Breven’s Blog: Reflecting on the Life of Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn swinging a bat

Sunday was not just Father’s Day for Tony Gwynn Jr. That day marked five years since the passing of his Dad, Anthony Keith Gwynn, a legend in San Diego.

Gwynn came to SDSU on an unpredictable basketball scholarship, but once his basketball coach let him play baseball, he would be lights out both on the hardwood and on the diamond. The Long Beach native was a star point guard and still hold the records for most assists in a season (221), assists per game (8.2) and in a career (590). In Gwynn’s final game as an Aztec basketball player, he would have a career game, posting 16 points and 16 assists against New Mexico in 1981.

Although he came to SDSU as a basketball player at Montezuma Mesa, he still wanted to contribute to the Aztec baseball team. When he got the OK to play baseball from former SDSU basketball head coach Tim Vezie in his sophomore year, he became a two-time All-American. He would go on to play with teammates that would go on to play or partake some role in Major League Baseball (MLB), including MLB umpire Kerwin Danley (Gwynn’s roommate at SDSU), former pitcher and Colorado Rockies Manager Bud Black, former player and coach Bobby Meacham, and former player and two-time World Series Champion Al Newman. Gwynn received Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors in both basketball and baseball, making him the only athlete in WAC history to accomplish that feat.

Before professional sports were a televised event, Gwynn was able to accomplish things that only few people have ever achieved.

In June of 1981, Gwynn would get drafted by the then-San Diego Clippers (now Los Angeles Clippers) and the San Diego Padres on the same day. Gwynn would choose to stay in San Diego and play for the Padres. He would make his debut one year later in July of 1982 and from that moment on, he would wear the brown and gold, the blue and orange and the pinstripes up until his final season in 2001.

For 20 seasons, Gwynn was known for his hitting, but during his first slump he started a trend – video. In 1983, he was in a slump and asked his wife to get a camera to film his at-bats. From then on, he would never have a slump like what he went through and it was the beginning of video in the game of baseball. With Gwynn initiating the aspect of film in the sport (in terms of looking back and studying the video), people would call him “Captain Video.” Gwynn would finish his 1983 season with a batting average .309 and for the next 18 years of his career, he would never hit below .300. In 1984, it was a great year for the Padres and Gwynn himself. He would go to his first All-Star Game, win his first batting title and go to his first World Series.

As Gwynn would continue to go to All-Star Games, he would also win batting titles, Silver Sluggers and receive Gold Gloves.

When the 1990s came around, he would continue to get better by talking to retired players, such as Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Ted Williams. After his conversations with both of them, his best year were on the horizon. From 1994 to 1997, he led the National League in hits three times, won four batting titles, went to four All-Star games and only struck out 79 times in those four years. And in those four years, he had a slash line of .371 (batting average)/.415 (on base percentage)/.511 (slugging percentage), an ideal spot for hitters, the iconic .300/.400/.500 line. His batting average would also include getting a chance at hitting .400 in 1994, the closest anyone has accomplished that feat since Williams hit .406 in 1941. Gwynn would finish with a .394 batting average in a shortened-season due to a strike.

In 1998, Gwynn and Padres would have another magical run in the postseason, like what they through in 1984.

They would win 98 games and the division, beat future Hall of Famers like Randy Johnson from the Houston Astros, who won 102 games in the NL Division Series. Then, they outlasted the Hall of Fame trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz from the Atlanta Braves, who won 106 games to get to the World Series and face a New York Yankees team that won 114 games during the regular season. At the end of the 2001 season, Gwynn would call it a career as he would finish with a .338 lifetime batting average, record 3,141 hits, go to 15 All-Star games, win five Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, and eight batting titles. Another thing he also won was respect; respect from players, coaches, fans and the media from around Major League Baseball because of the humbleness and person that he was, more than a baseball player.

Gwynn’s favorite memory came from the postseason and that was hitting a home run at (old) Yankee Stadium in Game One of the World Series. He cared about his family; he wanted to stay in America’s Finest City and not be traded or take a new contract in a different city. He spent his career in one town for an entire career, was a part of two World Series teams and will forever known as “Mr. Padre.” After Gwynn finished his baseball career, he would continue being on the field by coming back to Montezuma Mesa to be the head coach of the Aztec baseball team beginning in 2002.

