SOCAL SPORTS HISTORY: A Salute To The Pacific Coast League

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The center of baseball in Los Angeles for over 30 years: Wrigley Field, on the corner of 42nd & Avalon, home to the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels from 1925-1957 & the American League’s Angels’ first home in 1961. Photo courtesy of southland.gizmodo.com

 

PAYING HOMAGE TO THE TEAMS REPRESENTING LOS ANGELES IN THE VERY SUCCESSFUL MINOR LEAGUE THAT WAS A FOCUS OF BASEBALL AND SPORTS IN SOCAL BEFORE THE DODGERS’ ARRIVAL IN 1958

 

Before the Dodgers and the Angels, there were the Angels and the Stars.

I reckon not too many folks under the age of 70 would know this – or even care – but SoCal was a baseball hub long before Walter O’ Malley brought his Dodgers west from Brooklyn in 1958 and Gene Autry began his Angel franchise three years later.

Speaking of Angels…

That was precisely where Autry got the name of his team as from 1903 to 1957, baseball in Los Angeles was represented by a team called the Angels, who played in the Pacific Coast League, which was considered a minor league but in many ways was an equal to the two major leagues back east.

 

A cool advertising logo for the Angels. Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

 

These Angels enjoyed much success in winning eleven PCL titles, including four in a six-year span from 1903-1908, when they played in Washington Park just south of downtown.

This success was particularly prevalent in 1934 as they sported a record of 137-50, blowing away their competition; so much so that their opponents in the Pacific Coast League’s championship series was, rather than another team, an all-star team made up of the best players from the other seven PCL clubs.

The other L.A. baseball entry in those days, the Hollywood Stars, was partly owned by celebrities such as George Burns, Bing Crosby, and movie mogul Cecil B. DeMille and provided a good rivalry to the Angels for nearly twenty years, playing their home games at Gilmore Field, located on the corner of Beverly Blvd. and Fairfax Ave, where CBS Television City now stands.

 

Gilmore Field, home of the Hollywood Stars from 1939-57, on the corner of Beverly and Fairfax. Photo courtesy of pclhistory.wordpress.com

 

That rivalry was heated at times, much like UCLA vs USC, with fights between the Stars and the Angels happening on a fairly regular occurrence, one brawl, on August 2, 1953, becoming so big that then-police chief William Parker had to send fifty cops in riot gear to break it up.

 

 

A promotional film of the Pacific Coast League from 1946, which includes features of Los Angeles Angels and Hollywood Stars. Courtesy of YouTube.

 

Tons of guys who would go on to play in the big leagues were Angels or Stars, including Detroit Tigers legend (and teammate of Ty Cobb) “Wahoo” Sam Crawford, longtime Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, and 1960 World Series hero Bill Mazeroski.

Not to mention local Angels legends Steve Bilko and Jigger Statz.

 

Washington Park, home of the PCL’s Angels from 1911-25, located on the corner of Washington Blvd. and Main Street, just south of downtown L.A. Photo courtesy of waterandpower.org

 

It all ended on a Hiroshima Atomic Bomb-like scale at the end of 1957, when Los Angeles’ city council okayed the deal with O’Malley to bring Major League Baseball to the West Coast, moving his Dodgers from Ebbets Field to (for the first four years, anyway) the Coliseum.

The Stars subsequently moved to Salt Lake City, Utah and became the Bees, while the Angels relocated to Spokane, WA, changing their name to the Indians.

Gilmore Field was razed by 1959, while Wrigley Field survived for a few years, hosting the new American League Angels for a season and TV’s “Home Run Derby” before falling to the wrecker’s ball in 1969.

 

A quartet of Hollywood Stars players from 1946. Photo courtesy of pclhistory.wordpress.com

 

That didn’t erase a baseball history that rivaled any other city’s; even though it technically wasn’t “The Show”, it brought a big sports pleasure to SoCal residents giving homage to what was the focal point of sports in American society.

While today’s Dodgers and Angels are big, particularly the Dodgers as they are having a great season to date,

The fact that they have to share attention with so many other teams, especially the Lakers and USC football, triggers an appreciation of what it used to be in this part of the West.

 

The current Los Angeles Angels wearing throwback uniforms of their PCL ancestors during a game with the Seattle Mariners. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

 

Not A Good Year For The L.A. Galaxy (to this point)

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At least the Galaxy still has their loyal group of fans (shown here): the Angel City Brigade…

 

LOS ANGELES GALAXY

Current Record: 6-8-4, 22 points, 7th place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference

Leading Scorer: Roman Alessandrini, midfielder – 8 goals, 7 assists

Last Game: Lost to Real Salt Lake, 6-2, on July 4th

Next Games:

Monday, July 10th at San Jose Earthquakes

Saturday, July 15th vs Manchester United

 

Some Brief Thoughts:

Anytime you lose to a team considered by many to be the worst in your league – by a large amount, no less – you know your season’s more or less a rebuilding one.

And your fans can forget about any hopes for a championship.

