except the Raiders, who should stay in Oakland where they belong. They are an undeniable dysfunctional organization, and would only put a black eye on a great new start for professional football in Southern California…

The CIF is scheduled to approve re-leaguing proposals today, and the most likely scenarios move Claremont High from the Baseline League to the Sierra League, beginning in 2010-2011. The move is supposed to provide relief—especially in the major sports of football and basketball—but the Wolfpack will have its hands full against the likes of Charter Oak, Chino Hills, Ayala and Damien/St. Lucy's high schools, and probably South Hills (or it could be Glendora). This doesn’t look like the relief Claremont wanted… stay tuned...

I’m not ready to say I jumped the gun on my predictions of Richard Brehaut taking over as the UCLA quarterback. He hasn’t emerged as the starter, but he has looked pretty good in his brief time on the field. His body language shows the confidence that the Bruins need in their quarterback, and his mechanics look to be far superior to those of Kevin Prince and Kevin Craft. As soon as Richard gets a better feel for the offense, including the way he judges his offensive line protection, he’ll be in the lineup for keeps…

In the 26 previous years of our fantasy football league, I’ve always managed to put together a pretty competitive team, and I’ve even finished first a number of times, including last year. Well, not this year… The season is six weeks old and I’m already looking ahead to next year. It’s just one of those (really bad) seasons…

Finally, this blog isn’t just about sports. I learned recently that the annual Victoria’s Secret college vote is well underway, with the winning school being added to the campus collection of logo merchandise (yes, they have a campus collection). Looks like Claremont is well represented, as Harvey Mudd College has an insurmountable lead. And Scripps College is in third... Start ordering that lingerie with the Claremont mark soon…

Friday, October 2, 2009

Odds and Ends - October

This weekend marks the fourth game of the season for the UCLA football team as it travels to Stanford. It will likely put to rest my earlier prediction that Richard Brehaut would be the Bruins’ starting quarterback by the fourth game. I’m not giving up hope that he will be the quarterback by the weekend – just not in the starting role. Unfortunately, unless Coach Rick Neuheisel decides to have Richard split duty with senior Kevin Craft, then the only way Richard takes over the job is if Craft is injured or has a terrible game. Neither seems like a good outcome for Bruin fans. Let’s just hope the coaching staff wants to see their true freshman QB in a game situation and that he has the opportunity to shine…

Son Sid and a group – including Karli Moore – are headed to Palo Alto for the game and to hang out with Megan Moore and friends, who are also going to the game. And I understand UCLA freshman Lauren Seligman is headed north for the game and weekend activities, too. Ahh, I loved college road trips. Hope it’s a great time…

Along with the UCLA-Stanford game, this should be a great college football weekend, with USC taking on Cal on the road at Berkeley. SC freshman Kristen DesCombes is driving up with friends for that game, while Cal alumnus Gordon, along with Sus and Jack, will be at the Homecoming game for the Bears… I love college football season and look forward to being at the Rose Bowl the next two weeks for Bruin games against Oregon (Oct. 10) and Cal (Oct. 17)…

Friday nights are alive with plenty of high school football. Claremont, which won only two games over the previous two years, is already 2-1 and is hoping for two more wins before starting Baseline League play on Oct. 16. The Wolfpack’s Oct. 9 Homecoming game is against Chino High, which is coached by Claremont High graduate Greg Setlich (although he and his family are legendary in Chino)…

Son Sam is having a blast as part of the CHS ASB group organizing a lot of the Homecoming activities. Today he donned his sports coat to introduce the court at the Homecoming rally on campus. Doesn’t seem that long ago that I was doing that stuff…

Hopefully the baseball season will still be going for a few more weeks for the Dodgers, who have sputtered down the stretch against inferior teams. Even though they’re guaranteed a spot in postseason play, it would be awfully embarrassing to lose such a huge Western Division lead and finish second in the division to Colorado, who they have owned throughout 2009 entering the regular season’s final weekend. More importantly, it would be a discouraging way to enter the playoffs, where the teams that seem to have the most success just happen to get hot at the right time. The Dodgers were very hot just over a week ago, but right now they can’t hit the ball…

Can’t say I am terribly surprised that the 2016 Olympics have been awarded to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After all, this will be the first Olympic Games ever held on the South American continent. I was surprised, however, that Chicago was the first of the four final cities to be eliminated from consideration. When the voting reached its final round, Rio received more than twice the votes as runner-up Madrid. Maybe the USOC will finally put Los Angeles back into the running for 2020...

