Monday, March 31, 2008

What's the deal Sand Man?

So it was reported in The Bee today that SS Todd Sandell quit the baseball team -- not the best news considering he's a veteran and has shown a good bat in the past.

Now, I haven't heard from Sandell, but I've just gotta wonder what the deal is? Does Sandell expect to start over freshman Danny Muno just because he's been around longer? If so, I hate to say it, but that's how this whole Division I upper echelon of baseball works Sand Man...and it's only gonna get more competitive from here.

Muno is batting .337, Sandell is at .221. There is no argument that can overcome that disparity. Muno's got more RBIs, more doubles, more triples and a higher slugging percentage. Oh yeah, and Sandell has 28 strikeouts in 77 at-bats, while Muno has 21 in 92. And let us not forget Sandell's team-high 7 errors, compared with 3 by Muno.

So yeah, if there's a reason you deserve to start Sandy, I'd like to hear it. I think we all would. Here's to hoping you ask Coach Batesole for your roster spot back and just go about it the old fashioned way -- earning it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hooray Grizz fans showin' the 'Dogs love!

One small slice of the Grizzlies-Giants game last night in Fresno stood out to me. Not that multi-millionaire Barry Zito was done in by the Grizzlies, not that the Grizz signed a two-year development extension with the Giants and not that Barry Bonds' enormous head was not in left field for the first time in years.

Nope, it was the ol' applause-O-meter. OK, so Chukchansi Park wasn't really equipped with a tool to measure applauses, but my human ears detected that for Fresno City College and Fresno State pitcher Mark Gardner (also a former major leaguer and current Giants assistant) got by far the loudest ovation when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

I've gotta admit, it made me feel proud that the fans were knowledgeable enough to recognize Gardner for his great success story and his Fresno/Clovis roots. (It's just too bad for the Giants he didn't take the mound.)

I was sad to miss the Diamond 'Dogs 13-11 win over Cal Poly last night, but I couldn't pass up a chance to see a overflowing crowd in downtown Fresno. And while I don't plan to miss many more Fresno State baseball games for it, I do plan to make plenty more Grizz outings this year. With the new promotion to win some free tickets, maybe I'll luck out and not have to shell out so much cash next time? (It was $20 a pop for the cheap seats.) But I guess I'll do what it takes...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

As good a guy who's ever worn Bulldog Red

Trent Dilfer. If he's not your favorite 'Dog of all-time, he should be. Or at least one of them. Just a flat-out good guy. The kind of dude you'd look up to even if he'd never quarterbacked the 'Dogs or the Bucs/Seahawks/Browns/Niners or won a Super Bowl for the Ravens.

Trent spoke at Fresno's Northside church today. He talked about finding God while he was in college, his influence in NFL locker rooms, what's next in his football career and losing his then 5-year-old son Trevin. The thing about Trent is he's this nationally famous millionaire sitting up in front of you and it seems like he's just another guy you've known your whole life.

You might be starstruck, but at the same time you're comfortable to just walk right up to him and start a conversation. Because you know he'll converse right back. He'll pause to take a photo with you and your buddy, he'll shake your hand three times before you part ways, he'll compliment you and thank you for telling him he's your favorite 'Dog of all-time. He's thankful for his roots, for Fresno, for his past -- even his "failures." That's what the sermon was about tonight, letting go of the failures in one's life and looking to the future.

That was the true message tonight as Dilfer gave his testimony. And it will be Sunday too (you can check him out at two Easter morning services; it's definitely worth it). Yes, he talks about his plans for next season (let's just say the silver & black and a few notable TV stations might come up), but if ever there were a guy who could put all that superstardom into perspective, it's Trent Dilfer.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Not even close to "Comcastic"

Comcast is not "Comcastic." Don't believe the lies. Don't believe the hype.

I rush home to catch Fresno State's first-ever women's NCAA Tournament game on ESPN2 -- you know, the one that's been advertised on ESPN2 all week during men's games and was written about in The Fresno Bee with quotes from Jimmy Dykes about how this is the network's No. 1 game.

