Saturday, November 10, 2018

Voting, Football, Smoke & Racing

Most of the mail-in and drop-off ballots in Elk Grove have been counted now by the Sacramento County Elections department and Steve Ly will get four more years as Mayor. He outdistanced city councilman Darren Suen by 3,705 votes. Tracie Stafford was a distant third.

Though the city is beginning to see some economic growth with the promise of new development in Old Town, the looming construction of the casino near Grantline and Highway 99 and the I-5 corridor on the west side of Elk Grove, Ly's initial term as mayor has been generally without much fanfare. The widely-promised city sports complex at Grantline and Waterman still hasn't turned any dirt and there are many empty retail locations. The long-planned city aquatics project, for some reason, has been delayed to sometime next year.
Scenes such as this are becoming very common in northern
California. The Camp Fire in Butte County is now the
most costly fire in California history with more
than 6,700 structures burned.

Maybe it's the fact the City has several new housing developments and there are enough plans for business growth that  has given voters enough confidence in Ly to give him the mayoral seat for another four years. Let's hope those who did go to the polls didn't vote for him because of the airplane-pulled banner that flew over Elk Grove the past month.

A big concern has to be the realism that very few of our citizens are voting. The latest numbers show 28, 312 Elk Grovians marked a ballot for mayor. In fact, county-wide just 33% of eligible voters did so, according the California Secretary of State's office.

My dad used to say, "If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain."

Monterey Trail hosts Oak Ridge Friday

The football season is over for Elk Grove and Sheldon following second round playoff losses on Nov. 9. Sheldon once again had issues with beating St. Mary's, dropping a 30-29 decision in Stockton while the Thundering Herd were thumped, 49-7, at Central Catholic.

In a sport where depth is necessary, the fairly thin squads at Elk Grove and Sheldon are really no match for the private schools. Only Folsom, which everyone knows opens its doors to any decent football player that lives in Northern California and Nevada, remains alive - with the exception of Monterey Trail, a school that highlights this season some of its best football players they've ever had.

Coach T.J. Ewing annually has had one of the area's toughest squads, but this year he's mixed in some homegrown talent to run to that school's first-ever 11-0 record. On Friday, the rolled right by Pitman, 63-7. Next up is another of those big foothill schools, Oak Ridge. The Mustangs have to go into that game as a favorite, which will likely set up a showdown the following week against top-seeded Folsom.

If any area team has a chance to give the Bulldogs a competitive game, it is Monterey Trail. But, first things first - beat Oak Ridge this Friday.

Smoke makes for orange sunrise

The fire that consumed all of the quaint town of Paradise has its remnants drifting south with smoke filling the skies over Elk Grove Saturday. If you didn't smell it you saw the orange twinge to the sun. What is very concerning is the reports, at the time of this writing, that the blaze is headed south to Oroville, a town that a couple years ago almost drifted away if it weren't for the last minute warnings of the Army Corp of Engineers when Lake Oroville began to flow over its dam. 

Fires in the area the past few years has made Oroville a spot for evacuees. Now, those fine folks may be headed south or west to escape this huge blaze.

The Camp Fire, as it is now called by Cal Fire, has destroyed more than 6,700 structures, most of them homes, and has the ominous moniker as the state's most destructive fire in history.

Larson to start eighth Sunday

Elk Grove NASCAR driver Kyle Larson will start eighth in Sunday's Can-Am 500 at newly-remodeled ISM Raceway in Phoenix. It's the next-to-the-last Monster Energy Cup event of 2018 in a year where Larson has yet to win.

After a four-win 2017 on NASCAR's premiere circuit this season Larson's #42 Chevrolet team has seen weeks of inconsistency and some tough breaks. He's finished second six times this season and has been in the top ten in 20 races. That's put him 12th in the points standings for the season.

One issue that Larson has encountered this year - and few are talking about it - is that Chevrolet has  provided his and the Chip Ganassi Racing team a different car model for 2018, a Camaro ZL1, and the results of all the Chevys have been poor. Only Chase Elliot (sixth in points overall) and Larson have had any measure of success. Elliot with two wins this season is the only Chevrolet to find the winners' circle. 

Naturally, this is a discussion being held behind closed doors between GM and the NASCAR race teams.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hunter-Reay grabs Indy Car win at Sonoma

By Diana Brennan, Sonoma Raceway

SONOMA, Calif. – Ryan Hunter-Reay knew what he had to do to win the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma. Scott Dixon knew what was needed to wrap up a fifth Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Mission accomplished on both fronts.

