Friday, April 2, 2010

Phillies to win World Series?


For the record, here are our predictions for the 2010 Major League Baseball season:

NL West
Colorado
Los Angeles
San Francisco
San Diego
Arizona

NL Central
St. Louis
Milwaukee
Cincinnati
Chicago
Houston
Pittsburgh

NL East
Philadelphia
Atlanta
Florida
New York
Washington

AL West
Texas
Anaheim
Seattle
Oakland

AL Central
Minnesota
Chicago
Detroit
Cleveland
Kansas City

AL East
Boston
New York
Tampa Bay
Baltimore
Toronto

NL Wild Card: Los Angeles
AL Wild Card: New York
World Series: Philadelphia over Boston

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lack of character prevails in the NFL


Let’s say you are the Cincinnati Bengals and are desperate for a wide receiver to play opposite Chad Ochocinco.

Do you go after Brandon Marshall? Terrell Owens? Antonio Bryant?

The numbers say Marshall or Owens. The attitude says none of the three.

Sure, Marshall had 101 receptions for 1,120 yards and 10 TDs for the Denver Broncos last season. But do you really want a spoiled brat who started training camp by kicking a football away from a ball boy and ended in his team’s doghouse?

Owens did have 55 catches for 849 yards and 5 TDs for the Buffalo Bills. Yet with his diminishing skills and me-first attitude, do you really want him?

Bryant had 39 catches for 600 yards and 4 TDs last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yet this is a guy who has already talked his way out of three cities.

Perhaps the Bengals should keep looking for a “team” player with less ability … but a better attitude.

On the character issue, how about the latest from the San Diego Chargers?

Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune (who kisses up every chance possible to Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith) suggests the Chargers got rid of Antonio Cromartie due to his “lack of character.”

That being the case, how do the Chargers keep wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who has two driving under the influence (DUI) convictions in three years … among other things?

Perhaps “lack of character” gets overlooked if you are producing. Otherwise, Jackson would be going down the road with Cromartie.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chargers are a team in transition


For a team that won their last 11 regular-season games, the San Diego Chargers sure seem to be in transition.

After losing their first playoff game to the New York Jets, the Chargers are tearing apart their roster … as if the window is slamming on their Super Bowl chances.

Although Darren Sproles will be back, they need an every-down running back to replace LaDainian Tomlinson.

Jamal Williams, the stalwart of their defense for many years, needs to be replaced at nose tackle.

Kassim Osgood, the All-Pro special teams’ player, will be off to different pastures.

Brandon Manumaleuna, the steady back-up tight end, is off to the Chicago Bears.

Then there’s the question if Antoine Cason can replace Antonio Cromartie (traded to the New York Jets) as a starting cornerback.

Suddenly, the Chargers aren’t so strong at right tackle, tight end and running back depth, the defensive line, the secondary, and special teams.

Luckily, thanks to the NFL collective bargaining agreement, at least they won’t lose linebacker Shawne Merriman, receivers Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson or left tackle Marcus McNeill to free agency before the 2010 season.

The Chargers appear weaker … but remember … they reside in the NFL’s weakest division with Denver, Kansas City and Oakland.

That traditionally makes their path to the playoffs much easier.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chargers' Cromartie headed to New York Jets?


So you think the San Diego Chargers are going to trade cornerback Antonio Cromartie to the Detroit Lions?

Not so fast!

Clark Judge, the great writer for cbssports.com, says Cromartie may be headed to the New York Jets.

Yes, the same Jets who stunned the Chargers and knocked them out of the playoffs. Yes, the same Jets’ whose Shonn Greene made a 53-yard TD run vs. the Chargers because Cromartie pulled up when he was about to make a hit on Greene.

The Jets must be thinking they will get the Cromartie of 2007 who had 10 interceptions, made the Pro Bowl and returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a TD.

By doing so, they overlook the Cromartie with seven kids in six different states … and who has been a failure on the field the past two years.

If Cromartie returns to his 2007 form, imagine what the Jets would be like. Darrelle Revis of New York is already the best cornerback in the NFL.

As Judge so rightly points out, the Jets like to make a splash before each season.

A year ago they traded for Cleveland's first pick and turned it into Mark Sanchez. The year before they traded for Brett Favre. Making bold moves is nothing new for them, and coach Rex Ryan last week said he was open to “anything that can help us get better.”

Could Cromartie be next on their radar?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Padres' Gonzalez a future White Sox player?


So now, Jake Peavy is making a pitch for his Chicago White Sox to obtain first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from Peavy’s former team, the San Diego Padres.

Not a bad way for Peavy to try to make his voice heard during his first spring training with the White Sox.

Chicago could use Gonzalez, who most certainly will be gone from the low-budget Padres before his contract expires after the 2011 season.

The White Sox lack a big left-handed hitter, which is where Gonzalez and his 40 home runs/99 RBI from last season could fit in. (He was also walked 119 times last season as opponents habitually pitched around him in a weak San Diego lineup.)

The question concerns what the White Sox would be willing to give in return for Gonzalez.

Speculation has it they would be OK with trading power-hitting third baseman Gordon Beckham, who had 14 home runs and 63 RBI in 103 games last season.

The last time San Diego and the Chisox made a trade last summer, Chicago gave up plenty to get 2007 Cy Young award winner Peavy.

San Diego received its current No. 4 starting pitcher Clayton Richard, along with probable future major-league pitchers Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell and Dexter Carter.

