Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Debunking the Charger Myths

The Chargers won their preseason game on Saturday, beating the Cardinals 33-31 on a last second Nate Keading field goal. I’d spent about 12 hours at the beach that day so by the time the game started I was as dead as a doorknob. I managed to watch each of the team’s first drives, a little bit before the half, and the last minute or so when the Cardinals took the lead before Billy Voleck drove the Chargers down the field to set up Keading’s field goal. Needless to say, I didn’t miss anything important. You gotta love preseason football.

As for the Chargers prognosis thus far: I think their offense is going to be “out of this world” good and I’m taking a “wait and see” approach on their defense. They haven’t really blitzed or done anything other than play their basic coverages so it’s hard to tell if they’ve improved. I’m assuming they’re saving it for the season so I guess we’ll “wait and see.”

In any matter, the NFL regular season is a little more than a week away and naturally I’ve been an information whore on anything Charger related. What gets me is that the Chargers are so strong from top to bottom that it almost seems like the media is nitpicking their team for weaknesses. There is no reason why the Chargers should be rated behind the Colts or the Patriots in the various power rankings out there.

So because I’m such a nice guy, I’ll take the time to breakdown some of the myths out there about these so called “weaknesses” the Chargers have:

Myth #1: “Norv Turner won’t hack it as a head coach of the Chargers because of his 58-81-1 record as head coach of the Raiders and Redskins.”

First of all, it’s completely unfair to compare those Raiders and Redskin teams to the team Turner has now. We’re talking Aaron Brooks and Gus Ferotte compared to Phil Rivers. LaMont Jordan and Terry Allen as opposed to LaDanian Tomlinson. Doug Gabriel and Stephen Alexander compared to Antonio Gates. In 2004 with the Raiders, Turner’s leading rushers were Zach Crockett and Amous Zereoue and his quarterback was the immortal Kerry Collins. (I went to Zereoue to try and get a comment about this but his shift manager at Wendy’s said he couldn’t take a break until guy working at the fry station showed up.)

I mean, how in God’s name did anyone expect Turner to win with a team like that?

People forget that Bill Belichick was 36-44 in five years with the Browns and a year with the Patriots before he turned it around with that team. Remember the back page of the New York Post called him “Beli-Chicken” after he resigned as Jets coach one day into the job so he could take the Patriots gig? I’m not saying Turner’s the next Belichick. I’m just saying there are some parallels. Belichick was once slapped with that “only a coordinator” label too and a lot of people didn’t think he was outspoken enough to be a head coach either. Before we evaluate him, Turner deserves a shot with a good team. The way I look at it, if he rolls off 13 or so wins this year, wins the Super Bowl and rolls off another 13 wins or so and wins another Super Bowl his record won’t look so bad and suddenly everyone will be calling him an offensive genius and the next Don Coryell.

Myth #2: “The Chargers don’t have a proven #1 wide receiver.”

This is like when a woman decides another woman isn’t hot because of something totally unrelated to hotness.

Example 1: Jennifer Hewitt isn’t hot because she has a long neck.

Example 2: Pamela Anderson isn’t hot. She looks like a bimbo.

Example 3: Jessica Simpson looks fake.

(For the record these are things that I’ve actually heard other women say)

Appropriate response to any of these absurd criticisms would be, “Yeah, but take a look at her (fill in appropriate body part).”

In this case: Yeah the Chargers don’t have a proven #1 receiver but take a look at LT and Antonio Gates.

When someone is indisputably good (or good looking) snide comments like are just plain ridiculous.

Myth #3: “The Chargers don’t have a back-up nose tackle.”

I read some guy dock the Chargers for this last week and I thought it was the most absurd thing I’ve read during the month of August. How many NFL teams even have a good nose / defensive tackle to begin with? Who’s the Patriots backup nose tackle?

