Sports Update: Padres, NFL Lockout, Aztecs Football Preview
The Padres are as hot as local temperatures right now, but will their winning ways last through the summer? We speak to Sports Columnist Jay Paris about the Padres recent success, the NFL Lockout, and how the Aztecs football team is shaping up for next season.
Jay Paris, North County Times Sports Columnist
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CAVANAUGH: Just as some fans were beginning to write off this Padres season, the team began to win. We'll talk about the hopes for a hot July for the Pads. And get an update on the complicated lockout and union issues threatening the up coming football and now the basketball seasons. Joining me is jay Paris, North County Times sports columnist. Hi. Thank you for doing this.
PARIS: My pleasure.
CAVANAUGH: The last time we talked, many fans were ready to sort of give up on the Padres. Now, San Diego is San Diego has won seven of its last TEN games. Had a big win in San Francisco.
PARIS: They're starting to hit a little better and feel a little better. The pitching was always there, and that's the most critical component you can have when you're building your baseball team, and they certainly have that. But they weren't hitting in a timely manner, and their defense come really connects so well to having a good pitching staff was kind of letting them down. They tightened up the defense and they're hitting a little better. And it shows, really, that it's not when you win, it's who you win against. And by beating the giants in the past two days, they've sliced that ten game deficit to eight games, and here they go again today. And they start off the second half with four games against the giants. I know everybody wants to shovel dirt on this baby, but it's only mid-July. A lot of baseball left.
CAVANAUGH: You're looking for them to have a really good July right?
PARIS: I am. But the next couple weeks are critical. The big elephant in the room is the July†31st trade deadline. That's where you can trade players to anywhere in major leagues. Of the and you can get something good in return if you're not in the pennate race. At some time, the general manager has to make the critical decision if the Padres are buyers, if they're going to add to the roster and make a push for the playoffs, or if they're sellers, where in his mind, he doesn't think there's a legitimate chance they can continue for a playoff spot. That would mean the trading of the likes of heath bell and Ryan Ludwig. Really your best players hoping that you can holdup another team that thinks they can make it and get lots in return. These next couple weeks, it's almost like the season is on the line as the Padres try to sell Jed, whether they should be buyers or sellers.
CAVANAUGH: The idea of trading heath bell and Ryan Ludwig would be what?
PARIS: They're in the last years of their contract. And the Padres throw money around like man hole covers now. Their thinking is, look, these guys are going to leave us at the end of the year, and we'll just get a couple draft picks for them. Why not move them now when their value is high, and we can collect ransom in return to a team desperate to add a few missing parts. And if another team thinks the missing part is a heath bell or a Ryan bud wig, and they're offering you an attractive package, you have to think about it. I feel their pain, Padres fans. This is a club that really said this season didn't count for much because they traded Adrian Gonzalez before the year. Not only did they trade him, which you can make the baseball decision I guess that it was a good decision, but they still had him under contract this year. He could still be here you will this year. But the Padres were reluctant to bring him back thinking he might get hurt, which could hurt his trade value. So the fans, they're coming off a 9 to 1 and started over again. And here's what you have, the slow start, but things are picking up.
CAVANAUGH: I'm going to massacre this one. Isn't there some kind of saying that baseball is for playing now, not for potential?
PARIS: That's like the older guy buying green bananas. He's not going to be around to eat them. Baseball, it's fun to build for the future, and that has to be part of any template for a well run organization. But it's been 40 something years. Padre fans have been patient. Let's go for it at some time. I can understand -- you can certainly argue the baseball decisions where we have to build for the future. They have been building for the future since 1969. It's 2011. They still haven't won a world series. So I'd make them keep the club around and any for it. Why not?
CAVANAUGH: Are you going to stick with your prediction that the Padres will be 15 games out of place by the all star break?
PARIS: They're proving me wrong and in a good way. If they kept playing the way they'd been playing, this certainly would have been possible. If they lose the next two days, they're two games out. They're right on the ledge here of being a player here going forward; or being somewhere where they have to carb in their chips. The all star week is next Tuesday in beautiful Phoenix, where it's a dry heat they tell me.
CAVANAUGH: Let's move onto a subject that has really been occupying some of the national sports networks, I know. The NFL lockout. There's news that a deal between the owner and the players could be in the works?
PARIS: Yep. And that's the same thing we've been reading for a while. But the NFL never negotiates or does requesting contract wise until the 11th hour and 59†minutes. There's four preseason games before the regular season starts, each week of those preseason games could cost the owners $200†million. If they don't get these things settled fast, that is a big revenue stream they're going to be missing. There's 500 different peripheral issues here, it's all about the money. And the owners felt they gave the players too good a deal last time. That's why they opted out of this contract. Players wanted to keep playing, and the owners held up the stop sign. I think the key is trying to figure out, with all the new revenue stream, media outlets and venues, going forward, how can they divvy up this pie?
CAVANAUGH: Now, the last article I read about this had them reconvening maybe later this week for a possible contract agreement?
PARIS: That's the word. But you just wonder how much is being leaked out, what they want to have leaked out. They're trying to play the media as well as both sides posture. It seemed like the deal was getting closer when the owners were in there, and some of the players and the key people in this disagreement. Now it's gone back to the lawyers talking. When everything gets all lawyered up, you know how that can delay things. But there is some optimism. And I think the biggest thing working for both parties is the ticking calendar. It's getting closer and closer for teams to report to training camp. Right now is always a dead period in the NFL. But the camps start up at the end of the month, and the paychecks start rolling in in September. Once the players miss a couple paychecks as well as the owners missing some of those payments on some of the huge stadium debt notices, that's when it could getting.
