Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thanks for coming out Red Wave!

It's rare for a Bulldog Bounce blog headline to get an exclamation point, but this one deserves it. Fans flocked out to Pete Beiden Field at Fresno State this weekend for the season-opening series. It started with a sellout Friday, about 2,900 on Saturday and more than 2,100 in wet weather Sunday -- and the Diamond 'Dogs didn't disappoint despite their youth taking the series two games to one.

It was great seeing all those new fans out there. And contrary to what you might have seen on the front page of The Fresno Bee Saturday morning, it's not important whether you were there every game last year or no games at all. What's important is growing the fan base and getting any fans who used to come out and don't as often anymore to return.

A young lady was pictured holding up a sign at the opener reading, "Where were all of you when we were 8-12?" Well, I'll tell you what (and this comes from someone who was indeed there when we were 8-12)...everyone becomes a fan at some point. The only thing that matters is keeping them coming. That's how this whole thing works. The team wins, attracts more fans and new fans, you get 'em out to the ballpark, you make the experience enjoyable for them and you hope they want to keep coming back.

I mean, I don't get the "where were you" attitude? Do you not want more fans to come? What if someone asked you where were you in 1991? Or 1988? Maybe you were there then too? But maybe you weren't.

The important thing is you were there on Friday evening. Or Saturday or Sunday afternoon. And that you plan to keep coming.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Put a little extra pep in your step Feb. 20

Live it up Red Wave, because tomorrow is the last day for us to wallow in the glory of Fresno State's 2008 College World Series championship. As of 6:05 p.m. a new season is under way, and the Diamond 'Dogs go from reigning national champs to defending national champs.

So let's all take an extra minute to reflect on that accomplishment...

In other Fresno State news, after another stick-your-hand-in-my-chest-and-tug-on-my-heart loss on the hardwood, my only question is whether this year's men's basketball team is the most talented and best last-place WAC team ever? From what I can remember, all signs point to yes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Zero interest in Fresno State baseball?

This from a recent story in the Marin Independent Journal:

Suddenly, Detwiler and pals had the "It" factor. Prior to their NCAA championship run last year, there was little, if any, interest in Bulldogs baseball.
"Zero," Billingsley said.
"People didn't really know any baseball players unless they wore baseball uniforms," Detwiler said.
I can't be the only one who is offended by the comments above. We've all heard a lot of bandwagon fan jokes and remarks since Fresno State pulled off its amazing College World Series title run, but let's not blow it out of proportion. Yes, crowds have been less than ideal in the Mike Batesole era. Regularly packing Beiden Field was something not seen since the late 1980s and early '90s. And, yes, that's going to change on Friday when Fresno State opens the '09 season against Washington.

But trust me, there are lots of Red Wavers who had great interest in Fresno State baseball in all those years in between, a decent number who went to almost every home game last season and many who have had season tickets year after year. (See my comment at the bottom of the story link)

Mr. Billingsley, the GM of the great restaurant Dog House Grill, who was quoted by the Marin paper, does not speak for all of us.

We're the ones who were there to regularly answer Sugar Bear at Beiden Field when he yelled, "Is there a 'Dog in the house!?"


Turlock Tommy goes Baseball America

Something tells me this won't be the first time we see Tommy Mendonca in Baseball America this year. With that defense and power, his stardom might just be beginning.

Do you have your tickets for the season opener Feb. 20...?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

'Dogs hoops just can't finish it

If the Fresno State men's basketball team had a lead in the final moments of a game and the opponents all walked off the court, the Bulldogs might still find a way to lose. For some reason, this team just cannot finish -- which has led to quite a bit of reflection on my part.

Let's pretend for a moment that I have multiple personalities (but that both were rational, of course). Now, if I were to have a conversation with myself about the topic, it would go a little something like this:

Me: Why does this team keep making so many mistakes in crunch time?
Me: Well, the youth excuse can only take you so far. The 'Dogs are full of inexperienced players in key roles in Paul George, Bryce Cartwright and Mychal Ladd, but they've all logged crazy minutes this season and can't claim to be strangers to the college game anymore. They should have adjusted enough by now to know how to handle pressure situations down the stretch. Didn't they learn by example from blowing what should have been an easy win at home over San Jose State, losing nail-biters against Utah State twice and at Nevada and blowing a huge opportunity hosting UNLV?

Me: Why is Cartwright so impressive at times and so mitake-prone in crucial times?
Me: He's young, but making mistakes such as throwing the ball away after an in-bound pass when intead of dribbling the ball upcourt like a point guard is supposed to, he tried to toss it 20 feet to a exactly the type of thing that has fans wondering if he's going to keep improving and be a fixture at point for the next three years, or if the 'Dogs need to recruit someone to start in front of him? And get this, after the errant turnover, Cartwright fouls the shooter down low and let's him make the basket -- one or the other please!

Me: Are you serious with all those 3s dwon the stretch Seay?
Me: Tell me about it. Instead of running the clock down and taking their time on each possession, the 'Dogs took quick shots (including multiple 3s by Seay) and missed pretty much all of them. When you're up by 6 points with less than 2 minutes left, and you've been controlling the game, there is no excuse not to win.