Granted, the Chargers defense wouldn’t be as good without Jamal Williams but chastising them for not having a quality backup doesn’t make sense -- especially when the schmuck who wrote it probably doesn’t even know who the backups are (for the record they are Brandon McKinney and Ryon Bingham and they are not bad players.) and 2/3rds of the teams out there don’t have a decent defensive tackle to begin with.

Absurdity to the nth degree.

Myth #4: “The Chargers are going to miss Donnie Edwards.”

I heard Peter King say this over the radio and I’ve gone 10 rounds with the guy who delivers mail in my office about this. Let me tell you five things:

1. Matt Whilhelm is a younger, more physical player than Donnie Edwards.
2. Matt Whilhelm will make more plays than Donnie Edwards ever did.
3. Matt Whilhelm will become a fan favorite.
4. Matt Whilhelm’s backup, Tim Dobbins is also better than Edwards.
5. AJ Smith never, ever, ever… ever, ever, ever misses on a personnel call. Never. It just doesn’t happen.

The same people who are upset about losing Edwards are the ones that were worried when the Chargers to let go of Drew Brees, Toni Fonoti, Hanik Milligan.

Remember in Goodfellas when Henry Hill comes into the bar all worried that the cops are onto them about the Lufthansa heist and Jimmy Conway grabs him and says, “Don’t worry, everything is beautiful..” That’s me when I hear complaints about moves the Chargers make. When AJ Smith is in charge, there’s nothing to worry about. Of course everything wasn’t exactly beautiful for those guys in Goodfellas but… whatever. I’m just rambling. Let’s move on.

Myth #5: “The Chargers defense will be less aggressive under Ted Cotrell.”

From what I saw, the Chargers under Wade Phillips, were aggressive in their front seven but passive in the secondary. From what I’ve seen and read so far this Charger defense -- under Cotrell and linebackers coach Ron Rivera-- will more aggressive all around.

I think I got an erection this morning when I read in the paper that the Chargers were thinking about blitzing their corners and disguising their coverages better. Holy crap, you mean you shouldn’t just play prevent all the time? I’ve already noticed that they’ve been trying to strip the ball on tackles (like the Bears who were coached Rivera) and if this team can force a couple of turnovers a game, they’re going to be unstoppable.

So there you have it. Stop trying to nitpick the Chargers. Just admit that they are a perfect team and enjoy watching their Super Bowl run(s).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Breaking up with the Padres

I’m not the only one calling the Padres out on their crap. Check out what their best player, Jake Peavy had to say about the organization last weekend to the U-T (the day after Carlos Zambrano, a pitcher Peavy compares favorably to, signed a $90 million deal with the Cubs):

“I'm not optimistic about staying here as much as I'd like to remain a Padre. I hope it's not the case, but I think it's inevitable that I'll wind up somewhere else. I am not looking to break the bank. I'm not saying I want a huge payday. I'm going to ask for what's fair. And although I hope it happens here, I just don't see the Padres spending that much on a player. And if they're not thinking in that direction, they might decide to trade me before it comes to the point of free agency.

“It's not in my hands, as much as I wish it was. And when you look at (Padres CEO) Sandy (Alderson's) stance on long-term contracts, well, he's not been keen on them.”

“All I've heard from friends today are questions about Zambrano. Obviously with the Padres' track record, they're not going there, nor would I expect them to.”

“I'm more concerned about the team making a conscious effort to win a world championship. At times, I don't know if they've gone out on a limb to make it happen. I believe the big philosophy is right. But the first question I'd ask is, 'Can you give me your word that we're going to make an effort to win the World Series?'

“Honestly, they've done a phenomenal job with what they've spent. But we're being asked at a $58 million payroll to compete against the Dodgers and Giants . . . and we're doing it. But if we had made a little bit more of a financial commitment to winning, I think we could have already won a World Series.”

When you’re in the middle of a pennant race and your best player questions your desire to win a championship, I think that pretty much qualifies as a slap in the face.

