It is time for our Picks and Pans edition of Diamond Dust, sort of like Notes on the Napkins with more opinions than usual (maybe more than necessary). Picks are things we like and Pans are, well, think of a movie critic.

First Pick is for the NCAA football folks who generally feel that football Saturdays in Annapolis is must-see, in person or even on TV. So with a stadium capacity of 35,000 the venue is better suited for the crowds that typically go to the Military Bowl. Last year that bowl drew around 17,000 and will top that number just playing at the Naval Academy.

Our local connection is also there, one of the most talented of the Ex SID staff at the Beach is one of the leaders of the SID office, Justin Kischefsky. He leads the Middie sports info efforts in Women’s Basketball, Swimming, Men’s Tennis, and Volleyball. If Navy wins six games the Mids play in the Armed Forces Bowl in Ft. Worth. Other-wise they cater the snacks and sodas.

Another Pick is the lucky husband of 49er baseball trainer Katie Davis. Her mate Lars Davis played at Illinois which this year had talented Senior Justin Parr who was a Louisville Slugger First-Team All-American. Parr walked in his final career at-bat and finished with a .398 average, best by an Illini since, ta-da, Katie’s other half Lars hit .400 in 2007. He now is having a great season on the Rockies AAA team.

Speaking of picks and looking at Thursday through Saturdays’ MLB draft, experts see two current 49ers going fairly early, pitcher Shane Carle projected at 340 on the prospect list and utility guy Jeff McNeil around 396…MLB has the largest draft, resulting in college baseball players being 10 times more likely to become professionals than athletes seeking employment in the NFL and NBA. The NCAA’s 2011 report showed that 11.6 percent of college baseball players go pro compared to 1.7 percent of college football players to the NFL and 1.2 percent of college basketball players to the NBA. MLB players enjoy average careers of 5.6 years, compared to the NFL’s 3.2 years and the NBA’s 4.8 years and in 2012, the MLB’s $3.2 million average annual salary was 68 percent higher than the NFL’s $1.7 million, though smaller than the NBA’s average. The highest projected draftees from around here are both high school kids, Dominic Smith out of J Serra HS and Gardena and JP Crawford from Lakewood.
Another Pick for the TV bound fan is that ESPN will soon have some competition for product, this time coming from the new Fox Sports 1. Lots of air time open so the less famous programs (translated Big West) should get more air time.

While we are still on baseball, Dirtbag legend and Angel all-star Jered Weaver honored the late Dr. Lewis Yocum by writing his initials on the Angels’ mound as he used to do for his grandparents on the mound at Blair Field.
We go on a Pan mode now in honor of Rutgers University. Four years ago the school appointed Parker Executive Search for a fee of $58,000 plus expenses to identify candidates for the AD position that eventually was filled (and somewhat disgraced) by Tim Pernetti. As the university sought to replace Pernetti amid the fallout of the Mike Rice men’s basketball player abuse scandal, Rutgers again turned to the Atlanta-based search firm to identify candidates. Again they were to “advertise the AD position, identify candidates and perform background checks on them.”

This time, according to the terms of the contract, Parker Executive Search lowered its standard fee of $90,000 to $70,000 and offered these final candidates, Wisconsin Deputy AD Sean Frazier, Fresno State AD Thomas Boeh — note to LB locals, it did not include any other California AD except the gentleman from Fresno—and the now controversial former Tennessee volleyball coach Julie Hermann who now is in the firestorm. Rutgers may need alum and retired LBSU professor David Bernstein back there to clean up that mess.

Nice Pick for the five 49er guys who got Big West honors, especially Jeff McNeil the versatile one (he made the lineup in four different positions) who made first team…the killer “Ps”– Patron, Prigatano and Provencher” got honorable mentions and senior Juan Avila finished over .300 in league play.