Happy birthday Len…

Enjoyed celebrating Jim and Andi's "100th" birthday last week as they both hit 50 (actually, Andi's birthday is today!). Judy Devens Seligman joined the club a couple days ago, as did Danny Brehaut. Cheers to all of you half-century-old New Year's Eve babies...

This is also the final weekend of the Los Angeles County Fair, which concludes Sunday, Oct. 4. I get the impression that the experiment of extending to five weekends is getting mixed reviews, but it’s really tough to give a fair evaluation in this economy. Hopefully those people making the hard decisions will consider the event a success, despite the tremendous challenges this year…

I enjoyed my visits to the Fair again this year, not only doing the house announcements before the End of Summer Concert Series shows, but as a participant in Upland Day (including a ride in the parade) and also watching Jack Harper honored as a community hero at Claremont Day. Upland High's band is among three finalists to win a spot marching in the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade. Those are the kinds of activities that really get local people involved and make the Fair special. Another high point was the annual Child Development Center auction, which is still going strong after its inception in 1992, when I was part of that first organizing committee (and still working for the Dodgers at the time). A year after that I was back working at Fairplex and putting together slide shows for the CDC auction…

Very sad news came from the Fair over the past couple of days. Our prayers are focused on Wendy Talarico and her family right now. Wendy, who replaced me when I left Fairplex in 2000 and has been the public relations manager there ever since, gave birth to a healthy son just a little over a week ago. But shortly afterwards, it was discovered Wendy has a unique heart condition and suffered what was reported to be a heart attack. She’s currently in critical condition, battling with all she has as she awaits a heart transplant. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nothing Official Yet, But...

Los Angeles Times photo
As of early Wednesday morning, UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel and staff remained non-committal in announcing the Bruins' starting quarterback for Saturday's game against Kansas State. However, most media reports continue to speculate that Richard Brehaut will get the nod, or at least share the duties with senior Kevin Craft. Either way, Richard has been thrust into the spotlight, as the media links him with other true freshmen who are starting at quarterback for major universities, including Matt Barkley at USC and Tate Forcier at Michigan. Check out these stories from the Los Angeles Times, Daily Bulletin (Daily News) and even USA Today. Notice the references to dad "Daniel."

Thanks to Renee for sending along this story from the Press-Enterprise, too (also posted in the comments section).

This is the only home game that I will miss this year, because it's the same night as Beth's high school class reunion, but at least Sid and Sam will be there. We'll catch the first half on TV somewhere before heading over to the reunion.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How 'bout that Crystal Ball?

When I wrote on July 24 that Richard Brehaut would be UCLA's quarterback by the fourth game of the season, naturally I was only hoping. But now that looks like my prediction might come true, with a game to spare. Starting quarterback Kevin Prince's fractured jaw suffered against Tennessee Saturday will sideline him for three to four weeks, and Richard is preparing to take over the starting role this week against Kansas State -- in the team's third game of the season...

Remember, my prediction was that he'd take over by the fourth game -- not in the fourth game. So this counts.

No official announcement has been made yet, but sources (you know who you are) indicate Richard will get the nod over incumbent Kevin Craft, who tossed a school-record 20 interceptions for the Bruins last year, but has a year of experience under his belt. Actually, the reports that Richard will start have appeared in other blogs as well, and assuming they are true, the decision makes sense. I can't believe that Coach Rick Neuheisel didn't put Richard in the game against San Diego State just to have him hold the clipboard for Craft.

My next prediction is that Prince soon will be linked to Wally Pipp. If the name doesn't ring a bell, he was the first baseman for the New York Yankees who sat out a game because of a headache. A rookie named Lou Gehrig took his place and kept the job for the next 2,130 straight games. Richard won't play that many games, but, as a true freshman, he has a long and promising career ahead as the UCLA quarterback...

It's worth noting, however, that my predictions aren't always on the mark. While I nailed a few other forecasts in that July blog, my standing as a fantasy football draft expert may have taken a serious hit this year. I had one of my absolute worst weeks ever in 26 previous years of doing this, and I don't hold out a lot of hope for the rest of the season. It's going to be a long and painful year (a prediction I hope is completely wrong)...

