<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Sports News, Photos, and Scores for the Padres, Chargers and More]]> Copyright 2015 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 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 22:45:59 -0700 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 22:45:59 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Padres Update: Scanlan Breaks Down Dodgers Series]]> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 21:05:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*121/471272928.jpg

The Padres avoided getting swept at home by the Dodgers,but the fact remains: the only two series San Diego has lost this year have been to Los Angeles.

Padres radio color announcer Bob Scanlan, one of the brighest baseball minds in broadcasting today, joined NBC 7's Derek Togerson to talk about the series, the season so far, and where the Padres can go from here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[NFL Draft Preview: Where Have All The Running Backs Gone?]]> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 18:33:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/459044934.jpg

The last time a running back was taken in the first round of the NFL Draft was 2012, when three of them went in the first 32 picks. Trent Richardson was a bust. Doug Martin and David Wilson can't stay healthy (in fact, Wilson is currently out of the league).

So you really can't blame pro football teams from being wary of taking a back too high. But this year that looks like it's going to change.

The college running back class of 2015 looks better than it has in years, with Heisman Trophy finalist Melvin Gordon, Georgia workhorse Todd Gurley, Indiana home run hitter Tevin Coleman, Nebraska speedster Ameer Abdullah, Boise State bruiser Jay Ajayi, the list goes on and on.

The Chargers, quite obviously, need help in the run game. But would they take the plunge and draft a runner that early?

Last time they did was Ryan Mathews, who showed flashes of brilliance but overall was underwhelming and injury-prone.

The time before that was LaDainian Tomlinson, who is arguably the greatest player in franchise history and will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

Before that, you'd have to go to Rod Bernstine back in 1987 to find a 1st-round Chargers running back selection.

NFL teams are more cautious now with drafting running backs, but Chargers general manager Tom Telesco told us recently the talent at the position this year could change the order of things. You can see what he has to say in the video below and check out the latest NBC Sports Pro Football Talk mock draft here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Padres Get Big Win, Avoid Sweep]]> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 20:57:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*121/471265748.jpg

When he was drafted 6th overall by the Mariners in the 2006 MLB Draft, Brandon Morrow was supposed to be an ace. He has the stuff for it. But, while he’s been effective, injuries and bouts of wildness have kept him from truly becoming that front-of-the-rotation starter.

He came to the Padres from Toronto on a one-year deal, hoping to win the 5th starter job in Spring Training. He did that, narrowly beating out Odrsiamer Despaigne, and looked pretty good in his first two starts. But on Sunday at Petco Park, Morrow looked like the man he always knew he could be.

Morrow threw a gem against the Dodgers, helping the Padres avoid a sweep with a 3-1 win. Brandon tossed 7.0 innings, allowing just one run (a solo home run to Alex Guerrero) on five hits, striking out four and only walking one. Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel threw a scoreless inning each to secure Morrow’s first win in a Padres uniform.

Speaking of firsts, the Padres added a few more to a season already flush with them. Shortstop Alexi Amarista hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot off Dodgers starter Scott Baker in the 3rd inning. Catcher Derek Norris provided the rest of the offense. In the fourth he doubled home Matt Kemp to put the Padres up 2-0. Norris has nine doubles this season, tied for second-most in Major League Baseball. No other catcher has more than four doubles.

In the 7th inning, Norris smashed a solo home run down the left field line for his first dinger as a Padre. San Diego avoided being swept by Los Angeles but did suffer its first series loss at home since July of 2014. The Friars had gone 11-0-1 in their last 12 series played at Petco Park.

San Diego falls one game behind the Dodgers in the National League West. The Padres open a 3-game series against the surprisingly good Houston Astros, who are in first place in the American League West, on Monday in the East Village.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carson NFL Stadium Looks Shiny, But Nothing Is New]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:42:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/04-24-2015-carson-nfl-stadium-2.jpg

In this commentary, NBC 7's Derek Togerson offers reasons what to make of the recently released pictures of the proposed Carson Stadium.

Those new renderings of the proposed Carson Stadium that would be built to house the Chargers and Raiders look REALLY cool. I mean, the place has a modern design, spacious open air walkways to enjoy games, even Porsche in the parking lot (for reasons unknown) and a cauldron that spews lightning bolts!!!

