Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Did Chargers' Assistant GM really retire?

Some people (especially the lapdogs at the San Diego Union-Tribune) passed it off as Assistant General Manager Buddy Nix retiring from the Chargers.

But there seems to be much more to the story than that.

If you look closely at what happened (a great article in the North County Times), it sounds like Nix was pushed out the door.

When asked by the North County Times if he had retired, Nix said: “Hell no. I’m ready to go.”

Does this sound like a man who “retired,” according to a press release on

Nix spent 15 seasons in the NFL, including the last seven with the Chargers. If he really did “retire,” you’d think the Chargers would hold a retirement party for him … or at least include a quote from him in the press release on

For a description of what really happened, here is the story in today’s North County Times at

SAN DIEGO ---- The Chargers announced Tuesday that Buddy Nix, the team's respected assistant general manager and director of player personnel, had retired.

Not so, according to Nix.

"That sounds awfully permanent,'' Nix said from his home in Tennessee. "I don't know what I would do if I wasn't working.

"I've been working 47 years in this business and sometimes you stay at a place long enough that you need to make a change.''

General manager A. J. Smith was quoted in a Chargers release as saying Nix "retired" and mentioned his "long, distinguished career in coaching and scouting."

"There was no resignation that I know of,'' Smith said Tuesday evening via telephone. "There was a retirement and then after that, we restructured.

"I'm a little confused, too. We'll have to find out what went from a retirement to a resignation.

"I don’t know what to tell you on my end. You have a retirement from me and you have a resignation from the man that’s supposedly retired. And the guy who resigned ended up reading a press release of retirement. You go from there."

Smith said there were no issues between him and Nix.

"We were fine,'' Smith said. "We just talked after the draft that he’s going to retire and I said, 'Good luck.' So something has happened to resign.

"We just have to find out. Miscommunication somewhere.''

Nix, 68, said he'd be golfing Wednesday, but he would field inquires from prospective employers.

"I still feel like I'm 40, but I know I'm more than that,'' said Nix, who was a college coach for 32 years. "I've already had several calls ---- let's see what happens.''

Nix was among the executives arriving from Buffalo ---- where he scouted for eight years ---- to turn around the woeful Chargers. He was hired in 2001 as director of player personnel and elevated to assistant general manager in 2003.

"I think that I'm most proud of us winning," Nix said. "When we went from 5-11 and that kind of stuff to be able to go to winning and expecting to win, that was big. And that was old (former general manager) John Butler's thinking.''

The exit of Nix, who was under contract, prompted a revamping of the front office. The biggest change is Randy Mueller coming aboard as senior executive.

Mueller was the Dolphins' general manager the past three years but didn't survive the housecleaning in wake of the team's recent 1-15 season and Bill Parcells' arrival.

Nix said he was unaware the Chargers were hiring Mueller, a 22-year NFL executive, but speculated "he will do a good job.''

Nix asked a reporter to read from the team's release what Mueller's job title and responsibilities were.

Ed McGuire, the team's executive vice-president of football operations, also will serve as Smith's top-ranking assistant and have input in player personnel matters.

McGuire's reputation around the league is of having a keen grasp on the salary cap. His work in player personnel, though, produced a 1-15 season in 2000 when taking over after general manager Bobby Beathard retired.Butler was hired in 2001, with Smith as his assistant.

Also Tuesday, Jimmy Raye was promoted from the team's scouting director to director of player personnel. John Spanos, the son of team president Dean Spanos, is the director of college scouting after serving as assistant director the past two years.

Nix added that he'll reflect fondly on his San Diego stint."I enjoyed my time there, but it was just time to let somebody else do it,'' Nix said. "Let some of them young guys do it.''

But Nix stressed he is not retired."Hell no,'' he said. "I'm ready to go.''

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Check out the Charger Girls!

Since the Padres are nothing to look at this season, we thought you might want to check out the 2008-09 Chargers Girls, photo (above) courtesy of

Look for them all to be on the sidelines at each Chargers' home game, beginning with the Aug. 9 exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Draft analysis: AFC West gaining on Chargers?