Or any post season for that matter.

That’s where this Galaxy team is at right now as the MLS season is roughly at the halfway point.

As such…

Nothing personal or malicious intended, but unless there’s a complete and miraculous turn around by this team, this will be the last article I’ll post covering the Galaxy for this year.

 

StubHub Center in Carson, were the Galaxy play their home games…

 

My goals for covering soccer on this site will instead focus on the youth and club level; an old college friend of mine has a daughter who’s currently involved in a club soccer team in the Los Angeles area, and is on the fast track to playing for a major high school program.

And if things work out right, a college scholarship.

I feel that it would be more interesting and better for this site to cover soccer on more of a grassroots level, since the sport’s biggest popularity in this country lies within the AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization), club programs, and high school teams.

I hope to have at least one article focusing on that level of the world’s most popular sport before this calendar year is over.

In the meantime, I wish the Galaxy well and hope their fortunes improve.

At least they’ll be getting some HUGE exposure when they play arguably soccer’s most elite club, the United Kingdom’s Manchester United, at StubHub Center in Carson on July 15th.

Which as far as location is a big mistake as for a team like Manchester United, the game needs to be at the Rose Bowl.

But oh well…

 

HAPPIER DAYS: The Galaxy after winning their latest MLS Cup (championship) in 2014…

GOODBYE, CP3: A Farewell To Chris Paul

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Gone after six seasons…

 

POSSIBLY THE SADDEST DAY IN CLIPPER NATION HISTORY AS THE MAN WHO HELPED TURN THAT FRANCHISE AROUND IS NOW A HOUSTON ROCKET

 

I reckon everyone has heard about Chris Paul becoming a former Los Angeles Clipper as ESPN and various other sources are reporting that he has been traded to the Houston Rockets.

I’m not going to offer any thoughts or analysis about it – I’ll leave that to the folks at ESPN, Fox Sports, and all the other sports media places.

What I’m going to do instead is post some videos, courtesy of YouTube, highlighting CP3’s six years as a Clipper as along with Blake Griffin – who may also be an ex-Clipper soon – DeAndre Jordan, JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford, and others, helped that basketball club cease to be regarded as “The Worst Franchise in Professional Sports”.

Let’s not waste anymore time…

 

A clip of some of the many Chris Paul exploits…

 

 

 

More CP3 highlights…

 

 

 

Some Chris Paul slam dunks that I’m sure will be enjoyed…

 

 

 

One of the final games in CP3’s Clipper career: Game One in the 2017 Western Conference Quarterfinals…

 

 

 

Chris Paul becoming the Clippers’ all-time assist leader vs. Memphis in November, 2016…

 

 

I see this as the best way to say so long to someone who meant so much to that Clipper franchise, almost literally raising it from the dead.

So I suppose there’s nothing more to say except for goodbye to this star point guard, as it’s now become quite apparent that these Clippers are now rebuilding.

 

 

A nice shot of CP3 doing his thing in a Clippers uniform that, to be honest, I like better than what they’re wearing now…

 

FREEWAY SERIES RIVALRY RENEWED: A Dodgers – Angels Tale of the Tape

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A group of Dodgers and Angels, including Yasiel Puig, (2nd from left), Mike Trout (3rd from left), and Albert Pujols (2nd from right), exchanging pleasantries before a game. Photo courtesy of latimes.com

 

ANNUAL FREEWAY SERIES: LOS ANGELES DODGERS vs LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM

Dates: June 26-27 at Dodger Stadium, June 28-29 at Angel Stadium

Times (all games): 7:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports West, Spectrum Sports Net LA

 

Cameron Maybin, a significant reason why the Angels haven’t tanked as he’s the American League’s stolen base leader. Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

 

TALE OF THE TAPE

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

Record: 40-39, 3rd place in the American League West (by one percentage point), 13 games behind the Houston Astros

What The Angels Have Done Lately: Won two out of three games from both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, AL elites who are 1-2 in the East division, on their just concluded road trip

Most Recent Game: Beat the Red Sox, 4-2, at Fenway Park on June 25th

Key Players:

Mike Trout, CF (on DL) – .337 average, 16 HR, 36 RBI

Albert Pujols, DH/1B – .239 average, 11 HR, 51 RBI

Andrelton Simmons, SS – .280 average, 7 HR, 33 RBI

Cameron Maybin, LF/CF – .264 average, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 23 SB (leads AL)

J.C. Ramirez, P: 7-5, 4.38 ERA

Bud Norris, RP (on DL): 2-1, 2.43 ERA, 11 saves

 

Highlights of the Angels’ latest triumph: a 4-2 decision over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Courtesy of YouTube.

 

A Few Comments:

Even though I still strongly feel that they need to change their uniforms to what they wore in the 1980s & early 90s, or when they first began their existence in the 1960s,

Which is the main factor to why I’m not as big a fan of them as I could be,

Those Angels have earned the utmost respect from me due to their not folding after Mike Trout tore his thumb, which has kept him out for the past month though he’s optimistic that he can return before the All-Star break in a couple of weeks.