Hunter-Reay led 80 of 85 laps at Sonoma Raceway in a commanding performance to win the 2018 season finale from the pole position. Dixon started second and finished there, which was more than enough to secure the season crown.

“Man, this is so awesome!” said Dixon, whose five championships leave him behind only another legend, A.J. Foyt with seven, in Indy car annals. “I can’t believe that it’s actually happened. I can’t thank everybody enough for this, it’s so cool!”  
Scott Dixon and his family celebrate winning his fifth Indy Car
season championship on Sunday at Sonoma Speedway (photo by
Mike Finnegan)

Dixon entered the race with a 29-point lead, knowing he essentially only had to finish ahead of second-place Alexander Rossi in the double-points race. When Rossi damaged the front wing on his car and punctured a tire in first-lap contact with teammate Marco Andretti, it tipped the scales clearly in Dixon’s favor. From there, the driver of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda was content to trail Hunter-Reay and bring home the crown that earned Dixon another Astor Cup and $1 million prize.

“The whole race I was thinking about things that were out of our control, cautions that were going to flip the field,” said Dixon, whose 44 race wins rank third in Indy car history. “None of that happened.

“It was a very smooth race, but mentally it was tough and draining. Yeah, it's amazing to be in this situation, fifth championship. What we've achieved, what this team has achieved, I'm a very small piece in that whole wheelhouse of what's going on at Chip Ganassi Racing. I feel very lucky to work with the people that I do.”

With the achievement, Dixon moved ahead of Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Dario Franchitti – each of whom has four titles. All of Dixon’s championships have come in his 17 seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing, which laid claim to its 12th Indy car driver’s title.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Tellez sets modern-day record in Majors debut

Rowdy Tellez did something Thursday no one in modern-day baseball has ever done - hit an extra base hit in each of his first three Major League at-bats. That's according to the Bleacher Report who claims that the Toronto Blue Jay rookie slugger made the mark by stroking the first pitch he'd ever seen in a MLB game to right center field Wednesday night for a pinch hit RBI double, then followed that with back-to-back doubles in his first two at-bats Thursday in Toronto's 9-4 loss to Cleveland.

   Greg Tellez, who missed his son's first MLB at-bat Wednesday, was in the stands
Thursday in Toronto to see Rowdy set a modern-day baseball record.

To add to the emotion of the event, Rowdy pointed to the sky after his second at-bat of the game to honor his mother, Lori, who passed away just a month ago due to brain cancer.

(Watch Tellez make MLB History)

The 23-year-old's father, Greg, unfortunately missed his son's MLB debut Wednesday because of airline delays, but was in the crowd Thursday to watch Rowdy make history. Uniquely, the television announcer calling Tellez' feat was Buck Martinez, also a former Elk Grove H.S. baseball player.

Tellez has spent the past two seasons with Triple-A Buffalo and was called up last weekend to the parent Blue Jays. He graduated from EGHS in 2013. Tellez signed with Toronto right out of high school.

Larson 'dominant' in Southern 500, but finishes third

Elk Grove NASCAR driver Kyle Larson has had a great 2018 with three wins on the Xfinity series and a handful of wins on the dirt tracks driving sprint cars. But, he is still looking for win number one this year on the Monster Energy Cup series.

Late Sunday, though, it appeared as though Larson would be driving into the winner's circle with his performance in the Southern 500 in Darlington, S.C. He led 284 laps, taking first in both of the initial two stages of the race. But, a late caution light sent Larson and the leaders into the pits and in the race out onto the track he was edged out by Brad Keslowski. The driver of the No. 2 racer jumped on the pack on the restart and drove away with the checkered flag.

“We didn’t get beat off pit road by much, but it was enough,” Larson said. “Being the control car at any race track is huge, and we just didn’t have that. I was just really loose that last run, trying to run hard to stay with him.”

NASCAR now moves onto the famed track in Indianapolis this weekend for the Brickyard 400.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Davis, Freitas, Tellez called up to MLB

Three Elk Grove-area baseball players got the September call-up to their respective Major League teams this weekend. J.D. Davis (Astros), David Freitas (Mariners) and Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays) joined David Hernandez (Reds) giving our city four of its own playing at the highest level of pro baseball at once.

All of them were students of Jeff Carlson at Elk Grove High School.

Davis and Freitas have been making the trip between Triple-A and MLB all season because of injuries on their respective clubs. This will be Tellez' first appearance in the Bigs during the regular season.

