Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Jaguars Need Johnny Manziel

The Jacksonville Jaguars are vanilla ice cream, Ned Flanders and Matlock all rolled into one. The Jags are the most boring team in the NFL. They have no identity, no one in Florida has any interest. The NFL never gives the team a chance to play on Sunday or Monday night football, as they are ratings poison.

Maurice Jones-Drew has been the identity of the team the last few years, but he has since moved on. Mark Brunell is in a retirement home and Jimmy Smith is playing prison league football. The team is starless. The Jaguars owner, Shahid Kahn has committed to playing a home game in London every year, in hopes that a soccer and monarchy-crazed nation will become a second hometown for his crappy team. Hell, may the will move there. No one in Florida would care.  However, the Jaguars can become the talk of the NFL, boost jersey and ticket sales, in addition to receiving a sickening amount of airtime on ESPN with one action: They could draft Johnny Manziel. No, let me rephrase that: The Jacksonville Jaguars NEED Manziel.

I don't claim to be an expert on NFL passers. I cannot breakdown film like a Jon Gruden or Ron Jaworski, but I do understand the concept of star power. Tim Tebow is the worst quarterback I ever saw, and I lived through the Ryan Leaf/Craig Whelihan era of San Diego Chargers football. However, Tebow was an amazing college player, with a devoted and possibly insane fan base. Despite being out of the NFL, Tebow is as popular a personality as there is in the NFL, and that includes guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Manziel's appeal could be just as great. His legacy was born when he went into Alabama and won as a redshirt freshman for Texas A & M. He won the Heisman on spectacular plays, hard-nosed grit, and remarkable athleticism.

Manziel is also a love/hate type of player. Some "experts" say that he is far and away the best player in the draft, while some others have said he is a third round talent, at best. For me, he is a guy with natural ability, toughness, swagger and star appeal.

Many fans have chastised him, because he is too cocky. Umm, if you were his age, with his talent, you'd be cocky too. Besides, name an athlete that isn't cocky.

If the Texans pass up on Manziel, he will be right there for the taking at #3 for Jacksonville. Sure, there are other guys available that might be stars, but Manziel automatically makes the boring old Jaguars interesting. Plus, he might be the best player in the draft. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Padres Minor League Chronicles: May 5th, 2014

Monday evening was an exciting night in the Padres system, as the Lake Elsinore Storm keep winning and the El Paso Chihuahua's had an exciting finish. Here is what is going down in the minors:

Lansing 4, Fort Wayne 2: Fort Wayne jumped out to an early lead in this one, but could not keep it, allowing single runs in the 6th and 7th innings, respectively. CF Mallex Smith went 2-4 with a triple, in addition to his 20th stolen base of the year. Pitcher Payton Baskette (0-1, 3.21 ERA) took the loss, despite pitching well. He allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings for the Tincaps (12-18).

Lake Elsinore 7, Lancaster 4: The Storm won their tenth straight home game, behind the arm of Joe Ross and the bat of the rehabbing Chase Headley. The pitching matchup featured Ross and top Astros prospect Lance McCullers, but featured a lot of offense. Headley went 1-3 with two RBI's, while serving as the team's DH. Newly-acquired infielder Benji Gonzalez had a pair of RBI's for the Storm (20-12).

Corpus Christi 6, San Antonio 3: Corpus Christi jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The Missions tied the score at two in the third, but Corpus Christi scored twice in the fourth, and added two more in the sixth. All of the Missions runs came on solo homers -- one apiece from Kyle Gaedele, Lee Orr and Yeison Asencio (the 7-9 hitters in the order). Starting Pitcher John Hussey took the loss for San Antonio, allowing four runs (two earned) in four innings for the Missions (13-17).

El Paso 13, Sacramento 10: A wild game in El Paso, as the Chihuahua's won the game on a walk-off grand slam by INF Jake Lemmerman, his first of the year. Tommy Medica had two hits, a homer and five RBI's. Top prospect Matt Wisler made his first start at AAA, and he struggled, allowing six runs in three innings. Hector Ambriz won in relief for El Paso (13-18).

The Padres Interrupt This Broadcast To Bring You An Infomercial

The Padres game on Monday night had a pretty interesting gimmick -- Padres broadcasters Mark Grant and Dick Enberg called the game from the new "On-Deck Suite." The eight-person deck is right by the visitors on-deck circle, so our broadcasters were right on top of the action.

However, the sole purpose of broadcasting the game from a unique vantage point was not to give the fans and broadcasters a different experience -- it was to sell seats that most of the Padres fan base simply cannot afford. The whole ploy was cheap, and reeked of desperation. Also, it was quite distracting and completely annoying.

The whole presentation started off, trying to be cute. Old man Enberg and Mark Grant ordered "virgin margarita's" and had their own personal waiter catering to their every whim. You see, Mr. Rich Padre Fan, if you spend five thousand on the sweet, some dork will bring you beers and nachos all night! The broadcast boasted about the buffet for those ticketholders, which probably featured meats and cheeses the rest of slobs are not privy to. Padres president Mike Dee stopped by, to talk about ANOTHER suite, this one in the Western Metal Supply building. Uncle!

The whole broadcast was cheap and condensing. Only the coked-up energy of Billy Mays would have made it a true, tacky infomercial experience.  I turn on Fox Sports San Diego after a hard day at work to watch my beloved (but mostly unwatchable) squad, and I certainly don't need to watch a glorified timeshare presentation about tickets that I could never afford, no matter who I blackmailed or what bank that I robbed.  Every inning featured either a phone number or a banner plastered on my television. I just wanna watch Yonder Alonso ground out!

