By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
The new year is here – barely – and like any new start, there are a lot of questions. For sports in the Orange County and Garden Grove-Stanton-Westminster areas, there are a lot of questions fans would like to see answered.
So here’s some of the issues as we see them at the beginning of 2013. Perhaps we will get some good answers?
1. Will the Angels finally be able to make good on their big money payroll? Halo fans were in heaven going into the 2012 season when Albert Pujols signed with the Anaheimers, and Sports Illustrated (for example) proclaimed the Angels the favorite to win the World Series.
Of course, that didn’t happen. But now, with Josh Hamilton on the roster, hope springs eternal. But which Hamilton will show up? The one who tore up the league for Texas in the first half of the season or the one that slumped in the second half and helped his team lose the AL West title on the last day of the season?
Anyone who followed the Halos in 2012 also knows that while Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo were pleasant surprises, the Angel bullpen and half of the starting rotation was uneven and prone to collapse.
Yes, that’s more than one question. But that’s what happens to followers of the Angels. With any luck, the answers will be pleasant ones.
2. Will the NHL (and the Anaheim Ducks) be back this season? It’s not looking good, is it? Fans in the cold climes are probably hurting, but down there in the warmer latitudes, not so much.
The “up” side to all of this is that if the 2012-13 season is cancelled – which is how it looks right now – is that the Los Angeles Kings will be able to stay Stanley Cup champs for an additional year without ever losing a tooth.
3. Can the Argonauts really stay at the top level? Garden Grove High School’s football team has reached the CIF football finals three out of four years, and head coach Willy Puga is vowing that the red-and-white will be there on a regular basis.
That’s a tall order, considering that before the 2010 season, Grove had only been to the finals once, in 1945. Grove does have some solid returnees such as QB Angel Martinez. If the Argos make it to the finals again, a question for 2014 might be how long before Puga is lured away to a more high-profile program?
4. Who’ll stop the Spartans? Orangewood Academy, a small private school in east Garden Grove with just 90 students in its high school section, has turned into a sports powerhouse.
The Spartan girls’ team won a CIF-SS basketball title last year, and is off to an 8-2 start with center Raquel Spencer leading the way. On top of that, the OA girls’ volleyball team won a CIF title, too.
Admittedly, they’re not playing the Mater Dei’s and and Newport Beach’s of the world, but their sports success has been remarkable and looks to continue.
5. Who will be the new star players and teams for 2013? Pacifica, which used to dominate the Garden Grove League in football and basketball, is now in the much-tougher Empire League and the titles come less easily. Still, the Mariners have a couple of top basketball players in Jordan Fleck and Brian Alvarez.
On the girls’ side, Ruby Rivera looks strong for Pacifica. For the Westminster girls’ team, Maggie Dumphy is leading a red-hot Lions’ team.
In softball, Garden Grove has lost its star pitcher, Jasmine Antunez, to graduation, but Pacifica returns two youngsters – Kaylee Carlson and Kaley Winegarner – to a team which should contend for the program’s sixth CIF crown.