Tuesday, May 11, 2010.
The Idaho Steelheads may have an extra factor working against them tonight: Dallas Braden’s Stockton mojo. Braden is the Oakland A’s lefthander who pitched the 19th perfect game in big league history Sunday. Part of the story was Braden’s relationship with Stockton, his hometown. After the amazing gem against Tampa Bay, Braden gave a shout-out to “The 209,” Stockton’s area code. He still lives in the Central California city, where he does a lot of volunteer work. Coincidentally, the A’s had offered Stockton natives special pricing in Section 209 at the Oakland Coliseum for Braden’s start Sunday. He delivered.
Now the Stockton Thunder pray for “209 osmosis” in tonight’s Game 6 of the ECHL National Conference Finals at Qwest Arena. The city’s had a particularly tough time during the recession. One more Steelies win in the series and it’s over. Braden, incidentally, started his pro career in the Northwest League in 2004 with the Vancouver Canadians. He did not, however, face the Boise Hawks that season.
It’s gone from all Richard Bachman all the time to all the way the other way for the Idaho Steelheads. A week ago Rejean Beauchemin seemed nothing more than an overqualified backup goalie as Bachman was tearing up the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Then came the Friday night blowout at the hands of the Stockton Thunder and the coinciding Bachman injury, and Beauchemin’s steady performance in Saturday’s Game 5 win. Now Bachman has been recalled by the AHL’s Texas Stars, who have a Game 7 in a playoff series tonight in Chicago. So the Steelies’ Game 6 tonight in Boise belongs to Beauchemin.
Curt Apsey, Boise State’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Advancement, was on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday and answered some of the many questions on Bronco Stadium expansion. The first thing that has to happen, of course, is the construction of Dona Larsen Park at the old East Junior High site, and there’s no firm timeline on that yet. “We want it done yesterday—it’s just a matter of raising some money,” said Apsey. It’s part of the plan, though. The 3,000-6,000 seat facility will serve Boise State and high school track & field, prep football and more. Then would come the change in Bronco Stadium. And contrary to some of the assumptions out there, Apsey said they haven’t decided whether to dig it down or build it up—or both (meaning lowering the field or horseshoeing the south or north end zones). Stay tuned.
In Russ Lande’s NFL Draft Report Card in this week’s Sporting News, he designates a “steal” in the draft for every division in the league. In the AFC East, it’s Jets first round pick Kyle Wilson. “He slid below Kareem Jackson and Devin McCourty, who are not as good as he is,” writes Lande of the former Boise State star. “Antonio Cromartie had better be ready to fight for his starting job.” Lande also said Wilson is the odds-on favorite to return punts for the Jets.
Lande’s “NFC West steal” is 49ers first rounder Mike Iupati out of Idaho. “The best interior lineman in this draft slid to No. 17 because of concerns about holding penalties,” says Lande. “He has the tools to become a Pro Bowler early in his career.” You know all about Iupati’s size, at 6-5, 331 pounds. But how about this one: the former Vandal’s hands are over 10½ inches long. Hold a ruler up to your hand and check that out.
When new Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice puts his first team on the floor this November, any new guys will be his guys. The last of three Greg Graham recruits for 2010 has opted for Colorado and has been released from his National Letter of Intent. Ben Mills, the 7-footer from Hartland, WI, told the Milwaukee Sentinel he has committed to the Buffaloes. That means Rice still has two scholarships available with just over a week left in the early signing period.
I thought the final NAIA baseball poll was going to be released yesterday, giving us an indication of the College of Idaho’s chances of making the NAIA World Series. Ahem…that’s today, with the official field in Lewiston being unveiled Thursday evening. While the Coyotes wait, they can celebrate a hometown Caldwell kid being voted the Player of the Year in the NAIA West. C of I’s Diego Robles, a senior third baseman, has hit 12 homers this season with 61 RBIs, the most by a Yote in 10 years. Robles is currently batting .425.
It was not the best night for former Boise Hawks pitchers in the bigs. With the Yankees’ Andy Pettite ailing, ex-Hawk Sergio Mitre got a spot start against Detroit. Mitre gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits in 4 1/3 innings, including a homer by former Yankee Johnny Damon—and the Tigers won, 5-4. Ironically, Mitre was supposed to go against his former Boise teammate, Detroit’s Dontrelle Willis, but manager Jim Leyland moved the D-Train to the bullpen. Meanwhile, Hawks alum John Lackey struggled at Fenway Park, yielding six runs in six innings, but he still got the win in a 7-6 Red Sox victory. Lackey improved to 4-1 with his new club.
LaGrande, OR, is sometimes considered an extension of the Treasure Valley and Southwest Idaho. It is right now, as tragedy has struck Eastern Oregon University football. At EOU’s spring game Saturday, Mountaineers wide receiver Dylan Steigers exhibited symptoms of a concussion on the sidelines after an on-field injury. Steigers, a transfer from Montana, was taken to the hospital—then was LifeFlighted to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where he died. Medical staff told university officials that Steigers suffered an acute subdural hematoma as a result of contact to the head. The LaGrande community is reeling—our thoughts and prayers go out to Steigers’ family and the Eastern Oregon team.
This Day In Sports…May 11, 2001:
The San Diego Gulls claim their fourth WCHL Taylor Cup in six years with a dominating 4-1 win over the Idaho Steelheads in Game 7. The Steelies had forced the decisive match with a stunning 5-1 victory two nights earlier before a hostile crowd of 8,000-plus in the San Diego Sports Arena. But the “McPherson factor” was too much—the Gulls rallying around their captain, B.J. McPherson, whose career was ended with a dislocated neck in Game 4 of the series in Boise.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)