Hey, the links thing is back!

I know, I know, I have one of the coolest jobs in the world.

Been hearing that refrain for the past quarter century and trust me, I do understand it’s true.

But the people who make those remarks never see the bad side of things.

You know, like having to write about the Cleveland Browns.

I’d say I’d rather have a root canal than write about the Browns, but, um, yeah, I just might have to undergo that procedure next month so it doesn’t sound fun to joke about it.

I’d say I’d rather have a pallet jack roll up on my foot … “Oh no, not again!” to quote Rod Stewart. No, that wasn’t the least bit fun when it occurred the first time.

I think you get the point — writing about the Cleveland Browns isn’t one of the highlights of a sportswriter’s day. They are the lone winless team in the NFL and it isn’t the least bit surprising.

Cleveland (0-6) has dropped 16 of its last 17 games, is on its third quarterback (rookie Cody Kessler) of the season and lost one of its best players in safety Jordan Poyer to a lacerated kidney.

Ouch. Always hurts every time I see “lacerated kidney.”

Hurts to write it as well.

The Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals (2-4) this Sunday and Cincinnati has been an underachieving group this season.

Anyway, here is the stellar preview — http://sports.yahoo.com/news/bengals-hope-break-vs-lowly-browns-234337193–nfl.html

The Chicago Cubs rose from the dead in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series and now the pressure is on the Los Angeles Dodgers when it comes to Thursday’s Game 5.

The Dodgers don’t want to head to Chicago with a 3-2 deficit even if Clayton Kershaw is pitching in Game 6. Los Angeles needs to win Game 5 and a victory would really make things tough for Chicago.

The Cubs’ players would spend Friday’s off-day hearing all about the 108-year title drought and knowing they would have to win two games to avoid being viewed as enormous disappointments. Sometimes it gets tough to play baseball under such circumstances.

But Thursday’s 10-2 trouncing of the Dodgers certainly provided confidence for the Cubs. Their chances of winning Game 5 can’t be too bad with Jon Lester on the mound and Kershaw resting in the dugout.

But who did I pick to win Game 5? Guess I gave it away in the headline. My predicted score is inside the stellar preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/410460/preview/

Top-ranked Alabama is an amazing football team. The Crimson Tide are on their way to another appearance in the College Football Playoff and it won’t surprise me if they don’t lose a game.

But what impresses me most is this tidbit — Alabama has scored 11 non-offensive touchdowns (eight on defense, three on punt returns) over its first seven games.

Think of that — 11 non-offensive touchdowns. Heck, it might take Rutgers three years to score 11 touchdowns of any kind.

When a team can repeatedly be that opportunistic, it makes it much harder for the opposition to post an upset. And I certainly don’t see sixth-ranked Texas A&M having a chance this Saturday.

Heck, neither do the oddsmakers who are smarter than all of us. They list the Crimson Tide as 18.5-point favorites.

It definitely seems kind of unfair for a program with one of the top rosters in the nation to keep scoring when they weren’t even in possession of the ball.

Here is the stellar preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52601/preview/top25/

Do you remember those days when Brigham Young was a national caliber football program?

Oh, you don’t?

Makes sense but there was a time when BYU was a marquee program and even won a national championship in 1984. The school produced several NFL quarterbacks (including Steve Young and Jim McMahon) and loved to beat up on lesser conference foes.

But now the Cougars are an independent and nobody outside of Utah thinks all that highly of them. Heck, the Big 12 passed on adding them to their conference so that’s got to hurt when you aren’t considered to be on par with lame programs like Iowa State and Kansas.

BYU visits Boise State on Thursday and the Broncos badly need the victory. Boise State plays that light Mountain West schedule and adding a win over BYU to Pac-12 victories over Washington State and Oregon State helps the school’s chances of landing a Cotton Bowl bid.

The Broncos probably haven’t forgotten being one defensive stop away from beating BYU last season until Tanner Mangum (from the Boise suburb of Eagle, Idaho) tossed a game-winning 35-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds left.

Here is the stellar preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52584/preview/top25/

Hey, we’re doing the my weekly links thing again … it is fully a tradition now.

Boise State has a pretty solid quarterback in sophomore Brett Rypien but nobody discusses him nationally.

Oh, they will say a few nice things about him on ESPN2 immediately after he passes for 391 yards and five touchdowns against New Mexico on the channel but then all chatter disappears and he returns to oblivion.

