Thursday, May 31, 2007

USD baseball hopes to roll an 'eight'

The University of San Diego baseball team can only hope things to continue to come up “eights” this weekend.

The Toreros, seeded No. 8 in the NCAA baseball tournament, are the host team at San Diego State.

According to ESPN, the No. 8 seed has advanced to the College World Series in each of the prior eight seasons since the NCAA Tournament was expanded to 64 teams.

How’s that for picking the right number in the lotto?

There are other numbers the Toreros must fight.

USD begins the tournament Friday at 8 p.m. against Fresno State, which defeated the Toreros twice in last year’s NCAA Regionals at Cal State Fullerton. The Bulldogs also defeated USD two out of three games this March at Fresno.

This time, the Toreros will be playing on their home field … so to speak.

Perhaps one of the rallying points for USD is second baseman Justin Snyder. Nine years ago, when known as “Boomer” Snyder, he led Santee Pioneer to the District 41 Little League championship.

The Toreros are hoping that things are booming for them again this weekend.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Perez: The one that got away

A straight-up trade of Brian Giles to the Padres for Jason Bay alone would have been a great deal for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003.

Giles is a descending former star. Bay is a rising star.

But don’t forget, the Pirates also received pitcher Oliver Perez in the trade.

So, who got the best of the trade overall? Try the New York Mets.

Perez is now pitching like an All-Star for the Mets. He is 6-3 with a 2.69 ERA, and appears a pretty good bet to join Padres ace Jake Peavy on the 2007 National League All-Star team.

Last season, Perez was traded by the Pirates along with pitcher Roberto Hernandez to the Mets for Xavier Nady, another former Padre. Yes, that’s the same Nady who helped the Pirates beat the Padres, 4-1, Tuesday night.

Perez and Peavy broke in with the Padres during the same 2002 weekend series against the New York Yankees at Qualcomm Stadium.

It’s scary to think what it would be like still have those two in the same rotation!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Kouzmanoff should bat seventh

Kevin Kouzmanoff should be batting seventh for the Padres.


He had an eight-game hitting streak while primarily in the No. 7 hole, recording a .520 batting average with four home runs and 12 RBIs during the streak.

So, the Padres rewarded Kouzmanoff by elevating him to fifth in the order. So, Kouzmanoff responded by going 0-for-7 in the last two games at No. 5, dropping his average from .217 to .205.

During his hot streak, the same people who had wanted Kouzmanoff sent to the minors were talking about him as a possible Rookie of the Year. But batting fifth, he looked like the same guy that the multitudes wanted sent out to Triple-A Portland.

When the Padres lineup comes out tonight in Pittsburgh, you can only hope Kouzmanoff is batting seventh.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Remember our fallen heroes on Memorial Day

As we begin our Memorial Day weekend, let’s not forget what this holiday is all about and why we continue to live in a free country.

Without the sacrifices of millions of men and women over history who have given their lives for our country, we would not enjoy the freedoms we have today.

If you’re watching a baseball game or any other sporting event this weekend, just remember that we wouldn’t even have these pleasures without those who have selflessly laid down their lives for our country.

Here are excerpts from a past Memorial Day speech by President Bush at Arlington National Cemetery:

"Every year on this day, we pause to remember Americans fallen by placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I'm honored to do that this morning on behalf of the American people. The names of the men buried there are known only to God, but their courage and sacrifice will never be forgotten by our nation.

"At our National Cemetery, we receive the fallen in sorrow, and we take them to an honored place to rest. Looking across this field, we see the scale of heroism and sacrifice. All who are buried here understood their duty. All stood to protect America. And all carried with them memories of a family that they hoped to keep safe by their sacrifice.

"These are the men and women who wear our uniform. These are the men and women who defend our freedom. And these are the men and women who are buried here. As we look across these acres, we begin to tally the cost of our freedom, and we count it a privilege to be citizens of the country served by so many brave men and women. And we must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives, by defeating the terrorists, advancing the cause of liberty, and building a safer world.

