Posts Tagged ‘Detroit Tigers’

What a crazy Saturday full of sports and if you left your house even once today, you kind of fail at life.

If you missed all the sporting events, you are likely one of the following: Incarcerated, marching the streets of Baltimore or wasting your day on a used-car lot.

Suddenly, playing for the Cleveland Browns doesn’t sound so bad. Well, if you can figure out how not to live in Cleveland while cashing their checks.

Before the big fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao even hit the pay-per-view airwaves at $99.95 plus tax per purchase – you mean people don’t understand you can find FREE online streams for these fights? – we got to view an outstanding Game 7 between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers. And it was on FREE TV and it was outright amazing.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul was hobbling on a sore hamstring he injured earlier in the game and sidestepped Danny Green’s defense and avoided Tim Duncan’s attempt to swat it aside to bank in the decisive shot with one second left to give Los Angeles a 111-109 victory. Good bye defending champions. See you next year.

The unexpected thing was that the basketball game was much more exciting than the big boxing bout. Mayweather improved to 48-0 in his career with a unanimous 12-round decision but it was hardly an entertaining tussle and nothing like its billing as “Fight of the Century.”

There was no knockout for Mayweather. He apparently saves those for the women he hits.

Who can forget that American Pharoah became the luckiest horse of the year by winning the Kentucky Derby. Since horses don’t spend money, American Pharoah gets all the bales of hay he wants forever and will never have to worry about sitting hungry in a barn again.

Good food if you can get it. Well, for a horse. Just ask Secretariat.

“He eats bales of hay, Sec-re-tar-i-at.” (Use tune of Toto’s “Rosanna” for full effect).

The NFL Draft finished up but nobody was even chatting about that by dark. Not with all the other good stuff going on.

Oh yeah, the New York Yankees tried to spoil our day of fun by saying they won’t pay Alex Rodriguez his $6 million bonus for catching Willie Mays on the all-time homer list with his 660th blast. It’s hard to ever be on Rodriguez’s side on anything but you know, it is in the contract and it wasn’t written in that it is voided if you cheat.

Wow, so weird to commiserate for A-Rod the fraud.

OK, on to the top 10 list:

10. The Kansas City Royals played a baseball game without getting in a fight. They must have missed the word that Saturday was “Fight Night.” In fact, the Royals were so punchless that they scored just one run while losing to the Detroit Tigers

9. The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 to even their playoff series at one game apiece. I have no idea if this was a big accomplishment or not because it is the NHL but I also know I need to mention it or else my inbox will be filled with hockey fans calling me names over the omission.

8. The NFL Draft is lucky to crack the list as the once-anticipated Saturday has been rendered a complete waste of time due to the league’s switch to a three-day event. When the best thing you have to talk about is whether Blake Petty or Brett Hundley will go first in the fourth round, you know there is no further reason to watch.

7. The big Twitter outburst that CNN’s Rachel Nichols and ESPN’s Michelle Beadle had credentials pulled for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight because they said mean things about Mayweather’s history of domestic abuse. I understand why Mayweather and his handlers don’t like Nichols (see interview here but Beadle is one of those harmless fools who hosts some kind of lowly fluff show on ESPN. She’s just happy to get some pub. Oh yeah, Mayweather’s camp denies there were any games played with the credentials. Um, OK.

6. Shortly after American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby, @NBCNews tweeted BREAKING: American Pharoah wins 141st Kentucky Derby. Good thing I wasn’t drinking a mint julep as I would have dropped it upon seeing the response from a Bo Pelini parody account: “That has to be a record.”

5. The bugle at the Kentucky Derby. As soon as that familiar race-day jingle is played, I know my yearly output of two minutes of horse racing is near. Love that bugle.

4. Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros are the talk of baseball. Wait, the HOUSTON ASTROS are the talk of baseball? This is indeed a Saturday Sports Day for the ages. Altuve hit a three-run homer – he came up short in his bid for his 10th consecutive multihit game – and the formerly woeful Astros have won nine straight games and 13 of their last 14. Call them the first-place Astros. Wow.

