Archive for May, 2011

A good year generated memories

May 30th, 2011
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It was a good 2010-2011 for University of Hawaii sports overall, in my opinion. The football and men’s basketball teams performed way beyond the expectations of most observers.

The most memorable moment of the UH sports year for me will be one I didn’t even see and a game UH didn’t even win; I was at my mother’s birthday dinner when Miah Ostrowski led the basketball team to a near-upset of Utah State at the Stan Sheriff Center, just a few days after the death of his father.

I did see UH football’s win over Nevada and the baseball team’s home regular-season finale miracle win against San Jose State. That baseball game will also be remembered as Kolten Wong’s final home game and the last UH sports broadcast by KFVE after more than a quarter century of bringing the Warriors, Rainbows and Wahine into living rooms throughout Hawaii and beyond.

And I covered the news conference for the development that will affect UH sports the most in the future: The announcement that Hawaii will leave the WAC to join the Mountain West in football and the Big West in most other sports after next year. UH’s biggest win was off the field.

Please share your favorite memories of 2010-2011 in UH sports, and local interscholastic sports in general.

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As a follow-up to yesterday’s column on pro sports in Hawaii, here’s more about the financial viability of Na Koa Ikaika, the independent pro baseball team on Maui. This from Rob Collias of The Maui News, who has been watching those developments closely since the team’s inception last year.

Heat vs. Mavs … who do you like? Or dislike …

May 27th, 2011
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Maybe “like” is the wrong word to use in this case. I don’t really “like” how the Miami Heat built their team, but I “like” their chances to beat the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals … let’s say six games. Dirk Nowitzki will score a lot of points, but LeBron James will be able to slow him down enough to make a difference.

The Dallas players (other than perhaps Jason Terry) aren’t very controversial,  but colorful Mavs owner Mark Cuban is  a polarizing figure.

Another heartwarmer

May 25th, 2011
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If you don’t know Les Murakami, the legendary retired University of Hawaii baseball coach, he could seem stand-offish or even gruff at times; at the very least intimidating. But nothing is farther from the truth. The man’s heart is as impressive as his body of work as a coach, and that’s saying a lot. Alex Santiago was prompted by today’s column about good deeds to share this story about Coach Les.

Aloha Dave,

I read your article in today’s paper and just had to tell you a story about Coach Les Murakami.
Over twenty years ago I was a social worker at Kahuku hospital.  I worked with the long-term care patients. One of our residents was a very frail elderly man who had no family, and was at times so depressed he would not eat, not speak, not respond to the staff, and his physical condition would deteriorate rapidly.

As the social worker there it was sometimes very difficult to find things for some of our residents like Mr. I. that would be of interest to them. Our staff would go to great lengths to try to provide the very best care and quality of life for the fragile patients.

For Mr. I. it was even more challenging as he had no visitors, no family, and showed little interest in other things.  However, during the rainbow baseball season he watched every game.  Mr I. was a fan, of only the UH baseball team.  One year, during the off season, Mr. I. took a turn for the worse.  His condition deteriorated and the physicians feared he was nearing his end.  I wracked my brain on how to make his final days as comfortable as possible for him,  and on a whim I picked up the phone and called Coach Les.  Now it wasn’t like I knew Coach Les or anything like that.  I just thought I would let him know of this fan, and ask him if he could send out something, like an autographed baseball card or something to help cheer up Mr. I.

Within a day, Coach Les called me and asked if he could come out an meet this fan.  He not only came all the way out to Kahuku, but he brought with him one of his star players, autographed baseball cards, a hat, posters, and other stuff that Mr. I. cherished for the rest of his life.  It was quite a day.

Needless to say Mr. I’s. conditioned improved.  He hung up the posters in his room, wore the hat, began eating again, and even talked to the staff about his meeting with Coach Les.  Understand, during the meeting, Mr. I. said not a word.  Coach Les, was incredible, as well as his player.  They came out in full baseball gear, no cameras, no publicity, not wanting anything but to cheer up someone. He didn’t have to do this, he could have just sent us something like I asked.

I became a bigger fan of Coach Les as did all of the staff at the hospital.  I know much has been written about Coach Les and how much he did for the baseball program and the school etc. But for me, no matter how much is said, I will remember a man, who just took it upon himself to take time off from his busy schedule, a whole day now, to do something good for another person, with no expectation or desire for recognition.  I remember thanking him as he left, and he just waved and shook my hand and said, “it was my pleasure”.  I am not sure if he knew just how much his visit meant to Mr. I that day, but I am sure this is not the only act of random kindness he did.  He seemed to me to just be that kind of person.

I just needed to share this story with you as you recognized the actions of those sports figures in your article today who did something for others.  Random acts of kindness, wouldn’t it be great if we all practiced them.

Mahalo,
Alex Santiago,

Wednesday sports notes

May 25th, 2011
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>> Good to see Nick Rolovich and Dave Aranda are getting well-deserved raises.

>> Mike Brown is the new head coach of the Lakers. Everyone says he’s a nice guy, and a defensive-minded coach. But is he the right fit for an aging team led by an aging superstar?

>> Kansas second baseman Ka’iana Eldredge, a Punahou product, made the Big 12 All-Freshman team.

>> Following up on Sunday’s column about lopsided games. As sportswriters, we talk a lot about liking blowouts because it means we can get most of our story done early. But that only goes so far. I don’t envy what my friend T.J. Johnston of the Moline Dispatch & Argus had to endure last month — a high school doubleheader that was won by a combined score of 29-0!

“Moline beat United Township (East Moline) in a Western Big 6 Conference twinbill. First game went to Moline 11-0 with 7 in the fourth and then stopped it mid-inning with 4 in the fifth. Moline then went 5-9-8-7 for the 18-0 nightcap victory.”

That’s topped only by a high school playoffs score I saw in a copy of the Baltimore Sun that Jason Kaneshiro brought into the office: Final score was 35-0. It was a second-round game of regionals. Yikes!

Voices

May 20th, 2011
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As University of Hawaii sports on TV moves from KFVE  to Oceanic, we hope for a seamless transition facilitated by the capable, experienced technicians who have produced the telecasts more than a quarter of a century, along with the people and resources available at Oceanic.

In today’s column, I advocate keeping Jim Leahey and Pal Eldredge together for baseball, for the foreseeable future. I know many will disagree, especially since there are capable baseball guys available such as Howard Dashefsky, Markus Owens and Jack Wiers.

Time to sound off on who you’d like to see doing the various UH sports — play-by-play, color, sideline, specials — on TV starting next year.