Two words describe these Halos in 2017:

  1. Gutty
  2. Scrappy

Their pitching is lacking, key guys on that staff like Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs can’t seem to pitch without suffering significant injuries,

To illustrate the Angels’ futility on the mound, Ricky Nolasco, a mainstay in their starting rotation, is 2-9 with an ERA over five.

But they are over .500 as of this writing because of their Rocky Balboa-like mentality, Cameron Maybin and Eric Young Jr. – who was called up when Trout went down – providing some much needed spark,

And just plain guts.

As a result, they are in the hunt for a Wild Card!

I have the feeling that these Angels are not a team that you would want to face when the stretch run comes…

 

Cody Bellinger, the National League’s home run leader and sure-fire Rookie of the Year, quite possibly by unanimous vote. Photo courtesy of belacherreport.com

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Record: 51-26, 1st place in the National League West, two and a half games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks

What The Dodgers Have Done Lately: Winners of their last ten games, sweeping the New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies in the process.

Most Recent Game: Beat the Rockies, 12-6, at Dodger Stadium on June 25th after spotting them a 5-0 lead

Key Players:

Justin Turner, 3B – .393 average, 5 HR, 28 RBI

Corey Seager, SS – .298 average, 12 HR, 39 RBI

Cody Bellinger, OF/1B – .274 average, 24 HR (leads NL), 55 RBI

Yasiel Puig, RF – .247 average, 14 HR, 41 RBI

Clayton Kershaw, P: 11-2, 2.47 ERA, 123 Ks, 18 BB (Leads MLB in wins, #2 in NL in ERA & strikeouts)

Alex Wood, P:  8-0, 1.86 ERA

Kenley Jansen, RP: 4-0, 0.83 ERA, 52 Ks, 1 walk, 17 saves

 

 

Highlights of a very exciting 12-6 comeback win by the Dodgers in their last outing. Courtesy of YouTube.

 

A Few Comments:

Simply put…

These Dodgers are on absolute fire!!

With a ten-game winning streak – not to mention being one of only two teams in major league baseball with at least 50 wins (the Astros are the other) – I double dog dare anyone to dispute that!

I honestly cannot remember the last time this team has been on such a roll.

You know things are going well when your relief ace, who has walked but one person all season to date, makes noise at the plate as well as sixty feet, six inches from it as he hit a double yesterday against the Rockies, which drove in a run to boot!

And you know things are going well when your MVP of the season so far is a rookie who didn’t even start the season as a Dodger as Cody Bellinger was called up a few weeks in.

As sure as I’m writing this, Bellinger will be named the National League’s Rookie of the Year around the first or second week of November.

In fact, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t win it by a unanimous vote.

I only hope he stays consistent as July and August approach, because you know the rest of the league’s pitchers will adjust to him.

Another big factor in L.A’s success, outside of Kershaw, Jansen, Bellinger, etc…

Two Words: Alex Wood.

This lefty has become the perfect number two starter behind Kershaw as with his undefeated record and sub-2.00 earned run average, he’s a big illustration of the Dodgers’ rise to the top of the standings.

 

The Angels’ Kole Calhoun (#56) scoring as he slides past the Dodgers’ catcher. Photo courtesy of newsday.com

 

OK, Here’s My Prediction Of How The Freeway Series Will Go:

I’m expecting a hard-fought four games, particularly in Anaheim as the Angels’ gutty, scrappy, nothing-to-lose play will give their Dodger rivals a battle.

But let’s face it; those Dodgers are just too hot right now.

And Dave Roberts’ guys have the edge almost everywhere, especially on the mound.

Which is why I’m going to say that the team wearing blue will win three of four.

You heard it here first…

A Dodger with a hard-nosed slide into second base with an Angel applying the tag. Photo courtesy of gentlemensguideoc.com

 

 

A Way-Too-Early SoCal College Football Post

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A scene from last season’s UCLA vs USC Crosstown Rivalry clash…

 

75 days and 11 Saturdays until it all kicks off.

At least that’s what the Facebook pages of USC and UCLA has stated.

It’s quite curious, this hold that football, at the high school, college, pro, and even the youth levels, has over this country.

I mean, the baseball season’s not even half over, there’s three weeks until the All-Star Game, and the Dodgers, Angels, and the rest of Major League Baseball have roughly 100 games to play,

Heck, it’s not even the Fourth of July!

And here I am online, seeing fans posting seemingly endless things on social media and elsewhere regarding how they are so excited and how they absolutely cannot wait until their gladiators in true blue and gold, or cardinal and gold,

Or whatever combination of colors they pledge eternal allegiance to,

Kick that pigskin ball off and begin a season that they are undoubtedly sure will end in hoisting a championship trophy just after New Year’s.