That’s what happens in the power-conference era. If Rypien played for a Pac-12 team — like he could have — he would get all kinds of love for those kinds of accomplishments. But playing in a minor conference like the Mountain West is a killer.

Regardless, Rypien is giving Boise State its best quarterbacking since a guy named Kellen Moore was setting all kinds of records at the school. Trust me, Rypien can play a little.

Here is a link to the stellar Colorado State-Boise State preview — http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/gametracker/preview/NCAAF_20161015_COLOST@BOISE/no-15-boise-state-rypien-look-to-stay-hot

The Houston Cougars always seemed like a team destined to lose. The question was when.

That was answered last Saturday when the Cougars lost to Navy. That defeat removed Houston from any chance of crashing the College Football Playoff.

That saddens people because they always want to have the so-called Little Guy hanging around the playoff mix. But the reality is that conferences like the American Athletic and Conference USA and Mountain West have already been forever relegated to second-tier status.

The Cougars notched an impressive victory over Oklahoma earlier this season that propelled the playoff talk possibility and they were ranked sixth prior to the loss to Navy.

But the playoff dream was going to be snapped at some point. And since coach Tom Herman says the goal wasn’t to go undefeated — the only way Houston could be part of the CFP — then I guess he isn’t all that heartbroken.

Here is a link to the stellar Tulsa-Houston preview — http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/no-13-cougars-seek-bounce-back-effort-101116

Tony Romo is getting closer to being healthy enough to play and that means the Dallas Cowboys may soon have a quarterback dilemma.

Romo is recovering from a broken vertebra in his back and is brittle as he nears the end of his career. Youngster Dak Prescott has seized the opportunity and guided the Cowboys to a 4-1 start while setting a rookie record by starting the season with 155 attempts without an interception.

Naturally, owner Jerry Jones decides to pop off and proclaim that Romo is still the No. 1 quarterback. Sure Jerry, go back to Romo. Perhaps that will help end your team’s nice start and allow the franchise to miss the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.

The Cowboys missing the playoffs is always fine with me.

Another interesting thing to watch Sunday is how Dallas rookie Ezekiel Elliott (NFL-leading 546 rushing yards) performs against the Green Bay Packers’ sturdy rushing defense. The Packers lead the NFL by allowing just 42.8 rushing yards per game and 1.99 yards per carry.

Here is a link to the stellar Cowboys-Packers preview — http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2016/10/12/cowboys-just-fine-with-prescott-at-qb-until-romo-returns0.html

The baseball postseason is kicking into high gear with just four teams remaining.

The interesting thing is all four teams have long droughts since last winning a World Series.

The Toronto Blue Jays (1993) have the shortest span of not winning a World Series (think Joe Carter’s game-winning walkoff homer off Philadelphia’s Mitch Williams). Toronto faces the Cleveland Indians, who last won the World Series in 1948 (you might have heard about that when the Cavaliers won the NBA title in June).

In the National League, the Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908 when Theodore Roosevelt was president. Teddy was the 26th president of this country and we are now about to decide on the 45th prez. The Cubs face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who haven’t won the World Series since 1988 (the series of Kirk Gibson’s famous walk-off blast against Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley).

I will handle the preview assignments for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the National League Championship Series. And Games 1, 2 and 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Here is a link to the stellar Blue Jays-Indians Game 1 preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/410439/preview/

The links tradition is on a roll now … unlike the San Diego Chargers.

Three fourth-quarter collapses have saddled the Chargers with a 1-3 record and coach Mike McCoy is two losses away from being fired.

McCoy won’t be dismissed if the Chargers lose to the Oakland Raiders this Sunday unless he punches Dean Spanos after the game.

But when the Chargers get smacked around by the Denver Broncos four days later on Thursday Night Football, you can expect McCoy to be informed the following morning that his services are no longer needed.

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt would certainly be named interim coach and the extra 72 hours would come in handy to help the staff in preparations for the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 24.

Sure hope there aren’t some Chargers’ fans bemoaning that the team isn’t 4-0. Good teams don’t blow three games in the final five minutes in three of the first four weeks.

The Chargers aren’t a good team so the meltdowns aren’t a total surprise — and gosh, how excited was Drew Brees to get to rally the New Orleans Saints from 13 points down for a 35-34 victory over the franchise that discarded him?

