Overboard for Jake Peavy

The California League season opens this Thursday, April 3, and as usual there are plenty of festivities.

The Quakes open their season at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore against the Storm, and the Storm is understandably honoring Jake Peavy.

Peavy, who went 7-5 with a 3.08 ERA for the Storm in 2001, won the National League Cy Young Award last year. So he’ll be on hand at The Diamond to throw out the first pitch (the Padres play a day game at home that day). His number 22 will be retired as well. But not before one final stunt by the team.

You might remember the Dodgers honoring Jackie Robinson with every player wearing No. 42 jerseys in a game last season. The Storm liked it so much, all the players are supposed to be wearing No. 22 Peavy jerseys for Thursday’s game.

I have a problem with that. The Jackie Robinson tribute was special, one to honor someone who meant so much to the game of baseball. When you do a stunt like having everyone wear the same jersey, it had better be for a good reason. The 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier is a good reason. I think a few other players on other teams got permission to do that as well, which was pretty cool.

Doing it for Jake Peavy, to me, belittles the Jackie Robinson tribute. Retire Peavy’s number, fine. Have everyone wear No. 22 Peavy jerseys? Ridiculous.

As a follow-up, the Reds on opening day did something similar for Joe Nuxhall (they wore the jerseys before the game, but didn’t during the game except for the startng pitcher) Nuxhall was a former Reds pitcher and broadcaster who was legendary in Cncinnati, but whom passed away in the offseason. I think it was a fitting tribute for Nuxhall, so I don’t have a problem with that either.

Quakes won’t be sad if UCLA loses

You have to figure that there are quite a few people in the Quakes front office who wouldn’t mind if UCLA doesn’t make the national championship game in college basketball.

You see, the Quakes had the bad luck of having their home opener on April 7, a Monday. Mondays are typically very bad for Cal League attendance, but the Quakes took a Monday home opener in exchange for more Friday and Saturday home games throughout the season (24 Friday and Saturday home games as opposed to 20 on the road for those days). Fridays and Saturdays are the best attendance days in the league.

So why do the Quakes care about UCLA? The national championship game is that April 7, and you can bet that many UCLA alumni would choose to stay home and watch the game rather than go to the Quakes game, if UCLA is playing for the title. A rousing opening night in attendance gets the season off to a much better start than a half-empty stadium, regardless of how many tickets are sold.

66ers are 0-1 before season begins

If you’ve ever taken part in an NCAA Basketball Tournament pool, you know that the 5-12 matchups are ripe for upsets.

And that’s what the Inland Empire 66ers were victims of on Thursday, the dreaded 5-12 upset. It’s rough being the favorite.

On cnbc.com, Darren Rovell is conducting a 64-team NCAA Tournament-style battle between minor league baseball logos. Rovell seeded all 64, between 1 and 16, based on his own preferences. But fans then voted who would win each “matchup.” Winning logos advance until there is one ultimate champion.

As soon as I saw the Sixers’ first-round matchup, I knew it was a tough one, against the Wichita Wingnuts. While the Sixers’ logo is unusual, a logo that includes a wingnut on top of a head was going to get the votes. With 2,414 votes, the Wingnuts got 71 percent of the vote. A dominating win, but not completely surprising.

Regardless of who won, I liked the winner between the Sixers and Wingnuts to defeat the winner between the No. 4 Savannah Sand Gnats and the No. 13 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The Sand Gnats won, 59-41 percent. I’ll stick with that. When they do the second round next week, I like the Wingnuts to continue the Cinderella run, and beat the No. 4 seed en route to the Sweet 16.

The question is, will the Sixers root for other California League teams still alive? On Friday, No. 1 Modesto Nuts were winning big, but No. 14 Visalia Oaks were going down big. The Nuts appear to be the last league team standing after the Sixers, Oaks and Lake Elsinore Storm went down in the first round. 

Ryan Mount’s Quakes debut likely delayed

When last season ended, it was a foregone conclusion that Ryan Mount would be a Quake in 2008.

That will still likely be the case eventually, but don’t expect to see Mount in the lineup opening night, April 3.

Mount, who was the Angels’ second-round draft pick in 2005 out of Ayala High School, is ranked as the Angels’ 14th-best prospect in the minor leagues this season. Last year, the second baseman batted .251 with seven home runs and 19 stolen bases for low Single-A Cedar Rapids, one rung below the Quakes. But he played in only 85 games after injuring his hamstring in spring training and his quadriceps muscle midway through the season.

As is the case for many young players, there are opportunities to play with the big club in spring training as non-roster invitees. Mount had his chance recently, but while playing second base, he took a throw from shortstop Chone Figgins and suffered a sprained knee during a play at second, his uncle, Bob Mount said.

