Thursday, July 31, 2008

Joe Torre, not Manny Ramirez, holds Dodgers together

If the Los Angeles Dodgers now make the playoffs with Manny Ramirez, many will say Joe Torre managed to reach the postseason again due to superior talent.

Not so fast. Maybe Torre reached the postseason every year with the Yankees due to great talent, but not this time in L.A.

If anything, Torre may have accomplished one of his best managing jobs ever just to keep the Dodgers in the NL West race and be in position to trade for Ramirez.

Consider the odds Torre has faced in his first year with the Dodgers:

The team’s best player, shortstop Rafael Furcal, has been injured since May 5.
Staff pitching ace Brad Penny has been sidelined since June 14.
Closer Takashi Saito has been out since July 12.
L.A.’s top three third basemen were injured when the season began.
Center fielder Andruw Jones is a $36 million bust.
Jason Schmidt may "earn" his $47 million with the Dodgers by recording one win.

Despite it all, Torre has kept the Dodgers in contention in the Weak Weak NL West.

All things considered, that may be nearly as much of an accomplishment as winning four World Series in five years with the greatest talent on earth in New York.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Petco Park: It's 'baseball proof'

As much as we all didn’t like Barry Bonds, perhaps the most unpopular baseball player of all time, he did get one thing right.

“Baseball proof” is how Bonds described San Diego’s Petco Park after his first appearance in the spacious stadium.

For proof, just ask Jody Gerut of the Padres.

He hit a fly ball 399 feet against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night that would have been a grand slam anywhere else in baseball.

Instead, Alex Romero made a terrific over-the-shoulder basket catch at the fence to rob Gerut and preserve Arizona’s 3-0 win.

If the game had been in Arizona, the ball would have landed in the pool beyond right-center for a grand slam. In other parks, it would also have been well beyond the wall.

In San Diego, it reopened the controversy about whether they should move the 400-foot fence in right-center closer to home plate.

The answer, without argument, is “yes.”

Just think of Arizona reliever Jon Rauch, who only faced Gerut in the game. He could walk off the mound with a smile and say “well, I got my man.”

But only in San Diego!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kudos to Channel 4's Jenny Cavnar!

Jenny Cavnar, the excellent sports reporter at Channel 4 San Diego, deserves major kudos for standing up for what she believes in.

According to a very low-rated radio station, Cavnar defended a family which prayed in a restaurant over their "$1.19 macaroni and hot dog," which is certainly their right under the U.S. Constitution.

How did this all come about?

One of the morning people on a radio station not ranked among the top 37 in San Diego gave his "fed up" for the day to the family praying over its $1.19 macaroni and hot dog plates.

He said he sent out emails to friends, and that Cavnar disagreed with his stance.

Since he didn’t know the names of the people praying over their macaroni and hot dog, he gave his "fed up" of the day to Cavnar for defending the family’s right to pray in public.

Well, since his radio station is ranked so low, this morning guy better fear for his job soon in a competitive market.

If he is given the boot, then maybe he’ll be giving thanks if his family can even eat $1.19 macaroni and hot dogs when he’s out of a job.

Then it may hit home to never criticize someone for what they can or can’t afford financially.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chargers need top pick in training camp soon!

The Chargers need to get first round draft choice Antoine Cason in training camp … soon!

The last thing they need is a prolonged holdout like they did with Quentin Jammer when he was the fifth pick overall out of Texas seven years ago.

Cason, the 27th overall pick out of Arizona this year, is a cornerback like Jammer.

If you remember, Jammer fell hopelessly behind his first season after holding out virtually all of training camp.

The same could happen if Cason stays out for a long time this summer.

Cason could definitely fill the third cornerback role that Drayton Florence held until becoming a free agent after last season.

But if Cason holds out too long, there may not be much of a spot for him when he comes to the team this year … just ask Jammer!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Best Super Bowl chance: Brees or Rivers?

Of the first three quarterbacks taken in the 2004 NFL draft, two have won Super Bowls and one has not.

The haves are Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Eli Manning of the New York Giants.

The have not is Philip Rivers of the Chargers.

Now another question looms on the horizon: Which of the last two Chargers’ starting quarterbacks will win a Super Bowl first?

Will it be Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints or Rivers?

Brees took the Saints to the 2006 NFC championship game; Rivers led the Chargers to the 2007 AFC championship game.

Neither has played in the Super Bowl.

We know for a fact that Rivers has the cast around him to reach this season’s Super Bowl.

Ditto with Brees in New Orleans; especially now that the Saints have traded for former New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Who will win the Super Bowl first? Brees or Rivers?

It’s your call.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chargers: Super close, or Super Bowl?

The Chargers are going to be one of two things this season:

Either they will continue being the Don Coryell-style Chargers of the old days, or they will finally become the Indianapolis Colts.

The Coryell Chargers?

Like the current edition, they had great talent, went well into the playoffs but never made the Super Bowl.

The Colts?

They couldn’t beat the New England Patriots for years before finally besting them in the AFC championship on their way to a Super Bowl title two seasons ago.

