Thursday, April 30, 2009
I actually don't mind Dodger Stadium. I've only been there once but, during that one game, I saw Powers Boothe and Doug Savant.
The starz truly do come out in L.A.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Larry would have loved to have played for the Illini. Sadly, Larry was a late bloomer or someone that the scouts just dropped the ball on. He was a 2 star recruit according to Rivals. The list of schools with interest in him was as follows: Northern Illinois, Toledo, Iowa, Ball State, Bowling Green, and CMU. You should apologize to Larry for being baselessly mad at him. You should also thank him for not going to Iowa where he apparently would have wreaked havoc on your Illini, or in the alternative would not have developed into the now Charger beast you believe him to be today.
But your point is well taken. Ronnie T.'s blatant attempt to get back into pro football by refusing to recruit for the Illini is no reason to hate on Larry English.
Consider me upbraided.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
You've got a lot of nerve.
A. Lot. Of. Nerve.
I mean, listen, I'm ecstatic that you were the Bolts #1 pick during last weekend's NFL Draft, and am already chalking up your selection as yet another classic "A.J. Snake," the likes of which have brought Shawne, Phil, Darren, Kris, Antonio and Vincent into the San Diego fold. Not only do you seem to be an eloquent, classy, stand-up individual, but from what I've heard you've got the skillz to go out and dominate quarterbacks with the same intensity as our boy Shawne Merriman himself. I can hardly wait until Ron Rivera puts you, Shaun and Shawne on the field at the same time and cuts you loose to wreak utter havoc.
In fact, let me be the first to congratulate you on that two sack game you are going to have in Pittsburgh on October 4th.
That's going to be choice.
But despite all this, I have to tell you, I'm not happy with you.
I know all about your dominant collegiate career. Your four years as a starter, your 237 tackles, your 31.5 sacks, your back-to-back wins of the Vern Smith Leadership Award, given each year by MAC league coaches not to the best defensive player in the conference, but to the best overall player in the conference. You were the first defensive player in MAC league history to win the trophy twice.
I also know you grew up in Aurora, Illinois, a fine Midwestern suburb of the great city of Chicago.
I know all this about you and, knowing all of it, I can't help but get annoyed at one simple fact.
You didn't go to the University of Illinois.
Nope. Somehow, coming out of high school you chose Northern Illinois over the Illini. Why a young man of your stature would chose DeKalb over Champaign I just can't fathom. Perhaps you had your reasons, Lar, but darned if I can figure them out.
Trust me, I'll do my best to forget this disappointing fact about your past, but I can't say exactly when that will be.
I'm gonna need a little time.
ps - I'm guessing I'll be over it right around the start of training camp. I've never been one to hold a grudge. Especially against guys who play outside linebacker in the National Football League.
Monday, April 27, 2009
(Conversation overheard yesterday after Adrian Gonzalez hit the longest home run in Petco Park history, a 458-foot smash to right center off the Buccos' Ross Ohlendorf.)
Brian Giles: Nice bomb, big guy. Longest ever at Petco.
Adrian Gonzalez: Thanks, man. That even cleared the sandbox.
Brian: Yep. Looks like between 457 and 459 feet. (pause) Hey, can I grab your ass?
Adrian: Maybe later.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
How choice is that going to be.
But before I go I have a few things to report.
First, Deron Williams ... what a monster.
Second, Brian Giles ... what a monster (and nice photo by Earnie Grafton).
And finally, A.J. Smith ... get r dun!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Acee's theme is that Vontae, while one of the premier defensive backs in the draft and a no-doubt first round talent according to NFL draft experts, may fall as many as ten spots because of questions surrounding his maturity and drive. Acee even points to some quotes from the Zooker and notes that Zook had to demote Vontae last Fall from his starting role for awhile.
I'll tell you, I've been hearing this news for awhile now - dating back to last season - and in my non-expert opinion, I think it's bologna (pronounced buh-log-na). Not Acee's story, mind you. (Kiss up alert!) That was a very accurate report on the prevailing view of Vontae's draft status and potential as an NFL player. And well written. What I think is lunch meat - and I don't mean to get all postmodern here - is that prevailing view itself. Vontae may be a head case but he is not the type of head case who will flame out and miss out on becoming a star in the League. His head-casedness, if you will, is more about half-assing it against teams like Louisiana-Lafayette when he knows he is going to the draft next season and - God bless Zook - is not getting pushed real hard by his college coaching staff.
When Vontae puts on that NFL uniform - perhaps a Bolts uniform if A.J. trades down and Vontae is still available at, say, 21? - I think he'll come to play. That's my projection, at least.
Of course if he goes to the Raiduhs or another rival AFC team I'm sure he'll be a bust.
At least that's what I'll tell anyone who asks.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Gene Richards: How He Came To Be On the 1978 Padres
- Eugene Richards, Jr. was born on September 29, 1953, in Monticello, SC.