If the White Sox are willing to trade Beckham and a couple other so-called prospects, they could likely land Gonzalez.

But if Chicago is unwilling to deal Beckham, then it probably does not have enough prospects to make a Gonzalez trade worthwhile for the Padres.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dodgers fans will pay price to see Yankees


So if you live in Los Angeles and want to watch the Dodgers play Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and the New York Yankees this summer … you’re going to have to pay a big price.

Forget about buying single-game tickets when the Yankees come to Los Angeles on June 25-27.

If you’re a Dodgers (or Yankees) fan and want to watch the Bronx Bombers in LA, you’ll have to buy a 14-, 21-, or 28-game package to do so.

Ouch!

So much for the “average” fan getting to see the Yankees-Dodgers renew what once seemed like an annual World Series match-up in generations past.

The Dodgers anticipate selling out all three Yankees games via ticket packages. If tickets remain available, they'll be sold individually at a later date. Hey, buy your Yankees tickets now and at least you’ll get to see the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals come to town, lol.

This is similar to a ticket ploy of the San Diego Chargers several years ago when they used to lose regularly to the Oakland Raiders … instead of the Chargers now having won 13 straight against Oakland.

To keep the stadium from being comprised of primarily Raiders fans 10 or so years ago, the Chargers made people buy tickets to several other games besides Chargers-Raiders.

The Dodgers really don’t need much of an attendance boost from what they normally draw annually. But selling out the Yankees series will probably assure other sellouts this season.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tomlinson, Westbrook losses will be felt


Which team is going to miss its star running back more?

Will it be the San Diego Chargers without LaDainian Tomlinson, or the Philadelphia Eagles without Brian Westbrook?

Without a doubt, the vote here goes to the Chargers without LT.

The problem with San Diego is that it does not have any succession planning at running back. Darren Sproles, who split time with Tomlinson last season, will likely also leave the team because it would cost the Chargers more than $7 million to keep him.

So does that mean the Chargers will try to get by with Michael Bennett, Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester? For their sake, let’s hope not.

One thing the Chargers have in their favor is playing in an incredibly weak AFC West with Denver, Kansas City and Oakland.

The Cleveland Browns couldn’t win that division … and the Buffalo Bills might not be able to, either.

But 10 other AFC teams would certainly win the AFC West if they switched places with the Chargers. They include New England, the New York Jets, Miami, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville.

As for the Eagles, they must get along without Westbrook in the always-tough NFC East with Dallas, the New York Giants and Washington.

Westbrook missed half of last season with two concussions and an ankle injury. But at least the Eagles have done some succession planning.

LeSean McCoy was being groomed to replace Westbrook in 2011; now that process will need to speed up by a year. Even so, McCoy gives the Eagles more than the Chargers will have at running back if they lose Sproles.

Ironically, Tomlinson could very well end up signing with the Eagles. Wouldn’t it be something if the Super Bowl that he never realized in San Diego became a reality in Philadelphia?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Winter Olympics: Another 'Miracle on Ice' brewing?


“Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

We all remember those words from the legendary Al Michaels 30 years ago today.

If you were alive then, you most likely recall where you were that day when the United States stunned the world and the Soviet Union, 4-3, in the Winter Olympics men’s hockey competition at Lake Placid, N.Y.

Heck, the Soviets – a team of professionals – had not lost in the Olympics since 1968 and were surely considered the best team in the world. And the Americans, coached by Herb Brooks, were a team full of amateurs and college kids that had lost to the Soviets, 10-3, in an exhibition prior to the games.

American Mark Johnson scored a goal in the third period to tie the Olympics game, 3-3; and, with 10 minutes left, captain Mike Eruzione put the United States up, 4-3. Goalie Jim Craig held the lead as time wound down … and we heard Michaels’ famous call:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGACsSW4Iqw

So, now, could there be another Winter Olympics miracle brewing after the U.S. defeated a heavily favored Canadian team, 5-3, Sunday night in Vancouver?

Brian Rafalski has four goals in the entire NHL season … but he has two straight multi-goal games for the U.S. Goalie Ryan Miller stopped 42 shots by the Canadians after making 24 saves combined in the first two games.

Do you believe in another “Miracle on Ice” some 30 years later?

Why not?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods heads the class of sports cheaters


Tiger Woods … or should we call him Cheetah Woods … is certainly the leader of the pack when it comes to sports lowlifes.

He did nothing to change that impression with his somewhat emotional statement-reading Friday morning when he refused to answer questions.

Woods can’t take away the facts that he committed adultery with more than a dozen women; or paid millions of dollars to cover it up.

He did make a point when he told the media to leave his family alone. But sadly, when you’re a person of his stature, you bring it on yourself when you have multiple affairs on top of the fact you treated people poorly for years while you were on top of the world.

“I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you," Woods read from his statement. “I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position. I have a lot to atone for. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was unacceptable and I am the only person to blame.”

Give his wife, Elin, credit for not appearing in the room.

Woods is hardly alone when it comes to athletes and cheating.

How about former Denver Broncos running back Travis Henry with nine different kids by nine different women?

Or San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie with seven kids by six different women? And now he’s reportedly being sued for lack of child support by a woman who was his fiancĂ©e until Cromartie got somebody else pregnant while they were engaged.

Baseball?