Lastly, happy 50th on Thursday to my good friend Jim Moore ... and right on his heels with 50th birthdays of their own are Danny Brehaut, Judy Devens-Seligman and Andi Moore. Remember, 50 is the new 18. Cheers!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Congratulations to former Cal State Fullerton, Rancho Cucamonga High School and Upland National Little League star Josh Fellhauer, who wrapped up his first season in professional baseball playing for the Cincinnati Reds’ single-A Dayton affiliate in the Eastern League. A seventh-round June draft selection by the Reds, Josh led Cal State Fullerton to another appearance in the College World Series, and then began his professional career with the Dayton Dragons, where he batted .280 this summer. Despite playing just 57 games, he was third on the team with seven home runs in 236 at-bats, while also hitting 16 doubles and driving in 23 runs. He also stole seven bases. Given the natural progression of the minor league player development system, Josh is likely ticketed to play at Sarasota in the high-A Florida State League next year.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Shirt's Not Red

There were a couple notes in local blogs earlier this week about Richard Brehaut following his appearance in Saturday's game against San Diego State. Take a look at "Brehaut Not Burned" in the Daily News blogs and The OC Register blog. The Inside UCLA blog even has a poll about whether he should have played. Hey Danny, hang on, the stories will just keep coming.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ready for Tennessee?

The photo collection of Saturday's UCLA game against San Diego State on the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Web site includes several great shots of Richard Brehaut, including the one above. Here's the link.

The newspaper notes today that Coach Rick Neuheisel is prepping Richard for further action during the season and will not red-shirt the freshman quarterback (and son of Danny and Yvonne). "I just feel like he's ready to play," Neuheisel said in the article. "Over the course of the season, you're going to need all your guys. With him playing and competing and getting practice reps, he's not only going to improve, but he'll keep the heat on Kevin Prince. They'll have to really work to be good quarterbacks. Now that he's played, he's going to play."

Who's missing?

Once again there was a big crowd for the annual Iggy Biggie Football League draft. But once again, Dave Bosson missed the activities...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fantasy World

The Iggy Biggie Football League will hold its 27th annual player draft Sunday, Sept. 6, at the Robinson draft headquarters. See you there...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

End of the Season

Odds and ends as we enjoy one last weekend at the beach as the summer comes to an end. It’s nice that the Southern California coastline is less than an hour from home, but a world away (and 20 degrees cooler). It makes for a great escape. Along with our annual week at Newport, we’ve been very fortunate to have generous friends who allow us to stay at their incredible place on Balboa Island, As always, thanks so much...

And an even bigger thanks to the DesCombes for including Sam on their trip to Kona. Sam and Jack have spent the week entertaining each other endlessly while Jack’s oldest sister Lauren is interning in New York City and sister Kristen is rushing sororities in her first week as a freshman at USC. I look forward to hearing the stories from Hawaii, especially to know if the boys ever worked up the nerve to actually talk with Leighton Meester, the Gossip Girl actress who was sunning at the pool while vacationing at the same resort…

The diminished crowds at the beach are a good indication that summer is winding down (although you wouldn't know by the temperatures). There were still a lot of people out on the sand, but the boardwalk was considerably lighter than it was just three weeks ago. Looks like people were at Newport to get away from the sizzling temperatures hitting Southern California this week, and not so much for the weekly rentals. It appears that season is just about over…

Of course, there are plenty more signs that fall is upon us. Labor Day is just ahead and schools will all be back in session. In fact, some have already begun, which I still think is a little early. August and September are historically the hottest months of the year in Southern California, and you’d think the schools would want to stretch summer in to September. The old traditional schedules make a lot more sense to me, and I’m glad the Claremont school district hasn’t buckled to those who’d rather start earlier. It’s August and it’s summer. Let it stay that way…

Sam will take a day to rest after his return from Hawaii before jumping back in the pool for water polo two-a-days, and then the start of school Sept. 9. Meanwhile, Sid kicks off the fall semester at Cal State San Marcos on Monday, although he’s also taking a class at Palomar College that started last week. Given how hard it is to get classes at universities because of cutbacks from the state budget shortage, it’s become necessary for students to try to pick up a few general education classes at the local community college, too.

Hope Sid and his friends are doing better following the recent tragic death of one of their fraternity brothers. Their benefit carwash last weekend drummed up more than $2,000, and the memorial service was scheduled for Saturday.

