Month: December 2017

2017: The Year San Diego Grew Two Balls by Losing One.

San Diego did something in 2017 that no other city has done: they didn’t let themselves be held hostage by a professional sports team.

I’ve been a conflicted football fan for years now trying to decide if I wanted to support a league that made cities feel small, harbored abusers, and took no interest in the well-being of its players. Luckily the NFL made the decision for me and its been a great 2017.

In fact most people I’ve spoken with feel the same way about the NFL. The sport got too dirty, too political, and off the field antics started to outshine on the field accolades. Of course, these were just actual fans talking, not local sports media. If you were to hear it from the media 2017 was the year San Diego lost it’s identity. The year we became the worst city in America. They whine and complain and spout outrageous nonsense about the Chargers leaving town, and I get it. They’re the only ones who actually lost in this scenario. However, their ‘little kid with a broken toy’ act is getting real fucking old.

I thought we were starting to move on from this, but today Nick Canepa posted his yearly sports recap and spent the entire column shitting on San Diego while taking equal swipes at Dean Spanos and San Diegans for the exit of his beloved football. On the surface it was another out of touch rant from an old timey writer whose cigar ashes were probably falling in between the keys of his Royal typewriter as he plugged away one letter at a time. But, I took it personal when he commented on the recent UFO sighting off the coast and quipped that the UFOs didn’t land because essentially we didn’t have football anymore and the Padres and Aztecs aren’t great. Because as we all know San Diego is only known for sports. Thousands of folks fight tooth and nail to pay rent month after month for the privilege of skipping around the hallowed grounds of Petco. Throngs of retirees buy property along Montezuma Way so they can be as close as possible to Viejas Arena on gamedays.

For someone who has written about San Diego Sports for decades you’d think Canepa would have stopped and looked around. Apparently not. I guess anything outside of the Spanos luxury suite was too far for him to see.

It makes me laugh when members of the sports media pretend like this was a loss
for anyone but them. You think Canepa or Kaplan or any other member of the media ever paid for a ticket to a Chargers game? They have no idea why going to a football game in San Diego sucked other than the horror stories of the the press box leaking. Boo. Hoo. They had an amazing setup with incredible access to the biggest sport in America. They never paid $30 for parking and $100 a ticket to sit next to drunk people you don’t know who might challenge you to a knife fight all for the honor of watching Ryan Mathews get hurt. The media never dealt with that. They never dealt with being fans. The only thing they’ve dealt with is not knowing what to talk about because they never paid attention to anything but football and some baseball.

Of course I’m generalizing and there are folks out there like Darren Smith who talks soccer and Gennaro who talks basketball, but other than that 75% of your daily coverage is filled with members of the media sucking the scraps from Spanos’ table.

And, don’t get me wrong. You can talk about the Chargers all you want, but again don’t pretend like it’s for anyone’s gain but your own or that somehow losing the NFL hurt the city. It hurt your pride and your paycheck. That’s it. I’m still waiting for the economic apocalypse sports radio kept telling me was gonna happen once the team moved to LA. I’m still waiting for San Diego to be made fun of or looked down on for letting the team go. Still waiting.

Seems to me the only people making fun of San Diego are the members of the San Diego media.

Nationally, Spanos is the joke and San Diego has been recognized for not giving in to the greasy NFL and their schemes.

Instead of bitching about your free football press pass being taken away, or that you have to care about something other than yourself now, why don’t you take the time to write and cover the teams that are in San Diego. The Gulls seem to be packing people in, we suddenly have 76 soccer teams, lacrosse is coming to town, and the Padres are trying to remake a franchise. Figure it out. And, I know your Chargers talk gets more clicks than anything else. Well, so did Kim Kardashians sex tape and I don’t see any Canepa nudes blasting the front page. We’ll read and listen to what you give us because that’s how engagement works. You think if you stop talking Chargers and start talking Gulls some forty year old will turn the station to Smooth Jazz? If that’s the case your product wasn’t that great to begin with.