And what do I get when I power up my Comcast box and turn on ESPN2 (in HD)...? I get freaking Auburn and George Washington. Two teams who most of western civilization couldn't even locate on a map. How many people in California do you think can even name what state those colleges are in? No matter the answer, there sure as heck aren't many Californians all amped up about watching those two schools play women's basketball.

So I wait 'til halftime, after hearing on the radio the 'Dogs make a late first-half run. Then the ESPN2 network switches games. "Finally!" I exclaim out loud. And what pops up on screen...? Hartford-Syracuse. What in tarnation!? NO ONE IN FRESNO CARES!

I called Comcast. "It's a national telecast and ESPN switches back and forth," I'm told. "It's up to ESPN, I can give you their number." Well it turns out the Comcast liar of an employee gives me a BOGUS ESPN number. It's been disconnected. Doesn't even work. What a bunch of bogus garbage...

DirectTV here I come...and I encourage others to join me.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What's wrong with the Diamond 'Dogs?

Remember the last time the Fresno State baseball team got off to a hot start? If you do, you'll agree it's been a while. If you don't, it's been a while. So most of the Diamond 'Dog fans likely expected it once again this season, or at least knew not to panic when it happened, again.

Those of you still waiting to panic, you can start now. Fresno State has eight wins, with the only one of significance coming against San Diego State, because they were ranked at the time. Now, we're into the WAC season now and getting complete-gamed shutout by a sub-.500 team. With one-third of the season gone and a win/loss S-curve that rivals the 1906 San Francisco earthquake on the Richter scale (sorry, I've been studying for a California Earth Science exam and it's fresh in the mind), there could not be a better time to put a lot of Ws on the board, unless we go back in time.

I don't like to focus on the negative, but there are so many people confused as to why this has happened, that I'm going to focus on it. So far this year, I've attended every home game and followed every road game via radio or gametracker:

  • Tom Mendonca is striking out in nearly half of his at-bats, a number that is in the 30s. He's also batting under .200. Reason number one for this is that he has been a complete guess hitter all year, not good considering he's only been right 17 times in more than 70 at-bats. Couple that with him trying to be a leader by example on the field and feeling like he needs to carry the team out of the gutter, and poof, you get his current stat line. That's all there is to it on his end, but it's nothing that is easy to fix at this point.
  • Mendonca hasn't been the only one struggling to make contact. The Bulldogs as a team have struck out more than twice the amount they have taken a walk this year. In college baseball, contact is a must. I don't think I need to get too deep into this, but you then have no chance for sac bunts, hit and runs, steals, a pitcher working out of the stretch, pitchers on the mound from mostly weak bullpens, it goes on and on. Last night against Hawaii: four hits and 10 strikeouts. They never had a chance.
  • On-field leadership: Danny Grubb is your main leader on this club, but it's hard to have that role when the catching job is split three ways and when he himself is struggling terribly at the plate. Coach Batesole is a tough, hard-nosed guy, but at the same time, he trusts his players to take care of their business and get their work in, therefore keeping his distance at times. I will never say that this team doesn't go out and play hard, because I think they go all out on the field, but the demeanor of this team and apparent (apparent being the key word) lack of visual competitiveness (if that makes sense), is noticeably different from the Bob Bennett teams of the past. That goes for every Batesole team since he arrived.
  • Lineup juggling: Even this deep into the season, there is no everyday lineup. You would think this is a small deal, but it's not, because each spot in the lineup has a different role. It has a bigger impact than you would think.
  • Preseason expectations: This team made no secrets before the season that it was Omaha or bust. The slow start only adds to this pressure. For all we know, maybe our guys just don't handle that pressure too well. It's entirely possible.
These are just five reasons for the early struggles, and there are plenty more, maybe even ones that are more telling. There is no quick fix, although I know this team responds to personal challenges. When they are called out, they respond. Problem is, it shouldn't get to that point. Baseball should no doubt be fun for these guys, but they'll agree that it's never fun when you are losing.

Maybe it's time to bear down a little bit more and show some visible intensity and focus. That kind of emotion can change things in a hurry. Or maybe this team can't play that way.