He won’t be able to do much for the next two or three weeks, then his rehabilitation in Arizona will likely extend into April before he finally reports to Rancho Cucamonga, Bob Mount said.


Sideline stories from Ayala’s loss

There was plenty of drama during Ayala’s triple-overtime loss to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in the girls basketball Division II Southern California Final on Saturday.

But there were also some other storylines going on not as visible to the naked eye.

While only one San Bernardino County or Inland Valley team has ever made it to the state finals in basketbal: the 1986 Chino girls coached by Joe Murillo in Division II, Ayala coach Mel Sims was trying to get back to the finals. Although obviously Ayala has never been to the state finals, Sims was the head coach in 1990 at Pasadena Muir when the Muir girls defeated San Diego Point Loma in the Division II final.

Inland Valley boys teams to lose in the regional final:

1999: San Dimas, D3. 2004: Etiwanda, D1

Girls teams to lose in regional final:

2007: Miller, D1 and Norco, D2. 2008: Ayala D2.

In Ayala’s loss, the Bulldogs struggled at the free throw line all game long, making only eight of 19.

Mira Costa wasn’t great either, making 16 of 26. But Mustang Megan Richardson (8 of 14) made her final 4 free throws after her shooting coach (Bryn Britton, Torrance Bishop Montgomery head coach) texted a teammate on the bench during the game to tell her what was wrong. One of the things apparently was she was too flat-footed. Richardson got the message, and it apparently helped.

The game was an end to an era for all the Ayala seniors, most notably UCLA-bound Rebekah Gardner and Oregon-bound Jasmin Holliday, who helped lead Ayala to back-to-back CIF-SS championship games. But Ayala also had a strong group of sophomores this year, meaning the Bulldogs will probably be good next year and might be back at the regional finals in 2 years. Sophomore Rhema Gardner, Rebekah’s younger sister, had 15 points and 11 rebounds Saturday before getting hurt in the first overtime. Sophomore Ariel Marsh set a record with five 3-pointers and scored a team-high 17 points. And it was sophomore Krishawn Tennies who replaced injured Rhema and made a clutch 3-pointer to sent it to a second overtime.

Thoughts on Ayala’s trip to the Sports Arena

Ayala’s girls basketball team lost in triple overtime 72-64 on Saturday, one step away from the Division II state finals. Before I mention that game, I should say something about the venue.

I really think a nice high school gym would’ve been more adequate than the L.A. Sports Arena on Saturday. It’s no secret that the Sports Arena was deteriorating while the Clippers and USC basketball teams were playing there. But now that they’re gone, it’s worse. Consider that there was no real scoreboard. There were video screens behind each basket (for a concert, perhaps?), that showed only the score, fouls and total timeouts remaining. It didn’t even include information that’s on the most basic of scoreboards: the quarter and who the latest foul was on (and how many they have). Although it was there other times during the day, the buzzer wasn’t used during Ayala’s game and the scorer’s table had to use an air horn. Divisions IV and V, held at Santa Ana Mater Dei High, surely had a better facility than Divisions I, II and III at the Sports Arena.

I realize last year’s site, UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion was busy with a UCLA game, and the sparkling place right down the street, USC’s Galen Center was busy with a USC game. But some Southern California college facility had to be vacant on Saturday, and available for the regional finals.

Ayala girls basketball loses in triple OT

Anytime you lose in basketball at this point of the season, it can be considered heartbreaking. But consider the plight of the Ayala girls team, which was one win from the state finals before losing in triple overtime to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa 72-64 in a Division II Southern California final at the L.A. Sports Arena on Saturday afternoon.A

Ayala sophomore Rhema Gardner (15 points, 11 rebounds) was injured in the first overtime and did not return.

Only one San Bernardino County or Inland Valley basketball team has ever reached the state finals: the 1986 Chino girls team.

Final thoughts from CIF State Wrestling Championships

The final blog from Bakersfield, after two beleagured days of watching some unbelievable wrestling at the CIF State Championships.

Some thoughts:

Redlands East Valley freshman Chris Mecate (103) was sixth, a remarkable feat for a freshman. He still has a long ways to go in his high school career, but in 35 years of the meet entering this one, there have only been 14 four-time state placers. And none of those have come from San Bernardino County. Although the finals were dominated by seniors, he wasn’t the only freshman to place in the top eight. There were four others, the highest placing fifth.

San Dimas senior Angel Garcia (125) was second, but falling short of his state title should not diminish his remarkable career that included four CIF-SS division championship titles, qualifying for state four times and placing at state twice. He should be successful in college.

Ontario senior Oscar Navarette (215) was eighth, and now he’ll have a decision to make. He’s a standout football player, but his success and enjoyment of wrestling makes him want to consider that as well. If he goes the junior college route, it’ll be near impossible to do both: the junior college wrestling season is in the fall, conflicting with football. Four-year colleges wrestle in the winter.