3. Quite a performance at the Kentucky Derby for American Pharoah and, gosh, do we wish the horse could talk so we wouldn’t have to hear owner Bob Baffert drone on and on about nothing of substance. Jockey Victor Espinoza rode the horse way wide as they hit the stretch and the finishing kick was stellar to win the Run for the Roses.

2. Special thanks to the Website known as vipleague for the free boxing stream as there was no way the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight was worth $100. I knew that before the fight – duh – and it became even more obvious during it. So much hype means so much dollars for all involved. But the actual action didn’t live up to the hype and I can’t believe how upset people must be for forking over that much cash.

1. NBA playoff basketball is about 100 times more exciting and intense than the regular season and the epic contest between the Clippers and Spurs once again proved it. And how badly does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich want to beat up – Mayweather style – the shot-clock operator at the Staples Center for messing up the team’s last-second play?


Most of the time, posting these types of predictions can only make me look foolish.

But it wouldn’t be any fun it I was correct 100 percent of the time.

The World Series will start within the half hour and I have decided the Detroit Tigers will win the series.

I’m going with the Tigers in six games over the San Francisco Giants.

It won’t surprise me in the least if I turn out to be wrong. Bruce Bochy had done an outstanding job managing a San Francisco squad that certainly isn’t an offensive juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination.

Second baseman Marco Scutaro somehow turned into Rogers Hornsby in his prime after the Giants acquired him, third baseman Pablo Sandoval is solid and catcher Buster Posey should win the National League MVP.

But a lineup with Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco and Jordan Crawford in it wouldn’t scare many mediocre pitchers, let alone someone like Tigers ace Justin Verlander, the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner.

Detroit is on the verge of landing another AL MVP award with Miguel Cabrera having a standout season and further solidifying his status as the top offensive player in all of baseball. Throw in Prince Fielder and Delmon Young and speedy Austin Jackson and Detroit has enough offense to support a strong pitching rotation.

The scariest part of the Tigers is their bullpen, so the Giants rate an edge in a series full of close games. While Detroit fans love to see the starting pitcher with the initials J.V, they don’t want to see the reliever with those same initials and it appears Tigers manager Jim Leyland no longer wants to see Jose Valverde on the mound in the ninth inning any more either.

A Game 1 victory behind Verlander gives me a good chance at nailing this prediction. But if Barry Zito – the thought of him starting Game 1 of the World Series would have been scoffed at six months – outpitches Verlander and the Giants win the opener, my prediction could quickly head in the wrong prediction.

Oh yeah, one last prediction I will nail – Fox’s Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will be annoying as ever. Book it.

The best thing about Adrian Gonzalez being traded in early December is this: The San Diego Padres have informed us what direction their heading.

The answer is downward.

The Padres could have kept Gonzalez to start the season and kept baseball fans in San Diego wondering about their commitment. It surely would have made it easier for the folks assigned to sell season-ticket plans if the All-Star first baseman and hometown hero was still on the roster.

Good luck earning a sales bonus now when all of baseball can see that the Padres aren’t vying to match last season’s success.

Here’s another problem with the Gonzalez trade – San Diego could have made that same exact trade with the Boston Red Sox in June.

There was no rush to make that trade now – other than cutting Gonzalez’s bargain $6.2 million salary off the payroll – when the return was three minor-league prospects in pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named later.

Who knows what the trade market might have produced once the season was a third over? You may recall the Angels lost slugging first baseman Kendry Morales two months into last season.

If the best Padres general manager Jed Hoyer was going to do was obtain prospects, then there wasn’t a need to rush. You may recall the Padres got the same package from the Chicago White Sox for Jake Peavy in August, 2008 after he had been injured for three months as they would have if he hadn’t originally turned down the deal in May.

Obviously, the Padres knew they weren’t going to be able to retain Gonzalez after the 2011 season and made a panic move. They also knew if they had the same type of team success they had in the first half of last season, they couldn’t move Gonzalez without it becoming overly apparent that winning isn’t the top priority.

But let me tell you, that secret is out of the bag too. Just look at what has gone on this offseason.

In addition to the trade of Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox, the Padres didn’t retain infielder Miguel Tejada (Giants), catcher Yorvit Torrealba (Rangers), starting pitchers Jon Garland (Dodgers) and Kevin Correia (Pirates) and center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. (Dodgers).

