I’m going to stop making predictions. I was right on the money for Monday’s game but after that I’ve been as accurate as CNN’s coverage of the Swine Flu. Behind two home runs and six RBIs from junior center fielder Justin De La Nunez, Monrovia High took control of the Rio Hondo League race with a 12-7 win over San Marino on a hot Thursday afternoon at Monrovia High. Monrovia holds a one-game lead over San Marino as we head into the final week of league play. The Wildcats now control their own destiny with games against Blair on Tuesday and South Pasadena on Thursday. Monrovia knows how important it’s going to be to not overlook any teams since Blair and South Pas will be looking to play the role of spoilers (i.e. La Canada). Temple City and the Spartans will be fighting out for third place. It’s too bad one of these teams won’t get into the playoffs. San Marino can still win first but some things have to happen. The bats came alive today for the Titans but unfortunately for them so did Monrovia’s. De La Nunez, after hitting his sixth, seventh and eighth home runs this week, is really pushing for player of the year status. I’ll be back with more after I file a couple stories. Look out for a photo gallery, too. Chime in with other results and tell me who YOU think will finally win this thing. God I love this kind of baseball!!!!!
Arcadia lost to Burbank earlier this week for the second time this season. Not sure how that bodes on the Apaches but what we do know is that Pasadena wasn’t counting on Arcadia losing. The Pacific League looks like this right now. I have added games remaining for each team as well.
1. Arcadia (18-4, 9-2): vs. Glendale (Friday); vs. Pasadena (May 12) vs. Crescenta Valley (May 15).
T2. Burroughs (17-7, 8-3): at Muir (Friday); vs. Hoover (May 12); vs. Burbank (May 15).
T2. Burbank (10-8-1, 8-3): vs. CV at Stengel (Saturday); vs. Muir (May 12); at Burroughs (May 15).
4. Crescenta Valley (12-7, 7-4): vs. Burbank (Saturday); vs. Glendale (May 12); at Arcadia (May 15).
5. Pasadena (13-10-1, 6-5): vs. Hoover (Friday); at Arcadia (May 12); vs. Muir (May 15).
6. Hoover (7-9, 4-7): at Pasadena (Friday); at Burroughs (May 12); vs. Glendale (May 15).
Pasadena is one game behind Crescenta Valley and two games behind Burbank. Pasadena’s eyes will be all over the Burbank-CV game on Saturday at Stengel Field. Game starts at 6 p.m. Pasadena will be rooting for Burbank to beat CV. If Pasadena beats Hoover on Friday they’ll be tied with CV at 7-5 and tied for the final playoff spot. The Bulldogs, however, hold the tiebreaker over CV. If Pasadena goes 2-1 in its final three games of the regular season as does CV, both teams would finish tied at 8-5. This scenario is more likely to happen, meaning if such is the case both CV and Pasadena will play in a playoff game Saturday at Arcadia at 11 a.m. for the league’s fourth playoff spot. The winner moves on to the playoffs. Arcadia has proven to be the best team in the Pacific League but to lose to Burbank twice in the same season is big. You gotta be thinking Burbank is kicking itself in the butt after losing twice to Pasadena and losing once to Burroughs. An Arcadia win earlier this week would have increased Pasadena’s chances, putting Burbank with four losses. If Pasadena would have been tied with Burbank the Bulldogs would have won that tiebreaker as well. The dust has not settled just yet in the Pacific.
The suspension will cost Ramirez $7.7 million, or roughly 31% of his $25-million salary. Players in violation of baseball’s drug policy are not paid during suspensions.
The Times first reported this early this morning.
Ramirez is expected to attribute the test results to medication received from a doctor for a personal medical issue, according to a source familiar with matter but not authorized to speak publicly.
The Dodgers informed triple-A outfielder Xavier Paul this morning that he was being promoted to Los Angeles.
With the suspension taking effect with tonight’s game against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium, Ramirez will not be eligible to return to the team until July 3.
Ramirez would become the biggest star suspended under an oft-criticized major league testing program that started in 2003. He had been a model citizen since arriving in Los Angeles last August, following a stormy tenure with the Boston Red Sox.
This is the second drug scandal to rock baseball within four months. In a year in which baseball officials hoped their greatest concern would be the slumping economy, the two highest-paid players in the game have been revealed to have failed a drug test.
Alex Rodriguez, the game’s highest-paid player, acknowledged during a February news conference that he used steroids from 2001 to 2003. The admission followed a Sports Illustrated report that he failed a drug test in 2003, when players were not subject to suspension.
