Land Park Pacific Little League

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“I see great things in baseball, It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism, tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set, repair those losses and be a blessing to us.” – Walt Whitman

A calm breeze. The wafting aroma of hot dogs on the grill. The excited shouts of children. A warm sun. Land Park Pacific Little League is many things, but peaceful is the word I would use to describe the serene ambiance at Dooley Field. Walt Whitman was one hell of a poet, but a trip out to Dooley on a sunny Sacramento Saturday has me thinking he could read the future as well.

    Little League doesn’t just happen. It’s a unique blend of various positives, a smile inducing fruit smoothie of happiness.

    Little League will always be about the kids. Preschoolers and 7th graders, short and tall, chubby and thin. Black, white, hispanic, asian. Loud kids, quiet kids, fast kids, slow kids. Baseball fanatics who watch the ballgame every night with their dads, baseball learners, miserable soccer players, and even the kids who only show up at their parent’s constant pressuring or to get the one dollar snack shack ticket are scattered across the emerald lawn and rusty dirt. Little League captures a child’s innocence. For the most part, there are no big life dilemmas in front of these kids. No bills to pay. No mouths to feed. Not even an essay to write or some calculus to finish. Just some kids, united by an entity that knows no bounds: the game of baseball.

    Land Park Pacific Little League has had a big impact on my life. In Little League, I learned about kids of all backgrounds, how to work hard, the value of technique, and self-confidence. But, when I asked my parents what they thought Little League’s greatest impact on their son was, their reply was simple and perfect. “Friends” they stated. “It’s the friends you made.” I made friends in Little League that I never saw after the season ended. I made friends in Little League that I hang out with today. I made friends that I’ll go to college with in the fall. It’s not the wins that make my parents value when remembering my time at Dooley Field. It’s not any diving catches I made, any hits I got, or even any of the times I struck out or booted a ground ball. It’s the friends.

    Land Park Pacific Little League inspires emotions for anyone who’s been lucky enough to fall into its grasp. It is the embodiment of childhood, of dreams, and playful sunshine. It’s friendship, hot dogs, and green grass. It’s the best.

Meet the Moose

Gigantic. Humongous. Friendly. Hard-working. Loyal. Uncoordinated. These are just a few of the many words teammates use to describe Grant Hinrichsen. The senior pitcher is a captivating figure, both on and off the field.

When the 6’5’’ behemoth takes the mound for the McClatchy Lions, fans are in for a treat. When Hinrichsen starts, win or lose, it’s going to be entertaining.

Grant began playing baseball at age 5 at the legendary Land Park Pacific Little League. Hinrichsen had the unique experience of having his dad as a coach for 4 years and played with and against current McClatchy players Tino Luigi, Ben Wong, Michael Valli, Ben Edelstein, and Anthony Montes. Grant describes his little league experience as “the best time of my life “ and playing for his dad as “a true bonding experience.” Hinrichsen made the All-Star team 3 times and believes playing little league helped him “appreciate what hard work can do”.

As a player for McClatchy’s junior varsity team from (2010-2011), Grant played many positions, but began to focus on pitching and hitting, and less on defense as his career progressed. By the end of his junior varsity career, Grant had grown from 5’8” to 6’. After a callup to the varsity squad late in the season, Grant was ready for “the show”.

Playing varsity baseball for McClatchy can be described in many ways, but the 2013 opening day starter chose the word “entertaining” to illustrate his varsity baseball experience. “For the most part”, he says, “you can count on people trying and giving their best every day.”

When asked what inspires him to compete on a daily basis, Hinrichsen pauses, and says “my dad”. But his mom inspires him as well, especially her courage in facing some recent medical hardships. “She always keeps an upbeat spirit” says her admiring elder son, “and it makes me not worry as much.”

“On a brighter note, Derek Taylor also inspires me.”