For the record, I’m pretty much done with the Padres. They don’t care about winning the World Series (Alderson has admitted as much multiple times on the radio by saying their goal is to win the division) and I don’t care to invest my time and money into following a team whose goal isn’t to win a championship. Isn’t that the whole purpose of following a sports team? Fans invest hours watching their team, even more hours reading about them in the paper and trolling through the internet, listening to sports talk radio. We spend tons of time analyzing each game, each player and every transaction in hopes of the ultimate payoff: That eventually, the team that we’ve lived and died with wins a championship. I mean isn’t this the reason most of us know more about Trevor Hoffman than we do some of our own family members?

The Padres, unfortunately, feel that signing a bunch or retreads and halfheartedly competing year in and year out is enough for their fans. For some fans it may be enough, but it’s not enough for me and I’m done with the Padres.

To be honest with you I haven’t watched more than a couple minutes of a Padre game for over three weeks now and I feel perfectly fine. I check the paper to see how they did the night before but that’s it. The way I see it, I get home from work around 5:30 every night and go to bed around 11:00. That gives me about 5 hours of free time each night. I’m sure as hell not going to spend half that time watching a team full of marginal, untalented, boring players struggle each night to score two runs on five hits. Or as my sister The K’ster puts it: “It’s like bad news every day.”

So there you have it. Until they make this team exciting again, I’m done following the Padres. I’m done going to games. I’m done watching them on TV. If they somehow happen to sneak into the playoffs I may sit through a couple of games, but the days of following them day-in and day-out are over. As Peavy implied, the Padres don’t have a financial commitment to winning. They have a commitment to putting people in the stands and a commitment to making money. The Padres will do nothing but the absolute minimum as long as fans keep showing up and supporting their marginal product. Like a kid halfheartedly cleaning his room to placate his parents, the Padres will continue to acquire the Jose Cruz’s and Marcus Giles’ out there as long fans keep showing up to PetCo.

I on the other hand am done. And reading message boards and postings out there I know I’m not the only one that’s reached a tipping point with this organization. We gave them a new stadium. We made John Moores, who was already a multimillionaire, a multi-multi-multimillionaire. Couldn’t we have still signed Vinny Castilla and Doug Mirabelli playing at Qualcom?

In most relationships it’s give and take. For the Padres, it’s take and take some more. You can only be in a bad relationship and blame the other person for so long. Eventually, it’s your fault that you’re still with the person. Well, I’m at that point with the Padres. I’m not caring about a team that doesn’t care about me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Deconstructing the Patriots

It took me -- and every other Charger fan I knew, about six months to get over that playoff loss to the Patriots in January. I’m not kidding. I was totally pissed off for a solid six months. As a sports fan, that was hands-down the single worst loss I’ve ever experienced. At this point, instead of rehashing the crappy details of that crappy day, I’ll just say that January 14, 2007 totally sucked.

But while the Patriots may have won that game, this offseason came to show who the better team was. Check out the list of key offseason acquisitions for each team:

New England Patriots: Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Adalus Thomas, Wes Welker, Kelly Washington.

San Diego Chargers: (none)

By looking at who the Patriots got you’d probably think that the Chargers kicked the hell out of the Patriots. Generally, teams who advance to the AFC Championship don’t sign an entire receiving corps. This tells me one thing: Not only did the Patriots know they should have lost that game, but they knew they should have lost that game by at least three touchdowns. And they had to react the way the did because they realized the Chargers were that much better than them.