Time is starting to run out on the Chargers, so they hope for immediate results from their 2008 draft picks.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders are gaining on the Chargers; thus San Diego better take advantage before the Chiefs and Raiders become solid contenders by 2010.

Certainly, the Chargers took care of their need at cornerback by taking Antoine Cason (Arizona) in the first round and DeJuan Tribble (Boston College) in the sixth round.

Whether they fully made up for the loss of Michael Turner and Lorenzo Neal by drafting running backs Jacob Hester (LSU) in the third round and Marcus Thomas (UTEP) in the fifth round is debatable.

But there’s no debate the big need is at offensive tackle, and waiting till the seventh round to take an OT (Corey Clark, Texas A&M) may prove to be a big mistake.

After all, the last time the Chargers failed to make the playoffs in 2005, it was due to lack of depth on the offensive line when injuries occurred. Unless they pick up a proven veteran OT before the season, it could prove to be their downfall, also, in 2008.

Meanwhile, NFL draft expert Mel Kiper of ESPN certainly thinks Kansas City and Oakland can sneak up on the Chargers within a couple years, based on this year’s picks. Here are some comments by Kiper on the AFC West picks:

Kansas City: (Grade: A) The rebuilding process is on. The Chiefs started the draft with 13 picks, and they made them count. After getting defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey -- the No. 1 player on my Big Board -- with the fifth overall pick, the Chiefs grabbed tackle Branden Albert, although he will be a work in progress. Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers would have been a mid-first-round pick if he had run better 40 times at the NFL combine. On Day 2, RB Jamaal Charles and Tennessee TE Brad Cottam -- who has untapped ability -- will be nice complements on offense. Cottam could be a diamond in the rough.

Oakland (Grade: B-) We all know what Darren McFadden can do. I really liked Oakland's second-round pick, Connecticut CB Tyvon Branch. He can help out in the return game, and also has great catch-up speed. Wide receiver Arman Shields hurt his knee early in the season and fell off the radar, but he's a developmental receiver.

Denver (Grade C+) Ryan Clady is the left tackle the Broncos needed to help Jay Cutler, and Clady should start right away. Eddie Royal is a decent slot receiver who has some return skills, Kory Lichtensteiger was one of the top centers in the draft and Arizona State's Ryan Torain is an interesting pick at running back because he has the potential to prosper in Denver.

San Diego (Grade: C+) Antoine Cason played a lot of football at Arizona, which at times works against a player in terms of being overevaluated. Cason doesn't have great recovery speed, but he has good technique in coverage and good ball skills. Jacob Hester could make up for the loss of Michael Turner. Hester was a fullback at LSU, but isn't a prototypical lead-blocking fullback. UTEP RB Marcus Thomas has some ability and was a good fifth-round pick; CB DeJuan Tribble did not have great workouts, but he flashed second-round potential early in the season. One thing I didn't like about the Chargers' draft is they didn't really address their need at right tackle.

If Kiper is correct, the rest of the AFC West may be gaining on the Chargers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A look at the Chargers' top draft pick

Here's a look at the Chargers' top draft pick, cornerback Antoine Cason out of Arizona, courtesy of

A shutdown cornerback in the mold of former Arizona standout Chris McAlister (Baltimore), Cason ranks with the elite defensive prospects eligible for the 2008 NFL Draft. With his added responsibility handling punt returns as a senior, he is the first Arizona player to earn All-Pac-10 Conference accolades on defense and special teams in the same season.

Cason comes from a family rich in sports tradition. His father, Wendell, was a defensive back at the University of Oregon (1981-84) and went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons (1985-87). Antoine's brother, Dione, ran track at Washington State. His cousin, Ken-yon Rambo, was a receiver at Ohio State (1997-2000) before playing for the Dallas Cowboys (2001-02) and New York Jets (2003). Another cousin, Aveion Cason, was an All-American tailback at Illinois State (1997-2000) and presently plays for the Detroit Lions (2001-02, 2006-present) after seeing stints with St. Louis (2001, 04-05) and Dallas (2003) in his career.