 

The (in many people’s eyes) infamous O.J. Simpson during the 1967 Bruin-Trojan showdown at the Coliseum, approaching the 50th anniversary of that epic 21-20 USC win – and the first one played in my lifetime as I was five months old…

 

As For Me…

I certainly can wait, as even though I have bought the Athlon’s Pac-12 Football Preview – as I have done every year for I don’t know how long – I have never gotten excited over football until about the last week of August, when I do my previews of the Bruins and Trojans as well as the Rams, and (now) the Chargers just after Labor Day.

And I’m certainly not getting excited over football season right now, and perhaps not when it starts, for reasons I will go into at another time.

For now, I’m going to enjoy baseball.

Which considering the advantages it has over football in player salary, career longevity, labor security, and long-term health issues, not only should be considered the true American pastime…

As people see the dangers that football brings to its players (concussions, CTE, etc.), I think it’s making strides to reclaiming that distinction.

As such, I officially pledge that this will be the last football post on this site until the second half of August at the earliest…

 

The Rose Bowl during the 2008 Crosstown Rivalry Game; I must admit I’ve always liked the contrast between the blue-clad and cardinal-clad fans in the stands…

Some Random SoCal Sports Thoughts As Summer Approaches

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One venue, located just north of downtown Los Angeles, that will be quite busy for the next few months.

 

Let’s see…

Summer – and the longest day of the year – will officially be upon us seven days from this writing; a heat wave is approaching in Southern California as evidence of that.

As I (personally speaking) approach my 50th birthday this Sunday; which is understandably hard to believe…

The seasons of our two Major League Baseball clubs are rolling along, the blue clad team currently in a dogfight for first place in its division while the red clad team, despite losing its best player – and the best player in baseball – for the next few weeks with a torn thumb, continues to perform better than expected.

With the exception of our entry in the WNBA  – that’s the Sparks for those who don’t know – the basketball and hockey seasons are over and finished with as champions were crowned this past week – congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning their second straight Stanley Cup (first time since 1997-98 that a team has repeated) and the Golden State Warriors for winning their second NBA title in three years, by the way.

I hear that one of our hoops squads may be having second thoughts regarding the drafting of UCLA’s star Lonzo Ball, as I read that they felt that he was out of shape.

Memo To Lakers – Two words: DRAFT HIM.

Baseball may be in full swing, but I was recently thinking that NFL training camps open in about a month, with preseason games starting in seven weeks with L.A., after 23 years without an NFL team, having not one but two teams as the Rams and the Chargers will be playing one of those preseason affairs against each other at the Coliseum on August 26th.

I don’t know about anyone else, but it will feel a little weird to have two NFL teams in town after going so long without one.

I’m certainly looking forward to doing a lot of this…

 

As for my personal plans…

Despite preferring the Dodger Stadium from the 1980s, 90s, and even the early 2000s, when there weren’t so many ads cluttering the place and the atmosphere was more baseball-like rather than circus-like, I plan on attending a game sometime this summer.

I just hope it’s not too hot, like the last Dodger game I attended when the temperature was 93 degrees and I was virtually melting in my seat.

I’m looking forward to partaking in those frozen lemonades and maybe those chocolate ice cream cups that Dodger Stadium features; unfortunately for health reasons, my days of imbibing of the iconic Dodger Dogs are over as the garlic fries are pretty much all that I can eat there now.

The Angels? I still strongly feel that they need to change their uniforms and caps – go back to their 70s, 80s, or even their early 90s look!

My main sports intent this summer, besides playing in my weekend pick-up softball games, is to once and for all check out a Sparks game – and write about that experience on this site.

I especially want to do this because I have never been to the Sparks’ (and the Lakers, Clippers, and Kings) home, Staples Center, before; besides the annual season previews and predictions of UCLA and USC football, which I will write in late August, writing about my impressions of Staples will be SoCalSportsAnnals’ summer highlight.

Though I’m not looking forward to the ninety and 100 degree temperatures, I am looking forward to summer.

I’m not only looking forward to what the fates have in store for the Dodgers, Angels, Sparks and MLS soccer’s Galaxy these next twelve weeks,

I’m also looking forward to just enjoying the relaxing, mellow pace that summer brings.

At least I hope it’s mellow and relaxing.

Have a great summer, SoCal…

 

Another SoCal venue, located not too far from Disneyland, that will be seeing much action this summer.

 

AN EPIC SERIES: Thoughts on the Cal State Fullerton – Long Beach State Super Regionals

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Cal State Fullerton’s Titans immediately after getting the last out in their 2-1 win over Long Beach State yesterday. Photo courtesy of santacruzsentinel.com

 

First and foremost…

Much congratulations to Cal State Fullerton’s baseball program as for the 18th time in their history, they have clinched a berth in the College World Series in beating their rivals, Long Beach State, 2-1 in Game 3 of their Super Regionals at Blair Field on Sunday.

That the Titans punched their ticket to Omaha at the Dirtbags’ expense – on their field, no less – made it all the more sweeter, I’m sure; just like when UCLA beats USC on the Trojans’ turf (or vice versa) in any sport.