The Raiders are 3-1 and quarterback Derek Carr is on the verge of stardom.

OK, on to the link, the stellar preview of the Chargers-Raiders game is here — http://www.foxsports.com/san-diego/story/chargers-hope-to-solve-fourth-quarter-woes-vs-raiders-100616


“Mike lives in Boise, might want to handle” came the directive as if it rates as a special occasion to write about two Mountain West programs.

But audiblizing into the plan is an easy thing when you have a great boss. Plus, I knew there was an easy angle to this Boise State at New Mexico preview.

New Mexico was 30.5-point underdogs last season and beat Boise State on the famed blue turf in Boise. Let that sink in, 30.5-point underdogs. A team that heavily favored really has to suffer an extreme drop in its quality of play and its entire coaching staff has to be totally outworked and outsmarted by the opposing staff.

And that is what happened as New Mexico posted a 31-24 victory. Then the Lobos rubbed it in by posing for team pictures on the field with a New Mexico state flag.

Seriously, the Lobos pack a New Mexico state flag when they go on the road?

That is really kind of weird, isn’t it?

So don’t believe Boise State coach Bryan Harsin when he acts like his team isn’t out for revenge. What coaches say for public consumption is seldom the same as they say behind closed doors.

Here is the stellar preview — http://charlotteobserver.stats.com/cfb/preview.asp?g=201610070092


Jim Harbaugh sure comes off as a prima donna and/or an egomaniac these days, doesn’t he?

The funny thing is he was outstanding to deal with when he was an NFL player.

I dealt with him when he was on the San Diego Chargers and he was terrific to deal with at all times. One time, the team was doing offseason public caravans and he asked the staffers to bring him by my newspaper. Harbaugh was quite a hit with the circulation ladies, let’s just say that.

The bigger barometer on how good he was to deal with is this: The Chargers cut him (yep, Ryan Leaf era) and he fielded my call on his home phone in Coronado. Spent 15-plus minutes filling up my notebook.

Most NFL players go into hiding in such a situation.

I also can’t help but laugh about the time Harbaugh told me he was interested in the San Diego State football coaching job, a story that I broke. But you see, the Aztecs weren’t all that interested in him.

A couple members of the athletic department were still upset that Harbaugh had publicly intimated his University of San Diego team could beat San Diego State.

One of the assistant athletic directors even chided me for my article and insisted they wouldn’t hire him.

But San Diego State did interview Harbaugh as part of a poorly executed coaching search. The same assistant AD gave me a hard time after I broke the story that Dennis Erickson was interested, giving me the same “we’re not hiring him” lecture.

Oh yeah, the school did interview Erickson too.

Think of this — current Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was one of the two finalists. So a downtrodden San Diego State program could have hired either Fisher or Harbaugh and they still messed things up.

The Aztecs hired Chuck Long, who lasted three seasons and twice suffered home losses to lower-level Cal Poly.

A big miss for San Diego State. Of course, we also know what would have happened. Harbaugh would have won 18 games over his first two seasons and landed a better job.

That’s what guys who know how to win do.

And here’s the stellar Michigan-Rutgers preview — http://www.espn.com/ncf/preview/_/id/400869636


Here’s a little baseball for you to round out his edition of the links.

The Chicago Cubs had the best record in the majors this season but we all know their history — 108 years since they last won a World Series.

The San Francisco Giants have a different type of formula — they have won the World Series (2010, 2012, 2014) in every even-numbered season this decade.

Should be an interesting series and the Cubs already caught their biggest break. The Giants had to play in the National League wild-card contest and ace Madison Bumgarner was needed to pitch a four-hit shutout.

The means he will only pitch once in the series against the Cubs. Chicago went up against Bumgarner twice this season and lost both times.

All the pressure is on the Cubs and players like probable NL MVP Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo need to play much, much better than they did in the 2015 postseason.

Anyway, here is the stellar Game 1 preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/410446/preview/

Remember all those years when I covered San Diego State football and the program couldn’t even make one of those lousy bowl games few people care about?

Remember how awful some of those teams were? Remember how they lost in the ridiculous Kibbie Dome to Idaho? Remember when they lost at home to Cal Poly? (and lost to the Mustangs again after I was no longer on the beat).

Hard to forget what a pitiful program the Aztecs were but guess what happened this week — something truly, truly remarkable.

I was writing the national preview about San Diego State playing a game as a ranked program for the first time since 1995.