At Los Alamitos High School, Antoine Cason earned second-team All-CIF Southern Section and first-team Division I All-CIF honors as a senior. He was a member of the Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100, Prep Star All-American and Super Prep All-Farwest squad. He earned from a three-star rating and was ranked 38th among the nation's defensive backs.
As a senior, Cason recorded 41 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He added first-team All-League as a junior, as he registered six interceptions. The Sunset League Defensive Back of the Year and first-team All-League pick as a senior, he added Orange County Register first-team All-County honors that year. He also competed as a running back and lettered in track.

Upon enrolling at the University of Arizona in 2004, Cason was thrust into the starting lineup at left cornerback, where he would go on to start all 46 games during his collegiate career. He earned All-Pac-10 Conference honorable mention and was selected to the Football Writers Association and The Sporting News Freshman All-American teams. He also garnered TSN Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.

He finished 2004 with 70 tackles (54 solo), 5 1/2 stops for losses, four interceptions, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in interceptions, fifth in forced fumbles and ninth in passes defended. He began his career in explosive fashion, as he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after posting 13 tackles (12 solo), including one for a loss, forced two fumbles, broke up one pass and returned an interception four yards vs. Northern Arizona.

In 2005, Cason ranked fifth on the squad with 50 tackles (38 solo), including 2 1/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He deflected five passes and intercepted three others while playing strong-side cornerback. He was also named to the All-Pac-10 Conference second-team. After the season, he joined the Wildcats' 2006 outdoor track team, performing in the sprints and relays.

As a junior, Cason received first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference honors, becoming just the fifth cornerback in UA history to do so. The semifinalist for the Thorpe Award was also a two-time Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week (vs. Washington State and California). He ranked third on the team with 62 tackles (48 solo), including two stops for losses. He caused and recovered a fumble, batted away seven passes and had three interceptions. He again competed on the 2007 Wildcats outdoor track team after the football season.

Cason earned All-American first-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and in 2007. He added All-Pac-10 Conference first-team honors as a defensive back and return specialist. He ranked fifth in the league with 27 punt returns for 271 yards (10.0-yard average) and a pair of touchdowns. He tied with teammate Nate Hess for second in the Pac-10 with five interceptions, returning two pass thefts for scores. He deflected 14 passes and was third on the squad with a career-high 71 tackles (56 solo), including one sack and four stops behind the line of scrimmage. He was a finalist for the Thorpe Award and semifinalist for the Bednarik Award.

Cason started all 46 games during his Arizona career. He ranks fourth in school history with 15 interceptions, shattering the old Wildcats record with 349 yards in returns and a career average of 23.26 yards per interception return. He deflected 32 passes, caused five fumbles and recovered another. He also registered 253 tackles (196 solo) with a six-yard sack and 14 stops for losses of 43 yards. In his only season as a punt returner, he totaled 271 yards with a pair of touchdowns on 27 attempts (10.04-yard avg).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SDSU athletics: A no win situation?

As spring football practice concludes this weekend at San Diego State, the old football vs. academics debate has resurfaced.

Specifically, the academics are wondering why SDSU President Stephen Weber gives so much discretionary funding to football as cutbacks in the classroom continue.

Here were some of the arguments in last Sunday’s San Diego Union-Tribune:

Former SDSU football player and long-time actor Fred Dryer: “The benefits of a successful football program are overwhelming. Such a program breeds pride and participation from the community, students and alumni.”

English Professor Peter C. Herman: “SDSU is subsidizing 42 percent of the athletics budget, about double the average for the NCAA's top-tier programs. Every academic department at SDSU must meet its budget, or face consequences. Why not football?”

Let’s take a look at the success rate of academics vs. athletics:

Academics –
For two years in a row, SDSU has been ranked the No. 1 most productive research university, among schools with 14 or fewer Ph.D. programs.
SDSU ranks No. 2 among universities of its type nationwide and No. 1 in California, for students studying abroad as part of their college experience.
Since 2000, SDSU faculty and staff have attracted more than $1 billion in grants and contracts for research and program administration.