I understand that the Padres need to be creative to generate revenue. If more expensive seating leads to more revenue, which in turn leads to a more competitive roster, then so be it. I would gladly pay a little more money for a seat, if it meant the Padres were a legitimate contender every year. However, I do not need their advertising shoved down my throat. I have Padres account representatives calling me bi-weekly to renew my season tickets. (I would, but money is tight.)

The Padres fan base on Twitter seemed to universally pan the broadcast. Here are some thoughts from my followers on Twitter:

Avenging Jack Murphy(@AvengingJM): "I just caught up on the game, My thoughts on young hurler Yordano Ventura..he's doing well to pitch through this infomercial."

Chris Garcia (@sportsbrain): Ok, so I didn't get games last year, have the Padres tried this hard to sell tickets during a broadcast?

Brent Parker (@BParker17): It's not that that the seats and stadium aren't nice, @padres. It's just that no one wants to fall asleep at a stadium 81 times a year.

Gavin (@CT2SD): The Padres are spending their entire broadcast marketing a fan experience that only 1% of their fan base can afford.

I understand the Padres taking time to let the fans know about an awesome new experience. However, most of us die-hards cannot afford it. While watching the game, it reminded me of a timeshare presentation. I sit there for several hours, listening to a presentation about a resort in Vermont that I couldn't possibly afford, in return for a small gift. Sure, I could probably swing the experience if I avoid food and paying rent for a few months.

The Padres must really think that their fan base is stupid. Thank you, Padres and Fox Sports San Diego for ruining tonight's broadcast.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Padres Minor League Players Of The Month

The first month of the 2014 baseball season has already come and gone. Hard to believe, isn't it. While the major league Padres have not played up to expectations, there are many young players who have performed quite well in 2014. There is plenty of reason for optimism for the Padres of the future. For each affiliate, I chose a position player and pitcher who stood out from his peers. Here are my Padres Minor League Players of the Month for April: 

Fort Wayne OF Franmil Reyes: Reyes is just 18-years-old, but he is a behemoth of a man. He stands at 6'5 and weighs about 240 lbs. He resembles a Chargers TE, but he could be a future Padres outfielder. For the month of April, Reyes hit .300, with four homers and 15 RBI's, with a .873 OPS. He went through a stretch in Apri where he had 18 hits in 36 at-bats. Reyes is a product of the Padres facility in the Dominican Republic. 3B Fernando Perez also drew consideration (.326 average in April). 

Fort Wayne RP Nick Mutz: Mutz, 23, is in fourth professional season (drafted by the Angels). He spent part of 2013 pitching in an independent league, before pitching in three games with the Eugene Emeralds. Mutz is a reliever, who has a perfect 0.00 ERA in 14.1 innings for Fort Wayne. Mutz has finished nine games, and features a mid-90's fastball. 

Lake Elsinore OF Alberth Martinez: This was a really hard decision, as 2013 first-rounder Hunter Renfroe has displayed a ton of power, and OF Corey Adamson has also had a good start. However, the Venezuelan-born Martinez has done a tremendous job out of the lead-off spot for the Storm. For the month of April, Martinez posted a triple-slash line of .306/.365/.468, with three homers and 17 RBI's, while patrolling center in the spacious Pete Lehr Field. 

Lake Elsinore P Joe Ross: Ross is best known as Tyson's brother, but he is establishing himself as an important piece of the Padres' future. In April, Ross went 2-2, with a 1.95 ERA in six starts. Ross has also displayed excellent command, striking out 31, while walking just seven in 32.1 innings. Ross probably won't be in Riverside County much longer. 

San Antonio SS Jace Peterson: Sure, Peterson is currently starting games for the big-league Padres, but he started the season with the Missions. Peterson looked outstanding for San Antonio, posting a .386 on-base percentage, while hitting out of the three-hole for San Antonio. The Missions have had difficulty scoring runs, but Peterson was clearly the team's best player. 

San Antonio P Matt Wisler: Wisler will make his first start for AAA El Paso Monday, but looked impressive for San Antonio in the season's first month. Wisler, who was piggy-backed with Jesse Hahn to start the year, posted a 1-0 record, with a 2.10 ERA in 30 innings. Wisler struck out 35 batters, while only walking six. Quite impressive. Former big leaguer Josh Geer also drew consideration. 

El Paso 1B Kyle Blanks: Blanks' name is quite familiar to any Padres fan, as he has played 234 games over the last five seasons for the Padres. Exiled to West Texas to start the season, all Blanks has done is mash AAA pitching. In April, Blanks posted an OPS of 1.040, with seven homers and 16 RBI's. Blanks has shown that he does still have the power that Padres fans have hoped for. Journeyman INF Brooks Conrad also hit well in April for El Paso. 

El Paso P Jason Lane: Lane, a former Padres outfielder, has reinvented himself as a left-handed starting pitcher. Lane was outstanding in April, going 2-2, with a 2.32 ERA in five starts. While he doesn't miss a lot of bats ( nine strikeouts in 31 April innings) Lane has still gotten it done for the Chihuahua's. 

The Padres system is packed with lots of intriguing guys, who should make an impact at the big-league level in the near future. Congratulations to all of the winners!