<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Sports News, Photos, and Scores for the Padres, Chargers and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:31:09 -0800 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:31:09 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Chargers at 49ers : Who To Watch For]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:02:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/453322464.jpg

Remember that scene from the movie Speed when Keanu Reeves goes under the bus to see if he can get a closer look at the bomb that Dennis Hopper rigged up, but something goes awry, so to keep from getting run over he sticks an ice pick in the gas tank, then when he gets back on the bus the other passengers say he smells like gas, so he says they’re leaking gas, and Sandra Bullock says, “What, you thought you needed another challenge or something?”

Remember that?

That’s the Chargers right now.

As if they didn’t have enough problems with injuries, plus two road games against teams with winning records, both of which they have to win to have even a chance at a playoff spot … now they’re handicapping their recently punchless offense even more.

Ryan Mathews (ankle) and Keenan Allen (shoulder) are both out of Saturday night’s game against the 49ers in Santa Clara. That means 24-percent of their receiving yards and 60-percent of their rushing touchdowns are unavailable. The Bolts have gotten used to not having Mathews, but they also can’t hide how much better they are with him on the field.

The Chargers are 4-2 in games Mathews starts (4-4 without him). That record would be better if we could find a stat for games he finishes. San Diego looked at least somewhat effective with Mathews against the Patriots. But, when he got hurt and missed the second half, the Bolts did not score again.

They only mustered 10 points the following week against the Broncos without Mathews. Keep in mind, this group rolled up 34 points (21 in the fourth quarter) against the Ravens just three weeks ago, the last time Ryan got a carry in the final 15 minutes.

Without an effective running game, or even the threat of one, quarterback Philip Rivers has had to pick up far too much of the slack, and the passing game has suffered as opposing defenses have loaded up to stop it. Now, the Chargers don’t have their leading receiver in Allen. And that brings us to this week’s players to watch.

Dontrelle Inman, WR

After breaking out in the pre-season and earning a roster spot, Inman has been active for a handful of games, seeing action on special teams, but has not had a single regular season pass thrown his way. That is going to change at Levi’s Stadium. Inman becomes the 4th wideout, behind Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal and Seyi Ajirotutu. During his two seasons in the CFL, Inman flashed big-play ability. He showed that again with a long TD catch against Dallas back in August. Now the Chargers need him to put it on the field during the playoff hunt.

Donald Brown, RB

Brown will likely get the start with Mathews out (although Branden Oliver could be the guy if the Chargers like that matchup better). Brown is only averaging 2.4 yards per carry this season, but he looked at least serviceable with a couple of nice plays against Denver. I look back at the Bills game, when Danny Woodhead got hurt and Brown came in to rush 31 times. He only had 62 yards, but it was early in the season and Buffalo had to treat his presence as if it was a threat. That’s what the Chargers need. If Brown can pull off just a couple of decent gains early in the game and force the 49ers to account for the run, Rivers will have the passing game open up exponentially.

Manti Te’o, LB

Donald Butler is out for the season with an elbow injury, so it’ll be Te’o and Kavell Conner in the middle of the Chargers defense. Te’o had his first NFL interception two weeks ago against Tom Brady and has played well lately. With Butler gone, Manti will handle the defensive play calls and have a big hand in keeping Colin Kaepernick from running around like crazy. The 49ers quarterback’s passing ability has regressed dramatically in 2014, but he’s still a dangerous runner when plays break down. Te’o will probably be one of the first guys to have a shot at him. A missed tackle will very likely mean a big play allowed.

Derek’s Prediction

The 49ers are a complete disaster. Their head coach is looking at other jobs, and the players are picking up on the dysfunction. They also have even more guys injured than the Chargers do. If the Bolts can’t win this game, they don’t deserve to go to the playoffs anyway.

So, it’s a good thing they’ll win.

Final score: Chargers 23, 49ers 13



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Now Padres Recruting Has Gotten Ridiculous]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:50:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*130/456055540.jpg

Right now, I'm not sure if Padres General Manager A.J. Preller should be commended or committed. Perhaps both. What he has done, and continues to do, with the Padres roster is astonishing.

The Chargers are a day away from playing a football game in December that could mean the difference in making the playoffs or not, and they've become an afterthought. It's all Padres all the time, and Preller is not showing signs of slowing down.

On the day the Friars introduced Matt Kemp and finalized a trade for Wil Myers, the ever-busy Preller worked another deal with the Braves to bring 27-year-old, 2-time All-Star Justin Upton to San Diego. Atlanta gets a package of four minor league prospects in return (LHP Max Fried, IF Dustin Peterson, IF Jace Peterson, OF Mallex Smith). San Diego also gets minor league right-hander Aaron Northcrarft in the deal.

Upton is in the final year of a 5-year, $50 million contract. The Padres will give him $14.5 million for 2015. Even if it is just a one-year rental, it's likely going to be one heck of a year. Upton hit 29 home runs and drove in a career-high 102 runs with the Braves last season. Defensively, Upton has incredible physical gifts and a long list of highlight reel catches on his resume, but is prone to mistakes and occasionally doesn't play up to his athletic potential.

However, that should not be a problem for the Padres in 2015. Upton is in a contract year and returning to the National League West, a place he knows well. Upton spent six years in Arizona before a trade took him to Georgia ahead of the 2013 season.

Upton will likely play left field in the new-look Padres outfield, with Kemp in right. According to Padres manager Bud Black, Myers is tentatively the centerfielder, but with seven outfielders now on the roster and under contract for 2015, a few deals still need to be made.

In a separate deal on Friday, the Padres beefed up their infield, agreeing to a deal with the Red Sox for 3rd baseman Will Middlebrooks. Boston will get catcher Ryan Hanigan, who just came over from Tampa in the Myers deal, in return. Injuries have derailed Middle brooks' career a bit, but the power potential is there.

Over the first 169 games of his career (split between 2012 and 2013), Middlebrooks hit 32 home runs with 103 RBI. He only hit two home runs in 63 games last season, when he went to the disabled list twice with a calf strain and a broken finger. Middlebrooks projects as an average to slightly above-average defensive 3rd baseman.

So far, it appears Preller's plan to add offense has worked amazingly well. He's gotten the players he wants. Now we'll see how good he is at unloading the players he doesn't want (and likely nobody else does, either).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What If Rivers Can't Play?]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:33:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+pats+snf+5.jpg

When Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers missed practice this week, it sent a ripple of panic through the Bolts’ fan base.

What if he can’t play in Saturday night’s critical game against the San Francisco 49ers? Can you remember the last time he wasn’t out there? Do we even have a backup?

