Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Obama The Nominee Votes His Interests, Not yours

Sen. Barack Obama's vote to pass the FISA bill today is certainly being met with a chorus of vitriol. 

Allowing the telecom industry immunity from prosecution after they were complicite with the Bush adminstration's desire to snoop on regular Americans does not seem inline with the campaign narrative of Obama.

Ed Kilgore, substituting for Alex Koppelman at the War Room blog, gets it right when he says the naysayers in the liberal blogosphere are split between those who will eventually forgive and those who won't.

Notice that former Democratic presidential contenders Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Joe Biden all voted no against the measure. Without the specter of major political ramifications it would seem the trio voted their convictions.

That Obama voted yes would seem to answer one of the primaries most pivotal questions about authorizing the war in Iraq in 2002.

Clinton argued Obama's stance against the war early on carried none of the ramifications she encountered in the Senate because he was merely voting in the Illinois state legislature at the time.

After today, you could venture to guess if Obama was voting on Capitol Hill in 2002 he too would have given the president the thumbs-up for war, too.


While searching for a photo for this posting, I came across this unfortunately photoshopped
photo. To me, Osama bin Laden looks like a cool guy to hang out with.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

All Barack's Rowdy Friends Are Coming To Denver

The buzz on Barack Obama's decision to accept the Democratic nomination at Denver's Invesco Field has been overwhelmingly positive.

In a nutshell, just another ingenius political move a campaign that not only does not make mistakes, but plays offense brilliantly.

Put aside the possibly iconic images and shear awe that might emanante from over 75,000 people in attendance, and wonder what the ability of the campaign to conjure something so over the top might mean to the average voter.

Might independents and even Republicans be thinking John McCain could not scrounge up that many supporters and therefore view him as second rate?

If McCain morphs into Captain Underdog, such a view could actually help.

It's a bit like the spoiled rich kid hiring The White Stripes to play at their 16th birthday, while a few nerds show up at Round Table to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Crist To Tie The Knot With An Eye On GOP Ticket


Florida's Governor Charlie Crist, 51, is getting married to a younger, quite attractive socialite.

The prematurely gray and abnormally tan Crist has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Sen. John McCain.

Crist is popular in Florida, a perennial battleground state; so having a bachelor on the ticket might not be the most favorable entry on his Veep resume.

Marry the girl, Charlie! And so he will, but didn't a similarly gray and handsome mayor on ABC's "Desperate Housewives" marry the petite and beautiful Gabriella for his own political expediency?

Mayor Victor Lang (John Slattery) married Eva Longoria's character to win the Latino vote in Fairview, but was ultimately foiled by ex-husband Carlos.

Ah, life imitating poorly made art.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Obama Takes Another Sly Jab At The DNC


A local Alameda County Obama campaign organizer said that the campaign's aversion to political action committees(PACs) are real and one major sticking point for switching positions on election finance reform.

According to the source, the California Democratic Party was, in his words, "(expletive) out of their mind" by the decision.

The reason is the DNC gets a possible kickback if the Demo wins. With the Obama campaign creating a firewall between the DNC and the campaign majors feathers and dollars could be lost.

You might remember one of the basic tenets of the LFR: Don't cost rich people money or pay.

This is an ocassion were Obama might be stepping on some feet that could come back to bite him.

Give him credit, though, for not backing down. Wednesday's story in the Los Angeles Times that Obama may cut the party convention from four to three day might be part of another snub to the DNC rather than, as the article says, as convenient or, even shrewd political maneuver.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Death Of Person In Springsteen Lyric Gets AP Story

Did you hear, the cops finally busted Madam Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do
-Bruce Springsteen, "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"

Apparently, Madam Marie wasn't just a figment of The Bosses alliterate imagination. Marie Castello died June 27.

Sloppy Sue and Big Bones Billie are still coming up for air. 

UPDATE: Here's a nice obit on Madam Marie in the Asbury Park Press.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Obamaniacs Use House Party To Vent And Dream


As a registered Republican, Catherine Kavasch never imagined hosting over two dozen strangers in her San Lorenzo home for a liberal candidate like Barack Obama.