Colton Eastman, the Cal State Fullerton pitcher who, like John Gavin the day before when he threw a shutout in the Titans’ 12-0 Game 2 rout, shut down Long Beach State in Game 3, no-hitting the Dirtbags for five innings plus, summed up CSUF’s feelings best when he stated:

“(Long Beach State) can have the Big West, but I’ll take Omaha…”

I know it’s a cliché, but Long Beach State, while appropriately devastated, really doesn’t have anything to be ashamed of as not only did they play their guts out,

This Super Regional in general more than lived up to the hype; I thought that it would be an absolute dogfight of a war, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.

And from what I heard, the tension in the stands between the Titans and Dirtbags’ fans was much like Bruin and Trojan fans at their football games and other Crosstown Rivalry clashes; I’m a little surprised that there weren’t any reported fights.

At least not to my knowledge.

 

What no college athlete EVER wants to go through: watching your hated rival celebrate on your field as these Long Beach State Dirtbags are doing. Photo courtesy of D1baseball.com

 

The biggest key to Cal State Fullerton’s win in my opinion…

Quite simply, the key to any big baseball win at any level:

PITCHING.

More specifically, the Titans’ pitchers completely shutting down Long Beach State’s hitters as after those Dirtbags scored three runs in the first inning of Game 1, they scored just one more run in the following 26 innings – and that was on a passed ball.

It wasn’t so much the ineptitude of Long Beach’s batters as it was the lights out pitching of Fullerton’s hurlers that decided this ultimate rivalry showdown.

Like the saying goes, “Good pitching beats good hitting”,
and always will.

Those Titans certainly proved that this weekend.

And will be in Omaha as a result, as they will face top-ranked (with a ridiculous record of 54-4) Oregon State in their first game of the College World Series this Saturday.

 

Cal State Fullerton’s post game press conference after their 2-1 win over Long Beach State in Game 3 of their Super Regionals. Courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

Most of all, this Super Regional showed two things:

1. The Big West Conference is VERY strong in baseball, providing a very high level of play and further showing the strength of college baseball on the West Coast.

Not to mention that there’s great baseball in SoCal outside of Westwood and south of downtown Los Angeles.

2. The Big West Conference, probably because it’s a mid-major league consisting of commuter schools with no football, is the most underrated group of college sports programs in the nation.

The level of play compares quite favorably to the bigger, richer, and much more publicized Pac-12 Conference, and it’s a very good place for athletes who may have been overlooked by the SCs and UCLAs to play and get an education.

This Super Regional proved that point once and for all.

Personally, I’ve always respected the Big West and the schools making up that conference – I did graduate work at Cal State Northridge, another rival of Fullerton and Long Beach.

Hopefully after what those Titans and Dirtbags showed at Blair Field, the rest of the college sports world will respect them more.

A national title by Cal State Fullerton, which would be their fifth, would more than solidify that.

As such, it goes without saying that I wish those Titans all the best of luck in Omaha as I’m very much looking forward to seeing them take on Oregon State and other big bad teams such as LSU, TCU, Texas A&M, Louisville, and Florida State.

It’s going to be fun.

 

What every college athlete dreams of: celebrating a big post season series win on the hated rival’s home field as what these Titans are doing. Photo courtesy of journalgazette.net

 

 

 

IT’S ON! Long Beach State – Cal State Fullerton Baseball Rivalry Peaks in NCAA Super Regionals

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Fans will be seeing a lot of this in Long Beach this weekend. Photo courtesy of Cayer’s Photography

 

This is huge!

Two SoCal colleges,

Who are from the same conference (and from the same state university system!),

And are longtime bitter rivals who have met over 220 times,

Will be meeting in the NCAA Super Regionals, a best of three playoff to determine who will be going to the Promised Land of college baseball, the College World Series.

The kicker to all of this?

Neither school is named UCLA or USC!

It’s perfect!

To say it’s going to be an intense affair is a pronounced understatement; although I  hope it doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if the benches don’t clear once or twice, there’s SO much at stake.

This is certainly the most exciting thing that’s happened not only between the two baseball teams, but at these two institutions, located 17 miles apart, as being commuter schools without football programs, not that much attention is paid to them and not as many students are as rah-rah about sports as they are at UCLA and USC.

It’s also a publicity boost for the Cal State University system, which Long Beach and Fullerton are a part of, which is always needed and welcomed.

I’m definitely looking forward to these games being instant classics!

Here’s a little history and tale of the tape of the baseball programs at Cal State Fullerton, who won the Stanford Regional, and Long Beach State, who won their regional last night, as they will clash this weekend…

 

CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FULLERTON TITANS BASEBALL

Founded: 1965. Became a Division 1 program in 1975; has never had a losing season in D1.

