Breven’s Blog: Aztec Hall of Fame Class Announced

Image of the SDSU Sports Hall of Fame

This past week, the San Diego State Athletic Department announced the five newest members of the Aztec Hall of Fame.

Let’s take a closer at these former Aztecs

First is former baseball head coach, Jim Dietz.

Dietz coached the Aztec baseball team for 31 seasons and by retirement, finished with 1,231 wins and a .620 winning percentage, good for seventh nationally among active Division I coaches in 2002. Some players Dietz coached include 1996 Golden Spikes Award winner, Travis Lee; Tony Gwynn, Bud Black, Mark Grace, and Bobby Meacham. In 1979, he guided the team to its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Second is former men’s basketball player Xavier Thames.

Thames graduated in 2014 and in his senior season, he led the team to a Mountain West regular-season conference championship and an NCAA Tournament Appearance, reaching all the way to the Sweet 16.

During the 2013-14 campaign, Thames was the Mountain West Player of the year, an AP All-American Honorable mention, an NABC First-Team All-District Team, a two-time National Player of the Week and a Bob Cousy Award Finalist

A transfer from Washington State, he played 97 games, recorded 1,232 points and 316 assists. Thames was part of three NCAA Tournament teams and in his senior season, he once had a streak of 190 minutes without turning over the ball.

Third is former track star Shanieka Thomas (Ricketts), who graduated in 2014.

Thomas was a three-time triple jump national championship, a two-time runner-up in the triple jump and a three-time United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association West Region Athlete of the Year. In the Conference, she was 2013 Mountain West Female Athlete of the Year and a nine-time MWW champion for both indoor and outdoor track. 

She currently holds the SDSU record for indoor and outdoor triple jump. 

Fourth is former women’s basketball player Jené Morris.

Morris graduated in 2010 and led SDSU to its first-ever Sweet 16 appearance at the 2010 NCAA Tournament. 

She averaged 15.8 points per game and ranks fifth on the career points list with 1,499. 

Morris became the first lady Aztec to hear her name during the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever as the 11th pick in 2010.  In addition, she became the first Aztec player to get at least 100 steals in a season twice.   

Last is former men’s soccer goalie Tally Hall, who graduated in 2006.

Hall was a two-time All-American and a two-time first-team NSCAA All-Far West Region member. He also holds single-season records in save percentage (88.9%, which led the country in 2005) and 0.49 goals-against average. Hall was part of two NCAA Tournament teams in 2005 and in 2006.

After his time as an Aztec, he played 10 years in Major League Soccer, including eight with the Houston Dynamo and a 2011 All-Star.

The five former Aztecs will be officially inducted into greatness during Hall of Fame weekend, October 11-12.

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Blog: Tony Gwynn’s Early August Successes and Defeats

Tony Gwynn swings and hits a baseball

Early August meant a lot to Mr. Padre.

August 6 was his mother’s birthday and on that same day 26 years ago, he recorded his 2,000 career hit at Qualcomm Stadium. Six years later to the day in 1999, he would record his 3,000-hit in Montreal.

But 25 years ago, the 1994 Major League Baseball season was good and bad.

The strike ended the season (including the Montreal Expos’ franchise and Michael Jordan’s baseball career), and to add more fuel to the fire, it was the first time since 1904 that the World Series was not played. The National League, however, won the All-Star Game for the first time in six years (Gwynn scored the winning run).

In addition, the hitters did not allow the season to go into a full disappointment. For example, Gwynn had a season for the ages, as he attempted to achieve a feat that has not been accomplished since 1941 – have a .400 batting average by the final game.

The strike stopped Gwynn from accomplishing a historic feat.

August 11, 1994, was the final day of the season due to the strike and Gwynn finished six points behind a mark that has inevitably stood since San Diegan Ted Williams hit. 406 for the Boston Red Sox, 78 years ago. He missed .400 by just three hits. 

Before Gwynn passed away in 2014, the question arose: Would he have hit .400 in ’94?

With (supposedly) six weeks left in the regular season, Padres fans and those who followed Gwynn (media personnel, MLB executives, etc.) knew that nothing would stop him from achieving that feat. 

Nothing but a strike that would end the season early.  

Gwynn finished the 1994 season with a .394 batting average, 165 hits, 35 doubles, 79 runs, and (only) 19 strikeouts. He had an on-base percentage of .454 and a slugging percentage of .568. He also finished seventh in the National League MVP voting but received one of his seven Silver Sluggers that season.

The key stat that stands out, besides the batting average, is the strikeouts.

Just 19 strikeouts. Today, 19 strikeouts for a player comes within a few weeks. But Tony Gwynn was that good to put the ball in play and not go down by way of the ‘K’. 

The Hall of Famer only struck 434 times in his career and struck out three times only once during his career. Some players get to 434 strikeouts in 2.5 seasons. Never once did Gwynn strikeout to the arguably-best pitcher of his generation, Greg Maddux, which Gwynn hit .429 off him.

So the question is not just, “What if Tony Gwynn hit .400 in 1994,” but it is, “Could you imagine the season Tony Gwynn could have ended up with had the entire season been played?”

