Friday, May 29, 2009

Padres sure know how to get other managers fired

Say this about the San Diego Padres:

They sure know how to be involved in the timing of somebody else’s manager being fired.

Back on May 7, the Padres hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks in an afternoon game. D-backs Manager Bob Melvin was out of work by that evening.

Now the Padres are in Colorado for a three-game weekend series vs. the Rockies.

Say goodbye to Colorado Manager Clint Hurdle.

Melvin’s undoing was never having a safe lead due to a horrible bullpen. (Just ask current manager A.J. Hinch.)

Hurdle raised expectations too high in Colorado with an amazing run at the end of the 2007 season that took the Rockies to the World Series. (Hey, they were never as good as that fluke of a three-week stretch.)

As for the Padres, they’ve done a magnificent job of saving the hide of their own manager … Bud Black.

His occupation was on the line from the beginning of 2009 with a contract that expires after this season and a team expected to do poorly this season.

Who would have ever thought that Black would outlast both Melvin and Hurdle?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why are A Rod, Manny potential 2009 All Stars?

Alex Rodriguez is third in the American League All-Star voting at third base.

Manny Ramirez is fourth among National League outfielders in the voting.

So much for whether a person’s drug usage has an impact on how the fans feel ... at least when they vote.

There’s more reason than drug history not to vote for either player.

A Rod did not even begin his season with the New York Yankees until May 10 due to hip surgery in March.

Ramirez has not played for the Los Angeles Dodgers since May 6 because he is serving his 50-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Apparently, a guy (A Rod) can play 2 ½ weeks after an offseason plagued by questions about past drug involvement, yet still be considered an “All-Star.”

Or a guy (Manny) – who won’t even be eligible to come back till 11 days before the All-Star game – is still considered a “star” by many. (And considering Manager Joe Torre will send him to the minors for at least a week upon his return, Manny may not even be in the majors at the All-Star break.)

What keeps fans voting for these two guys?

Either they don’t know any better … or that’s the way it goes in New York and Los Angeles.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tragic Nick Madaras story lives on through soccer balls in Iraq

If you didn’t get a chance to watch ESPN SportsCenter over the Memorial Day weekend, you missed one of the saddest/most heart-warming stories ever.

Army Pfc. Nicholas Madaras was only 19 years old when he was killed by a bomb while on foot patrol in Iraq in September 2006.

His tragic story lives on by the thousands of soccer balls that have been delivered to Iraqi children in his name.

Check out his story on ESPN, but make sure you have a Kleenex or handkerchief to wipe your tears:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day: Never forget our TRUE heroes!

As we celebrate Memorial Day, let’s not forget what this holiday is all about and why we continue to live in a free country.

Without the sacrifices of millions of men and women over history who have given their lives for our country, we would not enjoy the freedoms we have today.

If you’re watching a baseball game or any other sporting event, just remember that we wouldn’t even have these pleasures without those who have selflessly laid down their lives for our country.

It doesn't matter if your favorite team is the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres or Los Angeles Dodgers for that matter ... please, always remember this:

Memorial Day used to be a solemn day of mourning, a sacred day of remembrance to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Businesses closed for the day. Towns held parades honoring the fallen, the parade routes oftentimes ending at a local cemetery, where Memorial Day speeches were given and prayers offered up. People took the time that day to clean and decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those the fell in service to their country.
"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic." -- General Logan - May 5, 1868

We need to remember with sincere respect those who paid the price for our freedoms; we need to keep in sacred remembrance those who died serving their country. We need to never let them be forgotten.

May God continue to bless America.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memories of the 1984 San Diego Padres

The team’s best defensive left fielder played second base. A man made for first base played left field.

Those were just a couple of the spring training decisions by Manager Dick Williams that helped lead the San Diego Padres to their first National League championship in 1984.

Certainly, when people think back on that season, they recall Steve Garvey hitting the home run off Lee Smith to send the NL Championship Series vs. the Chicago Cubs to a deciding Game 5.