Before we get any further, let’s get one thing out of the way: It looks like quarterback Rivers is going to suit up on Saturday night. Just like he has all season, every season since 2006.

That’s 142 straight starts, tied for the second-longest current streak in the NFL.

This is as good a time as any to take a minute to contemplate what that means. In a league where it’s hard for anyone to get through a season without some sort of injury banging them up for at least a few weeks, Rivers has been a rock.

Ever since taking over the starting job from Drew Brees, he has been there. Say what you will about Rivers’ play on the field, but you can’t question his toughness or drive.

“I hate not practicing,” Rivers said.  “But I think at some point you’ve got to do what’s best for me and the team.”

About that missed practice, it’s his first since 2007. Do you know how many players miss practice each day? At this point in the season, a lot of guys don’t even bother with more than a brief walk-through, saving their strength for Sundays.

There have been rumblings for much of the second half of the season that Rivers is not close to fully healthy. Tight end Antonio Gates even let a little too much slip after a win over the Oakland Raiders last month.

"For those who don't know, he's been dealing with a rib injury," Gates said after the Nov. 16 game. "A very severe rib injury, so he's been toughing it out these last three, four weeks."

Rivers won’t divulge how much he’s been hurting, only saying that everyone is banged up this time of year. And the coaches seem to have his back.

"Sometimes you have to use discretion and get a little rest,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “Just give yourself the best chance to be the strongest you can be for when it really matters most.”

Both Rivers and McCoy said he would be "ready to roll" on Saturday, so Bolts fans don't need to prepare for the worst just yet.

In case you didn't know, the backup is Kellen Clemens, a career backup who has completed one pass this season. He did win four games filling in for an injured Sam Bradford in St. Louis last year. Here’s hoping he won’t be called upon to do that again this season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kemp Is Officially Coming To San Diego]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 21:16:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/177*120/456663944.jpg

Let me be the first to congratulate Padres General Manager A.J. Preller on winning the 2015 MLB Executive of the Year Award.

Preller was officially hired on August 8th. On December 18th, he endeared himself to Padres fans in a way no front office member has since Kevin Towers put together a World Series club in 1998 (we’ll leave it there and not mention the fallout).

Let’s take a quick look back at the week that was for Preller:

Thursday, 12/11/14: On the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings the Padres and Dodgers agreed to a trade that will bring All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp, catcher Tim Federowicz and $32 million to the Padres in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitcher Joe Wieland and minor league pitcher Zach Eflin. The deal will immediately upgrade the Padres’ near-historically bad offense and inject enthusiasm in to a fan base desperate for star power. Eventually.

Tuesday, 12/16/14: During Kemp’s physical, San Diego doctors discover Kemp has arthritis in both hips. Preller uses this information to bring the Dodgers back to the negotiating table, presumably to re-work the details of the transaction or ask Los Angeles to insure Kemp’s contract. The information being made public upsets the L.A. front office (bonus points for Preller!).

Wednesday, 12/17/14: The Padres, Rays and Nationals work a 3-team, 11-player trade. San Diego receives outfielder Wil Myers (2013 AL Rookie of the Year), catcher Ryan Hanigan (statistically the best defensive catcher in baseball not named Yadier Molina), and minor league pitchers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo. The Padres give up catcher Rene Rivera (2014’s breakout star), along with first baseman Jake Bauers, pitchers Burch Smith and Joe Ross, and shortstop Trea Turner (all currently in the minor leagues).  Myers is getting over an elbow injury that limited his production in 2014, but at the age of 24 is still expected to be an impact player. The deal is expected to be finalized on Friday, 12/19/14.

Thursday, 12/18/14: After wrangling for a few days, the Kemp trade finally becomes official. Preller also signs starting pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year contract worth less than $2 million Performance incentives can push the contract to nearly $8 million, the amount Johnson got for 2014 despite having Tommy John surgery and never appearing in a game for the Padres. Johnson has resumed throwing activities. Even if he comes back as a relief pitcher, a guy with his pedigree at that price is a smart, low-risk, high-reward move. The Padres also finalize a trade with the Oakland A’s to bring All-Star catcher Derek Norris and minor-league pitcher Seth Streich to Petco Park in exchange for pitchers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez. Norris is an elite offensive catcher (10 HR, 55 RBI, .270 average in his first full season as a starter), but with Hanigan in the mix it’s possible he will move to first base for the Padres.

So, let’s recap. In an eight day span A.J. Preller oversaw the movement of 21 players, three All-Stars (all coming to San Diego), and an influx of $32 million. Oh, and there are more moves to come.

San Diego now has six outfielders and three catchers under contract for 2015. Assuming they go with manager Bud Black’s preferred strategy of carrying 12 pitchers that only leaves four roster spots. Since most MLB teams prefer to play with that many infielders, plus have at least one in reserve, we have not seen the end of Preller’s wheeling and dealing ways.

Oh, by the way, this is interesting. Thursday marked the 133rd day of Preller’s tenure as Padres G.M. That’s exactly 19 weeks.

How fitting is it for THAT to be the number that excites Padres fans again?



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Trade for Myers]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:35:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/preller+1.jpg

On Wednesday the Padres pulled the trigger on a trade that, pending physicals, would nab them 23-year old outfielder Wil Myers from the Rays.

In the three-team deal the Padres acquire Myers, the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year, catcher Ryan Hanigan and a pair of prospects.

In return Tampa Bay gets catcher Rene Rivera, pitcher Burch Smith and minor-leaguer Jake Bauers.

The third team in the deal, Washington, will receive pitcher Joe Ross (Tyson's brother) and the Padres top pick in the 2014 draft, shortstop Trea Turner.



Photo Credit: Matthew Wood/NBC7]]>
<![CDATA[Keenan Allen Out for Saturday]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:07:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+broncos+q+6.jpg

On Tuesday the Chargers announced second-year wide receiver Keenan Allen will not play against the Niners this weekend.

Allen broke his collarbone and injured his ankle in Sunday's home loss to Denver. The team could still place him on season-ending injured reserve. That may indeed be the strategy if the Bolts lose at San Francisco, which would eliminate them from playoff contention with one game left on the schedule.

Quarterback Philip Rivers said after practice on Thursday that losing Allen would be a big blow to the offense, "There's no doubt it hurts, we'll miss him but I do have confidence in the bigger role Jerry (Attaochu) will have and where Dontrelle (Inman) mixes in." Rivers added, "Eddie (Royal) and Malcom (Floyd) will have to pick up the slack. It does affect us no doubt, but we feel good with the four guys we have."

