Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dodgers gaining on Padres?

The Padres better not look back, because someone could be gaining on them.

And that someone is none other than the Dodgers.

When Joe Torre becomes manager of the Dodgers, it could create a domino effect. Don’t be surprised if former Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez follows, which is just exactly what the Dodgers need.

If the Dodgers had a black hole last year (besides pitching injuries), it was third base. And A-Rod is only the best in the business at that position, which could make the Dodgers a contender in 2008.

Already, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks have clearly surpassed the Padres. If the Dodgers sign A-Rod, the Padres could be staring fourth-place in the face next season.

The Padres already need a second baseman, (most likely) a center fielder if/when Mike Cameron leaves in free agency, and a right fielder. Brian Giles must move to left field where he has less ground to cover.

The post-World Series offseason has barely begun, yet the Padres already have some catching up to do.

The NL West is just becoming too strong for the Padres not to make major improvements this winter.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fire donations matched by 50 percent

Before we get to the Chargers, let’s start with the most important information.

If you are still looking to donate to the fire relief effort in San Diego County, here’s a suggestion where to give:

The North County Times and San Diego’s CW television station are matching 50 percent on all donations up to the first $500,000 received for fire relief efforts.

For information, please visit or

As for the Chargers, they certainly did what they needed to in Sunday’s 35-10 win over over-matched Houston.

It started with firefighters and first responders from last week’s fires proudly leading the team onto the field. Then, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed that he may not flip a coin properly … but he must be praised for his quick response to the fires.

The Chargers had the game wrapped up for all intents and purposes when Antonio Cromartie recovered a bad punt snap in the end zone to make the score 14-0 just 11:22 into the game.

The offense was efficient, if not overly effective. Philip Rivers threw only 11 passes and LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 90 yards and didn’t even score a touchdown.

It all came down to special teams and the defense forcing Houston to commit five turnovers.

The Chargers should have little trouble when they travel to Minnesota this week. Then the schedule gets much tougher with Indianapolis here on a Sunday night, at Jacksonville, Baltimore here, then at Kansas City and at Tennessee.

That five-game stretch should define the team’s season.

Friday, October 26, 2007

For 3 hours, Chargers will provide welcome diversion

In the big picture, it doesn’t really matter if the Chargers beat the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.

What really matters is that the game will be played as scheduled at 1:05 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium.

This will come just 49 hours after the stadium was officially closed as an evacuee center for the devastating fires this week in San Diego County.

At the very least, the game will serve as a three-hour diversion for all of the devastation that has occurred in the past week. It will help bond San Diegans as they spend their time Sunday afternoon pulling for the Chargers.

But even if the Chargers win the Super Bowl this season (which they won’t), they will not be able to bring the town together as the fires have.

Our hearts go out to the more than 500,000 people who were scared by being evacuated, and the more than 1,300 families who have been heartbroken by the loss of their home this week.

As much as politicians may be patting themselves on the back, the real heroes this week are the firefighters who put their lives on the line to protect the lives and homes of others. The next time an athlete holds out for $10 million, the shame will be that these firefighters are not the ones demanding those salaries. They deserve it!

This Sunday, let’s hope the Chargers honor those (as I’m sure they will) who put the interests of others in front of their own interests this week.

As for the Chargers, this will be a tough game. No matter what they say, football players are all about routine ... and this tragic situation in San Diego County has been more than just the typical "distraction" that football players try to avoid.

Don’t be surprised if the Chargers are out of rhythm this week ... but don’t be surprised if Qualcomm Stadium is as loud as it has ever been come Sunday.

Our heartfelt prayers go out to those who have been so affected by the fires.

May God bless you all!

Chargers 26, Texans 24

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire losses are devastating; not sports losses

When the Chargers lost to New England in last year’s NFL playoffs, some people termed it "devastating."

When Kansas City upset the Chargers earlier this season, some called it "devastating."

When San Diego State dominated New Mexico last Saturday but lost in the final few seconds, that was also called "devastating" by some.

Let’s get one thing straight: Losing a sporting event is not devastating. Losing your home is.

As the devastating fires continue throughout San Diego County, more than 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes. By the time it is all said and done, thousands will sadly have lost their homes.

That’s devastating.