Those pictures show a ton of really cool things we’ve never seen before in a stadium. However, the problem is those pictures don’t show many of the really cool things we’ve seen lots of times before in a stadium. You know, the things that actually matter in a stadium because they generate revenue.

Things like luxury boxes. Has anybody seen a list of how many luxury boxes will be included in that beast? Because a lack of luxury boxes is one of the main reasons NFL teams like the Chargers and Raiders want new stadiums. Those things bring in a whole lot of cash.

I can see one big video board above one end zone, but is there one on the other end? Because fans really like to see replays inside the stadiums these days and those fancy high definition screens can really enhance the game-day experience so only having one of them won’t work. Most of the newer stadiums, and even some of the older ones in Buffalo and Kansas City, feature at least one massive screen, but offer other screens as well so people sitting underneath the mammoth can actually see what’s going on.

Also, there’s one sign for a “Bar & Grill” but how are all those people (that’s another thing, what’s the seating capacity?) going to eat? How many restaurants will it have? How many hot dog stands? How many breweries? How many wine bars? And since the Raiders are supposed to be a tenant, where is the working jail and court room going to go? (Don’t laugh at that one; the good folks of Philadelphia really did have a judge every home Sunday for a few years at old Veterans Stadium. They arrested and tried unruly fans right there on the spot. Lincoln Financial Field is able to offer better security so the jail is no longer needed).

These are all questions that will have to be answered before anything else can go down. Heck, these are all things the Chargers and Raiders will be extremely interested in and if those designs don’t live up to their expectations the whole thing will have to be re-done.

When the artistic renderings of Levi’s Stadium came out, they had all that information included. That’s because they KNEW they were going to actually be building a stadium. Ditto the new Minnesota Vikings build. They had all those pesky details like capacity and number of bathrooms worked out.

MANICA Architecture, the firm that’s designing the Carson facility, is conceiving the actual guts of the project, namely all the things just listed, next. That process is expected to take four to six months. Now, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say they didn’t do the whole thing at once because they don’t actually know whether or not the thing is ever actually going to be built.

So Chargers fans, don’t be too worried because of what you see right now. Like a lot of things in Los Angeles, that stadium looks great on the outside, but there’s not much substance inside.



Photo Credit: Manica Architecture
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<![CDATA[Six Players Suspended After Brawl]]> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 01:33:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sale+and+samardzija.jpg

In the aftermath of Thursday’s brawl between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, Major League Baseball has handed out suspensions to six players involved in the fracas.

The White Sox were hit with two of those suspensions, as starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija were each suspended for five games. If the suspensions are upheld after appeal, both pitchers would miss one start for the White Sox.

As for the Royals, a total of four players were hit with bans. Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura was slapped with a seven games suspension, and pitcher Edinson Volquez was suspended for five games. Royals outfield Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Kevin Herrera were also suspended for two games apiece.

Five of the six players that were hit with suspensions were ejected from the game as a result of their actions, with Herrera being the only one not ejected from the game on Thursday.

The two teams have had bad blood simmering this season with beanballs flying between the two sides, but Thursday’s game marked a serious escalation. When Ventura fielded a groundball off the bat of Adam Eaton, he reportedly mouthed a profanity as the outfielder jogged to first base, and that’s when the benches cleared.

After the fight and after the game, Sale reportedly tried to get into the Royals’ clubhouse to have words with Ventura, but former White Sox outfielder Alex Rios (now with the Royals) calmed him down according to reports.

All six players have the option of appealing the suspensions, and if they choose to do so, they will not take effect until after the appeal is heard by MLB.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Light Up Padres Pitching Staff]]> Sat, 25 Apr 2015 21:17:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/471157220.jpg

The Padres bats came alive again at Petco Park, proving they have the ability to overcome a big deficit. The problem is they keep having big deficits to overcome.

The Dodgers blitzed San Diego starter Ian Kennedy on Saturday night, jumping out to leads of 3-0, 6-3, 8-3 and 10-3 en route to an 11-8 win. Kennedy was basically making his first start of the season. He left the Padres home opener on Opening Week with a hamstring injury in the 3rd inning.