Temple City mounted a comeback to tie the game in the fifth but it wasn’t enough as Monrovia got a key hit to drop in the seventh, scoring Robert Nakamura in the bottom of the seventh to afford the Wildcats a thrilling 4-3 win on a hot Wednesday afternoon in Rio Hondo League action at Monrovia High. Richard Kilbury pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed just one run for Monrovia. Uriel Velasco came in relief to allow two runs and Aaron Murphree pitched a scoreless seventh to record the victory. Temple City’s hopes for a playoff spot is still very well alive, and they can thank South Pasadena for beating La Caada. They can breath a little easier, especially after the Rams were negated a run in the seventh that would have given them a 4-3 lead. With one out in the seventh, Dusty Sanderson singled to left. Kyle Wilkinson hit a single over the shortstop to put two on and just one out. At the plate was Branden Pultz but his grounder took Wilkinson out at second, which would have been just two outs. Instead, Wilkinson was called on interference as he slid to second, negating Sanderson’s score. The double play ended the threat. Initially, the umpire did not motion the out, but as Monrovia coach Brad Blackmore said, the umpires don’t motion out on a double play, only when the batter interferes the catcher. Nevertheless, Temple City made it interesting when Christian Cano threw out Nick Bueno at home to record the second out. Unfortunately, Conrad Council came to the plate and sent what looked to be a fly ball to center. The ball dropped and Nakamura scored in dramatic fashion to end the game. You have to feel bad for Wilkinson. First he gets the interference call and then he doesn’t make the play at center. It was nice to some of his teammates console him as Wilkinson slowly walked from center to join the rest of his teammates. Monrovia hosts San Marino in what could be a pitcher’s duel with Garrett Simpson going to the mound for the Wildcats and Andrew Sloan doing the same for the Titans.
La Caada High School’s Dan Yoder was having fun coaching a group of players without having to deal with the spotlight. But that all changed when Rich Wheeler, the school’s longest-serving coach, resigned after 12 years as the Spartans football coach. Enter Yoder. He was the junior varsity coach the last four years. He’s also been a history teacher at La Caada the last five years. “I really didn’t expect to see it happen this fast,” Yoder said. “It’s always something I thought about but I really enjoyed my (junior varsity) experience, both as the head coach who got to call the shots and also that you’re the JV guy; it’s a little less of scrutiny coming down on you.” As head coach Yoder understands he’ll be the head figure of the football program. The task can be daunting but it’s a challenge he’ll take head on. “It’s going to be a bigger challenge,” he said. “You’re in the spotlight now and people will criticize your every move, but I’m looking forward to it. “The guys have faith in me and I have faith in them.” Wheeler’s resignation moved Yoder’s plans ahead of schedule in becoming a head coach. “I wouldn’t say I planned on this right away, it’s just sort of the way it played out.” Yoder’s hiring gives the Spartans program a sense of continuity. Working alongside Wheeler meant he understood what was needed to move the program forward. “The administration knew I had a good rapport with the kids,” Yoder said. Yoder will be taking over a program that was minutes away from making the playoffs last season. The Spartans are in a deep Rio Hondo League that boasts two teams (Temple City, Monrovia) that reached at least the quarterfinals. La Caada returns talented quarterback Rocky Moore, but aside from him the Spartans will be thin. Still, Yoder has lofty expectations, even if it means they could turn into long-term goals. “We don’t want to just try to succeed in league,” Yoder said. “We want to get past the second round of the playoffs so we started in the weight room and doing more with our offseason program, adding more structure and go in the direction we set out.” That means elevating the spring ball schedule and being more involved with the program. That can become challenging because of the multi-sport athletes at La Caada, which Yoder is a fan of. “I’m really a big advocate of multi-sport athletes,” he said. “I’m not a fan of specialization; it’s good for them to be out there and competing.” Mike Williams, who used to coach at La Caada, will coach the junior varsity and he’ll be assisted by his son, Gavin, a teacher on campus. The freshman staff is the same with Steve Zimmerman and Casey Mullet.
Brent Pattison will be the defensive coordinator on varsity and Yoder will call the shots on offense. Jerry Regan, who will coach the quarterbacks and defensive backs, John May and Brian Rodriguez, new to La Caada, will make up the rest of the varsity staff. Yoder still is looking to fill the offensive line position. “We have interviewed a couple of guys,” he said, “and we’ll finalize that soon.”
All eyes will be on La Caada-Monrovia Part III. It’s the final installment in the rivalry whose result could impact the rest of the Rio Hondo League. La Caada (15-3, 7-3) will try to take the season-series by beating Monrovia (12-7-1, 7-3). Both teams are tied for second place. The winner will have a share for first place with league-leading San Marino. Should the Wildcats win it’ll set up a huge game against the Titans on Thursday at Monrovia. And as you all know the Wildcats are the back-to-back-to-back Rio Hondo League champions, so you know they won’t go down without a fight. The Spartans return Eric Smith. He missed Friday’s game for being tossed from Wednesday’s game. Monrovia won the first game of the series, 12-0, and the La Caada came right back last week with a 9-5 victory. In that game, the Spartans sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs to take control in the fourth inning. “If La Caada and Monrovia want to win this thing they’re going to have to go through (San Marino),” Temple City coach Barry Bacon said, “and they’re going to determine who gets in the playoffs. It’s San Marino’s game to win; they’re playing the best baseball.” We’re sending a photographer to this game. Keith Lair will cover this game and yours truly will try to make it and watch as a fan like the rest of you. Anybody care for a prediction? I’m going with Monrovia, 6-4. The Wildcats can’t and won’t go down without a fight.
