Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Cubs’

Vacations come by seldom and speed by quickly.

What lasts for years is the famous Vacation by Tweets.

This is the seventh annual version of the tradition, which chronicles all the fun I have when I return home to the paradise of San Diego.

Should I forget what year Tim Lincecum no-hit the Padres, all I have to do is sort through past versions of Vacation by Tweets on this stellar website.

Of course, I never forget that I have witnessed two no-hitters. One by Lincecum in 2013 and one by Bud Smith in 2001.

I did see some history on the latest vacation — nicknamed #heatwave for the hot temps awaiting me — as Albert Pujols of the Angels homered twice to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list.

That night also meant Mike Trout and I were in the same ballpark at the same time. As far as I know, that is just the second time that happened — the other being the 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego.

As for the Padres, they went 0-3 on my visits to Petco Park. They are not very good. But we all kind of knew that before I arrived in San Diego.

Anyway, it is time to sit back and enjoy the fun as we relive the fun and hot #heatwave vacation.

 

JULY 5

Night before vacation and don’t have a name for it … but people in SoCal keep saying I am bringing a #Heatwave with me so perhaps we are on to something. 

JULY 6

My vacation officially named #Heatwave … going to be like traveling to Phoenix in March as opposed to summer in San Diego.

A rambunctious 2-year-old next to me on the plane. Only a matter of time before I get hit in the face with something. #heatwave

Congrats to @AlaskaAir for my flight landing 11 minutes early. #Heatwave vacation.

105 degrees & out-of-control wildfire in Alpine … #heatwave vacation living up to its name.

Great to watch well-done TV wildfire coverage. The #SanDiego media are well too familiar with covering these events. Heck, I am a two-time evacuee from my #SoCal days. Scary stuff. #heatwave vacation

Wow, reports of LOOTERS invading houses burned down by wildfire in Alpine … Who even thinks of looting homes ravaged by fire. Not good. #heatwave vacation

Wait, I’m on vacation home & @DagmarNBCSD is OFF? During a heatwave? Nooooooooo. Every July, I look forward to her terrific weather segments. No cookie cutter stuff. Great personality. Hope to catch her on TV next week. #heatwave vacation

JULY 7

The #Padres have allowed 20 runs tonight … I am soooooo looking forward to making it to Petco Park during the #heatwave vacation … #SaidNoOne

JULY 8

Had famous #MonaLisa pizza Sunday night for dinner. Another traditional highlight of a trip home. #heatwave vacation

Four Sunday deaths make the TV news … five people rescued at sea … big wildfire almost out … just another day in the Big City … #heatwave vacation

JULY 9

Apparently I didn’t do anything too exciting as there are no tweets to be found.

JULY 10

Almost got smacked in face by disc frisbee here on #heatwave vacation. Felt like the three close calls in #Boise … except this time there was an apology.

JULY 11

Good time at Petco Park but the wrong team won: #Dodgers 4, Padres 2 … More baseball to come … #heatwave vacation

Hey, there we go, the amazing @DagmarNBCSD doing the weather. Annual vacation must-watch segment … #heatwave vacation

JULY 12

Road trip tonight on the #heatwave vacation … let’s see where I end up.

Give me a bat. James Paxton has zero on those pitches. Pretty sure I could take him deep at Angel Stadium… #heatwave vacation

Feel blessed to have made it back to #SanDiego from Orange County … 90-minute period from 11 p.m-12:30 a.m. PT was crazy on the highways, feel like I just raced Daytona, Indy & 24 hours of LeMans back-to-back-to-back.

JULY 13

#Padres were playing the infield in … in the second inning … to protect a 1-0 lead … very odd.

Eric Hosmer is 0-for-4 to drop to .247 … and single digits in homers (nine) … lot of money being paid for that non-production.

Going to be a lot of unhappy fans leaving Petco Park tonight at this rate — because 75 percent of people here are #Cubs fans.

#Padres put their best player in the game. #BradHand

Crowd so loud you’d think #Cubs just won World Series as opposed to tying #Padres

#Padres best player doesn’t deserve a #Hand tonight

This pro-Cubs crowd is kinda of like half the #Chargers games their last few years in San Diego. Noise was deafening when #Cubs just went ahead.

Do I have to give up my #NativeSanDiego card if somebody recognized me while leaving Petco Park & said: “I know you. You’re from my neck of the woods in Boise, Idaho?” 

