Thursday, August 28, 2008

San Diego State desperately needs a win

It’s going to be something to see how the Chargers and San Diego State react on the football field this weekend.

The Chargers will just be playing/hoping not to get anybody hurt when they close their exhibition season Friday night at San Francisco.

But it will be much different Saturday night for SDSU.

The Aztecs will be fighting for their season when they open by hosting Cal Poly, a team from the next division down in college football.

This is the same Cal Poly bunch that came to San Diego two years ago and upset the Aztecs, 16-14, when Coach Chuck Long became too conservative.

If SDSU loses to the Mustangs again, it may be the beginning of the end for Long on Montezuma Mesa.

While experienced on defense, the Aztecs are very young offensively.

Much of their season rides on redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Lindley out of El Capitan High School.

His father, Tim Lindley, was a water polo All-American at Monte Vista High School. Ryan will try to take the family genes to another lofty status when he begins his Aztec career.

The SDSU defense is solid; the offense may not be. We’ll see.

Prediction: SDSU 20, Cal Poly 13

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Merriman should sit out 2008 season

Dean Spanos, president and CEO of the Chargers, made it perfectly clear on the team’s radio broadcast Monday night on Rock 105.3 KIOZ-FM:

The decision on whether Shawne Merriman plays for the Chargers this year rests solely upon the player, Spanos said.

If you were Merriman, would you play?

Consider the circumstances:

Doctors are telling him he could play, rather than have reconstructive surgery on two torn ligaments in his left knee. But if he does, he risks his future.

And what future does he have with the Chargers?

After 2009, expect Merriman to be let out the door by the Chargers … just as they did in succession with Drew Brees, Donnie Edwards and Marty Schottenheimer.

And along those lines, don’t be surprised if the Chargers let defensive end Igor Olshansky walk after the 2008 season when his contract is up.

Merriman would be taking care of himself by having reconstructive surgery, missing the 2008 season and having a great contract year in 2009.

But on the flip side, he does not come across as a team player by continuing this soap opera concerning what his status will be for 2008.

Since the Chargers normally usher one guy out the door after each season (and Merriman figures to be the odd man out after 2009), don’t be surprised if he takes the self-serving route by sitting out this season.

Can you blame him? … Your call.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chargers prepare for interesting week

This should be a very interesting week for the Chargers.

First they have an exhibition game where they will let it all hang out; then comes an exhibition when they just want to get out.

Look for the first-string to play more than half the game when the Chargers host the Seattle Seahawks tonight at Qualcomm Stadium.

Then be prepared for a very boring game Friday night when the Chargers close out preseason play at San Francisco by resting most of their regulars.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Chargers look like a powerhouse tonight. Seattle, which already is a defense-dominated team, will be without starting QB Matt Hasselbeck.

Even without LB Shawne Merriman, don’t be shocked if the Chargers dominate on defense. The curiosity will be in seeing how well the San Diego offense does minus RB LaDainian Tomlinson (who wisely doesn’t play in exhibition games) vs. the Seahawks defense.

Injuries ... more specifically avoiding them ... is the key topic as the exhibition season winds down.

After all, the world champion New York Giants will probably only be a shell of their old selves without top pass rusher Osi Umenyiora, out for the season with a knee injury.

This time of year, injuries (or lack of such) tell the true winners in exhibition contests.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Will injuries stop the Chargers?

Who/what can stop the Chargers in 2008?

Only the Chargers themselves … or injuries.

With the regular season two weeks away, it appears that injuries already are slowing down the Chargers. Consider:

Linebacker Shawne Merriman may be ready by the Sept. 7 opener vs. Carolina, but a knee injury could also sideline him for many weeks.

Center Nick Hardwick will definitely miss a significant amount of time with a sprained foot.

Tight end Antonio Gates is getting better, but is still slowed by a toe injury.

Left tackle Marcus McNeill hasn’t been able to block lately due to a shoulder injury.

Linebacker Stephen Cooper is suspended for the first four games, which could leave the Chargers thin at LB if Merriman is not able to play.