"A day will come when there will be no one left who knew the men and women buried here. Yet Americans will still come to visit, to pay tribute to the many who gave their lives for freedom, who liberated the oppressed, and who left the world a safer and better place. Today we pray that they have found peace with their Creator, and we resolve that their sacrifice will always be remembered by a grateful nation.

"May God continue to bless America."

Friday, May 25, 2007

USD baseball has unlimited vision

While standing above Cunningham Stadium on the University of San Diego campus, it seems like you can see forever while looking west out over the water.

Luckily for the Toreros’ baseball team, coach Rich Hill appears to have unlimited vision concerning where his team is headed.

His Toreros are ranked fifth in the nation as they begin a best-of-three series with Gonzaga today to determine the West Coast Conference’s automatic representative in the NCAA Tournament.

No matter what happens this weekend, USD will be going to the NCAAs. If the Toreros beat Gonzaga, they are all but guaranteed to host an NCAA Regional at San Diego State.

That brings us to another point. SDSU was eliminated from the Mountain West Conference Tournament last night, finishing its season with a losing record at 29-30.

Isn’t it amazing how SDSU gets most of the publicity, but USD records a great majority of the victories?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Padres hand Cubs another one-run loss

If you can’t appreciate Trevor Hoffman and his Major League Baseball record of 495 saves, consider what it might be like on the other end.

The Chicago Cubs are just 2-10 in one-run games after losing to Hoffman and the San Diego Padres, 2-1, Wednesday night.

Cubs Manager Lou Piniella is obviously tired of watching his team blow close games with lack of clutch hitting and pitching.

“We talk about it way too often,” Piniella said. “I really, really get tired of it. It’s hard explaining it all the time. I really wish you all could sit back here (answering postgame questions) and I could write.

“It just happens too many times. We just leave them on. We’ve got chances to do things with baseball games. We just don’t.

“We’re second in the league in hitting and we’re (2-10) in one-run games. That just really doesn’t add up, does it? No, it really doesn’t.”

But Lou, what do you really think?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gwynn, Aztecs seek their day in the sun

Tony Gwynn had his day in the sun in Major League Baseball, easily being voted into the Hall of Fame this year.

Now, if only he could enjoy another day in the sun as San Diego State’s baseball coach.

Gwynn is in his fifth year at the helm of the Aztecs. He has yet to lead his team into the NCAA playoffs.

But that’s nothing new around SDSU. The Aztecs, despite being in an ideal city for baseball, have not made the NCAA playoffs since 1991 as they enter the Mountain West Conference Tournament today against the New Mexico Lobos.

Collegiate baseball teams can shine in San Diego. Just look at the University of San Diego Toreros, who are ranked fifth in the nation.

The Toreros will most certainly be in the NCAA Tournament the weekend of June 1 … most likely hosting games at SDSU of all places!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Can the Padres step it up?

The Padres have shown the ability to beat poor teams. But can they defeat the good ones?

We should find out this week as they host the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers for three games apiece at Petco Park.

The Padres are 9-0 in series this season against teams currently standing in the bottom two spots of their division. They are 0-3 in series against teams in first- and second-place.

Since Milwaukee leads the NL Central and Chicago is in a virtual tie for second with Houston, this will be a week for the Padres to prove themselves.

San Diego is 4-2 against San Francisco and Colorado; as well as being 2-1 vs. St. Louis, Cincinnati, Florida, Washington and Seattle. Those teams are all within the last two places of their respective divisions.

However, the Padres are just 2-4 against the NL West leading Dodgers, and 1-3 vs. second-place Atlanta of the NL East.

If the Padres are ever going to start beating top-quality teams, this week would be a good time to start.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Padres do it in threes (or less)

The Padres have won nine games this year while scoring three runs or less.

That’s nine out of 24, as in 37.5 percent of their wins.

Can they keep this up? Time will tell.

They do lead Major League Baseball in team ERA at 3.11. They do have the best bullpen ERA in the majors at 2.19.