In 2007, he would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. by getting 97.6% of the ballot.

Gwynn will forever be known as “Mr. Padre” and an Aztec For Life. Ever since he came to San Diego in 1977, he never wanted to leave the city and the fans never wanted him to leave. It was the bond that he was able to create with players, coaches, fans and the media that made him stand out. June 16 has been a day to never forget Tony Gwynn for Padre fans, Aztec fans, and MLB fans that admired him.

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Sports Blog: SDSU Baseball, Basketball & Track

Bonnie Draxler cheering

SDSU Aztecs prove to be at the top of their game by winning major accolades and securing MLB draft picks. Soon enough, the basketball teams will face off opponents in the MWC.

Track & Field ends the year at Outdoor Champs with medals and honors.

What a year it has been for senior pole vaulter Bonnie Draxler. Back in March, the senior finished with a silver medal in the NCAA Indoor Championships. This time in the Outdoor Championships, she would do the same.

Last Thursday, Draxler would continue her run of making the podium for the field event by placing second. She cleared a height of 14-09.50 (4.51m) and finished as the NCAA runner-up.

In addition to Bonnie Draxler, the SDSU 4×400 meter team raced for a chance at gold. The team would come up short with a time of 3:33.64, which was good for 11th best.

The 4x400m relay team consisted of sophomore Sakura Robinson, senior Lise-Anne Barrow, sophomore Jalyn Harris, and freshman Nyjari McNeil.

As a result of this young team, the future is bright for SDSU Track and Field, especially in the 4x400m.

Over the weekend, history was made when all five athletes earned All-American honors, according to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Sunday.

Draxler was named to the first team and the 4x400m relay team was selected to the second team.

This was not Draxler’s first go-around as an All-American.

In four years as an Aztec, she became a four-time All-American, which includes becoming a two-time first-team All-American (2019 Indoor and Outdoor Championships), a second-team All American at the 2018 Indoor Championships, and was an honorable mention in the 2017 outdoor season.

4 Aztecs drafted into MLB

The month of June marks a new beginning for baseball players to start their professional career.

Every Major League Baseball Draft is composed of 40 rounds and this year, 1,217 players were selected; however, not all will decide to play pro ball. One reason is due to the college the person has already committed to.

In the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, four players from San Diego State were selected.

RHP Logan Boyer – 11th round, Los Angeles Dodgers

OF Julian Escobedo – 17th round, Cleveland Indians

RHP Adrian Mardueno – 20th round, St. Louis Cardinals

SS Angelo Armenta – 38th round, Tampa Bay Rays

With these four players getting drafted, the SDSU Baseball Program now has 219 MLB draft picks and 21 since 2014.

From the Mountain West, only Fresno had a higher number of draft picks from their program, recording eight.

MWC unveils conference opponents and schedule

On June 6, the Mountain West Conference released the 2019-20 conference schedule for both men’s and women’s hoops, but unlike years past, there are some things that will change and some things that will stay the same.

In the past, Conference games started a week before New Year’s Day. This year, it starts almost a month before the new year. What will stay the same are the number of opponents a team will face.

The Mountain West will stick to its normal 18-game conference schedule, but conference play begins as early as December 4.

The Aztecs’ conference opener is set for Dec. 4 against Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo. and their first home game is Sunday, Dec. 8 against San Jose State.

The two early conference games is because the 2020 MWC Tournament is a week before and there is a convention the usual week the tournament would be held, according to a tweet from the Mountain West Wire (@MWCwire).   

After the conference games, the Mountain West takes a break for teams to play non-conference opponents and face finals. Conference play resumes New Year’s Day with the Aztecs staying home to face Fresno State.

Conference play will last until Feb. 29 when the Aztecs head to a familiar spot to end the season: Reno, Nev. to face the Wolfpack for a third consecutive year.

The MW Tournament will have the same format, but will begin March 4 and will go until the seventh.

There are pros and cons to moving the Conference schedule up two weeks.

Pro: by moving the conference schedule up two weeks the team(s) that makes the NCAA Tournament have two weeks to get ready rather than four days (or two days if in the first round play-in game).