Allen leads the Chargers in receptions (77) and receiving yards (783).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco 49ers Release Ray McDonald]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:43:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ray-mcdonald-new.jpg

The San Francisco 49ers released Ray McDonald on Wednesday after San Jose police revealed the defensive lineman is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault.

"This isn't about just this incident. This is about a pattern of poor decision-making,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “This is a team decision, not a league decision.”

That pattern, Baalke added, "has led to multiple distractions that no longer can be tolerated."

Police executed a search warrant at McDonald's San Jose home on Tuesday. He has not been arrested. This is the second time in recent months that McDonald has been the subject of a police investigation.

"We just want to inform everybody that after the recent allegations concerning Ray McDonald, we as an organization have notified him and his agent that he will be terminated, released immediately. Effective immediately," Baalke said.

Baalke said CEO Jed York and coach Jim Harbaugh, who notified the players, were also involved in the decision. "We expect a lot from our players, hold them accountable for their actions,'' Baalke said.

In a statement released earlier in the day, SJPD Sgt. Heather Randol said police were called to an area hospital at 10:43 a.m. Tuesday morning regarding a "possible sexual assault victim" who was receiving treatment. Officers spoke to the woman, and she told them she was "possibly assaulted" on Monday.

The "preliminary investigation revealed the alleged suspect was Ray McDonald," Randol said.

The San Jose Police Department Sexual Assaults Investigations Unit  responded to conduct follow-up investigation.  Based on preliminary investigation, detectives secured a search warrant at McDonald's home some time on Tuesday. The woman's identity was not revealed, but two sources told NBC Bay Area that she is not McDonald's fiancee.

Players said they were shocked by the team’s decision to cut McDonald, but understand the reason.

“This is an organization, it’s a franchise,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “You want to have a high standard and we do around here. You have to be able to abide by that.

Reached by phone in Florida on Wednesday, McDonald's mother, Labrina McDonald, said she didn't yet know the full story but insisted it was a "bunch of mess. There's  no truth to it at all."

She added that her son has “cameras all over his house” after his home was broken into, which she said will show that “he’s been targeted.”

“This is just an accusation, anyone can make it. It has no merit to it,” she said. “I don’t like that they’re releasing him, and that this cost him his job.”

She offered no other details, and said her son asked her not to divulge any more.

McDonald was arrested on Aug. 31 after his pregnant fiancee at the time accused him of choking and punching her at his 30th birthday party at his home in San Jose.

On Nov. 10, the Santa Clara County District Attorney decided there was not enough evidence to charge him, Two female prosecutors investigated the altercation, releasing a public memo,  deciding there weren't any "verifiable witnesses." McDonald had steadfastly denied harming his fiancee.

After the arrest, he told CSN Bay Area he was "doing stuff to try to better our relationship."

When asked for a comment Wednesday regarding the latest sexual assault allegation, an NFL spokesman said, "We are looking into it."

The Associated Press and CSN Bay Area contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty
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<![CDATA[Chargers Staying at Qualcomm For Another Year]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:45:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/455451914.jpg

The San Diego Chargers will be spending another year in Mission Valley.

The team has decided to stay at Qualcomm Stadium for the 2015 NFL season, according to Mark Fabiani, special counsel to the Chargers' President Dean Spanos.

Since 2007, the Bolts have been eligible to, well, bolt from the property's lease on Feb. 1 each year. The team has opted not to end its lease for 14 years now.

Instead, they will buy more time until a permanent home can be built in the city.

"The team will not be exercising the lease termnation clause and will keep working to find a publicly acceptable way to build a Super-Bowl quality stadium in San Diego," said Fabiani's statement Tuesday.

The decision is a boon for San Diego but a disappointment for Los Angeles, which was hoping to lure in an NFL team as early as the 2015 offseason. The Chargers, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders were among the contenders, NBC Sports reported in October.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer weigh in on the issue via Twitter, posting "The Chargers belong in San Diego, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in 2015 to ensure the team is here for years to come."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. to Bid for 2024 Olympics]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 01:15:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TLMD-aros-olimpicos-juegos-olimpicos-olympic-rings-getty-images-470969827.jpg

The U.S. Olympic Committee has decided to bid for the 2024 Olympics, hoping to bring the Summer Games back to America after a 28-year absence.

The USOC board heard presentations from four candidate cities Tuesday — Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington — and voted to enter a field that already includes Rome and either Hamburg or Berlin, with Paris likely to join.

A decision on which city the U.S. will put forward for a bid is expected next month.

The United States hasn't hosted a Summer Games since the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

The country's last two tries have been flops, with New York (2012) and Chicago (2016) each finishing fourth in voting. The USOC chose not to bid for the 2020 Games, which will take place in Tokyo.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Five Questions With Laz: Can Chargers Take Next Step?]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:37:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/460468416.jpg

Every week, NBC 7 Sports Director Jim Laslavic gives his impressions on the Chargers and the NFL. This week we talk about what it will take for this team to make the playoffs.

Here are Five Quetsions with Laz:

1. Give your assessment of this team after losing at home to two tough teams.

The Chargers lost to better teams.

Think back to the outstanding teams from a few years ago. The offensive line had Marcus McNeal, Kris Dielman, Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff and Jeromey Clary. Only D.J. Fluker could crack the starting line-up on that team.

It’s a passing league, but it’s also a line of scrimmage game. The Chargers need to get better up front on both sides of the football. And they need to catch a break when it comes to injuries.

2. What has been going on with Philip Rivers the past few weeks?

No running game, means they rely too much on the passing game. The Patriots and Broncos have enough talent in the secondary to take Keenan Allen out of the game plan.

3. Despite the outcome, you have to be impressed with the Chargers defense, right?

Both weeks they played well. The four straight three-and-outs to start the second half against the Pats was impressive.

And sure, Manning was sick, but he really had to work hard to get the Broncos on the scoreboard.

4. What would you say are the Chargers’ odds of making the playoffs?

About the same as last year at this time and we all know what happened. The 49ers are out of contention for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh. It will be interesting to see how they respond.

The Chiefs have to play in Pittsburgh this week. That won’t be easy. So, don’t give up on the Chargers yet.

5. Who was louder: Pats fans or Broncos fans?

Toss up. Chargers need to give fans more of a reason not to sell their tickets. It all starts with the product on the field.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Can Chargers Still Make Playoffs?]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:12:36 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+broncos+q+6.jpg

Chargers fans in need of talking down from the ledge after a second straight loss on Sunday should just look to last year for assurance when assessing their playoff situation.

