Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

The San Diego Padres took this picture shortly after the statue was unveiled.

Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn would have turned 57 years old on Tuesday if he were alive but his birthday was remembered in a fond way by the city of Poway.

Gwynn lived in the north San Diego County city about 20 miles north of Qualcomm Stadium during his Hall of Fame career and up to his death in 2014 due to salivary cancer. The eight-time batting champion with the San Diego Padres was honored Tuesday with the unveiling of an 11-foot statue of him in his Padres’ uniform tipping his cap and holding daughter Anisha.

And think, because Gwynn had a personal relationship with me, the ceremony was on my radar and I made sure the nice local story went national. http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/MLB/2017/05/09/Tony-Gwynns-hometown-erects-statue-in-his-honor/1141494361490/

It also reminds me of those times Gwynn the college baseball coach would get on my case because my newspaper wouldn’t let me cover more of his San Diego State baseball games. One night in the office, I scored big with this doozy: “Most people want to see more of Tony Gwynn. Tony Gwynn wants to see more of me.”

 

I was asked something today by a woman from the online world that has prompted me to think.

She asked if I have ever been to an NFL game. Seriously.

Then I thought about it and realized I have no idea how many NFL games I’ve attended or covered as a professional. At least 150 and maybe close to 200 — and no, I don’t want to count preseason games.

Worst thing in the world to cover is an NFL preseason night game. And now that I think of it, I never recall covering a preseason game in the afternoon. So every NFL preseason game assignment ties for the worst event I had to cover.

I do know how many Super Bowls I covered — three.

Also know the Cleveland Browns won’t be participating in the Super Bowl again this season. No surprise, of course.

And this brings up to the ever-popular Weekly Links thing because I had to write about the Browns two weeks in a row. Yes, two straight weeks.

Must have really upset the boss.

The Browns are 0-7 and look like they will be fortunate to win two games this season. You know, they do have the Chargers on the slate.

Here is the link to the stellar preview of the Browns’ home game against the New York Jets — http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/fitzpatrick-returns-to-lineup-as-jets-face-winless-browns-102616

 

Game 2 of the World Series has already been played but I think this is a good preview to have part of the Weekly Links package because it will answer one of life’s greatest questions:

Is Mr. Sports ever wrong?

Well, um, it has happened. Um, yeah, right here at the bottom of the Game 2 preview. Look which team I predicted to win the game? The team I picked scored one whole run. Oops.

And these things run on a bunch of gambling websites too. Good thing no Mafia members live nearby to break my leg.

Anyway, I will try to do better with my pick when I write the Game 4 preview between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.

Here is the stellar Game 2 preview with the wrong predicted winner — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/410464/preview/

 

Think of all the games you watch where you couldn’t describe what happened 12 months later.

Then thing of the ones you can’t forget.

The first 59 minutes, 50 seconds of last season’s contest between Michigan and Michigan State weren’t so memorable. But the last 10 seconds will never be forgotten.

That is the contest when Michigan lined up with 10 seconds to play and all its punter had to do was boot the ball downfield.

But punter Blake O’Neill bobbled the snap and then, in one of the weirdest things ever seen on a football field, he fumbled the ball into the arms of Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson, who returned the ball 38 yards for the winning touchdown as time expired.

Instead of losing to its biggest rival, Michigan State proudly boarded the bus back to East Lansing with a 27-23 victory.

And “insane 27-23 victory” is how I coined it in the preview.

Can’t say I ever pondered the possibility that my work may find its way on to the Big Ten Network website. But then again, they believe someone from the Associated Press wrote the preview. Um, wrong.

Here is the link to the stellar Michigan-Michigan State preview — http://btn.com/2016/10/26/no-2-michigan-tries-to-exact-revenge-from-michigan-state/

 

Some of you might prefer being linked to the Washington-Utah showdown or the Boise State-Wyoming game (OK, nobody outside of Wyoming cares about Wyoming … ever) but Patrick Mahomes II wins the deal all by himself.

The Texas Tech quarterback matched the all-time FBS single-game record with 734 passing yards last Saturday in a loss to Oklahoma. Repeat — 734 yards, to tie the record set by Washington State’s Connor Halliday in 2014.

What Mahomes accomplished was pretty stellar but it reminds us of the old Texas Tech question — is Mahomes actually any good or is he a system quarterback?