You’ve seen and heard about the likes of Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez and Mark McGwire when it comes to another type of cheating … performance-enhancing substances.
McGwire (presumably) only came clean so that he could return to baseball as hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The sporting world is full of cheaters. Cheetah Woods is at the head of the class.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Are Chargers preparing to trade Cromartie to Dallas or Green Bay?


So now the San Diego Chargers are exploring to trade cornerback Antonio Cromartie for a running back, according to ESPN’s esteemed reporter Chris Mortensen.

Good luck getting much for Cromartie.

The youtube video of No. 31 Cromartie backing off a tackle of Shonn Greene in the past season’s playoffs certainly has damaged Cromartie’s reputation. All he had to do is put a hit on Greene and the New York Jets’ running back certainly would not have scored a 53-yard touchdown.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na4cE3m2Gwo

Cromartie had great value after a 2007 Pro Bowl season in which he intercepted 10 passes, as well as made all the highlight films on ESPN, etc. with a 109-yard touchdown return of a missed field goal vs. the Minnesota Vikings.

Since then, his career has taken a downward spiral culminated by his missed tackle vs. the Jets … not to mention much-publicized partying off the field (and the fact he has seven kids by five different women.)

The Chargers could trade with the Dallas Cowboys, who are overloaded at running back with Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, and Felix Jones. Maybe the Cowboys would be willing to trade one of the three with the belief that a new start would be good for the once highly-regarded Cromartie.

San Diego is in need of a running back for two reasons: (a) LaDainian Tomlinson will soon be released, and (b) Darren Sproles is a pending restricted free agent who would be due $7.3 million in 2010 if the Chargers tender him a contract, a 10 percent increase over his 2009 franchise-tag salary of $6.67 million.

The Green Bay Packers are in need of a cornerback, so they could also be in the market for Cromartie.

Cromartie’s departure could leave the Chargers thin at CB, where Quentin Jammer is a star but the rest are questionable. Among other things, Antoine Cason has not progressed as well as the Chargers had hoped after making him their No. 1 draft pick two years ago.

Trading Cromartie would rid the Chargers of someone not considered a “team” player … but it could leave holes at cornerback and running back (depending on what the team gets in return.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Football withdrawals? There's much else to watch


Did anybody else go through football withdrawals over the weekend?

We get so used to college football (beginning the last weekend of August) to the NFL (beginning the Sunday after Labor Day.) Then when the Super Bowl is over and everyone goes home, it’s hard to believe that the games which are now on nearly every day or night of the week are over.

No more Drew Brees and the miracle New Orleans Saints. No more Peyton Manning and the can’t-do-more-than-come-close Indianapolis Colts.

Heck, there are even withdrawals for Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo … and maybe Brett Favre (except for the endless “will he come back? stories.)

At least there was plenty to settle for over the weekend if you like:

An NBA All-Star game before nearly 109,000 fans in the Jerry Jones/Dallas Cowboys palace. And how about Dwayne Wade with 28 points and 11 assists?

A Daytona 500 race that would never end with more than two hours of pothole delays … and more than a few wrecks at the end that made the race last forever. At least Jamie McMurray could celebrate victory and Dale Earnhardt Jr. a strong second-place finish.

The 2010 Winter Olympics with endless TV coverage and American Johnny Spillane becoming the first American ever to win a medal in Nordic combined. Now we can focus on the extensive coverage of the likes of Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn.

And don’t forget Dustin Johnson becoming the first golfer to win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in consecutive years.

As it continues to freeze in many parts of the country, here’s something that will make many warm. Spring training begins this week for MLB teams!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Outdoors Super Bowl on East Coast? Forget it!


You’ve seen the weather on television … or experienced it if you live in many parts of the country.

Snow storms all across the East Coast last weekend cancelled numerous sporting events. More snow has continued to pile up.

So, do you really think the 2014 Super Bowl should be played outdoors in the conditions at the new football stadium of the New York Giants and New York Jets in New Jersey?

Just think if last weekend’s Super Bowl game had been scheduled for the metropolitan New York area.

Do you think Drew Brees would have been able to complete 32 passes? Do you think Brees and Peyton Manning would’ve had such a great passing showdown?

How about Tracy Porter returning an interception in the piling snow?

Had the game been played in New Jersey, both teams would have been primarily forced to abandon the pass and go with the run.

This is not to mention what would have happened with tens of thousands of visitors in town for the Super Bowl. It’s bad enough that locals could hardly get around last weekend; what if the Super Bowl and its throngs had been in town?

The next three Super Bowls are scheduled indoors: The Jerry Jones/Dallas Cowboys palace in 2011; Indianapolis in 2012 and New Orleans in 2013.

As for an outdoor/East Coast Super Bowl in 2014: Forget it. Just take a look at the conditions of when the Super Bowl was played last weekend.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rodgers more likely to win Super Bowl than Rivers?


Daniel Jeremiah, the excellent former scout for the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, offers a very informative Web site at http://www.movethesticks.com/.

Recently, he asked five NFL executives, scouts and coaches the following question: “Which QB will be the next to win his first Super Bowl, Rivers or Rodgers?”

The result may surprise you.

All five people picked Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers to win a Super Bowl before Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers.

Quite interesting, especially since the Chargers are picked second behind the Indianapolis Colts in (very early) odds to win next year’s Super Bowl.

Perhaps this is a sign of the times.

The Packers are seen as a team on the rise with such stars as Rodgers, RB Ryan Grant, WR Greg Jennings and WR Donald Driver leading a very potent offense.

