Friday, August 17, 2007

Time for a two-week break

It’s time.

Time for a two-week break from blogging, that is.

Our first five months have been quite a ride.

You always want to remember the high highs:

Predicting back in late April that Jake Peavy of the Padres would start the All-Star game.
Saying in early May that the Padres should cut their losses and cut David Wells.

But let’s forget about the low lows:

Thinking that the Chargers might pick a linebacker in the first round of the NFL draft.
Forecasting that Barry Bonds would break the Major League Baseball home run record in Petco Park (thank goodness we were wrong!)

We will continue the blogging ride on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day.

See you then.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Channel 4 finalizes prep football schedule

Channel 4 San Diego is going straight to the top for its 2007 prep football coverage.

Carlsbad High School, the defending San Diego Section CIF Division I champion, will be featured in two of the first three games to be telecast this season.

Each of the first five games will be aired on a tape delay basis following Padres’ games and the Lexus Postgame Show.

Last year, Channel 4 received its highest ratings for prep football coverage on the tape delay games because they were promoted during the Padres’ broadcast.

Here is the schedule for the first five weeks of Friday Night Football:

Aug. 31: Carlsbad vs. St. Augustine at Mesa College
Sept. 7: Oceanside at La Costa Canyon
Sept. 14: Carlsbad at Helix
Sept. 21: Escondido at Rancho Buena Vista
Sept. 28: Grossmont at Valhalla

After Week 5, Channel 4 will base its coverage on a “flex” schedule similar to the one used by the NFL for its Sunday night games on NBC.

Those games will be based on attempting to cover the best match-up in the county each week.

Among the on-air personalities expected to be involved in the coverage are Jenny Cavnar, Chris Ello, Steve Quis and John Weisbarth.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Kevin Towers: Padres' resident genius?

If you’re going to Las Vegas any time soon, take Padres general manager Kevin Towers with you.

Why? It seems like everything he touches turns into a winner.

Just take his recent acquisitions for example and tell us how:

Scott Hairston hits three consecutive home runs, including a game-winner, after he replaces the injured Milton Bradley.
Morgan Ensberg homers in his first at bat as a first baseman when Adrian Gonzalez gets a rare night off.
Michael Barrett doesn’t succeed behind the plate, but his presence spurs Josh Bard on to greater heights.

Then there are the pitching miracles:

Tim Stauffer starts in place of the injured Chris Young and gets racked. The Padres still win.
Wil Ledezma starts for David Wells after Wells is cut, and Ledezma gets knocked around. The Padres win again.

The list goes on and on concerning how the Padres have conquered the odds this year.

Speaking of odds, don’t bet against Towers when he makes moves that may not appear that great on paper.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Colorado Rockies are rockin'

When Steve Phillips of ESPN picked the Padres to win the NL West this week, it was no surprise.

But the Colorado Rockies to earn the NL wild card?

Maybe Phillips is on to something.

The Rockies, who begin a three-game series tonight in San Diego, are starting to resemble the Blake Street Bombers teams of the mid-1990s that put the franchise on the map.

Vinny Castilla and Larry Walker are long-gone from the Rockies, but the current talent they have is quite impressive (including 13 of 25 homegrown players.)

Colorado has a batting order that can stand up to just about anybody with the likes of Willy Taveras, Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe, Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki.

Add starting pitchers such as Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook to the mix, and then you can see why the Rockies are talking playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.

Colorado is just two games behind the Padres in the wild card race and five games in back of Arizona in the NL West.

The Rockies could go a long way in determining their fate during this three-game series in San Diego.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chargers: Full of mistakes

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes.

They were the key to the game as the Chargers lost their exhibition opener Sunday night to the Seattle Seahawks, 24-16.

The Chargers:

Had 12 men on the field in the fourth quarter, allowing Seattle a second chance to kick what turned out to be the game-winning field goal. (This, after only having 10 men on the field for a previous Seahawks’ extra point.)