CAVANAUGH: Have you noticed I lack of excitement about the up coming football season because of the lockout, because they may miss preseason and regular season games?
PARIS: Absolutely. I think one of the steps the NFL has taken in recent years to increase its popularity, it's become a year-round sport. The NFL is almost 365 now where year staffing was only just sick months a year. And the buzz, and the vibe. There's only one thick better than the football games, and that's talking about the next one or talking about your roster and your team. And this year, there's not -- there's not that excitement or buzz where I wonder how this guy's gonna do for our time. I wonder how this guy's going to do. The Chargers still have 20 free agents. When this thing does come to an end, all hell could break loose trying to retain some of those guys and not retain other ones. We don't know what the Chargers -- we know the big guy, but we don't know what the Chargers' roster is going to look like. That's temporary excitement looking forward to seeing them. When we're looking at $4 a gallon of gas, and everybody's trying to pay their mortgage, there wasn't much sense for these guys arguing for $9†million.
CAVANAUGH: Do you know what they have been doing to stay in shape?
PARIS: They have been working out. 20 or so of them went through drills for 4 or 5†weeks at a local high school. They're trying to replicate as much as they can football workouts and drills and that. There's a clear difference between being in regular physical shape and being in football shape and being hit and things in that regard. So they're trying, and really, the teams that are more experienced, Maureen, that are bringing back their coaches next year, and bringing back most their players, they're going to be that farther ahead than some of these other teams who are bringing in new coaches this off season -- quarter back this off season. Those guys haven't been able to work and implement their system. So it's going to be -- interesting. See how it turns out, and which teams did better with the time off.
CAVANAUGH: You're kind of going in and out a little bit there. I hope you'll be sticking withes, jay. Let's move to the NBA lockout. Why is there some concern that this lockout could last for a long time?
PARIS: Unlike the NFL, the NBAs believe in money big time. And while it's hard to feel sympathy for the NFL guys who've never made more money, the ratings have never been higher, the money's never been greater, that's not the case in the NBA. There's 4, 5, maybe six teams that are making money, and the others just aren't. And the laborer costs got way ahead of them. It's one thing to play lye brawn James $5†million, but the twelfth man on your bench who never plays shouldn't be getting anything close to that. This one does have the potential to be long lasting and ugly. It's always economics. But this one's different in that the NFL's economics moving forward, how are we going to divvy up this delicious pie of money we got? The NBA is saying, there's 2 or 3 guys with forks here at the table. We need to get everybody making money.
CAVANAUGH: There have been some people that have pointed out that SDSU Aztecs basketball star Kawan Leonard may have made a bad choice to leave school to seek his fortune in the NBA. Now there's this NBA laborer situation. What do you think with this move for Leonard?
PARIS: You can argue that. You can argue that if we would have stayed in school another year, he would have increased his draft position, skills, and made more money going forward. That said, you go to college usually to get a good high paying job, and regardless of this how this contract shakes out, he's going to be making over minimum wage for the San an San Antonio spurs, and with him being traded to the spurs, that is a first class organization that does things the right way. He landed on his feet just fan. I can see the argument, especially from Aztecs fans who would love to have him back one more season. But that didn't happen. Let's face it, this guy has dreamed his whole life to be an NBA player. And the contract not with standing, today he's an NBA player. He reached his dream. For that, you tip your hat and wish him the best.
CAVANAUGH: How do you see the 2011 football team shaping up?
PARIS: I see it shaping up pretty well. It's a big transition now. They lost Brady Hoke who went onto Michigan. They -- also two dynamite wide receivers, brown, and sample son, and two guys on defense. It's going to have a little bit of a different look. Rocky long is a proven experienced college head football coach. This isn't some newbie coming in. He's a solid coach. They got the quarter back coming back, Ryan Lynnly. They've got a dazzling running back coming back, Rhone Hillman. These are two great weapons to start with. They play at army, at Michigan next season, so they'll get to see Brady Hoke up close. That was the sea change of the season last year. And the whole culture of football changed last year under raidy, and I think that feeling of dedication stayed behind even though he left. I think San Diego state football continues to go up.
CAVANAUGH: Under this new coach, there was so much momentum over Brady Hoke and the whole idea that he was pulling this team together and transforming it, making it something much better. Is that feeling of optimism and momentum still there under this new coach?
PARIS: I think so, Maureen. Really, you look at rocky's resume, next to raidy's, rocky Trumps him. He won in New Mexico where nobody ever wins. He's within around and he knows what's going on. And I think his attitude and the way he gets after it, he's a defensive minded tough son of a gun. That whole deal. Just like Brady. There's not a lot of difference there. Rocky long is solid. Especially when you have Ryan Lynnry coming back. It's just a key leadership position as a quarter back. He gets it. And rocky gets if it there might be a little drop off, but that's the price you pay for having that turnaround season. What the really hope is that the winning is consistent. People come here not to go to San Diego state as a stepping stone but as a destination college coaching. That's a place you want to go and put down roots. Years past, the coach either got fired or moved onto bigger and better things. A few more years like last year, people will be dying to come to San Diego state and stay here.
CAVANAUGH: I want to tell everyone, if they want to get a look at the revitalized San Diego Padres, they play the giants at San Diego assume tonight at 715. Even speaking with jay Paris, North County Times sports columnist. Thank you so much.
PARIS: All right. My pleasure. See you guys.