Joe Santoro
Special to the Tribune

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May 29, 2014
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Friday Fodder: Carson grad having record season with Wolf Pack

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Colby Blueberg turned in one of the best seasons by a pitcher in Nevada Wolf Pack history this season. The Carson High grad set the school record for earned run average at 1.22 and for appearances at 35. The ERA record (1.79 by Ed Plank in 1973) lasted 41 years until Blueberg broke it. And Blueberg did it while pitching against metal bats. Blueberg allowed just five extra base hits in 51.2 innings, struck out 46 and walked just 17, won four games, saved two and opponents hit just .205 against him. He allowed an earned run in just six of his 35 appearances. He pitched 4.2 shutout innings and earned the win against Fresno State when the Pack was facing elimination in the Mountain West tournament. He allowed just one run over his last nine appearances. He never allowed a home run all season long. It was simply the best season by a Pack relief pitcher in school history.

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All things considered, Jay Johnson’s first season as Wolf Pack baseball coach went incredibly well. The Pack won 31 games, winning 17-of-23 home games and re-establishing Peccole Park as a place opponents don’t want to visit. Johnson worked his tail off to get this Pack offense to the point where it hit .283 as a team and averaged 5.2 runs a game. Pitching coach Dave Lawn did a phenomenal job with a thin pitching staff, somehow keeping the team ERA under four runs a game (3.94). The performance of the overworked pitching staff in the Mountain West tournament, turning in a 1.33 ERA over five games, was nothing short of remarkable.

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Are you ready for some football, Nevada Wolf Pack fans? Well, you better start getting ready. The Wolf Pack will play its first game in just 92 days on Aug. 30 when it stages a glorified scrimmage against Southern Utah. If you blink you will miss one-third of the Pack’s six-game home season this year with just four home games after Sept. 5. The last time that happened was 1971 when the Pack played just four home games all year and didn’t even start the season until Sept. 18. The college football season starts way too soon now. There is absolutely no reason to have a game in August, especially in Reno against a Division I-AA team.

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It’s about time the national media gets off Johnny Manziel’s back. Manziel went to Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend and made the mistake of posting some photos of his trip on the internet. The media, which obsesses about all things Johnny Football, then tried to portray Manziel as a kid who isn’t dedicated enough to learning his craft, like Manziel was the only rookie enjoying himself on Memorial Day weekend. Give the kid a break. How long do you really think it will take Manziel to learn how to take a snap from center and then run around like a chicken without a head until some receiver gets open?

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What is taking the San Francisco 49ers so long to work out a new contract with Colin Kaepernick? Don’t they understand Kaepernick will win multiple Super Bowls by the time his career ends? Don’t they understand Kaepernick is about to blossom as an NFL quarterback and become the best player in the league? Kaepernick has won nearly three-fourths of his NFL starts, has never failed to bring his team to at least the NFC championship game and has never lost more than two games in a row since early in his junior year at Nevada. Kaepernick, who will earn under $1 million this season, is one of the most underpaid players in professional sports. Wolf Pack pitcher Braden Shipley, for example, was paid a $2.25 million signing bonus last June just to go pitch in Class A. The 49ers need to get Kaepernick’s new contract signed, sealed and delivered by the start of training camp in July.

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The Derek Jeter Summer of Love is, admittedly, getting a bit silly. But there’s nothing wrong with it. Jeter has been showered with gifts, ranging from cowboys bats and a hat to a surfboard and a bench made of bats. Even teams Jeter has barely faced in his career, like the Astros and Cubs, also have jumped on the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour bandwagon. Jeter, though, deserves all of the praise and pats on the back. He was the one player the sport could always point to as a symbol of class and dignity during its dark era of blatant steroid cheating. And don’t blame Jeter for the farewell tour. He’s not doing it for the surfboards and cowboy boots. These teams also give him a big, fat check for his Turn 2 Foundation.

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Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers sure is keeping the NBA playoffs interesting, isn’t he? Stephenson, who was caught blowing into the ear of LeBron James this week, is this generation’s Dennis Rodman. Could you imagine Phil Mickelson blowing into the ear of Tiger Woods at the Masters or Joe Frazier doing it to Muhammad Ali? Say what you want about Stephenson, but he is a breath of fresh air. And who knows what he will do next to bother James? Don’t be surprised if he gives James a hot foot during a time out or sticks a piece of paper that reads “kick me” on James’ back.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 29, 2014 08:02PM Published May 29, 2014 01:00PM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.