David Freitas
It's actually bittersweet for Davis who ended his Triple-A season Monday with a Pacific Coast League-leading .342 for the Fresno Grizzlies. That's also the best batting average in all AAA baseball. Instead of helping the Grizzlies run for a PCL championship, Davis will likely be a fill-in for the defending World Champion Astros this month. Houston's regulars are now all back in the lineup after several of them spent time on the disabled list.

Freitas has also seen some time this year in Seattle when Mariners' starting catcher Mike Zunino was suffering from some injuries, but most of the year he's been with the Tacoma Rainiers. He, too, will likely do some filling in as Seattle has a pretty good chance at making the playoffs, battling with the A's and the Astros in the American League West.

After two seasons with the Buffalo Bisons in the International League, Tellez will likely get an opportunity for a few starts, especially because the Blue Jays are out of the post-season race. He had a good year in Buffalo, batting .270 with 13 homers, playing a solid first base.

Madrigal goes 4-for-4 in season finale

Nick Madrigal (a 2015 graduate of Elk Grove H.S.) had already won a title in 2018, helping lead Oregon State to its third College World Series crown in June. So it shouldn't have been much of a surprise that with another one on the line Monday afternoon, the former Beaver stood tall.
The No. 4 White Sox prospect went 4-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two stolen bases to lead Class A Advanced Winston-Salem to a 5-3 win over Down East at Grainger Stadium. With the win on the final day of the season, the Dash (43-25) finished with the same second-half record as Carolina League Southern Division rival Buies Creek but took home the second-half division title with a superior overall record (84-54 vs. 80-57). After securing the first-half crown, this marks the first time since 2012 that the Dash have won the division in both halves of a season.
"Everyone's really happy over here," Madrigal said. "We were trying to do it yesterday, but it just didn't work out. But overall, it's a great feeling, especially for the guys who have been around all season. It's a relief for them to set a goal like this and actually achieve it. I'm just really happy we could come together and pull this out for everyone on this team. 
Nick Madrigal ends his first minor league season Monday
by going four-for-four. He struck out only five times in
156 plate appearances this season.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Goodbye, Amy Hello, Marcus

Coming out of last week's activities and lost a bit under the news of Trump defectors and legal issues were two stories worth talking about.

First is the sudden departure of one of the top radio personalities in the market, Amy Lewis, from KFBK. For years she has graced the morning airwaves on AM 1530 and FM 93.1. She was reportedly told she was gone after she left the air last Wednesday. Replacing her is another familiar name in local broadcasting, Cristina Mendonsa, who for 21 years was the late night news anchor at News 10 (or ABC 10 as it is called today).

A few years ago, Amy came to talk to my journalism class at Burbank and was so graceful and kind. I had worked with her husband Stuart during my days as a traffic and news reporter at Metro Traffic more than 10 years ago. The two of them were very supportive of our Titan Media Productions career pathway.

Though her presence will be greatly missed, I bet she finds another place to land in radio here in Sacramento. I hope Capital Public Radio grabs her.

The broadcasting field, unfortunately, is a shaky area in which to work. Owners and managers way too often make programming decisions for the short-term, frequently reacting abruptly to down ticks in audience ratings. Dips in advertising revenue also figure into hasty decisions. I was blessed in my 27 years in broadcasting I was never fired, yet had many sessions with owners where I felt heat.

In today's broadcasting landscape, though, those who call the shots have never been behind a mic, produced a commercial, spun a disc or programmed a station. They peer into spreadsheets way too often.

Bagley's brother arrives

When Marvin Bagley III was drafted by the Sacramento Kings after one season at Duke, his dad said the whole family would be moving to town. Included in the family is a couple younger brothers. One of them, Marcus, a 6-7 forward, will be donning the turquoise and black of Sheldon High School, according to a report on Friday by the Bee's Joe Davidson.

I talked to a couple other high school basketball coaches over the past couple days who lamented that it's a matter of the rich getting richer with the arrival of Bagley. One coach said he thought the Huskies, state runner-ups a year ago in the CIF Open Division, would have been a better team this coming season, even without Bagley. Now, they definitely are in the discussion about who may have the best boys basketball team in the State, let alone Northern California.

Two years ago Marcus and Marvin were teammates at Sierra Canyon H.S. in Chatsworth. Reportedly, Marcus didn't play last year as the family moved to North Carolina when Marvin enrolled at Duke.