Athletics –
The Aztecs have not had a winning football season since 1998.
The men’s basketball team has never won an NCAA Tournament Division I playoff game.
SDSU has not made the NCAA Tournament field since 1991
The alumni center now under construction will be two stories high, or half the size of the original plan; reportedly due to lack of funding.

What’s more important at SDSU; academics or athletics? You make the call.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why can't Padres' Peavy pitch on the road?

Has anybody else noticed that Jake Peavy is not pitching so well on the road this season?

Five starts do not a season make, but Peavy’s home/road splits are certainly interesting thus far.

In three home starts, the Padres ace has allowed just one run in 24 innings with 23 strikeouts.

On the road, it’s seven runs in 12 innings with six strikeouts in two starts.

Yes, it’s way, Way, WAY too early to draw conclusions, but the Peavy breakdown is interesting at this point.

People have made much out of how Padre hitters are “Petco-ized” at Petco Park because of the difficulty in hitting there.

But the reverse must also be asked: Are Padre pitchers being the opposite of Petco-ized on the road? (After all, they have allowed 44 runs in their last five road games.)

Tonight, they return to Petco Park to play the San Francisco Giants. If Petco is going to be used as an excuse for the Padres not hitting, then the same must go for the other team.

Peavy’s next start is Sunday at home vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks, but his next real test may come in his first May start at Florida.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Draft makes the Chargers what they are

If you’re wondering why the Chargers have become the dominant team in the AFC West, opposing coaches will tell you it’s at least in part because of the NFL draft.

Here’s what each had to say to

“You look how they drafted,” Kansas City coach Herman Edwards said. “They built their team through the draft. They are very talented.”

Denver’s Mike Shanahan: “San Diego, player per player, is probably as good as anybody in the National Football League and is probably one of the top-five teams. Personnel-wise, I would say they're right at the top, No. 1. That's saying a lot.”

Oakland’s Lane Kiffin: “It's no secret that San Diego is the team to catch.”
The Chargers have built themselves through the draft with such selections as:

2004: Philip Rivers (quarterback), Igor Olshansky (defensive end), Nate Kaeding (place-kicker), Nick Hardwick (center) and Shaun Phillips (linebacker).

2005: Linebacker Shawne Merriman, defensive lineman Luis Castillo, receiver Vincent Jackson and return man Darren Sproles.
2006: The Chargers' first two picks were cornerback Antonio Cromartie and left tackle Marcus McNeill.

2007: Receiver Buster Davis and safety Eric Weddle led the pack.

The Chargers now have holes to fill at running back (without Michael Turner), offensive line (without Shane Olivea), secondary (without Drayton Florence) and defensive line (with Jamal Williams and his knees aging.)

But with only five picks in this weekend’s draft, each one will have to be a premium in order to make the team better in 2008.

Projected First Round Pick: Offensive Tackle Gosder Cherilus, Boston College

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Do the Padres need Mark Prior?

If all goes well, Mark Prior could be pitching for the Padres by June.
But do they really need him?

Maybe not, at this point.

The Padres lead the major leagues with 14 quality starts (six innings minimum, no more than three earned runs) in 19 games through Sunday.

After ace Jake Peavy, their best starters have actually been Randy Wolf and Justin Germano at the back of the rotation.

Chris Young (No. 2) and Greg Maddux (No. 3) are the only starters who have had their struggles thus far.

If and when Prior comes back, it will be like trading for him and obtaining another arm.

Should he come close to where he once was with the Chicago Cubs, he will definitely be a shot in the arm for the Padres.

This is a team with an abundance of pitching that is slow on speed and weak in power.

Too bad Prior can’t hit home runs and steal bases.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

San Diego: Fifth Most Miserable Sports City

Forbes magazine calls San Diego the fifth most miserable sports city in its most recent issue.

Do you agree?