You know, back when Bobby Ross was coach of the Chargers and Ken Caminiti of the Padres was in the process of juicing his way to stardom. Back when the basketball Aztecs were losing games under a former junior-college coach named Fred Trenkle (true, you can look it up).

The football Aztecs didn’t last long as a ranked program way back then as they lost to Wyoming and disappeared from the rankings for 21 long years.

They play South Alabama this Saturday and one word of caution: The Jaguars defeated the Aztecs 34-27 in overtime in San Diego last season.

One other notable thing is that senior running back Donnel Pumphrey is just 129 yards away from becoming the 21st player in college football history to reach 5,000 career yards.

That is kind of impressive, don’t you think?

Anyway, here is the link to the stellar preview — http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/no-19-aztecs-seek-revenge-against-south-alabama-092816


OK, on to some other links.

I knew Sports Illustrated had a website but I had no idea my previews land there. The big showdown between Wisconsin and Michigan ended up there. We’ll see if the Wolverines continue putting up points in bushels when they face the Badgers for the first time since 2010. Here is that preview — http://www.si.com/college-football/game/1621711

The college football landscape of today means Oklahoma is finished after starting off the season with a 1-2 record. The funny thing is that the Sooners finally open Big 12 play on Saturday against TCU. Tells you how little conference races matter these days if Oklahoma truly has nothing to play for. Upi.com kept my byline on the preview so we will link to them — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/College-Football/2016/09/29/TCU-vs-Oklahoma-Prediction-preview-pick-to-win-Big-12-football/9331475169451/

Interesting that at the bottom there is a prediction for that game. I didn’t make that prediction. I did make a prediction for another company with a different preview I wrote of that same game — and I picked Oklahoma to win. You can see that here — https://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52455/preview/top25/

Here is one for the NFL fans. Russell Wilson vows to play when the Seattle Seahawks visit the New York Jets on Sunday. While the Seahawks worry about the health of their quarterback, the Jets must be wondering about the psyche of Ryan Fitzpatrick. The guy committed eight turnovers (six interceptions, two fumbles) last Sunday. That is really hard to do. Here is the stellar preview — http://www.krdo.com/sports/seahawks-should-have-wilson-for-game-against-jets/99756764

And one final link for the baseball people. The St. Louis Cardinals posted a controversial victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday and here is my preview for their Friday contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The wild-card race between the Cardinals and San Francisco Giants will be decided this weekend. Shelf life is short on baseball previews but here is a stellar one — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/399088/preview/

Sunday was one of those surreal days in the sports world.

The tragic death of Miami Marlins All-Star pitcher Jose Fernandez was bad news to wake up to and then night-time brought us the death of golf legend Arnold Palmer.

LSU football coach Les Miles was fired on Sunday afternoon but I’m sure not wasting much time worrying about him. He’s still alive and will be paid approximately $10 million to go away.

So if you’ve ever wanted me to go away and have $10 million spare dollars, please contact me immediately.

Palmer is the second huge icon to pass away in 2016 — boxer Muhammad Ali died in June.

He died at the age of 87 at a Pittsburgh hospital, reportedly as he awaited cardiac surgery.

The four-time Masters’ champion was an athlete who transcended his sport — he once had more commercial endorsements than Peyton Manning does now — and was also known as a true gentleman.

Heck, he even has a beverage named after him.

In this day and age of spoiled sports figures, it is hard to relate to all the stories you hear about Palmer treating everybody as if they were equally as important as him.

He even had his own gallery of fans called “Arnie’s Army” that followed him around the golf courses.

There is a reason why he is considered the greatest ambassador golf has ever had. He helped golf become viewed as a sport to the general public and his popularity led to the big-time purses that today’s golfers receive at tournaments.

“It is not an exaggeration to say there would be no modern day PGA Tour without Arnold Palmer,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in a statement. “There would be no PGA Tour Champions without Arnold Palmer. There would be no Golf Channel without Arnold Palmer. No one has had a greater impact on those who play our great sport or who are touched by it.”

We know how Palmer lived his life. Sadly, we will never know how Fernandez would have lived his.

Someone dying at the age of 24 never sounds fair. But when it is a big-time sports figure beloved by millions, the death becomes even more shocking.

Fernandez was hugely popular in South Florida. He was already a two-time All-Star who looked destined to be a 10-time All-Star before his career was over.