- He played college baseball at South Carolina St. University, a historically black college in Orangeburg, SC (on Route 26 between Columbia and Charleston for anyone interested in visiting Orangeburg, which looks to be a historic and ridiculously quaint town). Gene played baseball there until Spring 1974. Incidentally, Gene's college teammate was Willie Aikens, who would be drafted exactly one spot behind Richards in the 1975 January draft.
- About that 1975 draft ... Peter Bavasi of the famed Bavasi family was the Padres GM at the time. Back then the baseball draft worked a bit differently than it does now. The draft was split between at least two phases, one in June and then a second phase held in January the following year that involved players drafted earlier but who did not sign.
- The Padres drafted Gene Richards as the #1 overall pick in the January phase of the 1975 draft (Aikens, as noted above, was #2).
Gene Richards: His Performance In The Years Leading Up To 1978
- Gene smoked the minors from the start, spending only two years on the farm.
- In the Summer of '75, as a 21-year old rookie in professional baseball, Richards dominated the Cal League for the Padres then-Class A affiliate Reno Silver Sox. Those were heady times to be in Reno. The Silver Sox were dominant that season, rolling to an 86-54 record with a roster graced by future greats such as Butch Wynegar, Juan Eichelberger, Aran Ahu and the legendary Galen McSpadden. Richards was the beast of the squad, however, pacing the team with a .381 batting average, 10 triples and 29 doubles. He also added 12 bombs which is remarkable considering he is Gene Richards.
- The next season, Richards, now 22, bounced right past AA to the Padres AAA affiliate Hawaii Islanders. Richards again was a monster, hitting .331 with 8 bombs, 9 triples and 24 doubles. He finished the season with a .425 OBP over 628 plate appearances. No doubt he was the talk of Honolulu.
- Needless to say, with those two stellar minor league seasons on his resume, the 22-year old was ticketed to San Diego for 1977.
- And Richards did not disappoint. As a 23-year old rook he made the Drinos Opening Day roster batting lead off and playing left field, a spot and a position he would man regularly for the Padres over the next 7 seasons. Indeed, in a sign of things to come, Richards singled in his first professional at bat off the Reds' Woodie Fryman, and then promptly stole second base. Unfortunately, in a sign of things to come for the 1977 Padres, Mike Champion and Dave Winfield both popped out and, after a walk to George Hendrick, Gene Tenace flew out to right to end the inning, stranding Gene at second. So much for the '77 Padres.
- All in all, Gene played well in '77 for an underachieving Padres team that finished 69-93, 25 games back of the first place Dadgers. He hit .290 with 56 bags and 11 triples, finishing the year with a .363 OBP as the Pads' regular leadoff batter. Not too shabby for the 23-year old.
Gene Richards: What He Did For The Padres In 1978
- Simply put, Gene probably had his best overall season in 1978. He posted career highs in batting average (.308), OBP (.381), walks (64) and slugging percentage (.420). He also stole 37 bags, laced 12 triples and choked up on 629 bats (the number of his plate appearances). As the Padres regular left fielder and lead off man, he also led the team with 90 runs scored, benefiting from the likes of Gene Tenace (whammy!) and Dave Winfield batting behind him.
- Just perusing the game logs on baseball-reference.com (which made this post possible), I think Richards' best game of the season was a May 12 night game at home against the Pirates. Bob Owchinko started for the Padres, Jim Rooker for the Buccos. Gene went 3-4 with 3 ribeyes and 2 runs scored. He also walked once and had a bag (though he was caught stealing twice which, incidentally, happened a bit too often over his career). His 3 hits included an RBI triple in the bottom of the 5th that scored catcher Bob Davis. Richards would score on the next play on a sac fly by Ozzie Smith to bring the Padres within one run at 4-3. Richards big hit, however, came in the bottom of the 8th. With the game tied 4-4 (after a Winfield bomb in the last half of the 7th), Richards came up with one out and the bases juiced against Grant Jackson. Gene hit a single to center (I imagine it was a frozen rope) plating two Padres with the go-ahead runs. Though Oscar Gamble was thrown out at third on the play, and Gene would get caught trying to steal third during the next at bat, the damage was done and the Padres went on to win 6-4.
- Honorable mentions for Gene's best game during the 1978 season: June 10 at the Cubbies (3-4 with a triple, a bag and a run scored); June 14 at home against the 'Spos (3-5, 2 doubles, a triple and 2 runs scored); August 23 at Philly (3-5 with a double, a triple and a run scored); and September 21 at home against the Gints (4-4 with a run scored).
- I also note that Gene's season included two monster hot streaks. The first occurred mid-summer. Hitting just .265 on June 7, Gene went on an impressive month-and-a-half stretch that included only 5 games where he started but didn't have a hit, and raised his average to .310 on July 30. The second hot streak came at the end of the season. On September 20 he was hitting .296, but by the last game of the season - an October 1 victory over the first place Dadgers - Gene had raised his average to .308.