Other players who are current free agents include starting pitcher Chris Young, second baseman David Eckstein, utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr., and outfielders Scott Hairston and Matt Stairs.

Relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb were moved in a trade with the Florida Marlins.

For those of you not into counting, that’s half the roster of a team that went 90-72 last season and was eliminated from the playoff chase on the final day of the 2010 season.

You would expect such a housecleaning if the Padres had gone 70-92. But not when you win 90 games and were close to regaining trust from a fan base that grew distrusting of the franchise during John Moores’ final years as owner.

Jeff Moorad promised more than he’s currently delivering – if All-Star closer Heath Bell is moved, we can begin calling this Fire Sale II – and you can start questioning whether he and his group have the financial resources to compete. After all, the Padres had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball last season and will now have a lower one in 2011.

The offseason additions are less than stirring and don’t come close to replacing the departed.

Starting pitcher Aaron Harang, who last had a good season in 2007, was signed as a free agent. In case you missed it, Harang has a record of 18-38 over the past three seasons.

The local-boy factor is the best thing that can be said about Harang, who certainly will receive a long opportunity to revive his career with three open starting pitcher roles up for grabs.

The Padres also acquired Cameron Maybin in the trade with the Marlins. The 23-year-old Maybin is penciled in as the new starting center fielder despite a .234 batting average last season and this scary fact: 92 strikeouts in only 291 at-bats.

All we really know is that Maybin can provide a summer breeze for fans when he swings and misses.

Maybin already has been moved twice – by the Detroit Tigers and the Marlins – without establishing himself as a bona fide major-leaguer.

Based on those two underwhelming moves, I bet you can’t wait to see what the Padres do to replace Gonzalez, who had four consecutive 30-homer seasons while playing half his games in a homer-unfriendly ballpark.

Obviously, if Gonzalez’s 2011 salary was too much for Moorad and the Misers, you know the chances of paying the going rate for a power hitter: Slimski and Noneski.

The Padres gave us a thrilling, suspenseful 2010 season and could have fine-tuned the roster and went after it again in 2011. Instead, they are in full retreat mode and have revealed their intentions well before spring training arrives.

There is no mystery — a rebuilding season awaits.

Some ideas aren’t worth making it to the discussion stage. Adding two more teams to baseball’s postseason is a perfect example.

The idea of having 10 playoff teams is kind of like the recent push to expand the popular NCAA basketball team to 96 teams – a poor one.

The greedy folks at the NCAA analyzed expansion from 65 to 96 teams and eventually realized that all they would be doing was messing up a good thing. Cooler heads – and intelligent domes – prevailed and the tourney was expanded by just three teams to 68.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is pushing the playoff expansion idea as he personally craves a 10-team postseason as opposed to the current eight-team format that works fine.

Selig is apparently unaware that Game 5 of this year’s World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers is being played on November 1. He has already wrecked the once-hallowed month of October postseason baseball with all the unnecessary off-days and longer breaks between series.

Guess Selig’s next goal is for Game 7 of the World Series to be played while you are eating your Thanksgiving dinner.

If the goal is to make the baseball season longer than the never-ending NBA season, then go ahead and expand. If the goal is to have a week of games snowed out in a blizzard some year, go ahead and approve expansion.

The baseball owners aren’t interested in shortening the 162-game regular season because they don’t want to lose revenue – those $6 partially cooked hot dogs and $10 beers apparently keep a few teams afloat. Without shortening the season, it makes no sense to do something that extends the season even longer.

Adding two more teams would also mean some issues with logistics. (Did I just write the word logistics? That darn UPS commercial is still haunting me).

With 10 teams – that’s five playoff clubs from each league – you suddenly need byes in the baseball playoffs. Sorry, sitting around for a week to 10 days waiting for a series to end is not a reward for the team with the best record in the National and American Leagues.

Byes in baseball are a silly idea but Selig apparently even has a dumber one. The commissioner actually thinks having two wild-card teams in each league play a one-game playoff series would be a prudent way to make a 10-team format work without lengthening the postseason.

