Turning the calendar to April marks one of the best transitions of the year, when twiggy trees burst with new leaves, enough rain finally arrives to brush our hills green and baseball season erupts in all its spring glory.
Cal Poly baseball, which began in February, is now overlapped with Little League, which opened in March, and finally Major League Baseball, which got the season fully underway Monday.
We enjoyed a dose of all three last weekend, highlighted by an afternoon spent watching the Mustangs thump UC Davis in the finale of a three-game sweep. We missed getting out to Baggett Stadium last year, and I’ve been telling Mr. Big Fifth-Grader about what a great team Cal Poly has this year.
If you haven’t been paying attention since my last column on the subject and amid all the Mustang basketball hoopla, the baseball team has risen to No. 5 in the nation. Right now, certainly west of the Mississippi and probably beyond, there is not a better place to watch college baseball than right here in San Luis Obispo.
So the kid was excited to catch a game, even more so when I told him we could bring some balls and try to get the players to autograph them. After watching the 9-1 victory with Grandpa, we were able to get onto the field with a team of Little League kids.
The Mustangs were more than gracious in hanging out to oblige the young ballplayers, who bounced from one to another, covering their souvenirs with signatures. I advised Mr. Big Fifth-Grader, before anyone else, to chase down Poly’s ace pitcher, Matt Imhof, who is 6-2 after losing to UC Santa Barbara on Friday. He entered the game with a 1.05 ERA and an NCAA-leading 77 strikeouts. There he is, No. 48. Get his autograph, because he very well could be pitching at Chavez Ravine one day.
After getting Imhof and several other players to sign our two baseballs, it occurred to me I should have taken a picture or two, so we tromped across the infield and interrupted the junior lefthander, who by then was doing some postgame groundskeeping on the pitching mound.
Now we have a photo to go with our baseballs, and here’s a memo to the pro team in Los Angeles: Take a long look at this southpaw just up the road at Cal Poly. He’s going to go high in the draft, and wouldn’t he look great in Dodger blue, alongside your other great lefthander?
Speaking of the Dodgers, the beginning of the 2014 season has been beset by frustration, not on the field, but everywhere else, where it’s become difficult to catch a game if you don’t actually go to the stadium.
The biggest problem has been the squabble over the TV broadcasts, with Time Warner Cable, which controls the rights to the new SportsNet LA channel, still playing hardball with other distributors. The result is no televised Dodger games in San Luis Obispo County, except for a few picked up by ESPN or Fox.
Hopefully, negotiations are ongoing, and we’ll get our games back soon. Meanwhile, local Dodger radio broadcasts also underwent a change this year, switching from AM 1340 to 1280.
While the local ESPN affiliate will be a good fit for Dodger fans, it does present some new challenges because of the station’s coverage of Cal Poly sports.
To find out just what the plan was, I put a call into station general manager Mike Chellsen, because if you’re anything like me, it’s rather disappointing when you tune in to hear Vin Scully and someone else is on instead. Chellsen said the station will be broadcasting 135 of the 162 games this year, but he noted, “April’s probably the worst month because we have quite a few conflicts.”
One such conflict occurred on Wednesday, when the Dodgers were bumped by C.J. Silas’ local sports talk show. Starting this week, however, Silas will be moving to Thursdays at 6 p.m., which is less likely to conflict because it’s often a travel day for the Dodgers.
Chellsen, who is a Cal Poly alum, said the station’s been fielding lots of calls from fans wanting to know what’s up.
“This thing happened pretty quickly, so we’re stilling getting our arms around it,” he said.
In cases when Cal Poly is playing ahead of the Dodgers, Chellsen said, ideally the station will switch over to the game. So look out for that. Chellsen said 1280 will be San Luis Obispo’s home for the Dodgers for at least three years, if not longer.
Now, if only the station could boost its signal so I could get all the way home over the Cuesta Grade without losing the broadcast. Like I said, it’s April, and hope springs eternal.
Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joetarica. Stay updated by adding Joe Tarica on Google+.