Off the field, “the moose” (a nickname created by the great Randy Brink) loves a good laugh and a large meal. “A nice rack of ribs or a great steak does the job every time.” He enjoys time with his family (for the most part) and has traveled to Mexico with them multiple times. His non-baseball pastimes include taking care of (and instagramming) his new puppy Rocco, and witnessing the destruction the energetic canine brings every day.

If you have an extra burrito or just want to say hi to the McClatchy baseball star, you can find him roaming the hallways here at McClatchy. He’s not hard to find, easily approachable, and always hungry.  

St. Baldrick’s 2013

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No, we’re not skinheads. We didn’t become Tibetan monks. We are not taking part in a study on the effects of Rogaine foam on the heads of teenage men.

We are the McClatchy Baseball team. And we’re bald.

For the 6th consecutive year, the McClatchy baseball team has participated in St. Baldrick’s, a national fundraiser for childhood cancer research. Every year, McClatchy ball players shave their heads in solidarity with children who have cancer.

In 2008, freshman Jake Luigi (class of 2011) urged his teammates to join him in the number one independent fundraising event towards finding cures for childhood cancers. His little brother Tino, now a junior baseball player at CKM, was diagnosed with cancer in June 2001. A tradition was born. McClatchy baseball players have shaved their heads every year since, and raised thousands of dollars to find a cure.

Tino, who doctors once gave only a 30% chance of living, is now a promising junior player on this year’s team. He lives a happy and healthy life and this year raised over a thousand dollars to help kids face the disease he fought off over a decade ago. During this year’s event, Tino “Bean” Luigi celebrated 11 years of cancer free living and the McClatchy Baseball Program raised over $6,000. Mr. Wong, a St. Baldrick’s veteran and teacher at McClatchy, raised over $2,000 dollars. Third baseman Ben Edelstein (‘13) raised $950. “I feel honored and glad that they (my teammates) are all doing this not only for me” said a grateful Luigi “but for all of those kids with cancer.”

The money will go to doctors all over America who are actively searching for cures to various childhood cancers.

When asked if he had any trepidation about shaving his head, senior Grant Hinrichsen replied “ No, it’s all for a great cause! Besides, I ain’t Jack Gavron”.

Put Your Faith In KJ

 

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What if Kevin Johnson ran the Kings? If only our mayor had $500 million to rid our city of the greedy, shameless, and gutless individuals who have run our Sacramento Kings into the ground. Kevin Johnson is fearless, concerned, and has his finger on the pulse of Sacramento. He is everything the Maloof family is not. The Maloofs head up one of the most dysfunctional front offices in basketball, refusing to commit to a city that has treated their team with absolute respect, rarely attending games and events, and losing money quicker than Aaron Brooks is in transition. When the Maloofs say that they are “100% committed” to a Sacramento arena, that statement carries less weight than Thunderstix. However, when the mayor says we’re going to “fight like crazy”, it means something. Kevin Johnson is a Sacramentan, and as a Kings fan, I faithfully place my trust in him.

 

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The Sacramento Kings: The Most Dysfunctional Organization in Professional Sports

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I love my Sacramento Kings. They are the team of my childhood and the team of my town. If they leave, it would hurt me like nothing else. I don’t know what it’s like to have your team leave you behind, and I hope that I never have to. It honestly baffles me that the Kings are even in this position. Every day, as I read about the Maloofs and see them crush the trust of this city, as I see Tyreke Evans dribble down the court and take an awkward eighteen foot jump shot with fifteen seconds left on the shot clock, as I listen to Carmichael Dave rant and rave about how the team is safe and #herewestay, as I see Kevin Johnson fighting to keep his hometown team, and as these new Sacramento sponsors continue to come out of the woodwork to save Sacramento’s only professional team, I am dumbfounded. How in the name of everything that is good did the Sacramento Kings go from on the verge of an NBA championship to this?

The answer is simple. The Kings are the most dysfunctional organization in professional sports. No organization, from the top to the bottom, runs less efficiently and produces less than our Sacramento Kings.