The Chargers certainly have the firepower with LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers, Chris Chambers, et al on offense. And the defense is top-notch with the likes of Jamal Williams, Shawne Merriman and Antonio Cromartie.

Perhaps the biggest question mark the Chargers face as rookie training camp begins today focuses on injuries.

Center Nick Hardwick, tight end Gates and nose tackle Williams are all still nursing hurts from last season. Their progress could determine early-on how well the Chargers do.

It would be shocking if the Chargers don’t make the playoffs. The other three teams in their division … the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs … are all in down cycles.

The Chargers of the 1980s or the Colts of 2006?

We’ll see; come January and February.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Padres don't appear to be good sellers

So the Padres are sellers instead of buyers this year.

What goods do they have to sell?

We saw the answer was “not much” when Tony Clark was traded back to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a minor-league pitcher.

After all, what else could you expect to get for someone batting .239 with one home run and three RBI in 88 at bats?

Now the Padres’ most likely candidates to go are pitchers Greg Maddux and Randy Wolf.

When you consider their recent fates, it’s doubtful they could bring much more than Clark in a trade:

Maddux: He’s winless in his last 12 starts and has been the victim of some bad luck. But when you consider he couldn’t hold a 3-0 lead against Minnesota at Petco Park last month, some of it is certainly on him.

Wolf: In his last six starts, he’s 1-5 with a 6.82 ERA. Considering he tends to be injury prone in the second half, his value isn’t exactly going through the roof, either.

So there you have it. The Padres are sellers with little of value to sell.

So much for baseball interest in San Diego this summer.

Bring on the Chargers!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Adrian Gonzalez: All Star on, off the field

It’s nice to see Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres finally getting some recognition as the team’s lone 2008 All Star.

If you haven’t heard of Gonzalez and live off the West Coast, join the majority. The big boys at ESPN, Fox, etc. just simply don’t promote anything or anyone west of the Mississippi.

Here are a couple of things you would know about Gonzalez if he played on the East Coast:

He’s fourth in the National League in RBI (71) and sixth in home runs (22), despite playing his home games at a pitcher’s park called Petco Park.

He’s also a well-above average first baseman defensively and was the first pick in the nation by the Florida Marlins in 2000 out of Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, Calif.

Jon Sciambi, the outstanding play-by-play announcer of the Atlanta Braves, hit it on the nose over the weekend when mentioning that players like Gonzalez get overlooked on the West Coast.

“I think there is reality as it relates to the East Coast bias,” Sciambi said on the SportSouth telecast of a Padres-Atlanta Braves game.

Gonzalez credits much of his turnaround in the past year or two to his religious faith.

You can find out more about Gonzalez, an All-Star on the field and off, by visiting his new Web site at

Monday, July 14, 2008

Troy Hirsch: New Fox 5 San Diego sports director

You’ve heard about the gals who will work for "Fox 5 San Diego" when Channel 5 San Diego officially switches to the Fox network in August.

You’ll have former CNN reporter Arthel Neville and former Channel 6 weather/traffic gal Chrissy Russo working "Fox 5 Morning News." At night, you’ll have Kathleen Bade (formerly Channel 8) reading "Fox 5 News at 10" and Susan Lennon (formerly of KUSI) doing weekends.

What about the guys?

That’s where Troy Hirsch comes in. He will soon be introduced as the sports director; becoming the first male in the lineup.

Hirsch formerly worked for Fox Sports Northwest and most recently as the sports director at KSWB-TV (Channel 5) before the Channel 7/39 reporters began doing nightly news on Channel 5.

So what does this all mean for San Diego?

We will now have six stations doing news in the morning – and all six producing their own shows at night.

Considering that news viewing continues to go down, it’s surprising that the number of telecasts continues to rise in San Diego.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Klesko: Padres' best first baseman this decade?

As much as Adrian Gonzalez deserves to be making his first All-Star appearance for the Padres next week at Yankee Stadium, there was another Padre first baseman doing quite well at the break this decade.

Back in 2001, All-Star Ryan Klesko was having an even better year than Gonzalez is in 2008 nearing the mid-summer classic.

Here are Klesko’s 2001 stats at the All-Star break vs. Gonzalez’ going into the final weekend before the All-Star game:

Doubles: Klesko 22, Gonzalez 15
Home runs: Klesko 17, Gonzalez 22
RBI: Klesko 75, Gonzalez 70
Average: Klesko .297, Gonzalez .279
On-base percentage: Klesko .406, Gonzalez .348
Slugging percentage: Klesko .556, Gonzalez .510

While Klesko had a better first half seven years ago than Gonzalez is now, there are also mitigating factors.

Klesko played on a halfway decent team in 2001 that finished 79-83. Gonzalez is currently on a pathetic team at 36-56.

The sad thing is that as the Padres get worse and worse in 2008, more and more teams will continue to pitch around Gonzalez.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wishful thinking: An all-Florida World Series

Wouldn’t it be great to have an all-Florida World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins?

OK, it’s not going to happen; but at least the Floridians are proving you can win on the cheap.