The Chargers have made the playoffs three of the past four years, missing only in 2005 because of a run of injuries.

One can only hope the same fate does not befall them in 2008.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Without Maddux, Padres face pitching blues

Now that Greg Maddux has traded in his Padre uniform for Dodger Blue, it sure leaves the Padres’ pitching staff with the blues.

After Jake Peavy (and with Chris Young disabled), who would you now consider the team’s No. 2 starter?

Cha Seung Baek, who is 0-7 at Petco Park?

Josh Banks, whose ERA is 6.51 since the All-Star break?

Chad Reineke, who has one major-league start and throws a fastball without any movement?


Thinking back to the start of the season, the Padres were hoping to make a pennant run with a pitching rotation of Peavy, Young, Maddux, Randy Wolf and eventually Mark Prior.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chargers playing it smart this summer

Give the Chargers credit for playing it very smart this training camp.

So many teams complain how they get beaten up in camp with only 80 players on the roster.

The Chargers have alleviated this by holding guys out of practice and/or games at the first sight that something might be wrong.

Consider the list held out of last Saturday’s 7-6 exhibition loss at St. Louis:

Offense: QB Philip Rivers; RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Andrew Pinnock; OL Marcus McNeill and Nick Hardwick; TE Antonio Gates; and WRs Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson.

Defense: DL Luis Castillo and Jamal Williams; LB Shawne Merriman; and DBs Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie.

With even half of these players active, the Chargers certainly would have whipped an inferior St. Louis team. But what’s the point in an exhibition game?

The Chargers appear to be saving guys so that they may have a better chance of being healthy at the end. If they are to make a Super Bowl run, this definitely will be a major issue (remember the injuries that hampered the team in last season’s AFC Championship loss to New England?)

If there is a downside, it may be that players are not as far along when the regular season starts.

But the bigger issue is who will be ahead when the season concludes.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Will Chargers start the season at least 5-0?

Josh Lewin, the outstanding play-by-play announcer for the Chargers on radio station Rock 105.3 KIOZ-FM, made an interesting observation about the AFC West.

“It’s like Gladys Knight & the Pips,” he said last weekend. “The Chargers are Gladys Knight, and everyone else is the Pips.”

Right on.

It would be shocking if any of the Pips among the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs or Oakland Raiders overtake the Chargers this season in the AFC West.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether the Chargers can begin their season with a 5-0 record … at the very least.

They’re already a 10-point favorite at home for the Sept. 7 season opener at home against Carolina, which will be without leading (and suspended) receiver Steve Smith.

Then comes a Sept. 14 contest at Denver, where the Chargers haven’t had much success over the years but did win 41-3 last season. It won’t hurt that Broncos’ leading receiver Brandon Marshall is suspended for that game.

Week 3 is a Monday Night home game Sept. 22 vs. the New York Jets and some new quarterback named Brett Favre (gee, I think ESPN has ignored him lately!)

The next two weeks feature games at Oakland (Sept. 28) and Miami (Oct. 5).

So far, it appears to be a very soft schedule.

Then comes a Week 6 match up at home on Sunday Night, Oct. 12, vs. the mighty New England Patriots.

The Chargers will be looking to avenge (a) a 2006 playoff loss, (b) a 2007 regular season loss, (c) a 2007-08 postseason loss, or (d) all three losses to the Patriots.

That may be the most important hump of all to get over.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Padres: Things may only get worse

Now we’re hearing rumors that the Padres may have a $40 million payroll in 2009.

Do you know what that means?

It would amount to likely the second lowest payroll in Major League Baseball. Only the Florida Marlins, at $22 million, have a payroll below $40 million in 2008.

If $40 million is the going rate for the 2009 Padres, look for another last-place finish in the Weak, Weak NL West.

Four players alone are down for $25 million from the Padres next season: Jake Peavy ($11 million), Khalil Greene ($6.5 million), Chris Young ($4.5 million) and Adrian Gonzalez ($3 million.)

