Family Bigger Than World

At least that is what Angel reliever Brian Fuentes is telling folks running the World Baseball Classic. Selected to pitch for Team USA, Fuentes told reporters he is returning to his home in Merced to deal with family matters, but may be available to join the squad if it advances beyond the first round of play.

“I wanted to play, but the timing was bad,” he told the LA Times.

Training camp for Team USA began this week in Florida. The first round of the WBC will be in Toronto from March 7-11.

If Team USA advances, the second round will be held in Miami from March 14-18. The final round will be held in Southern California during the final week of March.

Clippers Not Bigger Than Inconsistency

Hey, the Lakers and Clippers have something in common beyond sharing an arena and a city. Both teams beat a strong Celtics team at Staples Center but could not handle the lowly Kings in Sacramento. Oh, and both teams have home losses to the younger Charlotte Bobcats.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, all three games happened last week (compared to over a two month stretch for the Lakers). After shocking the basketball world with a 93-91 victory over the Celtics Feb. 25, the Clippers failed to capitalize two days later against Sacramento. To make matters worst, Los Angeles lost to Charlotte at home 24 hours later.

Only the Clippers could beat an elite squad one night and follow-up with a loss to the team with the league’s worst record one game later. Too bad the Clippers cannot ask the NBA for a weeklong leave of absence to return home in order to attend to family matters.

Trojans need to be bigger than losing streak.

The Trojans basketball squad is starting to look a lot like the Pac-10 version of the Clippers. Except, not only is USC struggling to defeat its superior opponents, now they are struggling against teams below them as well.

Case in point – the Trojans were defeated in a battle of private schools on Saturday, when Stanford, who was just 4-11 in conference play entering the game, cruised past USC, 75-63 in Palo Alto.

It was the Trojans’ third loss in a row and sixth in the last seven games. With the loss, USC has just an outside chance to earn a berth in the Big Dance. Unless the Trojans (16-12, 7-9) win the upcoming Pac-10 Tournament, the cardinal-and-gold will have to wait until next season to participate in March Madness.

Bruins win big despite inconsistency.

Across town in Westwood, the Bruins are not exactly knocking the socks off the poll voters. After flirting with a top five ranking just a few weeks ago, UCLA lost three of four games to nose-dive toward the bottom of the AP and Coaches’ Polls.

Of course, the Bruins hope defeating Stanford and California might regain them some momentum heading into March Madness. After defeating the Golden Bears, 72-68, Saturday, No. 22 UCLA (22-7, 11-5) kept its Pac-10 title hopes alive. With two games remaining, the Bruins must win both games and hope conference-leader Washington (22-7, 13-4) loses its final conference game against Washington State in order for both teams to share the Pac-10 title.

This week, the Bruins return home for the final two games against both Oregon schools. UCLA needs to win both games in order to guarantee at least the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Pac-10 Tournament. Even bigger, the Bruins need to find some consistency – otherwise, they will not have much success in the Big Dance.