Instead, his life is already over due to a boating accident and the Marlins are a devastated franchise.

“There’s no words to describe how this organization feels,” Marlins president David Samson said at a press conference. “Jose was someone who we’ve known since he was a drafted young man, and I think when you talk about a tragedy like this, there are no words that come to mind. There’s no playbook, there’s no words of consolation.”

Miami’s scheduled Sunday game against the Atlanta Braves was canceled — the only decision that could be made under the circumstances.

Manager Don Mattingly was among the many people in the organization who couldn’t contain his emotions.

“There was just joy with him when he played,” Mattingly said. “When he pitched, I think that’s what the guys would say, too, as mad as he would make you with some of the stuff he’d do, you’d see that little kid you see when you watch kids play Little League or something like that. That’s the joy that Jose played with and the passion he felt about playing.”

Fernandez had a 38-17 career record and 2.58 ERA and he hadn’t even entered his prime.

His story is well-known as he escaped from Cuba in 2008 as a teenager after three previously failed attempts. On the successful trip, somebody had fallen overboard and Fernandez dove into the water to make the rescue.

He didn’t know who had fallen in — it turned out to be his mother, Maritza.

The 2017 All-Star Game will be at Marlins Park and I’m sure there will be a big ceremony in his honor.

When you think about it — Marlins Park isn’t a name that needs to be kept.

I hope the franchise renames the place Jose Fernandez Memorial Park.

That’s a no-brainer.

It is time to do that new tradition — the weekly links thing.

I had the preview assignment for the San Diego Chargers versus the Indianapolis Colts and I kind of think you Chargers’ fans might be in store for a happy Sunday.

No, you won’t see rookie Joey Bosa in uniform for the first time. His hamstring is too sore — that’s what happens when you put a couple million dollars in your back pocket.

Um, no, I don’t know this from first-hand experience.

But the winless Colts are pretty banged up. Quarterback Andrew Luck has an achy shoulder and I lost count trying to figure out many Indianapolis defensive backs were injured.

OK, I got the abacus out — the number is six.

Philip Rivers has always enjoyed success against the Colts and it won’t surprise me at all to see him walking off the field giddy once again with Indianapolis having allowed a league-worst 73 points.

Here is the stellar preview — http://www.espn.com/nfl/preview?gameId=400874624


Did you know Alabama coach Nick Saban attended Kent State? It is a fact.

He is helping his alma mater’s finances by bringing them to town for Saturday’s whipping. The upcoming victory will also be Saban’s 200th as a college coach.

Also saw during the week that Saban was on campus the day of the infamous Kent State shootings in 1970. He and a buddy stopped to eat and that kept them from being in the area when the tragedy unfolded and four college kids lost their lives.

Here is that preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52385/preview/top25/


Michigan’s all-purpose star Jabrill Peppers is now a Heisman Trophy candidate. How do I know?

Because I said so (or wrote so).

When someone with a national stage writes such a thing, it is out there forever and the legend begins to grow. He won’t win the trophy but he might be the best all-round player in the nation.

Here is the Michigan versus Penn State preview — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/2016/09/21/Michigan-vs-Penn-State-College-football-game-preview-predictions-score/9261474432584/


And how about those Padres? They have won seven of their past eight games against the San Francisco Giants and have even done the unthinkable — beaten Madison Bumgarner in each of last his two starts against them.

Bumgarner will try to beat those rookie-laden Padres and a victory would be the 100th of his career. Hard to believe he has already been around that long, isn’t it?

The 2014 World Series hero has been in a bad mood lately and it probably has to do with his sinking team. The Giants have lost eight of their past 12 games and are in danger of missing the postseason in an even-numbered year (they won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014).

Here is the stellar baseball preview for you — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/399122/preview/

Hey, we really might be starting this tradition after all.

Last week, I put out links to where some of my work ended up. It was a rousing success by the responses.

Those of you who assumed my articles just evaporated into thin air could see that they are actually on the websites of all the major players when it comes to sports content.

And if they want to strip bylines off the copy, no problem. Those days of getting mean emails from sports fans are over — nothing like some anonymous person calling you names because you predicted their school to lose a football game.

In fact, I stumbled on a Colorado football message board ripping ESPN for its “biased” preview of the Colorado at Michigan game on Saturday. Just sat there laughing because nobody employed by ESPN wrote that preview with some type of agenda.