Kennedy gave up three runs in the first, a pair coming on an Andre Ethier home run. Ethier was in the starting lineup because Yasiel Puig is nursing a hamstring injury.

San Diego’s offense got Kennedy off the hook once with a 3-run first inning of their own. Facing Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy, Wil Myers hit his first career leadoff home run and Justin Upton smacked a 2-run, opposite field shot to score Matt Kemp and hit the reset button.

But in the 2nd inning, Kennedy missed with a pitch to the wrong guy. Adrian Gonzalez hit a towering 3-run home run to right field, putting L.A. up 6-3. It was the 6th home run Gonzalez has hit in five games against the Padres this year.

Kennedy stayed in the game and made it to the 5th inning, where Howie Kendrick drove a 2-run shot over the wall in straightaway center to put the Dodgers up 8-3. That’s when Padres manager Bud Black went and got Ian, who allowed eight runs on eight hits on the night.

Lefty Chris Rearick relieved Kennedy, and didn’t fare much better. Rearick served up a 2-run shot to Juan Uribe that put the Dodgers up 10-3 in the 5th inning. However, the Padres made it interesting.

They scored four runs in the 6th inning, three of them coming on Upton’s second homer of the game. Justin ripped a 420-foot shot to the beach over the right-center field wall. It’s the 8th multi-homer game of his career and first in a Padres uniform.

In the 7th inning the Padres lost one of their biggest offensive threats when Kemp was ejected by home plate umpire Marty Foster for questioning a strike zone that was fairly inconsistent the majority of the game.

Overall the Padres and Dodgers combined for 13 extra-base hits (7 HR, 5 doubles, 1 triple). On Sunday Los Angeles can finish the 3-game sweep when they send former Padre Joe Wieland to the mound against Brandon Morrow.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Islanders Defeat Capitals, 3-1, Force Game 7]]> Sat, 25 Apr 2015 15:09:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/caps+islanders+game+6.jpg

The New York Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 Saturday, forcing the playoff series to Game 7 in Washington Monday.

The game was rough and marked by big hits, including Alex Ovechkin's hit on John Tavares in the middle of the third period, which led to the Caps losing track of the puck and the Islanders breaking a tie that had lasted most of the game.

The Caps thought they had tied the game again with a goal later in the period, but under review it was clear the puck had hit the crossbar of the goal and had not scored.

The Islanders scored again on an empty goal with less than a minute to go.

The Islanders played with passion in what could still be the last game of professional hockey in their home, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The team moves to Barclays Center next season.

Now, the series returns to Washington for the final game on Monday.

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington for updates on this story.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Suffer A Big Loss]]> Sat, 25 Apr 2015 14:52:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/yoder+2.jpg

The San Diego Padres have the best playing surface in Major League Baseball. That's not just me saying that.

Big leaguers from other clubs who sign with the Padres have mentioned how superior the infield at Petco Park is to other ballparks. The hops are more true, the speed is more consistent.

The man responsible for that is head groundskeeper Luke Yoder. Or at least, it was until now.

In a statement to released to NBC 7 Sportswrap on Saturday, the Padres announced Yoder has left the organization:

"Luke resigned from the Padres to pursue other business ventures. We wish him the best and are thankful for his years of services to the Padres organization."

Yoder has not publicly revealed a reason for the move, but the website www.yoderballfields.com is currently under construction so he may be establishing his own construction or consulting company. His leaving is a huge loss for the Padres, as it would be for any team hoping to enjoy a home field advantage by having playing conditions be as close to perfect as possible.

Luke joined the Padres staff in 2003 and has overseen field preparation every single season at Petco Park. Before coming to San Diego he was working for the Pirates at PNC Park, another of baseball's surfaces.

He also helped the San Diego community in general. Luke helped the University Of San Diego with their infield and mound at the newly designed stadium and has had a hand in upgrading several high schools and little league facilities around the county.

Yoder has even traveled abroad to fix ball fields, recently assisting Korean baseball leagues.

The Padres have not announced who will take Luke's place but whoever it is has some awfully big gardening boots to fill.



