Cal saves 3 teams -- baseball, men's gymnastics cut

376487.jpg

Cal saves 3 teams -- baseball, men's gymnastics cut

Feb. 11, 2011

COLLEGE PAGE

BERKELEY (AP) -- California reinstated three teams Friday that were slated to be eliminated in a cost-cutting move after an aggressive fundraising campaign to keep the programs, while going ahead with plans to get rid of the baseball and men's gymnastics teams.

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau partially reversed a decision announced in September when he said that enough money has been raised to keep the men's rugby, women's lacrosse and women's gymnastics teams. The two women's teams had been slated for elimination, while men's rugby was going to be reclassified as a "varsity club sport."

"We're three-fifths of the way there and we're not going to stop," said former Cal and major league pitcher Doug Nickle, who was involved with the fundraising efforts for the group "Save Cal Sports.""We're heartened and also emboldened. We're energized. We take our licks and we'll keep coming back."

Campus officials said they received between 12 million and 13 million in pledges to retain the programs. They are confident that 8 million will be available for the three sports that were retained, covering all of their costs for seven to 10 years.

Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary said the pledges specifically for baseball and men's gymnastics were insufficient. He said the baseball program raised between 1.5 million and 2.5 million, which would have covered its costs for about two years.

He said the supporters needed to come up with 10 million to achieve the goal of self-sustainability for the seven-to-10 year period.

"We're very impressed with the way the community has rallied," Yeary said. "The challenge for baseball is it is a larger sport in terms of costs. As a practical manner, they would have had to raise four, five or six times as much money as they raised to remain in position to be maintained. From the very beginning we said we simply could not agree to short term or stopgap measures. We needed a sustainable solution."

Nickle disputes the university's numbers, saying his group raised 15 million and that the money the school is turning away would be more than sufficient to put baseball and men's gymnastics on firm footing.

He said officials never gave the baseball program the 10 million figure and that he believes that target could have been reached if it was made clear and that his group will still work to reinstate the two programs.

"We know the university has now made two wrong decisions," Nickle said. "The University of California deserves better. We will continue to work to provide better."

The plan to cut the sports was part of a broader campaign to reduce UC Berkeley's annual support for intercollegiate athletics from more than 12 million today to about 5 million in 2014.

That became even more necessary after Gov. Jerry Brown recently proposed an additional 500 million in cuts from the UC system budget, which would have taken about 80 million from the Berkeley campus.

"This was always about our ability to fund the programs," athletic director Sandy Barbour said. "This was about getting our expenses down to the point where we have a financial model that would fit with what the university was providing us in terms of institutional support."

Birgeneau said he did not believe the announcement in September was premature, even though three of the programs were eventually retained.

He said he sent a message to athletic department supporters 16 months ago that these cuts might be necessary and little was done to retain them until the announcement was made.

"My message engendered virtually no response for an entire year," he said. "The responses only came after the announcement of the cutting of sports. These sports had a full year to raise funds. But until the actual reality of no longer continuing the varsity sports was on the table, it was not until then that we got this wonderful response that we got now."

The decision to retain the two women's programs keeps Cal in compliance with Title IX under the provision that it was meeting the "interests and abilities" of its female student body.

Had the women's sports been eliminated, Cal would have been in violation of that prong and would have needed to make the percentage of female athletes proportionate to the overall female enrollment. To achieve that, the school would have had to undergo "roster management" a process that would have required the remaining men's teams to reduce their rosters by dozens of athletes, while substantially increasing spots on the remaining women's teams.

Part of the money to fund the two women's sports comes from donors to the rugby program, which needed the women's teams to remain in order for the school to remain in compliance with Title IX if it reinstated rugby.

"Our donors have once again generously demonstrated their high regard for Cal rugby through their impassioned response to these financial challenges," coach Jack Clark said. "

The decision to cut baseball leaves the flagship campus of the University of California as the only Division I school in the state not to field a baseball team.

Cal has won the College World Series in 1947 and 1957 and had nine players appear in the major leagues last season. Perhaps the most notable player in its history is 2000 NL MVP Jeff Kent.

The Golden Bears, who open their season next week, are ranked 17th in the Baseball America preseason poll and are hopeful of making the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years.

Cal will honor the existing scholarships for the baseball and men's gymnastics athletes, although many have already started to look at transfer options.

A's spring training update Day 6: Davis savors winter in Oakland

A's spring training update Day 6: Davis savors winter in Oakland

MESA, Ariz. — Khris Davis enjoyed quite an offseason travel itinerary, checking out Toronto, taking in the beaches of Hawaii and dining on lobster in Belize.

However, it was the time spent in his adopted hometown of Oakland that most struck a chord with the A’s left fielder. After finishing his first season with the A’s, Davis followed through on his plan to make his offseason home in Oakland, and he was glad he did.

“I got to just feel the heart of the city,” he said upon arriving at camp Sunday. “That was basically the purpose of why I was there. … I wanted to feel Oakland. I love it, honestly. I love the city.”

He trained at Dogtown Athletic, a gym in West Oakland. He took part in the A’s holiday party for kids at the Oakland Zoo, joined by A’s Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who grew up in the city.

“Just to feel these kids’ happiness,” Davis said. “They didn’t look at me as a baseball player. They just looked at me as a role model kind of.”

It should be music to the ears of A’s fans that the team’s most dangerous hitter has a love affair with the city he plays in. If the A’s ever entertained the idea of trying to sign Davis to a multi-year extension, and that’s purely hypothetical here, it would help that Davis feels comfortable in his surroundings.

Even when he described Oakland in edgy terms, such as when he said it “has its dark side,” he seemed to find it endearing.

