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.