What do I know? I’m just a simple blogger who actually enjoys sports. Talk about what you want, but stop trying to tell me the city I grew up in and work in sucks now because your life is empty.

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc

Week 16 Recap: Chargers @ Jets

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m a 35-year-old man who hasn’t had a day job in 5 years, AND I’m in peak vacation mode, so I didn’t wake up until the second half of this game. Other than the CTE epidemic, domestic abuse, and racist/power-hungry owners, the fact that games start at 10am PT on a Sunday is among the most unforgivable things about the NFL.

But this game was ultimately pretty predictable. A somewhat spunky Jets team kept it close but couldn’t pull the upset over the highly favored yet meh Bolts. This “hot,” “dangerous” Chargers team can beat anybody, but they haven’t beaten anybody good. Total wins against projected playoff teams: zero.

There is a scene in probably the last good season of The Simpsons where Homer has pounded a six-pack and hung from the bottom of a helicopter to save his kids from a forest fire. The dialogue perfectly sums up how he embodies the 2017 Chargers:

BART: You did it Dad!

HOMER (drunk): You can’t prove I did it.

LISA: No, you saved our lives.

HOMER (slurring): I could do a lot of things if I had some money…

Even in surprising success there is the reminder of lifelong failure and futility. No individual win will wash the stank off them.

Other things that happened in this game:

  • The Jets recovered an onside kick to start the game, and of course that is the kind of thing that would fool the Chargers.
  • Mike Williams is made of glass.
  • Injuries might finally be catching up with the Bolts, as Melvin Gordon suffered a high ankle sprain and apparently last week Hunter Henry lacerated his kidney. Take your money and run/hobble! It’s not worth it to sacrifice your body for a team owned by an insane moron.
  • Antonio Gates is no longer fast but he can still catch the shit out of a ball. He also knows when to go down to prevent injury. He is going to retire, but I hope he plays another year or 2 with like the Packers.
  • Middling RB Bilal Powell gashed the Bolts for two huge runs, one for a TD, and clearly had fun doing it.
  • The Chargers 12th rostered kicker missed another FG, a lasting testament to resounding organizational failure.
  • A Philip Rivers pass bounced off Keenan Allen’s face and I laughed at him.
  • Keenan Allen has some very sassy post-catch attitude. He is trying to be Odell. But he is NOT. Not even close.

The Chargers have a very real chance to make the playoffs as 6th seed. But that will require beating the Raiders in Los Angeles in week 17. And in a way it’s a win-win. Because the Raiders are LA’s team, these tickets have been sold out the minute they hit the market, and the final game will be played in an imploding ring of silver and black: a miniature Black Hole. I can think of no better way to end the season than A) the Chargers missing the playoffs because they had to play a road game in their home stadium; or B) the Chargers becoming a playoff team in their home stadium to the sound of deafening boos and threats of violence. 2017 is among the worst years in American history. But hold tight. It’s almost over.

Jono Zalay is a native San Diegan and co-host of the F*** The Chargers podcast, available on iTunes and all those other places. He now lives in Los Angeles where he can hate the Chargers from close proximity.

Winter Meetings Pod – TKF #113

This week the guys talk about the totally overwhelming mind melting 2018 Winter Meetings that the Padres had in Orlando. Ohtani chose the Angels, while Chase Headley and Freddy Galvis are coming to San Diego. Are the Padres done? It’s hard to tell with Eric Hosmer’s situation still up in there.

Then Nick and Travis have a little chat with Kevin Gossett from the popular Instagram account People of Petco Park. He talks about his process and lifelong dedication to the Friars. He will also be DJing the January 10th Live Pod at the Whistlestop: TKF’s Winter Meeting 2018!