Here’s what Forbes had to say:

5. San Diego, Calif.
Teams: Chargers (NFL-AFL), Padres (MLB), Rockets (NBA), Clippers (NBA)
Title round record: 1-7
Semifinal round record: 3-3
Total seasons/early playoff-round exits (or baseball 2nd place): 87/10
Total seasons/championships: 87/1
Years since last title: 45
Teams lost: 2 (Rockets, Clippers)
San Diego teams have actually fared pretty well during early rounds of post-season play, though the Chargers' 1963 American Football League crown was the only time the city took it all. Last season's late meltdown by the Padres stands alongside the Chargers' 1982 American Football Conference championship "ice bowl" loss to Cincinnati as the town's biggest disappointments.

Hate to admit it, but Forbes makes some very good points.

This city’s only “major” championship ever was won by the Chargers with stars by such names as Tobin Rote, Keith Lincoln and Paul Lowe. You haven’t seen anything to equal it with current “stars” such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates and Shawne Merriman.

Yes, San Diego did lose the Rockets to Houston (too bad) and the Clippers to Los Angeles (very good!)

The Padres are 1-8 all-time in the World Series, while the Chargers are 0-1 in the Super Bowl. Combined that’s a winning ratio of 10 percent.

Maybe Forbes is onto something, after all.

Forbes 10 Most Miserable Sports Cities

1. Atlanta
2. Seattle
3. Buffalo
4. Phoenix
5. San Diego
6. Houston
7. Denver
8. Cleveland
9. Philadelphia
10. Minneapolis-St. Paul

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Padres' schedule is a little too strange

If you enjoyed watching the Padres play the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park on Tuesday night, get used to it.

The teams will play six times at Petco Park this season, before they ever meet in Colorado.

Advantage, Rockies; if it comes down to the end of the season between these two teams.

For some reason, the Major League Baseball schedule is more quirky than ever this season … especially for the Padres.

They play the Los Angeles Dodgers nine times in September, the first time one can ever recall teams meeting in three series during the same month.

And playing the Rockies nine times in Colorado from June 30 on is not a picnic for the Padres.

With the Padres already being in a five-team division in the NL West, somebody always is going to be playing outside of the division. In fact, six of San Diego’s last nine games are against the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

But playing the Rockies six times in San Diego through May 11, then not visiting Colorado until June 30?

That’s a little too strange.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No insult: Chargers haven't won anything

Radio talk show host Lee Hamilton recently said the Associated Press sent out a story that was “insulting” to the Chargers.

What was so insulting?

Read on:

SAN DIEGO. A team that has everything but wins nothing.

Now, what’s so insulting about that?

If you read the San Diego Union-Tribune, you know by now that the Chargers have absolutely everything.

And if you follow the NFL, you know the Chargers have won absolutely nothing when it comes to the Super Bowl.

No less an expert than Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith has said the team has won nothing.

This is the same Smith that the Union-Tribune has referred to as a genius, John Wayne, the smartest general manager ever in the NFL, etc.

It’s anything but insulting to say the Chargers have won nothing. To say they have won something is what’s really “insulting.”
To view the Chargers' 2008 schedule, visit:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

There's no power in the Padres

The Padres are going to need to win a lot more games like Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.


There is simply no power in the Padres in 2008.

As of Sunday, the Padres have gone 55 innings without hitting a home run. Over the longer haul, they have just one home run in their last 76 innings.

The meaning: Padres pitchers will have to be on their game every day.

Starters Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux, Randy Wolf and Justin Germano have very little room for error. (Thus far, all but Young have been on their game in 2008.)

Cla Meredith and Heath Bell must keep being successful in the seventh and eighth innings; and Trevor Hoffman needs to get back on his horse in the ninth inning.

The Padres are supposedly a powerless team because of the vast dimensions of Petco Park. But that can’t explain why they only hit one homer in six games on their first trip through San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Unless the Padres start hitting the long ball, it could be a long season ahead.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vin Scully: Anecdotes second to none

Nobody does it better than Vin Scully, the play-by-play voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Listening to Scully is like taking a walk along the beach, listening to the waves. It's calm, relaxing and just a joyful sound to hear.One of the things that make Scully so great is his knowledge of the opposing team.