Photo Credit: Scott Wachter/The San Diego Padres]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Shut Out By Dodgers]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 22:28:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/167*120/471020572.jpg

This time, there would be no comeback.

The Padres ran in to Dodgers’ ace 1-A Zack Greinke and although San Diego starter Andrew Cashner threw pretty well, the highest-scoring offense in the National League suffered its second shutout of the season in a 3-0 loss to Los Angeles.

Greinke threw 7.0 innings, striking out seven Padres hitters. The only real threat the Friars mounted offensively was in the second inning when the first three batters reached base. But, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Alexi Amarista and Cashner struck out then Wil Myers lined out to second base.

On the mound Cashner was much better than he was in his last start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He went 7.0 innings with six punchouts, allowing just two runs. San Diego’s offense couldn’t back him up, finishing with six hits, five of them singles (Matt Kemp’s 8th inning, 2-out double was the only extra-base hit).

The Dodgers take a 1-game lead over the Padres in the National League West. On Saturday the Padres get Ian Kennedy back off the disabled list to make the start against Brandon McCarthy. Kennedy left his first game of the season after three innings with a hamstring injury.

Speaking of hamstring injuries, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig left Friday night’s game after re-injuring his left hamstring running out a ground ball. The ailment caused Puig to miss four games earlier this season.

The Padres fall to 1-3 against the Dodgers this season and have suffered their first 3-game losing streak on 2015.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Make Roster Moves For Dodgers Series]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:44:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/456395710.jpg

It's about as big as a 3-game series in April can be.

Petco Park. Padres vs. Dodgers. San Diego and Los Angeles tied for first place in the National League West.

If the Padres win the series, it will be HUGE for setting up the rest of the year. But if they lose another set to the prohibitive division favorites ... well, that would be bad. The Padres have heard one of baseball's old sayings far too often.

"You can't win a division in April, but you can lose it," said 3rd baseman Will Middlebrooks.

"You can't win a pennant in April, but you can lose a pennant in April," said catcher Derek Norris, in a completely different conversation.

For the last four years the Padres have, indeed, lost the division in April, so this is a welcome change.

The Padres made a roster move getting ready for the series against the Dodgers. Relief pitcher Shawn Kelley, who has taken two of the team's seven losses, went on the 15-day disabled list with a left calf strain. In his place, the Friars recalled Kevin Quackenbush from Triple-A El Paso.

Quack has actually trimmed his signature beard, cutting it nearly in half. So was it a superstition or team-building kind of thing that led to the change?

"Nah, it was just a fresh start," said Quackenbush. "Starting new."

Another something new will be the crowd. The Padres expect a majority of Padres fans to show up on all three days, something that has not happened very often in recent years as Dodgers fans have made Petco Park a version of Chavez Ravine South.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bolts' Counsel Gives Realities Of Stadium Gamesmanship]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:35:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/new+carson+stadium+renderings+0423+%284%29.jpg

NBC 7's Gene Cubbison offers this analysis on the latest developments behind the Chargers stadium scramble.

For civic leaders focused on keeping the Chargers in San Diego, there’s a big disconnect with the team's point man in its quest for a new stadium.

Since February, when news broke about the Bolts’ plans in the city of Carson, Mark Fabiani has offered increasingly blunt perspective on where the franchise is coming from, and why it might wind up elsewhere.

Forget about football being a "contact sport".

As a virtual monopoly business enterprise, the NFL plays a collision sport – and the notion of collaboration between the Chargers and city has been sitting on the bench lately.

But Fabiani, special counsel to team president Dean Spanos since 2003, says Spanos isn't looking for mere riches in the Los Angeles market.

It's about the economic survival of the franchise.

"We were approached by the people who sold their land to (St. Louis Rams owner) Stan Kroenke in Inglewood,” Fabiani noted in a Friday recording session for this weekend’s edition of NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking” program.

“We've had multiple opportunities to move the team; Dean hasn't wanted to do it,” Fabiani continued. “But at some point, after 14 years, with other teams threatening to take away the LA, Orange County markets -- if this were your business, you wouldn't sit by and let that happen."

The latest development in the long-running melodrama is new renderings of the Chargers/Raiders joint-use stadium project in the city of Carson.