Behind a solid performance by Andrew Sloan on the mound and Michael Thompson’s clutch hitting, San Marino defeated Temple City, 8-6, in a three-hour marathon Friday evening in Rio Hondo League action at San Marino High. Coupled by the Titans’ (14-6, 8-3) win and La Caada’s 9-5 win over Monrovia earlier in the day, San Marino holds a half a game lead over the rest of the pack for first in the Rio Hondo League standings. Temple City (13-8, 7-4) now sits in fourth place. San Marino scored two runs in the first and Temple City came right back in the second to tie the game at 2 on a bases-clearing single from Julian Jarrard, sending Branden Pultz and Alec Vigil home. Temple City’s Dusty Sanderson hit a three-run home run in the fourth that pulled the Rams to within 6-5, but that’s as close as they would get. Thompson went 3-for-4, including a line drive down the third base line for a double that scored Jonathan Merhaut and Steven Wright to give the Titans an 8-5 lead in the fourth. San Marino’s Chris Warren picked up his second straight save. Temple City’s Jordan Halladay didn’t last two innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits, but that wasn’t the primary reason he was pulled out of the game. Temple City pitching coach Nick Gomez yanked Halladay because — according to Temple City caoch Barry Bacon — Halladay broke down discipline wise. “That’s coach’s choice,” Bacon said. “We broke down discipline wise. When you break discipline you’re not mentally ready to go. So you get out and get someone else ready to go. I’ll just say mentally he broke down discipline, we put Jimmy (Britt) in the game and Jimmy did great.”Halladay gave up a single, balked, and gave up a triple in the second before he was taken out. “It’s a combination of things where we need to stay mentally disciplined and not let our emotions take the best of us and when it does we’re going to get someone else in there to take over,” Bacon said. “That’s why Gomez does such a great job; we have guys on the bench that can come in and throw strikes. That’s the beauty of my assistant coaches, they do a fantastic job (where) we have a great pitching staff that can get anybody to pitch.”
La Caada (15-3, 7-3) visits Monrovia (12-7-1, 7-3) in another showdown Monday.
Wildcats ace Ricahrd Kilbury made his first start since a 12-0 win over the Spartans to open Rio Hondo League play. He threw 40 pitches, had two unearned runs, two strikeouts, one hit and one walk for the no decision. Luis Carrasquero had two base hits to lead La Caada, which finished the game with 10 hits. The Spartans finally took control in the fourth inning when they sent 11 batters to the plate that resulted in six runs. While San Marino has stolen the spotlight in the Rio Hondo League, you can bet all eyes will be on Monday’s La Caada-Monrovia Part III. “If La Caada and Monrovia want to win this thing they’re going to have to go through (San Marino),” Bacon said, “and they’re going to determine who gets in the playoffs. It’s San Marino’s game to win; they’re playing the best baseball.” We’ll be there with a photographer. Keith Lair will be covering the game while yours truly enjoys the ball game with the rest of you. Deadline is approaching, time to file my story….
This column appeared on page 3B of the Star-News sports section on Friday, May 1
OK, so this season’s Rio Hondo League slate isn’t the strongest and deepest ever.
But who said it was?
“This is as strong and deep I’ve seen as a whole,” Monrovia baseball co-head coach Brad Blackmore said earlier this week.
“It’s not everybody’s best team, but it’s evenly matched, and you can throw South Pasadena in there too.”
We’ll get to South Pasadena in a bit.
But first let us dissect the second portion of Blackmore’s statement: It’s not everybody’s best team, but it’s evenly match.
That’s the point Rio Hondo League veterans seem to be missing, including an anonymous poster who had this to say on our “From The Sidelines” blog at www.insidesocal.com/paspreps:
“Strongest and deepest? That comes from a reporter who hasn’t been around that long. It’s not the strongest and deepest by any stretch, rather the weakest and by weak I mean all teams are average so (there) is parity. … Do some homework before you make silly statements like that. … How can you ask if this is the deepest (Rio Hondo League) ever? The question alone is utterly ridiculous.”
Obviously he/she is a big fan of yours truly, but by no stretch did your favorite sportswriter ever say or write the former.
The question was posed and readers answered with an emphatic “No.”