Remember last year, when the Bolts needed to win their last two games, then have a whole bunch of teams lose in order to get a postseason berth? It all happened, the Chargers made the playoffs and even won a road game in Cincinnati.

Can the team catch lightning in a bottle again this year? It can happen, although once again it’s getting less and less likely. But the Chargers can keep their going after the regular-season finale in two weeks.

First, let’s look at the AFC playoff standings:

5. Steelers – 9-5 (wild card #1)
6. Ravens – 9-5 (wild card #2)
7. Chiefs – 8-6
8. Chargers – 8-6
9. Bills – 8-6

First and foremost, the Bolts need to win their final two games. A month ago, that seemed like a tall feat, going into San Francisco and Kansas City, pulling out victories over the 49ers and Chiefs.

Fortunately, the Niners have tanked, eliminated from the playoffs and perhaps on the verge of firing coach Jim Harbaugh. There’s no better time to play them than this Saturday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Then it would come down to the finale against the division-rival Chiefs. If you are starting to get déjà vu, that’s because it all came down to the final game against KC last year, which the Bolts won in overtime. The difference then was the Chiefs already had a playoff berth clinched. They’ll be battling for one of the final spots just like us.

OK, so assuming the Chargers finish 10-6, that leaves them needing to leapfrog either Pittsburgh or Baltimore to get one of the two wild card spots.

They already hold a head-to-head tiebreaker with Baltimore, having beaten the Ravens earlier in the season. That means they just Baltimore to lose once in its final two games – at the Houston Texans (7-7) and home against the Cleveland Browns (7-7). That might not be likely, but crazier things have happened.

Meanwhile, the Steelers host those same Chiefs, then the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, they’ll need to lose both those home games, as they hold the tiebreaker over the Chargers with a better conference record.

The Bolts also have a win over Buffalo, ensuring a higher spot in the pecking order should they have identical records at the end of the season.

So, yes, there’s work to do. But it’s not crazy to see the Chargers making a second straight playoff appearance. The first order of business is to take care of business, then hope for the best.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Could be Home to MLB All-Star Game]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 21:57:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/padres+pics+85+5.jpg

The Padres have put in a bid to host the All-Star Game, and San Diego City officials on Monday approved a measure to rubber stamp city funds for the event.

The San Diego City Council approved a proposal to allow up to $1.5 million to cover police and fire department costs for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2016 as well as city permitting and operational services.

At the heart of the pitch the council was the projected economic benefit of having the game here, including the five ensuing days of fan activities.

Major League Baseball officials say it would bring in about $80 million to the city of San Diego. Also, officials with the San Diego Tourism Authority say it would draw more than $1 million in sales tax and $1.2 million in hotel taxes.

But how accurate are those numbers?

The president of the National University Institute for Policy Research said he suspects most of the people attending the game will be from San Diego. Also, the summer time is already peak tourism season here.

“The analysis that has been done after the fact of these games suggests that these economic projections that are made by people are a lot more hype than they are substance,” said Erik Bruvold of the National University Institute for Policy Research.

Bruvold said that ultimately the big winner could be the Padres, who could include an All-Star Game seating priority to season ticket holders.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is expected to announce the location for the 2016 All-Star Game before he retires next month.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scenes From Chargers Loss to Broncos]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:43:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+broncos+q+1.jpg Photos from the Denver Broncos' 22-10 win over the Chargers on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Surpasses Jordan]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 02:53:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/Kobe-Bryant-passes-Jordan-points_12-14-14.jpg

On Sunday evening in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kobe Bryant further cemented his place in basketball lore by becoming the third greatest scorer in NBA history.

Bryant passed Michael Jordan's total of 32,292 points in the first half of Sunday's game at Target Center. Only needing nine points on the day, most expected Bryant would surpass the required total before halftime, and Bryant did not disappoint.

Though Bryant missed his first three shots and the Minnesota Timberwolves were consistently putting a hard double team on the Lakers' star, the 19-year veteran began to slowly solve the defensive riddle.

After eight scoreless minutes on Sunday, Bryant's first two points on the night came from the foul line. By the time the first quarter ended, Bryant had four points on five shots, but he did not appear to be in any particular hurry to pass no. 23 on the all-time scoring list.

Instead, Bryant was happy to chaperon the Lakers to a three point lead after one quarter. In the second quarter, Bryant would return from his rest and immediately launch a three-pointer. Bryant took the ball on a turnaround jump shot to pass Jordan, but the ball went in and out. On the next possession, Bryant would head to the free throw line and sink two free throws.

Bryant moved to third all-time on the NBA scoring list, and Jordan dropped to fourth.

The game was momentarily halted as Bryant received hugs and congratulations from his teammates. The Timberwolves' PA announcer congratulated the 36-year-old and the fans in attendance applauded in appreciation. For a night, Minnesota felt like the home of the Lakers again.

With Jordan out of the way, Bryant is still a long way behind Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Malone's total of 36,928 points and Abdul-Jabbar's total of 38,387 points would likely require Bryant to play past the summer of 2016, when Bryant's current contract is set to retire.

On Sunday in Minneapolis, no. 24 passed no. 23 on the all-time scoring list, as Bryant further solidified his case for being the greatest Laker of all time in the city where the Lakers were born.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Offense Sputters in Loss to Broncos]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 21:40:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+121414.jpg

In a quest to keep the vaunted Denver Broncos offense off the scoreboard, the Chargers forgot to put up some points of their own.

They were held out of the end zone until the fourth quarter, falling 22-10 on Sunday in the final regular season game of the year at Qualcomm Stadium.

Philip Rivers threw his second interception in the end zone with two minutes left to seal the Chargers' fate.

The win clinches the AFC West title for Denver (11-3) and deals a severe blow to the Chargers' (8-6) playoff hopes.

Rivers threw for 232 yards, but the pair of interceptions hurt. His five-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates early in the fourth quarter was the only time the Bolts found the end zone.

"The grading scale, it's a plus if you win, a minus if you lose," Rivers said. "We just have to do a better job."

Chargers coach Mike McCoy deflected blame from his quarterback.

"It's everybody," he said. "We gotta play better as an offense, not just one player."

Branden Oliver led an anemic running attack with just 26 yards on 12 carries. As a whole, the team rushed for just 56 yards.

Gates had six catches for 54 yards, including the lone TD for the Chargers.

They were only able to muster 92 yards in the first half and didn't get a first down until two minutes into the second quarter.

Nick Novak missed a pair of crucial field goals, getting one blocked in the second quarter, then banging another off the left upright in the third.