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Week 15 Recap: Chargers @ Chiefs

The Chargers are not in Kansas anymore. In fact they never were, despite what my favorite backup QB Cardale Jones might have thought (via twitter):

“Soooooo Kansas City is in state of Missouri?….NOT Kansas. So thank you Mrs. Johnson from 4th grade geography, just lost 20 bucks. If you are reading this, I feel like you should cash app me that 20 piece.”

Bravo to Cardale, friend of the pod, for using the cash app: he’s not using the other apps.

And for setting up my sweet metaphor. Because this game was a bizzaro Wizard of Oz: The second half of the game was so different it might as well have been in black and white. The Chargers reverted to c.2011 peak Norv implosion mode. Rivers was chucking it up like it was going to clank off the hands of Seyi Ajirotutu.

This is the team we’ve known so well. Losing in inconceivable fashion early in the season, clawing their way back into contention, controlling their own destiny, then finally, having that destiny intercepted by Marcus Peters who the Chargers should have drafted in 2015.

And some more things happened in the game:

  • Tyreek Hill had a hilarious collision/fumble with a teammate, and deserves to be in jail for domestic abuse. Though apparently he can outrun everything.
  • Coons missed another PAT. The Chargers don’t have the placekicker they need, but they have the one they deserve.
  • Kareem Hunt made an impressive catch for a TD but the ball briefly glanced at the turf out of the corner of its eye, and it was ruled incomplete. DID YOU KNOW: under current rules there has never been a completed pass in NFL history.
  • Some dumb asshole on the Chargers had perfectly covered a punt and was able to down it on the 1-yard line but stepped on the goal line like a dumb asshole and I laughed and laughed.
  • Keenan Allen injured his “back,” and I wish him a full recovery on the bench where he can’t juke CBs like they are children.
  • Somewhere in North Carolina, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was ogling a woman’s ass unaware that he was about to lose his life’s work the next day.

The Bolts got exposed, and it’s the only kind of exposure that doesn’t help you in LA.

Jono Zalay is a native San Diegan and co-host of the F*** The Chargers podcast, available on iTunes and all those other places. He now lives in Los Angeles where he can hate the Chargers from close proximity.

Baseball’s Hall of Fame Voting System Needs a Reboot

Hall of Fame voting is moronic.

It’s a flawed system that gives a select group of writers the majority of control over a player’s legacy. Writers who could have at one time had a contentious relationship with a great player, or just didn’t like the “way” those players played the game, or writers who just don’t believe in the position that player played have almost complete control on how the game of baseball is remembered. It’s not right.

As a San Diegan I’m obviously partial to the last argument listed above based on the recent weeks of the Trevor Hoffman debate mysteriously helmed by Keith Law. He’s come out of the gate in 2017 as the anti-Jonah Keri. Instead of being hell-bent on an overlooked player who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, Law wants to keep one out: Hoffman.

Keith Law essentially feels that the role of Closer should not be included in the Hall of Fame, and even got into an argument with me on Twitter about the merits of the position. Law, an analyst and senior baseball writer for ESPN, took the time out of his day to make fun of Padres fans and belittle those who want great players to be included in a building of great players. You might think this is something that should be “below” Law or even ridiculous for him to get involved in. Perhaps even mean. But, it’s not and I’ll explain.

Law is a genius. I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way. The guy is a very smart individual who has certainly found his niche in the world of baseball journalism and script. His approach matches his intellect, which is analytic, economic, mathematical and smug. I imagine hanging out with Law would be about as fun as hanging out with a lamppost. However, he is very smart. He even wrote a book. But, see Law is a fan. That’s it. Just like you and me, Law is a fan of the game and it’s players. Why do you think he started writing about baseball to begin with, because there were job openings in the field? Trust me, there are not.

Like normal every day diehard baseball fans guys like Law, Bob Nightengale, or Buster Olney have spent a lot of time being around baseball, arguing and debating with friends about baseball, and cultivating opinions based on their personal beliefs and romantic experiences with the game and it’s players. The biggest difference between those guys and us is that at some point they were able to articulate their opinions and feelings in a way that garnered them employment in different arenas in and around the professional game.