The bullpen is back at it again, working 12 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing a run.

The Padres are getting great late-inning relief from Trevor Hoffman, Scott Linebrink, Heath Bell and Cla Meredith. Doug Brocail and Kevin Cameron are doing just fine in the middle, and Justin Hampson keeps eating up the innings while allowing very few runs as the long reliever.

It’s a long summer. The Padres pitchers will likely have to keep it up to overcome an offense that can best be described as "popgun."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Gwynn earns sportsmanship award

You probably know by now that Tony Gwynn will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 29.

You probably don’t know that the man known as "Mr. Padre" will be honored a month before in St. Louis at the 2007 AT&T National Sportsmanship Awards.

The 15-time All-Star and eight-time batting champion will receive the Career Achievement Award from the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance (CTSA) at the organization’s June 21 event.

Appearing with Gwynn (currently the baseball coach at San Diego State) will be Sharon Robinson, daughter of the late Jackie Robinson. Her father broke the color barrier in Major League baseball 60 years ago.

"Tony Gwynn and Jackie Robinson represent the ideals of the National Sportsmanship Awards," CTSA chairman Ron Stratten said. "Tony’s career is defined by his class, grace and charm; and Jackie was known for his determination, teamwork and citizenship. We couldn’t be more fortunate to have the chance to recognize these two stars, especially at such a significant time."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Interleague schedule favors Padres

When it comes to interleague play, the Padres have it much easier than their two California rivals in the NL West.

The Padres get to play Seattle each year as their “natural rival.” The Los Angeles Dodgers must face the Anaheim Angels; while the San Francisco Giants are matched up against the Oakland Athletics.

Think about it for a minute. The Padres play a Seattle team that traditionally battles Texas for last place. The Dodgers and Giants are playing the year-in and year-out top two teams in the AL West.

Let the interleague numbers tell the story:

The Padres are 26-24 vs. the Mariners; 48-63 vs. the rest of the American League.
The Dodgers are 26-30 vs. the Angels; 54-51 vs. the rest of the AL.
The Giants are 27-29 vs. Oakland; 59-46 vs. the rest of the AL.

Broken down, the Padres have a winning record against Seattle and losing record against the rest of the AL. The Dodgers and Giants have losing records vs. their “natural rivals,” but winning records against the remainder of the AL.

The next time the Padres complain about their schedule, it could be worse. They could be playing the Angels or Athletics every year in interleague action.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Padres suffer power outage

If pitching and defense win championships, the Padres may be in luck.

But if it comes down to power, the Padres may be in the tank.

Why? Five of the eight position players in their starting line-up during last night’s 3-2 win over Cincinnati have not hit a home run in May.

Mike Cameron did homer May 8 against Atlanta. Adrian Gonzalez homered May 9 against the Braves and Khalil Greene hit a round-tripper May 11 against St. Louis.

The remainder of the starting eight?

Brian Giles has not homered in 104 at bats since April 14.
Marcus Giles has not homered in 84 at bats since April 16.
Kevin Kouzmanoff has not homered in 59 at bats since April 14.
Jose Cruz Jr. has not homered in 48 at bats since April 27.
Josh Bard has not homered in 40 at bats since April 30.

Mike Piazza, where are you? (Or for that matter, where are Jack Cust … and Phil Nevin?)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fabiani, be quiet!

Mark Fabiani, learn when to keep your mouth shut.

You always talk about how San Diego City Manager Mike Aguirre opens his mouth too much. Well, do yourself a favor and take a look in the mirror.

As spin doctor for the Chargers, you made the following statement when National City bowed out last week as a potential site for a new Chargers’ stadium:

“National City found out the same thing we've been finding out for five years – it's difficult to get the city of San Diego and other partners to engage in a meaningful issue,” you told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Mr. Fabiani, let me remind you of a couple “meaningful issues.” San Diego police officers just received their first raise in three years. Firefighters were denied a raise for the third straight year.

Yes, the city of San Diego has some serious financial problems that were created long before the current city council took office. Subsidizing a football team of millionaires owned by a near-billionaire just isn’t a priority.