Instead of recognizing this though, ESPN, Peter King and the rest of the national media have been busy giving the Patriots a seven month, marathon lap dance. I on the other hand don’t think the Patriots are better than the Chargers. To paraphrase Dennis Green: “If you want to crown their asses then crown their asses…” But I’m not going to and here’s why:

I like Tom Brady about as much as the next guy but take a look at the past four playoff games the guy has played in:

2006 AFC Championship at Indy: 21 of 34 passing, 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 79.5 QB Rating.

2006 Divisional Playoff at SD: 27 of 51, 280 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, 57.6 QB Rating.

2006 Wild Card vs. NYJ: 22 of 34, 212 yards, 2TD, 0INT, 101.6 QB Rating

2005 Divisional Playoff at Denver: 20 of 36, 341 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 74.0 QB Rating.

Outside of the Jets game those are pretty crappy stats for someone who’s supposed to be the Joe Montana of this generation. Plus Brady threw an interception on the potential game-tying drive against Indy, an interception in the Charger game that would have clinched the game for the Chargers had Marlon McCree not fumbled, and threw an interception in the Denver game that Champ Bailey returned for a touchdown which proved to be the difference in the game.

I’m not saying he’s not a great QB, nor am I saying that Phil Rivers is better. I’m just saying that’s how Rex Grossman performed during the last four playoff games he was involved in. Oh, did I say Rex Grossman? I meant Tom Brady. Got a little confused there.

Running Back
Lawrence Maroney is an unproven, injury prone running back, who hurt his shoulder at the end of last season and has been seen wearing a protective covering over it during training camp. I’m not saying he won’t be good this year (especially since he’s on my fantasy football team), I’m just saying there are some questions.

On the other hand there are no questions about “The Living Legend” LaDanian Tomlinson. This discussion is over.

(How’s that for LT’s new nickname? I know, Ric Flair used to refer to himself has “The Living Legend” but since LT already stole Lawrence Taylor’s moniker, I figured he could go ahead and take Flair’s too. “The Living Legend” LaDanian Tomlinson. It’s got a great ring to it)

Wide Receiver
Only in Boston can a signing of a short, white, overachieving wide receiver generate more excitement then the signing of Randy Moss. All I can say is if Welker were black he’d be Az Hakim.

And as for Moss, in addition to being a malcontent, here’s how he did in two games against the Chargers last year:

Game 1: 4 receptions, 47 yards
Game 2: 3 receptions, 26 yards.

Granted, he did play in the Bed and Breakfast offense but really, I don’t think AJ Smith lost any sleep when the Patriots got him.

So to summarize, the Patriots signed the white Az Hakim, a malcontent who caught 7 balls for 73 yards in two games against the Chargers last year, and a wide receiver with chronic hamstring problems (Donte Stallworth).

Good job. No really, great job.

The thing that aggravated me the most in the Chargers’ playoff loss (and the reason I think Cam Cameron was a little overrated) was that they stopped giving the ball to LT in the second half. I mean, which one of the slow, white guys the Patriots had at linebacker was going to stop LT? Ted Bruschi? Mike Vrabel? Tom Izzo? I will question this until the day I die.

To fix that problem, the Patriots went out and signed Adalus Thomas who according to every one is one of the most versatile defensive players in the League. (I seriously thought Peter King was creaming his shorts when he wrote about this in his Monday Morning QB column). But my question is if he was so good why did the Ravens let him go? By my count, Thomas was at most the fourth best player on the Raven’s defense last year behind Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs. This means that opposing offenses had to account for Lewis, Reed and Suggs before they even thought about Thomas. We’ll see how he does when offenses start keying on him.

Defensive Line
I was listening to some NFL show the other day and some guy said that the Patriots’ defensive line is the heart of their team. That may be the case but if you think about it, the trio of Richard Seymour, Gerald Green, and Vince Wolfork are the poor man’s version of Luis Castillo, Igor Olshanski, and Jamal Williams.

If Castillo can stay healthy he’s younger Seymour with a pass-rush and Williams and Olshanski are a little better than Wilfork and Green.

And that goes to show you, the Patriots best unit (defensive line) is not as good as the Charger’s third best unit (defensive line behind running back, offensive line, and linebackers)

With Asante Samuel holding out, I can’t for the life of me name another cornerback on the Patriots. They’re basically signing guys off the street to play corner and the media is giving them a pass. What a crock of crap.