Con: The Aztecs always ride the fans’ jubilant energy (particularly from the students; The Show), especially for conference games. As a result of the change and most students going home for winter break, the Aztecs will have to get fired up some other way for three games at Viejas Arena until the 2020 spring semester classes begins on Jan. 22. However, what makes it a con are the three teams the Aztecs are facing: Jan. 1 vs. Fresno St., Jan. 11 vs. Boise St., and Jan. 18 vs. Nevada.

Here’s the schedule for Men’s and Women’s Basketball for SDSU:

DateMen’s ScheduleWomen’s Schedule
Dec. 4@ Colorado StateVs. Colorado State
Dec. 7Vs. San Jose State (Dec. 8)@ San Jose State
Jan. 1Vs. Fresno State@ Fresno State
Jan. 4@ Utah StateVs. Utah State
Jan. 8@ WyomingVs. Wyoming
Jan. 11Vs. Boise State@ Boise State
Jan. 15@ Fresno StateVs. Fresno State
Jan. 18 Vs. Nevada@ Nevada
Jan. 22Wyoming@ Wyoming
Jan. 25@ UNLVVs. UNLV
Jan. 29@ New MexicoVs. New Mexico
Feb. 1Vs. Utah State@ Utah State
Feb. 8@ Air ForceVs. Air Force
Feb. 12Vs. New Mexico @ New Mexico
Feb. 15@ Boise St.Vs. Boise State
Feb. 22 Vs. UNLV@ UNLV
Feb. 26Vs. Colorado State@ Colorado State
Feb. 29@ NevadaVs. Nevada
Written by: Breven Honda
Featured Image by: goaztecs.com

Breven’s Sports Blog: Padres Working Towards Recovery

Padres shortstop Tatis Jr. crouching down

The San Diego Padres look to improve their offensive game despite a minor setback early on in the season.

The hometown team, who entered the week at 30-29 and are only two games back of the second wild-card spot, are looking to heat up in the final stretch before the All-Star Break.

Today, we are going to dive into a couple of Padres topics.

Injuries

For the past five weeks, the Padres have been playing without their shortstop phenom and No. 2 prospect across MLB, Fernando Tatis Jr. Fortunately, their backup shortstop – Manny Machado – has played great since his departure.

Before the team’s top prospect went down, the combination between Machado and Tatis Jr. filling the left side of the infield saw a glimpse into what the next 10-plus years could look like for baseball in San Diego.

That glimpse would turn to a pause after the Padres lost to the Nationals, 7-6 in 10 innings on April 28. Tatis Jr. went down after overstretching for a ball at second base and pulled a hamstring

With hamstring injuries, the timing is uncertain as to when a player will return, but it all depends on the muscle itself. Some take a couple of days; some take a month or two.

However, some good news came this past weekend for Tatis Jr. and the Padres.

Tatis Jr. began his rehab assignment this past Monday in Double-A Amarillo (Texas) in hopes to return to the team by the end of the homestand or early next week.

In that game he would go 1-for-3 with two walks. That hit would be an infield single that he legged out. Despite having a throwing error, he would steal a base for the Amarillo Sod Poodles in their 8-5 loss against the Frisco RoughRiders.

As a result of baseball’s No. 2 prospect going down, Machado moved over to shortstop and the backups at third base have not been as consistent.

The Padres have used a duo between San Diego State Alum Ty France and San Diego-product via Valhalla High School Greg Garcia to fill the gap to cover the hot corner. Although France and Garcia have seen playing time at the hot corner, the consistency has not been there.

Tatis Jr. posted a batting average of .300, hit six home runs and also had six stolen bases, with most of those coming in the leadoff spot before he got injured.

Not only does this affect the hot corner, but it also has an effect on the leadoff spot. Since Tatis Jr. went down, the combination of Wil Myers, Garcia, and Ian Kinsler plays a key hitting role in the top spot. Garcia secure the most time in the leadoff spot, but the same theme of inconsistency transpires.

Besides Tatis Jr. working back from his injury, others are also starting their rehabilitation assignments. Both outfielders Jose Pirela and Franchy Cordero started their rehab assignments last week in Triple-A El Paso and are close to making a comeback.