If your house is ever on fire or you need police help, let’s just hope the police and firefighters don’t treat you with the same disdain that you demonstrate toward them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Padres get 'sludged'

General Manager Kevin Towers has made himself a reputation with the Padres as the “sludge merchant.”

Well, it looks like the so-called sludge merchant has gotten sludged on his latest move.

Or, did you not notice that Jack Cust of the Oakland Athletics has been named American League co-Player of the Week for the period ending May 13?

Cust was traded by the Padres to Oakland on May 3 for a reported $100,000.

In his first 26 at bats with Oakland, Cust pounded out six home runs and 14 RBIs. During the first 39 games of the season, the Padres had just one player with more than six home runs and three with more than 14 RBIs.

You don’t think they could use Cust’s bat in their power-deficient line-up, do you?

Of course, the Padres said they did not think Cust measured up defensively in left field. That being said, did you see Terrmel Sledge drop a fly ball and misplay a line drive in the same inning during last Saturday’s 5-0 loss to St. Louis?

The Padres haven’t made up for the power loss of Mike Piazza to Oakland as a free agent this past offseason. Consider it a double whammy with Cust going to the Athletics.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Let's hear less from ex-athletes on TV

Jeanne Zelasko deserves credit for standing up for what’s right.

During the pregame show on Fox-TV’s baseball Game of the Week, the topic of comments Curt Schilling from the Red Sox made recently about Barry Bonds arose.

Kevin Kennedy, being an ex-player, stood up for Bonds and said Schilling was way out of line for his comments (who cares if Schilling told the truth originally, before retracting his statement?)

Zelasko responded it’s a fact that Bonds took steroids … and let’s move on to another conversation.

Good for her!

It’s about time we hear more from “people who never played the game” such as Zelasko and Ken Rosenthal on Fox baseball, or football analysts such as Chris Mortensen (ESPN) and Adam Schechter (NFL Network.)

For most of us, it’s getting old hearing athletes … or ex-athletes … defend the poor behavior of other athletes.

What we need are more people like Zelasko, who will stand up to the excuse-making athletes covering for the shame of others.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cameron may need vision test

Mike Cameron of the Padres probably needs to be checked by an optometrist.

Cameron has misjudged at least four balls in the twilight this season. He’s also not making as many of the spectacular plays that have made him a three-time Gold Glove award winner.

Obviously, he is not tracking the ball as well as he used to.

Manager Bud Black excuses Cameron’s misplays by saying that Darin Erstad normally missed one ball per homestand because of the twilight when he played for the Anaheim Angels. That was Erstad. He’s the same guy who misjudged a fly ball in the twilight this year in Anaheim during his first game back with the Chicago White Sox.

Cameron was not losing balls in the twilight last season. He also seemed to be getting better jumps on the ball in 2006.

Let’s just hope this is an early-season bump in the road; not a developing pattern.

In the meantime, the Padres should have Cameron’s eyes checked out; just to be sure there is no lingering impact from the brutal collision he had in the Petco Park outfield with then New York Mets’ teammate Carlos Beltran in August 2005.

Friday, May 11, 2007

ESPN's Phillips looks like a genius

Credit Steve Phillips for looking like a genius thus far in 2007.

The ESPN analyst more than went out on a limb before the baseball season when he picked Milwaukee to win the NL Central.

At the time, I’m sure most of us were laughing. But look who’s laughing now (Phillips) with Milwaukee leading the NL Central by seven games over the Chicago Cubs.

St. Louis was the obvious preseason pick in the division, coming off its 2006 World Series title. Houston can always be figured on to make a late-season run, and Cincinnati was hot most of last season. Then there are the Cubs who spent $300 million in the offseason; but are still the Cubs (see: losers).

Hardly anybody could have rightfully picked Pittsburgh to win the division, which left Milwaukee as a solid choice to finish fifth.

Obviously, Phillips saw something that the rest of us did not.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Shame on Mike Penner!