The owners of our lowly Sacramento Kings, the Maloof family, have become a popular target of ridicule for Kings fans. And with good reason. They rarely show up to games, backed out of an arena deal that would have kept the Kings in Sacramento, and head up an organization that takes a little more of a nosedive every year. The Maloofs have decimated their father’s fortune, and now only own just 2% of the “Palms” casino (They once owned 85%). The Maloof family has crashed economically, and unfortunately for Kings fans, brought the team down with them. As a small market team, the Kings need all of the money they can get. This ownership group is unhelpful, to say the least. Additionally, the Maloofs have destroyed their relationship with the city of Sacramento. Once the beloved owners of our proud franchise, the Maloofs have become public enemy number one in Sacramento. Their refusal to sell the team to local owners and backtracking on an arena deal are the fuel to our vitriolic fire. They once aligned with the fans to keep Chris Webber. Now they push against our homegrown mayor, Kevin Johnson, as he fires a metaphorical full court buzzer-beater to keep our Kings.

You can usually find him standing by the tunnel, staring into space as he watches his abysmal basketball team fade into obscurity. Yes Kings fans, I’m talking about the terrible architect of this dilapidated and unfurnished team, Geoff Petrie. As a small market team, the Kings have to be good in the draft and make good trades to be a good basketball team. Sacramento is many things, but a free agent destination it is not. When the Kings were good (or at least a team that made the playoffs), they drafted well and made smart trades. The best Kings team, the 2001-2002 Kings, featured a starting five of Mike Bibby (trade), Doug Christie (trade), Peja Stojakovic (draft), Chris Webber (trade), and Vlade Divac (trade). The backups included Bobby Jackson (free agent signing! What?!), Hedo Turkoglu (draft) and Laurence Funderburke (draft). Getting the point here? Excellence in Sacramento is created through the draft and through trades.

Now, let’s look at Geoff Petrie’s draft picks and trades since the Kings began their descent in 2005. Here are the Kings first round picks since 2005: Francisco Garcia, Quincy Douby, Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi, DeMarcus Cousins, Bismack Biyombo (traded for Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons), and Thomas Robinson. 9 players, 2 above average picks. Spencer Hawes was drafted 10th overall. T-Rob has for the most part, flopped. Quincy Douby was god awful and the horrific pick of Cisco (drafted 7 picks ahead of All-Star David Lee) is compounded by his terrible contract (29.6 million over 5 years). Casspi was traded for JJ Hickson, who the Kings released the following season. So Omri Casspi, 1st round pick, was essentially traded for nothing.

Which brings us to the next source of Kings futility. Jaw droppingly bad trades. After Chris Webber’s knee injury destroyed any final hopes of a championship, Sacramento began dealing away its dynasty. These moves signaled the end of an era and an official rebuilding of the franchise. The overwhelming theme in these trades is the lack of staying power. There is a clear lack of vision in these trades.  In 2004, Petrie dealt Doug Christie for Cuttino Mobley and Michael Bradley. Neither player spent more than a year in Sacramento. Later in the season, he traded Chris Webber, that same Michael Bradley, and Matt Barnes for Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson and Brian Skinner. Barnes has turned into a productive NBA player, while Thomas, Williamson, and Skinner are all out of the league. In 2005, Petrie traded Peja for Ron Artest, a move that actually turned out good for the Kings. Artest had 2 and half productive seasons in Sacramento, before signing with Houston in 2008. In the 2005 offseason, the Kings mutually parted ways with Rick Adelman. In 2007, the Kings traded the last big piece of their championship-worthy team, dealing veteran point guard Mike Bibby for Shelden Williams, Lorenzen Wright, Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue and a 2008 second round draft pick. None of those players lasted a full season and with the second round pick, the Kings drafted Patrick Ewing….. Jr. Who didn’t even make the team. In 2008, the Kings dealt Kevin Martin to the Houston Rockets for Carl Landry, a solid player who lasted a season and a half before he was traded for Marcus Thornton. The Kings, in general, do not trade well.