In return, Davis felt the love from the fan base in 2016, hitting a career-high 42 homers with a team-best 102 RBI. That was despite the awful start he got off to, hitting .143 and mustering just one RBI over his first 12 games.

Obviously, any chances the A’s have of improving last year’s American League-worst offense rely on the 29-year-old Davis having another big year. But over-analysis is one thing he tries to avoid.

“I don’t want to get caught up in last year — the slow start and the strong finish, whatever,” he said. “However it was, I’m just ready to do this year.”

Davis decided to back out of his plan to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, saying his main priority was preparing for his A’s season.

“My main focus is to perform for the organization,” he said. “I feel like I want to get off on the right foot this year.”

NOTEWORTHY: Heavy showers continued to pelt Mesa on Sunday, spoiling the A’s first full-squad workout. The hitters were relegated to swinging in the cages and playing catch, while pitchers were scheduled for a day off from throwing on the mound anyway.

“If ever there was a day, at least for the pitchers, that you don’t need to (work out), it’s today,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But when you have everybody there on the first day, you wanna get out on the field and do everything. Hopefully we can incorporate everything tomorrow.”

The A’s have a whopping 70 players in camp, more than in any other spring Melvin can remember as a big league manager. He addressed the full team in a meeting Sunday morning.

His message?

“We’re gonna have to outwork, out-hustle everybody like we have in the past,” he said, “and get back to playing the game with the same tenacity that we did a couple years ago.”

FAMILIAR FACE: Longtime A’s second baseman Mark Ellis is back for the second year in a row as a spring infield instructor. The plan is for Ellis to spend a week with the team now, then another week later in camp.

“I’ll take Mark Ellis as many days as I can have him,” Melvin said.

LIGHTER SIDE: Nursing his broken right foot, starting pitcher Daniel Mengden has been making his way through the clubhouse on a knee scooter in order to keep pressure off his foot.

Apparently, it looks more fun than it really is.

“I contribute to society Friday, when I can start walking again,” Mengden quipped.

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On one of the many nights last season when his bullpen imploded, Bruce Bochy nearly put a catcher on the mound. Trevor Brown ended up playing an inning of third base on June 28 as the Giants gave up eight runs over the final two innings in a brutal loss to the A’s, and he said this week that he was told he was the next man up on the mound. 

That night was an odd one, as a tired bullpen was waiting for Sergio Romo to get activated off a rehab assignment and trying to get by without long reliever Chris Stratton, who had thrown 57 pitches out of the ‘pen the night before. The bench was also short because Joe Panik was about to be put on the concussion DL.

Bochy hopes he doesn’t have to deal with such a situation this season, and not just because the bullpen should be much improved. The disabled list lasts 10 days now, not 15, and Bochy is thrilled with the new rule.

“The DL thing, I really like it,” he said. “You get caught in that gray area so often.” 

Bochy met with league officials on Saturday to go over some of the rule changes. DL stints can now be made retroactive just three days, but it’s still a vast improvement overall. 

“With (position) players and pitchers it’s going to make it easier to DL guys,” Bochy said. “If you’re looking at (starting) pitchers, they could miss just one start.”

The Giants have often played a man or more short, trying to get by day-by-day to give a position player or starter time to heal. Around camp, this could be called the Angel Pagan Rule, as the former Giants outfielder often missed a week or so before officially going on the DL. At times, Bochy has been patient with players like Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, knowing that even if they missed a week, keeping them off the DL could still earn the Giants seven or eight games with a big bat back in the lineup. If a future diagnosis is that a player will miss a week, it’ll be much easier to swallow putting him on the 10-day DL than it was for the 15-day. Likewise, the Giants will take advantage of the change if a pitcher will have to miss a start. 

Bochy has said often that he would like every reliever to go on the DL during the season to freshen up. That’ll make more sense now, and it should keep the Giants from having to play as many games where the bullpen is gassed and a backup catcher is preparing to pitch. For guys like Stratton — a versatile pitcher on the 40-man roster — it should also lead to increased trips up to the big leagues to fill gaps. 

INJURY UPDATE: Pence (side muscle) took 25 swings during a live BP session in the cage and Bochy said he’s doing much better. That was about the only significant activity Sunday. Once again, the workout was rained out. Bochy said the Giants have enough time to get guys ready for the Cactus League opener on Feb. 24, but they’ll likely hold some big-name pitchers out of the early games. Brandon Crawford and Posey will get plenty of early starts to prepare for the WBC. 

PROSPECT WATCH: If the early games are turned over to prospects, Dan Slania will be an interesting guy to watch. Slania is listed at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, so he always had the look of an imposing reliever. But his greatest success last season came after a surprise move to the rotation. 

Slania, a 2013 fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, got a call on his 24th birthday telling him to prepare to start because of an injury in Richmond’s rotation. He had not started a game since high school, but his four-pitch mix worked. He had a 5.32 ERA out of the bullpen but it dropped to 1.48 in 10 starts for the Flying Squirrels. In two Triple-A starts, he struck out 14 over 13 innings while allowing just eight hits and two runs. The Giants put him on their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. 

“He had a great year last year,” Bochy said. “He’s in camp for a reason. He’s got great stuff and a good makeup.”

RULE CHANGE: One more thing that came out of that rules meeting: Managers who are out of challenges now have to wait until the eighth inning to ask an umpire to look at a play.

QUOTABLE: “We know he’s better off taking some days. We talked about it (with him). He agrees that it’ll help him.” Bochy on Pence’s workload. The right fielder is coming off two injury-marred seasons, and the Giants have no intention of even trying to get him back to his Iron Man days.