Pete's Arboblog

With basketball on everyone's minds this week, it's a good time to remind you that at this time next week, we will already have one spring football practice under our belts!

Most of last week was spent camped out on the couch, slipping old programs into plastic sleeves and notebooks and getting them ready for shipment to John Hamilton's Newport Sports Museum.

I have some programs that are in need of replacement, and some I just plain old don't have, and will be listing the needs this collection has for anyone who would like to donate theirs to the collection for all of Southern California to see at their leisure.

While doing that work, I tried to watch as many conference tournament games and finals as I could, in anticipation of a sojourn to Las Vegas for the NCAA men's first and second round.

I want to see what it's like to go and watch every game for four days on big screens with a bunch of loonies like me, and so I have contracted with Bally's Las Vegas for two seats in the sports book, and will be writing about my experiences for WeAreSC the magazine. Strictly from a sociological point of view, of course. Hope to see you there if you're not going to Spoky.

I didn't bother going to the Pac-10 opening night….dreadful teams for the most part I thought.

But the long anticipated second day, the quarterfinals, turned out to be just as advertised. Oregon looked very strong (a portent of things to come) against Arizona. I had to leave to go coach baseball and missed the Cal-UCLA game, but got regular updates from a former Clippers buddy of mine, Paul Feinberg, who is prexy of the Samo Pony League and a big Bruin honk. We agreed when the final came in it probably wouldn't hurt the Bruins too much. What hurt worse is my Twins blowing a 5-0 lead and ending up in a 5-5, darkness called tie.

This league is a LOT less competitive than the Hart Pony league (the nation's largest) up in Santa Clarita that KC and Stephanie used to play in. Up there, a tie is a dirty word; they make up all suspended games prior to the next meeting. Here, it's just a tie. Here, if a 12-year-old pitcher commits a balk with a runner on third, the ump gives him a warning and says out loud for all to hear, "I'm not sending in a runner from third, you gotta earn that right!" So much for the rules of the game.

I found an opposing batter was batting out of order, and was waiting for the kid to get a hit before bringing it up, but one of the other coaches said—"aw, it's no big deal, we don't play by those rules here". So, it's nicer here, to be sure, but will take a little getting used to.

I bucked rush hour traffic to get back to Staples just before half time to find SC getting thumped by the Farm. Ahhhhh, but what a great second half. I sat around a bunch of Stanford fans who went from very happy to very combative to downright quiet in a big hurry. I never jeered Stanford, only cheered for SC. They were loud and abusive the whole time. Beautiful.

Wazzu looked better than Washington, I think we might have a shot third time around.

Lo and Behold, I was right, as the Trojans advanced to their third ever Pac-10 final beating the Cougs. Finally. And how bad was Cal against Oregon. Of course the Ducks were really, really good again, and everyone I talked to after the game said that Oregon was the team to beat. How did that Cal team beat UCLA? Ugh.

Sunday we had a baseball game at 12:30 at Mira Costa HS, but when we got there, found it had been rescheduled to 3 pm. Hmmmmmm—SC is playing Oregon trying to win the first outright Pac-10 championship in basketball since I was 7 years old. Or I can coach baseball. It really stinks when leagues can't get their scheduling problems taken care of, it puts so many people in a bind, and the worst thing you can do is waste someone else's time.

I chose the Pac-10 final. Bad decision. Twins-13, Mira Costa Mariners-2. And I left the SC-Oregon game with 11 minutes left. Maybe the fourth time will be the charm. Wow, what an impressive run by the Ducks, and Bryce Taylor, from Harvard Westlake HS looked great. But how about the little guards? If Oregon plays like this in the big show, look out!

Sunday, I forgot to set my clock ahead, so when I rushed back to see to NCAA tournament show, it was just ending. Good thing I tivo'd it! So we get Arkansas….we should have got ‘em in '92, except for that damned James Forrest! They were ordinary all year until the SEC tourney. Still that's a hell of 12 seed! Then Texas and Durant and all those freshmen. Yikes, and then NC who might win it all.

How did Arizona even get in? They are not good. And a decent game with Purdue. One and out for Lute again? Let's hope. Bruins dropped to a two, but stay "home" I guess it didn't hurt much after all. It's like the old days when they won all those titles when they got to play Santa Clara and Seattle and Weber State in the first two rounds of the Western Regional every year. Indiana might give ‘em a game, but I doubt it. I got the Bruins in the Final Four again. Dangit.

Oregon draws Miami of Ohio and then Notre Dame (the day AFTER St. Patrick's day) or Winthrop. Ducks in the sweet 16? Maybe. Stanford vs Lousiville? Good game. Stanford can be on or off you just never know with them. Long Beach State and Tennessee are the same sort of run and gun team, but the Vols are bigger and have better athletes and depth.

Washington State and Oral Roberts. Cougs are difficult, and no one takes them seriously because they are, after all, just little Washington State.

I go with Florida beating UCLA and North Carolina topping Ohio State in the FF with NC winning it all.

But that's only good information until Thursday night.

My Twins beat the Dodgers 10-5 yesterday, still the only unbeatens in the league.

How about USC's women for getting the snub. Washington gets in despite being beaten head to head by SC two of three times, once badly and once in the most recent meeting in the Pac-10 tournament in which SC lost to the champ by a couple, and highly rated Cal in OT. What a rip-off. They would have fans attend at least at Galen if SC was in, now……

Then to top that off, they didn't even get to go to the NIT, which would have been awesome in terms of experience of post season play for the younger players, and a nice way to say goodbye to the seniors. I had heard rumor that the players might have voted to not accept a bid if they got it, but if it's good enough for Missouri, Indiana, Va Tech, Auburn, Illinois, Kansas State, Utah, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin, it must be good enough for us.

The only West Coast teams that got in were Oregon, which finished behind SC in the Pac-10, San Diego and Santa Barbara, so maybe there's some truth to that rumor. If there's not any truth to it, it's plain flat our ridiculous, and if it is true, it's pretty sad.

Nice weekend taking two of three for the men's baseball team at Stanford in a non-con series.

Still nothing substantive on the job front, but good news is coming. Good thing, too, as my unemployment runs out April 14!!

Hey, one more thing, that story about racism running rampant through the USC football program. What a laugh! The guys all generally get along great, and when that happens, you get good-natured stuff like this happening inside a closed set all the time. Anyone who has every been on a team knows what its like. To have it taken public is unfortunate, but is right up there with the over reaction when the dummy got thrown off of the building during practice that time. In these politically correct times, however, you gotta be careful what you do or say or the PC police'll get you.

A story I am fond of telling that sheds light on this sort of behavior is when, back in junior high a million years ago (Thomas Starr King class of ‘69 if you must know), my friends and I had a racially segregated (by our own choosing) informal lunch time basketball league. All the black guys on one team, the Asian guys on another, the Mexicans on another and the white guys on the fourth. Bloods, Buddha-Heads, Beaners and Honkeys. It's what we called our teams. By our own choosing. It was great fun, and everyone had a great time. We loved each other and our games became stuff of legend. Every time any of us get together we still talk about ‘em. And laugh, and hug and shake hands. And wish we could still play.

But mostly we wish people stopped seeing color of other people's skins as any kind of issue at all.

And to that end I say----Fight On!


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