Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Catchup Column

There is so much going on right now, I've started and stopped three different columns this morning.  SDSU basketball in the NIT today.  A changing of the guard for the Padres.  Aztecs baseball winning 2 of 3 at TCU and entering the national rankings.  Shawne Merriman making an encouraging re-appearance at Chargers camp.  Why settle for just one?  Let the dots commence...

  • This is an exciting day for SDSU basketball, the unversity, the students, and the long-suffering fans.  The semifinals of the NIT aren't the same as the NCAA Final Four, but for this school it's their greatest achievment to date.  And, unlike so many San Diego sports stories that have come before, there is no Goliath currently standing in the way.  Baylor is a good team, and they've been hot in the postseason to be sure.  But it's not the '84 Tigers, or the '94 49ers, or the '98 Yankees across the court.  It's not even the Stanford team that swamped SDSU women's basketball earlier this month.  This is an opponent the Aztecs can match up against.  A heavily guard-oriented team that likes to run and gun but is a bit lax on defense.  If Steve Fisher's boys bring their lunchpails tonight and commit to the hard-nosed defense that has been their trademark this year, they should be able to light the flashbulbs at Madison Square Garden with some exciting plays in transition and off of turnovers.  I'm expecting a really good game, and it will be up to Williams and Spain outside defensively to stop penetration by Curtis Jerrells and Tweety Carter.  This is the opportunity so many of these Aztecs have been waiting for, and they are going to take advantage and get noticed on the national stage.  Tune in today to AM-600 KOGO, where I will be hosting a special one-hour pregame show today at 3pm.  Yeah, it's hilarious, back in the building again.  UCSD head coach Chris Carlson is going to join me as an in-studio analyst for the entirety of the game.  
  • Oh, by the way, what scares me the most about Baylor?  Their hot run coincided with their switching to a 2-3 zone for the Big 12 tourney.  Uh oh.  The zone has been the bane of this Aztecs' team for years.  Beating an old bugaboo: it's becoming a bit of a theme this postsesason.  First St. Mary's, now a zone team.  Time to hit some outside shots, Spain/Wade/Williams.  And if DJ Gay could hit another three this YEAR, now would be the time.
  • Up until the ceremonial changing of the guard between John Moores and Jeff Moorad on Thursday, this was shaping up as one of the bleakest preseasons in the bleak history of the San Diego Padres.  Now, at least, the feel changes for 2009 and moving forward.  Sandy Alderson is gone, and that's an instant plus, on the field and in the important field of public perception.  Whatever good he did while he was here, Alderson will be remembered as the man who ran out Trevor, treated Khalil Greene like a bad schoolboy, alienated the team from its fans, and handled the players like some bizarre bespectacled vice-principal.  Between Alderson's autocratic rule, the bizarre who's-in-charge configuration of the front office, and the Moores' divorce, the Padres were caught in a death spiral.  Moorad stops that.  The team's going to be bad this year, there's little doubt about that.  But instead of feeling like an endless slog, at least we'll be able to say 2009 is the start of something, namely the Moorad Era in San Diego.  An owner who was an agent himself, who understands the value of premium talent, who's not going to bait-and-switch his scouting department into taking a bargain-basement bust with the #3 pick in the draft this summer.  It will be something to keep in mind while you're choking down your $5 food-o-rama at Petco Park this summer, watching Eulogio De La Cruz walk the bases loaded.  
  • Baseball America has Tony Gwynn's Aztecs at #21 this morning, as the boys wake up in Santa Barbara and get ready to battle the Gauchos this afternoon.  Chris Ello has the call at 2pm on www.goaztecs.com.  I watched all three games from TCU on my laptop last weekend, and was not surprised to see another 9th inning uprising on Sunday.  Four times this year, SDSU has rallied in their final at-bat to win, and they turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory in Fort Worth on Sunday, claiming the series from 16th ranked TCU and establishing themselves in the national rankings.  This will be an exciting and challenging week for the Aztecs.  A home-and-home two-game set with the 20th ranked Gauchos begins today, followed by a four-game weekend series against UC Davis.  The Aggies series will feature Strasburg pitching at Petco Park on Friday afternoon, and a Saturday doubleheader at Tony Gwynn Stadium.  Chris and I will call three of the four games on XTRA 1360 this weekend, while the 2nd game of the doubleheader will be exclusively on goaztecs.com.  This should be a good week, in that what is really being challenged is the Aztecs' depth in the rotation, and they should be able to roll out O'Sullivan, Simmons, Strasburg, Berger, Lavigne and Solow without asking the bullpen to really get taxed.  
  • So Shawne Merriman says he "feels great and looks amazing"?  Good news for Chargers fans, and a great excuse for me to link to Stephen Colbert's amusing riff last night on narcissism.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Things of Promise:
    1. Jeffrey Moorad
    2. Shawne Merriman's assessment of self
    (I hope he was laughing as he said it)

    Good to see some 619 action.