The news that 6.4 billion gallons of rain water filled and raised Lake Tahoe by two inches December 20/21 might be considered a “Christmas miracle” in water rationed California. The “wetness” during this holiday season, bringing welcome precipitation up-and-down the state, from San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego, and plenty of snow to the Sierras, should go a long way to refresh the state’s lakes, reservoirs and acquafirs, and may be the introduction to an historic “El Niño” weather phenomena that sends all the state’s water rationers back to their drawing boards. We shall see, but for now, let’s enjoy the wetness! Happy Holidays for the editors at California Political Review!
When I left the game at half-time, the Los Angeles Clippers were beating the “San Francisco” Warriors, the reigning NBA champions, by 60-47. The Clippers had opened the game with a roar and about 40 points in the first quarter. They were hitting all their shots. I thought the game was in the bag and got into my car and fumbled around with my radio controls to hear the end of the game, but decided instead to listen to satellite radio and updates on the situation in Paris on my drive home to Dana Point. Imagine my surprise this morning to read that the Warriors made a stunning reprise in the second half of the game and won it, 124-117, to maintain their undefeated status for the first dozen or so games of the season.
The Clippers were not actually at “full strength,” as starting shooting guard J.J. Redick was sidelined with back spasms. It is clear any NBA team that is going to take on the new Warriors will need to be on top of their game for all four quarters. But the resurrection of the Warriors as a team to be respected has been great to watch. For decades relegated to the lower rungs of the league and seemingly a team without a town behind it, winning has made all the difference for the Bay Area basketball team. After playing in locations all across the Bay, now a strong proposal for a permanent arena in San Francisco, backed by local politicians and undoubtedly well-heeled Silicon Valley fans and money that respond well to victories, are fueling this new era of great baseball and a basketball team finally to be re-anchored in San Francisco. Not to mention a football team that has a history of winning.
The 9th ranked UCLA Bruins college football team have won three straight games, and clobbered the Arizona State Wildcats on September 26, 56-30. Below is a recent article on their star, 18-year-old Freshman Quarterback, Josh Rosen…..
From Sept. 20 Los Angeles Times:
UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, finally, looked every bit of age 18.
He looked it on the Rose Bowl field Saturday night, against a team of grown-ups from Brigham Young, throwing loose passes into tight coverage.
He looked it on the two first-half interceptions he gifted to BYU middle linebacker Harvey Langi, and on the third he threw to defensive back Kai Nacua.
Rosen looked like every freckle on his student ID card when he sneaked into the interview room at the Rose Bowl. It was around midnight, after UCLA had secured a 24-23 victory in which Rosen was more an impediment than the catalyst.
So far, the Oakland A’s new relief pitcher Pat Venditte, who can quite amazingly throw effectively either as a right-hander or a left-hander, “has been great” according to Manager Bob Melvin. Making his debut less than two weeks ago, in his first five and 2/3rds innings of work in four games he gave up just one hit, two walks, and no earned runs. That is a good record! The A’s have been careful about protecting a sore shoulder, and put Venditte briefly on the disabled list earlier this week.
But even opposing teams, let alone baseball fans, are eager to see Venditte in action. “He can pitch underwater!” Angels catcher Chris Iannetta recently joked to reporters. “It’s definitely hard enough to pitch in the major leagues with one arm. It’s pretty impressive to do it with both.” Under new rules established specifically for him, Venditte must declare which arm he is going to throw with before an at-bat. But if a team brings in a pinch-hitter, Venditte can switch arms because a new hitter has entered the game. The idea of a switch-arm pitcher facing a switch pinch-hitter is mind boggling from a baseball strategy perspective but it is really going to make watching the Oakland A’s in later innings when the relief pitchers are called in a very interesting time for baseball fans!
Lon Simmons, best known as the voice of the San Francisco Giants, but also a broadcaster for the Oakland A’s and 49ers, has passed away at age 91. Simmons, whose influence on northern California professional sports is considered by some to be similar to Vin Scully’s in southern California, moved west with the Giants in 1958 to be on their first broadcasting team in San Francisco, along with Russ Hodges, and called many historic games and plays of the likes of Willie Mays, Willie McCovery, the great right-handed pitcher Juan Marichal who in a rage once clobbered Dodger catcher John Roseboro with a baseball bat, and 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.
An excellent obituary appears here in http://www.sfgate.com/sports/shea/article/Lon-Simmons-Bay-Area-broadcasting-legend-dead-6180395.php.
Lon Simmons, Rest in Peace.