Also, catcher Francisco Mejia and outfielder Alex Dickerson completed their rehab assignments last week and have been activated, playing in El Paso.

The most notable player completing his rehabilitation assignments is pitcher Dinelson Lamet who is coming off Tommy John surgery a couple days before Opening Day last season. Lamet is on schedule of the rehab process, which is usually around 12-16 months and, if all goes well, is on pace to rejoin the Padres at the end of the month.

Offense

Despite the injury to Tatis Jr., the Padres have been able to hit the ball well. Although the Padres are 14-15 since he went down, the bats have been staying alive.

First baseman Eric Hosmer has stepped up over the past month. After hitting under .200 in the season’s first few weeks, he has brought his batting average up to .300 last week that includes posting a 10-game hitting streak, which ended Sunday.

In the month of May, Hosmer went 36-for-105 with a .343 batting average, scored 17 times, and had 15 RBIs.

The Padres are ninth in all of baseball (and fourth in the National League) with 89 home runs (as of June 4). Outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes, who have each recorded 17 home runs so far, have kept the offense alive.

Everyday, there has been at least one player to keep the offense going.

As the calendar gets into the heart of June, the next couple of weeks will determine whether or not the Padres will be playoff contenders as well as buyers or sellers (or stand pat) as the Trade Deadline looms in July. The Padres could even look at getting a starting pitcher such as free agent Dallas Keuchel or Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer to bolster a young rotation.

Written by: Breven Honda
Featured Image from: The San Diego Union-Tribune

Movements at the OC Observatory

Movements performed a sold-out show at the Observatory Orange County on Friday, April 19.

With alternative rock groups alongside Movements including Drug Church, Trash Boat, and Boston Manor, Movements managed to put on a memorable act that shows their growth as musicians as well as their appreciation for their loyal hometown fans.

Orange County’s Observatory, in comparison to the North Park location, was a bit too claustrophobic for my liking. For one, the venue was entirely general admission but consisted of terraces that spaced out the crowd into awkward sections. Second, the pit was simply too tiny for the number of people wanting to mosh, crowd surf, and just have that full concert experience. The crowd was stuffed like sardines but this did not put a damper on their energy for the openers. Unfortunately, I missed Drug Church and Trash Boat’s sets, but Boston Manor’s performance easily made up for it and got me excited for the rest of the concert.

An Emo and pop-punk band from across the pond, Boston Manor is hands down one of my favorite groups to watch live. Henry Cox is an excellent frontman with the vocal abilities to match which showed in their opener “Flowers in Your Dustbin” from their latest release Welcome to the Neighbourhood. Backed by talented musicians, Cox kept the crowd moving with their hits like “Halo” and “Lead Feet,” angst-driven anthems that warmed up fans for the main event.

Movements exploded in popularity upon releasing their debut album Feel Something in 2017.

Since then, they’ve toured with big-name players in the scene such as Knuckle Puck, Citizen, Turnover, and The Story So Far. The band opened with “The Grey” which describes the feeling of slipping into a cold and lonely depression. Frontman Patrick Miranda, who is open about his struggles with anxiety and depression, is unafraid to speak on mental health issues in his lyrics. Next up was a fan favorite “Colorblind” which had the audience pushing, shoving, and loudly singing along. Miranda is known for his colorblindness, consistently making note of it in other songs like “Deep Red” which is a personal favorite of mine. This song starts off with a catchy bassline, worked by Austin Cressey, that punches through the guitars and vocals. The chorus is ear-wormy in and of itself with a break down that allowed the band to let loose on stage.

Movements is a SoCal band that grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita who, despite their rise to fame in the scene, have not forgotten their roots. This show specifically was a sign of gratitude to the fans that have stayed with them all these years. Patrick reminisced to the time they opened for the band Basement in the same venue. In 2015, they performed in front of 300 people. Today, they sold-out a well-known music venue, playing in front of an audience who truly cares about their art.

The end of the show was bittersweet. Movements came out to a crowd chanting their name and finished with the classic “Daylily.” As the song reached its crescendo, Patrick raised the mic to the audience as they sang “‘I think it’s time you had a pink cloud summer'” back to the band. The group felt at home and living the dream.

Written by: Rica Perez