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.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Davis tearing up PCL; Thoughts on prep football's Zero Week

J.D. Davis is showing baseball he's just too good for Triple-A. The former Elk Grove High School star drilled a three-run homer, was three-for-four Tuesday in the Fresno Grizzlies' 9-2 win over Sacramento in Pacific Coast League action.
J.D. Davis batting Tuesday at Raley Field, was the
Pacific Coast League's player of the week

His homer was another of his now-patented sky-high shots that landed atop the batting cage in left field at Raley Field. His family and friends, which included girlfriend Shelby Wisdom and former EGHS coach Zach Leach, let out a big roar which echoed across the silent River Cats' faithful (by the way, it's becoming a bit of a "thing" now in the minors to change uniforms and team nicknames for a game or two. The River Cats were the "Dorados" Tuesday and used a logo of the head of a masked wrestler. Even "Dinger" the River Cats' mascot worn a pro wrestling mask and had a cape on.)

WATCH J.D.'s 16th homer of the year and 8th in his last nine games

In the last nine games, since returning to the Grizzlies after his third stint this season in the Majors with Houston, Davis has eight homers. Last week he was named the PCL's player of the week for hitting a pair of homers in back-to-back games in Tacoma.
He's now played in 74 games for Fresno and has 74 RBIs after driving in three on that dinger Tuesday. Davis is on a seven-game hitting streak in which he is 15-for-27 (.556) with seven home runs and 16 RBI's.
Ben Davis

His dad Greg thinks J.D. will return to Houston for the fourth time this season come Sept. 1 and likely help the Astros who are battling the A's and the Mariners for the top spot in the American League West. Greg and wife Mary Jo will be racking up more airline mileage this fall not just following oldest son J.D. Younger son Ben should see plenty of action on the offensive line for the Minnesota Golden Gophers this fall.

It was good, too, on Tuesday to see former EGHS and CRC pitcher Ray Hernandez, now a developmental coach in the Astros' organization. He's spent much of the season with Fresno and he coached first base in Tuesday's game.

Ray Hernandez, on his way to the first base coaching box
for the Fresno Grizzlies

Prep Football's Zero Week

High School football kicked off the 2018 season last Friday, one earlier than usual due to a scheduling issue with the CIF State Bowl games in December. However, emotions were high as just about all locals played.


1. The margin of victory (41-6) of Monterey Trail's win over Sheldon. The Huskies may be in a rebuilding mode after a couple good senior classes, but the Mustangs have some really great players led by Ethan Larrier. Sheldon should have a better outing Friday when then host Burbank, however, the Titans looked solid in a 21-20 loss to Christian Brothers.
2. That Valley beat Laguna Creek. The 25-13 score indicates that the Vikings may be really good in the new Greater Sacramento League.
3. That Folsom was shut out for the first time since 2004. De LaSalle won 14-0, but no surprise, really that they won. Folsom is still good, folks.

No Surprises:

1. Inderkum beat Elk Grove, 37-13. The Tigers will be one of the best teams in the area and, frankly, the Herd, Cosumnes Oaks, Franklin and Pleasant Grove will be just ordinary teams this season. 
2. That Capital Christian came from behind to beat the Wolfpack, 47-39. Jacob Trach is our best running back and returner in Elk Grove Unified this season and showed it, but Cosumnes Oaks couldn't stop a club that now with Casey Taylor as the head coach, will be drawing outstanding players from all over Sacramento to play there, hoping to become another De LaSalle.