Fabiani said the teams are now closing escrow on an outright purchase of the 168-acre former dumpsite, since the proposal was approved by Carson’s city council on Tuesday.

He emphasized that all financial risks are being assumed by the team, with guidance from investment bankers at Goldman Sachs.

In the eyes of his many detractors, Fabiani has been playing both ends against the middle between here and the L.A. market -- sacrificing good will, if not dealing in bad faith, and ignoring polls that suggest the Bolts will flop if they leave for a fan base seemingly more partial to the Rams and Raiders.

"(The polls) do not match the scientific research we've done,” he countered. “And again, we're taking the risk here. If we're wrong about this, it's the team that will be hurt financially. So we have to be one thousand percent confident, and we are."

Fabiani shrugged off suspicions that the Chargers' game plan in Carson is a decoy -- that a second berth in an Inglewood stadium complex is the way out of San Diego, if need be.

"People are free to think what they want; we're not in a position to talk them out of what they think,” he said. “ There's only one group of people that really matters here."

Reality check for Bolts-backers fanatic about their blue and gold-clad heroes of the gridiron?

"The team has more than satisfied the (NFL’s) relocation guidelines,” Fabiani pointed out. “And that's the only thing we care about in the end -- what do they owners think of what you've done?"

Fabiani wouldn't pre-judge whether the Mission Valley financing plan being developed by the mayor's stadium advisers would work.

The group is due to release its report on May 20th.

He hedged, however, with this cautionary note: "We've hired the best experts in the world; we couldn't figure it out in Mission Valley. Now that doesn't mean that a brand-new set of eyes can't come into this and figure it out in a different way. If they do, we'll be the happiest people in the world."

As for how much money the Chargers have invested in Carson, Fabiani wouldn’t say -- calling the numbers “propriety” information that the team would rather not be known to Kroenke.

He was asked if Spanos is ready to risk the bitter legacy that other NFL owners have reaped in cities they moved their teams out of.

"Nobody wants that,” Fabiani replied, quickly adding that he and Spanos – and their families -- “love it here".

The clear upshot?

It’s about business, plain and simple.

This isn’t the National Friendship League.
 



Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture ]]>
<![CDATA[Architect Shows New Mock-ups of Carson Stadium]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 20:52:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/new+carson+stadium+renderings+0423+%281%29.jpg In a bold new play, Carson officials released new renderings for what a stadium would look like if the Chargers and Raiders migrated to the LA area. NBC 7's Gene Cubbison reports.

Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture ]]>
<![CDATA[Bettor's Guide to the Kentucky Derby]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:49:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP718172799342.jpg

Fancy putting down a wager on the Kentucky Derby but don't want to look like a novice when you place your bet?

American Pharoah remains the current favorite to win the Run for the Roses on May 2 (watch it live on NBC from 4 p.m.) with odds of 2:1, with Dortmund (9:2) and Carpe Diem (7:1) also heavily favored. Last year's winner, California Chrome, entered the race as the favorite at 5:2.

American Pharoah has won both the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby so far in 2015, with Dortmund having picked up victories in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, the San Felipe Stakes, and the Santa Anita Derby. Carpe Diem is coming off wins in the Tampa Bay Derby and the Toyota Blue Grass.

For all you inexperienced bettors out there, here's a quick guide to betting on the Kentucky Derby that'll have you sounding like a serious handicapper by the time American Pharoah approaches the starting gate.

DECODING THE LINGO

Odds-on many racing newcomers may not know what the odds actually mean. Whenever there are two numbers (e.g., 2:1 for American Pharoah at time of writing) displayed on a tote board at a racetrack or on a list of wager options, the first number (2) denotes the minimum amount of profit the wager will pay. The second number (1) is the amount you need to wager to win the first amount.

Once the final finishing places of a race are official, the track will post the prices of the winning wagers. In the above example, the horse will pay $2. The track will then add the $2 profit and the $1 wager together to derive the payout: $2 + $1 = $3. Dortmund at 9:2 would therefore pay $11 on a $2 bet.