Then they will flash back to Tim Flannery’s ground ball going between the legs of Cubs first baseman Leon Durham, which propelled the Padres to a decisive 6-3 win over Rick Sutcliffe … who finished with a 16-1 record and the NL Cy Young that year.

Another “memory” is the Aug. 12 game at Atlanta, when Braves pitcher Pascual Perez started a war by hitting Alan Wiggins with the game’s first pitch. It led to 16 players being ejected; and ultimately, Williams receiving a 10-game suspension for having each of his pitchers throw at Perez.

(What most don’t remember is that the game was delayed 90 minutes at the start by heavy rain at a very humid Fulton County Stadium.)

A majority … especially those of us who were there … will remember Detroit “fans” tipping over police cars and breaking windows of nearby businesses after the Tigers beat the Padres in the fifth and deciding game of the World Series.

But the little things that few can recall are what really showed that the 1984 season was meant for the Padres.

It began with Wiggins, the team’s speedy leadoff batter and presumed left fielder, moving to second base. In turn, rookie Carmelo Martinez (a natural first baseman) was moved to left field because Steve Garvey was at first.

Williams also decided in spring training that closer Goose Gossage would start the ninth inning rather than come into the game with men on base; a unique concept in 1984.

As it turned out, all of the unusual decisions by Williams were charms. But Williams was no charmer; wearing out his welcome in San Diego when he walked out on the Padres the first day of spring training in 1986.

Memories. They never get old; especially when recalling the little things that made the 1984 season such a big thing for the Padres.

And you can re-live those moments when the Padres honor their 1984 NL champions before Saturday night’s game vs. the Cubbies at Petco Park.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MLB pitcher once went 16 shutout innings without a win

Back when MLB players made normal salaries and were normal people, starting pitchers were abnormal in the amount of innings they worked.

A complete game was expected; compared to today’s babied pitchers who are considered heroes if they work seven innings.

But, hey, that’s what huge salaries will do to you.

In fact, did you know that Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants pitched 16 shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 1, 1967 at Crosley Field?

And Perry did not even get credit for the win! It took the Giants 21 innings to win, 1-0, as Frank Linzy was credited with the victory for working five shutout innings of relief.

Perry faced 59 batters, struck out 12 and had the option of retiring from the game earlier.

“After the 14th inning, my favorite manager, Herman Franks, said: 'How are you feeling?' I said, 'Herman, I have two more innings in me, then I'm going to the clubhouse,” Perry commented, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum.

Nowadays, not only do pitchers rarely go seven innings; they rarely stay healthy. Consider for a moment how many pitchers have been injured on your favorite team this season.

Chris Welsh, the outstanding color analyst for the Reds on FOX Sports Ohio, recently questioned the number of oblique injuries these days as he noted how pitchers are bigger and stronger (presumably through weight training.)

“Are these pitchers too strong for their own good?” he wondered. “That’s a question you have to ask.”

Great question. Hopefully, someone will come up with an answer just as good.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Reds, Padres Make-A-Wish Come True

The Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres were able to Make-A-Wish come true for a young man from Ohio over the weekend.

Garth Shanklin of Williamsburg, Ohio was guest of the Reds and Padres during their game Friday night at Petco Park in San Diego.

And what a night it was for Garth, his parents Pamela and David, and his younger brother, Timmy.

Garth, 16, was presented with a Reds jersey with his name on the back that was autographed by all of the Cincinnati team while he was on the field for batting practice before the game.

What’s more, Garth was able to visit Reds TV announcers Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh during the game. Garth called the play-by-play during the top of the third inning on FOX Sports Ohio, earning accolades from both of his broadcast “partners.”

There was a light moment when Thom asked Garth what he thought of San Diego. Garth replied that San Diego is much better than Cincinnati because it has nicer weather … drawing laughter from his partners.

Since 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work. The Foundation's mission reflects the life-changing impact that a Make-A-Wish® experience has on children, families, referral sources, donors, sponsors and entire communities.

