Friday, July 31, 2009

Cheating is fine; if you're on the home team

So here we go again.

Now we discover that the Boston Red Sox first World Series title in 86 years was tainted when they won in 2004.

Surprise, surprise … David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were among the 104 major league players listed as having tested positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2003.

Does that diminish Boston’s championships in 2004 and 2007 with these guys on the team?

If you’re a Red Sox fan, absolutely not. If you’re a fan of someone else, of course it tarnishes the accomplishment.

Funny, but it wasn’t so long ago that Red Sox fans were on the New York Yankees for having known cheaters such as Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi.

But failing a drug test is only a crime if you are not on the home team, according to the fans.

After all, Los Angeles Dodgers fans couldn’t figure out why San Francisco Giants followers cheered cheater Barry Bonds. Now those same Dodgers fans support Ramirez … because it’s OK to cheat if you’re on the home team.

Mark McGwire will always be a hero in St. Louis; same with Sammy Sosa in Chicago.

And the list goes on.

Lesson learned? Society has taught us to cheer for cheaters … as long as they wear the uniform of our home team.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies: The rich getting richer?

Are the rich – the Philadelphia Phillies – getting richer, or what?

Don’t forget that these guys are already the defending World Series champions. And don’t forget that they already have World Series MVP Cole Hamels at the top of their pitching rotation.

Now that they didn't get Roy Halladay from Toronto, they have traded for 2008 American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians. (And this, without giving up top young pitching prospects A.J. Happ or Kyle Drabek.)

Can you imagine Hamels and Lee, both left-handers, at the top of your rotation? Wow! Add lefties Jamie Moyer and Happ to this rotation and you truly have a top starting four for the playoffs.

And that’s not to mention Pedro Martinez pitching in the minor leagues for the Phils. If he turns out to be half the Pedro he used to be, what an exclamation point that would be.

Then there’s the Phillies lineup that leads off with Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Jason Werth. Nobody other than the Los Angeles Dodgers comes close to have a better top-six batters in the NL.

Already, the Phillies have a major-league best record of 19-5 in July. And that’s without the pitching help that is on the way.

Now that Lee has wound up in Philadelphia, that could seal the deal on a second straight World Series title.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Terrell Owens needs to keep his mouth shut: Again!

Terrell Owens is an idiot; but nobody needed to tell you that about the Buffalo Bills new wide receiver.

Just ask any of his past QBs going back to Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Tony Romo or others.

His latest (stupid) comment involves whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will suspend Michael Vick any additional games following his 23-month prison term.

“It's almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground,” Owens said without thinking straight.

Well, let’s consider the facts. If not for a bunch of dead dogs in the ground thanks to Vick and his dog-fighting ring, the former Atlanta Falcons QB wouldn’t be in this situation.

Owens further went on to say that Goodell should serve 23 months in prison and suffer to see what it was like for poor Michael Vick.

Excuse me? Are we missing that fact that Vick had reason to serve in prison; Goodell does not?

If we start sending people to prison just to see what it’s like, imagine what that will do for our already overcrowded prisons.

This is not a judgment on whether Goodell should further suspend Vick. That’s his call.

This is simply a commentary on why so many people/teams have tired of Owens. Stay tuned Buffalo; you’re next!

Friday, July 24, 2009

'Name That Padre:' What a joke!

Now for the newest joke of a game show in town, we have “Name That Padre.”

This is a game that Florida Marlins television announcers Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton were playing during Tuesday’s night’s Marlins-San Diego Padres game.

“It was one of Bob Barker’s earlier shows,” Hutton said with a laugh in between emails on the “Late Night with the Fish” telecast.

Yes, it’s even come to that now. Visiting announcers are laughing at the Padres … and rightfully so. What else are you supposed to do with a team that has lost 17 of its last 20 games and is 13-36 since a 10-game winning streak in May?

Waltz and Hutton were justifiably amused by some of the names that Padres had on their roster during their “Name That Padre” running commentary.

Everth Cabrera? Joe Thatcher? Mike Ekstrom? Luis Perdomo? Jose Lobaton?

Sorry, those were among the group of characters on the Padres roster that were amusing to the Marlins’ broadcasters … and the Florida team on the field that swept three straight games in San Diego.

And now we hear that the Padres have laid off 13 front-office employees.

Too bad they can’t lay off at least a similar numbers of players at this point.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

San Diego prep football goes dark on local TV

Word on the street has it that Channel 4 San Diego is not going to be televising weekly local high school football games this fall.

That’s really too bad; but understandable in today’s economy when sponsors are hard to come by for anything.

The San Diego Section CIF games have had a great run over the past three years on Channel 4.

In Season One, they were televised live on Thursday nights.

In Season Two, the telecasts were live on Friday nights.

Last year, in Season Three, the games were shown on tape delay Saturdays at noon.

Alternative one was the best, showing the games on Thursdays when there was no competition.

On Friday nights, most people who cared were already at a game. On Saturdays, people weren’t going to miss a live USC or UCLA game for a taped prep contest.