Perhaps the Chargers are seen as a team on the demise because of the certain departure of RB LaDainian Tomlinson, maybe the departure of CB Antonio Cromartie, weak offensive and defensive lines and the stigma that coach Norv Turner can’t win a big game.

Jeremiah’s question opens up an interesting discussion of the future possibilities for the Packers and Chargers.

Yes, Jeremiah is a former QB at Appalachian State University and the son of David Jeremiah … the dynamic pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., best-selling author and leader of Turning Point Ministry.

Here’s hoping and praying that Daniel Jeremiah soon gets another job that he so richly deserves in the NFL.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Will Tomlinson follow Brees to Super Bowl?


First, Drew Brees; next LaDainian Tomlinson?

Seems like yesterday’s trash for the San Diego Chargers turns out to be a treasure for someone else.

By now, we’re all more than familiar with how the Chargers discarded Brees … only to see him win a Super Bowl four years later with the New Orleans Saints.

Tomlinson could become the next Chargers reject to win a Super Bowl elsewhere. We’ll see where he goes next season, and certainly what happens.

Rodney Harrison was still a popular Charger when he went to New England and won a couple of Super Bowls. Will Tomlinson follow in his footsteps; not to mention those of LT’s good buddy Brees?

The problem with the Chargers appears to be that whenever they get rid of a veteran player/coach, the front office is so clumsy in doing so.

Do the names Donnie Edwards, Marty Schottenheimer and Lorenzo Neal ring a bell – along with the abovementioned and Junior Seau?

Drew Brees is Exhibit A of a disturbing pattern in San Diego. Notice how he has a Super Bowl trophy, while the Chargers don’t even have a Super Bowl appearance in the past 15 years?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Drew Brees: Good guy to pull for


There are many reasons to hope that Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

You can start with the fact that Brees was discarded like yesterday’s bread by the San Diego Chargers after he suffered a severe shoulder injury during the final game of 2005.

Then you can consider how he has overcome that injury to rebuild the Saints … and help in the rebuilding of New Orleans.

And the latter is what counts most. Brees signed with the Saints shortly after Hurricane Katrina and has followed up on his pledge to do all he can to help rebuild the city of New Orleans.

Above all, you must cheer for Brees because of his Brees Dream Foundation and how it has positively affected thousands of people.

The foundation was founded in 2003 with a mission to advance research in the fight against cancer and provide care, education and opportunities for children in need.

Since its inception, the Brees Dream Foundation has committed more than $4.5 million to charitable causes in the New Orleans, San Diego and West Lafayette/Purdue communities (the locales where his football career have taken him.)

http://www.drewbrees.com/foundation

Yes, you must cheer for Brees because he is a good guy. You must also pull for him because of the way he rebounded after San Diego tossed him aside.

That being said:

Super Bowl prediction:
Indianapolis 28, New Orleans 25

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tomlinson unloads on Chargers teammates


There’s an old saying that the most honest employee is one who’s on his/her way out the door.

At that point, there’s no holding back because the organization is powerless to retaliate against you.

Say hello to the world of LaDainian Tomlinson on his way out the door with the San Diego Chargers.

During an interview with Billy Ray Smith and Scott Kaplan on radio station XX 1090 AM, Tomlinson said that he “would not take a pay cut under any circumstances” like he did before last season. Say goodbye to LT.

Tomlinson acknowledged that he was unhappy with changes within the organization, but declined to specify what bothered him, according to nationalfootballpost.com.

“Things were always there that happened over time,” Tomlinson said, adding that the Chargers' playoff loss to the New York Jets brought a lot of issues to the surface. “I didn't feel the unity and togetherness in the locker room at times this season.

“We're at a point where guys come into the league and it's not about the same values anymore. I just can't deal with that kind of stuff.”

Maybe it’s Vincent Jackson with his DUIs and driving without a license. Maybe it’s Shawne Merriman and his troubles with Tila Tequila. Maybe it’s Antonio Cromartie with his getting into public disputes and inability to make tackles. Maybe it’s something/someone else.

LT has never been as happy as a Charger since Marty Schottenheimer was fired after a 14-2 season and replaced by Norv Turner for losing in the Divisional playoffs three seasons ago. (Makes you wonder why Turner survives after going 13-3 and losing in the Divisional playoffs this season.)

All in all, it’s the start of what should be a very interesting offseason for the Chargers.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Orleans Saints RB follows Faulk's footsteps


Marshall Faulk of the NFL Network won’t be the only former San Diego State University running back at this week’s Super Bowl.

Lynell Hamilton of the New Orleans Saints could see a few snaps at running back as long as an ankle injury doesn’t prevent him from playing.

Do you remember Hamilton?

He came to SDSU as the most highly-touted running back since Faulk … and he started out like he might be the next great Aztec runner.

Then, a serious Joe Theismann-type knee injury his freshman year slowed him down for the rest of his SDSU career. Even so, Hamilton still finished with 1,087 rushing yards as a freshman and became the 10th Aztec ever to rush for more than 2,000 career yards.

While primarily a blocking back with the Saints, Hamilton did score a rushing touchdown in the Divisional round playoff game vs. the Arizona Cardinals and is the team’s third-leading rusher in the playoffs.

All told, Hamilton rushed 35 times for 125 yards and two TDs during the regular season. The second-year running back had his best career game with 10 carries for 48 yards and one TD in the regular-season finale vs. the Carolina Panthers.

When you think of the New Orleans offense, certainly players such as Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Devery Henderson, Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey come to mind.

