Friday, January 30, 2009

Kurt Warner: Nice guys don't always finish last

You’ve probably heard the story by now, but it bears repeating.

He’s working in a grocery store at age 22. She’s there working at age 26.

He asks her out. She says “you don’t want to” because of her two kids from a previous marriage.

He doesn’t care and asks her out, anyway.

They get married. He plays in an arena football league.

Then one day, nine years ago, Kurt Warner wins the Super Bowl as quarterback of the St. Louis Rams.

We finally hear of his background. Warner is a decent Christian man who doesn’t call attention on himself by getting into trouble.

Subsequently, he bounces around for several years in the NFL. Now he’s playing for a Super Bowl championship Sunday when his Arizona Cardinals meet the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It would be lovely if this Cinderella story continued … but …

Steelers 27, Cardinals 20

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

San Diego State hoops needs big-time wins

San Diego State needs to beat someone of significance if it hopes to receive an NCAA Tournament bid in men’s basketball this season.

The Aztecs may be off to a 13-5 start, but they have yet to post a win to get them over the hump when tournament selection time comes.

SDSU has faced three certain NCAA participants thus far – Arizona State, Arizona and Saint Mary’s. The Aztecs lost to all three.

Of the 13 wins, Utah has been the biggest-named opponent. And the Utes are no certain bet for the NCAAs.

Coach Steve Fisher has done a good job in his near-decade on Montezuma Mesa in turning the Aztecs from a horrible to middle-of-the-pack team. The program is good enough to make the NIT just about every year; yet you can only count on an NCAA berth (and loss) about once every five years.

Unless the Aztecs win the Mountain West Conference’s automatic NCAA bid this year, it’s going to be the same old thing:

Play in the NIT and hope for the best.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Union-Tribune writer too soft on Chargers' GM

When is Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune ever going to stop kissing the butt of Chargers’ General Manager A.J. Smith?

Did you see the latest in Sunday’s U-T?

Acee tried to defend the indefensible comments of Smith regarding LaDainian Tomlinson.

As a reminder, Tomlinson wrote on his blog:

“I have been getting a lot of messages on my site regarding me leaving San Diego. I feel that I need to make it very clear that I have NO intentions of leaving San Diego. San Diego is where my career started and where I'd like it to end. I have nothing but love and the upmost (sic) respect for this team, the players, and the Spanos Family. Me being traded is completely out of my hands. I have ABSOLUTELY no control in that decision making. All I can do is wait and see how it all plays out. As for now, I am a Charger and will be until I am told otherwise."

Smith replied:

“My first reaction was we both have similar feelings. I have no intentions of leaving San Diego. San Diego is where my GM career started and where I'd like it to end. I also have nothing but love and the utmost respect for this team, the players and the Spanos family. I have absolutely no control over how long I will be with the Chargers.”

Acee, who should be part of the Chargers’ media relations department, tried to defend Smith by saying the general manager meant no disrespect toward LT.

Yeah, and if that’s the case, Smith meant no disrespect when his ego and attitude drove the likes of Drew Brees, Donnie Edwards and Marty Schottenheimer out of town.

If you don’t believe me, go back and read the Sports Letters to the Editor in Sunday’s Union-Tribune.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Friday, January 23, 2009

WWE: Please make winners out of some losers!

Pay per view event No. 1 (of many) for 2009 is this Sunday with the Royal Rumble.

It’s all about who wins the individual matches, wins the battle royal and goes on to WrestleMania.

But while the attention will focus on the winners, we want to focus on four “losers” in the WWE whose storylines could be much stronger.

Finlay: He’s a fall guy for the likes of Jack Swagger these days. But with his “son” Hornswoggle by his side, he could be used much more creatively. How about a few wins by Finlay … and more air time for Hornswoggle, to draw some much-deserved attention to this fading duo?

Jillian: She can’t sing. But why can’t she wrestle? The fans just hate her. How about letting her win a couple times to give more legitimacy (bad word in wrestling) to her act?

Santino Marella: He was a great act when he came out of the crowd to win a title during his debut. Since then, he’s been lower than the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Why can’t he win a match anymore? Is WWE going to get rid of him by letting “girlfriend” Beth Phoenix kick his butt one more time?

Victoria: She’s mean; she’s nasty. She’s also a loser. When was the last time she won a match? With all the pretty girls winning all the matches, how about letting the mean one be a winner once in a while?

See you at the Rumble.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

San Diego sports talk radio ain't happening

San Diego is way too small for two all-sports talk radio stations.