Sports are only a diversion. The next time a San Diego team loses a key game (which happens far too often), think of it as being "too bad."

The devastation from losing homes and personal possessions far outweighs anything that ever happens in the sporting arena.

Be safe; and continue to hope and pray that the fire situation here gets better, before it gets worse.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Aztecs hope for happy homecoming

Homecoming Week.

From USC to Texas to Nebraska to Florida State and parts in between, it’s a grand celebration.

At San Diego State … well, it’s Homecoming Week.

Yes, there have been karaoke and dance contests on campus, followed by a pep rally on Friday.

But to say the interest is mild in homecoming at SDSU would be more than a bit of an overstatement.

Quite frankly, hardly anybody cares; including alumni. That’s what happens when your football team hasn’t had a winning season since 1998.

The Aztecs play their homecoming game Saturday against New Mexico.

All odds, including the 8-point betting spread, are against them.

New Mexico has beaten the Aztecs six straight times overall, and five in a row at Qualcomm Stadium.

SDSU has little to boast about offensively other than quarterback Kevin O’Connell, who has been getting beaten up all season … including 12 sacks in the last two weeks.

There’s no way a team from Albuquerque, N.M. should dominate a team from San Diego, especially when in comes to recruiting.

While Albuquerque may not be the city San Diego is, SDSU is nothing compared to the Lobos.


New Mexico 28, SDSU 13

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is Chambers another McCardell?

This appears to be a repeat of the 2004 NFL trading deadline.

Back then, the Chargers acquired wide receiver Keenan McCardell from Tampa Bay when they were 3-3.

They would win nine of their next 10 games to finish 12-4 and reach the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

This time, the last-minute trade acquisition is wide receiver Chris Chambers from Miami at a time when the Chargers are 3-3.

Will they win nine of their next 10 again to finish 12-4?

Probably not, but it won’t take nearly that good of a record to win the weak AFC West.

Chambers brings the Chargers two sides. He’s known for making brilliant, game-winning type catches; but he’s also known for dropping more than a few passes.

He is kind of a more experienced version of Vincent Jackson, the Chargers’ current go-to wide receiver (if they have such a thing.)

Chambers, acquired from Miami for a second-round draft choice, earned a trip to the Pro Bowl following a 2005 season in which he hauled in 82 passes for 1,118 yards and 11 touchdowns. In six games with the Dolphins this season, he’s caught 31 passes for 415 yards. Chambers is a seven-year veteran who has a history with Chargers coach Norv Turner. In 2002 and 2003, Chambers’ second and third seasons in the NFL, Turner served as Miami’s offensive coordinator.

“Chris is an explosive, talented player and I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work with him again,” Turner said. “He’s a very consistent player and he has big-play ability. We think he can add to what we’re doing on offense. The bonus for us is that he’s familiar with the system. It should be a quick and easy adjustment for him. We expect him to come in and be productive right away.”

With Eric Parker on injured reserve, Chambers better contribute right away if the Chargers are to build on two straight wins.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chargers headed in right direction?

The Oakland Raiders seemed headed back in their not-so-glorious direction Sunday afternoon.

In the process, maybe the Chargers are headed back in the direction they have become accustomed to the past few years.

With the Chargers’ 28-14 win over Oakland, they not only moved into a first-place tie with Kansas City at 3-3; they also seemed to return to Charger football.

LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 198 yards and four touchdowns.
The defense held Oakland to 53 rushing yards and forced three turnovers.
Cornerbacks Drayton Florence and Antonio Cromartie recorded their first interceptions of the season (and Cromartie’s first of his career.)
The defense recorded a season-high six sacks.
Cory Withrow did a great job filling in at center for the injured Nick Hardwick.

These things aside, there are still question marks with the Chargers. Sure, they should win a weak AFC West, but how far can they go in the playoffs?

Undefeated teams in New England and Indianapolis both reloaded in the offseason. The Chargers stood pat, even though they hadn’t caught up with the Patriots or Colts at that time.

In the long run, the Chargers will likely pay for not upgrading their roster in the offseason. For now, they can enjoy the bye week before hosting Houston on Oct. 28.

They’ve come a long way in the last two weeks, but they still have a marathon to go in returning to one of the NFL’s elite teams.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Chargers: It's Raider Week!

Marty Schottenheimer used to put it all into perspective with three words:

“It’s Raider Week.”