So why do we need expansion for a one-game playoff? We already have that occurring – see Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers in 2009; Twins vs. Chicago White Sox in 2008, San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies in 2007, etc.

It is beyond silly to play a 162-game season just to have two teams then meet in a one-game wild-card postseason contest.

This season’s American League East race is a perfect example of how ridiculous the one-game wild-card playoff series idea is.

The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees staged a frantic race for the division title with the Rays (96-66) prevailing by one game over the Yankees (95-67).

Under Selig’s wacko two wild-card teams idea, the Yankees then would have played the Boston Red Sox (89-73) for the right to advance into the main draw. I’d say that would be pretty unfair for the Yankees if they had to play a one-and-done playoff series after narrowly losing the division crown and winning six more games than Boston in the regular season.

Obviously, you are all smart enough to know the reason why Selig is pushing this: Money.

Baseball’s television ratings continue to decline and this is an attempt to spice things up in the eyes of TV network executives – the more games that are played; the more advertising time that can be sold. The more UPS Logistics commercials that air, the more money that lands in the coffers of major-league teams.

Baseball is more desperate than ever before as more and more viewers vote no to their sport with their remote controls.

Think about this: The Sunday night football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints just outdrew Game 4 of the World Series. Yeah, seriously – a midseason football game was more appealing to sports’ fans than baseball’s championship series.

Another eye-opening thing happened in mid-October when a horrid NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars – Nashville and Jacksonville are two of the smallest pro sports markets – outdrew an American League Championship Series game between the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees.

An uncompetitive NFL game – Tennessee won 30-3 – drew more viewers than a baseball postseason game featuring the nation’s largest television market in New York.

So viewers aren’t rushing to their television sets to watch baseball games in the World Series and the ALCS and Selig thinks more postseason games is the answer?

Bud, I got some advice for you: Let’s drop this silly idea now and perhaps you can spend more time figuring out if a full-fledged instant replay system has a place in baseball.

That would be a far better use of your time.

C’mon A-Rod, you can do it! I know you can.

I have full confidence you won’t hit career homer No. 600 tonight either. I can count on it, too.

I’m just struggling to pick whether your next easy out is a weak flyball, a slow roller to the shortstop or another strikeout where you’re left flailing at a curveball.

Yeah, sometimes a delay in producing MrSportsBlog’s first of the month rant can come in handy. In late July, I was getting increasingly upset that ESPN and/or the MLB Network kept interrupting games I wanted to watch to show me Alex Rodriguez’s at-bats. I was ready to bash all those annoying “game breaks.”

This isn’t television in the 1980s or the pre-Internet age. If I wanted to watch Rodriguez try to become the seventh player in history to reach 600 homers, I already would be watching the game.

It was pretty irritating when a ninth-inning tied game between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers was interrupted for another failed Rodriguez at-bat last Thursday.

But my mind-set is different now on the third day of August. It has become fun and entertaining to watch Rodriguez come to bat against some stiff on the Cleveland Indians and hit a lazy flyball, a harmless grounder or strikeout in overmatched fashion.

I’m almost frothing at the mouth waiting for the next interruption.

A-Rod hit career homer No. 599 on July 22 against the Kansas City Royals and hasn’t gone deep since in 48 plate appearances.

During the New York Yankees’ seven-game road trip to Cleveland and Tampa Bay, A-Rod went 3-for-25 (.120 average) and his swings and confidence got progressively worse. He was held out of the lineup August 1, a game in which he struck out (Yay, A-Rod!) as a pinch hitter.

Once again, the highest-paid player in baseball was reminding us that he doesn’t perform well under pressure.

Back in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium on Monday night, Rodriguez went 0-for-5 against the Toronto Blue Jays. He struck out twice and ended New York’s loss by grounding out to shortstop.

I’m really not interested in watching the Detroit Tigers play baseball Tuesday night but might have to tune in to the MLB Network broadcast of Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox for just the interruptions. Watching A-Rod’s futile attempts are becoming quite entertaining.

What will make Tuesday’s game breaks more enticing is the fact that left-hander Ricky Romero will be on the mound for the Blue Jays. Romero was torched for eight runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings by the Yankees on July 3 in Yankee Stadium.