Shame on you, Mike Penner!

Two weeks ago, you revealed in the Los Angeles Times that you are going on vacation. You told us that when you return, you will be known as Christine Daniels.

For years, you were just one of the “guys” at the Times. You even went out with the guys in the group led by John Cherwa to attend the pro wrestling matches at the Los Angeles Sports Arena … not something to brag about.

Nor is this sex change any reason to boast.

Remember, your faithful wife of close to 20 years still works in the Times sports department. We’re not going to mention the Minnesota native’s name, but how is she going to feel when her ex-husband comes back into the newsroom as a woman?

Mike, do us all a favor. If you want your sex change, that’s your decision. But if you really want to start all over, then start over someplace else!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Enough of Yankees-Red Sox!

Kudos go out to Michael Wilbon of PTI (Pardon the Interruption) on ESPN.

Wilbon was asked by co-host Tony Kornheiser yesterday whether Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox would win his seventh game of the season last night.

“Do we ever talk about any teams but the Red Sox and Yankees on this show?” responded Wilbon, who refused to answer the question.


It does seem to many of us as if the Red Sox and New York Yankees are the only teams ever to be featured on ESPN. If memory serves me correctly, those teams combined have won the World Series once in the past six years.

It’s getting to the point where the multitudes would probably just as soon hear about the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals, rather than the Yankees and Red Sox.

Did Beckett win his seventh game last night? Yes, he did.

But to paraphrase Wilbon from yesterday: Who cares?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Chad Paronto of the Atlanta Braves is stupid.

Make that stupid, stupid, stupid!

With two outs and nobody on base in the sixth inning Monday night, Paronto decided to (seemingly) hit Padres pitcher Chris Young on purpose. Young then went on to score and give San Diego a 4-2 lead, its final margin of victory.

Paronto hit Young in the back of the knee as apparent retaliation for Young throwing a fastball near the head of Andruw Jones, then later hitting Jeff Francoeur. It marked the first time Young has hit a batter this year.

Here’s a clue for Paronto: Don’t hit the pitcher! Not to name names; but get the point across by throwing a pitch behind such players as Adrian Gonzalez or Brian Giles, who are probably going to reach base anyway.

Paronto may or may not have cost his team a potential win. But he did wake up the Padres ... not to mention the fact he fell asleep when it came to the best method of retaliation.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Atlanta's Cox a loser?

Bobby Cox is a loser.

The Atlanta Braves’ manager, who leads his team into a four-game series tonight against the Padres, simply can’t win in the postseason.

He’s been to the playoffs 14 times. He has just one World Series title and has lost four times in the Series.

Want me to take my tongue out of my cheek now?
Calling Cox a loser is similar to all the San Diego fans who referred to Marty Schottenheimer as a loser when he coached the Chargers.

Schottenheimer has never won ... or been to ... the Super Bowl in 13 postseason appearances. His history is to turn around rotten teams and lose in the playoffs; which is exactly what he did with the Chargers.

Schottenheimer has a .613 career winning percentage, compared to Cox’s .563 mark. Cox has been cited for spousal abuse before; Schottenheimer hasn’t.

The next time anyone in San Diego talks about Schottenheimer being a loser, then just think of the loser the Atlanta Braves have in Cox.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Wells needs to produce

With Clay Hensley on the disabled list, the Padres need to add a new starting pitcher.
Or is that two?

David Wells has not exactly been looking like Sandy Koufax lately … or David Wells, for that matter.

In his last two starts combined, Wells has surrendered nine runs on 17 hits and three home runs in 10 innings. He gave up just two runs in seven innings three starts ago, but was touched before that start for five runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings by the Dodgers.

Either this is just a blip on the radar, or a trend is starting to develop. If it’s a bump in the road, fine. If it’s a pattern, the Padres must reconsider their investment in a 43-year-old pitcher making $3 million in base salary this year.

Wells, making his sixth start of the season tonight at Florida, is to be paid bonuses for his 11th through 27th starts this year. If all is met, he’ll make an extra $3 million.