For their safeties they have Rodney Harrison and rookie Brandon Meriwether who’s more known for his exploits in the brawl between Miami- FIU brawl last year. (FYI Meriwether is number 19). Watch this guy and tell me if the Patriots would take a chance on this guy in their heyday.

And that pretty much sums things up. When the Patriots were winning Super Bowls, they used to never sign guys like Meriwether and Moss. They’d let other teams sign guys who’d disrupt team chemistry and wouldn’t touch guys with off field problems. Now it looks like the Patriots are doing what teams they used to beat were doing and the Chargers are doing with what the Patriots did when they were the team to beat.

I just wish someone besides me would realize this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mid-Week Musings

I’ve always wondered why batters drop the bat when they charge the mound, rather than take the bat with them. Well, someone finally took the bat with them and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. This almost beats the time when Izzy Alcantrara, a Red Sox minor leaguer, kicked the catcher in the facemask before he charged the mound, punched the pitcher, and then challenged the rest of the team to a fight. I was living in Boston at the time and just thinking about that one makes me smile. Here, check it out on YouTube. But anyways, the lesson in this case is that Jose Offerman is a maniac.

I think the next over the top thing we’ll see is a batter helicopter a bat at the pitcher’s head after getting hit with a pitch. That would be pretty crazy. I nominate Milton Bradley the only guy insane enough that he might actually do it…

Thanks to everyone for their feedback on the new format. Here are some highlights:

From Cousin Cathy who’s in Vietnam:
“Excellent! You have been officially linked to gastronomy. Too bad you can't blog at work!”

In case you’ve been out of the loop, Gastronomy has been blowing up over the past few months, even getting recognition in one the Philadelphia websites on an article about food blogging. And since Cathy is nice enough to link the LamLogs to Gastronomy, I will link Gastronomy to the LamLogs. Here you go.

And from Cousin Michael who’s starting is freshman year at San Francisco State: “Nice fucking blog.”

Michael said that he partied with his brother last night and puked on his brother’s floor. Something tells me this is going to end with a newspaper headline reading: “SFSU Freshman Taken to Hospital to get Stomach Pumped”…

A couple of months ago I finally broke down and got an Xbox 360. I started a couple Madden franchises with the Bears and that didn’t work out (Old school LamLoggers know that I’m never the Chargers in Madden because I totally jinx them. Plus I like to be a cold weather team so I can play in the snow and whatnot). But yesterday started a franchise with the Browns, simulated the first season where they were 3-13 which gave me the fourth pick in the draft, traded for Vince Young, signed Terrell Owens, Dante Stallworth and Michael Westbrook, drafted some defensive end with a 92 speed rating and suddenly my team is stacked.

We lost our first game though. Here’s how I described it over email to El LamGal:

Me: “I played my first game with my new team. I was winning and then they came back and won on the last play of the game. I punched a hole in the wall.”

ELG: “You didn’t really punch a hole in the wall did you?”

Me: “I think I just dented it with my punch. It was the kick that actually made the hole.”

ELG: “Did you really make any kind of hole or dent in the wall?”

Me: “Yes. Now when you’re in the changing room and I’m on the couch we can see each other and it won’t seem like we’re so far apart.”

ELG: “You’re kidding me. Why would you do that?”

Me: “It was a back and forth game. I took an early 14-6 lead. The Ravens came back, getting it to 14-12 and eventually took the lead 20-14. With about two minutes left in the game I drove downfield taking the lead with about 30 seconds left in the game. Then the freaking cpu drives like 70 yards downfield and kicks the game winning field goal with like 6 seconds left. So I reacted like how any 29 year old adult male would react.”

ELG: “I dont even know what to tell you. I am very disappointed. It makes me very sad. I try really hard to keep our home nice and you punched a hole in the wall because of a Video game? I’m going to cry. I’ll see you later.”