Even a marginal basketball fan can look at the Kings roster and see how badly they’re constructed. That doesn’t excuse the sub-par coaching of Keith Smart. The Kings are a talented, young basketball team. What they need, above all else, is stability. Smart refuses to provide his youthful group with any consistency. Every night it seems, there is a new starting 5 on the floor. Just when you think Smart has committed to Isaiah Thomas, Aaron Brooks appears out of nowhere to steal some of his minutes. The shooting guard and small forward positions have become a carousel of sorts, a rocky cycle of Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, and Francisco Garcia.

Additionally, the Kings rarely run plays. The majority of offensive possessions result in a isolation situation, with one Kings player attempting to score against his defender. The Kings are second to last in assists, 19th in offensive efficiency, and 19th in true shooting percentage. There are many factors to the Kings struggles on the offensive end, but I believe a large part of the responsibility lands on Coach Smart’s shoulders.

However, Coach Smart is limited by a huge problem. He has point guards that don’t pass the ball. The Kings split the point guard position up between three players: Isaiah Thomas (3.3 assists per game), Aaron Brooks (2.4 assists per game), and Jimmer Fredette (1.3 assists per game). Thomas’ 3.3 apg ranks him as the 29th ranked point guard in terms of assists. Brooks is 35th, and Fredette is 48th. Brooks and Fredette, point guards, actually average less assists per game than Demarcus Cousins, a center.

Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans are undeniably the two best players on the Kings. They are also a ridiculously frustrating duo who will leave your jaw on the floor with acrobatic plays one moment and make you bang your forehead on it with turnovers the next. Cousins is one of the best young big men in the league. For his career, he averages over 16 points per game and nearly 10 rebounds. Charles Barkley said that Cousins has the potential to be the best center in the league. However, Cousins is known much more for his terrible behavior than his great play. If you type “Demarcus Cousins” into google, the first four options are “trade”, “trade rumors”, “twitter”, and “suspended”. Cousins game is sadly overshadowed by his immature behavior. Cousins will never reach his full potential until he sheds his childlike approach to professional athletics.

Evans has actually been much better as of late, but he certainly isn’t the star many projected after his historic rookie season. After becoming only the fourth player in NBA history to average over 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in his rookie season, Evans’ play has dropped dramatically in the past few seasons. His PPG and APG have decreased every year and his leadership skills have been questioned by many. For the Kings to get better, Tyreke needs to elevate his game or leave town.

This entire Kings situation has devolved into an angry mob fight between Kings fans (led by Kevin Johnson), spurned SuperSonic fans (led by millionare potential buyer Chris Hansen), the NBA owners, and the city of Sacramento. But in reality, shots should have never been fired. If not for the complete mediocrity throughout the Sacramento Kings organization, this entire fiasco would be fantasy. The Kings find themselves in this mess because of where they are located, who they are owned by, the man who runs them, and the miserable on court performances they turn in every night.

But damn, I’d hate to see them go.

Shot Clock: 24 Quick Questions With the McClatchy Basketball Team

Nick Modar, Derek Taylor, Zane Hiestand

  1. Who is Your biggest basketball inspiration? NM: Pooh Jeter DT: Peja Stojakavic ZH: It’s a toss up between Larry Bird and Marcin Gortat