But don’t forget Lynell Hamilton: He could become the first SDSU running back since Marshall Faulk to possess a Super Bowl championship ring.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pro Bowl is fine before the Super Bowl


You won’t see Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Philip Rivers playing for the AFC “all stars” in this Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Miami.

Ditto for Drew Brees and Brett Favre for the NFC.

The Pro Bowl – being played for the first time before the Super Bowl – seems like a good idea for some and a bad idea for others.

It’s a bad idea in that you won’t see any Super Bowl players from the New Orleans Saints or Indianapolis Colts. But some like me believe it’s a good idea since football season should end with the Super Bowl.

No matter when you play it, the Pro Bowl is anticlimactic.

The argument against this week’s game certainly is based on Super Bowl participants being excluded. But when you think about it, a high percentage of Super Bowl players in the past decided to skip the game for various reasons. (Why play in a meaningless game after being involved in the ultimate championship game?)

Even this year, players are skipping the Pro Bowl. Ones such as Brady and Favre are healing from injuries; Rivers’ wife is due to have their fifth child near game time.

So the AFC is left with the likes of Matt Schaub, Vince Young and David Garrard at QB. The NFC will go with a more formidable group of Aaron Rodgers, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo.

It may seem too bad that you won’t see any 2010 Super Bowl players in this game. But would you really have wanted to watch them anyhow if the Pro Bowl was played after the Super Bowl?

Prediction:
NFC 31, AFC 27

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

AL West is gaining on the Angels


The Anaheim Angels may finally be getting some competition in the AL West division that they have dominated for so long.

Certainly the Oakland A’s made a move in the right direction by signing pitcher Ben Sheets … as long as he’s over the elbow surgery that sidelined him all of last season.

Sheets joins a formidable rotation with two-time All Star Justin Duchscherer, Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden.

In addition, the A’s have added punch and pop with new center fielder Coco Crisp and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.

The Texas Rangers certainly have added power with the free agent signing of former Angel Vladimir Guerrero to an already potent offense.

Plus, with Nolan Ryan included in the team’s new ownership group, look for Rangers’ pitchers to take on some of the toughness Ryan displayed in his Hall of Fame career. No more babying pitchers; let’s see how far they can go in a game rather than how soon they can come out!

As for the Seattle Mariners, the likes of standout pitcher Cliff Lee and former Angel third baseman Chone Figgins will be a definite upgrade in 2010.

The Angels? Not only have they lost top players to division rivals; they also lost ace John Lackey to the Boston Red Sox.

When the Angels look back, they are going to find people are gaining on them this season.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Union-Tribune love affair with Norv Turner is sickening


Sometimes, it’s best just to sit back and let others do the talking for you.

Such was the case in the Sunday edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

We all know Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee has a (sports) love affair with Chargers coach Norv Turner … and the paper’s columnists follow his lead.

Our only comment is that Marty Schottenheimer was 33-17 in his last three years with the Chargers. Norv Turner took over the same group – with more maturity – and has gone 35-19 the past three years.

It’s a virtual push between Schottenheimer and Turner; but you’d never know it by the U-T writers who blame Marty for everything that went wrong in his era … and Norv for nothing that has failed in his tenure.

Enjoy the reading:

A different take on U-T’s love affair with Norv
By D Brent Mote

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s two sports columnists, Nick Canepa and Tim Sullivan, as well as Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee, have such a bromance going with Norv Turner you wonder if they exchange Valentine’s cards. Fortunately, they back up everything they write with facts, right?

Well, to quote Mark Twain (or Benjamin Disraeli or Charles Wentworth Dilke, take your pick), “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Which means if you crop the statistical picture just right, you can support any position you care to take.

So, in the spirit of balance, here’s what I think of the “facts”:

•Turner has more playoff wins than Sid Gillman and George Allen combined.
Wow. Could that be right? Yes, it is, but it’s also misleading.
Allen lost a lot of playoff games. It kind of defined who he was. You know, the Marty Schottenheimer of the 1970s. Additionally, there were fewer playoff rounds in the ’60s and ’70s. In some cases, a lot fewer. As in one.

•Turner has a better winning percentage with the Chargers than Bill Walsh had with the 49ers or Chuck Noll had with the Steelers.
Walsh coached 10 years with the 49ers, Noll 23 with the Steelers, Turner three so far with the Chargers. This is like comparing apples and applesauce. If you include the time Turner spent in Washington and Oakland, his winning percentage drops significantly, well below the other two men.

•Turner led the Chargers to a 13-3 record with little or no running game.
Absolutely true. Trouble is, Turner inherited the second best running game in the league and turned it into the worst. (OK, next to worst.) LaDainian Tomlinson went from a league-best 1,815 yards in 2006 under Schottenheimer to 730 this year, and from an NFL-record 28 touchdowns rushing to 12.
Turner has stated repeatedly that he has a commitment to running the football. What he hasn’t said is he has a commitment to running the football well. Look, when you take the No. 2 rushing attack and turn it into the 31st, you’re either exaggerating your commitment or you don’t know what you’re doing.

•The poor running game isn’t Turner’s fault; LT has lost a step.
Yes, he has. But continually slamming him into the line doesn’t help. He’s not built for that, never was. In fact, any sane person would stop doing it at some point. Or, to quote Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

•Turner has the best winning percentage in Chargers history.
Well, why wouldn’t he? At 14-2, the Chargers were one of the most talented teams in the league when Turner took over and few coaches have been given the keys to a juggernaut like that right off the bat. I could be wrong, but I think a dancing bear could go 8-8 with this team. Which, if you recall, Turner did last year.