With Labor Day comes our annual fantasy football draft Sunday evening at the Robinson draft headquarters. This will be the 27th year of the Iggy Biggie Football League. We were doing this a long time before it got popular. The majority of our owners have been here since the early years, including several of us who were among the charter group that held our first draft in 1983 at the Kinsey home in Claremont. The picture above is from 1985 at Dave's old place on Baseline, with our fancy draft board. Our draft has changed a lot since then, but it’s still one of the most fun events of the year. Draft night is the best, because it pretty much determines how each of us will watch NFL football over the next four months. I guess I ought to do a little research soon if I want to defend my championship…

Labor Day weekend represents a couple more milestone events this year, too. For the first time ever, dating back to 1922, the Los Angeles County Fair will open on Labor Day weekend. With hopes of taking advantage of people looking for something to do over the holiday weekend, the Fair opens on Saturday, Sept. 5, and will be open through Labor Day before resuming its normal Wednesday through Sunday schedule all the way through Oct. 4. That’s five weekends – and 23 total days of the Fair. Way back when I worked there, we had several years when the Fair was 24 straight days. Those were tough. These days, I'm there to do the house announcements at the grandstand before the concerts, but I'll miss a few of those this year for other special events, including football games, Beth's class reunion and nephew Jeff Bosson's wedding to Jackie Linton...

With the Saturday opening, the Fair’s annual premiere party will be on Friday, Sept. 4. This is a great fundraiser for their Education Foundation, complete with a lot of good food and tons of award-winning wines (and beer). Even at $125 a pop, it is well attended and worthwhile.

Throughout the Fair, local communities have their own special day. Claremont Day is Sept. 24, and Upland Day is Sept. 30. There are community celebrations for most of the nearby cities as well. As part of the celebration, each city honors a community hero, and one of those in the spotlight from Claremont this year will be longtime friend Jack Harper (see this story). He’s a deserving recipient, considering all he’s done as a teacher, administrator and coach at Claremont High, as well as his skill as a team owner in the Iggy Biggie Football League…

Among Jack’s many jobs at CHS is as the defensive coordinator for the Wolfpack football team. CHS kicks off its season with a scrimmage against Capistrano Valley on Sept. 4 and then the official season opener on Friday, Sept. 11. The non-league highlight of the season comes on Friday, Oct. 9, when Claremont hosts Chino High and great friend and coach Greg Setlich, a 1977 Claremont High grad who grew up in Chino and has been a fixture in that community for most of his life...

Upland High opens against A.B. Miller on Sept. 4. Word on the street is that a new quarterback transferred to Upland during the past few weeks and will challenge for the starting job. I haven’t had confirmation from anybody with the program, so I don't have details and I am not sure who it is. But the guy who told me is reliable. Sounds like a situation straight from the “Friday Night Lights” television series (by the way, the best show on TV)… I know a number of the kids playing for Upland (and Claremont, too) this year and wish them all well. You can be sure to find me at a prep football game every Friday night over the next few months, and I'll post a few observations along the way…

Another former Claremont High 1977 graduate looking forward to Labor Day weekend is Danny Brehaut, whose son Richard will officially put on the powder blue and gold uniform for the UCLA Bruins when they host San Diego State on Sept. 5. Right now, Richard is penciled in as the No. 2 quarterback behind Kevin Prince. I’ve had the chance to see a couple of Bruins’ scrimmages, and it’s hard to give a true evaluation of Richard’s progress. When he’s been in there, he’s looked pretty good. My take is that coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow would prefer for Prince to succeed so that Richard can red-shirt and take more time adjusting to college and gaining a better command of the playbook and the speed of Pac-10 football. But the times I’ve seen him, Prince has not looked good, and that seems to be the consensus among those watching practice every day. Last year, when Kevin Craft bombed, UCLA had nowhere else to turn for relief, since Craft was already the third-string QB. This year, if Prince gets hurt or is ineffective, the coaching staff has options. I still think they’d rather preserve Richard’s red-shirt year, but I get the feeling Craft hasn’t exactly been knocking anybody’s socks off in practice. So Richard may get his shot as a true freshman after all, although not with the fanfare of Matt Barkley over at USC. If not this year, then I don’t think it will be long (although I stand by my prediction that he’ll be starting by the fourth game this season)...

I look forward to spending Saturdays at the Rose Bowl during the fall watching the Bruins. Those season tickets were an exceptional 50th birthday present from my wife. Thanks Beth. And I look forward to spending time with my dear longtime friends the Moores (yep, more CHS ’77 grads) at the UCLA tailgate parties and games. And despite what I’m sure will be Jim’s protests, I’ll try to visit the Coliseum for USC games on some of those other Saturdays when UCLA is on the road…

Speaking of college football, did you ever notice how when local kids go away to play at a university outside of Southern California, you rarely ever hear about them unless you make an effort to follow them or they otherwise establish themselves among the nation’s elite? They probably gain notoriety in their new locations, but not at home. Most seem lost to the Southern California hometown media...