Conference Championships: 28. 16 Big West Conference Titles, latest in 2016

College World Series Appearances: 17, last one in 2015

National Championships: Four (1979, 1984, 1995, 2004)

Notable Alumni in the Major Leagues: Tim Wallach, Mark Kotsay, Phil Nevin, Justin Turner *

2017 Record: 37-21

* Went 3-0 in Stanford Regional

 

 

 

A taste of what to expect: Long Beach State & Cal State Fullerton clashing on May 28, 2016, Fullerton winning 2-1.  Video Courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

LONG BEACH STATE UNIVERSITY 49ers/DIRTBAGS BASEBALL

Founded: 1954. Became a Division 1 program in 1970.

Conference Championships: 12. Nine Big West Conference titles, including this year.

College World Series Appearances: Four, last one in 1998

National Championships: None.

Notable Alumni in the Major Leagues: Jason Giambi, Jered Weaver *, Evan Longoria *, Troy Tulowitski *,

(* = denotes current MLB player)

 

THE CAL STATE FULLERTON/LONG BEACH STATE RIVALRY BY THE NUMBERS:

Number of meetings: 217

All-Time Series: Cal State Fullerton leads 142-75

2017 Season: Long Beach State won five of six games

 

INFO ON THE NCAA SUPER REGIONALS BETWEEN THE TITANS AND THE DIRTBAGS:

Place: Blair Field, Long Beach, CA

Days/Dates: Friday, June 9th – Sunday, June 11th (if a Game 3 is necessary)

Times: 3:00 p.m. on Friday, 12 noon on Saturday and Sunday

TV:   ESPN2 on Friday, ESPNU on Saturday, TBD on Sunday

 

A Fullerton runner trying to beat a Long Beach pick-off attempt. Photo courtesy of Cayer’s Photography.

DIAMOND STANDOUTS: A Look At SoCal College Baseball and Softball Teams in The Postseason

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The ultimate destination for our SoCal college baseball teams: TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NEB, home of the College World Series.

 

Baseball and softball are reaching their peak.

At least at the college level, as four Los Angeles area teams have earned a spot in the postseason.

One of those four teams have already earned their holy grail in making softball’s  Women’s College World Series, while the other three teams will begin their quest for college baseball’s holy grail – the College World Series in Omaha – this week.

We won’t waste any more time in checking out these squads – we’ll start with the SoCal softball team that is going for the ultimate prize…

( * = denotes leads the team)

 

 

Bruins celebrating a home run at Easton Stadium, UCLA’s home field…

 

UCLA BRUINS

Record: 47-13, 16-8 and tied for third place in the Pac-12 Conference

Coach: Kelly Inouye-Perez

Rank: Tied for 8th

Playoff Seed: 5th

* Won Los Angeles Regional, beating Lehigh, San Jose State, and Cal State Fullerton

* Won NCAA Super Regional (also in Los Angeles), beating Mississippi two games to none

* Will begin play in the Women’s College World Series, at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK, vs. LSU on Thursday, June 1st, at 11:30 a.m.

Number of National Championships: 11 (leads the nation) – 1982, 1984-85, 1988-90, 1992, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2010

Top Pitchers:

Rachel Garcia: 22-7, 1.92 ERA, 3 saves, 196 strikeouts*

Selina Ta’amilo: 14-0, 2.79 ERA

Joanna Grauer: 11-4, 2.88 ERA

Top Hitters:

Kylee Perez, 2B – .406 average*, 2 home runs, 29 RBI, 82 hits*

Delaney Spaulding, SS – .381 average, 16 home runs*, 43 RBI

Madeline Jelenicki, 1B – .339 average, 15 home runs, 69 RBI*

Briana Tautalafoa, 3B – .330 average, 16 home runs*, 50 RBI

Rachel Garcia, P/OF/DP – .327 average, 7 home runs, 27 RBI

Thoughts:

These ladies are HOT right now, playing their best softball at exactly the right time.

That’s why though it wont be easy, with top-seeded Florida and defending champion Oklahoma (who will overwhelmingly have the home crowd on their side being that the WCWS is but 21 miles from their campus in Norman) in the mix, I see these Bruins’ chances as good to take home their 12th title – and the school’s 114th.

 

 

ALL RIGHT, HERE ARE THE THREE SOCAL COLLEGE BASEBALL TEAMS THAT WILL COMMENCE POST SEASON PLAY:

 

A Cal State Fullerton player scoring during a game – cool uniforms!

 

CAL STATE FULLERTON TITANS

Record: 34-21, 15-9 and third place in the Big West Conference

Coach: Rick Vanderhook

Rank: 20th

* Had a seven-game winning streak from March 10-19 and a six-game winning streak from April 1-9

* Will begin play in the Stanford Regional in Palo Alto, CA as a two seed vs. BYU on Thursday, June 1st, at 1:00 p.m.

Number of National Championships: 4 – 1979, 1984, 1995, 2004

Top Pitchers:

Connor Seabold: 10-4, 2.94 ERA, 108 strikeouts

John Gavin: 6-2, 3.07 ERA

Brett Conine: 1.45 ERA, 12 saves

Top Hitters:

Scott Hurst, CF – .339 average*, 11 home runs*, 37 RBI*, 74 hits*

Taylor Bryant, 3B – .275 average, 3 home runs, 34 RBI

Hunter Cullen, RF – .276 average, 5 home runs, 26 RBI

Timmy Richards, SS – .280, 4 home runs, 22 RBI

Thoughts:

Besides the fact that Scott Hurst is the Titans’ big stud – judging by the numbers – this team has a strong history of excellence as one of the jewels of sports in the Cal State system.