Is it even big enough for one?

It’s sad that XTRA Sports 1360 has gone by the wayside after just 14 months, but how does a town with only two pro teams (Chargers, Padres) have two such stations in the first place?

It was obviously a train wreck waiting to happen … just as is the Bleacher Bums show on Double-X 1090 Sports each day from 3-7 pm.

Speaking of, who knows if 1090 will even be able to keep its all-sports format?

After all, owner John Lynch cut his higher salaried people such as Bill Werndl and Joe Tutino (not to mention Mark Larson on 1700 AM) strictly due to finances.

And that of course led to the current afternoon show, which is about as popular as the plague right now.

Lynch excuses his new hires (a couple fans off the street) by saying he hired the likes of Jim Rome, the late Chet Forte and the brilliant coach John Kentera under similar conditions.

OK, using that logic, remember that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

Therefore, does it mean every guy cut by his high school basketball team is destined to be the next Michael Jordan?

Come on; you can’t fool the listening public. Sadly, San Diego sports talk radio is a perfect example.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chargers, Ravens ran on empty in playoffs

Let’s face it: The Baltimore Ravens simply ran out of gas in the playoffs.

Too many injuries. Too many road games.

(Not to mention the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are a better team.)

Does it remind you of somebody from a year ago?

Remember when the wounded Chargers went to the AFC Championship game a year ago with quarterback Philip Rivers coming off knee surgery, RB LaDainian Tomlinson unable to play nearly the entire game, and tight end Antonio Gates barely able to walk?

The Chargers had too many injuries and one too many road games ... not to mention that the (then) undefeated New England Patriots were the better team.

Ironically, nowadays, it often seems as if the road teams and the lower seeds have a better opportunity than the higher seeds to make the Super Bowl.

How often have you seen No. 1 seeds lose their first playoff games (re, the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans this season; not to mention the Chargers two seasons ago.)

Even so, in the end, being at home and being a higher seed did matter in the NFL playoffs.

How many people think the Arizona Cardinals would have won an NFC Championship game at Philadelphia? And don’t you think Baltimore would’ve had a better chance at home against Pittsburgh?

All things considered, I’d take my chances as a home team with a higher seed in the playoffs.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Padres trying to get better/cheaper?

Evidently, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ double play duo of Bill Russell and Davey Lopes from the 1980s isn’t available.

Maybe that’s why the Padres have signed David Eckstein to play second base … and perhaps shortstop Omar Vizquel could be the next to come.

The Padres got away with signing veteran players on the cheap for a couple years, but it didn’t work in 2008. (Remember Tadahito Iguchi and Jim Edmonds?)

So now, with a projected $40 million payroll, the Padres apparently have no choice but to go with rookies or veterans on the cheap.

More than 60% of that payroll is already committed to pitchers Jake Peavy and Chris Young, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Brian Giles. (A Peavy trade could still open up some room for cash – but not miracles.)

So don’t expect the Padres to jump in on the Manny Ramirez bidding on the last minute.

We all know you get what you pay for: which likely means another last-place finish in 2009 for the Padres.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chargers are obviously disappointed

There are two ways to look at the Chargers’ recently completed season.

A: They made an extraordinary run to make the playoffs and won a postseason game for the second straight year

B. They had a disappointing 9-9 season and fell far short of their ultimate goal of reaching the Super Bowl.

Obviously, the answer is “B.”

Did you see where the Chargers have fired two secondary coaches, their tight ends coach and offensive line coach?

Those firings usually only happen when a team underachieves (or a head coach goes 14-2 but can’t get along with the general manager.)

Already, the Chargers are admitting their performances left much to be desired against the pass, in their blocking and in the tight ends’ play.

These changes may only be the beginning of many at Chargers Park.

After all, a .500 record won’t make the playoffs forever as Denver, Oakland and Kansas City continue to rebuild in the AFC West.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Like Fouts, Chargers' LT may never make Super Bowl

LaDainian Tomlinson may well be on his way to becoming the next Dan Fouts of the Chargers.

That is, he’ll have a great career, earn entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame … but never play in the Super Bowl.

(It’s questionable if he could’ve played this year, but at least there was a chance for the Chargers to get there before Sunday’s loss at Pittsburgh.)

Looking back, there are certainly positives for the Chargers’ 2008 season:

No game was bigger than the overtime win vs. Indianapolis in the wild card playoffs.
Coming back from a 4-8 record to make the playoffs was amazing.
The record could have been 12-4 without four losses in the final 24 seconds of the game.