Broncos kicker Connor Barth nailed all five of his attempts, including a 44-yarder with 3:56 left that put the game away for Denver.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was held in check for much of the day, but he managed to throw for 233 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas late in the third quarter.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 15]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 20:22:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/460466000.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the fifteenth week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles' McCoy on Playing Sunday Night]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 12:12:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP383450712423.jpg Philadelphia Eagles' star running back, LeSean McCoy, ran for 159 yards and a touchdown in a convincing win against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. McCoy looks to continue that trend against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, where he always seems to come though for the Eagles.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Playoff Picture: Bolts Still Control Destiny]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 09:29:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+pats+snf+6.jpg

Last week’s loss to the New England Patriots was not the end of the world for the Chargers’ playoff hopes. The Bolts still hold the final wild card spot and control their own destiny in the playoff chase.

It does put a tremendous amount of pressure to beat the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos on Sunday. A loss at the Q not only gives the Broncos the division title, it most likely puts the Bolts on the outside looking in the tight AFC playoff picture.

First, let’s take a look at the standings:

1. Patriots – 10-3 (East leader)
2. Broncos – 10-3 (West leader)
3. Colts – 9-4 (South leader)
4. Bengals – 8-4-1 (North leader)
5. Steelers – 8-5 (wild card)
6. Chargers – 8-5 (wild card)
7. Ravens – 8-5 (Chargers have tiebreaker over them)
8. Texans -- 7-6
9. Dolphins – 7-6
10. Chiefs – 7-6
11. Bils -- 7-6
12. Browns – 7-6

Basically, Chargers fans should be hating on anyone below them right now. Pretty simple, right? Even simpler: All of the games affecting them are at 10 a.m. today. Let’s take a look at those games and who to root for in them:

Falcons over Steelers: At 5-8, Atlanta is still in the lead in a putrid NFC South. Must be nice. A win here would put them closer to being worthy of the playoffs.

Patriots over Dolphins: I know, it’s tough to root for the stupid Pats after their fans invaded the Q last week and slapped the Chargers around. Let it go, Bolts fans. The Dolphins would own the tiebreaker over us if it came down to it. A loss here would help ensure it doesn’t.

Raiders over Chiefs: Yep, gotta root for Oakland too. Just go with it. Doesn’t mean you have to like them, either.

Colts over Texans: A win gives Indy the division title. Let ‘em have it.

Jaguars over Ravens: Don’t hold your breath on this one, as the Ravens are favored by 14. Do you believe in miracles?

Bengals over Browns: Can we get another first-round playoff game in Cincinnati like last year? Chargers fans will take that, I’m sure.

Packers over Bills: Green Bay is the best team in the league right now. Here’s hoping they stay that way.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Broncos at Chargers: Who To Watch]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 00:05:37 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/463000405.jpg

The Broncos arrived at their Downtown San Diego hotel just before 4:00 Pacific time on Saturday. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning leads the AFC in Pro Bowl balloting. That's not a surprise.

What is a surprise is a certain Charger is not getting more Pro Bowl buzz. That would be safety Darrell Stuckey. Who has a high-profile team-mate stumping for him.

"He's so consistent," said quarterback Philip Rivers. "His energy, his effort, you just know you can count on him."

Since being drafted in the 4th round in 2010, Stuckey has appeared in 57 NFL games, yet never started any of them. Still, he finds a way to get on the field and make an impact.

"His role in defense, I know, has increased," said Rivers, who during the week leading up to San Diego's showdown with Denver was kind of turned in to Stuckey's publicist. "The tackles, the blocked field goal, the things he does, it doesn't surprise you. It's just like of like, 'That's the Stuckey we see every day.'"

Stuckey is third in the NFL, and first in the AFC, with 14 special teams tackles. He also leads the conference in solo special teams tackles. I'll bet you didn't know that. But folks inside the game sure do.

"He's one of those that doesn't get a lot of recognition on the outside. I know he has respect around the league for his special teams play. He's a guy who's had a big impact on our team. We remember how awesome Kassim Osgood was here those years and he made a handful of Pro Bowls in a row as a special teams guy. I think Stuckey is that impactful. Guys, they double-team him, they triple-team him, they do everything they can to keep him from making tackles and he still makes them."

Yet, Darrell Stuckey, the Chargers Special Teams Captain, is not even on the Pro Bowl ballot. Seyi Ajirotutu, another fantastic special teamer who is one tackle behind Stuckey, is. New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater leads the special teams balloting. But the Bolts would not trade their special specialist for anybody else.

"I'm sure there's a lot of other great special teams players," said Rivers, "but I can't imagine one being more valuable to his team than what (Stuckey) is to us."

And that brings us to this week's players to watch:

Darrell Stuckey, S

It’s Stuckey who usually camps underneath one of Mike Scifres’ punts and downs it inside the 10 yard line. Now that Scifres is being replaced by veteran Mat McBriar, and a game against the Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium usually comes down to some detail like field position, Stuckey’s ability to help a punter flip the field could very well come in to play in a big spot.

Mike Windt, LS

Yes, the long snapper. Let’s keep it on the special teams kick. Windt has worked with Scifres his entire 5-year career. Last week he didn’t miss a beat with Nick Novak set deep, but that’s something they practice each week. All of a sudden, having a new face to snap to can be make things interesting. Every punter likes the ball delivered in a particular spot. Windt’s ability to put the ball on target will help avoid any more major punt game disasters that change games (well, as long as Donald Brown blocks his guy and keeps anyone else from getting mauled).

Jahleel Addae, S

Seven weeks ago in Denver, Addae sustained a concussion in the Chargers’ loss. He was allowed to stay in the game, putting the Chargers in a bit of hot water. Jahleel is now healthy, and having his physical presence in the middle of the defense will be an asset against Peyton Manning. The vast majority of Manning’s pass attempts (better than 50-percent) are within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. That means you have to either cover them well, or tackle them well to avoid big plays. Addae’s ability to hit and bring down ball carriers can help get the Chargers defense off the field on 3rd downs, an absolute MUST against the Broncos offense.

Derek’s Prediction

Manning has been held to less than 200 yards passing in two straight games. Of course, they still won both of said games because he’s been content to hand the ball off to his running backs, who have been sensational gouging opposing defenses that were geared up to stop the aerial assault. This week, Manning will not have Montee Ball, and Ronnie Hillman is battling an injury and might not play.

So, it appears Manning will have to get back to throwing the ball again. That was a bad thing last time these teams met. But, in that game Jason Verrett was playing with one arm, Brandon Flowers and Melvin Ingram were out with injuries, and Richard Marshall was still on the roster.