•Unlike Schottenheimer, Turner is cool under pressure.
I don’t know if “cool” is the right word. “Aloof” or “spaced” might be better, but regardless, it’s worked — until Sunday. Sunday, Turner was anything but cool. Sunday, he was a sputtering basket case. He almost jumped headfirst into a pile for a loose ball at one point.

•Turner is an offensive genius.
True, he is. Sometimes. Other times, not so much. Sunday’s loss to the Jets falls into the “not so much” category. I think we need to find out if Turner has a twin brother and if the two like to pull the old twin switcheroo from time to time because the man we see on the sidelines is not always the same guy. He can’t be.
Look, I wish Norv Turner well. I want him to win a Super Bowl with San Diego. I’m not even sure I want him fired anymore. (Yeah, like that was going to happen.)
But what I really want is some honest, unvarnished criticism of the guy, so maybe, just maybe, he won’t continue to make the same mistakes year after year and maybe the Chargers will finally win that Super Bowl we all crave.

And that is a fact.

Here’s more:

THE TOADY:Marty Schottenheimer takes over an average team, turns them around after several years, creates a 14-2 team that plays competitively but loses their first game in the playoffs to an equal or superior team, the New England Patriots. For this fine effort he is fired.

Norv Turner is handed an exceptional team, and, for several years, guides them to fewer and fewer wins. Then, in 2009, they complete a 13-3 season, and, after a first-round bye (during which players rested, returned to health, and had an additional week to game-plan and strategize) play an uninspired and poorly coached game in losing to the underdog New York Jets.


For this poor effort he is awarded a contract extension.

The Chargers need a true leader, not a misplaced offensive coordinator whose main selling point is that of being a “toady” for Smith and Spanos. The Bolts will not reach the Super Bowl as long as Turner is head coach.

Bill Geyer

Rancho Palos Verdes

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jets ready to stun the world in AFC title game


Joe Namath won’t quite say so; so we’ll do it for him.

The Jets are going to shock the world and beat the Colts in the AFC Championship game Sunday.

It won’t quite have the impact as when Namath and the New York Jets surprised the NFL world by beating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, 16-7 … but it will be close.

The Indianapolis Colts will know how their Baltimore predecessors felt after the Jets come in and turn the football world upside-down again this weekend.

Hey, it won’t be news to Jets coach Rex Ryan. He’s been predicting a Super Bowl victory/parade for the past couple of weeks.

If anybody can stop Indy’s potent offense, it’s the Jets.

As the San Diego Chargers discovered last week, you basically can’t/don’t throw to the side where Jets’ CB Darrelle Revis is in coverage. That leaves one side to throw to … and Peyton Manning will find that very disruptive this week.

Oh, sure, people will recall how the Colts were beating the Jets before Manning and his mates were pulled four weeks ago (and saw their undefeated season go up in smoke.) But the Colts were only winning by five points in the third quarter at the time.

Ask the Chargers. The more they let the Jets stay close last Sunday; the more New York had a chance to win.

The Jets rely heavily on three “rookies:” head coach Ryan, QB Mark Sanchez and RB Shonn Greene.

Can they stun the NFL again this week? We say “yes.”

Predictions:
Jets 16, Colts 14
Saints 27, Vikings 23

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Will Chargers release Vincent Jackson due to character issues?


General Manager A.J. Smith is on record as saying that the San Diego Chargers will get rid of players who are not of good “character.”

Oh, really?

Let’s see what the Chargers do with standout wide receiver Vincent Jackson before judging whether they are all about character.

It has been well documented that Jackson was arrested one year ago and charged with drunken driving. (His lawyer was successfully able to put off the court case throughout the 2009 season so that Jackson could play without possible suspension.)

This comes after Jackson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunken driving in 2006 and drew five years probation. Yes, the current charge is within that five-year period.

On top of this, we have discovered that Jackson hitched a ride to Sunday’s playoff game against the New York Jets with QB Philip Rivers because Jackson was stopped by police on game day for “loud music” and then was found to be driving without a personal license in a car with expired registration.

When all of these matters are sorted out, Jackson will likely draw a 2- to 4-game suspension from Commissioner Roger Goodell at the beginning of the 2010 season.

The obvious is that Jackson is not a man of “character.” The bigger question is whether the Chargers will let him walk due to his lack of character.

It would be easy to let LB Shawne Merriman and CB Antonio Cromartie leave before next season due to personal issues they’ve experienced. After all, their production has slipped.

But Jackson had his best season ever in 2009 and continues to get better. What happens from here will be very interesting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Should Chargers fire Norv Turner?


Should Norv Turner be fired as head coach of the San Diego Chargers?

Of course it’s not going to happen; not with his good buddy A.J. Smith as the general manager.

But should it happen in the wake of Sunday’s 17-14 stunning upset loss to the New York Jets in the AFC Divisional playoffs?

History says yes, at least according to Smith’s logic.

Three years ago, Marty Schottenheimer was fired after a 24-21 AFC Divisional loss (also at home) to the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Schottenheimer went 14-2 that year, but it wasn’t good enough to keep his job.
Sure, Turner is 3-3 in the playoffs for San Diego; Schottenheimer was 0-2. But that’s what you expected with Schottenheimer, a guy who historically turned around bad teams and lost in the playoffs.