With two of the three lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball, the Rays (first-place AL East) and Marlins (tied for second NL East) are at least in contention at mid-season.

Not only are the Marlins doing it with baseball’s lowest payroll ($21 million); they are also a contender with the youngest pitching staff in the majors.

No team outside of the Marlins has a rotation of starters exclusively 25 years of age or younger. They are:

Ricky Nolasco; 25 years, 209 days
Scott Olsen; 24 years, 179 days
Josh Johnson; 24 years, 158 days
Andrew Miller; 22 years, 49 days
Chris Volstad; 21 years, 288 days

As the dog days of summer continue, one can only hope that the Marlins and Rays continue to dog the big-name teams such as the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Umpire Joe West needs to eject himself

Even when Major League Baseball umpire Joe West gets it right, he gets it wrong.

West rightfully overturned a call by third base umpire Chris Guccione in the Florida Marlins’ 3-1 win over the Padres on Monday night.

Guccione called a line drive by Hanley Ramirez fair in the seventh inning; replays showed it was barely foul and West made the right call in overturning Guccione.

Then West did what he does best; he made the wrong call with his overly aggressive actions.

As soon as Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez came out to argue, West put up his hands up as if to tell Gonzalez not to come out. Within five seconds of arguing, Gonzalez was ejected by the hot-headed West.

Great umpires over history such as Doug Harvey let managers have their say and don’t eject people right away for arguing overturned calls. Ones like West think they are the show; and they are only too willing to prove they are the boss, such as West did Monday night.

“To me, that’s when an umpire tries to get a little bigger than the game,” color analyst Tommy Hutton said on the FSN Florida telecast. “That’s not his job.”

Hutton’s comments were right on.

If anybody needed to be ejected, it should have been West for trying to be bigger than our National Pastime; which he’s not!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hot dog! Padres should lower ticket prices

So the Padres are offering $1 hot dogs and $1 regular size soft drinks – as well as $1 off beer – at all home games in July.

Hot dog! How about lowering the ticket prices at Petco Park while they’re at it?

The team’s home attendance is down more than 10 percent from last season.

You could blame it on our country’s weak economy. Or you could get real and blame it on the fact that the Padres have the second-worst record in Major League Baseball.

Let’s face it: You get what you pay for, and the Padres’ years of signing old veterans to contracts and getting lucky has finally run out on them.

Back to the hot dogs: Isn’t it ironic that the lower concession prices come in a month when the Padres have only nine home games; the fewest in any month this season?

Here is the team’s spin on the July concession prices:

“We are excited about this program, which is based in part on input from our fans,” CEO Sandy Alderson said. “We hope July Dollar Days will provide some relief to our fans from higher gas prices and the current overall economy.”

If the Padres really want to provide relief to fans, how about providing some relief in their bullpen (among other things) and a few more wins?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Remember our Declaration of Independence!

Go ahead and celebrate.

You deserve it!

Independence Day is a time to remember the fact that our nation has been under its own rule for more than 230 years.

So take in the baseball games on the Fourth of July weekend. Enjoy the fireworks! And remember the Declaration of Independence:


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.

We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hey Chargers, old stadiums produce champions

Did you see the senseless quote from Mark Fabiani of the Chargers in the San Diego Union-Tribune?

“There's a world for a team with an old stadium – a world where you're consistently behind. It's a world you see in baseball all the time,” the Chargers’ current (and Bill Clinton’s former) spin doctor said.

Well, let’s look at the last six World Series winners, see where they played and figure out who’s really behind:

2002: Anaheim Angels (35-year-old stadium)
2003: Florida Marlins (16-year-old stadium)
2004: Boston Red Sox (92-year-old stadium)
2005: Chicago White Sox (14-year-old rebuilt stadium)
2006: St. Louis Cardinals (new ballpark)
2007: Boston Red Sox (95-year-old stadium)

If you look at it, the teams with older stadiums are winning the World Series more times than not.

And oh, by the way, the last two Super Bowl winners were the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants.

The Colts played in a 23-year-old stadium; the Giants a 31-year-old stadium.

So much for spin doctor Fabiani’s theory that you can’t win in an old house.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Padres, Rockies fans have a right to boo

Remember when so many people made a big deal out of Trevor Hoffman being booed in San Diego last week?

The theory was that people should not boo a hometown hero likely headed for the Baseball Hall of Fame; no matter how poorly he had performed.

For those who disagreed with the booing of Hoffman, how about the Colorado Rockies fans Monday night?

They turned on the Rockies in a 15-8 loss to the lowly Padres, Colorado’s eighth straight loss (hey, it broke the Padres’ eight-game losing streak!)

If some think Padre fans shouldn’t boo Hoffman, what about Coloradoans showing their displeasure with the Rockies?

After all, aren’t these the same Rockies who went to the World Series last year? Because of that, should their fans be exempt from booing them?

In all cases, the answer is “no.” Fans pay a huge premium to attend a game; they have the right to show their displeasure as long as they do not cross the line (and booing is not crossing the line.)

Think about your job situation. If all of a sudden you became a failure, could you save your job by pointing to what you did in the past?

Not likely!