The start of September also means the final month of Major League Baseball’s regular season. I still remember when I worked for the Dodgers, and they trailed the Braves by a game in the 1991 NL West standings. Both teams were spectacular in September -- each winning more than 20 games during the month and tied for first entering the season’s final weekend. The Dodgers closed the season by losing two of three games at Candlestick Park and finished a game behind Atlanta—the first of many consecutive division championships for the Braves. Naturally, it was heartbreaking for us Dodger fans (and employees). I just hope that they don’t leave us frustrated this year, after a largely successful season. There are too many signs that they could crash early. The pitching has actually held together better than expected, despite not having a staff ace (although the starters have struggled lately, except for Randy Wolf, who has been great). What is especially frustrating is that the Dodgers don’t hit with runners on base. James Loney, Russell Martin and Rafael Furcal have been awful offensively, although their numbers don’t look that bad. Even the team batting numbers are respectable, but that’s because they pad their stats with big 11-4 wins, and then come back and barely win, 3-2 in 12 innings the next day. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have carried the offense, but Manny hasn’t been Manny, and lately he’s shown considerable ineptitude in the outfield. He’s not the Hall of Fame hitter that he was last year and before he was caught cheating this season. The Dodgers have played better with Juan Pierre in the lineup, but it’s hard to bench Manny or any of their other outfielders. Los Angeles has a favorable schedule over the final month, but they have to play a lot better baseball all the way around if they want to keep playing in October.

Hope you had a chance to watch the Visitors video in the previous post.

I’m ready for some football… but first let me enjoy this one more summer weekend at the beach.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visit the Visitors

I've often thought about posting a blog about "the Visitors," our softball team that played in the Claremont city leagues from 1980 through about 1992. As you'd imagine, there are plenty of stories to tell over that time. The Claremont Courier even wrote an article about the team. But the best way to tell the story is through Mark Baum's terrific 1982 documentary. At long last, we've been able to convert the old videotape to digital, and to a format that works on this blog. In other words, we're finally taking advantage of technology. Anyway, the footage is grainy, but it's from 27 years ago (as is obvious from the appearance of many of the stars featured in the video). Some of these guys look a lot different, and it's always great to re-visit Brent Bosson, who died shortly after this video was completed. Pull up a chair, because this one will run an hour or so...

And if you don't have an hour to spare, here's a teaser of what you're missing...

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Day at the Beach

The 2009 Summer Beach Collection starts here... (more to come)

Apples to Apples anyone?

Beach Cruisers...the only way to travel...

Good thing the skipper and crew are wearing their party pants....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jacko at the JOs

When we last checked in on Jack DesCombes, he was prepping for this week’s North American Challenge Cup as part of the U.S. team.

In the meantime, he had a huge week at last week’s Junior Olympics swimming for the Mission Viejo Nadadores. When the five-day JO meet was over, Jack swam away with a pair of individual gold medals, three relay golds, four individual silver medals and one relay silver and a relay bronze medal.

He also set new Mission Viejo team records in both the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle. His 100-meter record time of 55.08 shattered Matt McCluskey’s previous mark of 55.28 that stood for 28 years. And his time of 24.68 is the sixth fastest 50-meter freestyle time in the nation this season and the fastest in Southern California. That broke the old record set by Philippe Demers in 1993. Both of the previous record-holders trained with the Mission Viejo team on the way to earning Olympic team berths for countries other than the United States. Demers also was an All-American swimmer at USC

Jack’s 100 free performance was good for a silver medal on the opening day of the meet, as he chopped 2 seconds off his previous best time. In Thursday’s 200-meter freestyle, he came in to the event seeded eighth, but qualified fourth and finished second, erasing 6 seconds from his previous best clocking over the two races that day.

With two silvers in the first two days, he added two more on Friday in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley. In three of those races, Michael Haney from the Claremont Club was the winner, while Mission Viejo teammate Mason Wong edged Jack in the 200 IM by .16.

In the last day of individual events, Jack was seeded fifth in the 100 backstroke coming into the meet, but dropped more than 4 seconds and out-touched two swimmers to take his first individual gold.

In the final showdown of the meet, Jack qualified third in the 50-meter freestyle. From lane 3, next to Haney in lane 4, Jack swam a perfect race and beat Haney by .06 seconds for his second gold medal, in a blistering time of 24.68. This was a time drop of 1.5 seconds from Jack’s previous best time.

Jack helped the Nadadores win the Junior Olympics meet by anchoring the gold medal-winning 4 X 50 and 4 X 100 free relay teams and also providing the fly leg in the gold medal-winning 4 X 50 medley relay team. His 13-14-year-old relay teams also took silver in the 4 X 100 medley and bronze in the 4 X 200 free.