But, there she was espousing the phenomenon of Obamamania as a self-proclaimed moderate, Schwarzenegger conservative who has since changed her affiliation to a Democrat.

Across the country last Saturday, this scene was played out in thousands of living rooms as the Obama campaign capitalizes on enthusiasm unheard of at this point in a presidential election.

Obama house parties were held locally in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco to name just a few.

Supporters already registered by the campaign were notified of the event by email and steered to the nearest meeting.

Many in attendance at Kavasch’s home indicated dismay over the presidency of George W. Bush and his policies regarding the war and his leadership coupled with a strong feeling of admiration for Obama.

For Kavasch the transformation began shortly after 9/11 when her innate sense to personally help the situation was stymied by a president who simply told the country to go shopping.

“After 9/11, I felt the need to help, but the Bush administration had nothing for me to do,” said Kavasch, who is an alumnus of Cal State, East Bay and former Pioneer staff writer in the early 1980s, “With Barack Obama I found a candidate who said, ‘We need you’.”

The event Saturday was the first time Kavasch has hosted a political event.

Kavasch recently campaigned door-to-door around her neighborhood attempting to persuade neighbors she knew and many she met for the first time with apprehension.

“You go up to their house and you don’t know if their adamant about Clinton or unhappy about Obama winning [the primaries],” said Kavasch, “but everyone was polite to me for whatever reason.”

The old bromide that all politics is local is an Obama tenet and certainly true for Kavasch and others who have encountered crime in their neighborhoods and successfully handled it through community involvement.

Long time Hayward resident, Jodie Gordon, has kept tabs on local government for years and believes people can change things if they desire it.

“It depends on how loud your voice will be to effect change,” said Gordon, who retired from the Communications department at CSUEB eight years ago.

Gordon vacationed in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and was shocked to see parts of the city still destroyed.

“Nothing has been done for these people,” said Gordon, “People from other countries were asking, ‘Why isn’t America taking care of its people?’”

Patti Meagher of San Leandro said the “beginning of the end of my faith in government” started after the 2000 presidential election. She almost didn’t vote in 2004.

She has not been this “jazzed” about a presidential candidate since Eugene McCarthy’s anti-war campaign in 1968.

Meagher donated $50 at a time to the Obama campaign, but decided she would get more out of volunteering rather than giving contributions.

She believes many minorities that live in her neighborhood are not registered and hopes to knock on doors to sign them up.

An attendee who lives in Washington, D.C., but grew up in the area speaks Spanish and volunteered to help Meagher in her effort.

At this particular house party, attendees were not specifically asked to make firm volunteering pledges, but some like Joe Anderson plan on traveling to battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio as the November election nears.

“[Obama] is going to need people the most in those states,” said Anderson.

Matt Freeman, who is an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August and the 13th Congressional district coordinator for the Obama campaign says California is a “lock” for Obama, but also says that nearby Nevada is not and is right in California’s backyard

Freeman, a political science instructor at Ohlone College and San Francisco State, has participated in elections going back to 2000, but the impetus this time around is more personal.

He is a father of two young children who says he worries about their future. He also has a father, who after 36 years at AC Transit, is unable to retire because of the high cost of health care insurance.

Freeman also lost a cousin last year during fighting in Fallujah.

“His last letter to us ended by saying, ‘I’m not sure why we’re still here’”, said Freeman, “That’s not political spin or red state, blue state, that’s from the front lines.”

He says the Obama campaign has “hitched itself to the grassroots.”

He told the group, “You know your neighborhoods. That’s grassroots and we’re relying on you to tell us what needs to be done.”

Freeman is unequivocal when he says, “California is going to go Democratic. I’m not going to lie to you, there’s not going to be a lot of money spent here, but there are still things people can do to help.”

Kavasch has already taken advantage of the Obama campaign’s downloadable phone lists to call voters in Indiana during their primary last May.

“I called the phone company and I learned that calling long-distance was actually cheaper than calling my sister in Elk Grove,” said Kavasch.

In just three hours earlier in June, the Obama campaign registered 252 voters who have never participated in an election, but Freeman cautions that registered voters don’t necessarily translate into votes at the ballot box.