Since she threatened me with the worst possible thing a woman can ever do to a man without actually physically touching him, I told her that I didn’t actually punch a hole in the wall.

The End.

In any matter, the new Madden comes out today or tomorrow so unfortunately I’ll have to start all over. No skin off of my back though, the Shawn Alexander Madden was kind of crappy anyways. I’d tell you why but it’s a moot point now…

I’ve decided to that this year, I’m going to throw myself into the NBA. I’ve always been a Laker fan, but now I’m giving myself a chance to become an NBA fan. The reasons are: a) I need something to do during the week during football season, and b) since I’m becoming more and more uninterested in baseball, I need a sport to follow for the first half of the year. So far I’ve been following all the offseason moves, learning about the salary cap, and reading all of Bill Simmon’s NBA columns. I even have a group of guys I’ve been emailing with regularly about the Lakers.

Today, to summarize, we talked about the general crappiness of Laker GM Mitch Kupchack and how for the past 14 months the guy:

1. Didn’t get Baron Davis when the Hornets were offering him for 55 cents on the dollar.
2. Passed on the Jason Kidd for Andrew Bynum deal.
3. Couldn’t close the deal on Garnett even though the players he could have offered were better than the players the Celtics gave up.
4. Drafted two point guards (none of which can step in and start) with his two number one draft picks.
5. Has been unable to trade for Jermaine O’Neal whom the Pacers are will willing to deal.
6. Can’t get Mike Bibby even though the Heat are about to get him for an erratic point guard who refers to himself as “White Chocolate.”

The last point is what spurred the conversation. No wonder why Kobe Bryant demanded a trade. And even a bigger point is: What the hell did I do to deserve Kevin Towers and Mitch Kupchack? If this is punishment for that time in preschool my cousin and I urinated in a bucket and dumped it on some kid then I’m sorry ok? Kevin Towers and Mitch Kupchack? Thank God for AJ Smith. He is truly the Tom Cruise to my Kate Holms. I unquestionably believe in everything he says or does.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Kevin Towers of Blogging

“I just want to scream ‘Hellooooo!’ My God it’s been so long, never dreamed you’d re-turn…”

--Pearl Jam

With that said, the LamLogs are back! A nearly four month hiatus was exactly what I needed to get this thing going again. My blogs were becoming boring, predictable, and uncreative. In other words, I was becoming the Kevin Towers of blogging. Now, I feel like a middle aged woman after a botox injection: Rejuvenated and spunkier than ever.

Let’s talk about sports…

For the third straight year, the Padres failed to do anything to address their incompetent offense and for the third straight year they are a boring, uninspiring team and that is about to crap the bed. Look at some of the position players they’ve acquired over the past three years and tell me why you’re surprised that they can’t score any runs:

2004-2005 Off-season (after an 87-75 season where they ranked 7th in team batting average and 18th in total runs scored): Dave Roberts, Mark Sweeney.

2005 record: 82-80. .257 team batting average (25th in MLB), 684 runs scored (27th)

2005-2006 Off-season: Doug Mirabelli, Mike Piazza, Mark Bellhorn, Geoff Blum, Vinny Castilla, Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Cameron, Terrmel Sledge.

2006 record: 88-74. .263 BA (23rd), 731 runs (22nd)

2006-2007 Off-season: Marcus Giles, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jose Cruz Jr.

2007 record to date: 63-54 (on pace for 87 wins). .244 BA (30th) 507 runs (24th)

So to summarize, the Padres: Finished 18th in total runs scored. Signed a past his prime veteran and a bench player. Ranked 27th in runs scored. Signed three past their prime veterans, four bench players, and took a flyer on a young player. Ranked 22nd in runs scored. Signed a veteran past his prime, a bench player and took a flyer on a young player. Rank 24th in runs scored.

I can’t wait until this winter season when Scott Podsednick and Mark Loretta are their big offseason acquisitions.

You know what they say: Garbage in, garbage out.