Good luck this week!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Support CHS Baseball: Buy Dodger Tickets

Claremont High families and friends have the opportunity to save on the purchase of tickets to several select Los Angeles Dodgers games and also support the CHS baseball program.

Through a program called
Ticket Booster, you can buy tickets to Dodger games on Aug. 19, Aug. 23 or Sept. 19, and save any shipping or handling costs that typically come with ordering tickets.
In addition, a portion of each ticket purchased will be returned to the Claremont High baseball program.

Prices quoted below are face value, except the field box, which is actually less than face value.

Simply provide the information requested on the order form posted on the
Claremont High Baseball Web site and e-mail it to Ian at Ticket Booster will coordinate the receipt of your check.

Details can be found at the CHS Baseball Web site.

Western Regionals Come to Upland

Eleven champion teams will converge in Ontario and Upland from Aug. 4-11 to determine the best team in the West at the Senior Little League Western Regional Tournament.

Thanks to Upland Guy for adding this at the "All Things Upland" blog, too.

The tournament, which will be held at Jay Littleton Field in Ontario and Memorial Park in Upland, is the final event before the Senior Little League World Series in Bangor, Maine, featuring teams with players ages 14-16.

State champion teams from Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern California, Oregon, Southern California and Washington, along with the host team from California District 23, will compete in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to earn a trip to the Senior Little League World Series.

Opening Day activities will begin at Memorial Park with the kick off on Tuesday, Aug. 4, with a pancake breakfast for $3 hosted by the Upland Fire Department from 7-10 a.m. Outback Steakhouse will serve lunch for $5 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda will speak at 10 a.m., along with Upland Mayor John “J.P.” Pomierski.

A home run derby featuring two players from each participating team will follow the ceremonies.

Four games are scheduled for every day from Aug. 4-8, with games at each field at 4 and 7 p.m. Two games will be played on Aug. 9, leading up to the tournament semi-finals on Aug. 10 at Jay Littleton Field. The championship game will be played at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

The 4 p.m. Opening Day contests feature Montana against Northern California at Jay Littleton Field and Arizona vs. Southern California at Memorial Park. At 7 p.m., Hawaii will play Oregon at Jay Littleton and Nevada will play the District 23 team at Memorial Park.

Many local organizations have contributed either with financial, service and other support. The most notable supporters include Doubletree Hotel, Mark Christopher Chevrolet, Aires Hotel, Pro Nine, Colonies Partners, and the City of Upland.

A complete schedule and more tournament information can be found here.

For more information, contact Ralph Cavallo at (951) 990-4595.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Looking into the Crystal Ball

A big part of being a sports fan is the intrigue and mystery that surrounds the news that takes place off the field. No, not reports about steroid use and felonious activities, but the gossip of front office rumors that keep us all guessing.

This is the stuff us sports fans love. It’s our chance to play general manager and propose our own trades and free agent acquisitions. And it’s why fantasy sports are so huge and why people care about watching the NFL and NBA drafts on television.

With baseball’s non-waiver trading deadline upon us next week, the NBA still in its free agent signing period, and NFL teams soon headed to camp, the rumor mill is burning. Sports talk radio is full of the latest hearsay, and Sports Center and Baseball Tonight are focused on the latest trade buzz. Media “experts” are doing their best to scoop their colleagues about the next big player move. Most of the major media conglomerates like ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports have sections on their Web sites dedicated to rumors of the day. My favorite is MLB Trade Rumors, a site that is updated regularly every day with the quick-hitting speculation about player transactions. I read somewhere that some players have learned they were traded by reading this site.

