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The Chargers on Channel 7, the Padres on Channel 6. One victory, one loss. One team just starting its run toward the playoffs, with Phillip Rivers having a breakout game and the Chargers putting together a nice 3-1 start to the season. The other finishing off a bountiful season (Trevor Hoffman’s saves record, the youth movement) despite elimination from the playoffs with a disappointing 3-1 series loss to St. Louis.

So Sunday provided some interesting TV choices to S.D. sports fans.

I dealt with it by doing what I do best: dial-flipping. Here’s a quick rundown of my evening:

5:05 p.m. – Channel 6 : See the first pitch of the Padres game: Dave Roberts takes a ball, but strikes out looking. A couple of singles and a couple of walks lead to a couple of runs for the Padres. But the Cards pulled even in the bottom of the inning. Score tied.

5:54 p.m.: Spend an hour debating the D.H. and why baseball keeps track of errors with my friend Kevin. He still doesn’t understand why the American League gets a guy just to hit, but he’s from Denver so maybe all this oxygen down at sea level has made him a bit foolhardy.

6:55 p.m. – Channel 7: Flip back to the Chargers game in time to see the Steelers knock another field goal through the uprights. Stick around long enough to witness the Chargers take a knee at the end of the first half to a chorus of boos at Qualcomm. Riveted by the action on both channels, my other friend Arne (also from Denver) passes out on my couch, at times snoring loudly during the dial-flipping.

6:59 p.m. – Channel 6: Albert Pujols walks to start the sixth inning, score still tied 2-2. After a weak fly by Jim Edmonds, Juan Encarnacion doubles to drive in Pujols to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. Start the clock to the end of the season. Cla Meredith relieves Woody Williams, promptly beans Ronnie Belliard and allows a single to drive in Encarnacion from third. Cards lead 4-2. Meredith gets lit up, and I want to turn back to the Chargers game. But it’s like watching a slow motion car crash: intriguing and gruesome at the same time. And unfortunately the Chargers game is at half time.

7:13 p.m. – Channel 6: Meredith gives up a couple more runs, and the Cards have a strangle hold on the game with a four-run St. Louis lead. Cards lead 6-2. Padres go down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, after allowing a four-spot to the Cards in the sixth. The season is slipping away.

7:31 p.m. – Channel 7: Eric Parker makes a huge 25-yard catch to the 22-yard line for a first down. Incomplete pass to the end zone. Phillip Rivers throws a TD pass to Antonio Gates for a 17-13 Chargers lead with 5:27 left in the third.

7:35 p.m. – Channel 6: Chris Carpenter knocked out of the game after back-to-back singles by Brian Giles and Adrian Gonzalez. Runners at the corners for Josh Bard, and Bard strikes out (which doesn’t happen too often) for the first out against Tyler Johnson. LaRussa goes to the bullpen against pinch hitter Mike Piazza.

7:39 p.m. – Channel 7: Hines Ward catches a big first-down pass, then Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked. It looks like a fumble, but the officials call “in the grasp.” Jamal Williams comes right back and sacks the Steelers QB again. The Chargers defense is fired up and swarming, and the Steelers need to punt.

7:46 p.m. – Both channels: Advertising: Bladder control medication ads, Governor Schwarzenegger, Wendy’s, Jack in the Box.

7:50 p.m. – Channel 6: Mike Cameron strikes out looking to lead off the ninth, but Ryan Klesko breathes new life into the Padres’ hopes by scorching a double into centerfield. Josh Barfield followed with a single to put runners at the corners with one out.

7:57 p.m. – Channel 6: Khalil Greene strikes out looking on a curveball. Dave Roberts grounds weakly to Pujols at first for the final out of the season. St. Louis will face the Mets. The Padres finish the series 2-for-32 with runners in scoring position, with serious issues concerning their offense going into the off season.

But the team does have money for free agents. Stay tuned as we’ll be covering all the off-season action from the Cheap Seats.

8:02 p.m. – Channel 7: Flip the channel in disgust with the Padres inability to score runs. Marlon McCree knocks me out of my mini-funk by intercepting Roethlisberger. Rivers just looked great during this game. He picks up a first down, scrambling to extend the drive in the wining minutes of the fourth quarter. Michael Turner gets a couple of big first downs with three and a half minutes to keep the Chargers moving and bring them .inside the 10-yard line. Chargers go on to win 23-13.

8:16 p.m.: Turn off T.V., replace battery in my remote, ice down my fingers.

– CHRIS NIXON

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