Here’s hoping that in a better economy, the TV games can return in 2010.

And here’s wishing that the CIF finals will continue to be televised … as they were even in the seasons preceding the weekly telecasts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Roy Halladay could take many teams to World Series

If the Los Angeles Dodgers can trade for Roy Halladay, go ahead and pencil them in for the World Series.

It’s pretty much ditto for the Philadelphia Phillies, Anaheim Angels, Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees.

If you had one game to win in MLB and could pick any pitcher, Halladay would be the guy to take.

But to get Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays before the trading deadline of July 31, any team will have to give plenty to get him.

Would the Dodgers give up 21-year-old pitcher Clayton Kershaw, already called by some the next Sandy Koufax?

Would the Phillies trade young pitching phenom Kyle Drabek, among others?

Do the injury-plagued Angels have enough of a package to offer?

How about the Red Sox trading top young pitching prospect Clay Buchholz?

What kind of a package could the Yankees put together?

It would be surprising to see Toronto trade Halladay within the AL East to New York or Boston. In fact, Red Sox Manager Terry Francona would just as soon see Halladay in the National League … unless he goes to Boston.

Consider Francona’s comments after Halladay pitched a complete-game six-hitter to defeat the Red Sox on Sunday, 3-1.

“I stand by what I said the other day,” Francona joked. “They should have traded him the other day, and to a National League team.”

The Dodgers or Phillies would certainly be OK by that.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cheating doesn't matter ... if player is on your team

First of all, Steve McNair did not deserve to be murdered.

Nobody deserves such a fate from his girlfriend while lying on the couch.

The sad reality of McNair’s death concerns the circumstances surrounding it.

Now we find out that McNair had perhaps as many as three girlfriends; the one who killed him thought he was breaking off their relationship because of another one.

And as we all know, McNair was married with four kids.

It appears a majority of people in Tennessee could care less about McNair’s lifestyle because he was a great football player.

If you succeed on the field, local fans turn a blind eye to what you do off the field.

No wonder San Francisco Giants fans supported (suspected) steroids user Barry Bonds. No wonder Los Angeles Dodgers fans are backing Manny Ramirez after a 50-game, drug-related suspension.

Cheating – whether it’s with drugs or infidelity with women – doesn’t seem to matter if you are a sports hero.

Take former NFL running back Travis Henry. He has nine kids with nine different women (married to none) and has now been sentenced to three years in prison for financing a drug trafficking operation that moved cocaine between Colorado and Montana.

Recently, we learned from former North County Times sportswriter Mike Sullivan that Antonio Cromartie of the San Diego Chargers has seven kids (all under age 5) by five different women. He’s not married or engaged to any.

Cromartie was a hero in 2007; a bust in 2008 because of a hip injury. With his off the field activities, he’s obviously distracted in more ways than one.

Like all others, Cromartie puts on his pants one leg at a time. From now on, hopefully he’ll keep his pants on … both on the field and off!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

San Diego Padres should give Drew Macias a shot

Did you know that the San Diego Padres have a player with a .667 slugging percentage and an on base percentage of .435?

No, it’s not Adrian Gonzalez, Tony Gwynn or anybody else on the current major-league roster.

The man with the big stats and big bat is outfielder Drew Macias, who’s currently playing for the Triple-A Portland Beavers.

So, why, might you ask, would the Padres have a player with such potential in the minor leagues?

That’s a good question … without a good answer.

Sure, the left-handed hitting Macias has a very small sample this year with 18 official MLB at bats and five walks (not a bad percentage, walking more than 20 percent of the time.)

What’s really of note is that Macias has four doubles and one home run in those 18 at bats; meaning he has gotten an extra base hit in nearly 30 percent of his at bats.

OK, these aren’t nearly enough at bats to judge Macias; so why not give him a try to find out for sure if he’s for real?

The Padres currently have youngsters Will Venable and Kyle Blanks playing in the outfield … at least part-time. Neither has exactly set the work on fire, fitting in with the rest of the downtrodden team.

Macias did set the world on fire earlier this season. So why not see if he can do it again on what has turned into MLB’s worst hitting team?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Los Angeles Dodgers are MLB's best team

How about those Dodgers?

Not only do the Los Angeles Dodgers have MLB’s best record (56-32) at the All-Star break; second-place San Francisco in the NL West leads the wild card chase by two games.

Translated: The Dodgers are nine games in front of the competition for a berth in the 2009 playoffs.

This is a team that can be truly characterized as a “team,” since more than one individual is leading the way.

After all, the Dodgers went 29-21 when Manny Ramirez was on his 50-game drug suspension.

Can you imagine the St. Louis Cardinals going 29-21 without Albert Pujols?

Perhaps the best indication of the Dodgers’ depth is that Juan Pierre – Ramirez’s replacement during his suspension – is the team’s No. 4 outfielder. On any other team in the NL West, Pierre would probably be playing everyday and batting leadoff.

If the Dodgers have a weakness, it is their starting rotation’s inability to go deep into the game (they are second in the league in bullpen innings pitched.)