For instance, when the Padres play the Dodgers in a three-game series this weekend in Los Angeles, he’ll come up with more than a few gems about San Diego’s players.

Here are some anecdotes he recited when the Padres and Dodgers met last weekend at Petco Park:

Khalil Greene’s first name means “gift of God.” His father served for the United States Marine Corps in the Vietnam War and many of his buddies never made it home alive. Mr. Greene thus sought out religion and found the Baha’i Faith, which his family follows to this day.

Justin Germano has seven tattoos on his body. Before pitching, he recites a word three times that Buddhists use while meditating.

Tony Clark was so smart in high school advanced algebra that he didn’t have to show up for class; he only took the tests.

Glendon Rusch’s wife is a forensics expert. She re-creates crime scenes.

While driving from Port St. Lucie, Fla. to spring training this year, Heath Bell blew out a tire in Fort Stockton, Texas. A local mechanic told Bell that Ken Caminiti had stopped at the same gas station before spring training in 1996, the year Caminiti won the National League’s most valuable player award while playing for the Padres.

Only Scully could come up with such gems!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Padres' bench leaves much to be desired

You think the outfield and most of the bullpen members are weaknesses for the Padres?

Well, have you checked out the bench players lately?

In comparison, they make the outfielder and relievers look like giants; or did you not notice who was coming off the bench in Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants in 11 innings?

Check it out:

Tony Clark. He’s the only guy on the bench you can count on in a pinch.

Paul McAnulty: He had all of 77 major-league at bats before this season.

Calix Crabbe: His first hit in two major-league at bats came Tuesday.

Justin Huber: He recorded 98 career at bats before this season.

Colt Morton: The replacement for the injured Michael Barrett (sprained elbow) is 0-for-2 in his career.

There you have it: Tony Clark … and four guys whose combined major-league experience is less than a year … coming off the bench. (Next thing you know, The Friar will be coming off the bench to pinch hit!)

These guys ought to strike fear in opponents, lol.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Peavy: Victim of dirty photo, or dirty pitcher?

So, Major League Baseball will be watching Jake Peavy for dirty play … or dirty fingers … when the Padres staff ace pitches Friday night against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

We all know by now that Peavy was caught on Fox TV with dirty fingers (see photo above) during his start last Saturday against the Dodgers.

Peavy has laughed off the incident; Padres Manager Bud Black says it might just have been residue from the resin bag.

Black’s theory is interesting in that a white resin bag probably wouldn’t make someone’s fingers black.

Anyway, Peavy better hope he has a good start Friday against the Dodgers; a team against which he owns an incredible 10-1 lifetime record.

If he does well, Peavygate will most likely fade into the sunset. If not, there will be questions about everything he has accomplished thus far in his brilliant career.

Even though the Friday is only one start out of about 35 per season for Peavy, the lingering suspicions of Peavygate make it among the most critical starts of his career.

Monday, April 7, 2008

How about those Dodgers?

To quote Mr. Ed, the famous television talking horse of the 1960s: “How about those Dodgers?”

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been dead for years, look like they could be very alive in 2008.

Certainly, one week does not a six-month season make, but this team has improved itself immensely and should be gaining on the NL West.

Two additions in particular make the Dodgers a better team this season:

Andruw Jones may still not be hitting, but he’s already winning games with his spectacular defense in center field.

Hiroki Kuroda, the Japanese import pitcher, can throw strikes. He started off 10 straight Padres batters with strikes at one point Friday night; a statistic virtually unheard of in today’s world of pitchers falling behind hitters.

The Dodgers already had fine young players in the likes of catcher Russell Martin, first baseman James Loney and outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp.

Rafael Furcal is solid at shortstop. Jeff Kent is getting older at second base, but Chin Iung-Hu is already proving to be a man who can spell Kent late in games (and occasionally the starting lineup) to keep Kent fresh. The black hole is still third base; we’ll see what happens when Nomar Garciaparra returns from the disabled list.