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Blog: MLB Trade Deadline Recap

MLB Team Logos

The July 31 trade deadline for all 30 Major League Baseball teams has come and gone, but this year was different from the years past.

Before 2019, teams had the opportunity to make trades in August, but it was eliminated before the start of the season. Now teams have to decide two months in advance what piece(s) they need to progress in the playoffs and have a chance to win the World Series. Teams also use this deadline to improve the depth of the franchise, whether it is at the major league level or in their minor league farm system.

Today we are going to recap this year’s trades. 

The San Diego Padres were involved in two trades. 

The Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, and Padres combined on a three-team trade. The big names of this trade included Yasiel Puig going to the Indians, Trevor Bauer going to the Reds, and the Padres got the Reds’ top prospect Taylor Trammell (No. 30 overall, according to MLB.com). In addition, Padres’ outfielder Franmil Reyes and pitcher Logan Allen were sent to Cleveland.

In the other deal, the Padres received Carl Edwards Jr. and cash from the Chicago Cubs for Brad Wieck. So, it was a bullpen switch for both clubs.

On July 31st alone, there were almost 30 trades and close to 70 players went to another team.

Things started to heat up in the final hour as teams were looking to upgrade any needs they have. From starting pitching to adding bullpen depth, every type of move was made ranging from minor moves to blockbuster deals.

Before the Wednesday deadline, the big names going to new teams included Marcus Stroman going to the Mets from the Blue Jays and the Padres-Indians-Reds trade.

Then, there were some players that were projected to help a team make a playoff push but in the end, didn’t get traded. Both Giants’ pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith didn’t go; New York Mets’ starting rotation trio of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom and Zach Wheeler stayed together.

Two teams make big moves.

The major blockbuster move on Wednesday was the Houston Astros getting Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitcher Zack Greinke.

In return, the D-Backs got the Astros’ 3, 4 and 5 top prospects in the Astros’ farm system. The move gives the Astros not one, not two, but three reliable starting pitchers for the rest of the season and into the playoffs (Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Greinke). The Astros also got Aaron Sanchez and reacquired catcher Martin Maldonaldo. These transactions pushed them into favorites to win the World Series. 

Another winner from the trade deadline was the Atlanta Braves. They filled the hole of the lack of bullpen depth. They got three relievers including Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Shane Greene. Green has converted 22 out of 25 saves chances and will help out the Braves bullpen. 

While two teams made none.

Two teams that were looking to make big moves that didn’t were the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Many analysts said each team needed to add to their bullpen depth, but decided to stay with what they have. 

With no August trades in 2019, July 31 was the last day for teams to get a player that could be the difference-maker in the playoffs.

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Blog: MLB Ballpark Netting

Baseball Netting

One of the biggest topics of discussion over the past couple of years in Major League Baseball has been ballpark netting.

We have seen people get hit by foul balls and players have called to extend the netting. However, players still want to have the connection with fans, whether it is through fans receiving autographs, a ball, a bat, batting gloves, or even just a high five or a fist bump. This issue arises the question: What is more important, fan safety or fan interaction?

This began in 2017 when then-New York Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier hit a foul ball and struck a young girl in the stands at a game in Yankee Stadium. Luckily, the girl survived, but it brought this issue to the limelight. Following the incident, MLB prompted all 30 stadiums to extend the netting at least to the end of the dugouts before the start of the 2018 season.

Some stadiums has found a balance between the fan safety and fan interaction.

Many places, like Petco Park, have a gap in between the dugout and the batter’s eye where it is impossible for players to hit a foul ball into the stands.

Others have gaps underneath the netting so players can interact with fans just a few feet away. In addition, some stadiums have installed netting where it can be clipped to the dugout to still have the fan-player relationship.

Then there are some places that have extended the netting past the bases in foul territory. Just this past week, the Chicago White Sox extended their netting all the way down to the foul poles.

The issue still stands.

Only a few days ago, Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor hit a foul ball into the stands and hit a three-year-old boy. This event has prompted him to speak out about the issue:

“I encourage every MLB team to put the nets all the way down (to the foul pole). I know it’s all about the fans’ experience to interact with the players. I completely get that. You want to have that interaction with the players, getting autographs and stuff. But at the end of the day, we want to make sure everybody comes out of the game healthy. We’ve got to do something about it. ”

Francisco Lindor

Personal Opinion

I like the stadiums that have the clipped netting because it gives the players and coaches the opportunity to interact with fans in any way possible before and after games. During the game, the netting is clipped to the dugout to prevent injury from baseballs and bats leaving the field of play.

Overall, I am not a fan of the netting. Even though I understand fan safety, players want to have the interaction with the players. Whether it getting a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper autograph, the chances of getting one (especially on a baseball) is very limited with the netting. When I was 11-, 12-years-old, I would be able to get autographs next to the dugout and talk to players like Mat Latos and Heath Bell just a couple inches away.

I think that if people do sit close to the field, they better be ready to get out of way or catch the ball to protect and prevent others from getting hit. The ballpark ushers, ticket personnel and public address announcer can only do so much, but it is the fans that have to pay attention and if they feel that may get hit, then they should sit in a seat where it is more unlikely for a batted ball or bat to hit them.

Written by: Breven Honda