So there you have Gene Richards, a key member of the 1978 Padres. He has always been one of my favorite Drinos and it's a shame he was allowed to leave in free agency after the '83 season, right before the Padres made the playoffs for the first time. But I guess when you have young beasts like Kevin McReynolds, Carmelo Martinez and Tony Gwynn manning the outfield spots, veteran pinch hitters like Bobby Brown and Champ Summers coming off the bench, and a guy like Alan Wiggins taking Gene's leadoff role and playing some outfield, there wasn't much need for a lefty speedster with questionable defensive skills.
But whatever happened in later years doesn't change what happened in '78.
In '78 Gene was the man.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Lo and behold I start thinking these are the two best ballplayers in baseball and could lead the Padres to a World Series.
That must have been the draft Coors Louies talking because not a moment after I publish the post Adrian makes a dubious decision to throw to second on an attempted sacrifice (the runner was safe), and the Gints capitalize on the mistake to push their first run across. Then, an inning later, Peavy serves up a salami to, of all people, Edgar Renteria.
5 - 2 Giants. Just like that.
The Gints would tack on a few more runs and finish with an 8-3 victory.
Not a bad result for the Giants against a likely World Series team like the Padres.
Those two players of course are David Eckstein and Kevin Correia.
. . .
I kid you.
Of course those two players are Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy.
All I'm saying is watch them play. If those two players are on their games they might be the best in baseball. Sure, Johan Santana could stake a claim to being the best pitcher in the NL, but does anyone really think the Mets have a better hitter than AGon when push comes to shove?
Of course not.
What about in the AL? Josh Beckett may have a better postseason record than Peavy, but who in the Red Sox lineup can honestly stake a claim to being a better hitter than Adrian? I know who. The ghost of Manny Ramirez.
And what about Manny and the hated Dadgers. Well, sure, Manny is a beast, but those Dadger pitchers are smoke and mirrors my friends.
Smoke. And. Mirrors.
Peavy could put Billingsley, Kershaw, Kuroda and the rest in his back pocket.
So that's all I'm saying. The Padres are probably going to win the World Series because they have Peavy and AGon.
What a coupla beasts.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Thanks a lot, hamate bone. Thanks a lot for fracturing during the Padres Sunday afternoon game against the Phillies.
You just had to grab the spotlight, didn't you? The Padres are off to a great start this season, in no small part to the inspired play of the young Everth Cabrera - in whose hand you so luxuriously reside - and you just had to go and insert yourself into the story. You're such a glamour hound. Apparently, your hamate bone cousins fracture rather often in the hands of golfers and baseball players so it seems you're the type of bone that just doesn't do its job. That is to say, stay solid.
Anyway, concerned about the long-term health of my friend Everth - especially given reports he is going under the knife to have part of you removed from his hand - I contacted one of Manhattan's best young ER doctors, Dr. Dre Kwon, to get her prognosis. The question I posed to her is below:
One of my favorite young players for the Padres (he's 22) fractured the hamate bone in his hand and is out 6-8 weeks. He is apparently having surgery at the Scripps Clinic in Carmel Valley to remove the "hook of the hamate bone" in his hand.
I know you are not in sports medicine, but have you heard of this injury? If so, what is your prognosis? Will he have a full recovery?
And here is Dr. Dre's response:
usually these are handled non-operatively which makes me wonder if his is complicated.
although it seems that when they undergo surgery to remove the hook, they have a good chance of returning to pre-injury level of function. in other words - usually excellent prognosis.
no need to fret! :)
Well, hamate bone, it seems you may be off the hook for any responsibility for long-term detriment to Everth's career. If that turns out not to be true, however, you can be sure I'll find you, hamate bone.
You can be sure I'll find you.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Rumor has it some big programs have been trying to steal you away from the Illini but so far you have resisted those efforts.
I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that.
As a fellow Peorian and Illini graduate, I figure you and I are basically brothers. And it is as a brother that I tell you this: one day you will be a head coach at a major college basketball program. You have the basketball knowledge to get it done. Learning from the likes of Bill Self and Bruce Weber during your time as a player and assistant coach, and just being from Peoria, Illinois - which is, as you know, one of the premier basketball towns in the world - has primed you to one day coach at a BCS school. It will happen.
But let's not get hasty.
There's no reason for you to leave now when Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Tyler Griffey and Joseph Bertrand are just months away from arriving on campus. And when Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head and Meyers Leonard are just a few more months away from signing letters of intent. And when there's still more recruiting to do with the likes of Tracy Abrams, Mike Shaw, Sam Thompson and Wayne Blackshear (get r dun!). No doubt there's a lot to do, and I'm sure Coach Weber will be the first to admit that he needs your help to lock these great future Illini into scholarships so they can acheive their dreams of acquiring an excellent education and competing for a National Championship.