A couple of major deals have already taken place, so I better jump get my predictions in now.
Here's a look into my crystal ball for some useless predictions, based only on hunches. No reason for this, except to show my brilliance if any of these actually come true. And if they don't, well nobody cares anyway. This is the only way I can play G.M. until our fantasy football draft, but that’s more than a month away. Here goes…
  • The Dodgers will land a starting pitcher and probably a reliever. They could use both, but they shouldn’t give up any of their current key roster parts to get either. Remember, the team is comfortably in first place and already likely headed to the playoffs, barring a late-season collapse. But post-season baseball is all about pitching, and it’s important to be able to send a reliable ace to the mound. Chad Billingsley had a great first half of the season, but he doesn’t yet stack up with other No. 1 starters. Clayton Kershaw is the hottest pitcher in baseball right now, and someday may be among the elite. But I’d rather have an experienced veteran starting the first game of the playoffs. But, if L.A. can’t pick up a legitimate top starter, then these guys are not bad fallbacks…
  • Despite all the experts thinking he’ll be dealt to the Phillies, Toronto’s Roy Halladay will be traded to the Dodgers – or he won’t be traded at all. I get the impression Ned Colletti will go hard after the best pitcher in baseball, offering prospects and maybe a current major leaguer. It would be a huge mistake to deal Kershaw, and I doubt he’ll be included. I just have this feeling he’ll pull this off – like he did in acquiring Manny Ramirez last year…
  • If Toronto declines, then the Dodgers will focus on Cliff Lee of the Indians. It appears that an offer of prospects would get the deal done for the American League Cy Young winner. He definitely wouldn’t be a bad guy to have, either…
  • After that, I don’t think there are many other No. 1 pitchers on the market. Most of the other guys that would be logical targets are on teams still in contention (Roy Oswalt, Justin Verlander) or injured (Jake Peavy). If that’s the case, then the Dodgers will likely pursue a back-of-the-order guy, like, Bronson Arroyo or, ehmmm, Brad Penny (okay, maybe not him)…
  • I have limited guesses on the reliever. There are many available, and so it will probably be a matter of cost. My guess is that they’d try to get a guy who hasn’t been overworked this year, since most of the Dodger bullpen is already getting up there in innings pitched. Maybe George Sherrill of the Orioles or one of the Cincinnati relievers, like Francisco Cordero (although the Reds claim to be buyers and not sellers, even though they may be the worst team that I watched play against the Dodgers this year, along with the Mets)...
  • The Angels won’t make a move, except for maybe a middle-reliever…
  • Lamar Odom will finally come to his senses and sign with the Lakers. Ever notice that he has his moments when he seems to forget his surroundings – like those times he doesn’t pay attention to the clock or just disappears at some games. This is one of those cases. He’ll be back. Why wouldn’t he?...
  • Allen Iverson won't be a Clipper...
  • The Los Angeles Football Stadium proposal in the City of Industry will clear its final hurdle before the end of the year, and the Roski Group will soon start courting NFL teams. My guess -- the Chargers and the Jaguars will both be playing in Los Angeles within a few years (yep, two teams)…

  • And by the fourth game of the year, true freshman Richard Brehaut takes over as quarterback of the UCLA Bruins.
Now that I’ve put those out there, I’ll take credit if any of these come true.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making Ends Meet in California

Most of the material that appears here is a light-hearted view of sports, family and friends, the community and some of my life experiences.

So forgive me while I get sidetracked by real life. We all know the economy is in dire straits, and most of us have started to tighten our belts. And we probably know a few people who have lost their jobs or homes (or both), or people whose own businesses are in trouble.

Now we’re getting to the point where this news has an impact on a lot more of us. With so many of my friends putting their kids through college – or getting ready to – our wallets just got a little bit lighter.

The California State University Board of Trustees Tuesday approved a 20 percent student fee increase for this fall. That’s on top of a 10 percent increase enacted just a couple of months ago. Annual full-time undergraduate student fees at all CSU campuses will increase by $672, from $3,354 to $4,026 per year. This is in addition to the $306 annual fee increase for full-time undergraduates adopted in May. Add on mandatory campus fees of a little more than $800, and California State University students will pay around $4,850 a year in fees per year.

Here's a video of Chancellor Reed detailing the CSU situation...

Even with the fee increase, CSU campuses continue to offer the lowest fee rate in the United States among comparable institutions. They remain a remarkable bargain for the high-quality education they provide.

That may not be a consolation for those of us with college-aged kids, but it’s still the most economical alternative for a top-quality university education. The state’s other four-year higher education system, the University of California, boosted its fees several months ago.

What’s happening is that the financial responsibility for public colleges and universities is falling more and more on the true users of the product, rather than on the general state population as a whole. This is actually more in line with what happens in other states, and not necessarily a bad thing, but is a contradiction to the California Master Plan for Higher Education, a 1960 roadmap for the state’s three college systems – the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges – to guarantee any qualified California resident who wanted a college education the opportunity to receive one. But in the past 49 years, it seems the CSU has gone from state-supported to state-assisted to now just being state-located, and that guarantee is becoming harder to promise. Access to higher education is more difficult. It’s not to the point where public universities are being privatized, but with fewer state funds from taxpayers, college students have to cover a larger slice of the pie. Geez, is it really that long ago that state university fees were around $75 a quarter when I was a student at Cal Poly Pomona? Nah, 30 years isn’t really that long ago.