Our guy A-Rod was 0-for-2 against Romero while his teammates were bashing hits all over the famed ballyard.

If Rodriguez can’t take Romero deep, this homer drought could last longer than walking from Yankee Stadium to Alaska. Perhaps the BP oil spill will be cleaned up before A-Rod’s next homer.

Eventually, A-Rod will join the 600-homer club and won’t be a big deal to me. The Steroids Era has wrecked baseball’s power records and Rodriguez already has been exposed as a steroids user. There is no way of knowing how many of his homers have come while juicing and how many were hit legitimately.

A-Rod’s forced admission two years ago was quite amusing. By his account, he only used steroids when he played for the Texas Rangers. That came right after he left the Seattle Mariners to become the highest-paid player in baseball.

But why would a guy with his talents suddenly start juicing after receiving the big contract? Most players cheat to put up the big stats to get the big contract.

Then A-Rod insisted he never used steroids while a member of the Yankees. Um, OK. He felt the need to use them when he played for the Texas Rangers but cut them out of his training methods once he entered the most pressure-packed environment in baseball?

Perhaps that old Styx song “Fooling Yourself” was co-written by Rodriguez. He sure isn’t fooling anyone wearing an up-to-date thinking cap.

It’s no wonder his nickname changed from A-Rod to “A-Fraud” after the steroids debacle. You may have noticed that Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria easily outdistanced Rodriguez in fan voting for starting third baseman in this summer’s All-Star Game.

So I’m not alone in enjoying his struggles of trying to get that one measly homer to join the 600-homer club. A-Rod’s pain has now become my pleasure.

C’mon A-Rod. You can do it! No pressure, man.

I’m picking 0-for-4 with one strikeout, two weak groundouts and a feeble flyout tonight.

At least we now know that soccer officials can make poor calls just like baseball umpires. Jim Joyce has company.

Soccer referee Koman Coulibaly has been publicly charged with robbery. No, he didn’t break into anyone’s house or rob the local gas station. Oh no, he did something much worse.

He decided the outcome of a World Cup match.

The United States tied Slovenia 2-2 on Friday but the Americans would have left the field winners if Coulibaly hadn’t nullified what looked to be a perfectly good goal by Maurice Edu.

Replays didn’t clearly show anything that would prompt a foul call on the United States, though Clint Dempsey was certainly in a tussle with a Slovenia player. Replays do show American Michael Bradley being held by a Slovenia player.

But the goal was disallowed and that leaves the U.S. in a must-win situation on Wednesday against Algeria if it wants to advance to the round of 16.

Jim Joyce’s missed call at first base kept Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga from tossing a perfect game and now we have just as poor a call in the biggest soccer tournament in the world.

At least in Joyce’s call, we got a public declaration from the man himself that he messed up the call and that he felt horrible about it. If baseball had a commissioner with a spine (that rules out Bud Selig) the call would have been reversed the following day since it didn’t detract from the game and Galarraga also retired the next hitter – an even-rarer 28-out perfect game.

When NFL referee Ed Hochuli blew a call that took away a San Diego Chargers victory in 2008 and gave the Denver Broncos additional opportunities to win (which the Broncos did), Hochuli had to at least give an explanation to a pool reporter per NFL policies.

But there has yet to be an explanation for what the call was in the U.S-Slovenia match, which is bizarre for an event of this magnitude. In some soccer-crazed countries, there would have been rioting over such a poor call that turned an apparent victory into a tie.

FIFA officials must think all the speculation is good for the sport in the United States. Think about it – it’s a hot topic right now in the States, when most of us have normally forgotten a World Cup soccer game was played the day before.

Now Americans everywhere are looking forward to the match with Algeria.

The call also did two other things: It took away an epic comeback victory and masked the poor first half in which the United States sleepwalked.

The Americans were down 2-0 at halftime after some sloppy defense helped Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic score goals. Landon Donovan got the U.S. on the board early in the second half on a blistering close-range shot and Bradley tied the game – with superb set-up by Donovan and Jozy Altidore – in the 82nd minute.

