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Sports Update: Padres Holding On To First, Floyd Landis Admits To Doping

Floyd Landis on The California Tour last year.
Joe McGowan
Floyd Landis on The California Tour last year.
Sports Update: Padres Holding On To First, Floyd Landis Admits To Doping
Will the Padres maintain their hold on first place in the National League West? What does Floyd Landis' admission that he used illegal performance enhancing drugs tell us about the world of professional cycling? Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton joins us for a local sports update.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Joining us for another take on the proposed new Chargers stadium, as well as some thoughts on the Padres, and the doping revelations from cyclist Floyd Landis, I’d like to welcome my guest, Lee ‘Hacksaw’ Hamilton, sports talk show host on XX1090 and a sports columnist for Lee, welcome.

LEE ‘HACKSAW’ HAMILTON (Sports Talk Show Host and Columnist): Good morning, how are you, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: I’m doing just great. Now I know that you have written an article, “Make the Downtown Chargers Stadium Happen.” So tell us why you’re a supporter.

HAMILTON: Well, this is just not a football stadium situation. I really think—and it is a complex mosaic—I really believe it’s an investment in the future of the rest of downtown going forward, expanding out the East Village, creating more reasons to make San Diego a destination point for businesses, etcetera. I think this has the potential to be the next catalyst just like Petco Park and the convention center have been the catalysts of the success of the Gaslamp Village. I know it’s a huge investment, quote, in an athletic facility but I’m looking at it more as an investment in anything else, just into the downtown growth area from a business standpoint.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Most of the people who called us didn’t like the idea very much. What about your callers?

HAMILTON: A real mixed bag. I’ll be honest with you, I think there’s just enormous resentment against the Spanos family. You know, they – according to the Forbes magazine list of America’s wealthiest, their net value is $1.1 billion. You know, so when you hear that and then you hear their spokesman walking around with their hands out asking for a public stadium, you know, people are aghast. But to get back to my original statement, this is not just about a football stadium, and you can negotiate tremendously favorable terms to a lease. Granted, the ticket guarantee cloud still hangs over the city, granted the, you know, grand jury probe of the current deal hangs over the city, well, in the next deal, you go get a better deal. It’s a very profitable business they run. The franchise makes probably between $20 and $30 million profit per season. The City, if it’s going to make its – that type of commitment to build a new stadium for the successful business, has to do a better job getting a better payday for Sunday for the events that are used at that stadium that the Spanos team plays in. But I think, unfortunately, there is a lot of resentment against them just because their family value…


HAMILTON: …is $1.1 billion and they’re going to have to work very hard to, quote, change that image. And I’ve written and I’ve said on my talk shows at Double-X, I think Spanos’ legacy will be how he treats this city in this attempt to get this next stadium built. It cannot be all about them and their profits. It’s got to be about the growth and the wealth of the city, too.

CAVANAUGH: A quick last question about the stadium. And, Lee, do you get the feeling from people within the Chargers organization the team actually is set to leave San Diego if it doesn’t get a new stadium?

HAMILTON: It’s a lot of rhetoric. I mean, there’s nothing getting accomplished in Los Angeles. Nothing. They have land, they have an idea, they have their own set of sketches but there’s nothing getting accomplished there and part of that is because Ed Roski from Majestic Realty would like to own a piece of the team, and I don’t see that happening. I don’t know that San Diego is as much available as Jacksonville, which has real trauma in its economics. Minnesota’s lease is expiring after 2011, although I find hard to believe the NFL would sanction the Vikings leaving the Twin Cities. That’s a great regional franchise. So even though that threat may be out there, I just find it hard to believe that anything’s going to happen immediately. I think all energy should be put forth on the CCDC cap and, again, understand, it’s not a cap just to build a stadium for a rich man, it’s a cap to make an investment in the community for the growth to make more tax money available by future projects. There’s – I can’t find a person in the world today in 2010, Maureen, that now says, gee, that convention center didn’t work out, did it? Or, gee, Petco Park has not been a great aid to us down there, is it? You know, I think a new football stadium and all the stuff that’s ancillary to it could be a real positive in San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s talk about the Padres for just a couple of minutes. The team won 8 to 1 against the Seattle Mariners yesterday. They improved their record to 26 and 18. They’re one game lead over the Dodgers for first place in the National League West. Are you surprised the Padres have played so well so far this year?

