Dedicated to fans of Long Beach State Dirtbags baseball (well, okay, officially the 49ers).

Dirtbag's 2006 Rankings

15th in ESPN/Sports Weekly
15th in NCBWA
16th in Collegiate Baseball
16th in Baseball America
1st in Non-Conference "Intended" SOS -
21st in Overall "Intended" SOS -

Posted Articles [View Selected Article Only]

Eric Sorenson of Predicts Dirtbags in Final Two at Omaha

Those Guys Are Just Nasty

Long Beach Pitching Staff Back in First Place in Div. I

Cesar Ramos Invited to Tryout for Team USA

Jered Weaver Threatens to Break More Records

Good News on Danny Mocny

Will Kimmey of Baseball America Predicts Super-Regional for Dirtbags

Sunday Drought Over

Great Weekend of Baseball at San Luis Obispo

Beach Now No. 4

Chuck Sindlinger Returns...Big Time!

Dirtbags Win Ugly

USA Today Feature on Jered 'Dream' Weaver

How "Bad" is Long Beach State's Road Record?

Dirtbags Solidify Position in Polls

Dirtbags and Three Players Among NCAA Div. I Leaders

Sign of the Times: Weaver Card Sells for $39

Dirtbags Chewed Up the Eaters

Dirtbags Pitching Staff Best in College Baseball

Gametracker Available for Game Tonight

"Biggest Big West Series of the Season"

Hey NCAA - Fix the RPI

Love Those Left Field Loonies


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Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at


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This website is not affiliated with Long Beach State University or its NCAA Division I baseball program. All original material copyright 2004-2006 by Jeffrey A. Agnew.

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Friday, April 30, 2004

Eric Sorenson of Predicts Dirtbags in Final Two at Omaha's Eric Sorenson writes:

"Thumbs Up: Long Beach State (30-9, 9-0) It's been since '98 that there have been Dirtbag sightings in Omaha. But this team should change that. Future major leaguer Jered Weaver is not the total story to LB. The team ERA is 2.34, tied for tops nationally with Texas. Saturday starter Cesar Ramos is 8-2 and 2.05, middle reliever Brian Anderson finally gave up his first earned run of the season this week and closer Neil Jamison is second in the country with 11 saves. Plus the bats have finally awoken to a .297 average. This is a best-two-of-three team in Omaha."

Sure sounds good to me!

Read Sorenson's entire Conference Midseason Report, Part III, here.

Those Guys Are Just Nasty

This from Dr. Dan:

" How big a draw are the Dirtbags? Well at SLO the 5570 fans in the series was a record for Baggett Stadium, breaking the series crowd of 3967 in 2003 vs. CS Fullerton. Hopefully that number can be topped by the Blair business this weekend which of course features Jered Weaver K night on Friday versus UCSB, plus red hot Cesar Ramos and Jason Vargas for the Saturday and Sunday day games.

There are lots of reasons why the Beach is winning but one is that Mike Weathers and staff have an exceptionally well stocked parts department. Chuck Sidlinger goes out in March and the team stays together with replacements such as Danny Mocny. He is red hot before a bunt attempt smashes some fingers and he leaves. Enter guys like T J Bruce, Vargas and Sean Boatright and the hits just keep a coming. And the mound men, well as a noted opponent said, " those guys are just nasty. " Thats a big compliment in todays youth speak. "

Read Dr. Dan's Diamond Dust here.

Long Beach Pitching Staff Back in First Place in Div. I

Going into action tonight, the Dirtbags once again possess the best ERA in all of NCAA Div. I Baseball. The Beachs ERA stands at 2.3353, while the Texas Longhorns are at 2.3379.

Cesar Ramos Invited to Tryout for Team USA

Cesar Ramos is among the first 19 invited to tryout for Team USA Baseball. Read about it on the Team USA webpage here, and at Long Beach here.

Jered Weaver Threatens to Break More Records

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports:

" Last week [Jered] Weaver surpassed the Long Beach State record for most career wins when he notched No. 34 at Cal Poly SLO. Tonight, when he takes the mound in the opener of a three-game series at home against UCSB, he'll attempt to tie the Big West record for most career wins. Donovan Osborne, who's now with the New York Yankees, won 35 games for UNLV in 1988-90.

Weaver is gaining on a couple of other records.

His 12 consecutive wins rank third all-time at Long Beach State, behind a pair of 14-game streaks. Daniel Choi won 14 in a row in 1993 on his way to a 17-2 season, and Mike Fontana won 14 in a row over two seasons (1993-94).

Weaver is also just 11 strikeouts shy of Rocky Biddle's school-record 361 set in 1995-97. "

In the article UCSB Coach Brontsema pays the Beach pitching staff this complement:

"That whole staff of theirs has done some great things"

Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Good News on Danny Mocny

From the Long Beach Press-Telegram:

" Third baseman Danny Mocny, who was struck on the right hand by a pitch Friday night at Cal Poly SLO and was sidelined the rest of the series, took some ground balls before Tuesday night's game. "

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Will Kimmey of Baseball America Predicts Super-Regional for Dirtbags

This from the Baseball America chat today:

Q: Sam from Long Beach, CA asks:

Questions regarding Long Beach State: As it sits now, what is the likelihood that the Dirtbags will be a national seed, and host a regional and super-regional (if they win the regional)?

A: Will Kimmey: Yes, Yes, and Yes.

Read the entire chat transcript here.

Sunday Drought Over more note on the SLO series. The Dirtbags have now won a Sunday road game, ending a season long drought.

Great Weekend of Baseball at San Luis Obispo

If you are reading this, then you probably already know that the Dirtbags completed a sweep of their three game Big West Conference series at Cal Poly SLO last Sunday. The Dirtbags are now 9-0 in conference play, sitting alone atop the standings as Fullerton dropped its Sunday game against UCSB.

Sunday was another hot day in SLO. The hitting and scoring barrage slowed a bit from Friday and Saturday, but Beach pitching dominated a very good hitting Cal Poly lineup (their team batting average is .319, and they have hit 21 home runs). Through 6.1 innings, starter Jason Vargas was not overpowering but showed a lot of game. Allowing 7 hits and 1 walk, he limited SLO to 1 run and stranded 8 Cal Poly runners. Then came one of the very best one-two punches in all of collegiate baseball...relievers Brian Anderson and Neil Jamison. Brian, who has still not given up a run in 19.2 innings, allowed only one baserunner (on a walk) over 1.2 innings. He was followed by Neil (ERA 1.50), who pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 11th save on the year. Each struck out 2, and each looked to have dominate stuff.

On the weekend, the bats were hot. Jason Vargas won Big West Player of the Week honors for his .700 average, including a home run. John Bowker had 4 hits in 5 at bats on Saturday including a double and a triple, and was 6 for 13 on the weekend with 2 home runs and 5 RBI. Brad Davis had 7 hits in 14 ABs. Mike Hofius hit a home run, and was 5 for 13. And in his return Chuck Sindlinger went 5 for 9 playing Saturday and Sunday, stole a base and played brilliantly in the field.

Overall, the Dirtbags are on a roll. With five series left, four of which are Big West Conference, the timing couldn't be better.

Beach Now No. 4

The Long Beach State Dirtbags moved up in two of the three major Division I baseball polls this week, most notably to No. 4 in ESPN/Sports Weekly, jumping ahead of the Miami Hurricanes. The Beach was previously 5th in this poll. The Dirtbags also moved from 6th to 5th in Collegiate Baseball, and held at 5th in Baseball America.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Chuck Sindlinger Returns...Big Time!

On a very warm afternoon today, the Dirtbags extended their Big West Conference record to 8-0, slamming 19 hits and scoring 15 runs against the host Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs (who scored six run).

With his return to the lineup today, second baseman Chuck Sindlinger made his presence known in a big way in the field. He made two great plays, one deep in the whole up the middle, and the other stabbing a sharp grounder deep toward first. In each case, he riffled the ball to first for the put out. He also went 3 for 4 at the plate, scoring 2 runs and batting in one. What a comeback!

The Beach continued to rip the ball at Baggett Field on the campus of Cal Poly. In the 18 innings played so far this weekend, they have scored in 11 innings. For the two games: 26 runs and 36 hits. They have also hit four home runs; two by John Bowker, and one each by Mike Hofius and Jason Vargas.

I mentioned in my last post the partisan crowds chants as Jered Weaver struggled early of....o-ver rat-ed. Along about the seventh inning today, Houston Bob, who had Beach fans rolling, began his own sarcastic chant of...o-ver rat-ed.

Dirtbags Win Ugly

I made the trip up Highway 101 to San Luis Obispo for the Dirtbags series with Cal Poly. Last night was a little ugly, but an 11-5 win nonetheless. And a milestone with Jered Weaver setting the Long Beach State all time victory records.

A few notes on the game:

The defense uncharacteristically committed three errors, leading to three unearned runs. Fortunately, the Dirtbags brought the big sticks. John Bowker slammed two home runs, the second of which was hit to dead center field directly over the 405 sign painted on the 12 foot wall. Jason Vargas added another round trip shot.

Jered Weaver, with the help of the defensive gaffs, got in a little trouble the first three innings. Not to mention a home plate umpire whose strike zone seemed to change minute by minute (though he was consistently inconsistent for both sides). For any other pitcher that would be usual now and then - but it was a first for Jered this season. Jereds presence on the mound brought out a huge (for SLO) crowd of about 3,200, setting an attendance record. I would guess there were close to a thousand people in standing room only. While the Mustangs briefly held a 3-2 lead, the locals began to chant " o-ver rat-ed ". Someone must have forgotten to tell them you have to play nine. When Weaver came for the bottom of the fourth inning, he looked like the Jered of old. He appeared to be very determined as he warmed up, wrote his grandfathers initials in the dirt, and took COMMAND of the mound. Ultimately, SLO would have trouble touching him thereafter. Jered ended up with 14 strikeouts. Over rated my....well, you get it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

USA Today Feature on Jered 'Dream' Weaver

Really nice feature in USA Today on Jered Weaver focusing on his family. Read it here. It includes this side note of interest to Dirtbags fans:

'He has done that job, becoming a leading candidate for the Roger Clemens Award honoring the nation's best college pitcher and for Baseball America's College Player of the Year. His teammates are no slouches, either. The 49ers are 26-9, ranked No. 5 in the Sports Weekly/ESPN poll and have the kind of pitching and hitting depth and tight defense that could land them in the College World Series in Omaha in June.'

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

How "Bad" is Long Beach State's Road Record?

As Dr. Dan points out here, for the Dirtbags the "road record is a modest 9-7 and some experts offer hopeful words but with a caution on the question of whether the Beach is over rated". Actually, if you count the neutral site games at Petco Park in San Diego, the road record is 11-8.

Sometimes numbers are bit deceiving. The Dirtbags have not lost a single three game series, at home, on the road or at Petco (though this was against three different teams, so I am not sure whether to call it a series). One loss was against Cal, at the time a ranked team, in a 2-1 series win at Berkeley. The Beach also won 2 of 3 at Houston, losing one. And lost only one of three at Petco. They also won 2 of 3 at Fullerton. This account for half of their road losses.

Another two of the road losses were in the sweep at Irvine. UCI has a very good team, ranked in all of the polls. Because of the midweek matchup with Wichita State for two games just before the road games at Irvine, the Dirtbag pitching rotation was out of synch with our number 2 pitcher (Cesar Ramos) and spot starter freshman Brandon Villalobos facing the Irvine nos. 1 and 2. This last weekend, when the pitching staffs matched up, the Beach won all three. But each game was close. The Dirtbags are better, but not by a huge margin!

That leaves the road losses at USC and UCLA. These were midweek games against between midweek starters. Not exactly the best measure.

A loss is a loss, and I do not intend this to be excuse making. The Dirtbags have not won a Sunday road game all season, and that obviously needs to be remedied. But as pointed out above, there are some extenuating circumstances that explain the road record, at least in part. I will wager that we are about to see a very substantial improvement in these numbers.

Dirtbags Solidify Position in Polls

The Dirtbags kept their No. 5 position in both the Baseball America and ESPN/Sports Weekly Polls this week, after sweeping Irvine. They moved from 8th to 6th in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll.

Dirtbags and Three Players Among NCAA Div. I Leaders

National statistics are now up at Among all Division I baseball programs:

Long Beach State is second in team ERA at 2.37, second only to No. 1 ranked Texas (at 2.32). The Dirtbags are 6th in fielding percentage, at .976, and 19th in win/loss percentage at .743.

Individually, Jered Weaver is first in wins with 11, and second in ERA (at 1.00) and strikeouts per nine innings (at 13.2). Cesar Ramos is 18th in victories (at 7), and 28th in ERA (at 2.01). Reliever Neil Jamison, with two saves against Irvine, is now second in the nation in saves (at 10).

Monday, April 19, 2004

Sign of the Times: Weaver Card Sells for $39

Thanks to Lynne for this one. On April 4 a Jered Weaver Team USA baseball card sold for $39.00! See the auction listing here.

Dirtbags Chewed Up the Eaters

Gordon Verrell, in the Long Beach Press-Telegram today, made the following comparison between the Dirtbags and the UCI Anteaters after the sweep this weekend:

" In the three games the Dirtbags ...

* Outhit the Anteaters, .304 to .219, and outscored them, 13-5.

* Outhomered the Anteaters, 2-0, with catcher Brad Davis connecting Saturday and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hitting his first of the year Sunday.

* Put up a 1.67 staff ERA to UCI's 3.75.

* Committed only one error to UCI's four."

Read the entire article here.

In an April 6 post I wrote about a column in the UCI New University. Here is the link to the column. Jenny Wang, our intreped Anteater reporter, suggested that perhaps the reason Jered Weaver strikes out so many "has something to do with the team defense." Well, Ms. Wang should refer to Mr. Verrell's article....and the box scores...and the respective records of the Dirtbags and the Anteaters...and the Big West standings. Just a suggestion.

Dirtbags Pitching Staff Best in College Baseball

The impact of Jered Weaver cannot be discounted. What he is accomplishing is simply unbelievable. But as the Los Angeles Times notes today, the Dirtbags are Deeeeeeep in pitching. Here are few excerpts from the article:

"...Jered Weaver has brought the 49ers national attention with his dominance on the mound. But their star is only the front man for an impressive pitching staff that could carry the nation's fifth-ranked team to its first College World Series berth in six years....

...The sight of a brilliant performance by a Long Beach pitcher is becoming routine. Behind the starting trio of Weaver, [Jason] Vargas and Cesar Ramos, the 49ers (26-9, 6-0 in the Big West Conference) have lowered their earned-run average to 2.37, the best mark in college baseball...

Weaver has been the nation's best pitcher, putting together a season reminiscent of Mark Prior's junior season at USC three years ago. The potential No. 1 pick in the June amateur draft has won all 11 starts and compiled a 1.00 ERA with 118 strikeouts and 11 walks.

Ramos has been no less impressive. A sixth-round draft choice by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays out of high school, the sophomore left-hander improved to 7-2 with a 2.00 ERA after going 8 1/3 innings in Saturday's 4-2 win.