But the postgame talk was all about some previously unheard of fellow name Koman Coulibaly from the country of Mali. And we all know what that means when the referee is the biggest topic after a game or match.

It always means there was a travesty of a call.

Who allowed Ed Hochuli on to the baseball diamond? Or was it Retro Night with Don Denkinger re-enacting the blown call that changed the 1985 World Series?

All I know is that Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers pitched a perfect game on Wednesday night. Umpire Jim Joyce finally found a way for someone to remember his name forever by blowing a call at first base with out No. 27 on the line.

It wasn’t even a bang-bang call. It was an easy one by major-league umpire standards.

If you haven’t seen the play yet, it will make your stomach queasy when you see the replay showing Galarraga’s foot firmly on first base and Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians more than a half-step away from touching the base.

Joyce saw the replay after the game and admitted he blew the call.

My next thought: Time to find out if Bud Selig has a spine.

The baseball commissioner is weak and wimpy compared to most people who have risen to the post of being the leader of a professional sports league. Here is his chance to finally be bold and correct a major travesty.

Since Cleveland didn’t rally to win the game, there’s no reason not to reverse the call and right a wrong. This wasn’t some random call during a 13-1 trouncing, this was the final play of what should be recalled as the 21st perfect game in major-league history.

Galarraga knows he pitched a perfect game. The Cleveland Indians know he pitched a perfect game. You and I know he pitched a perfect game.

Something tells me even the normally clueless Selig can figure out Galarraga pitched a perfect game.

Actually, he did one better – he got 28 consecutive outs on Wednesday night.

Galarraga is a 28-year-old with 21 career wins. This was his one and only shot at doing something immortal. He had never even thrown a complete game in his previous 56 major-league starts.

His quest for perfection was saved earlier in the ninth inning by an amazing running over-the-shoulder catch by Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson in one of the better defensive plays you’ll ever see. Get that kind of help and you are usually destined to finish the job of securing a no-hitter or perfect game.

Instead, Jim Joyce was umpiring at first base. Donald hit a grounder between first and second and Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera ranged to his right to field the grounder and threw to Galarraga for the apparent historic final out.

Only Jim Joyce’s arms furiously flapped sideways with a safe call instead of the out signal.

That Joyce acknowledged after the game that he missed the call isn’t good enough (can you imagine how rudely he will be greeted when he takes the field in Detroit on Thursday?) This is the major leagues, not some Sunday softball league where half the players are intoxicated.

A major-league umpire can’t blow a call like this. At least not a competent one — which rules out Phil Cuzzi, who made an embarrassing call by calling Joe Mauer’s fair ball foul during the Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees playoff series last October.

I immediately thought about disgraced former umpire Don Denkinger. He blew a call at first base in the ninth inning of Game 6 during the 1985 World Series in which St. Louis reliever Todd Worrell clearly beat Kansas City’s Jorge Orta to the bag.

Denkinger called Orta safe and the Royals ended up scoring twice in the inning to rally from behind and force a Game 7. Kansas City won the world title the next night by pounding Joaquin Andujar into submission.

In football, you have the botched call Hochuli made that took away a 2008 victory by the San Diego Chargers that gave the Denver Broncos another shot at winning and the Broncos left the premises with a 39-38 victory (yes, I know San Diego’s defense at least had the chance to stop Denver and couldn’t but the game was over until Hochuli messed up the call).

Of course, that wasn’t the situation when Jerry Markbreit messed up a call on the final play of a 1978 game between the Chargers and Oakland Raiders. That’s the play where Ken Stabler intentionally fumbled the ball forward as Chargers linebacker Woodrow Lowe was about to sack him and then Pete Banaszak knocked the ball further upfield and Dave Casper fell on the ball into the end zone to turn a six-point loss into a one-point victory.

Ironically, if the Chargers win that game, perhaps Tommy Prothro isn’t fired as coach a few weeks later and replaced by Don Coryell, who was a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the first time earlier this year.

Obviously, the worst blown call ever involved the 1972 Olympics basketball competition in which the Soviet Union defeated the United States. But hey, we all know there were politics involved in that disgrace and that there was nothing that the United States could do to change what transpired.

But Bud Selig could do something about what happened Wednesday night at Comerica Park in Detroit. Well, he could – if he had a spine.