This time around, the Chargers are in a much better position to deal with Peyton’s passing. Much like they did last week with Tom Brady, the Bolts will get in to the backfield enough to disrupt the Broncos’ offense while San Diego’s offensive line cleans up the communication errors that plagued them against the Pats.

Final score: Chargers 23, Broncos 20



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Injury Report: Broncos vs. Chargers]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 23:40:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/460124534.jpg

The Chargers are three games behind the Broncos in the AFC West with three to play. So, if Denver wins Sunday at the Q, they win the division and the Chargers are fighting for a Wild Card spot. Barring a crazy turn of events, that means no chance for a home playoff game this season.

The Bolts will have close to their full complement of players available. Unless, of course, they don't.

We know punter Mike Scifres is out after having surgery to repair his broken collarbone. Defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers is doubtful. The three question marks are running back Ryan Mathews, defensive end Corey Liuget (both have ankle injuries) and tight end Ladarius Green, who sustained a concussion on a vicious hit by Brandon Browner last weekend against the Patriots.

It was called a penalty on the field, and although I hate to say it because I like Ladarius, it was a 100-percent clean, legal hit. The NFL confirmed as much on Friday when the league announced Browner would not be fined for the play.

The Broncos injury list is extremely long. Starting running back Montee Ball, reserve tackle Paul Cornick and backup wide receiver Cody Latimer are all out. Safety Quinton Carter is doubtful.

Former Aztecs running back Ronnie Hillman, who had a career-high 109 yards on 20 carries last time these teams met, is questionable with a foot injury. The Broncos also might be missing tight end Jacob Tamme and cornerback Kayvon Webster.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Offense Gets An Upgrade]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 17:23:24 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/456280776.jpg

In 2014, the Padres had the worst offense in baseball, and it was not even close. San Diego ranked last in MLB in the following offensive categories:

-    Runs Scored
-    Runs Batted In
-    Hits
-    Batting Average
-    On-Base Percentage
-    Slugging Percentage
-    Doubles

There’s more, but that paints a pretty good picture. When the Padres hired A.J. Preller in August, he knew he had a major offensive rebuilding project on his hands. This is a nice way to start.

Sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the Padres and Dodgers agreed to the biggest trade of the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings. San Diego is sending catcher Yasmani Grandal, right-handed pitcher Joe Wieland, and minor league starting pitcher Zach Eflin to the Dodgers for All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz, plus about $31 million.

Kemp provides an immediate and MASSIVE improvement for the Padres offense. In 2014, Grandal led the Padres with 15 home runs and Jedd Gyorko led the team with 51 runs batted in. Kemp alone had 17 home runs and 54 runs batted in.

AFTER THE ALL-STAR BREAK.

The 2011 National League MVP (yes, I took it away from Ryan Braun in my head) battled hamstring, ankle and shoulder injuries the last few years, but his big second half coincided with a clean bill of health. Kemp turned 30 in September and has another five years on his contract, so Preller got an impact power hitter who’s still in his prime and under financial control for the near future, a combination the Padres have not had since Adrian Gonzalez arrived in 2006. The Friars are really only on the hook for about $75 million for Kemp over five years, still the largest financial commitment the franchise has ever made.

Now, if there’s a concern (other than the injury history), it’s that Kemp came from a situation where he had guys like Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig around him in the lineup. He won’t have that kind of help at Petco Park, so unless Preller is able to add another respected hitter, something he is still trying to do, it’s likely Kemp will lead the league in walks.

The Dodgers had a logjam in their outfield with Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford all getting paid big bucks, so Kemp became the odd man out. Los Angeles needed offensive help behind the plate, so they coveted Grandal, who became expendable when Rene Rivera emerged as the best catcher on the roster and one of the best defensive backstops in all of baseball. Federowicz will provide depth until top prospect Austin Hedges is ready for The Show, which should not take more than another year or two.

The Dodgers also fill a need in acquiring Wieland, who is a good fit as a long relief pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. Los Angeles has had trouble getting from their front-line starting pitchers to closer Kenley Jansen.

The deal is not yet official because the players involved need to take physicals and the Commissioner’s office has to give final approval due to the large amount of money trading hands. But, when it is finalized, the Padres are a whole lot better than they were on Tuesday, and Preller has already ingratiated himself to Padres fans.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[5 Questions With Laz: What More Do Chargers Need to Do?]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:01:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+pats+snf+3.jpg

In this week’s discussion with NBC 7 Sports Director Jim Laslavic, we talk about what the Chargers need to do going forward – and what they didn’t do Sunday night against the New England Patriots.

1. Are the Patriots the best team in the NFL?

Green Bay beat them last week 26-21. So the Packers and their fans would argue if the Pats are No. 1.

But keep in mind, there isn’t a trophy for being the best team in early December. The trophy is for the best team in February.

Their coaching staff might be the best in the business right now. On both sides of the football they schemed well against the Chargers. After a loss, it’s in the coaches’ handbook of quotes to say your ream was outcoached. Sunday night it was true.

2. Why couldn’t the receivers get open?

The simple answer, pressure on Philip Rivers and outstanding coverage. But again, the Patriots were put in position to win.

Obviously they took note when Keenan Allen caught 11 passes against the Ravens. The result, two catches for three yards. The Pats had a plan and it worked. Same is true for the Chargers.  Keep in mind, the Pats had four straight three-and-outs to start the second half.

3. Who would you rather have: Tom Brady or Philip Rivers?

You can’t go wrong with either. How is that for avoiding the question? Certainly would like to have Brady’s Super Bowl ring collection

4. Why are there so many damn Pats fans in San Diego?

We’re the coolest town to live in the country. And they buy tickets. I keep telling myself, they’re helping pay the bills.

5. What chances do you give the Chargers to beat the Broncos on Sunday?

They won last Dec. 12 in Denver. So why not in the Q?

Interesting that Peyton Manning is passing for fewer yards. Ball control will be important. Keep Manning and his buddies on the sidelines. It figures to be a field position type of game. The cover teams need to do a better job.

So yes, they have a chance. A very good chance of beating the Broncos.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres to Acquire Matt Kemp: Report]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 07:39:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/matt-kemp-generic-dodgers-1.jpg

Seasoned veteran outfielder and hitter Matt Kemp is about to become a San Diego Padre, according to a published report.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the 30-year-old Kemp would be traded to the Padres with back-up catcher Tim Federowicz, citing unnamed sources.

In exchange the Dodgers would take 26-year-old Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal and two pitching prospects, according to the newspaper.

The Dodgers would also pay $30 million of the $107 million remaining on Kemp's contract, the newspaper reported.