A network of nearly 25,000 volunteers enables the Make-A-Wish Foundation to serve these children with life-threatening medical conditions. Volunteers serve as wish granters, fundraisers, special events assistants and in numerous other capacities.

For more information, visit

Friday, May 15, 2009

MLB's 'greats' will never make Hall of Fame

First, Pete Rose became MLB’s all-time career hits leader with 4,256.

Then, Roger Clemens became the first pitcher ever to win seven Cy Young awards.

Finally, Barry Bonds became the all-time career home run king with 762.

Besides being all-time leaders, what else do these baseball “greats” have in common?

None of the three will ever make the Baseball Hall of Fame.

You can bet Rose will never get there due to his gambling on MLB games.

Clemens and Bonds not only are career leaders; they are also among the “leaders” in the clubhouse of those being exposed as probable cheats due to suspected drug usage.

It’s too bad that the modern era of MLB is so tainted. It’s even worse that perhaps the three finest players of their respective eras will never make the Hall of Fame.

But this is not a case for them getting there: In each instance, keeping them out of the Hall is justified.

What’s worse is that Alex Rodriguez may be the one to break Bonds’ record. And he’s certainly among the top … if not the top … cheaters of today.

On top of it all, Rose is already petitioning for A Rod to make the Hall of Fame despite the New York Yankees third baseman’s admitted drug usage.

“I'm willing to give a guy a second chance,” Rose said in an interview on “The Dan Patrick Show.” He later went on to say that steroid use is worse than someone such as himself betting on his own team to win.

No matter what, cheaters will be cheaters.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Roy Oswalt, Jake Peavy share lack of results

Roy Oswalt and Jake Peavy are the best of buddies.

This MLB season, they also share something else in common … lack of success.

Oswalt is having a subpar season for the Houston Astros. Peavy is performing even worse for the San Diego Padres.

So? Don’t expect to see them as teammates on the National League’s All-Star team.

Oswalt is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA; his only win coming in a 12-5 decision over the hapless Padres last Sunday.

Peavy is merely 2-5 with a 4.30 ERA.

For Oswalt, a slow start typifies not himself; but the way his Astros have performed the last several years. They always seem to be slow starters who make a move toward the top too late in the season.

Peavy’s fate could be even worse for the Padres, who are trying to rid his $11 million salary this season to go from a $43 million payroll to below a team-mandated $40 million payroll.

The primary trade partners are considered to be the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs. As Peavy struggles, each team must also struggle in determining just how much it is willing to surrender for Peavy and a three-year, $52 million contract.

It just so happened that Peavy pitched Tuesday in Chicago, so his status was a hot topic after his 6-2 loss to the Cubs. He told respected writer Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“With all the speculation, yeah, I thought I might be pitching in Chicago. Obviously, I approved a trade, so I thought about it and certainly felt this was a place that would be fun and interesting to play. I've been coming here six, seven years. Great atmosphere. Great city. Great team. So I thought about it over the winter.”

As the Padres continue to plummet, Peavy better start thinking again about where his next address will be.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why would those who booed Barry Bonds cheer Manny Ramirez?

Los Angeles Dodgers fans were among the most vocal in booing Barry Bonds for his suspected drug usage later in his baseball career.

Now those same fans are going to cheer Manny Ramirez when he returns from his 50-game drug suspension in July.

More than a little contradictory?

You bet.

As much as we all hated Bonds for good reason, there’s reason to wonder why Dodger fans will cheer Manny upon his return.

After all, these are the same fans who couldn’t understand why San Francisco Giants faithful always cheered Bonds despite his reported drug usage, being a jerk, etc.

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times wrote a great column on this topic recently.

Check it out:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny Being Manny? Dodgers schedule favorable without him

Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension brings up an interesting point for teams attempting to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

After the San Francisco Giants play a three-game series this weekend in LA, remaining NL Worst teams won’t be able to beat (or lose) to the Dodgers for quite awhile head-to-head.

The Dodgers have 12 straight games out of the division before a three-game series at Colorado, then it’s four games at the Chicago Cubs before LA comes back home to host the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game series.

