Monday, March 9, 2009

Weekend in Review

A weekend of positive results for SDSU, a mixed bag for USD and UCSD, and a nervous quiet on the offseason front for the Chargers.  Baseball's best (well, some of them) square off in the World Baseball Classic.  Meanwhile, the Padres blithely prep for their long slog in Arizona.  And, a city rivalry gains steam and attention in college baseball.  Some of the things on my mind this gray and cold morning in America's Finest City...

  • Tops on my list for the weekend: the big win for the Aztecs' men.  Beating UNLV twice is now on the top of their resume for an at-large berth.  Coming together with a solid second-half performance gave the seniors on the team something to feel good about heading into tournament play.  And, while UNLV has the home court for Thursday's re-rematch in the first round of the conference tournament, SDSU has the positive momentum of back-to-back wins to fall back upon if the Rebels make an expected run.  To me, it's not that bad to draw the team you've swept in the first round, even if that team is the home team.  And while beating UNLV for a 3rd time still wouldn't guarantee an at-large berth (especially if it was followed immediately by losing to BYU for a 3rd time), it certainly would be a big step in the right direction.  Great job for the men's team to at least come together and pull out this win.
  • Even more praise-worthy is the clinching of the co-conference championship for the SDSU women's hoopsters.  You could see last year that Paris Johnson arriving gave Beth Burns a base to work with, and the improvement of her guards Jene Morris and Quenese Davis has turned the Aztecs into a rightful power in the MWC.  I would like to think an at-large berth is secure, but to be safe SDSU probably should win that semi-final MWC tournament game they will play on Friday.  Chris can elaborate much further than I as he has followed these Aztecs through every game of the season. 
  • The baseball City Championship was great, and even Sunday's clunker wound up being close enough to be considered a decent game.  The first three were all tense thrillers.  Strasburg's 18K performance was the highlight, followed by Cory Vaughn's walkoff in the 10th on Friday, and the Aztec bullpen's escape job on Saturday.  Yesterday's game featured miserable, awful, hideous defense from SDSU, but the long-term development from the game was probably more important: Brandon Meredith started to find his groove.  With a LONG HR to left and a booming double to the right-center alley, Brandon displayed the power and bat control that got Tony Gwynn so excited.  For SDSU, it's off to UCLA on Wednesday (I'll be there on, and then back home for a weekend series against UNLV (I'll be there too, with Friday's Strasburg start on XTRA).  
  • Rich Hill's USD baseball team really, REALLY needed that win on Sunday.  They play Long Beach State and then Rice for four games this week, two of the top programs in the country.  USD is still trying to get their pitching worked out, and while Solis shows a lot of promise, they don't have that Matusz-Strasburg type superstar on the mound this year.  Blair is another good one but still erratic.  I like USD's defense, it's mostly excellent, and they've got plenty of solid line-drive hitters.  Only Sanchez has real power though, and he's still a work in progress with a long swing.  
  • If you think it's going to end well between LT and the Chargers, you're in a shrinking group, and I don't know that I can join you anymore.  To me there are too few ways for A.J. Smith to make it work and still keep all of the other pieces that he drafted and have salary cap room to re-sign Rivers.  I still think the Bolts need him back for one more year, though, if they want to really be a Super Bowl contender next year, and I'm not going to change that position even if they do decide to part ways and go to a younger RB in the draft.  People will hype that young rusher and within weeks of his departure, the new Conventional Wisdom will be that the Chargers are better off without LT.  That's a guarantee from you to me if it happens.  But newer isn't always better and I think betting on another year of LT is a safe wager.
  • Maybe I'm the only one who likes the World Baseball Classic, but I was very much interested in both of the games that I saw parts of yesterday.  The USA lineup was relentless and eventually pounded the minor leaguers within the underbelly of the Venezuelan bullpen.  The Mexican team, meanwhile, imploded on their home field and got mercy ruled by Australia!  It was an ugly pitching performance.  USA is already into the 2nd round and looking like a much more determined and much less sluggish team than their first go-round in '06.
  • I still plan to be heading out for the tail end of Spring Training, right after the players get back from the WBC.  Nothing like a dose of Arizona sunshine and artifical optimism to mark the start of the baseball season to come.  
  • UCSD's women's team drew a 3rd seed in the Division II tournament and will play CSU Dominguez Hills in the first round.  They lost their chance to host a regional, though, by bowing out in the first round of the CCAA tourney.  The men were not unexpectedly left out of the NCAA field after their semi-final departure in the tourney on Friday night.  I'll be back on campus tomorrow to talk with the head coaches while taping the 4th edition of Triton Talk.  
  • The scene last night in Big Love when Nikki gets confronted by the DA and Bill out in the street in front of their home was absolutely electric.  The last three shows have been, to me, the best of the series to date.  And to no one's surprise Nikki winds up crawling back to her twisted family when no one else will have her. 
OK that's it for now but this week's High Fidelity will get started later on today!

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