They are professional baseball writers and analysts who get paid to have opinions. And, that is rad. The little money I have made over time writing about sports is an added bonus to my life I could have never expected. However, I’m just a blogger. I’m not a professional, and even though that distinction is blurring more and more every day, people will still take a guy like Keith Law’s word over mine. I don’t blame them. He wrote a book. I wrote a song called “Party In My Tummy”. We’ve both won awards. Whatever.

Law, Olney, and even heroes of the genre like Peter Gammons have all moved to the Internet to find a voice. Starting podcasts, websites, and pay walls all to try and continue their dominance as thee voices and judges in the world of what is and isn’t good baseball. However, at this point we both have .com (or .org) at the end of our paychecks. Those guys are glorified bloggers. They’re super fans with a talent for analysis. That’s it, and that alone does not warrant one the right to decide how someone who did what they can’t do should be remembered. Would writers be okay with Trevor Hoffman being the main decision maker on who gets to be in the baseball writer’s hall of fame? I doubt it.

I’d venture to say over 90% of baseball writers, and most likely 98% of baseball fans have never played the game professionally. They have absolutely no idea what it actually takes to get on the field and perform at a high level. They can sit around, crunch numbers, debate athletic merits, and score tests, but they can’t physically play. This fact alone makes it strange to me that they’ve been able to position themselves as the judge and jury delivering verdicts on the legacy of an actual professional baseball player.

The only people who should be able to vote on Hall of Fame inductees are the players and managers who actually spent time in the game. The ones who succeeded or failed, and know exactly what it takes to hit .210 or .310, to throw 200 innings or 40. They know what the individual players and managers meant to the sport, city, and team on a day in and day out basis. They should be the sole panel allowed to decide who will represent them for eternity.

And, if we are gonna continue with the charade of letting BlogSpot overlords and kings of a dying industry be the end all be all of baseball’s fame then let’s examine two quick things that illustrate just how unqualified they are:

In my argument with Keith Law it was revealed that he places little value on a player’s individual talent. This makes sense given his precise numbers driven way of thinking. He leaves little or nothing to the imagination, and in fact I’m not sure if he even has one. The fundamental difference between Law and I is that he believes managers are responsible for making Closers and situational players good, and I believe the players are.

He believes, I’m assuming because he’s crunched numbers down to a sliver of a fraction, that managerial decisions outweigh whether a player is good or not. By his standards ANY base stealer could’ve changed the tide of the 2004 World Series, not JUST Dave Roberts. I maintain only Roberts and maybe like two other guys could have pulled off that stolen base. Roberts’ individual knowledge of the game, his experience, his personal struggle and motivation led to that success, not a managerial decision based on a mathematical likelihood. The same goes for the role of a Closer. Law argues that sans Mariano no Closer should be inducted, and I can see the point of Mariano being the greatest of all time. He definitely made the biggest impact on the largest stage, but how would he be remembered if he was a Padre? Now imagine how good Hoffman had to be to play in San Diego and STILL be considered the second greatest Closer of all time. Again, Law says his greatness was determined by Bochy and Black, but I have a hard time believing Donne Wall would have shared the same fate as Hoffy given the same situations.

Law and I can argue back and forth and neither one of us are actually right or wrong because we are both fans who lack the fundamental understanding of what it takes to be a player and to be a player facing Hoffman, or trying to throw out Roberts, or pitch to Edgar Martinez.

Secondly, look at how the BBWAA treats players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Now, it’s widely believed that both Clemens and Bonds started taking steroids later in their careers: When Clemens went to Toronto in 1997 and Bonds in 1999 six years after joining the Giants. It is also widely known that these guys were actually taking steroids. Of course when the truth came out executives and writers and managers wanted to play the dumb card, but they all knew. They ignored it and the BBWAA voted Barry Bonds the MVP from 2001-2004. They gave Clemens the Cy Young in four of his juiced years. They willfully and gleefully celebrated two players in advanced years doing things no human had done before. For all their brilliant opinions and number crunching they couldn’t see the forest for the trees or just chose to ignore the lumberjacks.