Hard to tell because Mahomes threw four touchdown passes in 2 1/2 quarters against Kansas earlier this season and departed with shoulder injury. No problem, the Red Raiders throw somebody named Nic Shimonek on the field and he threw four touchdowns in 1 1/2 quarters.

So I’m going to keep my mind open that Mahomes might prove to be NFL material. But the pattern has proven otherwise as guys like Graham Harrell, B.J. Symons and Sonny Cumbie threw for bushels of yards — as did current coach Kliff Kingsbury when he played at the school.

Speaking of Cumbie, I believe he passed for over 2,000 yards against Cal in a Holiday Bowl game I covered. OK, looked it up, he passed for a career-high 520 yards.

Is Mahomes for real? That’s your call. But here’s the link to the stellar Texas Tech-TCU preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52672/preview/top25/

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/

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.

The All-Star teams are on the field prior to the American League's 4-2 victory over the National League at San Diego's Petco Park.

The All-Star teams are on the field prior to the American League’s 4-2 victory over the National League at San Diego’s Petco Park on July 12, 2016.

Attended my third baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday night and it certainly was a memorable time.

San Diego’s Petco Park doesn’t receive opportunities to get all dressed up too often due to the Padres’ mostly woeful campaigns – you might have heard the man that runs the team recently referred to the squad as “Miserable Failures” – but the ballpark looked fabulous on this occasion.

The American League won the contest 4-2 for its 11th victory in the last 14 years and Kansas City Royals star Eric Hosmer deservedly won MVP honors with a solo homer and an RBI single.

But the biggest moment for San Diegans occurred prior to the game when it was announced that the National League batting title is being named after Padres icon Tony Gwynn.

Even with the announcement being tipped off – the naming of the American League batting crown after Rod Carew was announced first – it was an emotional moment for nearly everyone in the ballpark and it promoted the crowd to break into a “Tony, Tony, Tony” chant for the Hall of Famer who died in 2014.

“Rod is one of the most highly decorated players in American League history, who made 18 straight All-Star appearances in his Hall of Fame career,” baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Tony is considered one of the greatest hitters in the history of the National League and there is no better place to honor him than in San Diego.

“Major League Baseball is pleased to recognize their extraordinary careers by naming our batting crowns in their honor.”

The two players combined for 15 batting titles – eight for Gwynn, seven for Carew – and it certainly was a smart idea for MLB to come up with this method to recognize two of the sport’s best-ever hitters.

Another big deal for San Diegans was seeing former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman delivering the game ball from the bullpen. His signature entry song “Hells Bells” by AC/DC blared in the background as Hoffman soaked in the moment.

Former Padres Cy Young award winner Randy Jones threw out the first ball and it looked like he still possesses better control than most of today’s hurlers.

Former University of San Diego standout Kris Bryant, a star for the Chicago Cubs, added to the local flavor by smacking a first-inning homer off Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox.

Rancho Bernardo High alumnus Cole Hamels of the Texas Rangers pitched out of a third-inning jam for the AL, Padres pitcher Drew Pomeranz pitched a scoreless inning in the fourth for the NL, and emerging San Diego star Wil Myers batted clean-up and had a double in three at-bats.

It was such a fun night at the ballpark that we’re going to pretend we didn’t see the silly fans doing “The Wave.” (Pretend I didn’t mention it too). Or the singer guy changing the words of the Canadian National Anthem.

A few other highlights worth filing away in the memories’ folder:

–Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz played in his final All-Star game and walked in his final at-bat. Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays entered to pinch run for him and every player on the AL team exited the dugout to congratulate Ortiz.

–Royals catcher Salvador Perez joined Hosmer in homering for the American League and it was a familiar face that both players took deep. San Francisco Giants starter Johnny Cueto was a teammate of both players last fall when Kansas City won its first World Series title in 30 years.

–The National League threatened in the eighth inning and had the bases loaded. St. Louis Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz came up as a pinch hitter and Houston Astros reliever Will Harris came in from the bullpen. Harris won the battle by retiring Diaz on a full-count called strike.

–Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber picked up the victory with a perfect inning of relief. Kluber could have been pitching regularly at Petco Park if not for a blunder by the Padres as the franchise dealt him to Cleveland in a three-team trade that brought fading outfielder Ryan Ludwick to San Diego in 2010. Kluber went from minor-league afterthought with the Padres to 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner and now will always be remembered as the winning pitcher of the 2016 All-Star Game.