The Chargers were 23-57 in the five years preceding Schottenheimer. He then went 47-35 the next five years, including the playoffs. (Quite a turnaround, indeed.)

With Turner, the Chargers haven’t taken it to the next level. He took over a loaded team yet has only advanced past the Divisional round one more time than his predecessor.

And this season’s 17-14 loss to the Jets was reminiscent – and perhaps as bad – as what is perceived to be the worst playoff loss in Chargers history, a similar 17-14 defeat to the undermanned Houston Oilers in 1979. The Oilers were minus QB Dan Pastorini, RB Earl Campbell and WR Ken Burroughs due to injury but still won as Dan Fouts of San Diego threw five interceptions.

Jets coach Rex Ryan knew what he was talking about when he said the Chargers were "due" for a bad game this weekend. After all, Philip Rivers had his worst game in months (two interceptions, 76.9 passer rating) and Nate Keading, with the best field goal percentage in history, missed three kicks vs. New York.

Stupidity also played a part vs. the Jets. How else do you explain Shaun Phillips being penalized for a head butt or Vincent Jackson drawing a 15-yard flag for kicking a challenge flag thrown by Ryan?
Back to the original question: Will Turner be let go? Answer: Not likely.
Should he go? Let history do the talking.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jets hope Rivers shuts down, shuts up


The New York Jets want to shut Philip Rivers down so they can shut him up.

Easier said than done.

Rivers is the hottest QB in the NFL right now. His San Diego Chargers have won 11 in a row, scored at least 20 points in every game and there is no end in sight.

Give credit, though, to New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. He is talking so big that he has probably convinced himself the Jets can beat the heavily-favored Chargers this Sunday in the AFC Divisional playoffs.

Rivers should have plenty to talk about. Even if the Jets shut down Chargers WR Vincent Jackson with CB Darrelle Revis in coverage, the Chargers can still find Antonio Gates or Malcom Floyd wide open (or finally establish a running game with LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles.)

For the Jets to win, their vaunted rushing attack will have to fare well against San Diego’s not-so-good rushing defense. Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene have both shown they are more than capable RBs behind a line featuring three Pro Bowl selections: center Nick Mangold, left guard Alan Faneca and left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

If the Jets get behind early, they will have trouble catching up behind rookie QB Mark Sanchez. That’s why San Diego can put the game away before halftime if it jumps out to a sizeable lead.

In fact, look for Rivers to go long on the first play of the game to Jackson … just to test Revis and make a statement for the Chargers.

Speaking of statements, visiting teams have won 50% of NFL playoff games since 2002. So it’s not impossible to win on the road in January.

Last week, both AFC teams won on the road while NFC teams were 0-2 away from home. Look for the exact opposite to happen this weekend.

Predictions:
Chargers 24, Jets 17
Colts 24, Ravens 20
Cardinals 31, Saints 27
Cowboys 23, Vikings 20

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is timing right for 'L.T. Style Electric Glide?'


LaDainian Tomlinson’s “L.T. Style Electric Glide,” video on YouTube is hilarious.

Tomlinson dances around in a bright, bright, bright white suit and raps about what he does best on the football field.

It brought laughs to his teammates … and probably most everybody who watched it in the past several days. (It’s a side of LT we’ve never seen before.)

The video, a Nike commercial shot 2 ½ years ago, was released over the weekend on YouTube.

Here is part of the story published by the great Associated Press writer Bernie Wilson regarding the video:

The video starts out with Tomlinson turning on a boom box and saying, “What it do? My name's L.T., I've got a new dance for you all.”

He raps about waving to his mom, saying hi to his wife, reading the defense, catching the pass, throwing the ball, about safeties not being able to see him “because I move my hips, toward another six.”

If the Chargers need an updated theme song on the road to Miami to replace their dated disco smash, "San Diego Super Chargers," this might be it.

Two minutes and 14 seconds worth of a dancing, rapping L.T. ends like this:

"Stiff arm the guys, hit that hole.
"Let's see a touchdown dance. Celebrate.
"Now challenge that call. You don't like that call.
"Pick up the blitz. Here comes the blitz. Take a knee. Another victory."

It's certainly not "The Super Bowl Shuffle," but there's potential for more.

"My teammates and I might do a remix on it," Tomlinson said with a laugh.

"It was entertaining," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "He's taken a good jabbing for it all morning."

"I'm jealous, man," said outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, who has a spasmodic "Lights Out" sack dance. "I thought that was pretty cool to do that. I'm not going to lie to you. I'm going to find a way to top that."

Not so fast. While the Chargers are getting a good laugh over the video, what about their opponent in this weekend’s AFC Divisional playoffs … the New York Jets?

The Jets already feel disrespected by opening as a 9-point underdog. Watching a video of LT strutting around might only get them more fired up for Sunday.

Yes, the video may be a laughing matter to most. But it will probably only increase the bunker mentality of “Us vs. the World” that the Jets are already portraying.

If you haven’t seen it, here is “L.T. Style Electric Glide:”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CA2B47_l9kg

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ravens, Jets could upset AFC Championship picture


The Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers have both opened as at least one-touchdown favorites in this weekend’s NFL Divisional playoffs, but they better be careful.

The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets each demonstrated over the past weekend that they are teams to be reckoned with. In fact, they could become the first No. 5 and No. 6 seeds ever to meet for a conference championship … which would set up yet one more game at the old Meadowlands home of the Jets.