But, for me at least, as long as they continue to play all out and represent Fresno State with pride, I'll be out there supporting them.

But I just get the feeling that they need to support themselves too.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fresno State Dream Team: Offensive Line

Time to open up the voting at offensive line -- the big nasties. Each Bulldog Bounce blogger has turned in his own votes for each position already, but we want to hear what you -- the readers -- think.

Then, at the end of all the voting we'll compare our results to yours. We'll go position-by-position with the idea of starting healthy debate about why so-and-so is better than such-and-such? YOU decide the criteria! What's more important? College stats or pro? Four-year starters or JC transfers? Single-season greatness or consistency?

Next up is offensive line, and the nominees are:
--Ron Collins
--Chris Conrad
--Chris Denman
--Mike Foust
--Rob Gatrell
--Jesse Hardwick
--Melvin Johnson
--Logan Mankins
--Len McNeil
--Rodney Michael
--Tom Neville
--Joe Schey
--Ryan Wendell
--Mike Withycombe
--Kyle Young

In what was by far the most heavily contested vote yet, The Bulldog Bounce selects Logan Mankins, Chris Conrad, Kyle Young, Rodney Michael and Chris Denman as Fresno State's greatest all-time offensive linemen. Mankins and Conrad were unanimous first-team selections, while Young had three first-team votes and one second-team.

Have fun, voice your opinion and let the voting begin! The nominees will remain posted in the right-hand column for you to choose from, but please add comments to this blog entry as well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not dazed, but definitely confused...

The good news is if you're a Red Waver, you'll have something to do Thursday evening. The bad news might have too much to do for your own good.

After racking my brain for the past four days, mining for a solution in the depths of my cranium, I came up with -- a big, fat nothing.

I mean, it's March Madness, and the 'Dogs men's b-ball team gets under way against Nevada at 5 p.m. Thursday. It's a game I fully expect the 'Dogs to win (hey, Kevin Bell is a first-team All-WAC point guard) and it's hard to beat a team three times in one year. Heck, I'm ready to turn on the tube and watch this game right now!

But wait, what about the softball game at Bulldog Diamond pitting our 20-somethingth ranked Lady 'Dogs against top 10 Oklahoma? Man, if there's one softball game this year I want to see in person, it's this one. And it's at the same, exact time -- 5 p.m. Shoot, which of these two should I pick!?

Huh? What's that? Baseball is being played that same night too? You have got to be kidding me! It's the PJQC (Pepsi Johnny Quik Classic for those of you not in the know) and the 'Dogs host a familiar PJQC foe in Gonzaga (didn't one of their players get hit by a car in front of Taco Bell several years back?)...

So how do I narrow this down? Basketball is the most high-profile sport and most important in the grand scheme of things...but it's just on TV. Softball is playing in a high-profile matchup of two of the nation's strongest teams. But baseball is more my game (plus Mike Batesole isn't talking about suing the university). Hmm, that said, I've been to three baseball games in the past three days...

You see what I mean? The more I think about this, the more confusing it becomes...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fresno State Dream Team: Tight Ends

Time to open up the voting at tight end. Each Bulldog Bounce blogger has turned in his own votes for each position already, but we want to hear what you -- the readers -- think.

Then, at the end of all the voting we'll compare our results to yours. We'll go position-by-position with the idea of starting healthy debate about why so-and-so is better than such-and-such? YOU decide the criteria! What's more important? College stats or pro? Four-year starters or JC transfers? Single-season greatness or consistency?

Next up is tight end, and the nominees are:
--Rich Bartlewski
--Jeremy Johnson
--Mike Moffitt
--Bump Novacek
--Bear Pascoe
--Duncan Reid
--Scott Scambray
--Craig Shugart
--Stephen Spach
--Marty Thompson

The Bulldog Bounce selects Bear Pascoe as Fresno State's greatest all-time tight end. Pascoe was chosen first-team by three of the four bloggers, while Stephen Spach had one first-team vote and Marty Thompson had three second-team votes.

Have fun, voice your opinion and let the voting begin! The nominees will remain posted in the right-hand column for you to choose from, but please add comments to this blog entry as well.