Not to mention, the Illini need you to continue to mentor the likes of Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale. Chester's not going to be able to do it alone.
Honestly, Jerrance, I can't think of a finer institution than Illinois to ply the trade of college basketball coach.
I know you feel the same way.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
What a monster 3-run bomb you hit off Brad Lidge last night to put the Padres up 8-5 in the top of the 9th.
You're such a beast.
I have to tell you, too, that over the past few days you have been a topic of conversation among myself and a friend who plays fantasy baseball. I gave up fantasy baseball a few years ago after realizing that knowing a lot about the Padres does not necessarily translate into fantasy success. On occasion, however, I still consult with some of my friends when they have questions regarding the Padres.
With that in mind, I wasn't surprised a few days ago when my friend Geleaux e-mailed me this question: "What is the story with the Kouz? My boy Gordon is going under the knife. Need to pick someone up."
I considered Geleaux's question over night and then responded the next morning with the following e-mail:
I see Kouz doing one of two things this season. A) he "gets it" and starts getting more patient. If that happens he'll increase his OBP and become a very dangerous hitter, only slightly less the hitter than David Wright. I could see him hitting as high as .280 with 28-30 bombs if he puts it all together.
B) He'll continue more of the same from last season. Probably get you 20-25 bombs but with a lot of Ks and very few walks.
Also to consider: he had offseason shoulder surgery and, though he says it is fine, I've seen at least one report that residual pain is keeping him from getting to inside fastballs right now. That could improve as the season warms up, or get worse I guess. Time will tell. Generally speaking Kouz is a slow starter so if you get him now you may be buying low.
Finally, there is an outside chance that if he starts hitting but the Padres are out of it, he'll be traded for pitching so the Padres can move Headley to third and start giving outfield looks to AAA guys like Venable, Huffman and Blanks. I'd say there is a 20% chance of that happening. If he gets traded to a small park the bombs could start to flow like wine.
Now, Kouz, I don't want you to get traded. My hope is that you will follow prediction A and become the pure beast I know you're capable of becoming. Indeed, the pure beast you were last night.
So far, I like what I've seen this young season.
PS - Needless to say, Geleaux picked up Scott Rolen instead of you. I look forward to watching you continue to prove him wrong.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I missed your heroics last night. The only part of the game I watched was the final out of the top of the 9th and then the bottom half when Heath closed it out for his sixth straight - thrilling - save. I missed your bomb, your go-ahead double, Nick's bomb, Luis' bomb and Chase's laser from right field to nail Greg Dobbs at the plate and preserve the Padres slim 1-run lead in the 8th.
I missed all that and I have no one to blame but myself.
Actually, I guess I can also blame the cable guy who never fixed the television feed upstairs at McGee's, where I was for happy hour with Geleaux, McGally and Tatt Mareeco. Knowing McGee's has the baseball package, I asked the bartender promptly at 7 PM EST if he could put the Pads-Phillies game on one of the four upstairs televisions. He told me that the cable was broken upstairs and the guy had not come around to fix it yet. He was kind enough, however, to confirm that they were showing the Padres game downstairs. Literally, a six second walk down the stairs from where we were standing.
Of course we didn't go downstairs. The main reason, I'll admit, was that the bar was crowded and we didn't want to lose our spot by the upstairs bar. But also I happened to glance at the score around 7:20 and saw that the Phils were already up 5-0. I'm not gonna lie ... that put a damper on my desire to watch the game.
It wasn't until about two hours later that Geleaux happened to glance at the score again and said the Drinos were only down 7 - 5. Even then I didn't rush downstairs. Instead, I casually finished another Stella and by the time we got downstairs you had already put the Padres ahead with that choice double down the third base line.
I was extremely pleased but immediately felt the pangs of regret.
I promise I won't miss anymore of your heroics.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, at Oakland: Beat-down victory. LT rushes for a buck twenty and silences the fool critics and naysayers. 38 - 22 Bolts.
Sunday, September 20, Ravens: No way the Flacster comes into the Bolts house and gets a W. Merriman gets two sacks, Cro gets a pick and the Bolts win 24-13.
Sunday, September 27, Dolphins: The Fins come back down to Earth this season and this game is a prime example. Phil guns for 320 and Sproles returns a punt. Bolts win 27 - 10.
Sunday, October 4, at Stillers: It's early in the season, which is what you hope for as a visiting team to Pittsburgh, but the Burgh is a tough place to play anytime. The Bolts fight valiantly, but the Stillers pull out the win 24 - 20.
BYE WEEK: Despite the loss at Pittsburgh most media hacks have the Bolts in the top 5 in the Power Rankings. They already have a 2-game lead in the AFC West and Rivers leads the league in passer rating and touchdown passes. LT has over 400 yards on the ground. Merriman leads the NFL in quarterback hurries.