JULY 14

You kind of forget how early all the MLB games end on the West Coast … until you are back on the West Coast.

JULY 15

Congrats to me for missing the #WorldCup final! Sleeping in on the West Coast comes through with an extra benefit. #heatwave vacation

#Padres are another way of saying Little Leaguers

OMG … someone just said this to him: “That’s an awesome jersey.”

Congrats #Padres … worst record in NL at the All-Star break!

Peak #Cubs immaturity on the trolley … might be time for the famous “How did the 1984 NLCS go for you guys?”

JULY 16

Parking ranges from $22 to $50 at Sea World. Assuming one of the attractions is an #NFL game. … #heatwave vacation

OK, on my timeline of 90-percent sports people and can’t find any sports. All politics. So I know from past experiences that this means Trump was once again a dumb-dumb without even looking for a news story.

JULY 17

Third In-N-Out visit on one vacation … sorry, no burger pics this time.

Interview translation: Bryce Harper isn’t returning to the #Nationals

Players can take their cell phones on the field at All-Star Game?

“Keep the mic on, Matt” … “have some guts” … Geez, Joe Buck sounds like a 9-year-old attending his first game.

Joe Buck with the “I don’t think I’ve seen anybody in the last 15 years …” … #DRINK

Guess I need to search “Josh Hader” to see why people are mad at him. I just thought it was for blowing an exhibition game.

“I’ll murder your family!” Josh Hader once proudly exclaimed. Dude might be the next Charles Manson.

How can there only be one day left in the #heatwave vacation?
It was just July 6 about 36 hours or so ago.
 

JULY 18

90 degrees & high humidity here on final day of #heatwave vacation

#Heatwave vacation … over.

 JULY 19

 JULY 20

The MLB games tonight aren’t cooperating so the annual Vacation by Tweets won’t be circulated until Saturday. The management apologizes. 

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The San Diego Padres are not a good baseball team.

If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, laugh at them. Or throw your drink on them. I don’t advocate punching them but do what you need to do to stifle that nonsense.

The Padres (40-59) are the worst team in the National League as we reach the All-Star break. And they deserve the moniker of being the NL’s worst squad.

That is one pretty bad baseball team I saw three times in one week at Petco Park.

The Padres went 0-3 with me in the ballpark and I know without a doubt that it wasn’t my presence messing things up. They made Little League miscues on Friday and Sunday — the one on Friday gifting the Chicago Cubs the winning run in the 10th inning.

Closer Brad Hand, the best player in the organization, blew the save on Friday with one strike to go in a would-be victory. The biggest problem is he hit a stiff named Victor Caratini (who seemed upset but should have been thanking the heavens) before allowing Anthony Rizzo’s game-tying double.

One inning later, Javier Baez attempted to steal second base. Catcher Austin Hedges’ throw was high and bounced into center field. Baez took off toward third and Padres center fielder Manuel Margot muffed the ball like a nine-year-old seeing one come his way for the first time in a Little League game.

Baez scored and the Cubs’ fans occupying 75 percent of the seats at Petco Park went wild.

On Sunday, Chicago’s Kris Bryant didn’t come close to hitting the ball out of the infield but wound up at third base as both Hedges and right fielder Hunter Renfroe made throwing errors.

Did I mention Little League?

“There were some ugly moments,” Padres manager Andy Green told the San Diego media members who were described as “soft” by an MLB Network analyst earlier this month. “Some very ugly moments in the game today, and tough to stomach from a manager’s perspective.”

Got to be tough to stomach writing out a lineup card each day.

Prized offseason acquisition Eric Hosmer is batting just .249 and that lowly mark is the fifth-best average of players with more than 100 at-bats. He needs to do a better job earning the rest of his $144 million.

Wil Myers, who is in the second season of an $83 million deal, has played just 33 games due to time spent on the disabled list. Yet he still ranks third on the team with eight homers.

As for the pitching, all you need to know is San Diego’s top two starters are Clayton Richard and Tyson Ross. Both were rescued from the scrap heap.

Now that I ponder it a bit, I am surprised this team has won 40 games.

Heck, the Padres once went 68-93 with future Hall of Famers Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Rollie Fingers and Gaylord Perry all on the team.

Among the others players on that 1979 team were former Cy Young winner Randy Jones, Mickey Lolich, Gene Richards and Gene Tenace.

So um, who is the fourth best player on this Padres’ team?

I guess you are choosing between Freddy Galvis, Christian Villanueva and Renfroe.