Me: So who's to blame? The youth?
Me: That's the go-to excuse these days, but at some point you've got to wonder if the coaches are doing their jobs? I don't mean to suggest Steve Cleveland isn't a good coach, but we're seeing the same mental mistakes and carelessness over and over now. Maybe the coaching staff needs to take a more proactive approach next time Fresno State has a late lead? You can't tell me a timeout up by 6 to tell the guys to stay calm, don't rush it and make every possession count wouldn't have been beneficial. Maybe the coaches did do this? If that's the case, then you've got to discipline the players who ignored that advice.

OK, I feel a little bit better now after talking myself through this Valentine's heartbreaker, well, except for the fact that the 'Dogs might be on their way to their worst record since the Ron Adams era in 1989-90. But let's hope that blog never has to be written...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rain, rain, go away!

If anyone has any idea how to do a non-rain dance, please, I beg of you, do it on Friday, Feb. 20.

You see, that's the day the Fresno State baseball team takes the field for the 2009 opener as reigning College World Series champions. The game's sold out, the infamous voice of Sugar Bear hopefully rested, the bright red shoes of Inman Perkins laced and those of us who spend dozens of hours at Beiden Field every year are just hoping we get the chance to experience this day with good weather.

Last season started cold with gloomy clouds in a Friday night loss to UC-Davis. It was miserable baseball weather, and we just don't deserve that two years in a row. So let's hope the weather prognostications are wrong, and that this coming Friday is a day forever remembered in Fresno.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Preseaon All-Whack team

OK, so maybe the preseason All-WAC baseball team isn't all whack, but it sure is at first base, where Fresno State's Alan Ahmady got the shaft. Pssshhh, and you thought Tatiana making the final 36 of American Idol was as bad as it gets...

Somebody has an explanation to make, because surely there has to be some sort of technicality or unthinkable mishap that led to the WAC's seven skippers not voting Ahmady a unanimous first-team selection. After all, the guy was first-team last year. As a sophomore.

Maybe all the nominations were put into a shoebox and there was a tiny hole in the bottom where Ahmady's name slipped out before the nominees were revealed to WAC coaches? Or maybe it's a prank, and Ahmady met Ashton Kutcher during the offseason, struck a friendship and is now being Punk'd? Better yet, maybe the WAC agreed to some sort of behind-the-scenes, unwritten rule that All-Americans aren't allowed to be on the preseason All-WAC team?

No, you say? It can't be? Well why then? Why is Ahmady, who led the WAC and tied the all-time Diamond 'Dogs record with 92 RBIs last year, led the national championship Fresno State team with a .382 average, and hit 13 homers not preseason All-WAC? Instead, it was Nevada's Shaun Kort, who had 60 RBIs, a .324 average and 6 homers. Yet, despite the gross advantages Ahmady held in all three statistical categories, and the idea that Ahmady is also the best defensive first baseman in the conference, he didn't even make the All-WAC team as a utility player.

Excuse me while I scratch my head.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hardwood news & notes

I don't know about you, but I feel refreshed. After the debacle that was this past Thursday's 34-10 halftime deficit at Hawaii, Fresno State came out and straight manhandled the evil boise state broncos (sorry, but I've decided to no longer capitalize that school name).

The strange thing about this young Bulldogs squad is they crate athletic mismatch havoc for most WAC opponents -- save for New Mexico State and maybe Nevada. boise state was one of those obviously at a disadvantage from the get-go. (Just wait 'til next year's recruiting class doubles Fresno State's athleticism)

And now for the long-awaited news & notes from tonight's Fresno State win:
Paul George: A career-high 29 points...that's what happens when he plays aggressive offense.

Sylvester Seay: If 'Dogs had a winning record, George and Seay would both deserve first-team All-WAC.

Bryce Cartwright & Mychal Ladd: Fresno State hasn't had two leapers like this who can flatout hang in the air since Damon Jackson and Noel Felix circa 2002. Great to see Ladd doing a little more ball-handling tonight and the 'Dogs getting him more touches on offense.

Brandon Webster: Decent effort, please B-Web, if you're reading this, go all out all the time the rest of the year, I promise it'll pay off.

Brandon Sperling: Sperl, please stop taking bad shots. Be an in-your-face defender and stick to that role unless you're too open not to shoot (which you weren't tonight, especially behind the backboard).

Refs: Stop sucking. Good first half, but you really did let boise state back in the game down the stretch with bad calls and no calls. Full-court press doesn't mean fouls are allowed. And when the ball goes out of bounds off a boise state player on the baseline, that means Fresno State should get it out of bounds. Please keep this in mind in future Save Mart Center games.

Friday, February 6, 2009

High praise for incoming hoops recruits

Ran across some nice nuggets of info on the Parsing the WAC blog, which I must say is a very active and informative one. Kevin McCarthy talks Fresno State quite a bit in it, which is cool with me.

So let's get to the point...McCarthy talked 'Dogs recruiting with Carl Foster, who's been around a few of the soon-to-be Fresno State players, and he had some pretty impressive things to say.