Monday, October 19, Broncos: The Cutler-less Broncos prove frisky under new coach Josh McDaniels, but the Denver D is still heinous. Sproles breaks two long touchdown runs and Gates catches 8 for 160. Bolts win 41 - 28.
Sunday, October 25, at K.C.: Arrowhead is usually a tough place to play but not this early in the season. Matty Cassel proves overmatched by the Merriman-led Bolts D, and Shaun Phillips comes up with two sacks and returns a fumble for a touchdown. Herm knew how to keep the Chefs close to S.D., but Todd Haley hasn't a clue. Bolts win 24 - 3.
Sunday, November 1, Raiduhs: The Raiders are improving but are no match for the Bolts at the Q. LT busts his longest run of his career, an 86-yard TD scamper to pace the Bolts to a 26 - 10 victory.
Sunday, November 8, at Gints: The NFL has been building up this game since Week 1 and Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are in a tizzy. Eli feels the footsteps of Shawne Merriman, however, and throws three picks, including a critical fourth quarter wailing duck that falls into the waiting hands of Eric Weddle. That pick leads to a 2:00 drive by Phil Rivers setting up the game-winning Nate Kaeding field goal as time expires. Bolts win 20 - 17.
Sunday, November 15, Iggles: After the emotional win on the road against the Gints the week before, the Bolts fall in the rain against Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. A questionable holding call brings back a 22-yard LT touchdown run in the second quarter and the Bolts have to settle for a field goal. That ends up being the difference as the Eagles hold on to win 23 - 21.
Sunday, November 22, at Denver: On a chilly afternoon in Denver, Kyle Orton manages one of the best games of his career, going 16- 22 with 284 yards, leading Denver to an upset win over the Bolts. The turning point comes late in the first half when starting left tackle Marcus McNeil has to leave the game with a stinger and the Bolts offense never quite gets on track. Denver wins 27 - 23.
Sunday, November 29, Chefs: Back home on a sparkling afternoon in the Diego, the Bolts offense lets out some frustration on the Chefs overmatched defense. Rivers throws for 4 touchdowns and LT, for the first time in two seasons, throws for one himself. Bolts win 41 - 10.
Sunday, December 6, at Cleveland: The new-look Browns under Coach Eric Mangini have had some success this season but are no match for the Bolts. Swirling winds in Cleveland limit the Bolts passing game, but LT and Sproles each rush for over 100 yards and Jacob Hester scores two goal-line touchdowns. Bolts win 36 - 16.
Sunday, December 13, at Dallas: The NFL has marketed the hell out of this game all week and Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are again in a tizzy. Merriman is so pumped before the game he eats a small child. Rivers, calm and collected as per usual, throws for 286 yards and 3 touchdowns, carving up the Dallas D all afternoon. A late Merriman sack of Romo ices the victory. Bolts win 28 - 20.
Sunday, December 20, Bungles: Hosting Cincy, Norv has the offense running on all cylinders. Rivers throws an 80-yard TD to Vincent Jackson on the first play from scrimmage and Chris Chambers catches 11 passes for 176 yards. LT passes 1000 yards on the season with a 22 carry, 96 yard afternoon. Carson Palmer gets his 320 yards passing but mostly between the 20s. Bolts win 34 - 17.
Friday, December 25, at Tennessee: The doubters are out all week because the Bolts have already clinched the AFC West and are coming off only 4 days rest to turn around and play on Christmas Day. But Norv doesn't lose in December and this day is no different. The Titans play dirty as usual but the Bolts manage to rise above the fray and pull away in the second half for a 31 - 20 victory.
Sunday, January 3, Skins: Having clinched a first round bye in the playoffs, Norv decides to play his starters for a half and then get Billy Volek some reps. It matters not. The Bolts D decides it wants to pitch a shutout to make a statement to those who say the Stillers had the best D in the AFC during the season, and hassle Jason Campbell all afternoon. Volek even hits Malcolm Floyd and Buster Davis for two second half TD passes. Bolts win 24 - 10.
And there you have it. I'm predicting a 13 - 3 regular season and a first round bye in the playoffs, perhaps even home field advantage throughout.
Can't wait until September.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
McGee's. Midtown Manhattan. That's where I was last night when you smoked one of the more historic bombs in Major League history.
I had just finished a Guinness and was about to partake of a draft Stella Artois (served in an enticing glass goblet, mind you) when I looked up at the television screen to see you yank the third pitch in Citi Field history into the stands in right field. My first reaction was to set the Stella down on a nearby table (wouldn't want to spill any) and I then proceeded to walk the length of the bar with my two hands clenched in fists, not really pumping them but more so just shaking them in excitement. Geleaux, who was standing next to me at the time and has no love for the Metsies, could not stop laughing. My other buddy, McGally, a top Met fan, could only stare in dumb silence at the television screen as his beloved Metsies ushered in the Citi Field era in a most ignominious fashion.