This is the same Wells that the Padres let pitch on short rest the final day of 2004 to make a $250,000 bonus. It’s also the same Wells who walked away to the Boston Red Sox in 2005.

David Wells: Worth the investment? Let the next few starts unfold.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Padres aren't exactly a steal

While Mike Piazza was the primary catcher for the Padres in 2006, they allowed opponents to be successful on stolen bases an alarming 85 percent of the time.

Piazza has moved on to Oakland … but the percentage is even worse in San Diego this year. Through the first month of the season, the Padres have allowed an unbelievable 91 percent (31-of-34) of opponents to be safe on stolen base tries.


In comparison, the Padres aren’t exactly wearing out the basepaths, stealing 10 bases in 12 attempts.

Juan Pierre of the Dodgers has 12 steals by himself thus far. And these are the same Dodgers who were 6-for-6 in steal opportunities against San Diego last weekend.

The Padres probably aren’t going to run away in the NL West this season … and foot speed certainly has something to do with it!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Turner worth the risk to Chargers?

If the Chargers win the Super Bowl this year, keeping running back Michael Turner as back up to LaDainian Tomlinson was worth it.

If not, General Manager A.J. Smith might actually not be hailed as a genius on this one.

Heading into this weekend’s minicamp, the Chargers are delighted to have Turner on their premises. Whether keeping him is a genius move, we’ll let you know in January (or on Dec. 30, if the Chargers don’t make the playoffs.)

During the NFL draft last weekend, ESPN listed key additions and losses for each team. The Chargers were listed as “none” under key additions, because they believe keeping Turner and guard Kris Dielman made them a better team (even though those players were already on the roster.)

New England has certainly strengthened itself during the offseason. And these are the same Patriots who eliminated the Chargers in last year’s playoffs.

Is keeping Turner and Dielman around – without signing any free agents – enough to make the Chargers better than New England?

Good thing the games aren’t played on paper!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bill Goldberg: Who's (What's) Next?

So where does Bill Goldberg hang out these days?

Try Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.

If you have followed pro wrestling at all, you’ll certainly remember Goldberg. After all, who can forget him starting his career with a 173-0 record (please don’t tell me it was pre-determined!)

Goldberg, a San Diego resident, was spotted at Petco Park earlier this week talking with several members of the USS Ronald Reagan. He looked very casual in jeans, a T-shirt and sunglasses on a cloudy evening.

He doesn’t appear to be nearly as “buff” as he was during his wrestling days … draw your own conclusion on that one.

Who can ever forget Goldberg during that 173-win streak? You could count on numerous signs in the audience proclaiming, “Who’s next?”

The question now concerns what’s next for Goldberg. He’s been dabbling in some acting, and there are rumors he could return to wrestling in either TNA (most likely) or the WWE (unlikely.)

Let’s hope Goldberg makes a comeback. Few wrestlers can ignite a crowd like him.

Who’s next?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

USD baseball looking beautiful

When it comes to college baseball, people often wonder why San Diego can’t have a Top 10 team nationally.

After all, the weather is perfect for year-round baseball, and the talent is certainly in the area.

It hasn’t happened with coach Tony Gwynn at San Diego State, but the honor is being celebrated across town.

Congratulations go out to the University of San Diego Toreros for being ranked No. 9 in the latest Baseball America top-25 poll, and at No. 10 in the latest Collegiate Baseball top-30 poll. This is the second time in history the Toreros have been ranked in the Top 10.

“We look at these things kind of like a beauty pageant,” USD coach Rich Hill said on CSTV.

To top off the honor, the Toreros completed a three-game sweep of Pepperdine for the first time in 22 years Monday with a 7-3 win.

Even with Gwynn (who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer) at SDSU; local high school baseball players continue to flock to USD, where Hill has built the best collegiate baseball team by far in a hotbed of baseball prospects.

The Toreros are setting a standard that can only be envied by SDSU, a school that has not even been invited to the NCAA playoffs in 16 years.