Chad Billingsley has emerged as the ace and proven to be capable of going 7-8 innings. After him, you rarely get more than 5-6 innings out of Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf or Clayton Kershaw.

The Dodgers would love to get American League All-Star starter Roy Halladay as their ace, but the asking price of Billingsley or Kershaw is too high.

So, General Manager Ned Colletti will likely fill the void by adding a relief pitcher.

How does Manager Joe Torre grade his team at this point?

“Incomplete,” he told the Associated Press after Sunday’s 7-4 win vs. the Milwaukee Brewers. “That's the only thing I can give it at this point because the back half, just like in golf the back nine, is the toughest one to play. We're going to have to go out there and continue to live up to ourselves.”

Don’t be surprised if the Dodgers have a Tiger Woods-like back nine.

Friday, July 10, 2009

San Francisco Giants: Comeback team of the year?

There’s no doubt that Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants should start for the National League in the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday in St. Louis.

Not only is Lincecum the reigning NL Cy Young award winner, he also:

Leads the league in winning percentage (.833)
Is tied for the lead in wins (10)
Ranks second in ERA (2.33)

Lincecum and All-Star teammate Main Cain certainly form the league’s best 1-2 duo.

Don’t be surprised if they lead the Giants to the wild card berth (finishing behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.)

After them, San Francisco’s starting rotation isn’t that shabby.

Despite currently being on the DL, Randy Johnson has shown he still has something left at the age of 45.

Barry Zito isn’t worth anything near his $18 million annual contract for each of seven seasons, but he is pitching well enough to be a factor in the Giants’ success again.

These four could provide the Giants with a formidable rotation if/when they make the playoffs.

Considering San Francisco hasn’t finished better over the past four seasons than 75-87 in 2005, it could be called the “comeback team of the year.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

San Diego Padres hurting on, off the field

Pity the poor San Diego Padres.

Not only will they probably have MLB’s worst record over the second half of the season; they also have more than half of their payroll on the disabled list.

And that’s not good for an organizational that cut its payroll to $45 million this year (second lowest in the majors.)

The Padres have $25.475 million sitting on the DL in:

Pitcher Jake Peavy, $11 million
Outfielder Brian Giles, $9 million
Pitcher Chris Young $4.625 million, and
Second baseman David Eckstein, $850,000

And that’s not to mention three others who have been out all (or virtually all) season costing another $1.679 million:

Outfielder Cliff Floyd, $750,000
Pitcher Shawn Hill, $500,000, and
Pitcher Cha Seung Baek, $429,000

All told, these seven veterans are costing the Padres about 60 percent of their payroll for not even playing.

The Padres also traded away their second-best hitter in Scott Hairston ($1.25 million) this week in a further salary dump.

Sadly, this is a team whose only direction seems down … on and off the field.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pitching is best in NL West

You may not have noticed because of the East Coast media bias, but …

Did you see where seven of the 13 National League All-Star pitchers are from the NL West?

Without a doubt, the best overall pitching in MLB resides in the NL West.

For proof, check out the All-Star pitchers from the division:

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres: Leads the NL with 23 saves. Anybody in San Diego still think he can’t replace Trevor Hoffman?

Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers: Among four pitchers tied for second in the league with nine wins.

Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers: Leads all MLB relievers with 65 strikeouts, averaging near 15 strikeouts per nine innings.

Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants: Tied with teammate Tim Lincecum for the NL’s best winning percentage (.818) with a 9-2 record and third in the league in ERA (2.48)

Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks: His 2.16 ERA leads the league; and he’s even 8-5 with an Arizona team that is 25-44 when he doesn’t figure in the decision.

Tim Lincecum, Giants: The 2008 NL Cy Young winner is tied with teammate Cain for best NL winning percentage and is second in ERA (2.23).

Jason Marquis, Colorado Rockies: OK, how many of you actually know that Marquis is tied for the major-league lead with 10 wins?

There’s no question that pitching is best in the NL West.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fourth of July: Celebrate 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. Here’s how it begins:


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.

Let’s just hope our government always remembers that it is working for the advancement of people … and not vice versa!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Adrian Gonzalez: Superstar in the making

Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres is only fourth in the National League balloting for All-Star Game first basemen.


If Gonzalez (a) played in a big market and (b) played in a smaller ballpark … you could make an argument that he’s the best player in baseball.

Thanks to Marc Normandin of Baseball Prospectus, here are some interesting statistics on how Gonzalez is held back by playing in huge Petco Park.

Through June, Gonzalez had 24 homers and 48 RBI. If he were playing elsewhere:

He would have 30 home runs and 57 RBI at Coors Field in Colorado. He would have 30 HRs and 58 RBI at the new Yankee Stadium in New York.

Not only that, pitchers have basically stopped pitching to Gonzalez because he is surrounded by such a weak lineup in San Diego.

He has walked nearly 20 percent of the time this season … a rate that keeps increasing monthly.

On top of it all, he is superb defensively at first base.

Gonzalez may not get much attention nationally, but he’d be touted as a superstar if he performed for ESPN’s favorite teams including the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets.