This weekend marks the second round of the NFL playoffs. I’ve got a lot of personal pride and fandom running on this weekend (no money, though) as the Chargers and Panthers both play. Here’s hoping they’re not conspiring to make this weekend one gigantic heart attack. (Perhaps I should have rented a defibrillator for this weekend.) Without further ado, here’s what I think of the games. (Yes, I’m paying more attention to the teams that I’m rooting for — this isn’t supposed to be unbiased sports journalism, after all. :) ) Continue reading
This is depressing. The Padres have withdrawn their contract offer to Trevor Hoffman, effectively ending his time in San Diego and apparently on very lousy terms.
This isn’t the way it was supposed to happen, not in the slightest — Hoffy was supposed to end his career as a Padre, in triumph, with the blare of Angus Young and Brian Johnson mixing into the soundscape — but sadly, owner John Moores’ divorce proceedings and a breakdown in the front office has trumped all that.
So, in 2009, there won’t be any more Hells Bells. No more opposing batters flailing at Hoffman’s bedazzling changeup. No more Trevor Time.
With the likely trade of Jake Peavy and probably several other players in what is shaping up to be Fire Sale II, 2009 promises to be a very lousy year for San Diego baseball. It will be especially hard without Hoffman, especially knowing the circumstances of his departure.
Will the 41-year-old Hoffman play again? Probably. His agent will shop him around, and there’s no shortage of teams that need a proven closer. He would have to be a closer, too — statistically, he’s proven to not be as effective in middle relief or non-save situations. Also, at 41, his stuff isn’t what it used to be. The few times I’ve seen him, I’ve seen that his fastball is low even for Hoffman’s standards; he’s only throwing 84, 85 now. The changeup helps offset for that, but he’s simply being figured out more. I’m sure a team in desperate need will pick him up for a year, but you know, there’s something really disheartening about Hoffman being a stopgap solution for another team in what will likely be his final season.
Ted Cottrell has been fired as the San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator. His replacement? Ron Rivera, who in his tenure as defensive coordinator with the Bears made their defense something fierce. I’m quite excited about this development and am optimistic that Rivera will give the defense, dead-last in the NFL against the pass, the kick in the rear that it desperately needs.
This Chargers fan has seen this face far too much, and it needs to stop. Today’s performance was, once again, pitiful. They completely squandered LT’s first real healthy performance of the season with turnover after turnover, and they have completely forgotten how to play defense. There’s a REASON why Ted Cottrell was working in the NFL office before he became the Chargers’ D-coordinator!
But let’s get back to Norv. The Chargers are showing clear signs of being Norved — they’re disorganized, not playing defense, and there are a lot of selfish people on the team making plays for their own stats instead of for the overall big picture (Cromartie, I’m calling you out). Most importantly, they do not look ready to play. That’s where coaching and conditioning come into play.
Remember, Norv took a 14-2 team that was one dropped interception from the AFC Championship down to 11-5 and squeaked into the playoffs. Granted, he got one more playoff win than Marty Schottenheimer could muster, but the more I see this year play out, the more I feel like the Chargers — very, very trendy Super Bowl picks — are going to flame out as the most talented 8-8 team in NFL history.
I realize that injuries have hurt this team somewhat, most notably the absence of Shawne Merriman in the pass rush, but that’s no excuse for completely failing to play secondary, for somehow forgetting the fundamentals of tackling…ugh.
The Chargers are now 3-5 and it won’t get easier. It’s an uphill battle for them to get into the playoffs now, especially if the Broncos right the ship after their bye week. (And I refuse to blame Ed Hochuli for that bad call in the Denver game, in retrospect — yes, it eventually did cost them the game, but the Chargers still have to make that stop, and they couldn’t do it — twice.)
At least the Panthers won today. Might don that shade of blue for the weeks ahead if the Chargers can’t turn it around.
In case you haven’t heard, all indications are that Tom Brady is done for the year. Last year, the Patriots talked about playing through the adversity of Spygate, etc — but they had all their players remain reasonably intact. The rush of air you feel? The rest of the AFC East breathing a sigh of relief. While the Belichick-era Patriots are resilient, losing their superstar quarterback may be too much. The Patriots are definitely more mortal now, and the division is completely up for grabs now.