Said Freeman, “It’s meaningless if people don’t show up at the polls,” said Freeman, “That’s where elections are won and lost.”

Cal State East Bay Lefty Signs With Marlins


A bucket of seeds and a bus pass was all Matt Vieira wanted from baseball before he signed last month with the Florida Marlins organization.

They threw in a plane ticket to Jamestown, NY for good measure.

The former Cal State, East Bay pitcher who ended his college career last month by tying the single-season school mark for victories with 10, will begin his professional career with the Jamestown Jammers of the short-season Class A New York/Penn League.

Vieira expects to be activated soon by Jammers after passing an extensive medical physical.
The team plans to use him in the bullpen initially with the possibility of starting later in the season which runs 76 games.

The gritty lefthander, who features a fastball in the upper 80s and a sneaky slider, went undrafted in the recent June amateur draft, but was undeterred.

"I felt it wasn't over," said Vieira.

After CSUEB's season concluded Vieira worked out for both the Baltimore Orioles and Florida.
At the time, Vieira did not receive an offer and attended an open tryout for the Major League scouting bureau in Las Vegas.

Vieira's performance in Las Vegas was good enough that Marlins' area scout John Hughes, who also scouted Vieira in high school, offered him a contract the next day.

"When I received the call from John I didn't want to rush to make a decision right then. It's something that I wanted to talk with my parents about first," said Vieira.

His parents displayed two different reactions to the news.

"My dad is analytical about things. He said 'Let's see if this is a good organization for developing pitchers', later he was like, yeah, this is a good spot," said Vieira, "My mom was excited, but I could be playing in Mexico and she would still be happy."

Ironically, 20 minutes after Vieira dropped off his newly signed contract to the local Kinko's, an Orioles representative offered him a contract with their affiliate in the same New York/Penn League.

Vieira admits his goals are modest at this point of his nascent career.

"I'm eager to get out on the field. I understand that I'm the only free agent on my team and the only D-III guy," said Vieira, "I'm excited to face big time hitters and showcase what I did in Hayward. I want to take the tools my coaches at Hayward taught me and bring them to next level."

Pioneers Manager Dirk Morrison said Vieira's signing was "rewarding for the program and an excellent opportunity for him to continue playing he game he loves."

CSUEB Athletic Director Debby DeAngelis said the signing reflected well on the program and the university.

Vieira is the fourth CSUEB player in the last five years to sign a professional contract.

The others include Caleb Cooper (White Sox), Archie Gilbert (A's) and Ray Stokes (Padres).

Vieira went 10-2 this season with a 3.90 earned runs average in 15 games. The 10 wins tied the mark set by Dick Foster in 1968.

He also ended his CSUEB career as the school all-time saves leader with 14.

What's Eating Archie Gilbert? Nothing Much Anymore


When former Cal State, East Bay outfielder Archie Gilbert was named to the California League All-Star team last month, he awaited his limousine while dressed to the nines.

Stockton Ports (Class A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics) hitting coach Tim Garland teased Gilbert about his choice of a classy sports suit over the other All-Star’s simple collared dress shirts and slacks.

“You’re dressed to kill ain’t you little Archie,” said Garland.

“I’m going to be a big leaguer one day, so I better start acting like one,” Garland recalls Gilbert saying.

The times have not always been so good for the five-foot-eight package of speed and power Gilbert has become this season in Stockton.

During his playing days at CSUEB from 2002-2005, Gilbert’s career numbers would allow anyone to credibly argue he is statistically the greatest Pioneer baseball player in the school’s history.

He owns nearly every career mark, excluding home runs and batting average, where he ranks second and seventh, respectively.

Nonetheless, Gilbert was scouting by the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants, but ultimately went undrafted his senior year.

“They said he’s 21-years-old, this is probably the highest his ceiling is going to get,” said Gilbert.
Part of the problem Gilbert believes is that playing Division III baseball had certain disadvantages to may have hampered his development.