You know, the Padres have been requesting time to build a team for a long time now. And there is no longer $5 admission and you saw the effects over the weekend when mostly Cubs’ fans paid $40 or $70 or $100 per seat.

The Padres are on the fast track to their eighth straight losing season and 12th in a row of missing the playoffs. This is their 50th season and they have made the postseason all of five times.

Let that sink in — five of 50 seasons.

You study the current group and listen to the prospect rhetoric — oh yeah, don’t listen to that nonsense. The Padres are famous for boasting about phenoms and funny how many times that doesn’t work out.

Remember when sports-talk clown Hank Bauer guaranteed Juan Melo would be the best shortstop in Padres history? Yeah, he never played one game for the team … he had 13 career major-league at-bats (all in 2000 for the San Francisco Giants).

That’s the thing about prospects. This is baseball. First-round picks don’t pan out. Heck, Mike Trout was the 25th pick of the 2009 draft.

That there is all you need to know about prospects — that is a lot of organizations deciding somebody was better than Mike Trout.

The Padres took Donavan Tate third overall in that draft. Never came close to reaching the majors. I saw him strike out in short-season rookie ball in 2013 — he was at that low caliber of play while just shy of his 23rd birthday — and got blown away by some kid fresh out of high school.

But the Padres gushed about him and everybody else followed suit. And he was a colossal bust … and some of the current Padres’ prospects being raved about will turn out to be failures too.

One guy who is in the majors now that concerns me is Margot.

He must look good at other times when I’m not watching. But he kind of looks like a time-waster to me. The Padres went through that earlier this decade for way too long with Cameron Maybin.

Hopefully, San Diego moves on after 2019 if the light doesn’t come on for Margot.

The Padres won’t want to give up on him because he’s the best of the four players they got from the Boston Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel.

They don’t want the deal to be like Huston Street to the Angels — getting four players who aren’t on this not-so-hard roster to make.

But let’s get back to the current team — the one holding the “We are Worst in the NL” banner.

This team isn’t good. It is bad. Worse, it is not showing the type of progress that was expected this season.

Heck, let’s let Green have his say, courtesy of the people who sometimes quote managers accurately and sometimes don’t.

“Frustrating. Not where I thought we’d be. Not where I want to be,” Green said. “I take ownership of that. It’s my team. It’s our team. We expect to play better than we’ve played. I think everyone in the clubhouse expects to play better from a win-loss perspective.”

Sorry Padres’ fans … you are going this whole decade without once reaching the playoffs. And the start of next decade isn’t looking too promising.

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/

Remember way back in time when Tim Flannery was a popular baseball player in San Diego?

Played on perhaps the most-beloved team in franchise history back in 1984 – the first of only two times the Padres made the World Series.

His biggest claim to fame is that it was him who hit the meek grounder to first base that Leon Durham of the Chicago Cubs somehow let go through his legs. That play opened the floodgates in the final game of the National League Championship Series and Tony Gwynn hit the blistering shot that almost took Ryne Sandberg’s head off and the Padres were headed to the World Series.

The Padres were the only team Flannery played for in his 11 major-league seasons. He also served a coaching stint during Bruce Bochy’s tenure as manager before he joined Bochy in San Francisco.

But apparently, Tim Flannery hates the Padres in 2016. Oh, and he hates the fans, too. Yes, he hates all of you.

You know, the fans that always rooted for him and appreciated that he hustled all the time. For a guy with a .255 career batting average, nine homers, and suspect range at second base, you’d think he would feel like a fortunate person.

But nope, this is what Flannery has to say to you fans (sorry, not cleaning up the grammar of a 58-year-old who missed writing class because he was apparently focused on becoming an expert judge at finger painting):