And nobody knew how to beat the Raiders like Schottenheimer, the former San Diego coach who posted a 27-7 career mark against them.

Norv Turner?

Currently the Chargers’ coach, he was on the Oakland Raiders’ side of this long-standing rivalry in 2004-05.

Yes, the Chargers have beaten the Raiders seven straight times. Yes, they have far surpassed their rivals to the north in NFL prominence.

But be careful this week.

The Raiders, under first-year coach Lane Kiffin, actually look like they know how to win. Heck, they even lead the AFC West at 2-2.

The Chargers? With a win this week, they’re 3-3 and no worse than tied for first.

If you think it’s going to be easy, think again. The Chargers were lucky to escape with their lives in last year’s 21-14 win in San Diego over Oakland.

By far, it was the most fortunate of the victories during the Chargers’ 10-game winning streak.

This week, expect the Chargers to run LaDainian Tomlinson often and keep the Raiders honest with short, crisp passes.

Oakland’s offense? Better than last year, but Daunte Culpepper is no spring chicken at quarterback.


Chargers 27, Raiders 17

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Aztecs missed out on Tedford, Harbaugh

Jeff Tedford coaches the California Bears, ranked No. 2 in the nation by the Associated Press.

Jim Harbaugh is the first-year coach at Stanford, which pulled off arguably the Upset of the Year last weekend by beating then No. 2 USC, 24-23.

So, what do these two coaches have in common?

Among other things, both could (and should) have been named the head coach at San Diego State when their time had come.

Tedford’s time was before the 2002 season. SDSU tried to hurry the former Oregon assistant coach into a decision, causing him to withdraw from the process.

Harbaugh’s time was prior to the 2006 season.

After leading the University of San Diego to the first of two national titles for schools of its size, Harbaugh politicked for the SDSU job. The Aztecs didn’t even give him a sniff.

What do you think the Aztecs would be like now if Tedford or Harbaugh was the head coach?

It’s a question to ponder, because it will never become reality.

Instead, Chuck Long is 5-12 overall in his second season. He’ll take a 2-3 overall record (1-0 in the Mountain West Conference) into Saturday’s game at Utah.

Tedford? Harbaugh? Long?

You make the call as to which coach would have fit best at SDSU.


Utah 33, SDSU 21

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Turner's the burner for Chargers

The Chargers have decided to keep running back Michael Turner for the entire season, even though he becomes a free agent afterwards.

Wise choice.

If LaDainian Tomlinson became injured and Turner had been traded, the Chargers would be down to nothing at running back.

Turner, without a doubt, has the reputation as the best back-up running back in the NFL.

Last Sunday alone, he rushed for 147 yards (14.7 yards per carry) and one touchdown in the 41-3 romp over Denver.

In fact, it was one of a few times over the past three seasons that Turner has finished with more yards than Tomlinson.

Most memorable was the 2005 game at Indianapolis when Turner rushed for a game-high 113 yards (including an 83-yard touchdown) as the Chargers handed the Colts their first loss of this season.

This is not to say that Turner is anywhere close to being the running back that LT is.

Turner gains a majority of his yards during short spurts on the field when he is fresh and everyone else is tired.

It will be interesting to see how he does as a starting running back elsewhere next year, when he’s in on most plays – as opposed to one play here and there.

For now, the Chargers can only be happy to have him as a back-up running back and kick returner, as well as playing on other special teams.

Next season, they’ll have to find a new Turner after he leaves during free agency.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chargers look Super for one Sunday

Philip Rivers served as a perfect example of why the Chargers were able to demolish the Denver Broncos, 41-3, Sunday afternoon.

In a postgame interview with CBS-TV, Rivers simply pointed to his clean white jersey as to why the Chargers won so easily.

Even beforehand, commentators on the NFL Today on CBS had pointed to the Chargers’ offensive line for the team’s poor start this season.

All those questions, at least for a week, have been answered.

The inability to get the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson also has been answered … at least for a week.

Antonio Gates and Tomlinson, the team’s go-to players, accounted for all but five of the Chargers’ first 107 yards from scrimmage.

Then there was the defense. Surprise, surprise; it actually learned how to tackle.

Then there was the special teams’ play, which accounted for a touchdown on a fumble return by Brandon Siler.