Fumbled four times, including one by Craig Davis on an end around destined for big yardage.

Allowed Philip Rivers to be sacked twice in two series.

Were whistled for seven penalties in the first half; five in the first quarter.

Surrendered a touchdown to Seattle’s first-string offense in its only series of the night.

"We're going in with a lot of expectations, feeling pretty good about who we are," Rivers told the Associated Press. "Not to say we haven't been getting after it hard, we have. But maybe this will say, 'Hey, guys, listen, we need to focus in a little more than maybe we think we were focusing in.' These penalties that essentially cost us the last time we were on this field, clean up some other things and move on."

From these exhibition games, there are also players you would never expect to perform so well.

The Chargers had two in particular:

Free agent Jyles Tucker out of Wake Forest recorded two special teams tackles and caused a fumble.

Free agent Nick Roach out of Northwestern was right behind Tucker on the special teams.

The exhibition season is for players like Tucker and Roach. Each enhanced his opportunity to make the regular-season roster, or at least the practice squad.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wilhelm is key to 2007 Chargers

Remember the name Matt Wilhelm.

He will make or break the 2007 San Diego Chargers.

Not Philip Rivers. Not LaDainian Tomlinson. Not Clinton Hart.

No, it all comes down to how well Wilhelm plays at inside linebacker in place of the departed Donnie Edwards.

You remember Edwards. He’s the one always criticized by the San Diego Union-Tribune for making tackles downfield; but he’s always the one who seemed to save the game to those watching through unbiased eyes.

Wilhelm may not play much in Sunday night’s exhibition opener against the Seattle Seahawks, yet he’ll certainly see plenty of action come September when it counts.

A fourth-round pick out of The Ohio State University in 2003, Wilhelm has 73 career tackles. That’s fewer tackles than Edwards makes in a normal half-season.

However, Wilhelm has been patiently waiting his turn which finally starts coming Sunday.

His response may very well determine just how far the Chargers go in 2007.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Money can't buy Yankees championships

The Beatles taught us through song in the 1960s that “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.”

The New York Yankees are teaching us in the 21st century that money can’t buy them love … or championships.

They can have the highest payroll in baseball, as always.

They can have Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, et al.

Come October, one thing they won’t have again is something they haven’t possessed since 2000 … a World Series title.

As you know, the Anaheim Angels are lurking in the background. They’ve done it before – and they will do it again – when it comes to knocking the Yankees out of the playoffs in October.

If the season were to end today, the Yankees would not be in the playoffs. But history tells us the Yankees will be there; no matter where they stand on Aug. 9.

They won’t be there long in October. The Angels are just around the corner waiting to eliminate the Yankees.

This will break the hearts of such East Coast transplants as Pat Colabucci who are in San Diego rooting for the Yankees.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Dodgers is dead!?

How about those Dodgers?

Eight losses in nine games. Fourteen losses in the last 18.

Shutout twice in a row; three times in the last four games.

The Dodgers is dead … or are they?

Remember last season. This is the same team that lost 13 of 14 coming out of the All-Star break, then won 15 of its next 16.

Can the Dodgers do it again? The odds don’t seem likely.

They have fallen into a third-place tie with Colorado, four games behind NL West-leading Arizona. They are three games behind the second-place Padres.

“The good thing is, it's August 7 and ask anybody in here, we haven't played our best baseball all year,” losing pitcher Mark Hendrickson told last night. “Hopefully, we can turn it around and pick up the morale. Who knows what we can do and what kind of streak we can get on?”

We’ll see.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wells needs to go, NOW!

Back on May 5, we wrote a blog titled, “Wells needs to produce.”

Here are some excerpts from that article:

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.

Wells has made 22 starts thus far, 17 since we first brought up the topic of his contract.

Now, it’s obvious that it is time for Wells to go.

Not only is his ERA 14.04 over his last four starts, the Padres have paid him $2.1 million in bonus money for starts No.11-22. This is on top of his $3 million base salary.

