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It’s not easy for a San Diego fan to know a solid-gold contender from pyrite pretender. The Chargers of recent years have displayed considerable talent and promise, then squandered that potential so that a full leadership lobotomy was finally inevitable.

But the Padres’ recent surge has caught some national attention. Their win-loss record now over the .500 mark, San Diego heads into tonight’s game against the cellar-dwelling L.A. Dodgers at 2.5 games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.

On Monday, Grantland’s Jonah Keri featured the Padres in his weekly MLB rankings column, ranking the Padres at No. 17 among the 30 MLB teams:

San Diego has the hottest team in baseball, with the Friars winning six in a row — including a weekend sweep over first-place Arizona — and 30 of their past 49 games. Incredibly, a solid offense has led the way. On a park- and league-adjusted basis the Padres rank 12th in MLB in team offense, something that’s easy to miss without accounting for Petco Park’s run-squashing environment. …

So look at it this way: They started miserably, and now they’re a game over .500 and playing great ball. Their raft of injuries, combined with most of the organization’s best pitchers being either still in the minors or just learning the ropes in the big leagues, mean it’s almost certainly not going to last. But really, nothing was expected of the Padres this year. Might as well enjoy the ride.

CBS Sports columnist Scott Miller also highlighted our scrappy squad’s run in a column:

The trick now will be to see whether they can make it last, and not because of a lack of talent. No, it’s just that they’re banged up. They opened their latest homestand by beating the Dodgers 6-3 Thursday minus five regulars: Cabrera, first baseman Yonder Alonso (wrist), rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko (right groin strain), Cameron Maybin (knee) and Carlos Quentin (shoulder). All but Quentin are on the DL.

Yet, look at these Padres go. Last week, they swept consecutive series from division leaders Atlanta (NL East) and Arizona (NL West). Thursday, left fielder Chris Denorfia, center fielder Alexi Amarista and second baseman Logan Forsythe made fantastic defensive plays. And did you see Will Venable’s sensational catch in San Francisco this week?

Yes, we did. Impressive as the catch was, it may have already been outdone by the triumvirate of defensive gems turned in last night’s game against the Dodgers. Watch the video highlights here.

You’re reading the Sports Report, our weekly compilation of news and information for the San Diego sports fan.

Former Aztec Impresses in NBA Finals

San Diego State University alumnus Kawhi Leonard left a lasting impression as part of the San Antonio Spurs during their title run. In a stirring Finals series against the champion Miami Heat, Leonard averaged 14.5 points, 11.1 rebounds and two steals, including a 19-point, 16-rebound performance in the Game 7 loss on Thursday.

Those stats and Leonard’s stout defensive effort against league and Finals MVP LeBron James won over NBA watchers, who marveled at the output on the sport’s biggest stage by a player who, at almost 22, would have just completed his senior season under Aztecs coach Steve Fisher if he’d stayed in school.

His contributions, such as this acrobatic reverse layup in Game 7, kept the Spurs close. Leonard’s thoughts over the summer will likely be haunted by memories of a late missed free throw in Game 6 that could have sealed the championship for San Antonio.

Chargers Team Doctor Resigned After Local Hospitals Revoked His Privileges 

We noted in last week’s Sports Report that Chargers team physician David Chao resigned his position, citing health issues and a desire to spend time with family. But this week, a report emerged that Chao lost his medical privileges at two San Diego hospitals.

Former U-T San Diego and current USA Today sportswriter Brent Schrotenboer reported the hospitals decided to bar Chao from performing surgeries there, a decision that endangered his job with the team.

“In recent years, officials at Scripps Memorial Hospital and Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego conducted reviews of Chao’s quality of care and of his alcohol consumption,” Schrotenboer wrote. “Several former patients of Chao’s also had accused him of maiming them during surgeries or negligence, including one case that led Scripps Memorial Hospital to settle for $1.39 million.”

The explanation given by Chao and the Chargers for his resignation seemed questionable at best from the outset. The USA Today report casts the team and their longtime head physician in an even poorer light.

Another Near-Miss for Phil Mickelson in the U.S. Open

Prior to last week’s U.S. Open, pro golfer Phil Mickelson returned to San Diego for his daughter’s eighth-grade graduation. He skipped practice rounds at the U.S. Open site in the Philadelphia suburbs to keep the family commitment, then red-eyed back east to compete in the major tournament. (The U.S. Open and his commitment to family have history.)

Despite the travel rigors, Mickelson entered the final round at Merion Golf Club with the lead and a chance to finally win the U.S. Open after placing second five times. But Mickelson faltered just enough on Sunday to allow England’s Justin Rose to win, leaving “Lefty” with another second-place finish.

The L.A. Times asked “Why do so many love to hate Phil Mickelson?” Despite his off-putting (to some) comments earlier in the year about fleeing California and our state’s high tax rate, I count myself among those rooting for the San Diego native.

Big-Time Soccer Coming to San Diego, Briefly

Despite our lack of a current top-level professional team, our city boasts a proud history of soccer. Though we have no MLS side, the San Diego Flash and indoor San Diego Sockers are successful teams on the pitch in their respective lower leagues.

With that history of support in mind, Petco Park will host the neighboring Tijuana Xolos on July 6 in an exhibition against Liga MX champions Club América of Mexico City. And the United States Men’s National Team comes to Qualcomm Stadium for a Gold Cup tune-up against Guatamala on July 5.

The USMNT’s friendly exhibition in San Diego comes on the heels of a wildly successful run of World Cup qualifying matches for the U.S. After a stunning stoppage-time goal gave the U.S. a rare victory in Jamaica earlier in the month, coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s team turned in wins over Panama and Honduras to put the U.S. on top of the “hexagonal” qualifying group for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s experiencing massive protests in cities across the country. The demonstrations have been touched off by, among other grievances, the huge costs of stadiums and infrastructure built for the World Cup.

It’s hard to imagine San Diegans rioting in the streets if a new Chargers stadium was built with public money. More like, lots of snarky online comments and angry letters to the editor.

Oh, new football stadia, where art thou? Your mildly-agitated public awaits.

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Beau Lynott

Beau Lynott is a contributor to Voice of San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @lemonverbena_ or email lemonverbenaaa@gmail.com.

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