The Padres will get a big boost to their offense which ranked dead last in the National League according to NBC Sports.

The deal is expected to be finalized Thursday before the conclusion of baseball's Winter Meetings in San Diego.

A spokesperson for the San Diego Padres could not confirm the report to NBC 7.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Flowers Speaks Out Against Wearing Fur]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 19:43:38 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/brandon+flowers+peta.jpg

Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers love animals. He wants everyone to know in his new anti-fur campaign with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

"I wanted to get involved with (PETA) because first off, I'm an animal lover," Flowers said. “"I have a dog. And I couldn't imagine someone just taking my dog's fur or skinning my dog alive or killing him just to be selfish. And get his fur just for an accessory.”

He’s part of the organization’s new ad campaign, talking about his personal experiences, including his dog, named Pup.

“I know, that’s an original name,” he said, laughing. “I play with him all day. He's just so happy to see you every time you come in the house."

He shows off his tattoo that says “Ink, Not Mink.”

Flowers joins a growing list of NFL players to align with PETA, including Le’Veon Bell, Terrell Suggs, Stevie Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Ditch Toilet-Like Design For New Arena]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 06:37:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/east-arena.jpg

The Golden State Warriors will never play in a toilet.

The Warriors have overhauled the design for their planned arena in San Francisco's Mission Bay, after sophisticated critics coast-to-coast noted that the schematics looked an awful lot like a common, everyday commode.

The San Francisco Chronicle notes team officials are taking the move in stride, going as far as to get in on the potty humor.

The Warriors are "trying to flush the toilet bowl forever out of people's consciousness," team consultant Jesse Blount told the newspaper.

The lid-down resemblance arose from two factors: a rectangular "bayfront terrace" that stuck out on one end, and a raised roof that, coupled together, resembled a toilet bowl's lid hinge and lid, respectively.

That is, if you're inclined to see such things.

Gone is the raised lid-like roof, and the protuding deck has been cut back a bit, too. The new effect is a resemblance like a a "Discman CD player," the Chron's Matier & Ross wrote.

Sometimes you can't win.

The new design is part of new overall plans for the 12-acre site the Warriors plan to redevelop into an arena complex with office towers, retail, restaurants, and a pedestrian plaza "larger than Union Square," the newspaper reported.

“We believe this plan is a perfect fit for Mission Bay, for San Francisco, and for the entire region,” said Joe Lacob, Co-Executive Chairman and CEO of the Warriors. “Our goal is to not only build a world-class arena for our team and our fans, but also create a vibrant place that residents and visitors will want to enjoy, whether on game days or any other day.”

The new entertainment center would be built on 11 acres of private, inland property, bounded by Third, 16th and South Streets, and Terry Francois Blvd.

The first shovel on the $1 billion project could go into the ground as early as this fall, with the Warriors to play their first games in 2018.



Photo Credit: Courtesy of MANICA Architecture. Images rendered by steelblue]]>
<![CDATA[New Punter From Down Under]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 23:21:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/169*120/chargers+pats+snf+4.jpg

If it worked once, maybe it can work again. Maybe that was the thinking at Chargers Park on Tuesday when they signed punter Mat McBriar. The 35-year old is a native of Australia, the same homeland of former Chargers punter Darren Bennett.

Bennett actually helped McBriar land a job punting at the University of Hawaii. There he went on to become a two-time All-Western Conference punter.

McBriar is a ten-year NFL veteran who kicked for six different teams. He replaces Mike Scifres who is recovering from surgery on the collarbone he broke Sunday night against the Patriots.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pats Fans at Q Impress Belichick]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 16:47:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/belichick.jpg

If you thought it was extra loud during Sunday night’s Chargers game against the New England Patriots at Qualcomm Stadium, you weren’t alone.

New England coach Bill Belichick said it felt more like a home game, as Pats fans packed the Q, arriving early and cheering on their team all night.

“There were a couple times when I was talking to somebody or talking to one coach or another while the other side of the ball was out there and you hear the fans start yelling and (you’re) like, ‘Uh oh, what happened?’ and it was us making a good play and our fans cheering,” Belichick said. “It was a little bit of a different sensation.”

The parking lot was, if not an even split, pretty close between Pats and Bolts fans. They loudly cheered as Tom Brady led their team onto the field and booed audibly for the Chargers.

Chargers players noticed it too. Quarterback Philip Rivers said the matchup between two playoff contenders felt like a postseason game.

“It definitely had that type of atmosphere,” he said.

The majority of Patriots fans congregated behind the team’s bench, making it that much louder in the stadium.

“I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen that before,” Belichick said. “They were just all kind of in the same spot.”

Despite the competing fan bases, there were relatively few incidents. The same can’t be said about Monday night’s Packers-Falcons game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, where 11 people were arrested and 36 more ejected from the game.

Maybe it’s the nice weather that kept everyone happy and playing nice in San Diego?



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Laz: Hardwick Update, MLB Meetings ]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:19:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Nick-Hardwick-1208_2.jpg NBC 7's Jim Laslavic reports on MLB Winter Meetings going on in San Diego and updates Chargers fans on center Nick Hardwick who has dropped about 65 pounds from his playing weight.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Loosen Their Purse Strings]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 18:13:40 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/AJ+Preller+2.jpg

For decades, the Padres have done things on a shoestring budget. Instead of being in the hunt for a guy like Albert Pujols, they would go all in on Alberto Gonzalez.

Now, all of a sudden, that seems to be changing.

Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings got going in earnest in Downtown San Diego on Monday. It would appear Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has his fingers in an awful lot of pies. After offering monster contracts to, but losing out on, Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas, Preller has been talking to teams about acquiring some big-name players and their big-dollar deals.

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce are on the radar. They both have 10-figure annual salaries. Finally, the Friars are (at least on the surface) serious about contending in the current MLB economy.

"We don't really want to tie ourselves down and say we just have to focus on this one category of player," Preller told me on Monday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. "I think you get the best ideas when you have the most information and a chance to look at everybody, then filter that down to maybe the two, three, four players that night work for us."

The problem has been, those players are out of the Padres' price range. This year, though (again, on the surface), San Diego is not shying away from parting with piles of cash.

"We hired A.J. with the intent to unleash him and unleash the team that he's put together underneath him," Padres President & C.E.O. Mike Dee told me. "He's going to work hard, and he has our full support."

For once, it appears that support is going to be of the financial variety. You can hear more of what Dee had to say about Preller by checking out my Facebook page here.