On the other hand:

The Chargers finished just 1-6 against playoff teams.
It took an amazing collapse by Denver for the Chargers’ late-season run to mean anything.
Without two lucky wins vs. Kansas City, the Chargers could have finished 6-10.

The bottom line is that the Chargers were an average team this year, finishing with a 9-9 overall record.

AFC West foes Kansas City, Oakland and Denver have three of the top 12 picks in the coming draft … meaning none of them were among the Top 20 teams in the NFL this year.

Those three teams can only get better, and the Chargers’ window of opportunity for playing in the Super Bowl won’t last forever.

Neither will LT, who may never participate in a Super Bowl for the Chargers.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pittsburgh may be pitts for Chargers

Remember this:
Ben Roethlisberger has one touchdown pass and eight interceptions in home playoff games.

Remember this:
The San Diego Chargers advanced to their only Super Bowl by winning the AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh 14 years ago.

Remember this:
The Steelers, who host the Chargers on Sunday, have failed to beat San Diego in two previous playoff games.

But remember this:
The Steelers are 11-1 at home in the divisional playoffs; and this is a division playoff game.

Steelers 17, Chargers 13

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

West Coast college football better than perceived

West Coast college football wasn’t so bad after all this year, was it?

The knock on elite teams such as USC and Utah was that they played inferior talent out west.

So let’s take a look for a minute:

The Pac-10 finished 5-0 in bowl games, proving USC played a very tough schedule.
Utah is the only undefeated team left; thanks to its Sugar Bowl win over an Alabama team that was one victory from the BCS championship tilt.

USC was denied a BCS title shot based on its Pac-10 schedule. But since those Pac-10 teams are 5-0 in bowl games, doesn’t that have some meaning in the aftermath?

Oklahoma is in the title game based on its “tough” Big 12 schedule.

But when you look at it, the Sooners’ best wins this year were against Texas Tech (loser to Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl) and Oklahoma State (loser to Oregon of the Pac-10 in the Holiday Bowl.)

The best team Oklahoma beat which went on to win a bowl game turned out to be Missouri, which had to go overtime to defeat Northwestern in a no-name bowl.

So much for the argument about Oklahoma’s superior schedule/competition in the Big 12.

The obvious answer is a BCS playoff, where teams like USC can prove (or disprove) their strength.

One can only hope Oklahoma doesn’t lose the BCS championship to Florida, or it will be another knock on the supposed invincibility of the Big 12.

Florida 38, Oklahoma 34

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Chargers seek to create more history

Let’s go back to a couple history lessons.

We all know that the Chargers:

Were the first team ever to start a season 0-4 and make the playoffs (1992)
Are the only team ever to start 4-8 and make the playoffs (2008)
Are the only team ever to win a division after being three games back with three to play (2008)

Now, can the Chargers write even more history?

If the Chargers and Baltimore Ravens both win in the coming weekend, the Chargers will be the first fourth-seeded team ever to host an AFC (or NFC) Championship.

The Ravens play Saturday afternoon at Tennessee; the Chargers on Sunday afternoon at Pittsburgh.

If they both win, they become the first No. 4 vs. No. 6 seeded teams to meet for a conference championship ... not the mention the Chargers would be the first 8-8 regular season team ever to host a title game.

The chances of it happening are about as big as Darren Sproles, but no offensive player had a better weekend.

With a lot of luck, it could be Ravens at Chargers on Jan. 18 to decided the AFC representative in the Super Bowl.
And by the way, if you have tickets for the Jan. 17 Monster Jam at Qualcomm Stadium, you might think about alternate plans that night.

The event could be postponed due to an AFC Championship Game the next day!

Friday, January 2, 2009

History says Chargers are in trouble

Before the Chargers and Indianapolis Colts meet in the wild card playoffs Saturday night, let’s take a little history lesson.

The Chargers started out the 1995 season with a 4-7 record, only to win their last five games and make the playoffs.

(Sound similar to making this year’s playoffs after starting 4-8 and winning four straight?)

Back on New Year’s Eve 1995, the Chargers and Colts met in the wild card round of the playoffs in San Diego.

Led by a quarterback named Jim Harbaugh, the Colts easily disposed of the Chargers, 35-20.

Now that the task is to beat Colts QB and three-time MVP Peyton Manning, the Chargers probably won’t have it any easier than in 1995.

But this time, at least they should make it closer.

Colts 27, Chargers 23