In all, the Dodgers will play only 14 of their 50 games sans Manny vs. the NL West.

So, how’s that for scheduling? (Could be tough on the Dodgers, since they seem to play much better vs. the NL West.)

Even before the Manny situation, the MLB schedule was once again quite bizarre.

After all, the Giants play six games in LA the first five weeks of the season vs. their fierce rivals. In the final 21 weeks, the Giants only come to Dodgers Stadium once again on Sept. 11-13.

In fact, after the teams play Sept. 18-20 in San Francisco, they don’t even meet again during the final two weeks of the season. How’s that for head-to-head competition between arguably the two best teams in the NL West?

Last season, the Dodgers played nine September games against the weak San Diego Padres … winning seven.

Any wonder why the Dodgers won the NL West?

This time, western division teams will still be seeing Manny a vast majority of the time that they play the Dodgers.

And that may not be good for anybody trying to catch the runaway Dodgers without Manny until he returns July 3 in … of all places … San Diego.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brett Favre needs to stay retired

Brett Favre needs to call it quits for good.

Now, we’re hearing that he could make a comeback with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009.

Say it’s not so, Brett!

Favre should simply have let his Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers stand on its own.

Last season, he faded down the stretch … which is why his New York Jets faded out of the playoff picture and cost coach Eric Mangini his job.

That’s a good indicator Favre is no longer up to playing a 16-game season.

In addition, more than one of his Jets teammates talked about how Favre was elusive and aloof all season.

What would make a year with Minnesota any different?

Oh, sure, Favre could get overly fired up to twice play the Packers (and Green Bay players would be the same toward him.)

But two games do not a season … or a comeback … make.

Favre was one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He should keep it that way; not go out the way Willie Mays did so unfortunately in MLB.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Los Angeles Dodgers may be MLB's best team

One month does not a season make; but it sure makes the Los Angeles Dodgers look awfully good.

In fact, could the Dodgers be the best team in MLB right now?

They have already set a team record with a 10-0 start at home ... which is quite impressive considering how impressive the Dodgers have been over the past several decades.

Is there any stopping them?

Certainly not in the weak NL West. By August, the Dodgers should be setting up their playoff pitching rotation.

And that's where things could get interesting.

The Dodgers are off to their great start despite Opening Day starter Hiroki Kuroda being injured since Game 1.

Chad Billingsley, the only five-game winner in the NL, looks like a world beater. And the Dodgers will definitely go get an ace before the trading deadline.

It may not seem like much that the Dodgers just swept four games vs. the lowly San Diego Padres. But consider it was the first time LA ever swept a four-game home game series vs. the Padres, who have given the Dodgers fits over the years.

The Dodgers won easily Sunday while resting regulars Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake and Russell Martin.

Put it this way: Any team with Blake batting No. 8 must be pretty darn good. He'd be batting No. 5 on numerous teams.

Watch out for those Dodgers!

Friday, May 1, 2009

MLB pitchers not built like they used to be

Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitched a complete game shutout in deciding Game 7 on two days rest in the 1965 World Series.

Mark Fidrych of the Detroit Tigers pitched 24 complete games in 29 starts in 1976.

Randy Jones of the San Diego Padres pitched 25 complete games in the same season.

Yes, it used to be that a starting pitcher was considered to have a successful outing if he pitched a complete game every four days.

Then why is it that now, a pitcher is believed to have done his job if he works six innings every fifth day?

And on top of that, why do so many starting pitchers get injured nowadays?

Consider the staff aces that couldn’t even make it through the second week of the 2009 season without going on the disabled list:

Among them are Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox, Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Hiroki Kuroda of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Then there is World Series MVP Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies, whose first start was pushed back five days due to injury and hasn’t exactly been lighting things up since.

Lone gone are the days of players signing one-year contracts.

But one has to wonder: Would pitchers (and many hitters for that matter) be much more productive if they were paid year-by-year based on what they did the previous season?

Just asking …