Ran into a Kansas City Royals’ fan the other night and he assured me the Royals will lose 110 games this season.

Since the San Diego Padres are quickly becoming the West Coast version of the Royals, I started wondering how many games the Padres could lose this season.

The Royals at least employ 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Grienke, one of the top five pitchers in the game. The Padres used to have a guy like Grienke, but peddled away 2008 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox during the 2009 campaign.

You at least felt good about the Padres’ chances of securing a victory on any night Peavy took the mound. The guy was a splendid pitcher and an even better competitor while going 92-68 for a team that often struggled to score runs for him.

But with Peavy on the South Side of Chicago, the Padres no longer have a stopper at the top of the rotation. The opening-game hurler against the Arizona Diamondbacks was journeyman Jon Garland, who would be a No. 3 or 4 starter for most teams. He’s a durable pitcher with 117 career victories since 2000 but he should never be the best starter on your staff.

The No. 2 guy is Chris Young, who is getting paid $6.25 million this season despite making just 32 starts over the past two seasons. He has 46 career victories with only 11 of them coming over the past two seasons. He had some impressive moments during the 2006-07 seasons but still has never won more than 12 games in a season.

Kevin Correia (26-33 career record) had a respectable 12-11 record last season after the Padres found him on the scrap heap and there’s no telling how he’ll fare this season. He could be respectable again or he could be a major flameout. One thing I can tell you is that the 29-year-old isn’t going to suddenly win 17 or 18 games.

So unless 22-year-old phenom Mat Latos (4-5, 4.62 ERA in 10 starts last season) emerges as a force – think the way the Detroit Tigers’ Rick Porcello won 14 games last season at age 20 – the Padres are going to lack what it takes to contend in the weak NL West.

And if the pitching struggles when you play half of your games in the pitching paradise that is Petco Park, your chances of winning even half your games isn’t good.

Throw in the fact that 40-homer first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is the one bona fide offensive threat in a hitting-challenged lineup, scoring runs again figures to be a problem.

Chase Headley (12 homers, 64 RBIs in 2009) is the Padres’ second-best hitter, and that’s a major problem. Kyle Blanks showed some pop (10 homers) after a midseason call-up and the Padres desperately need him to provide 25 homers this season.

The jury is out on players like shortstop Everth Cabrera (25 steals, 23 errors last season) and outfielders Will Venable (.256 after a strong final third of the season) and Tony Gwynn Jr. (.270 average). And bringing back journeyman Scott Hairston and signing his utilityman brother, Jerry Hairston Jr., doesn’t excite anyone other than the Hairston family (meaning, yes, it’s nice that the two brothers get to play on the same team, but their presence does nothing to improve your chances of winning a division title).

And signing a 42-year-old pinch hitter who batted .194 last season (that’s you, Matt Stairs) is borderline silly when you lack solid every-day hitters in the starting lineup.

Closer Heath Bell is solid and I think Bud Black is a good manager but these aren’t exactly the 1998 Padres taking the field. It figures to be another long season, one in which new general manager Jed Hoyer can get a lot of answers about the talent (or lack of) in the organization and plan his eventual rebuilding of the team (yes, that means Gonzalez will eventually be traded).

But lose 110 games like the Royals’ fan predicts for his beloved franchise? I don’t see that occurring for the 2010 Padres. I see them losing 90 games (that means 72 victories) but I think they’ll avoid losing 100 games.

As bad as the Padres were for most of the 2009 season, they still went 75-87. In fact, 75 wins is about the most one can honestly expect from this year’s Padres.

If you’re a longtime fan of the San Diego Padres or just an avid baseball fan that likes to view historical shows, the MLB Network hits a grand slam with a special one-hour show on the 1984 Padres.

“Triumph and Tragedy: The 1984 San Diego Padres” is a recently-produced show on the Padres first-ever World Series team (they’ve only had two; the other was in 1998) and is must-see viewing for any Padres’ fan of that era.

The episode covers all the key storylines of the season, including a great segment on the famous beanbrawl day in Atlanta when manager Dick Williams ordered everybody on the pitching staff to throw at Atlanta Braves pitcher Pascual Perez until he was hit by a pitch. One of the most memorable brawls in baseball history occurred that Sunday afternoon but it was one of the things that brought the team together to make its big two-month final push to the postseason.