How about those Ravens? With their 33-14 win Sunday at New England (the Patriots’ first-ever playoff loss at Gillette Stadium), they even caused the hometown fans to boo Tom Brady and his teammates.

Baltimore will be a formidable foe for Peyton Manning and the Colts led by its strong running game with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. And the Ray Lewis-led defense, which caused Brady to tie a career playoff high with three interceptions, is always a force in the postseason.

As for the Jets – coming off a 24-14 playoff win at Cincinnati – they pose an interesting strength vs. strength against the potent Chargers offense led by Philip Rivers and pass catchers Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd. New York has the league's No. 1 defense and will match up against that San Diego offense with a defensive roster including cornerback Darrelle Revis, probably the best cover back in the NFL.

Not only that, the Jets can control the ball with a running game including the likes of Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene. They will be facing a San Diego defense that has been hard-pressed to stop the run all season.

Yes, Indianapolis and San Diego should each win this weekend and advance to the AFC Championship Game. But don’t be surprised if at least one of them is missing come the conference title game.

Friday, January 8, 2010

In Green Bay, is the Pack back?


The Pack is back!

Some 43 years after winning the first two Super Bowls, the Green Bay Packers may indeed be back.

Certainly, they are not mentioned among the consensus most-feared teams going into the playoffs. Lately, that distinction seems to belong to the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers.

The Packers?

They may be the wild card team nobody wants to play; the team capable of winning three straight road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl.

The Packers are the first team in history for two straight seasons to have the same quarterback who passed for 4,000 yards, the same running back surpass 1,200 yards and the same two receivers go beyond at least 1,000 yards.

Welcome to the worlds of QB Aaron Rodgers, running back Ryan Grant and receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.

With apologies to the Arizona Cardinals, whom the Packers travel to meet this Sunday, Green Bay may well have the most potent offense in the wild card round of the playoffs.

The Packers come in with seven wins in eight games; their only loss being at Pittsburgh on a last-second miracle by Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace and the Steelers.

But is the Pack all the way back? We’ll start finding out this weekend.

Predictions:
Cincinnati 24, New York Jets 13
Dallas 24, Philadelphia 20
New England 21, Baltimore 17
Green Bay 33, Arizona 31

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mountain West Conference rules bowl season




There are two sides to the argument of whether college bowl games determine the superiority of conferences.

Some say the bowl games have little meaning in determining which conferences are truly the best. Others say they carry great weight.

We tend to agree with the latter since teams should be at their peak during the postseason while meeting squads they (normally) did not play during the regular season.

That being said, it appears as if the Mountain West Conference is No. 1 this postseason. (And to think the MWC does not even receive an automatic BCS berth!)

The irony is that all four MWC teams listed as underdogs in the bowl season were winners: Wyoming (New Mexico Bowl), Brigham Young (Las Vegas Bowl), Utah (San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl), and the Air Force Academy (Armed Forces Bowl.)

Just as ironically, the only MWC team to lose in the postseason was favored to win. But Texas Christian just didn’t have the know-how to stop Boise State’s fake punt when it mattered most in the Fiesta Bowl.

Speaking of, what if Boise State joined the MWC? How could the BCS possibly exclude a conference that would then include traditional powerhouses Boise State, TCU, BYU and Utah?

The MWC certainly made its mark with two wins over the supposedly superior Pac 10 this postseason: BYU over Oregon State and Utah over Cal. And on the topic of the Pac 10, have you noticed how that conference is only 2-5 this postseason?

With two bowl games (out of 34) remaining, here are the conference standings:

Mountain West, 4-1
Big East, 4-2
Big 12, 4-3
Big Ten, 4-3
Southeastern, 5-4
Western Athletic, 2-2
Atlantic Coast, 3-4
Conference USA, 2-4
Pac 10, 2-5
Sun Belt, 1-0
Independents, 1-0
Mid-American, 0-4

Sunday, January 3, 2010

BCS afraid of Texas Christian, Boise State


As sure as the Denver Broncos will always choke down the stretch, the BCS choked at the thought of having Boise State and Texas Christian University play anybody but each other this postseason.

That’s why TCU and the Broncos will meet in Monday night’s Fiesta Bowl.

Just think: If the Horned Frogs and Boise State (both non-BCS teams) were to play BCS squads, they could upset the system by both being winners.

And since the BCS excludes universities such as TCU and Boise State from automatic qualification, it would hate to see the little boys upset its big boys.

Let’s face it; both the Horned Frogs and Broncos would surely beat such BCS qualifiers as Iowa and Georgia Tech (Orange Bowl foes), as well as Sugar Bowl loser Cincinnati.

And the BCS certainly wouldn’t want the non-BCS schools playing Florida with the real possibility of the Gators being beaten by a non-BCS team.

After all, Utah (a fellow Mountain West Conference member of TCU’s) embarrassed Alabama in last year’s Sugar Bowl to finish No. 2 in the nation. And that came after the Utes beat BCS member Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

As for Boise State? How could we ever forget the Broncos upsetting Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day 2007?

No, the BCS will not let Boise State of the Western Athletic Conference nor TCU get a shot to beat a "name" school in a BCS game.
In reality, there would be too much egg on the collective faces of BCS officials if two non-automatic qualifiers were to beat teams that gain automatic BCS berths in the same postseason.

Prediction:
TCU 27, Boise State 20