Vargas, a junior-college transfer, evened his record at 5-5 and has two traits valued by pro scouts — he's left-handed and throws a 92-mph fastball.

Brian Anderson and Neil Jamison are hard-throwing junior relievers who could be drafted in the first few rounds. Anderson hasn't given up a run in 17 innings, and Jamison (1.59 ERA) got his 10th save Sunday after left fielder John Bowker made a diving catch of Mark Wagner's line drive with the bases loaded in the ninth."

Read the entire article here. Registration is required, but it is free.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Gametracker Available for Game Tonight

If you can't make it to Blair Field tonight, you can listen to the game at by going here and clicking Channel 1. And you can follow the action on Gametracker by clicking here. I'll be in Long Beach for the games Saturday and Sunday. Go to the same place to listen to these games, and go to UCI's page here to get the link to Gametracker.

"Biggest Big West Series of the Season" thinks the Dirtbags are being "dis'ed" by Will Kimmey writing for ESPN today:

"Speaking of [Jered] Weaver, if he's going to lose a game this season, this weekend could be the best chance. His No. 5 Dirtbags host the 14th-ranked Anteaters of UC Irvine in the biggest Big West series of the season. Irvine scored a season-high 14 runs Tuesday against San Diego while the Beach got spanked 11-1 by UCLA. Plus, Anteaters junior righthander Brett Smith (6-0, 1.93) has the stuff to hold the Dirtbags off the scoreboard while his team tries to scrape for a run or two against Weaver."

How curious. The examples cited were both mid-week games. Long Beach started a freshman, Brandon Villalobos. For all his considerable promise, he doesn't have much experience in Division I baseball yet. And against San Diego, Irvine scored 14 runs off four pitchers, posting ERAs of: 7.31, 3.55, 9.64 and 10.80. Come on Will. Isn't this series big enough without trying to spice it up with phoney comparisons?

Read the entire article here. The comments are repeated on Baseball America here.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Hey NCAA - Fix the RPI

The Dirtbags are 4th in the nation in "Iterative Strength Ratings."

For those of you scratching your head and saying "huh?," let me explain. One of the factors used by the NCAA for determining which schools get into the post season tournament, and how they are seeded, is RPI. RPI stands for "Ratings Power Index." Basically, it's an attempt to weigh how good a team really is based upon the quality of their opponents, and their opponent's opponents.

According to Boyd Nation on his website, here is what's wrong with the NCAA's RPI:

"Although things are improving, there's still a very limited amount of inter-regional play in college baseball. This means that in sections of the country with fewer Division I baseball schools, such as the West, the pool of available opponents tends to be smaller, which tends to pull winning percentages towards .500. As a result of the RPI only considering two levels of interconnectedness, teams from these regions tend to be underranked by the RPI's."

So Boyd, who is a lifelong college baseball fan who has a master's degree in computer science with a focus on algorithm development [a common combination, I am sure], came up with the ISR, or Iterative Strength Ratings. According to Boyd "the ISR's are the results of an algorithm designed to measure the quality of a team's season to date by combining their winning percentage with the difficulty of their schedule. The algorithm computes all teams simultaneously and attempts to take advantage of inter-regional games more accurately than other rating systems."

In other words, we in the West get treated more fairly. As I noted at the start of this post, Long Beach State is currently No. 4 in ISR. Boyd also computes psuedo-RPIs (as close as he can get since the NCAA keeps the RPI formula a secret). In psuedo-RPI, the Beach are currently No. 20. No one believes that the Dirtbags are the 20th best Division I baseball team in America. They are numbers 5, 5 and 8 in the three national polls. It is high time that the NCAA reformulates the RPI so that it fairly ranks teams, regardless of region. I think they ought to hire Boyd Nation to help them get it done.

Love Those Left Field Loonies

Bob Keisser's column in the Long Beach Press-Telegram today is a good read. It begins:

"Welcome to the Greatest Show on this small patch of Earth called Long Beach, or to be more specific, that great ball diamond on Seventh Street named Blair Field.

See! A bevy of professional scouts with their magical radar guns, aiming them at every 60- foot, six-inch delivery the Wonder Boy on the pitcher's mound makes, all the while imagining how he would look in their uniforms.

See! The Left Field Loonies, who can be found, naturally, in the seats behind the dugout and right-field foul line, rooting for their beloved Dirtbags and zipping one-liners at any bewildered opponent who strays too close. "

Well worth reading the entire column here. I do have to take except to one point made by Bob:

"When Dave Snow arrived as Long Beach State's baseball coach in 1989, an offhand comment about the "quality' of the team's campus field led him to use of the word "Dirtbag.' It quickly become the team's unofficial nickname and personality.

It also spawned its own sub-culture. Local businessmen who otherwise might think twice about attending games and donating funds to a college baseball program looked at the Dirtbags as something they could enjoy. What's not to love about a team with an attitude that likes to get its uniform dirty?

These fans dubbed themselves the Left Field Loonies back when the Dirtbags played on the campus field. They were so ingratiated within the program that a former 49er athletic official gave them a key to the gate and equipment shed so they could let themselves into games and get their lawn chairs and coolers.