Bonita senior David Stupplebean (145) failed to place, falling one match short. Bonita has never had a state placer. Coach Rich Cunningham said something I didn’t realize: Bonita doesn’t have a wrestling room. While some schools are trying to get youth or club programs going, Bonita still needs something that is seemingly basic to all wrestling programs.

In the High Desert, a couple of decades ago, it was Victor Valley as the power. Victor Valley won the state championship in 1987. More recently, the High Desert power has been Sultana. But Sultana’s city rival Hesperia is the current top dog in the area. Hesperia had three of its four state qualifiers place, a first for a school and a High Desert high equalled only by Victor Valley in ’87

Sultana can’t be forgotten, as Ryan Fillingame did take seventh at 119.

Day 2 CIF State Wrestling update

Between the Inland Valley and Sun area, there is one state finalist, at the CIF State Wrestling Championships at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena. San Dimas’ Angel Garcia, ranked No. 3 at 125 pounds won his semifinal match on Saturday morning, defeating Steven Fitzgerald of Clovis East in the semifinals, 5-1. He will wrestle top-ranked Kody Klaus of Vacaville in the finals tonight.

Amazingly, the run for Redlands East Valley freshman Chris Mecate continues Mecate won his first match in consolation on Saturday, beating Temecula Valley’s Eric Reyes 3-1 to secure a spot in the top eight. Reyes had defeated Mecate in the quarterfinals at the CIF-SS Masters Meet last week, a meet that Reyes won. Entering this year, only 14 wrestlers in 35 years of the state finals have placed 4 years. Mecate is placing as a freshman, which is a start. Stay tuned to see where he places.

San Bernardino County’s lone semifinalist, Hesperia’s Eric Lopez (135) lost to second-ranked Kyle West of Oak Ridge 14-6, and will have to battle back to get third.

Each of Lopez’s three teammates who made it to Bakersfield made it to Day 2. Daniel Gudino (125) clinched a spot in the medal round as did Danny Reyes (189), but Andrew Collins (130) lost his first match Saturday and was eliminated.

Ryan Fillingame (119) of rival Sultana, advanced to the final eight.

Others who advanced to Saturday:

Bonita senior David Stupplebean (145), lost his first match of the day and was eliminated, one match from becoming his school’s first ever state placer.

Ontario’s Oscar Navarette (215) advanced and will be his school’s first state placer since 2000



CIF State Wrestling Day 1 Final Results

By Pete Marshall

How Inland Valley and Sun-area wrestlers fared after Day 1 of the CIF State wrestling championships in Bakersfield on Friday.



Still alive:


Chris Mecate, Redlands East Valley

Mecate is only a freshman and if he wins his first match today (against CIF-SS masters champion Eric Reyes of Temecula Valley), he’ll clinch a top-eight finish. There have only been 14 four-time state placers in the 36-year history of the state wrestling championships



Ryan Fillingame, Sultana

Not the higher-profile of the Sultana qualifiers, but he’s still alive in consolation.



Daniel Gudino, Hesperia

Made it to the quarterfinals, but lost and will have to win his first match Saturday to stay alive.

Angel Garcia, San Dimas

A four-time state qualifier, Garcia is in the semis for the second straight year. Last year, he lost in the semis and settled for third.



Andrew Collins, Hesperia

Like teammate Gudino, he went to the quarterfinals, lost and will need to win his first Saturday to stay alive.


Eric Lopez, Hesperia

The third of Hesperia’s quarterfinalists, Lopez is the only one who won. He did it with a pin, clinching a top-six finish.



David Stupplebean, Bonita

He’s still alive in consolation, thanks to a come-from-behind 4-3 win in his last match Friday. Bonita has never had a state placer in the history of the event.



Danny Reyes, Hesperia

He’s the fourth Scorpion to make it to state, and all 4 are alive. Reyes has won three matches in consolation to make it to Saturday.



Oscar Navarette, Ontario

He didn’t allow a point in winning his last two consolation matches 3-0 and 1-0. The last Ontario state placer was Rich Willemstein in 2000.


Those who didn’t make it to Day 2:

103: Eddie Hernandez, Alta Loma

112: Sean Silva, Barstow

119: Sergio Aguiniga, Kaiser

130: Dylan Cataline, Roosevelt; Tony Pietropaula, Beaumont

135: Paul Maldonado, Los Osos; Alfonso Hernandez, Cajon

140: Nikko Cataline, Roosevelt; Cody Bollinger, Sultana (ranked No. 1 entering state meet)

145: Clayton Schuelke, Beaumont

152: Justin Mehan, Montclair; Vinny Maraj, Yucca Valley (ranked No. 2 entering state meet and a two-time state placer)

160: Darrin Duncan, Victor Valley