Wells is a product of Point Loma High School and a well-known figure in the community.

It’s time for him to stick around, but only as a San Diego County resident. His days as a Padre should be over.

Monday, August 6, 2007

ESPN's Gomez remembers roots

It’s always nice when somebody becomes nationally-known and still recognizes his roots.

Take Pedro Gomez of ESPN for example.

He’s been on the Barry Bonds beat for a couple of years now; an experience he can’t wait to get off as soon as Bonds hits another home run to break Hank Aaron’s all-time record.

Gomez still remembers where he once was, though. Over the weekend, he reminisced about covering prep sports for the San Diego Union-Tribune in 1989-90.

Rather than talk about the Bonds beat, he recalled covering the South Bay portion of San Diego.

“Is George Ohnesorgen still the football coach at Chula Vista High School?” he asked.

Actually, Ohnesorgen is now the principal at the South Bay high school.

But it’s nice for Gomez to remember his South Bay days; even while being among the media circus of 300 people following the ultra-moody Bonds.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Padres need starting pitching

In the immediacy, let’s hope the Padres do not allow Barry Bonds to break the Major League Baseball home run record in San Diego this weekend.

But there’s suddenly an even bigger issue with Padres’ pitching.

Jake Peavy is finally back on track, but:

Chris Young is injured.
Greg Maddux can’t go past five or six innings, even when he’s on.
David Wells is getting paid $170,000 (on top of his $3 million base salary) each start to get pummeled.
Justin Germano isn’t fooling anyone any more with his hanging breaking ball.

Enter Clay Hensley. The injury-plagued pitcher has had a terrible 2007 season thus far, but he seems to have regained his form in a pair of three-inning relief stints since being recalled from the minors.

Let’s see how he does in Saturday’s start against the San Francisco Giants.

Luckily for the Padres, the Dodgers and Arizona are not deep in starting pitching either.

So, it may all come down to a battle of attrition in the NL West.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Bonds in town: Dodgers host steroids awareness clinic

Good for the Dodgers!

They have partnered with the Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society and the Taylor Hooton Foundation to host a steroids awareness clinic for local youth at Dodger Stadium today.

More than 100 kids from local little leagues and RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) are expected to participate. The children will receive instruction in nutrition, proper strength training, the medical implications of using steroids, and hitting. Also, a representative from the Drug Enforcement Agency will be on hand to discuss the legal repercussions of using steroids.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation was founded by his parents, family and friends. Hooton, a 17-year old high school athlete from Plano, Texas, took his own life on July 15, 2003, as a result of the abuse of anabolic steroids. Hooton was the nephew of former Dodger pitcher Burt “Hoot Owl” Hooton (1975-84).

The foundation serves to combat the illegal use and abuse of anabolic steroids which is a growing problem among high school athletes across the country. Participants of the clinic will range from age 12 to 15.

Oh, by the way, the San Francisco Giants and Barry Bonds just happen to be in town. The Dodgers say it is a “coincidence” they are hosting a steroids awareness clinic while Bonds is on the premises.

Right; and pro wrestling matches are on the up-and-up!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Padres: It's the hitters; not the coach

It’s bad enough that the Padres have turned over 20 percent of their roster in less than a week.

But firing hitting coach Merv Rettenmund on top of it all?

Maybe one day, management will learn it’s the hitters on the team – not the hitting coach – needing to take the blame for the team’s woeful offense.

The Padres fired their last hitting coach, Dave Magadan, 14 months ago. But doesn’t Magadan look like a great hitting coach now that he’s with the Boston Red Sox this year?

As for the Padres’ moves, it sure doesn’t appear as if the roster is any better than it was a week ago.

"It doesn't really serve a purpose, other than there's chaos in the clubhouse, and that's not a good thing, either,'' Trevor Hoffman told the Associated Press.

Chaos, indeed. And it’s not the fault of the hitting coach.