When the team moved to Blair in 1993, the Loonies moved to right field, but kept their old name. The group has become so well-known as the pulse of Dirtbag baseball that the seats around the core group are now filled with other fans who want to be where the action is.

Those loonie wannabes include families of Dirtbag players and 49er athletes in other sports."

You got it wrong Bob, we aren't "loonie wannabes." We sit where we do for two reasons. First, because it's our "kids" dugout. And second, because the "loonies" are often as entertaining as the game. They unmercifully heckle opponent's first base coaches. It is hillarious to here "you're out of gas 23 [pronounced two three...or whatever the opponent's pitcher's number is]" the first inning! Or Houston Bob's constant needling delivered with a south Texas drawl. No, we don't wannabe loonies, we just enjoy being around them.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Dirtbags have moved to No. 5, up from No. 8, in the ESPN/Sports Weekly poll.

This from the Baseball America defend the poll chat this week (which you can read here):

"Q: DeWayne Harper from Richland, Washington asks:

Long Beach State has had the pitching the past few years but not been able to get out of the regional. It appears they finally have some offense to go with their pitching and defense. Do they have enough to get to Omaha?

A: Will Kimmey:

The offense opened up this past weekend as the Beach tallied at least 13 runs in three games at Northridge. Still, this is a scrappy offensive club that will scrape together just one more run than Jered Weaver and Cesar Ramos allow. That's good enough to get them to 23-8 thus far. The Beach can get to the CWS with those two arms, especially because a guy like Weaver can basically give them a 1-0 edge in any series. The key will be the super-regional round. The Dirtbags got paired up with Stanford last year in that round, but I figure they should be good enough to earn a top 8 national seed this year and the NCAA won't make them go through Palo Alto to get to Omaha."

Let's hope it's so! As I noted in an earlier post, I think the key is to get one of the eight national seeds, so the Dirtbags can be in line to host a Super Regional if they emerge victorious from the Regional.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

This piece isn't about the Dirtbags, but it has a Beach connection. Glenn Udvarhelyi, father of Dirtbag outfielder Travis Udvarhelyi, is the coach at a small Lutheran high school in San Diego. Here is a really nice feature article about their baseball program.

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Beach jump to 5th in the Baseball America poll, up from 7th. BA writes:

"Long Beach State moved into the Top 5 for the first time since last May.

The Dirtbags won their first Big West series of the season over the weekend and have won all seven of their three-game series this year."

Read the poll here.

The Dirtbags jump from 11th to 8th in the Collegiate Baseball poll. Read it here. LSU lost four home games last week, dropping from 2nd to 12th.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

This from the New Britain Herald on Abe Alvarez:

"Nobody can be sure how many Red Sox prospects will ever see Fenway these days with the team’s pursuit of instant gratification in the free-agent market but true Boston fans will want to look in on the following:

Southpaw Abe Alvarez is seventh on the list of top Sox prospects per Baseball America. The upwardly mobile 21-year-old out of Long Beach State jumps to Double-A all the way from short-season Lowell where he was 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA in nine games. In 19 innings, he allowed just nine hits, walked two and struck out 19."

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The article on the Dirtbags website about today's game against Northridge begins:

"Long Beach State hitting coach Don Barbara will sleep pretty well this week. The No. 7-ranked Dirtbags (23-8, 3-0 Big West) swept its opening weekend of Big West play over CS Northridge (13-21, 0-3 Big West), winning the finale 13-1, after scoring 45 runs in the series and batting .414."

Read the article here.

That does tell the tale. Picking up where I left off on two prior posts, that's 93 hits and 64 runs in the last six games. An average of 15.5 hits and 10.66 runs per game. For a teams known for pitching and defense, and "small ball" on offense, it's just amazing. Over these six games, the Beach have batted .375. And with the exception of last Sunday, the pitching has continued to be marvelous, with an ERA in five of the last six games (excluding Sunday at Fullerton) of 2.00.

The team batting average for the season now stands at .289, with a team ERA of 2.15.

Bob Keisser frets about getting stuck going back to Stanford for a Super Regional. Read his column in the Long Beach Press-Telegram here. One prospect that Bob doesn't mention: The best way for the Dirtbags to avoid having to go to Stanford is to play well enough to warrant one of the eight national seeds. That's what I am hoping for.

And the hit parade continues. The numbers yesterday....17 hits and 17 runs. That raises the team batting average to .284 on the season. It also makes five games in a row with at least 10 hits. The totals for these five games: 75 hits (an average of 15 per game) and 51 runs (an average of 10.2 per game). The batting average over these five games is .368.

There are now five hitters with more than 50 at bats with season averages over .300: John Bowker at .337, John Vargas at .330, Brad Davis at .321, Josh Buhagiar at .319 and Troy Tulowitzki at .308.

And with the exception of last Sunday's loss at Fullerton (can we just forget about that one?), the pitching has been stellar as well over the same timespan. For those four games the Beach have allowed only 10 runs, 9 earned, for a 2.25 ERA. If you add in the Sunday loss, then the ERA is.....uhhh...I won't go there.