Which is why I wouldn’t vote against them making it to Omaha.

Especially since they’ve won at least one national championship each of the previous four decades.

 

Those are some REALLY cool jerseys that this Long Beach State Dirtbag team has…

 

LONG BEACH STATE 49ers (DIRTBAGS)

Record: 37-17-1, 20-4 and Big West Champions

Coach: Troy Buckley

Rank: 9th

* Won five of six games against rival Cal State Fullerton to win the Big West title

* Has won eight of the last ten games

* Will begin play as a one seed, hosting a regional at Blair Field in Long Beach and facing San Diego State on Friday, June 2nd, at 8:00 p.m.

Top Pitchers:

Dave Smith: 8-1, 1.55 ERA*

Darren McCaughan: 8-2, 2.66 ERA, 94 strikeouts*

Chris Rivera: 2.51 ERA, 11 saves

Top Hitters:

Ramsey Romano, 3B – .338 average*, 2 home runs, 36 RBI*, 73 hits*

Lucas Tancas, LF – .312 average, 9 home runs,*, 34 RBI

Davis Banuelos, C – .303 average, 7 home runs, 28 RBI

Thoughts:

Although these Dirtbags finished the regular season ranked in the top ten with a conference crown in their pocket, wining their regional will be no easy cupcake walk as San Diego State (their first opponent), longtime traditional power Texas, and UCLA – more on them a bit – are all quite capable of emerging from this foursome and punching a ticket to the super regional.

The fact that Long Beach State will be at home will be quite the factor.

 

The greatest moment in UCLA Baseball history: winning their first national championship in 2003…

 

UCLA BRUINS

Record: 30-25, 19-11 and third place in the Pac-12 Conference

Coach: John Savage

Rank: None

* Swept crosstown rival USC at USC on May 4-6, after losing to the Trojans at Dodger Stadium on March 5th.

* Have won six of their last eight games

* Will begin play in the Long Beach Regional as a three seed vs Texas on Friday, June 3rd, at 4:00 p.m.

Number of National Championships: One – 2013

Top Pitchers:

Griffin Canning: 7-3, 2.34 ERA*, 134 strikeouts*

John Olsen: 7-1, 2.91 ERA

Scott Burke: 2.55 ERA, 5 saves

Top Hitters:

Sean Bouchard, 1B – .305 average*, 9 home runs*, 43 RBI*, 64 hits*

Daniel Amaral, CF – .286 average, 1 home run, 21 RBI

Brett Stephens, LF – .279 average, 2 home runs, 21 RBI

Michael Toglia, RF – .263 average, 8 home runs, 33 RBI

Chase Stumpf, 2B – .244 average, 7 home runs, 30 RBI

Thoughts:

I have to give this baseball team of my alma mater’s much credit for improving their play over the course of the season, particularly in the conference.

After watching the Bruins blow a 3-0 lead and lose to ‘SC at Dodger Stadium, I honestly didn’t think they would have a very good season, but I was wrong.

A significant factor in UCLA making the postseason is the simple fact that they have – at long last – found some pop in their lineup; Bouchard was their Mike Trout as he led the Bruins in pretty much every hitting category.

He will be crucial to the Bruins’ chances as being the next-to-last team among the 64 chosen for these playoffs, not much is expected.

Judging from their recent efforts, however, I think they have as good a shot as anyone.

 

Highlights of UCLA’s softball team clinching their berth in this year’s Women’s College World Series with the Bruins’ 1-0 win over Ole Miss. Courtesy of YouTube.

 

GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS FOR UCLA ATHLETICS

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Bruin Nation is desperately hoping for a better season from the guys who wear these helmets this fall.

 

Actually, it’s two bits of good news to go with one fairly significant bit of bad news.

FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS:

Part 1. UCLA’s basketball program got a major boost yesterday when two of the five players that declared for the NBA Draft, Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh, announced that they were withdrawing from the draft and remaining Bruins.

Talk about coming to their senses and seeing reason!

After seeing Lonzo Ball, T. J. Leaf, and Ike Anigbogu leave (Ball and Leaf’s departures were, of course, expected; Ball is projected to not only be the #2 overall pick , but also to stay in L.A. and wear the purple and gold of the Lakers, who could sure use him. Anibogu? Look for him to be playing in the D-League or overseas this November), only the fact that UCLA has the second-ranked recruiting class coming kept me from saying that the team will revert to its 15-17 form from 2015-16.

Now with Welsh, a center who had a very good year and is continuing to get better, and Holiday, who was one of the Pac-12 Conference’s best sixth men, back in Westwood, UCLA’s chances at postseason glory in 2018 has just improved leaps and bounds.