  2. Favorite basketball team? NM: Kings DT: Reno Bighorns ZH: Boston Celtics

  3. What’s your pregame meal? DT: Garlic ZH: Anything

  4. Favorite Candy? NM: Snickers ZH: Anything

  5. The best part of playing basketball for McClatchy is… DT: Free clothes ZH: I actually play

  6. The shoes I wear on court are… DT: Hyperdunks

  7. If I could play one person 1 on 1 it would be… DT: Ms. Nish ZH: Kobe

  8. Cold or hot weather? NM: I prefer a mild climate ZH:Hot

  9. Take everything just leave me my…. NM: Fridge

  10. My coach is… NM: Linning

  11. What music do you listen to before games? DT: Katy Perry

  12. Has basketball ever made you cry? ZH: Yes, when I was younger

  13. Dream date: NM: Jessica Gomes ZH: really anyone at this point

  14. One Direction or Young Jeezy? DT: Jeezy ZH: Young Jeezy

  15. What is your favorite subject in school? NM: not math

  16. Do you know the heimlich maneuver? DT: No ZH: Yes… Kinda

  17. If you had a rapper name, it would be: DT: Greg ZH:Dookie Fresh

  18. What is your guilty pleasure? ZH: Cake

  19. How much time do spend on your phone? (daily) NM: 30 minutes

  20. If you could live one place in the world, where would it be? DT: Russia

  21. What’s your favorite food? DT: Carbs

  22. Smelliest teammate:NM: Derek Taylor DT: Aaron ZH: Me

  23. The song that is stuck in my head is: DT: Will Always Love You – Celine Dion ZH: And we danced – Macklemore

  24. The 2013 McClatchy Lions will win ____ games. NM: 800 DT:100

Lovable Torture: The 2012-2013 Sacramento Kings

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     I love watching the Kings. Having a professional sports team in Sacramento makes me proud of my city. I love throwing my Tyreke Evans jersey on, flopping down on my couch, and tuning out the rest of the world as I yell and wave my arms wildly, glued to the television. I love going to Sleep Train arena with some friends, hearing the “bloop” of the scanner on my uber-cheap ticket bought on ebay, and enjoying an NBA basketball game in my hometown. I loved being there on opening night, being a part of the blackout, capacity, crowd and seeing my Kings eek out a last second win against the Golden State Warriors. It was electric. It was loud. It was like old times.

    I hate watching the Kings. The Kings halfcourt offense is like watching a car wreck in slow motion. Ill-timed, off-balance shots are the norm. There is no consistency in any aspect of the team. Whether it’s due to injuries or coaching or a simple lack of talent, the Kings seem to put a new starting 5 on the floor every game. Out of everyone on the Kings roster, I am only genuinely enthused when any one of these four players enter the game. Aside from Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and the ever entertaining Jimmer Fredette, there is nobody that really registers on the Ben Wong excitement radar. The Kings are hilariously dysfunctional. The Kings three point guards: Aaron Brooks, Jimmer Fredette, and Isaiah Thomas, average 1.86 assists per game between them. The Kings do not know how to share the ball. And Keith Smart’s lack of established playcalling doesn’t help much.

    Watching the Kings provided some of the best moments of my childhood. Mike Bibby’s game winner against the Los Angeles Lakers, Peja’s domination of the 2002 3 point contest at All-Star Weekend, the many high scoring battles with the Dallas Mavericks, and even Kevin Martin’s game winning layup against San Antonio. The Kings, even while terrible, are an entertaining basketball team. The crazy Tyreke layups, those stretches where Marcus Thornton decides he wants to take over the game, the Jimmer minutes, and when Demarcus’ talent overcomes his immaturity and he dunks all over somebody, are absolutely fun to watch. That, specifically, is what makes the Kings so excruciating. They’ll lose by 21 to the abysmal Phoenix Suns, and then come back and beat the 5th best team in the Western Conference. They show flashes of brilliance, and then right when you think “Hey! We got somethin’ here!” Aaron Brooks fires the ball past a dumbfounded Chuck Hayes and into someone’s popcorn in the third row, we sigh, and go back to whatever we were doing before.  

As terrible as they are, I believe in the Kings. I believe in the Sacramento Kings. We need this team. They are a core part of Sacramento. They give our city life, would revitalize our downtown with an arena, and lend credibility to our city. Having a professional sports team gives a community something to gravitate to, a core base on which everyone can bond over. By being a professional sports team, they bring professional talent to town. Through the Kings, the people of Sacramento can see Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant. The Rivercats to do not bring Buster Posey, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols to town.