Baseball America's Midseason Report is out. You can read the entire article here. After discussing Stanford, LSU, Rice and Texas, BA had this to say:

"This isn't to say that all four of these teams are locks to return to the CWS. Injuries, tournament seedings or unexpected dropoffs are all among the circumstances that could keep 2004 from seeing a large number of repeat teams in Omaha. Plus other contenders such as pitching-rich Long Beach State or a well-balanced Mississippi club, along with the aforementioned Miami and South Carolina clubs, could continue emerging as strong contenders. And that's not accounting for any of the upsets that make the postseason so much fun."

They also pick Jered Weaver as the Best Pitcher. Well, duh. This is what they had to say:

"Weaver has been the story in college baseball this season. He opened the year with seven three-hit innings [their error, not mine] and has seemingly topped that performance weekly. He has twice struck out the first 10 batters of a game and recorded six double-digit K performances, including a career-high 16 punchouts over six innings against Wichita State. His numbers--9-0, 0.84, 65 IP, 29 H, 9-100 BB-K ratio--are nearly unfathomable. Weaver has been better statistically than Mark Prior was for Southern California in 2001. He also may have cemented his status as the top overall pick in June after enjoying one of his two 15-strikeout games at in front of the Padres staff at Petco Park."

The Dirtbags will host a Regional as the No. 1 seed, against No. 2 seed Washington, No. 3 seed Loyola Marymount and No. 4 seed New Mexico least that's the prediction of Baseball America. Read the article here.

Friday, April 09, 2004

A little speculation in the San Jose Mercury News today (read the entire article here):

"Jered Weaver, a standout righthander at Long Beach State, is expected to be the first player drafted overall by the Padres in June. And, if he signs quickly, there's a good chance he could make his major league debut in September."

Wow! We Dirtbag fans are used to great pitching and fielding, but the bats had been fairly quiet until recently. Yesterday brought their first 20 hit game of the season in a 15-4 win over Northridge. Over the last four games, they have gone 3-1, with 58 hits (an average of 14.5 hits per game), and scoring 34 runs (an average of 8.5 runs per game). The team batting average over these four games is .365.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

This from an article in the Long Beach Press-Telegram on the opening of the Big West Conference race today:

"Five of the eight Big West teams won 20 or more games in nonconference play, topped by Cal Poly SLO's 28, one more than the Mustangs won all last year. UC Irvine has the best won-loss percentage (.769), going 20-6 plus a tie. And Long Beach State has the most wins (8) against ranked opponents.

Cal State Fullerton , a preseason top-10 team, was the choice of the conference coaches to win the regular-season title with Long Beach State second. Not really a surprise. Between them, the Titans and Dirtbags have won (or tied for) 14 of the last 15 regular- season championships. The only time since 1989 one of them didn't win was two years ago, when Northridge finished two games ahead of the runner-up Dirtbags and Fullerton finished in a tie for fourth.

Today's Big West openers:

Long Beach State (20-8) at Northridge (13-18), 3 p.m.; Fullerton (16-16) at Pacific (15-15), 6 p.m.; UC Santa Barbara (20-10) at UC Irvine (20-6-1), 6 p.m., and Cal Poly SLO (28-8) at UC Riverside (20-13).

The Dirtbags come in ranked eighth on the ESPN poll and with a pitching staff that UCI coach John Savage termed "the best in the country.'

It begins with Weaver, already a five-time Collegiate Baseball Player of the Week this season. He's struck out 10 or more in a game in seven of his nine starts, including a school-record-tying 16 Wichita State batters March 24. He is averaging a shade under 14 strikeouts per nine innings.

Back of Weaver is sophomore left-hander Cesar Ramos (5-2), who has a 1.77 ERA, then left- hander Jason Vargas (3-5). The bullpen closer is Neil Jamison (1-0), with a 2.03 ERA and eight saves in 13 appearances.

The Dirtbags are experienced everywhere except second base, where T.J. Bruce has been filling in for injured Chuck Singer [actually Sindlinger] but is hitting just .125, and third base, where Weathers has done some juggling, trying to find a capable bat among Danny Mocny (.255), Tito Cruz (.267) and Bruce.

First baseman Mike Hofius (.287) has the team RBI lead with 19, one more than shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.296) and three more than catcher Brad Davis (.304). Weathers has depth in the outfield with John Bowker (.322), Josh Buhagiar (.317), Travis Udvarhelyi (.274) and Steve Velazco (.261). And he's still trying to work Sean Boatright into the DH mix, along with Vargas. Boatright, who had been ticketed to play right field until injuring his arm the first weekend, is just 2 for 14."

Read the entire article here.

Thanks go to Bill Tamburrino for a feature story written about Neil Jamison in the April 1 weekly edition of Neil’s hometown newspaper, the Ramona Sentinel. Unfortunately, the article is not in the online edition, so I can’t link to it. Here are a few excerpts:

“When the public address announcer at Petco announced the starting lineup for the Long Beach State baseball team for the first time, many in the crowd shuttered when he referred to them as Dirtbags. They didn’t understand. They thought that the term Dirtbag was a derogatory term. In this age of political correctness how could a group of clean-cut college athletes be referred to as Dirtbags?