Tim Flannery @TimFlannery2

Ok, enough San Diego, here’s the deal

Ok. One time only. You Padre fans who drift on my site, challenge me to manage, rag on my for betrayal. Here’s the deal one time. One time only. We got run out of your, me and Boch, after he won. We have lived with “your traders” come back and win for us.” We won in SF for many reasons. If you don’t win in Sf you get run out of town. Everyone, the gm, coaches, player owners, they get the players, and pay to keep them. You Padre folks lose after pounding your chest about “winning the offseason” and give all your young studs away ( you should, you can’t pay them in arbitration years anyway) you then get draft picks, and your starting lineup will be lots of rule 5 guys, players no one protected. But sell the sizzle of the season” we got draft picks.” Your draft picks will be gone before 2 percent ever makes it, ( remember they haven’t even been signed yet) Then you have the ignorance to tweet me, shame me, while your team only won ever when we were there, but that makes you experts, but, your not the history of that team, we are. Though they lose you support them, enable them, demand nothing from your ownership, and feel great calling them your hometown”. You get what you demand. Leave me alone. People create history where they are, who they become in that moment. I’m a Giant for life, you all allowed the organization to do whatever they wanted, and so did Giant fans, but don’t diss me with your Padre loyalty. There were two World Series you ever went to, I was on those teams. It’s time now to grow up, get over it, quit demanding from me, and quit being fooled by the some smoke and mirrors. Quit being ignorant. You can’t even write now your starting lineup, no one knows, is that weird to you? Don’t you think maybe I’m not the problem, and you all should hold the team accountable. I’m Done playing with gloves on. Leave me alone , I am part of baseball history, even in your town. You do something for once. But I’m not feeling guilty for winning 3 in 5 years, I know what the demands took from me as a mean, a husband, a dad, a coach…Coach Flan. Do t be a hater, get your head out of your arse, educate. Tim….demand to win.

So there you go, some bitter ramblings by someone who feels the fans are the reason the Padres aren’t very good.

It was interesting that he said “maybe I’m not the problem.” I’ve never once heard anybody say Tim Flannery is the problem for why the Padres are a substandard franchise.

And there’s this – if you post this type of nonsense on Twitter, you open yourself up to comments.

Apparently, Flannery didn’t like my comment when I retweeted his silly missive to my followers: “Tim Flannery thinks he’s why the #Padres went to 1984 World Series. Oh, he did hit wimpy grounder Leon Durham missed.”

And that comment went sailing right past Flannery – you know, like those fastballs did when the Padres tried to make him a starter – and this was the best reply the baseball journeyman could muster:

flannery.crop

American Pharoah is now a legend and the impressive horse will be fed the biggest pail of oats and be served the most delicious bales of hay ever invented.

Trainer Bob Baffert can certainly afford to buy American Pharoah the best bales of hay around after the horse became the 12th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history on Saturday. Not since Affirmed in 1978 had one horse won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

You remember 1978 — that’s when stamps cost 13 cents and, gosh, did my mom think they were expensive. Dave Winfield still played for the San Diego Padres and thought he was underpaid. The Cars were taking over the rock music world with their debut album.

Let all that sink in … yeah, 1978 kind of seems like ages ago now.

And now 2015 is a memorable horse-racing year thanks to American Pharoah.

It was a standout race as jockey Victor Espinoza quickly moved American Pharoah to the front and led the entire way while posting a winning time of 2 minutes, 26.65 seconds.

American Pharoah breaks the jinx that had been picking up momentum over the last decade as short-sighted people began saying there would never be another Triple Crown winner. That’s kind of like saying the Chicago Cubs will never again reach the World Series.

Ohhhh. Yeah, bad comparison.

There had been eight attempts since 1997 with horses such as California Chrome (2014), Smarty Jones (2004) and Silver Charm (1997) among the disappointments. There were also major failures such as Big Brown (2008) and War Emblem (2002).

If horses have a memory, perhaps War Emblem was scarred by the eighth-place performance at the Belmont. Two of my brothers and I saw him at the Pacific Classic in Del Mar two months later and he was a nonfactor in that race as well and finished sixth.

Who knows where Silver Charm hangs out these days but we had a lot of fun picking on him in the sports department that no longer exists. Two of the dudes — or should I say gambling addicts who like horses more than people — were so crushed when Silver Charm failed to win the Triple Crown but the rest of us really enjoyed sticking the needle in.

You see, not every horse can be Secretariat — he’s the 1973 horse racing Triple Crown winner — but American Pharoah can take his place as one of the better horses in recent times.

American Pharoah won by 5 1/2 lengths over Frosted, which pales in comparison to Secretariat — even today, he could still win, show or place — and the famous dash in 1973.

Secretariat won by an unfathomable 31 lengths. Count ’em up — 31.

He eats bales of hay … Secretariat.

And now let’s serve up some extra bales for American Pharoah for ending the Triple Crown drought.

I personally went through some sacrifice as I watched 4 1/2 minutes of horse racing this year instead of my usual two.

And with the drought over, there goes the annual anticipation and hype the horse-racing folks create about the possibility of the first Triple Crown winner since the 1970s.