The Padres’ run to the World Series is portrayed nicely and accurately, complete with scenes of the thousands of fans who went to the stadium (then known as Jack Murphy Stadium) to welcome back the Padres after they were beaten apart by the Chicago Cubs in the first two games of the National League Championship Series. There’s even some rare video of Patrick Henry High alumnus Nick Magro  — also known as the Pa Shrink — cheering on the players as they got off the bus.

As any Padres’ fan knows, that crazy scene began the amazing streak of the Padres winning the next three games to beat the Cubs. Normally quiet Garry Templeton waved his hat frantically at the fans during the Game 3 lineup introductions and the sweep was on. Steve Garvey hit the famous game-winning homer off Lee Smith to win Game 4 and Tim Flannery’s harmless ground ball to first base that went through the legs of Leon Durham started a Game 5 comeback that ended with a ground ball to Graig Nettles, who threw to second baseman Alan Wiggins for the forceout and final out.

The best part of the World Series portion of the show — the powerful Detroit Tigers beat the Padres in five games — was when Williams ordered closer Goose Gossage to intentionally walk Kirk Gibson with first base open and Gossage refused. Williams comes to the mound and they play the conversation and they also show Tigers manager Sparky Anderson yelling out to Gibson in disbelief: “They don’t want to walk you!”

About the time Williams reaches the dugout, Gibson blasts a towering three-run homer off the Goose to finish off the Padres. 

Also, this isn’t just a feel-good piece where hard-line issues and the truth are glossed over. The show goes in-depth on the troubles of two deceased Padres — Wiggins and pitcher Eric Show — and the battle pitcher Dave Dravecky faced with cancer in his left arm, which led to an amputation when his arm broke while pitching for the San Francisco Giants. 

Three people associated with that team are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown — Gossage, Williams and right fielder Tony Gwynn.

I found an online article that gives a synopsis of the program ( I reiterate that it was a well-done special worthy of an hour of any baseball fan’s time.

I think it’s safe to say the best two teams in major-league baseball are meeting in the 2009 World Series.

The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to repeat as world champions and the New York Yankees had the best regular-season record (103-59) this season.

The Phillies are looking to become the first National League team to win titles in back-to-back years since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76. Hard to believe it’s been 33 years since the “Big Red Machine” (Johnny Bench, George Foster, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Pete Rose, et al) ruled the sport.

And the Yankees, believe it or not, haven’t won a World Series title since outclassing the New York Mets in 2000. That’s quite a drought for a team that won four crowns in five seasons from 1996-2000.

The matchup also fuels hope that this year’s “Fall Classic” — or do we now call it the “November Classic” since baseball’s decision-makers and television executives schedule more off-days for the playoffs than furloughed workers in California receive? — might be a memorable one.

Recent World Series matchups have been lame or lackluster (and sometimes both). Or maybe you’ve forgotten that the World Series hasn’t lasted more than five games since 2003.

The Boston Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004, the Chicago White Sox swept the Houston Astros in 2005, the Cardinals finished off the Detroit Tigers in five games in 2006, the Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies in 2007, and the Phillies closed out the Tampa Bay Rays in five games last year.

That’s a long time without a World Series for the ages so perhaps baseball is due for a good one. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a lot of star power in this matchup.

The Phillies are loaded with offensive stars in Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth and two fine left-handed starting pitchers in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels (the 2008 World Series MVP). The Yankees, of course, are led by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez with icon closer Mariano Rivera still performing at the highest level. Starting pitchers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte — two more good lefties — lead the rotation and hitters like Mark Teixeira, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon are part of a solid lineup.

I break down the talent and analyze the matchups and it’s reasonable to think this could be the first World Series since 2002 (when the then-Anaheim Angels made sure Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants didn’t get a World Series ring) to go the full seven games. I realize Rollins is on record as predicting the Phillies will close out the Yankees in five games but I disagree with the shortstop.

Not about which team will win but in the length of the series:

MrSportsBlog is predicting the Phillies in six games.