The Dodgers have a solid top-four pitching rotation with Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Kuroda. And it certainly appears Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito have surpassed San Diego’s Heath Bell and Trevor Hoffman as a late-inning relief combination.

Add Manager Joe Torre to the mix and we have a clue for you: Watch out for the Dodgers in 2008!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Padres: Moneyball or Cheapball?

Too bad the local television stations have fallen for what “great ticket deals” the Padres have going in 2008.

If they did their research, they would discover that is not the case at all.

According to Team Marketing Report, the Padres have the 12th highest average ticket price among 30 Major League Baseball teams this season.

San Diego is also 11th in Fan Cost Index (the price of four average tickets, two small beers, four small sodas, four hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two adult-sized caps.)

Last season, the Padres ranked 15th and 14th in these respective categories, so they jumped up three spots in both ticket prices and Fan Cost Index.

Looking around the NL West, the Padres are second among five teams in both categories. Not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Dodgers are first (sixth and ninth, respectively.)

San Francisco is 18th and 17th, Colorado is 22nd and 23rd, and Arizona is 30th (last) and 22nd.

Also, one must consider that the Padres are only 19th out of 30 in team payroll. Los Angeles is seventh; San Francisco 17th; Colorado 20th and Arizona 23rd.

Based on these statistics, four out of five teams in the NL West have a team payroll that parallels their ticket prices and Fan Cost Index.

The exception, of course, is San Diego; whose ticket prices and Fan Cost Index both rank much higher than the payroll.

What are the Padres playing here; Moneyball or Cheapball?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What would Grier's departure mean to USD basketball?

If University of San Diego basketball coach Bill Grier does indeed take the Oregon State job, what does it mean for the Toreros?

First and foremost, it means USD is darned if it does – and darned if it doesn’t – when it comes to winning.

If/when Grier leaves, he will be living proof that the Toreros probably aren’t going to keep a coach who is highly successful (baseball coach Rich Hill being an exception.)

All Grier did in his first year at USD is enable the Toreros to become the first San Diego team ever to win an NCAA Tournament game, that coming in a stunning upset of Connecticut.

Just a year ago, highly-successful USD football coach Jim Harbaugh left to become the head coach at Stanford.

Based on these two cases, it appears USD is becoming a testing ground for coaches to make their way into the Pac-10.

So what happens when a coach doesn’t reach the top with the Toreros?

Just ask Brad Holland, who was fired after posting a 187-181 career record at USD.

What’s next for the Toreros without Grier?

Look for the job to go to top assistant coach Bill Carr, the former head coach at UC San Diego.

The Toreros will look for another Grier to lead their basketball program … with the hopes an impact coach will stick around for awhile.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Padres begin real baseball season tonight

Now it’s time to get on to the real baseball season, when real baseball fans are watching.

It all goes back to Tony Gwynn’s comments about opening night. He always looked forward to the second night, because that’s when the real fans come out.

So, if you’re a true fan, we’ll see you at Petco Park tonight when the Padres face the Houston Astros.

The season opener? Fans were all dressed up. Petco Park was all decked out, as if it were a playoff game.

From an appearance standpoint, it was the best of times. From other aspects, it was the worst of times. Or did you not notice all the local TV stations yesterday at Petco Park, who were tripping over themselves as if they are going to be there for games in mid-season?

Those news anchors who were wearing Padres uniforms now won’t know the difference between Brian Giles and Brian Prilaman, who also works for the Padres and is the best traveling director in the league.

Many of these people who “have” to be there on opening day won’t “have” to be at another game until next year’s home opener. Of course, they’ll also be the first ones wondering why they can’t get playoff tickets if the Padres make the postseason.

They're called front-runners and they make up a large percentage of San Diego fans.

We hope you enjoyed opening night, since it only comes once a year.

Jake Peavy was great in a 4-0 win vs. Houston; the pregame festivities honoring first responders to last October’s wildfires in San Diego County were awesome.

Just remember, the Astros are here through Thursday before the Dodgers come in for the weekend.

If you’re a real baseball fan, you’ll be around.