We saved a Pick and a Pan for Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell…uneven work as chair of the NCAA baseball selection committee. He gets praise for flying the Big West flag and getting three teams in the party, especially marginally qualified UCSB who proved their worth with a first round regional win over toughie Texas A & M. On the other hand a Pan since his group built regionals that earned a lot of criticism such as the second year in a row where Clemson had to travel to their big in-state rival USC (as in the athletic giant University of South Carolina)…And the local heat comes from right out here where only one of the talented So Cal teams will make it to Omaha when UCLA and Fullerton meet in the supers down on Nutwood.

BTW, familiar faces on the Road to Omaha included two teams that LB swept earlier, Valparaiso who won the Horizon League championship and Wichita State out of the MVC…then there was also SDSU, Ucla, Vanderbilt and Arizona State. As you likely know both Valpo, ASU, SDSU and the Shockers are all done now and in fact Wichita brass have fired or allowed to resign their long time skipper Gene Stephenson.

The local college ball watchers really only thought that the BWC would get one bid but the loop actually got three in and while Fullerton got an easy draw and waltzed through their home party, UCSB and SLO had a more difficult assignment but still won a game or so….The beach lads lost three to the Titans by just one run…USC meanwhile sits out for the eight straight years finishing at or under .500. But any bid is a good bid, remember Fresno State was a #4 seed when it came out of the LB regional and won it all in 2004.

Another Pick name is that of Jeff Fellenzer who was just selected as the President of the Long Beach Education Foundation. Jeff runs the well regarded “Sports, Business and Media” class at USC and has been a sought after presenter in the CSULB College of Business “Notable Speaker Series.” He went to Wilson and LBCC and has personally funded several good projects before taking on the LBEF chores.

A Pick of praise for Irvine baseball’s 72-year-old coach Mike Gillespie who called it as he saw it when reviewing his Hall of Fame coaching career that has spanned five decades.

“For me personally, I don’t remember in all the time I’ve been doing this, a year as frustrating as this,” Gillespie said. “Agonizing is the right word, because it has been a year of these [type of games]. I had to go torture myself today [before the game] and review the season game-by-game. Most importantly, it has particularly been the games in conference. That will haunt me forever.” LBSU was part of that nightmare with their senior day winner over UCI. Long Beach State finishes the season with a 29-27 overall record, the third consecutive winning season under Troy Buckley, and with a 15-12 mark in the Big West but while LBSU has wins over the likes of the Big and Little V schools, the Big V, in terms of rep, is #2 seeded Vanderbilt and the little V in terms of record was Valparaiso. Next year one thinks has to be better but for a round ball baseball has some funny bounces and everything is on the table in 2014, coaches, kids, donors, etc. Boosters have of course very selective memories, for example, some are still infatuated by the former hitting coach at the Beach who was a 1989 star and now has been toiling at Pacific. The Tigers though have no offensive teeth and finished a woeful 15-39 overall with just seven Big West wins.

Next to the last add is the Picks for present day Niners who will take summer school on the diamonds in various college leagues. Sophomore Richard Prigatano has signed on to play for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League, (generally recognized as attracting the best talent nationally) with others at the Northwoods League, the West Coast and Texas Collegiate Leagues. The other travelers are:

  • Johnny Bekakis: La Crosse Loggers, Northwoods League
  • Zack Belanger: Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Northwoods League
  • Alex DeGoti: Victoria Harbour Cats, West Coast League
  • Josh Frye: La Crosse Loggers, Northwoods League
  • Eric Hutting: Wenatchee Apple Sox, West Coast League
  • Logan Lombana: Victoria Harbour Cats, West Coast League
  • Ty Provencher: Victoria Harbour Cats, West Coast League
  • Zack Rivera: La Crosse Loggers, Northwoods League
  • Nick Sabo: Klamath Falls Gems, West Coast League
  • Nick Rosetta: East Texas Pump Jacks, Texas Collegiate League
  • Our final Pan is sent to John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats for bad scheduling. In November of 2014, the Wildcats and Franciscan University have agreed to play an exhibition game. Franciscan University is a Division III school in Steubenville, Ohio; who has lost their last 51 games.

Last of the Picks–Freshman jumper Willie Alexander is in Eugene, Ore. to compete at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He will be competing in the long jump (trials & finals) starting Thursday, June 6 at 4:30PM–DR. DAN