Meanwhile, I watched my Chargers and the Panthers tangle to the last second, when a Jake Delhomme miracle throw was caught by Dante Rosario for a game-winning touchdown with no time left. Incredible! I hate seeing the Chargers lose, but losing to the Panthers is the only team I can accept them losing to. The Panthers haven’t looked this good in years. Having Steve Smith out may not necessarily be a bad thing for Delhomme; he spread the ball out to everybody. Delhomme always seems to lean on Smith when he’s in the game. The playcalling was very well-balanced (though going for it on fourth-and-1 on their second drive of the game was foolish), and the defense was as strong as ever.
This game is a gut-check for the Chargers, who need to strongly rethink their policy of leaving players out completely in preseason. Everybody was shaking off rust, and the regular season just isn’t the time for that. One silver lining: Philip Rivers looks as sharp as ever. His mobility was all there — it’s uncanny considering that less than seven months ago he had his ACL reconstructed. The Chargers will bounce back and will be fine; they needed this game to get a few things in check.
Looks to be a fun and wild year ahead; I’m really glad football’s back, especially after such a dismal baseball season.
As promised, here’s my guest post on YanksBlog.com about Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano’s rehab appearances for the RiverDogs Tuesday night. The rain really kept a lot of folks away, so I had a little more freedom of movement than I was anticipating. I was frightened the game wouldn’t even happen! I’ll write more about the experience later on, as this is a first for me, but for now, it’s time for bed!
Folks in Charleston will get to see a rare sight later tonight, as Carl Pavano and Phil Hughes of the New York Yankees will embark on rehabilitation assignments with our Single-A RiverDogs against Asheville at 7:05. I’ll be covering the game for YanksBlog.com. Major leaguers don’t stop by often; the last one that I know of was Jon Lester last year at the RiverDogs’ opening game as he began to rehab his way back from his chemotherapy treatments to beat away lymphoma. Carl Pavano pitching is a rare sight in and of itself, too. There are some tickets left but count on them to go quickly!
Life as a New England sports fan must be pretty damn good right now. They have a world champion in baseball and a football team that could almost be charged with murdering other teams, they’re that good.
Congrats, Boston, on your seventh title. And congrats to Mike Lowell on his MVP award — he’s truly deserving. He killed teams in the postseason — not just the World Series — with his timely hitting.
On to football season, full-time…and finally, regular sleep. These postseason games were on way too late at night. The World Series — hell, a vast majority of the postseason — was completely inaccessible to children under 16. I know it’s ratings pressure, but they have to fix this. It just seems wrong that a kid can’t watch his or her heroes win the World Series. I dunno, it just seems wrong to keep our national pastime (still is, right?) out of the reach of those who will carry it forward to the next generation.
Billy Donovan Night is too funny:
The Fort Myers Miracle, a Single-A minor league baseball team in the Florida State League, will poke fun at the Florida Gators coach who backed out of his deal with the Orlando Magic when it hosts “Billy Donovan Night” on June 20.
Just like Donovan escaped his five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Magic, fans can try and negotiate their way out of their ticket purchase.
If there’s one thing you can count on with minor league ball, it’s a never-ending slew of creative promotions.
Oh, and one more thing — why is it that college basketball coaches are the most indecisive people on the planet when it comes to coaching jobs? It seems like you have one or two of these about-faces every year now.
I don’t normally comment on the Dallas Cowboys, but I found this notable. Terrell “I’m Back” Owens was fined $9,500 by the Dallas Cowboys — he missed a meeting and was late to a rehab session. This is to be expected — after all, this is T.O. we’re talking about here.
I was more irked by Jerry Jones when pressed by the media, though:
Jones seemed to downplay the drama surrounding Owens’ injury by noting that Carolina’s Steve Smith and Pittsburgh’s Hines Ward also have been slowed by hamstring injuries without drawing the same scrutiny as Owens. He also recalled Deion Sanders’ ability to play well after flying in from baseball games and missing long stretches of practice.
What Jerry Jones fails to realize is that:
- T.O. has a history of being a selfish jerk who can singlehandedly ruin a season with his theatrics. Ask Jeff Garcia or Donovan McNabb.
- Steve Smith and Hines Ward don’t show up to practice on a stationary bicycle in Discovery Channel cycling gear, unlike T.O. — considering his past history, it’s the latest in a long line of childish publicity stunts.
The question now is one of whether Bill Parcells will start Owens in the opener. That’ll be a key test to see where the balance of power lies in Dallas.