HAMILTON: They’re really grinding. It is absolutely amazing how they’ve changed the personality of the team to better fit the dimensions of Petco Park. They’ve got really good pitching. My biggest concern, they have no margin for injury. They just can’t afford to lose any players because those players are really the only players they have. There’s nothing in the farm system. They’re getting great pitching right now but, you know, we’ve got another five months of baseball to be played. So this has been fun to see these guys come just storming out of the gate, and every time you think they’re on the brink of falling into the gutter because they play a couple of bad games or they suddenly have some people knicked up they rise right back up and they find a way to manufacture a win. So it’s been entertaining. This team has just earned every victory it’s gotten. This has not been easy. Don’t think it’s going to be easy the rest of the season but I’m pleased. I think ownership should be pleased. Be kind of neat if the community supported the team. You know, as of last week, the Padres were in first place in the standings…


HAMILTON: …and only 23rd in attendance in Major League Baseball. But maybe as school gets out, if this team keeps itself in contention then it’ll grow.

CAVANAUGH: Good point. Now, Hacksaw, the biggest piece of sports news from last week was the admission by local cyclist Floyd Landis that he did indeed use illegal performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career, including his victory in the Tour de France. Were you surprised at this admission?

HAMILTON: I guess nothing surprises me right now as it relates to anything about cheating. Athletes want the competitive edge, they’re willing to go to any end to try to find that edge, you know, whether it’s EPO, the blood doping stuff that the cyclists are on or whether it’s HGH in the budding scandal now with a Canadian doctor that I think’s going to spill into San Diego. I think you’re going to find out next that this guy was treating Charger players on top of all the other players he was treating. So I guess I’m not shocked with anything that is happening in the world of sports. As it relates to Landis specifically because he’s from the inland umpire (sic), and he’s up, you know, up Murietta way, I think I’m really disgusted with it because he lied, he cheated and he ratted people out. You know, he lied to a lot of people in his hometown. He asked people for public support to defend himself with legal fees because I am innocent, I am innocent. And he lied for four years. And now he comes out and says, yeah, plain and simple, I did it, after lying to his own people in his own community and asking for their support and money. I find that really offensive. And then, of course, he turns in all of his teammates.


HAMILTON: None of those guys ever tested positive. Does not mean they were clean; they may have beaten the system. And, again, the technology is not a perfect science but I’m so disappointed in how this guy handled this thing. If he’d been straight up front and said, yes, I used stuff to try to get healthy, or I used stuff because we felt it was the way to compete, maybe it would’ve been accepted better. But, boy, I think the community should really be bitter about this guy and how he acted and how he lied to everybody.

CAVANAUGH: And, finally, Lee, I just want to give you a chance to comment on the passing of local sports legend Bob Breitbard. He died last week. Founder of the Hall of Champions. What impact did he make on San Diego?

HAMILTON: He was one of the best friends San Diego sports fans have ever had. His legacy was as a sports enthusiast, as a philanthropist, as an entrepreneur. You know, his legacy is the Hall of Champions up in Balboa Park. It’s really special. You walk around that campus at San Diego State University where you are…


HAMILTON: …he was a really special man that gave back to the community in a wide variety of ways. I think that the only word I can use to describe Mr. Breitbard, he always smiled, he always had a handshake, he always had a story to tell, and I think he really worked the backroom really well in terms of bringing things together. The only word I can use to describe Bob Brietbard is the word that’s probably equal to the Hall of Champions he left us: He was a treasure.

CAVANAUGH: Lee, thank you so much.

HAMILTON: Thanks, Maureen. We’ll talk again.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, indeed. Lee ‘Hacksaw’ Hamilton hosts Sportwatch on XX1090 weekdays from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. Stay with us. Coming up an east county update on These Days here on KPBS.