Should the Padres hold true to a $40 million payroll, it would mean $15 million for the remaining players beyond Peavy, Greene, Young and Gonzalez.

Sure, the Padres will try their best to unload Greene’s salary on somebody else. But considering he had his worst season ever in 2008, it just isn’t going to happen.

If you can remember the fire sales of the early 1990s by the Padres, you have a good memory.

And that time period may also be a look into the team’s near future.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

San Diego Fox5 News: What a Joke!

Have you watched the local news yet on the new "Fox5 San Diego?"

If not, don’t bother.

The show has more glitches than the Padres have had in 2008.

On Friday, Aug. 8, the evening news looked like a 1920 "B" movie in pantomime.

Kathleen Bade was talking, but you couldn’t hear the sound. The picture even went off for awhile; but when it came back on, still no sound.

That followed a weekday morning show when Chrissy Russo sounded like an echo while doing the weather. Arthel Neville had to take her microphone off then go over and hold it for Chrissy to be heard.

Speaking of Chrissy, that map she stands on while doing the weather has to go. And when she goes to a location where there is an accident then holds a "Slow" sign; that, too, has to be ditched.

Kathleen Bade, Chrissy Russo and Arthel Neville may be easy on the eyes ... but the Fox 5 news isn’t!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chargers already getting good breaks

Sometimes, things start happening beyond a team’s control that makes you think it may be their season to remember.

Take the Chargers, for instance.

Even before Saturday night’s preseason opener at home vs. the Dallas Cowboys, the Chargers already have received good news for their first two regular season games:

Steve Smith, Carolina’s top receiver, will miss the Sept. 7 season opener at San Diego for attacking teammate Ken Lucas in practice.

Brandon Marshall, Denver’s best pass catcher, will miss the Broncos’ home opener Sept. 14 vs. the Chargers as the result of a suspension.

What does this mean for the Chargers? They will not have to face:

▄ Smith, who had 87 receptions for 1,002 yards in 2007.

▄ Marshall, who caught 102 passes for 1,325 yards last year.

Two opening games; two games where the opposition is without its top receiver.

Not a bad way to start 2008 for the Chargers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Channel 4 San Diego ready for some (prep) football

Channel 4 San Diego is going straight to the top for its 2008 prep football coverage.
Poway High School, the defending San Diego Section CIF Division I champion, will be featured in the first telecast of the season when it travels to Scripps Ranch on Friday, Sept. 5.

There will be something new about the telecasts this fall. Each will be shown on a tape delay on Saturdays at noon or 1 p.m.

Traditionally, the taped broadcasts have received better ratings than live telecasts … probably because the multitudes interested in high school football are already at a game on Friday night.Here is the taping schedule for the four weeks of Friday Night Football:

Sept. 5: Poway at Scripps Ranch
Sept. 12: Ramona at El Capitan
Sept. 19: El Camino at Escondido
Sept. 26: Otay Ranch at Helix

After Week 4, Channel 4 will announce 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.

Steve Quis and Lew Bush will again return as the more-than-capable announcers for prep football on Channel 4.

Monday, August 4, 2008

John Moores finally appears in San Diego!

Where is John Moores, owner of the San Diego Padres?

If you didn’t blink, you could have seen him Sunday afternoon at Petco Park.

Moores actually stopped by the box of General Manager Kevin Towers during the first couple innings of the Padres rare 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.

The significance?

Moores has hardly been seen in months. He didn’t even attend the 10-year celebration of the Padres 1998 National League championship team last month at Petco Park.

Obviously, the pending divorce with his wife, Becky, is weighing heavily on his mind. Becky even attended that 10-year festivity last month.

John Moores could very well be losing the team to Becky, who has hired a litigious divorce lawyer. Or more likely, the team could wind up in the hands of their daughter, Jennifer.

But at least it’s nice to know John Moores is still alive and kicking despite the divorce proceedings.

When – or if – we’ll see him at Petco Park again is another question.