Long Beach State (aka CSULB, the Beach State) is officially the 49ers because the university was founded in 1949, but the baseball team is unofficially the Dirtbags because they play hard and don’t care how they look….

This year the Dirtbags are ranked seventh in the nation (18-7 and 12-4 against ranked teams) and there is a Ramona connection. Neil Jamison is the closer for the Dirtbags.

The 6’3” right-hander is a 2001 graduate of Ramona High School. He set the Bulldog home-run record his senior year with 11 round trippers. He was a three time all leaguer, an all CIF selection and All North County.

In his first two years at Long Beach State he had 47 appearances and compiled a 6-3 record. He was named honorable mention to Collegiate Baseball Freshman All American Team…

Jamison is among the nation’s leaders in saves. He has a 1-0 record with eight saves. He has struck out 16 batters in 13 innings and has compiled a 2.03 ERA against some of the top teams in the nation….

“I was well prepared when I came here but the help they give you here is fantastic. I had to get the mechanics in my delivery down so I could have command of all of my pitches without giving them away. Delivery (pitching) Coach Buckley has helped me tremendously. In college you face nine good hitters instead of two in high school,” said Jamison….

So far his biggest thrill is winning the regionals last year at Blair Field (Beach’s home field) before a full house….

For now all he is concerned with is getting his beloved Dirtbags into the NCAA Regionals, Super Regionals and, hopefully, a trip to the College World Series in Omaha in June. The Dirtbags have been there four times: 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1998.

The PA announcer in Omaha knows that the name Dirtbag is a compliment.”

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Here’s a nice feature story on Edgar Varela in the South Bend Tribune.

In the opinion of Baseball America, Abe Alvarez is the number 7 prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization. BA writes:

"7. Abe Alvarez, lhp

Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 185.
Drafted: Long Beach State, 2003 (2nd round).
Signed by: Jim Woodward.

Background: Alvarez pitched just three innings as a Long Beach State freshman in 2001, then was named Big West Conference pitcher of the year in each of the next two seasons. Eased into pro ball with tight pitch counts, he didn’t allow an earned run in 19 innings at short-season Lowell.

Strengths: The Red Sox put a premium on pitchability, and Alvarez is loaded with it. He has the best command and changeup in the system. Boston officials say his 85-88 mph fastball is arguably the best as well because he effortlessly pains the black with it. Alvarez also has a big league average curveball and an uncanny knack for varying speeds, looks and locations. He has a gift for quickly discerning a hitter’s weakness and exploiting it to get outs, and shuts down the running game with his pickoff move.

Weaknesses: Alvarez’ below-average velocity will draw its share of skeptics. A childhood accident left him legally blind in one eye, but it doesn’t hamper him on the mound.

The Future: Alvarez will begin this year in high Class A and should reach Boston quickly because he’s a lefty who knows how to pitch. He has a ceiling as a No. 3 starter."

I wonder if Boston has any restrictions on hair color and style, and how Abe will have to wear his cap.

This from the L. A. Daily News on the upcoming conference series at Northridge:

"Tough task: Cal State Northridge (13-18) opens Big West Conference play this week at home against defending champion Long Beach State and two of the conference's best pitchers.

By now most know about 49ers ace right-hander Jered Weaver (Simi Valley High), who is projected to be the top pick in the June Major League Baseball draft. But sophomore teammate Cesar Ramos also is excelling in his first season as the No. 2 starter. Ramos (5-2) was named Big West Pitcher of the Week for his victory Saturday over Cal State Fullerton. The left-hander ranks fourth in the conference with a 1.77 ERA.

Weaver (9-0), who is scheduled to start Thursday's series opener, has a conference-best 0.84 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 64 innings. He has held opponents to a .134 average.

Long Beach (20-8) is ranked as high as No. 7 nationally."

Read the article here.

Bob Keisser's column in the Long Beach Press-Telegram highlights Dirtbags in the Major League's and professional baseball. He writes:

"News: Long Beachers abound in majors.

Muse: We're all going to have to learn how to say Dirtbag in French, because three former Dirtbags made the Montreal Expos opening day roster closer Rocky Biddle, outfielder Terrmel Sledge and reliever Chad Bentz.

Biddle was the Expos' closer last season and Sledge, 0 for 2 with two walks in his debut Tuesday, has been on the fast track for awhile, cementing his opportunity by hitting .347 in the spring. But Bentz is the big surprise.

The left-hander had a 2.92 ERA in 11 spring appearances and made the jump from AA to the majors on the strength of his spring and being left-handed. He had a modest two-year Dirtbag career, going 2-3 in 18 appearances in 2001, but averaged a strikeout per inning.

Besides the Expo triplets, other Dirtbags on Opening Day rosters were Bobby Crosby (Oakland), Jason Giambi (N.Y. Yankees, Chris Gomez (Toronto) and Steve Trachsel (N.Y. Mets).

Jeff Liefer (Milwaukee) and Mike Gallo (Houston) were sent back to AAA by their clubs but are expected to return, Liefer being a late Brewers acquisition and Gallo a victim of numbers and the April schedule in Houston.