Now there is nothing to look forward to when the 2016 Kentucky Derby rolls around.

So I may be back to watching just two minutes of horse racing next year.

Thank you American Pharoah! Enjoy the extra oats and hay!

site.eagle.fairviewThe corner of Eagle and Fairview is a pile of weeds in September but would make a perfect home for a new ballpark for the minor-league Boise Hawks.

The Chicago Cubs have dropped the Boise Hawks from their list of minor-league affiliates.

I didn’t see the decision as anything shocking as the Cubs hinted strongly over the past few years that decaying Memorial Stadium didn’t fit the bill.

I remember there being some action a few years back per the Hawks getting a new ballpark but that talk has been quiet lately. I would think it would suddenly percolate since Boise wants a relationship with a new major-league team.

And whichever team picks up the Hawks – the Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres are among the possibilities – you would expect the new major-league team to lodge the same concerns over the shaky condition of the ballpark.

I’m not sure where the process lies – this is Boise so there are no newspapers doing enterprise/investigative journalism (my specialties). And that only hurts the Hawks as there is nobody pushing the narrative and getting people talking about the possibilities.

I drive past a great site for the ballpark all the time – Hawks general manager Todd Rahr can send me a finder’s fee – at the corner of Eagle and Fairview.

The intersection is the busiest in the state and the Village of Meridian shopping mall recently opened across the street. Talk about a win-win for people who want to eat prior to a game or go have a cocktail afterward. Build a pedestrian bridge over the road to keep people from having to walk down to the corner.

There is a gigantic parcel of unused land so perhaps the owner is just waiting for a financial windfall someday. But I would much rather see the ballpark built there than perhaps three or four car dealerships or another 100 homes that can be built anywhere.

Perhaps the problem is that land is in Meridian and not Boise. But as anyone paying attention knows, the center of the Treasure Valley is no longer in Boise. It is in Meridian and it is going to continue to move west with all the home construction in Meridian.

Another problem could be that we’re talking a short-season Single-A league. That’s only 38 regular-season games a year.

Is the cost of a ballpark – likely between $20-25 million to construct – not worth the return? If I was covering this like a journalist – like when the San Diego Padres were looking to get approval of a downtown ballpark – I’d make a few calls and find out the answer.

But my instincts tell me no when you consider the Hawks draw less than 3,000 fans per game.

I occasionally go to a Hawks’ game – looks like I didn’t attend any in 2014 – and it really isn’t about the baseball.

The most-anticipated event of the night is always the “Beer Batter.” If that person reaches base, people flood out of the stands to buy a beer for $1.

For children, the big deal is seeing the mascot – named “Humphrey the Hawk.” You know how most mascots are scary looking and weird? Humphrey actually seems OK.

As for the game itself, nobody really gets all that worked up over whether the team wins or loses. There are some die-hards but the majority of people are just fine with three hours of entertainment.

Remember, I lived most of my life in a major-league town. So going to watch a bunch of kids just out of high school will always seem a bit weird to me.

But this is Boise’s plight in the baseball world. The Hawks are an important entity. And at some point, a city (Boise? Meridian?) needs to invest in a better facility.

Doesn’t matter if it is my preferred site at Eagle and Fairview or somewhere in the heart of town, Boise needs a better ballpark than the dreary place it currently calls home.

padres.1984.uniform

The San Diego Padres pulled their best uniforms out of the storage shed for Thursday’s opener of a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs.

It didn’t prompt the Padres to play like the 1984 team that is still revered in San Diego as the franchise’s first-ever World Series club. The Padres have played in only one other World Series — that coming in 1998.

San Diego wore its famous uniforms as part of the 30-year anniversary of that famous club that rallied to beat the Cubs in three straight games to win the five-game National League Championship Series after dropping the first two contests in Chicago.

Tony Gwynn was emerging as a star and Steve Garvey hit the most famous homer in Padres history to win Game 4. San Diego pounded Cubs starter Rick Sutcliffe (16-1 in the regular season) into submission in Game 5, a contest also known for Chicago first baseman Leon Durham letting an easy roller by Tim Flannery go right through his legs to fuel the Padres’ uprising.

Thursday’s game belonged to the Cubs as former San Diego first baseman Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer and Jake Arrieta pitched six strong innings in a 5-1 victory. Seth Smith homered for the Padres’ lone run. (see stellar recap here — http://sltrib.sportsdirectinc.com/baseball/mlb-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/MLB/results/2014/recap369452.html).