Another notable event: about six minutes before your bomb I looked over at McGally, who was triple tasking trying to drink his Stella, watch the pre-game coverage and send work e-mails on his blackberry, and said, "How nervous are Metsie fans that the first game in Citi Field history ends with Duaner Sanchez getting a hold and Heath Bell closing it out for a save?"
I don't remember McGally's answer but I'm pretty sure he could already feel the footsteps. Sure enough, a few hours later, Duaner and Heath pitched perfect innings to preserve the Drinos 1-run lead and close out the victory.
What a night. Made even more perfect by solid episodes of House and How I Met Your Mother ....
Looking forward to Wednesday.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I don't need to tell you this, but our beloved Buccos open up PNC Park for the 2009 season today against the dreaded dis-Astros. It reminds me of the day we met, a day I'm sure both of us remember well. Hearken back to the spring of 1978, if you will, and, well, who wouldn’t? The Stillers were in midst of a brief intra-dynasty Super Bowl break, a time that would make the upcoming championships even more sweet. The mills were pounding out tariff-protected steel at incredible rates. [I remember, as if it were yesterday, the sweet smell of burning metal permeating my parent's AMC Hornet (it was green - perfect) as we drove to the ballpark. That smell would linger on, even after we closed the windows, turned off the fan, and begged sweet baby jesus to make it stop.] And you had just finished your first full year in the bigs, a year that saw you swipe 53 bags, a performance that electrified the Burgh and foreshadowed your epic 1979 campaign in which you finished 15th in the MVP voting. So choice.
As you recall, my sister's 3rd grade class was invited to a game at venerable Three Rivers Stadium that season, and as if that wasn't cool enough, it included a meet and greet with the great Omar Moreno. Although I was only in kindergarten at the time, my kind sister allowed me to tag along with her class. I'm sure her decision was not influenced either by the raging guilt she felt after winning a raffle to become the Pirate's Bat Girl for a game the previous season (alas, my entry, while equally well penned and heartfelt, fell upon deaf ears) or by my parent's outright demand that I be allowed to attend, lest I lock myself away in my room for hours on end crying sweet tears of injustice, only to be drawn out by the siren song of a cucumber salad and Benny Hill reruns.
The meeting itself, albeit brief, is etched in my mind, primarily because my pillbox hat is askew in the only remaining picture of our dalliance. No doubt one of my sister's well meaning yet mischievous classmates was to blame, but I cannot shake the memory of you staring off into space while I awkwardly attempted to shake your hand. It was my first interaction with a real major league ballplayer, and it was sublime. So today, of all days, I'd like to thank you, Omar Moreno.
Good luck, Godspeed, and Go Buccos,
Heady front 9 yesterday at Augusta. When you made the turn at 30 I had visions of a 64 and a third green jacket for you dancing in my head. Alas, you put it in the water at 12 and then missed two easy puts on 15 and 17 that would have put you in striking distance of Angel Cabrera, Chad Campbell and Kenny "The Kentuckian" Perry. Instead of joining them in the playoff you were probably already on your third Jack and coke in the clubhouse, trading war stories with Arnie Palmer and Vijay Singh and Freddy Couples. Real tough life you guys lead.
At a minimum yesterday you must have been pleased with the Padres sweep of the Giants. I know you are a Diego boy and, if you haven't had time to notice (I know you've been busy), the hometown team is looking good this young season. Nick Hundley, the team's 25-year old catcher, had four hits and was just a home run away from hitting for the cycle. And CY, the Padres' 6'10" stud pitcher, made the Gints look foolish over his 7 innings of 4 hit ball. Add in a Chase Headley 2-run bomb and the boys looked very good yesterday.
In closing, Phil, nice work at the Masters and I hope you enjoy a few well-earned days off. But don't rest too easy. The U.S. Open is just two months away and I'm already betting this is your year to win it.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Way to smack two monster bombs at Petco last night off the Gints' Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez had some good stuff early but you scoffed at that and went ahead and hit two bombs anyway. Adrian had the big 3-run double to break the game wide open but your two bombs set an early pace for the Padre offense that, along with Peavy's gem outing, kept the team in the game.
Your right handed pull power is what Kevin Towers envisioned when he traded for Doug Mirabelli back before the 2006 season. Except you know what you're doing behind the plate as well, which is more than that scrub Mirabelli had going for him.
Also, that's a sweet tat on your left arm. I gotta get me one of those.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Nice air on that leaping grab in the top of the 8th to preserve a 2-run lead over the Giants last night. Great placement of your right hand and right leg on the wall for support, and nice stylish lift of your left leg behind you. No doubt you intended that.
Spicoli in the front row looks impressed.
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't give you a shout out for your 3-run bomb in the bottom of the 8th off the Gints' Merkin Valdez. That ball flew out of Petco like it had jet thrusters attached to the seams. You had your arms fully extended on a ball out over the plate and really put the Hairston into it. Nicely done.