“At a D-III school—I wouldn’t knock it—but, we don’t have the time, we don’t have the equipment, we don’t have coaches you could really relate to as a player,” said Gilbert, “We had a coach you knew a lot about hitting, but he was old school, he couldn’t really relate to the hitters. I know what he’s talking about now that I’m older, but back then he didn’t really have the time to explain how to hit.”

Gilbert signed with the Boston Red Sox organization as an undrafted free agent in 2005 but suffered an immediate setback when an inside fastball broke his pinky finger just 40 at-bats into his professional career.

The following spring, the first major disappointment in his life was handed down from the front office.

“They said we have to let you go, but we think you can play somewhere,” said Gilbert, “I was like, ‘I want to play here’, and I think that was the best thing for me. That was the first time I ever saw failure like that, but I knew I wasn’t done.”

Besides the injury the preceding season, Gilbert was the victim of a numbers game within the Boston organization where a number of high-priced talent would be assured playing time over Gilbert.

“I’m glad they did it then because they could have left me to rot on the bench,” recalls Gilbert.
Three weeks later, the Chicago White Sox organization offered Gilbert a chance to play, but again he was relegated to the bench at Class A Great Falls (Mont.) and Kannapolis (N.C.).
Around this time, despite limited playing time, Gilbert began to apply himself to improving his game.

He met a ballplayer named Jack Gifford who introduced him to his workout partner Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes.

“He said go to San Mateo and workout with these guys. I didn’t even know who I was going to meet until Eric Byrnes comes up to me and says, ‘Are you Archie?’”

Gilbert credits Byrnes’s workout program to his improvement as a ballplayer and tries to emulate the scrappy outfielder’s energetic style.

Another move was in the offing when the White Sox organization dragged its feet in offering Gilbert a new contract.

Gilbert said seven teams contacted him and Oakland offered him the best deal with a chance at increased playing time.

Incidentally, coming back to Northern California to play in the Athletics’ organization wasn’t a dream come true for the Union City native who grew up a Giants fan and a follower of Barry Bonds.

Gilbert says having his mother, who still lives in the East Bay, and his older brother who lives in nearby Tracy, along with the somewhat mild temperatures was a plus in signing with the Stockton Ports.

Gilbert’s father died when he was 13 and said his mother was both a mom and dad for him growing up.

Besides, he says, “I wasn’t that bad of a kid, so it wasn’t hard for her to raise me.”
All the trials Gilbert has endured through his brief baseball career seem to have paid off this season.

He started the season on a tear, hitting .356 in April and stayed hot well into May with a 25-game hitting streak that fell just short of the California League record.

Gilbert seems to have a knack for long hitting streak. He also holds the CSUEB record with a 36-game streak in 2004.

“He makes contact and he doesn’t strikeout a lot,” said Garland, “He puts the ball in play and because of his speed he gets some hits the average ballplayer doesn’t get. He doesn’t get deep in counts so the pitcher isn’t allowed to throw him their put away pitches.”

Along with his selection to Class A All-Star Game where he started in leftfield and knocked in the Cal League’s only run in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina League June 24, Gilbert also hit for the cycle with a home run, triple, double and a single June 19 against High Desert.

“At the All-Star Game I just sat back at thought I used to sit the bench. I got released. I must have done some kind of work to get here,” said Gilbert.

The maturation of Gilbert has become evident to many around the Ports ball club, including fans, numerous members of the media and the coaching staff.

Ports Manager Darren Bush sees a professional ballplayer who takes his career seriously.
“We know Archie works on his game everyday,” said Bush, “At the end of the day I know Archie is going to give everything he has.”

Garland says Gilbert is “very serious about his career” and often times practices without the use of the staff.

“I still have fun, but I don’t take any time off, this is my job,” said Gilbert, “Basically, six days a week I’m doing something with baseball. I’m always trying to look for ways to elevate my game.
I got a lot of people saying I can’t do this and it’s not going to happen. I can feel doors starting to open so I’m kind of pushing a little stronger.”

According to Garland, Gilbert needs to utilize his blazing speed more often. After working with Gilbert on bunting drills Friday afternoon, he quickly applied the lesson during that night’s game against Lake Elsinore.

