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Back in November, I warned you about the dreaded “Dead Zone” of San Diego sports …
The NBA and NHL seasons have begun, which means that I am already starting to dread the “dead zone” of San Diego sports. The dead zone is the months between Chargers football (usually in January) and Padres baseball (usually April). The hours, days, weeks and months go by without a single local professional game to go to, or watch on TV. Conversation around the water cooler comes to a grinding halt, and small talk at parties comes almost entirely about the unchanging, unending San Diego springtime weather. It’s terrible. It’s scarier than any Halloween I’ve ever experienced.
I was wrong! I mean, I was right about there being a dead zone and its soul-crushing abilities, but I forgot that the dead zone actually ends in March and not in April.
Padres Spring Training is here, allowing fans to reacquaint themselves with the team and play armchair GM before the games start to mean something, and March Madness is only about a week away for the San Diego State Aztecs. The NFL’s free agency period begins on Tuesday and the Chargers are looking for the final piece to push the team over the top and into the Super Bowl.
Local sports radio is aflutter with activity and interesting conversation again, and San Diegans can breathe a sigh of relief that we’ve made it through the worst part of the season. Congratulations, everyone.
You’re reading the Sports Report, our weekly compilation of news and information for the San Diego sports fan.
Padres Must Overcome Financial Fear
Over the course of your life, you’ll hear at least one person say, “You need to spend money to make money.” Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re using it to justify using the casino ATM at 3 a.m. But in baseball, it is almost always true.
The issue is that it’s not a perfect 1-to-1 return. Sometimes, money spent doesn’t earn anything, and that is when you’ll see the fear of some team owners creep up into their heads.
The Padres famously gave large contracts to Ryan Klesko and Phil Nevin just before moving to downtown’s Petco Park. They were to be the centerpieces of a team that had lost 96 and 98 times in the previous two years. The team improved after the move, but their most valuable players were patient contact hitters like Mark Loretta and Brian Giles. The expansive stadium sapped value from the two power hitters in the middle of the lineup.
After that, it seemed that every owner the team had was afraid to pay the team’s best players. Jake Peavy signed a large contract, but it was understood that he would be traded before the big money years came into play. Adrian Gonzalez was shipped to the Red Sox when it was time for him to get paid. Now, with the team pussyfooting around the upcoming contract talks with Chase Headley and Everth Cabrera, it has become obvious that it needs to start buying out arbitration years for its younger players and cash in on the ones who play up to their potential, while living with the ones who don’t.
This philosophy was employed in 2011, when the team bought out arbitration years for Cory Luebke, Cameron Maybin and Nick Hundley. Now, with all three players either on the shelf with injuries or struggling to perform at an average level, is when the hard part comes. Despite these first three investments appearing to be a waste of money, the Padres need to keep that strategy up.
Chargers Work to Clear Cap Space
With NFL free agency beginning Tuesday, which technically marks the beginning of the new league year, San Diego Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco is working to clear as much cap space as possible while shaping the roster into more of what he wants and less of what his predecessor wanted.
Telesco’s first order of business was re-signing the team’s most important free agent, linebacker Donald Butler. Butler signed a seven-year contract extension, and he went to Twitter to thank wide receiver Eddie Royal, who has restructured his own contract with the Chargers to help create even more cap room for this offseason. Telesco also waived fullback Le’Ron McClain, and cornerbacks Johnny Patrick (who was claimed by the New York Jets) and Derek Cox.
There are still a few questions left before Tuesday rolls around, like what the team plans on doing with Jeromey Clary, but that’s not nearly as exciting as who the team might add once the clock hits midnight on March 11.
Stories You May Have Missed
• SDSU basketball fans were concerned last week. The team had lost two of their last four games and the offense, which had rested squarely on the shoulders of Xavier Thames all season, had gone cold. Now, after clawing out victories over Fresno State and UNLV, the Aztecs have set themselves up for a rematch against New Mexico for the Mountain West Championship. Winston Shepherd has grown up before our eyes and the team now seems battle-tested for March Madness.
• Dr. Frank Jobe, who changed the sport of baseball with a procedure that would come to be known as Tommy John surgery, died this week at the age of 88.
• The best players in today’s NBA aren’t just scorers, they also excel at raising the game of their teammates. Now, that group includes Kevin Durant, who is well on his way to his first MVP Award.
• Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban learned a lot about sports marketing from the SMU basketball team this week, and this blog post about it should be framed in the offices of every professional sports franchise.
Tweet of the Week
League views sport as a corporation, the players view it as a job, the fans as a church. Convergence of three creates friction, fire.
— Andrew Han (@andrewthehan) March 1, 2014
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