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<![CDATA[Scenes from Chargers Loss to Patriots]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 17:55:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+pats+snf+1.jpg Photos from Sunday night's game at Qualcomm Stadium between the Chargers and New England Patriots.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers, Patriots Fans Tailgate Together]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 17:18:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pats+bolts+fans+3.jpg It was all fun and games as Chargers and New England Patriots fans tailgated together outside of Qualcomm Stadium before Sunday's game.

Photo Credit: Matthew Wood/NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[NFLer Hill Probed for Sex Assault]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 16:51:38 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sammie-hill-getty.jpg

The Tennessee Titans say they are aware police are investigating a sexual assault allegation involving defensive lineman Sammie Hill.

"We will let the police investigate the allegation, and we will provide any assistance they need," the Titans said in a statement Monday. "We have discussed the matter with Sammie, and we will continue to gather facts."

Atlanta Police Department spokesman John Chaffee wrote in an email that a woman told police she had been sexually assaulted by Hill and they are working with the woman for more information.

The woman apparently contacted Houston police first. Spokesman Victor Senties confirmed to The Associated Press that Houston police took a report Friday from a woman alleging she had been sexually assaulted in Atlanta and forwarded that to police there.

Hill, who played at Stillman and a West Blocton, Alabama, native, is a six-year veteran in the second year of a three-year deal with Tennessee. The 6-foot-4, 328-pound Hill has started 12 games this season.
 



Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Shock 49ers to Win Battle of the Bay]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 08:27:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/PennTDvsniners.jpg

As the Battle of the Bay approached this past week, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was a man of few words.

He answered questions from the media about Sunday’s game with the Raiders with a lot of “yeps” and “nos,” and offered little insight into the cross-Bay matchup.

His mood seemed a bit dark. Perhaps he could feel what was coming.

On Sunday, the Raiders made Kaepernick eat every one of his few words in Oakland’s 24-13 victory over the Niners at O.co Coliseum a decision that just about puts a fork in the 49ers’ hopes for a playoff spot while giving the Raiders and their fans the highlight of a disappointing season.

The 49ers dropped to 7-6 with their second straight loss, and now face a final three games at Seattle and vs. the Chargers and Cardinals at home needing to go 3-0 and hope for plenty of help to get into the postseason.

The Raiders, meanwhile, improve to 2-11 and have just a little bit more to build on toward 2015, with rookie quarterback Derek Carr throwing for three touchdowns and outplaying Kaepernick. It likely was Carr's best game as a pro.

The teams were tied 10-10 at halftime, but then San Francisco went on a 9-play, 44-yard drive in the third quarter to go up 13-10. Yet the drive didn’t yield a touchdown, a season-long problem for the 49ers offense. After having first-and-goal from the 9, they had to settle for a 20-yard Phil Dawson field goal.

The Raiders – who scored their first TD of the game on a 3-yard tackle-eligible pass from Carr to Donald Penn -- promptly responded with two 80-yard touchdown drives led by Carr, sandwiched around a San Francisco three-and-out, to go up 24-13 with 10:43 remaining in the game. The first drive ended with a Carr 9-yard TD pass to Marcel Reece; the second resulted in a 5-yard scoring pass to Mychal Rivera.

It certainly was a topsy-turvy result, considering the 49ers were playing for their playoff lives and were heavy favorites, while the Raiders were coming off a 52-0 loss and have zero chance of winning anything significant this season other than the right to choose first in the 2015 draft.

As longtime Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto tweeted at the time of the Rivera touchdown: “Successive 80-yard TD drives. By Raiders. Against 49ers. Birds now befriend cats, and dogs nuzzle the UPS driver.”

The 49ers then put together a long drive of their own in a bid to get back into the game, but stalled at the Oakland 29-yard-line, where Dawson was wide left on a 47-yard field-goal attempt.

For all intents, the game ended there, fulfilling Carr’s wishes for what he hoped would be a Raiders upset.

“If we could go out and win this one,” he told reporters early in the week, “it would be a fun one to see our fans go crazy.”

The victory earned a Gatorade bath for Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano. It earned 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh more attention for what now seems a certainty: that this will be his last season on the job in San Francisco.

Carr was 22-of-28 for 254 yards, three TDs and no picks. Kaepernick was 18-of-33 for 174 yards, one TD and two interceptions.

Oakland running back Latavius Murray, meanwhile, showed he indeed may be the team’s running back of the future, gaining 76 yards, 13 more than the 49ers’ Frank Gore (12 carries for 63 yards).

Even the Raiders defense put on a better shown than their cross-Bay counterparts, sacking Kaepernick five times in front of a stadium filled with 49ers and Raiders supporters.

Said Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, to the Associated Press, shortly after the decision: "That was nice. Great win for the guys. This is what football's all about, an environment like this."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pats Too Much for Chargers]]> Sun, 07 Dec 2014 20:54:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1207+chargers.jpg

For three quarters, the Chargers played with the best team in the conference. They took everything the New England Patriots had and led by a point.

In the end, Tom Brady and company were just too much, as the Pats pulled out a 23-14 win in front of a raucous crowd at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday night.

The back-breaker came on a Brady pass over the middle to Julian Edelman midway through the fourth quarter. The speedy receiver broke through the Chargers secondary and scampered 69 yards for a touchdown to put New England up 23-14 and put the game out of reach.

Brady finished with 312 passing yards, outplaying counterpart Philip Rivers, who struggled to find open receivers all night. He completed just 18 of 31 passes for 188 yards.

The Chargers seemed to take New England by surprise in the first half, jumping out to a 14-3 advantage.

They jumped out to the lead early in the second quarter when Philip Rivers connected with Malcom Floyd on a beautiful diving 15-yard touchdown catch. Floyd finished with a team-high 54 yards receiving.

The Bolts held the lead through halftime with the help of some uncharacteristic Patriots turnovers.

Jahleel Addae forced a fumble that Darrell Stuckey ran back 53 yards for a score midway through the second quarter. Then rookie Manti Te'o nabbed his first career interception at the goal line as the clock ticked down on the first half.

Both teams had defensive touchdowns called back because of penalties. Shareece Wright blocked a second-quarter field goal that went for a score, but was clearly offside.

In the third quarter, Devin McCourty took an interception back 56 yards, but the play was nullified by Brandon Browner's illegal hit on Chargers tight end Ladarius Green -- who was knocked out of the game with a concussion on the play.

Stephen Gostkowski kicked three field goals for the Pats, including a 38-yarder early in the fourth quarter that put them up for good.

The loss drops the Bolts to 8-5, still squarely in the playoff picture but left with plenty of work to do. The Patriots (10-3) move back into the top spot in the AFC.



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