The bunt attempt for a base hit was ultimately fielded by the first baseman who beat Gilbert to the bag, but not without Gilbert tenaciously diving through the air.

“I think he has a shot at being a solid big league ballplayer. He’s still has some development,” said Garland, “He needs to bunt more because that’s a tool he has that he doesn’t utilize for me.”
Garland has a certain affinity for small, speedy leadoff hitters like Gilbert because he was once one during his 15-year professional career.

“He’s a pest on the base paths. He’ll cause havoc and they will start worrying about him and the next three guys are hitting fastballs down the middle of the plate,” said Garland, “And you can’t walk him because he’ll steal second. He’s an exciting player.”

Garland believes that Gilbert could be the type of player who hits 25 home runs in the big leagues.

“He’s made me say ‘Wow’ on some of his homeruns this year,” said Garland.
Gilbert’s batting stance is a bit curious.

At the plate, he stands upright but bends his back knee in way that looks similar to a guy partially sitting on a stool while his elbow rests on the bar.

“I make fun of him all the time. It looks like he’s sitting in a rocking chair,” said Garland, “I told him if you’re going to hit like this, this is what you have to do.”

Garland only tinkered with Gilbert’s hands to get them in a loaded position which has helped him successfully tear through any fastballs over the plate.

Garland says he not a stickler on batting stances, just the outcome.

“It doesn’t matter how you start. The result is you have to get the ball at the same point of contact. I don’t care if you’re standing on your head as long as you flip over in time and hit the ball at the point of contact,” said Garland.

If there is a hole in Gilbert’s game, it’s his throwing arm.

While Gilbert’s defensive skills in leftfield are considerable, Garland says he’s made some of the most exciting plays he’s ever seen his arm strength is average according to Garland and with
improvement would still be average by Major League standards.

But, again, if you doubt Gilbert you run the risk of looking foolish.

He’s seriously when he says “When people tell me I can’t do something, I want to show them that I could.”

The Education Of Sleazy Politicians


There is just something so undemocratic about alternative consultation, the bureaucratic buzzword blowing through the hillside of Cal State, East Bay.

CSUEB President Mo Qayoumi seems like a man with a plan to make our campus more than a pit stop for commuting students, except if it wasn’t for a bunch of meddling kids trying to throw a wrench in his vision.

Our student government either feigns ignorance over Qayoumi pushing threw two initiatives to build a Wellness and Rec Center on campus and to insignificantly bolster our sports programs to ho-hum Division II status or they brush off any criticism given to a cumulative $100 increase in fees per quarter.

President Bush is already underwriting my summer school fees, while I dine on the students special of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and tomato soup made from fast food packets of ketchup with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Why is my student government not looking out for my interests?

Four hundred dollars a year would be more helpful in my gas tank rather than towards an investment for which most of the current students will never utilize before graduation.

Associated Students, Inc. Vice President Noel Perez, sounding like a pre-Iraq invasion Hillary Clinton, told The Pioneer last week, that he/she? supported the plan after being misled by the university.

Hiding behind the ignorance of a controversial plan after its downside is publicly revealed is so 2002.

Qayoumi, for his part, seems like a politician bent on legacy rather than the will of the people.

His plan to sow the seeds of greater student pride is an agenda worth following, but not by increasing by increasing fees while criticizing Sacramento for attempting budget cuts for CSU system.

Speaking out of both sides of your mouth is a highly suspect method of leading an institution, but also something he doesn’t seem to do at all with reporters of The Pioneer.

Qayoumi rarely has time for his own university’s newspaper, but when a reporter from the venerable New York Times showed up on campus in February to write about his liberal admissions policy for foreign students he found time for the Grey Lady and even posed for a charming photo most students would find more suitable for the president’s MySpace page.
The big problem is how could alternative consultation ever be seen as more democratic than allowing the entire campus to vote on its merits?

The Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Bob Herbert III believes due to low voter participation the wishes of 13,000 students should be in the hands of a miniscule minority.
Sponge Bob, Sonic the Hedgehog and presumably a little bag of a narcotics calling himself Crack Cocaine thinks a Rec Center and the pleasure of playing Division II powerhouses like Chico State and Cal State, Monterey Bay in golf is a worthy expenditure. The university registrar certified this fact.