While it is unsurprising, the only thing aggravates me about the Padres is that they are effectively wasting one of the best pitching staffs they ever by not going out there and acquiring someone who can hit the ball.

And I’m absolutely tired of Towers saying he won’t trade this guy or the next guy to get a legitimate hitter. Let me be the next in line to ask: “WHY THE HELL NOT?”

Would you rather have five guys in your bullpen with a sub-3.00 ERA or would you rather trade off some of that surplus for a hitter that could help you score more than one or two runs a game?

Here are the moves I would have made at the trade deadline if I were the Padres:

1. Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headly and Clay Hensley to Texas for Mark Texiera.The Rangers got three prospects from the Braves for Texiera but I’m thinking they’d rather have Gonzalez (a much better 1B replacement than Saltalamachia), Hensley and a pretty decent third base prospect in Headley.Everyone raves about Gonzalez but there are at least a dozen first baseman I’d rather have right now than him. As for Texiera, everyone keeps talking about his contract but he isn’t a free agent until after the 2008 season. With the pitching staff the Padres have, I’d take my shot at the next two World Series and let 2009 worry about itself.

2. Khalil Greene to Boston for Willy Mo Pena and Dustin Pedroia.I think Kevin Towers is the only person on the planet who still believes Khalil Greene is going to be a good player at PetCo Park. The Padres’ offense is so pathetic that Pena actually would look good in their lineup. I would have taken him off of the Red Sox’s hands, asked for Pedrioa and put him at SS.

3. Mike Cameron, Heath Bell, and a pitching prospect for Robinson CanoThe Yankees need relievers and Cameron would have been an upgrade in CF over Melky Cabrera now that Johnny Damon has predictably broken down. The Yankees recently traded for Wilson Betemit so they would have played him at second in place of Cano.Check out what the Padres’ lineup would have looked like had they made those moves:

Giles- RF
Pedroia- SS
Texiera- 1B
Pena- LF
Bradley- CF
Cano- 2B
Bard- C
Kouzmanoff- 3B

Heck of a lot better than a lineup that features the likes of Morgan Ensberg and Rob Mackoviack huh? The fact that Towers can’t think outside of the box (“The box” in his case would be picking bench players and relief pitchers) to get a deal done is unconscionable. If you employed a strategy to fix an ongoing problem at your job, and that strategy consistently failed, and you continued to employ the same failed strategy, it wouldn’t be long before you’d probably be packing groceries at Henry’s. I know dogs that are smarter than this. And yet somehow, miraculously, Towers still has a job.

And now in more exciting news…

The Chargers played their first preseason game last night. Their starters got flagged for a bunch of penalties, and they generally looked like crap. Quite frankly, I’m delighted. The worst thing that could have happened is for this team to roll through the preseason, develop a false sense of security, and get steamed rolled the first two weeks of the season when they play the Bears and Patriots. Lack of focus is the only thing that can keep the Chargers from the Super Bowl this year. They needed a game where on consecutive plays Craig Davis fumbles a handoff and Malcolm Floyd drops a wide-open pass. Better in August than in February.

With that said, I’ve never been more excited for football season. I think it’s a combination of another lackluster Padre season and the fact that the Chargers have a real shot at giving San Diego its first championship in a major sport. It’s going to be exciting this year and man, am I fired up!

And unlike the Padres who barely have two exciting players (Peavy and maybe Hoffman) the Chargers have legitimate star power. I can count nine Pro Bowlers off the top of my head (LT, Neal, Gates, Rivers, McNeal, Merriman, Jamal Williams, Keading and Osgood) and at least four more players who could be Pro Bowlers after this season (Dielman, Luis Castillo, Scifers, and Shawn Phillips). That means they potentially have 13 Pro Bowlers on their team which is exactly ¼ of their 52-man roster. Amazing!

AJ Smith is Michael Corleone (savvy, smart, resourceful) to Kevin Tower’s Fredo -- totally, completely and utterly incompetent.