Yours truly – with absolutely no agenda – wrote that preview and I’ve never once received a paycheck from ESPN.

So I guess I should start this week’s links with that preview — and this “biased” guy included that Colorado’s victory over Michigan in 1994 is one of the most famous endings in college football history.

Gee, there are probably Michigan fans everywhere calling my preview biased. LOL.

Here are the links:

Here is the much-discussed (at least by Colorado fans) preview of Saturday’s Colorado-Michigan game. … http://www.espn.com/college-football/preview?gameId=400869111

Did you know Ohio (not to be confused with Ohio State like Brady Hoke does) has never beaten a ranked team in its 122-year history? You will after reading the Ohio-Tennessee preview. … http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2016/09/13/cfb-preview-no-15-tennessee-vs-ohio0.html

Derek Carr is on his way to being an elite NFL quarterback and the Raiders haven’t started a season 2-0 since I had only one nephew (I have three nephews and three nieces now). Here’s the preview for the Falcons-Raiders game and of the dozens of sites you can find it on, I’m linking to upi.com since they didn’t strip my byline. … http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/2016/09/15/Derek-Carr-Oakland-Raiders-eye-2-0-start-vs-Atlanta-Falcons-in-Week-2/6471473916407/

14 of my MLB previews ran in USA Today this week — here’s Friday’s Toronto Blue Jays-Los Angeles Angels preview. … http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/397719/preview/

Remember how I said I run into my work everywhere and often unsuspected? The preview for the big tilt between top-ranked Alabama and No. 17 Ole Miss also can be found on the USA Today site. … Alabama has lost to Ole Miss in each of the past two seasons. … http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52306/preview/top25/


If I had more free time, I’d write about whole 5,000 words telling you how A.J. Preller isn’t so stellar.

But you probably already know that after the San Diego Padres general manager was suspended for 30 games without pay on Thursday for deceptive practices regarding the health of players being discussed in trade talks.

This penalty was for the trade that sent All-Star left-hander Drew Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox in mid-July.

Personally, I think the punishment is too light. I think Preller should have gotten an 81-game suspension.

The Red Sox weren’t the only team to complain. The Miami Marlins were known to be vehemently upset when they received Colin Rea in a trade with the Padres and he was injured in his first start. The Padres quickly agreed to take Rea back, which I found very interesting at the time.

That tipped me off that the Padres knew Rea was damaged goods when they included him in the deal with Andrew Cashner. Otherwise, you wouldn’t take a player back. You would just say, ‘Hey, he got hurt working for you, not us’ and let the chips fall where they may.

There is even a report out there that the Chicago White Sox are unhappy with information supplied by the Padres about James Shields, who might be the worst pitcher in the majors this season while going 5-17 with a 5.84 ERA.

Yeah, I bet Preller doctored information about Shields, too. I bet his report said something like this:

1 — James Shields is still really, really good. Like All-Star good.

2 — Don’t look at the win-loss record. James Shields will win a lot of games once he is on a better team than I built.

3 — No, that birth certificate says he’s 34? That’s wrong. James Shields is only 24.

4 — James Shields’ arm? Never ever been sore. None of our pitchers ever get sore arms. Bank on it.

I do know this — Preller and the Padres are in a lot of trouble. When you cheat like this, it stains your reputation and the other 29 teams are going to know Preller can’t be trusted.

It’s going to be really hard for the Padres to get fair value in future trades.

This line in the USA Today story about Preller and the Padres says it best:

“It’s embarrassing enough for the Padres to miss the postseason for the 10th consecutive year, but to actually cheat, and still have a 62-84 record, is deplorable.”

Ouch … but so true … the team known as the “Miserable Failures” has quite a miserable person serving as general manager too.

Yeah, A.J. Preller definitely isn’t stellar.

Donnel Pumphrey may now be San Diego State’s all-time leading rusher but let’s make one thing clear.

The greatest running back in Aztecs’ history will always be Marshall Faulk.

Oh sure, it’s possible that there could be another once-in-a-generation talent who someday chooses to be a San Diego State running back and makes the college football world take notice. I’m just thinking I won’t be alive in 2066 or 2116 or whenever that unlikely feat happens.