The ironic thing is that we live in a society where these types of political shenanigans are a badge of honor among peers and the source of anger for the electorate.

Do you think our student government has learned a thing or two from Washington?
Again, it’s the people who will pay for the rubber stamping for the president’s misguided agenda.

SOP Shows Another Side Of Abu Ghraib


Filmmaker Errol Morris assumes you know everything about Abu Ghraib.

How American soldiers put Iraqi prisoners in humiliating, homoerotic poses while an impish guard with cigarette dangling from her mouth flashed the infamous thumbs up.

He assumes you agree that the maelstrom of negative world opinion that was unleashed from those photographs was a poignant reminder that the war in Iraq is a horrendous mistake.

Because Morris, who won an Academy Award for the documentary dealing with the folly of war in Vietnam, "Fog of War", believes the audience agrees with the premise, he offers up "Standard Operating Procedure", a one-dimensional film devoid of any passion.

Morris doesn't stoke the anger that the release of the photos garnered throughout the world.

You don't come away from the film with a sense of the catastrophe that these abuses meant to the prosecution of this war or, more importantly, that it could happen again.

More to the point, because of the the film's title, Morris believes these acts are common and condoned by the U.S. military establishment. But, he doesn't fully attack the higher ups, except through the appearance of Gen. Janis Karpinski who gives first-person insight into the wheels of the Army and the Pentagon when she says her willingness to hold a press conference coming clean about the acts at Abu Ghraib were rebuffed by the Pentagon.

One soldier even described numerous visits by military leaders as "dog and pony shows" where the prison was cleansed of any hint of impropriety and every prisoner had a mattress to sleep on.

What Morris succeeds in Standard Operating Procedure is telling the story of the photos around its unseen periphery. He argues a photo, in itself, can be taken out of context.

We learn that the infamous hooded Iraqi man standing on a cardboard box is called is said to be "actually a decent guy" and performed odd jobs around the prison.

The most important appearance in the film is the scandal's most well-known participant, Lynddie England, the small, female soldier with a crooked smile.

Amidst the confusion and horror of Abu Ghraib, she tells a story of a love affair with Corp. Charles Graner, the apparent ringleader of the abuses, who was 14 years her senior and who she would do anything for his attention.

England, who looks older and full-faced since the photographs protests what they did at Abu Ghraib was learned from the culture of the prison before they even arrived and downplays the attention the photos received.

"We didn't kill them. We didn't shoot them. We just did what we were told to do," said England.
Another pivotal player in this film, is Sabrina Harman, one of the soldiers who actually snapped the photos. Harman says she was acting as documentarian, cataloging the abuses at the prison for the outside world. Morris is sympathetic to her argument and provides evidence through correspondences to her partner.

If Harman does anything, she helps the film correct a common misconception about Abu Ghraib that the real torture occurred after these guards "soften them up".

Harman is pressed by Morris to explain the photo of herself smiling with, again the ubiquitous thumbs up, with a dead Iraqi prisoner packed in ice. Her answer to the effect that people inherently smile when taking pictures is less than convincing, but the story of why the prisoner is dead lands squarely on something insidious that occurs outside the lens or the perimeter of the prison.

What Standard Operating Procedures aims to accomplish is an assault on American military culture, but when people like Jermey Sivits say, "When you're in war, things change," you become sympathetic to an "anything goes" philosophy.

Morris illustrates wonderfully what's outside the frame--it's not what is cropped, but what never visually appears, but he never fully asks how or why it happened other than to say it's standard operating procedure.

Cal State Hurler Doesn't Like To Lose


Matt Vieira has perfect control. Pick a spot on the outside edge of the plate and he delivers a darting fastball that kisses the black.

Part of Vieira’s rise to the top of the Pioneers rotation has been his ability to consistently throw strikes and appear unwavering on the mound.

His imposing command of his pitching repertoire and his ice cool demeanor belies a guy who doesn’t relish losing control of a game that is too wily to be fully perfected and that’s what bothers him.