Jeremy Reed (Chicago White Sox) and Abe Alvarez (Boston) are on the fast track, too, and could make their debut in 2004.

Since 1989, the 49ers have had 94 players drafted and another 25 signed as undrafted free agents. Which reminds me, whatever happened to Daniel Choi?"

Read the entire column here.

Cesar Ramos is Big West Pitcher of the Week. Read the article here.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

This from a piece on ESPN, comparing Jered Weaver with Mark Prior:

"Joe asks: In regards to Jered Weaver of Long Beach State, and comparisons being made to Mark Prior, you were quoted in the March 16 "Down on the Farm" saying "... Prior comparisons are unfair at this stage of the game; neither (Weaver's) stuff nor his command are quite as good as Prior's were ..."

I'd have to disagree with you. The numbers speak for themselves. In his first 56.2 innings this year, Weaver has a 0.64 ERA and an 89/8 K/BB ratio, allowing just 22 hits and only one home run.

Weaver is the early favorite to go No. 1 in the draft, with the Padres making noises about selecting Weaver in that spot. As you point out, Weaver's statistics this year are unworldly, with especially awesome K/IP and H/IP rates. Pitching for USC in 2001, Prior posted tremendous numbers of his own: 15-1, 1.69 ERA, 202/18 K/BB in 139 innings, 100 hits allowed. It's true that so far Weaver's numbers are better than that, at least in the ERA department. But the college season isn't even half-over yet, and just a handful of mediocre games will put Weaver's numbers closer to Prior. So let's see what happens as the season progresses.

Even if Weaver, the brother of Dodgers pitcher Jeff Weaver, retains a sub-1.00 ERA and Platonic World-of-Forms peripheral stats, I don't think scouts are going to rate him ahead of or equal to Prior. He doesn't throw as hard as Prior did at the same stage, his breaking ball isn't quite as good, and his mechanics aren't quite as clean. Weaver is an excellent prospect, no question, and you could easily say that he's the best college pitcher since Prior. He's a better overall prospect than 2002 No. 1 pick Bryan Bullington, and is more refined than '03 draftee Kyle Sleeth, the first college pitcher picked last year. Weaver will be a completely legitimate No. 1 pick, which puts him in the elite class, but Prior was a once-in-a-decade talent.

I'm certainly not downplaying Weaver. I do believe that college statistics, properly interpreted, are meaningful in projecting future success. But the key is proper interpretation, which is very difficult the farther away from the pro ranks you get. For college and high school players, I believe that traditional scouting is absolutely crucial in projecting future value; we can't go by the numbers alone. You have to look at the numbers and the scouting reports. The fact that Weaver's numbers, so far, are a bit better than Prior's certainly doesn't mean that Weaver is a better prospect. There's a lot more to it than that."

You can read the article here.

UCI Coach John Savage had a more realistic assessment in an L.A. Times article yesterday (the article was actually about Fullerton, but also analyzed the Big West race):

"We're excited," Anteater Coach John Savage said. "I'd have to think Long Beach is the front-runner. They're going to be tough to beat with [Jered] Weaver, Vargas and [Cesar] Ramos. We had a nice weekend. [But] all it showed was that we played well in two games."

This also from the article:

"The 49ers' deep pitching staff with the indomitable Weaver as its anchor may loom large in conference play. Its earned-run average was 1.90 before Sunday.

"A lot of teams don't hit against them," [Fullerton State Coach George] Horton said. "They've been very good. Their pitching makes it difficult to sustain anything against them.""

You can read the entire article here. Registration is required, which is free.

Hi all....back from my weekend away....and Monday recovery from it!

Here's a few bits and pieces from a column in the UCI New University (note that the author calls everything good "strikes" and everything bad "balls":

"Balls. Every Long Beach reporter cried their way through the following Monday coverage after our two-game series with the Dirtbags, weeping, “They didn’t face Jered Weaver,” or “Our non-starters were playing that second game.”

There’s no whining in baseball, guys. The then seventh-ranked team came into our house and committed five errors in two games. Makes one wonder if the reason that Weaver strives to strike everyone out has something to do with the team defense. And one more thing: Your so-called non-starters scored more runs in their Sunday game than your starters did in the Saturday game. "

My comment: Hmmmmmmmmmmm.....let's see. Long Beach has a .973 fielding percentage, committing 27 errors in 28 games. UCI has a .962 fielding percentage, with 38 errors in 26 games. I think I'll stick with the Dirtbags in the field. Yes, this was the worst series in the field in a long time. But it was the exception....

Then our columnist comes to her senses with this:

"Jered Weaver

Balls & strikes. Strikes because he’s garnering attention for West Coast NCAA Baseball.

Balls because we have to face him eventually."

My comment: Yes you do! And at Blair Field, no less.

You can read the whole article here.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I'll be gone for a few days...back on Monday.

Click here for a really nice interview of Coach Mike Weathers in the Long Beach Press-Telegram today. It concludes with this quote:

""What I like most about it is that every day you have the opportunity to motivate these young guys and give them a chance to develop and fulfill their dreams,' says Weathers. "This job always presents great challenges, and that's an exciting part of it. It's great being a Dirtbag, and playing a role in keeping its tradition strong.'"