If you weren’t around to witness the Faulk era from 1991-93, you missed the most amazing feats ever seen by a person wearing a San Diego State football uniform. Starting with setting the then-NCAA single-game rushing record (386 yards) in his second college game to making USC defenders look like pylons on national television and stunning finishes of second and fourth place in the Heisman Trophy balloting of 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Faulk should have won the Heisman as a sophomore in 1992. But he suffered a season-ending knee injury on his second carry of the next-to-last game (he had 33 yards on those two rushes) and missed out on adding another 300 or so yards to his national-leading rushing total.

There was also ESPN’s Lee Corso lobbying hard against him all year in favor of Miami quarterback Gino Torretta, the eventual winner. The 1992 balloting is now looked back on as one of the worst Heisman snubs in the history of the award.

Of course, it didn’t help that the Aztecs went to just one bowl game — the defunct Freedom Bowl — in three years with such a special player who went on to NFL stardom and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, Faulk (4,589 career yards) was passed as the school’s all-time leading by Pumphrey (4,651) and that rates as a superb accomplishment for Pumphrey.

You can tell by Pumphrey’s postgame comments that he is humbled to have his name mentioned along with Faulk — see this stellar story by someone you know … Pumphrey pushes Faulk from SDSU record books.

That is good to see. I can remember numerous times when I was on the San Diego State beat that I broke the news of a high school running back committing to the school and the name of Faulk would eventually arise.

Several times, I heard a youngster express that they were going to break Faulk’s records. Most of the time, I shook my head (they couldn’t see that over the phone) and laughed about it later.

There was one player named Frederick Collins who was definitely sure he would be the one. He was a high school All-American who chose the Aztecs over Arizona State and Washington.

Shortly after his arrival on campus, another media member and I were discussing him during fall camp and I said I wasn’t all that impressed. The other writer was stunned because he was, well, a little too giddy about the kid.

Then the games started … and I was even less impressed.

Collins lasted all of one season. He had 333 yards – some 4,256 yards shy of Faulk’s record. He was no Faulk. He was definitely no Deacon Turner – the best running back BF (Before Faulk) in Aztecs’ history.

Collins certainly was no Pumphrey for that matter.

Pumphrey holds two of San Diego State’s top four single-season rushing-yardage seasons and certainly has a solid chance of making it three of the top five. He has enjoyed a great career and will someday join Faulk in San Diego State’s athletic Hall of Fame.

He deserves all the accolades. He deserves all the attention. He seems like has a good head on his shoulders. He may even make it to the NFL.

But don’t ever let anyone tell you he’s the best running back in San Diego State history.

He’s not and he never will be.

That title still belongs to a guy named Marshall Faulk.

A question I get asked frequently is this: Where can I find your articles?

The short answer, of course, is everywhere.

The hard part is knowing exactly where they were published.

You can’t just search my name and find them because so many websites strip off the byline because having content – no matter where it comes from – is the name of the game in the online world.

Entities like USA Today, ESPN and Yahoo! Sports are masters of making the content look like it was staff-produced. Easy to do since 98 percent of sports fans could care less who actually wrote the article they are reading.

None of that bothers me here in 2016. It would have pained me when I first started in the business but I learned a long time ago that the amount of the paycheck is much more significant than seeing my name at the top of the story. And the size of the paycheck is also more important than all these fancy awards I have all over the house.

Heck, in 2013 a newspaper contacted me to see if I would be interested in interviewing for its most important sports beat. I cringed at the salary the managing editor told me and did the math.

I asked myself why would I ever take a pay cut of $15,000-18,000 to go back to newspaper life and I couldn’t come up with even one answer. Since I’ve grown my income another $10,000 since then, it would have been a financial disaster.

Turning down that interview opportunity was a no-brainer – and has turned out to be a genius move.

So yeah, where can you find these articles?

Well, here are a few from this week:

Article on the Basketball Hall of Fame class — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/2016/09/08/Shaquille-ONeal-Allen-Iverson-head-NBA-Hall-of-Fame-inductees/7061473367728/

Bengals-Jets preview —  http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/week-1-preview-bengals-at-jets-090716?cmpid=feed:-sports-CQ-RSS-Feed

Buccaneers-Falcons preview  — http://www.espn.com/nfl/preview?gameId=400874522

Washington State-Boise State preview — http://newsok.sportsdirectinc.com/football/ncaaf-preview.aspx?page=/data/NCAAF/matchups/g8_preview_299.html

That will keep you from searching the Internet to find some of my stories. I will try to remember to do this every once in a while.

Thanks for your interest.