Monday, June 21, 2010.
The people who run Idaho Sports Properties and Qwest Arena have their roots in the old Diamond Sports organization that operated the Boise Hawks franchise and founded the Idaho Steelheads in the 1990’s. Though they weren’t responsible for the incredible success of Hawks manager Tom Kotchman (that was an Angels thing), they can be credited with keeping Kotchman happy—and keeping him coming back for 11 seasons. By the same token, Diamond Sports and Idaho Sports Properties have had some great hires with the Steelheads coaches of the new century, John Olver and Derek Laxdal. Three ECHL Kelly Cup Finals and two championships? That’s good stuff.
So there’s reason to believe ISP will find someone stellar to replace Laxdal, who resigned Friday to become head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings. The vital statistics as Laxdal departs: a record of 217-108-35 with the Steelheads, including the 2007 Kelly Cup title; a franchise-best 48-17-7 mark last season that earned him ECHL Coach of the Year honors, and 40-win seasons in all five years in Idaho.
Boise State is loading up on defensive linemen in its 2011 recruiting class, getting two more verbal commitments over the weekend according to Scout.com. The first was defensive end Robert Ash, a 6-3, 245-pounder from Elk Grove, CA, a city that has brought the Broncos considerable success—think Ryan Dinwiddie and Brandyn Thompson. Ash had offers from seven schools, including Colorado, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State. The other verbal comes from defensive tackle Jeff Worthy of La Habra, CA. The 6-4, 270-pounder racked up 137 tackles and 19 sacks last season. Three of the Broncos’ five 2011 commits so far are D-linemen.
To be sure, there’s distress in Fresno over Boise State’s departure to the Mountain West next year. The Fresno Bee’s George Hostetter wrote a Sunday commentary on the effect of the Broncos’ exit and the disappointment of long-time Fresno State fans over being left behind. Hostetter’s piece revolves around the Bulldogs’ budget, which is under pressure. “In every other year Fresno State could guarantee fans that Boise State would play here,” he writes. “That was a guaranteed opportunity to charge premium ticket prices.” And the agony goes from there.
Hostetter’s summation: “Fresno State now finds itself on the cusp of an eight-school WAC: The Bulldogs, San Jose State, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah State, Idaho, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. Simply put, for Fresno State to view such a hodgepodge of dispersed, poorly funded programs as a permanent home is to accept Division I intercollegiate athletic suicide.”
Former Boise State icon Ian Johnson is always a “glass half-full” guy. And he remains that way after the Minnesota Vikings added running back Ryan Moats to their roster. Johnson, who’s been on the Vikings’ practice squad since the end of the 2009 preseason, prefers to think of it as his team just adding another pair of legs going into training camp next month. Moats, the former Louisiana Tech standout, was recently cut by Houston, where he rushed for 390 yards and four touchdowns last seasons. Moats gives the Vikes six running backs. Ian, in Boise for a sports card show over the weekend, was on Idaho SportsTalk Friday and said, “No matter who’s here, the great thing about our team is the best guy will make the roster. As long as I get my chance, I’m very confident in my ability to make this team.”
After a disastrous Opening Night Friday, the Boise Hawks pulled it together and ended up winning their first series of the 2010 season. They capped it last night with a 7-6 win in Yakima Bears in 11 innings. It almost got away, as the Bears had tied it with two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth. But relievers Rogelio Carmona and Corey Martin shut the door from there. Then in the 11th, Wes Darvill beat out an infield hit, and Alvaro Ramirez scored all the way from second with the eventual winning run. The Hawks also got their first home run of the season, with Brandon May connecting in the first inning, part of a 3-for-4 night for the University of Alabama product. The Hawks now return home to face the defending Northwest League champion Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
The home opener is always something special at Memorial Stadium. And hey—after the coldest May in Boise in 51 years, do we have a picture-perfect June evening coming up tonight? Please? We do know the Hawks will enjoy it after many of them spent a long, lonely stint in Arizona in Extended Spring Training. “They’ve been playing for 10 weeks in front of nobody at 10:00 in the morning,” said manager Jody Davis at Hawks Media Day. “It’s going to be exciting for all of us.” And there’s more excitement in the offing for the club, as the Cubs have signed first-round pick Hayden Simpson and will send him to Boise after a tuneup in Mesa. Simpson was 13-1 with a 1.81 ERA as a junior at Division II Southern Arkansas. He worked out for the Cubs coaching staff Saturday at Wrigley Field.
Back to the name Kotchman (mentioned in the first paragraph), Tom Kotchman’s son Casey is now the holder of a big league record. The kid who grew up hangin’ around Memorial Stadium during his formative summers now has the longest streak of errorless games by a first baseman ever. Kotchman, now a 27-year-old Seattle Mariner, was spotless again yesterday in a 1-0 M’s win over the Cincinnati Reds. It was his 239th straight game without an error, breaking the record of Boston's Kevin Youkilis. "I'm not really the sentimental type, but this is pretty special, being on Father's Day," Kotchman told MLB.com. "My dad always hit me balls from third, second and short to simulate throws and try to pick them. We just always worked on a lot of defense."
This Day In Sports…June 21, 1964:
On Father’s Day, the Phillies stop the New York Mets, 6-0, as Jim Bunning tosses the first perfect game in the National League since 1880. The future Hall of Famer—and current Republican U.S. senator from Kentucky—also became the first pitcher of the 20th century to throw no-hitters in both leagues, having thrown one for the Detroit Tigers against the Boston Red Sox in 1958.
(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.)