Players for California’s five Major League Baseball teams are in the process of reporting to their Spring Training camps all located in Arizona, where inter-league pre-season games for about four weeks will get under way starting March 3. Catcher Buster Posey returns to the World Champion San Francisco Giants camp in Scottsdale, Arizona as the only returning starting position player to have participated in all three recent World Champion teams. Though several of the Giant’s pitching staff have rings from all three of those World Series wins, free agency and trades have seen the departures of great regular position players like third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who has gone to work for the Boston Red Sox. The Giant’s pitching staff remains very strong, with a great five man rotation that includes not only MVP Madison Bumgarner, but also Matt Cain and now again Tim Lincecum as the fifth starter. Lincecum, a former Cy Young winner who has had trouble the last few years, has been working hard off season to get his pitches back. But the Giants had a little scare when Manager Bruce Bochy was admitted to a hospital in Scottsdale for a heart ailment and had two stints implanted. Bochy is expected to recover very quickly and be at the stadium this next week.
The Los Angeles Dodgers open their pre-season on March 4 with a game in Glendale, Arizona against the Chicago White Sox. The Dodgers added catcher Yasmani Grandal as a back-up to A.J. Ellis in a trade with the San Diego Padres that gained the Padres slugger Matt Kemp. Ellis caught for Clayton Kershaw all the way to his Cy Young Award last year, the first pitcher to win both that award and be the MVP for a National League team since 1968 (Bob Gibson). Though Grandal can swing the bat, this observer believes the Padres got the better end of the deal, and just what they need, a really, really good hitter for the third or fourth spot. Outfielder Kemp is apparently eager to play for the Padres, reporting early to camp in Peoria, Arizona, where the Padres play in a lovely little stadium and where you can almost always get a pretty good seat in the shade. Kemp should be the star of the team in 2015.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim train in Tempe, Arizona. But news of the Angel’s spring training was dominated at the first press conference of the season by owner Arte Moreno’s complaints about the lack of progress in negotiating a new stadium lease with the City of Anaheim. The Angels have a four year window from 2016-2019 to opt out of their lease, and if they don’t, they must stay in the current 50 year-old stadium until 2029. All the news of possible NFL teams moving to the Los Angeles area and new stadiums being built is very much in Moreno’s mind. The Angels failed to land free agent pitcher James Shields in the off season and Home Run Derby winner Josh Hamilton has had problems with injuries.
Rounding out the California teams, the Oakland A’s players are in Mesa, Arizona, where they will also return to play at historic HoHoKam Park, most recently the home of the Chicago Cubs, but a familiar former base for the A’s fans, where the A’s played in the late 1970s. A very interesting development is the potential addition and return of left-hander and former San Francisco Giant Barry Zito, who rejoins the A’s on a minor league contract. The 36-year-old, who won the 2002 AL Cy Young Award, left the A’s to sign a $126 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco before the 2007 season. Zito was spotty during his entire term with the Giants until 2012, when he featured in three playoff victories, going 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA that helped propel the Giants into the World Championship. And he won Game 1 of that World Series. He became a favorite in San Francisco because of those key victories, and received a standing ovation when he left the field in 2013 after striking out Mark Kotsay of the Padres in relief in Zito’s last game as a Giant. The Giant’s subsequently declined Zito’s 2014 option and bought it out for $7 million. Zito sat out that season but now appears to be working hard to get back into baseball and on the A’s roster.
The A’s ace pitchers, right-handers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, are both coming off “Tommy John” surgery, Parker for the second time. (No wonder the A’s are tinkering with the idea of left-hander Zito making a come-back!)
Pete Carroll might have been the only football coach in history to have won two Superbowls and two national collegiate championships, and after a spectacular Jermaine Kearse juggling catch in the red zone into a last minute march to the goal-line, it looked like it was going to happen for Seattle, who trailed the Patriots by 28-24. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle’s crack running back, was a cinch to run the final score into the end-zone and win the game for the Seahawks, but instead, Quarterback Russell Wilson threw an interception to the Pat’s defender Malcolm Butler and the game ended, after a little player rumble, with Quarterback Tom Brady’s Patriots as the winners. Pete Carroll’s hopes were dashed at least this year.
There were plenty of happy Patriot fans, but perhaps the happiest would have been Steve Stevens of VIP Sports Betting in Las Vegas. Stevens, who was featured last year on a CNBC series on sports betting, had tweeted and Facebooked before the game start that he had personally bet $500,000 on the Patriots. He was probably the happiest person in America when the Patriots sealed their victory with just 20 seconds left in the game.
Seahawk’s coach Pete Caroll is one win away from making football history! If the Seahawks win the Superbowl, he will be the only football coach in history to have won two Superbowls and two collegiate football national championships. And those college championships were as head coach of our state’s University of Southern California Trojans.
There is indeed a California connection to Pete Caroll, and Trojan fans fondly remember him for bringing vitality and strength back into the USC football program after several years of misfires. Sadly, some of Pete’s achievement at USC was marred by recruiting violations. But that doesn’t change the fact of the football wins, any more than the “deflategate” scandal has disqualified the New England Patriots from their chance to battle the Seahawks in football’s biggest game. Regardless, we wish both Pete Caroll and Bill Belichick and their teams good luck in the Super Bowl on Sunday, and Trojan fans especially will know who they are rooting for!