Nice job as well by those U-T photographers, eh? First, Sean M. Haffey snaked that sweet photo of Nick Hundley and Heath Bell in front of the mound right after Bell closed out the hated Dadgers Thursday afternoon (see photo in yesterday's post). And then, John R. McCutchen caught you leaping against the wall last night and robbing Bengie Molina of at least a double. It's like he knew you were going to make the catch.
Well done, guys.
Friday, April 10, 2009
That was one hell of a ballgame yesterday. Nick, when you sped around the bases after Luis' double to the gap I literally jumped out of my chair at work and high fived the mid-air. And Heath, after you got Manny to ground out to Everth with the O-Dog dancing dangerously off third-base and then induced the game-ending 4-6-3 doble play, I again bounced out of my ergonomic work chair and did a high kick and double fist pump.
I almost ripped my Banana Republic khakis.
Anyway, great game. One of the best I can remember. Looking forward to more of the same tonight against the Gints.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I took the day off from work for Good Friday and the Billy Baldwin-Jennifer Jason-Leigh sex scene on the fire truck in Backdraft is on.
I think I'll watch that.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Don't be discouraged. I thought that sneaky bunt you tried leading off the bottom of the 9th against Jonathan Broxton last night was brilliant. The Padres needed baserunners at that point and a solo bomb wasn't going to do much to make up the 3-run deficit. Torre had the hated Dadgers in a shift against you and you thought you'd sneak a bunt down the third base line and waltz over to first.
Unfortunately you bunted the ball right back to Fats Broxton and he calmly threw you out. Chase and Kouz then promptly struck out - a common refrain - and that was that. 5-2 Dadgers.
But I'm already over it because it's a whole new day and a whole new ballgame starts in about 15 minutes.
I'll be watching on mlb.tv. Because that's what I do.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
So, how do you like your new nickname? I gave you that moniker last night while watching your noticeably nervous Major League debut in the critical seventh inning of the Padres 4-2 win over the hated Dadgers. Seriously man, for a minute there you looked like a guy about to get laid for the first time who had absolutely no idea what to do. I started to get nervous when the FSN cameras showed you praying for about 3 and a half minutes, Strap-style, behind the mound with your hat in your hand and your head bowed.
I yelled at the screen, "Edwin, God wants you on the mound," but I don't think you heard me.
But hey, you got the job done and that's all that matters. I especially loved how you kept going with that slider on the inside corner to the lefties. That pitch could be nasty on days you're spotting it. It rides in high and drops just under the elbows. Last night it was staying too far inside - perhaps a release point issue due to nerves? - but I bet it catches some corners on a lot of nights.
And getting Manny to pop up to end the inning? Outstanding. That would have been the highlight of my night had FSN not shown this Hardee's commercial starring Padma Lakshmi.
"It reminds me of being in high school. Sneaking out before dinner to savor that sweet, spicy sauce."
Indeed, Padma. Indeed.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I'm not sure I quite the see the strategy of leaving 5 men on base during an Opening Day game before the largest crowd in Petco Park history against the Padres biggest rival, but I'm willing to listen to an explanation.
If you tell me you are just waiting things out and saving a few monster hits for another day, and can explain to me why that idea makes sense, then hey man, I'm on board.
Until then though, I'm not quite sure I follow.
If you want to go ahead and get a few big hits tonight to make up for yesterday, by all means, please do so.
Monday, April 6, 2009
And maybe they'll look all cut up doing it.
Anyway, as we start this '09 season I wanted to pass on a brief message to each of the beasts that made the Padres 25-man Opening Day roster. That is no small accomplishment and each and every player deserves hearty congratulations. But these are all men that - while brave and tremendously talented - are not perfect. There is much they can work on to improve their games. I will now pass on that advice.
C - Nick Hundley: Nick, keep that arm intact. We need you to gun down wannabe base-stealers, something the past few Padre catchers couldn't do.
C- Henry Blanco: Henry, hit a few bombs and call strong games from behind the plate. It would also help if you mentor Nick.
1B - Adrian Gonzalez - Adrian, keep doin' what you're doin', brother.
2B - David Eckstein - David, get on base more often than Khalil Greene did last season. Also, tell the boys what it's like to have two World Series rings. Tell them so often that they get annoyed and decide they must have one for themselves.
2B - Edgar Gonzalez - Edgar, be a stud pinch hitter and keep that average up around .300. Also, use your brotherly insight to keep Adrian happy by doing whatever it is he likes.
SS - Luis Rodriguez - Luis, look for your pitch, get on base as much as possible and don't make more than the league average in errors. Luis, I'll admit, the bar is set pretty low for you. I'm ready to be unexpectedly surprised.
SS - Everth Cabrera - Everth, be a pinch runner extroardinaire and don't make too many errors when you do play in the field.
3B - Kevin Kouzmanoff - Kouz, hit many bombs and take a few more pitches. This is your breakout season, my man. Make it so.