I don’t think they’ll duplicate their 32-win season from this past year, but I do expect them to be very good – even though USC, with all of their starters returning from a team that set a school record for most wins, will post a major challenge and give SoCal something that it hasn’t seen in a LONG time:

A real Crosstown Rivalry battle on the hard court.

 

The University of Southern California Trojans take on the UCLA Bruins in the first round of the 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV on March 9, 2017. (Samuel Marshall/Eric Evans Photography) A fond farewell goes to the two Bruins on the right and the one on the far left, while a fond welcome back goes to the Bruin second from the left…

 

And speaking of those rivals from south of downtown L.A…

Part 2. Thanks to the baseball team’s sweep of the Trojans – at ‘SC, no less – UCLA captured the Crosstown Cup for the third time in five years, the final score being 105-85, with each team getting five or ten points for beating the other.

Much kudos goes to the teams (besides baseball) that got Bruin Nation the Cup by beating the Trojans:

  • Women’s Soccer
  • Women’s Volleyball (swept two from USC)
  • Women’s Basketball (see Women’s Volleyball)
  • Men’s Basketball (took two of three from ‘SC, including knocking them out of the Pac-12 Tournament)
  • Men’s Volleyball (again, see Women’s Volleyball)
  • Women’s Cross Country (finished ahead of ‘SC in the Pac-12 Championships)
  • Men’s and Women’s Tennis (each split two games)
  • Women’s Water Polo (also split two games)
  • Men’s Track and Field (beat the Trojans in the annual meet)

When you have a college that resides in the same city as you, it’s always nice to beat them in anything.

 

UCLA’s Joe Bruin mascot and Spirit Squad at Pauley Pavilion…

 

 

ALL RIGHT, HERE’S THE BAD NEWS:

After two decades, someone has finally matched UCLA’s total of 113 NCAA championships.

And in the proverbial rubbing of salt on the wounds, it came at the expense of a Bruin team as Stanford beat a favored UCLA women’s water polo squad in the national title game.

Stanford, a school that is academically every bit as good as the Ivy League institutions, complete with the nation’s lowest admissions rate (6%), has been creeping up on UCLA’s championship total for a while; Bruin Nation dodged a bullet when the Cardinal’s women’s golf team fell short in their NCAA tournament.

The way things are trending, by this time next year the Bruins will no longer have the distinction of being able to say that they have more NCAA championships than any other school.

My Opinion of That…

As far as disappointment on a scale of one to ten, I give this a 15.

To be brutally honest, I don’t believe that the UCLA athletic department as a whole is putting as much an emphasis on winning as it should.

Not even close, as in the tradition of “What have you done for me lately?”, in the past five years Stanford has more than doubled the number of championship plaques that the Bruins have taken back to Morgan Center – 12 to UCLA’s five.

UCLA teams that once dominated the college scene, like track and field, are now irrelevant.

Great athletes who have gone on to success still abound, and it’s not like the Bruins have become the Bad News Bears or Charlie Brown’s team, but…

At the end of the day, in the real world – and it pains me very much to say this – the only thing that people truly care about is whether or not you won.

Just like when one goes for a job, it doesn’t matter if you did your best; if you’re not the one hired, you’re not able to make a living.

In other words, no one cares who comes in second or third.

Put it another way – who remembers any of the silver or bronze medalists at the most recent Olympic games?

That’s what I thought.

As far as how this pertains to my alma mater, all I have to say is this…

Something has got to change, or else I fear that one day – maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday (to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in the classic movie “Casablanca”) – UCLA Bruin Athletics will be considered a “has-been”, a program that was once the best in the country, but to put it politely has seen is better days and is now just another one of the 300 in Division I.

I pray that doesn’t happen – at least within my lifetime.

 

You didn’t think I would do a UCLA article without including something from the gymnastics team, didn’t you? Check out Kyla Ross doing her thing…

 

Let me sum this up in a blunt fashion…

I WANT TO WIN.

I WANT CHAMPIONSHIPS FROM MY COLLEGIATE ALMA MATER, AND I DARE ANY OF MY FELLOW UCLA ALUMS TO DISAGREE WITH ME.

I WANT MY BRUIN TEAMS TO USE ANY MEANS NECESSARY (within the NCAA rules; I don’t want any UCLA teams going on probation or sanctions or any USC/SMU-type scandals) TO WIN TITLES.

ANYTHING SHORT OF THAT NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED A DISAPPOINTMENT ON SOME LEVEL IF NOT AN OUTRIGHT FAILURE.

THIS IS THE MENTALITY THAT EVERYONE IN BRUIN NATION NEEDS TO ADAPT.

OR ELSE THIS PROCESS OF BEING LEFT BEHIND WILL BE COMPLETE.

Which will be truly devastating to this alum.

Just being honest.

Have a great summer, fellow Bruins…

 

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero with the head of Under Armour, whose gear the Bruin teams will be wearing starting July 1st.