Vieira’s mother, Sue, said her son was such a poor loser at the age of 7, that his teacher told them to play board games with their son and rig the games against him.

Games like Monopoly came to resemble smarmy carnival games where the rules were surreptitiously stacked against him.

“I kept trying to figure out why I kept losing every game. The rules kept changing,” Vieira recalls with an incredulous laugh.

To ensure domination of the old Nintendo shooting game, Duck Hunt, Vieira would jam the plastic pistol against the television screen so hard that long, horizontal grooves were soon scratched into the glass.

“I would just pout,” said Vieira, “I guess I was a sore loser.”

He stands six-feet-two-inches tall, but his thin frame makes him appear smaller. His delivery is compact and every pitch, whether it’s his signature fastball or a side-winding slider, hops out of the exact same spot just behind his left ear.

The bill of his cap rises just above his piercing eyes and the bill is bent tightly into an upside-down “u” that only accentuates his gunslinger attitude.

Vieira never runs on the field. He takes slow, deliberate steps to-and-from the mound in what has been a very successful year for the senior lefthander.

His 8-2 record and 77 2/3 innings pitched leads the Pioneers staff, but his success in limiting free passes (he has yielded only 25 bases on balls all season) has been a big part of his success that has been finely honed over the years.

“He puts a lot into what he’s doing,” said his father, Mike Vieira, “Everything he gets, he deserves.”

Vieira’s father never played organized baseball, but slowly learned every little detail of the game while coaching his son in recreational leagues.

“What he didn’t know, he found others who did in baseball clinics,” said Matt.

Mike Vieira would routinely videotape Matt’s games in order to find any flaws in his smooth delivery.

They would go over making sure he was throwing each pitch from the same arm slot and discuss how he could have better approached hitters, he said.

“He doesn’t care too much about the result,” Vieira said about his dad, “He’s more worried about my mechanics.”

Vieira’s attention to ironing out the notoriously fickle arena of pitching mechanics aggravates his need to be perfect.

Even as Vieira pitched seven strong innings April 25 against Menlo College, he still obsessed over giving up a few late runs in the 5-2 victory.

“I’m still mad about giving up that two-run double,” said Vieira.

His father has seen this attention to maximizing his performance before.

“I tell him, ‘Matt, you’re the only who could pitch seven innings and walk one batter and be mad that you gave up one walk’,” said Mike Vieira.

The man now in charge of Vieira’s development, Cal State, East Bay Manager, Dirk Morrison thinks his ace is getting better at focusing his energy.

“He’s been able to control it,” said Morrison, “In this game some things don’t go the way you want them, so you have to deal with that and he has.”

Vieira’s unease may be higher than ever as he awaits a call from the Majors during the June Amateur Draft.

Major League officials have not been in touch with Vieira recently, but he’s still optimistic his dream will come true. He’s not picky about where he goes, either, saying, “I’ll go anywhere. Just give me a bucket of seeds and a bus ticket.”

It’s not that clubs are unaware of Vieira’s capabilities. After graduating from Livermore High School—the same school that produced former Cy Young winner, Randy Johnson—he signed a draft card for the Florida Marlins, but they never called his name in the draft.

Two years later as a sophomore, Vieira’s stock was the highest it had been drawing the attention of scouts from the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates while playing in the New York College Baseball League, a summer showcase for non-drafted collegiates.

Vieira led the NYCBL in saves that season while pitching for the Waterton Wizards in upstate New York, but also tore ligaments in his push-off ankle.

He speculates that some teams may be weary of a hurler with a medical history, but said he hasn’t had a reoccurrence of the injury since.

Even if he doesn’t get the call from the Majors, Vieira’s athletic endeavors have come in handily academically.

“My parents always taught us that if you want success on the field, you have to have success in the classroom first,” said Vieira.

He will graduate next month with a degree in liberal studies and plans to return next fall to begin work on a master’s in kinesiology. with an eye on becoming a physical education instructor.

Even if Vieira’s phone doesn’t ring next June, his talents will be useful in teaching a generation of children susceptible to short cuts, how hard work pays off and where rigging board games is an acceptable learning tool.