Then there were the Broncos, who have lost six of eight at home (not exactly the powerhouse they once were.)

This week, Raider Nation comes to San Diego. Beat Oakland and the Chargers will be no worse than tied for first place.

That tells you how weak, and winnable, the AFC West is for anybody.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Should Dean Spanos fire himself for nepotism?

When team president Dean Spanos wonders what’s wrong with the Chargers, all he has to do is look in the mirror.

Spanos should have learned his lesson the first time around after the 1996 season when head coach Bobby Ross and general manager Bobby Beathard were feuding.

As we know, Spanos kept Beathard, fired Ross and the Chargers suffered the next five seasons because of it until Marty Schottenheimer became head coach in 2002 and turned the team around.

Let’s fast forward to the past offseason when Spanos again kept the general manager and fired the head coach when they were feuding.

In sticking with general manager A.J. Smith over Schottenheimer, Spanos has again sent the Chargers in major reverse.

Spanos reportedly believed the last straw was when Schottenheimer wanted to hire his brother, Kurt, to be the Chargers defensive coordinator.

How dare Schottenheimer practice nepotism!

Speaking of, did you know that Spanos (who will inherit the team from his father) now has two sons working in the team’s front office?

So much for the theory that the team does not believe in nepotism!

If Schottenheimer is gone for perceived nepotism, maybe Spanos should follow his own lead and fire himself.

This week’s prediction:

Denver 28, San Diego 20

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Has SDSU finally met its match?

Colorado State has the longest football losing streak in the nation at 11 games.

The Rams are favored to win by 13 ½ points in their Mountain West Conference opener Saturday.

Must be a mistake, right?


Colorado State is hosting San Diego State, which also is opening its conference season.

With the Rams being on an 11-game losing streak and favored by so many points, it can only tell you one thing: The opposition must be horrible.

And it is.

Take away a win against Sacramento State of Division I-AA (or whatever the NCAA calls it these days), and the Aztecs would be winless this season.

Sure, two of their three losses were to teams currently in the Top 25 (Arizona State and Cincinnati.) The other was to Washington State of the Pac-10. All three games were blowouts.

At least Colorado State has been competitive against arguably a tougher schedule than SDSU has faced.

The Rams only lost by a field goal in overtime to Colorado, which beat then No. 3-ranked Oklahoma last weekend. They also came within six points of a California team now ranked third in the nation.

Any wonder why the Rams are favored so heavily?

At Coach Sonny Lubick’s weekly press conference, he was asked about his Colorado State team having an easier schedule ahead.

“You look to it as a real chance,” he said. “However, if we get foolish, and start thinking ahead too much, then you've got a major problem.”

With the nation’s longest losing streak, don’t expect the Rams to look ahead this week.

Prediction: Colorado State 27, SDSU 17

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

San Diego sports: Abolish them all?

Think back to the rosy situation for San Diego sports last Friday night.

All the Padres had to do was beat the downtrodden Milwaukee Brewers one time to make the playoffs.

The Chargers were favored by more points than any NFL team Sunday, so they would certainly whip the Kansas City Chiefs.

OK, so now we’ve witnessed among the 72 worst hours in San Diego sports history.

The Padres couldn’t beat the Brewers … or hold a two-run lead with Trevor Hoffman on the mound against the Colorado Rockies.

The Chargers lost to the Chiefs … further proving it was Marty Schottenheimer’s coaching – not A.J. Smith’s players – who were responsible for last year’s 14-2 season.

With the Padres, you wouldn’t normally want anyone other than Jake Peavy or Hoffman on the mound. But they surrendered all of Colorado’s runs in Monday night’s season-ending, 9-8 loss in 13 innings.

Sadly, both now have storylines of being great pitchers the first 162 days of the season; but not much to brag about thereafter.

As for the Chargers, they continue to prove why Norv Turner has the reputation of a great offensive coordinator who couldn’t beat a high school JV team as a head coach.

And let’s not forget San Diego State. The Aztecs lost to No. 24 Cincinnati, 52-23, and looked as if they couldn’t tackle a mediocre Pop Warner running back.

Most of us are aware by now of a resolution in the SDSU Senate to abolish Aztec football.

For the sake of long-suffering San Diego fans, maybe they should abolish all sports in this town.