Now, in their sixth year of eligibility, Bonds and Clemens sit on the ballot ignored and passed over, paying for a crime the very writers who ignore them help to perpetuate.

It’s childish, stupid, hypocritical and moronic.

Players knew what was going on. They knew how it affected the game, the players, and teams. They and they alone should yield the power to choose how it is remembered. Maybe every veteran agrees that Dave Roberts belongs in the Hall because of that one stolen base. It certainly meant a whole hell of a lot to modern day baseball. Maybe the players want to vote in Edgar, because for all your advanced stats you still can’t quantify what his plate presence meant to the runner on second base, or the shift it caused the outfield to take, or the fear it struck in the pitcher who unintentionally walked him loading the bases and now creating an RBI opportunity for A-Rod, or Griffey, or whoever. You can present cases that help you understand these things, but you never will. Neither will I.

We like to guess, and fight, and debate, but what the hell do we know? Who watched Barry Larkin play in more games – Peter Gammons or my Dad who watched every Cincinnati Reds game from 1985-1997? Who would have a better opinion on what Barry Larkin meant to the game? I would bet my Dad, but it doesn’t matter because my Dad’s opinion would be biased based on his loyalty and love for the Reds. Gammons would be biased based on his assessment of the Reds organization from an outside perspective that probably doesn’t place a premium on a semi-relevant Midwest team that hasn’t won anything in quite a while.

That’s why only the guys who played with or coached Larkin knew how good or bad he was based on talent.

We’ve let these writers yield so much power that they think they’re above the game. They think they’ve solved it. They haven’t. No one really has. Ted Williams was close, but that was about it.

I realize that Eras Committees have always been established and can help right the wrongs of the BBWAA, but there shouldn’t be wrongs. There shouldn’t be mistakes. It shouldn’t have taken the Modern Era Committee to get Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in the Hall of Fame. They were both great players who deserved it long ago. Trammell’s numbers were never considered Hall of Fame worthy, but the man played incredible defense, with an above average bat for twenty years on one team. And Jack Morris who had what they call “fringe” Hall of Fame numbers, should have been inducted years ago but during his career he hurt writers feelings by being a bit gruff once or twice.

I realize the argument would be that letting the players decide could result in too many fringe players or role players who didn’t have the same career as a Gwynn or an Aaron in the Hall – but what does it matter? It’s not for us. It’s for the players. If they want to elect Mike Mussina or Larry Walker or Billy Wagner or Donne Wall then they should and no one should care.

Only the players and managers know who was truly worthy, and we should leave up to them.

[Editor’s Note: Keith Law has blocked us on Twitter for questioning his judgement.]

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc

Week 14 Recap: Chargers vs Redskins

Welp, I’m officially nervous the the Chargers might be good. They controlled the entire game and didn’t even miss a field goal somehow. Not that the Redskins are a formidable opponent, in fact, the Redskins are a shitty team with one of the few owners as shitty as Dean Spanos.

The only thing Dan Snyder has going for him is that he’s rich outside of the NFL, which means he doesn’t have to beg city governments for money. The only beef he has with Washington D.C. is that they won’t allow him to build a stadium in city limits until he changes the name to something less racist. So he’s just a different kind of asshole.

Quick context for exactly how big of an asshole Dan Snyder is: he claims he won’t change the name of his team because of “tradition.” Not only is ‘appeal to tradition’ one of the all-time logical fallacies, it is a shitty tradition to which he’s appealing. The Redskins were founded in 1932 as the Boston Braves, and played on the same field as the baseball team of the same name. They moved to Fenway park the following year, and they changed the name to an obscene racial slur to promote CROSS-BRANDING. Red-Sox… Red-Skins. Get it? So the Redskins “tradition” is a marketing ploy from one of the most racist cities in America. Fuck Dan Snyder. And fuck the Chargers for making me cheer for the Redskins Sunday. 