RF - Brian Giles - Bri, be Brian Giles. You know what I mean.
CF - Jody Gerut - Jody, don't get injured, track down more than the average number of drives to the outfield gaps and keep up that solid power from the leadoff spot.
LF - Chase Headley - Chase, I told my friends that if you hit somewhere around .300 24 100, the Padres are going to have a pretty darn good offense. That's a lot to ask of a second year guy, but I'm not shy so I'm going to go ahead and ask that of you.
OF - Scott Hairston - Scotty, more of your patented dramatic game-winning bombs. About 17-20 of them please.
OF - Cliff Floyd - Cliffy, more pinch-hits than Tony Clark hit last season.
SP - Jake Peavy - Peav, how 'bout a Cy Young?
SP - Chris Young - CY, how 'bout finishing second in the voting for a Cy Young?
SP - Walter Silva - Walter, I don't know you and I'm not sure what kind of game you have. Adrian seems to like you though so that's enough for me for the time being. My advice to you is don't be intimidated and don't nibble. Throw strikes, amigo.
SP - Kevin Correia - Kev, keep the ball down and throw strikes.
SP - Shawn Hill - Shawn, keep the ball down and throw strikes.
RP - Ed Mujica - Ed, keep the ball down and throw strikes.
RP - Edwin Moreno - Edwin, keep the ball down and throw strikes.
RP - Duaner Sanchez - Duaner, keep the ball down and throw strikes.
RP - Eulogio De La Cruz - Eulogio, keep the ball down and throw strikes.
RP - Luke Gregerson - Luke, keep the ball down and throw strikes.
RP - Cla Meredith - Claw, step in to the role of main set up guy and nail it. I think you can do it, just keep that sinker low and throw strikes.
Cl - Heath Bell - Heath, this is your time. Don't try to be Trevor. Just go out and fire some strikes and look intimidating.
That is all for now, gentlemen. Best of luck this afternoon against the hated Dadgers.
Friday, April 3, 2009
I'm not going to lie, I'm going to miss seeing you falter and fail at your job twice a season as the Bolts put a beating on you. You are a great guy to root against and I applaud the ease and skill with which you play the role of "total and complete dickhead" in the ongoing drama that is the NFL.
Best of luck in Chicago. That's one of my favorite cities. Don't mess it up too much.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Within the last week no less than three of the top Padres blogs in the entire world have announced significant changes in their structure and management.
It all started on March 30th when Geoff Young, the dean of Drino bloggers, announced that he will only post to Ducksnorts once a week this summer. I find this news perplexing and disappointing, even perplexappointing. If Geoff doesn't write about the Padres at least three times a week ... well, I'm not going to say the world will end, but I'm not ruling that out as a possibility.
Then, that same day, Myron Logan announced that he was stepping down as administrator of Friar Forecast and passing the reins of that well hung operation over to Daniel "Danny" Gettinger. Myron provided no reason for his abdication except to write, mysteriously, that "real life has caught up to me, I guess."
For shame, Myron, for shame. If Padre blogging is not real life, then toss me in a casket right now.
As if all that wasn't enough, yesterday, on April Fool's Day, jbox of Gaslamp Ball wrote that he too is giving up blogging because his compadre, Dex, no longer blogs much anymore and jbox does not like going it alone. This is most likely an April Fool's Day prank - or so this humble blog hopes - but it raises concerns about the consistency and depth of GB coverage this summer. If they falter then what will I do seven times a day when I check the site for updates and summaries of XX 1090 radio interviews? Read old posts? Write my own comments to old posts? Lame. Trust me, no one wants that.
What I'm getting at here is that I hope everyone gets their act together - these three great Padre blogs included - and realizes this is a critical summer for the Padres and we need all hands on deck to support the team. This is a time when we need more Padres coverage, not less.
Bottom line is that everybody needs to take it up a notch. Tomás Krasovic and Corey Brock seem to be doing their part. Now where are the venerable bloggers that I have followed every day for the past few years? This is no time to let down your fans by focusing on family and gainful employment. This is the time to write insightful, analytical and sometimes humorous articles about the Padres that are read by dozens of people.
As Sean Astin said in The Goonies, "Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here!"
And that's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket.
Lets get r dun!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Well, it looks like you are going to make the Padres Opening Day roster, and, not only that, get some playing time the first week of the season.
Bold and courageous work, my friend, bold and courageous.
Last season you were playing down in A ball, running the bases like a madman, swiping more bags than anyone else in professional baseball. Now you are going to be a Padre and, hope upon hope, Buddy Black has it in mind to cut you loose and bring the speed game back to San Diego. I think a Padres team with a little run in them might work wonders at Petco. And you just might be the bud from which that flower grows, if you'll pardon the floriculture analogy.
Anyway, good sir, I'll see you Monday night in downtown Diego.