Should be encouraging to Fresno State fans who witnessed one of the program's all-time most embarrassing losses last night at Hawaii, a game in which Fresno State had just 10 points at halftime. Bryce Cartwright had one of his most error-prone games, Ned Golubovic (despite being named Academic All-America for his region) was never in the right place at the right time, Sylvester Seay reverted to his old attitude problem and drew a technical foul before fouling out with 12 minutes left and Brandon Sperling got absolutely overpowered by bigger, stronger Rainbows.

But rest assured, help is on the way in the form of Greg Smith (as long as this suspension doesn't mean any bad news), Jerry Brown, Garrett Johnson and Chris Jones.

Ely Elaborates...and so does a 'Dog fan

Talking with Melvin Ely over his college years, I never got the sense he'd be on the cutting edge of the blogosphere. But after reading his first two attempts on the New Orleans Hornet's site, I sent an e-mail to some pals calling it "the greatest blog of all-time."

OK, OK, I might have used a smidgen of hyperbole there, but there is no doubt the Ely Elaborates blog is filled with greatness. For any of you who grew up admiring Ely on the court for Jerry Tarkanian and Fresno State, took your own children or grandchildren to see Big Mel or have ever spoken with the guy, you'll understand why Ely doing anything is great.

To this day I remember what I consider the greatest single game in Fresno State hoops history -- Ely's 32 points, 16 rebounds and 9 blocks against Tulsa. This from the same dude who won two straight WAC Player of the Year honors while riding a bicycle around campus because he didn't have a car. Travel the nation and find another future NBA lottery pick who does that...I won't hold my breath.

Fresno State hoops faithful Brian Archer commented on the latest Ely blog, and he couldn't be more right when he said:

"I am a big fan of yours, all the way back to your playing days at Fresno State.
You are my all-time favorite b-ball player, college and pro. Still waiting for
them to retire your number!!! I don't know what is taking them so long. That
will be a great day. You represented us so well and we really appreciate that. I
know the rest of the Bulldog fans feel the same way."
Fun fact: Big Mel wrote that he named two of his five pet snakes Mel and Lil' Mel...well tack one more on the list my friend, my cat Melvin says hello.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pritchett a feel-good story

We've all heard the too-good-to-be-true-but-really-is-true tales of Kurt Warner working at the grocery store before deciding he should go win a Super Bowl for the St. Louis Rams.

Well how about a defensive lineman who didn't even play football his final two years of high school in Santa Rosa, worked at Office Depot and as a shuttle driver at a car rental place for a couple years, then went to Santa Rosa Junior College and started playing football again while still working as a bouncer at all odd hours of the morning and losing 50 pounds in the midst of it? That guy is Donnie Pritchett, who's expected to sign a national letter of intent Wednesday to play football for Pat Hill and Fresno State.

D-line was a gigantic weakness for the 'Dogs last season, and Hill has pulled out all stops to address it. Pritchett, a JC player who's been out of high school four years, might offer the most immediate solution. Hill sometimes gets criticized by local armchair quarterbacks for not going after enough JC guys, so you know he's serious about a guy when he does go after one. And -- hopefully -- this'll shush those fans who want all JUCOs all the time.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Here's hoping for the future retirement of jersey number ...

It's not breaking news or anything (well, actually I guess technically it is), but for no particular reason, I've decided to make today the day for announcing Derek Carr's jersey number. A week in the vault was long enough, so for those of you Bulldog football diehards tired of Just-for-Men-ning your graying hair over the suspense of what number Carr will wear (because he wants No. 4 but Ebahn Feathers wears 4, oh my goodness they both can't wear 4 ...), wait no more.

Starting this spring, Derek Carr's jersey number will be ................ announced after the break.

OK, so what, I made you wait another 30 seconds after telling you you wouldn't have to wait any longer (I guess even more now that I'm typing still). Two can play at that game ryan seacrest. At least I kept it in the family.

Derek Carr will wear number 4,  presumably for the duration of his Bulldog career, and he didn't even have to negotiate with Feathers to make it happen. Before Carr could even make his pitch for the number, Feathers went to whomever you go to for a number change and requested jersey No. 3 (a bonus breaking news tidbit—freeeeeee). That left the door open for jersey No. 4, which was swiftly picked up by Carr.

For those of you keeping score, that means the first part of the 2009 numerical roster will look like this:

3. Ebahn Feathers QB
3. Moses Harris S
4. Derek Carr QB
4. Damion Owens CB

For many of us, knowing who is who isn't a problem. But the overabundance of duplicate jersey numbers only adds to the desire for names on the back of the jerseys. Although for road games, you have to love the fact that it causes utter chaos for this guy.

In my defense (random, I know), I just learned how to hyperlink, so the Christmas morning excitement of using it hasn't worn off yet. I say this because by now, I know you're thinking (that's right, I have espn) something along the lines of "freaking shut the hell up already you unfunny, adhd-hyperlinking moron. But thanks for the naked gun scenes."

You got it dude.