Anyway, here’s some shit that happened during the game:

  • Austin Ekeler prevented a chance at a FG by trying to score a touchdown as time expired at the half. And while it was hilariously stupid I can’t help but be charmed by his rookie antics.
  • Keenan Allen is the best WR Philip Rivers has ever had, which speaks volumes about how terrible Charger GMs have been basically forever.
  • They ran a flea-flicker. And it worked. They’re having FUN out there, and it is killing me inside.
  • Mike Williams is a first round draft bust until otherwise noted. See: terrible GMs.
  • Injuries are ruing every team in the NFL EXCEPT the Chargers. Nothing is fair.
  • Kirk Cousins killed me in the fantasy playoffs, and I deserve to be dead for starting him.

That’s all. I hope Dan Snyder and Dean Spanos crash their private planes into each other over a Native American reservation with all their money aboard.

Jono Zalay is a native San Diegan and co-host of the F*** The Chargers podcast, available on iTunes and all those other places. He now lives in Los Angeles where he can hate the Chargers from close proximity.

The SDSU West and Ohtani Episode – TKF Pod #112

This week the guys dig into SDSU’s potential expansion to Mission Valley with VOSD’s Andy Keatts. They talk about the 2018 race coming up between the university’s idea and SoccerCitySD’s plan that has already made it on the ballot.

Then they call Dustin Palmateer (@SacBuntDustin) and dive into Ohtani Mania! Will this international phenomenon roll through San Diego and completely change the struggling franchise’s rebuild? All we can do is wait and see. Check out Dustin’s new site and subscribe!

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Week 13 Recap: Chargers vs. Browns

The Chargers beat the Browns. Whoopdy doo. It wasn’t a dominating performance. The Bolts played a solid game and I’d be more terrified about their resurgence if not for the fact that this solid game was against an 0-11 team. The same team whose only win last year was against a tanking, LA-bound Spanos-owned franchise in a tail spin.

The more troubling part about this victory, is that they are now tied for the lead in the AFC west. The soul-wrenching nature of this dead heat is tantamount only to the virtual tie in the Alabama senate race. And make no mistake the Chargers are the Roy Moore of the NFL: Abandoned by the rest of the country, defiant to all common sense, pariah of hometown storefronts, a legacy of ruined childhoods, only supported by insane brainwashed locals who have traded their last strand of moral fiber for any chance at winning something.

And yeah maybe the crimes of the Chargers do not exceed that of known Alabama mall exile Roy Moore. If you agree I highly encourage you to donate to KKK-prosecuting hero Doug Jones’ senate campaign as I have. Sorry to get political, but so rarely do you get the chance to invest in not having a child molester in the senate.

Anyway here’s what happened in the Browns-Chargers game:

  • LA’s new kicker Travis Coons missed another FG, keeping with Chargers tradition, and especially for those with a last name starting with “Koo.” (Reminder: there are no bad kickers, just bad teams who have kickers.)
  • Josh Gordon is back from his party sabbatical and looks amazing. One day he might even have a QB to throw the football to him, rather than him tracking it down somewhere in the vicinity.
  • Joey Bosa continues to be a beast. I look forward to his awkward contract negotiations in a couple years.
  • The StubHub center was about ⅔ capacity, with equal or greater number of 0-11 Browns fans, which is a truly historic feat of stadium incompetence by Spanos.

The Chargers have a real chance at winning out and repeating the 1992 season of starting 0-4 but finishing 10-6. But I doubt they will, since that team played in a city that loved them.

Jono Zalay is a native San Diegan and co-host of the F*** The Chargers podcast, available on iTunes and all those other places. He now lives in Los Angeles where he can hate the Chargers from close proximity.

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