Nevertheless, a CSU education is still an incredible bargain today, and it puts the comparable cost of a UC or private institution in perspective.

The state’s financial support for the California State University has fallen dramatically, and because of the extremely messy state budget situation, which just came to a tentative resolution this week, support for the CSU has been reduced a staggering $584 million, which is an unprecedented 20 percent decrease.

Then again, the state does not have a whole lot of choice when it comes to balancing its $26.3 billion budget deficit. Education accounts for a huge amount of the California budget expenses line. Beyond social programs and prisons, the Legislature had few options when it radically peeled back state expenditures, and those other areas also took big hits.

And so is everybody else. As such, the CSU will adopt a potpourri of actions to address the state-funding shortfall. The fee increase is only part of the solution and addresses about 25 percent of the problem. In the coming weeks, we’ll see more measures put into place at Cal State San Bernardino and all CSU campuses, so that the university can continue to provide a high-quality education to as many students as possible. Those steps include employee furloughs and layoffs, enrollment reductions, a hiring and salary freeze, and significant travel and purchasing restrictions.

A big chunk of the issue will be addressed with a combination of furloughs and layoffs. Some of us at CSUSB will begin working a furlough schedule in August through the next 11 months, which, to me, is a much better option than the alternative. I will gladly take furlough days to avoid seeing people lose their jobs.
We’ll see fewer students at college campuses over the next couple of years, and classes may be harder to get at CSUs, depending on whether or not faculty vote to negotiate a furlough program or opt for large-scale layoffs.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the fee increase will have little or no impact for many people, including a lot of folks in the Inland Empire. For example, one-third of the revenue from the fee increase will be set aside for financial aid, and virtually all dependents from households that make $75,000 or less will not pay any fees. More than half of the students at Cal State San Bernardino (around 55 percent) will be completely covered for the increase through a mix of grants, fee waivers and federal tax credits. There are a lot of scholarships and other financial aid packages available to students, and it’s worth a visit to a campus financial aid or admissions Web site for more information.

I don’t need to tell anybody that it’s tough out there. But hold on and keep college at the top of your priority list. Even if it costs a little more, it’s well worth it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cool in the Pool

Congratulations and best wishes to our friend Jack DesCombes, who was selected to swim for the United States in the North American Challenge Cup Aug. 5-7 against teams from Pacific Swimming (San Francisco), Pacific Northwest Swimming (Washington), Mexico and two time defending champion Canada.

We charted some of Jack’s success last summer, here and here, but he has since changed swim teams and is now a member of the Mission Viejo Nadadores.

Southern California all-star swimming teams have a rich history and a "golden" past – having been the first real competition outside of Southern California for many recent and past Olympians such as Aaron Piersol, Amanda Beard, Kaitlyn Sandeno, Anthony Ervin and many more.

Jack had a successful short course season, where he posted six times in the “Top 16” in Southern California for his 13-14 age group. He was the fifth fastest in the 50-yard freestyle and seventh and eighth fastest in the 200-yard and 100-yard backstroke.

He qualified for the NACC team by posting some of the best long course times in Southern California this season, including second place finishes at the recent June Invitational at La Mirada in both the 50 and 100 meter freestyle (times of 25.97 and 56.83, respectively).

The Nadadores are now preparing for the Summer Junior Olympics in late July. Jack and his 13-14-year-old relay teams have a chance of setting some Southern California records and posting the fastest times in the nation this year.
Looks like another former participant in our kids’ fantasy football league who is making a name for himself (see blog from June 11).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fair Concerts

The Los Angeles County Fair announced its 2009 End of Summer Concert Series and Adrenaline Nights lineup today. The Fair starts on Saturday, Sept. 5, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 4.

Check out the
Fair's concert Web page for ticket information and show details.

Here's the lineup:

Sept. 5 Al Green and the Spinners

Sept. 6 Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert

Sept. 7 Jaguares
Sept. 10 Monster Truck Madness
Sept. 11 Peter Frampton and Kansas

Sept. 12 Good Charlotte

Sept. 13 Lynyrd Skynyrd

Sept. 17 Creedence Clearwater Revisited
Sept. 18 WAR and Average White Band

Sept. 19 LeAnn Rimes

Sept. 20 Mariachi USA Fiesta

Sept. 24 TBA
Sept. 25 Donna Summer

Sept. 26 Ciara

Sept. 27 The Beach Boys

Oct. 1 Demolition Derby

Oct. 2 Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band

Oct. 3 World Championships of Freestyle Motocross

Oct. 4 Shinedown, Puddle of Mud and Saliva