If a horse is quoted with only a single digit, it is implied that the missing second number is a 1. In other words, a 7 on the tote board means 7:1. So if you made a $2 wager, a bet on a horse with 7:1 odds would pay $16. That's because 7:1 is the same as 14:2, so $14 + $2 = $16. (In betting on horse races, payouts are generally based on a $2 wager.)

Now that the odds makes sense, it’s time to decide the type of wager you want to make. Here are some of the most popular bets:

Win Your horse must finish first to collect.

Place Your horse must finish first or second to collect.

Show Your horse must finish first, second or third to collect.

Exacta You play two horses, and they must come in first and second in the exact order specified in order to collect.

Exacta Box You play two horses, as above, but here they must come in first and second in either order to collect.

Trifecta You play three horses, and to win, they must come in first, second and third in exact order to collect.

Trifecta Box You play three horses, and they must finish first, second and third in any order to collect.

Superfecta You play four horses, and they must come in first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

Superfecta Box You play four horses, and to win they must finish first, second, third and fourth in any order.

 

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

But novice bettors need to take into account more than just the odds for the Kentucky Derby. To further boost your chances of making a winning bet on May 2, you should also consider the following:

Distance: The Kentucky Derby is run over a distance of a mile and a quarter. Some horses are bred for distance and are usually better candidates than one without a lineage of success at long races that place a premium on endurance.

Weather/Track Condition If there is a chance for bad weather and/or an off track, it’s essential to consider that when handicapping the race. To measure a horse’s ability in this type of race, take a quick look at his past performances, and see if he has any experience on a muddy or sloppy track.

Coverage of the 141st Kentucky Derby will air live Saturday May 2 starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Carson Stadium Mock-Ups]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 20:47:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/new+carson+stadium+renderings+0423+%281%29.jpg The plan for a $1.7 billion joint stadium in Carson got a overhaul this week as MANICA Architecture released their latest renderings on April 23, 2015.

Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture ]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Chargers GM Reveals 2015 NFL Draft Philosophy]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:48:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/248*120/Telesco+3.jpg

Aside from all the talk about whether or not the Chargers will be trading Philip Rivers or not re-signing Philip Rivers or trying to acquire Marcus Mariota to learn under Philip Rivers, the Chargers do have several other things to address before the NFL Draft starts on April 30.

Namely, what to do if they don’t make a deal and just hang on to their six scheduled picks.

“We’ve got things narrowed down,” said general manager Tom Telesco. “Right now it’s a lot of going through different scenarios of, what could happen and if that happened, what would we do? We try and make those decisions now so when we’re on the clock we’re not making decisions at that point.”

Telesco outlined the team’s preparation for the event, which includes a lot of role playing. They don’t want anything to take them by surprise.

“Obviously, with 31 other teams, it takes some time,” said Telesco about the process. “We’ll sit around the table and just discuss the board and discuss what could happen.”

The Chargers have obvious needs at defensive line and running back, and another pass rusher would be a good idea, as well. However, the Bolts can’t tell us right now what position group they will address at what time.

"We don't rank our needs. We have specific areas on the field we want to add to."

Let’s start with the spot most people expect the Bolts to address early: running back. There has not been a back taken in the first round by any team since 2012. This year, however, with the likes of Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon available, that is going to change.

But those two marquee names are not the only ones with a chance to make an impact in the offensive backfield.

"It's a good group,” said Telesco. “It’s a group that has a little bit of everything. I’d say there are more backs this year that have size than other years. There are some players, I would say, rounds 1-4, who have a really good chance of not only making a team but of being a starter one day."

What about pass rushers, specifically the guys on the edge? Predictably, it’s …

“… another good group. They’re, on average, not the biggest group, but they’ve got some pass rush ability. It seems like there are a lot of them this year and it seems like, as we move forward there’s been more and more pass rushers coming out. I don’t know if that’s got something to do with college and what they’re doing but it is a pretty athletic group on the edge this year.”

According to Telesco, that applies to both a 3-4 outside linebacker or a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, and it makes sense given the spread offenses and prolific passing attacks we’re seeing throughout college football. One position that we’re not seeing as much depth at is nose tackle, something the Chargers will be looking at as a possible first round selection.

That is, as long as the right kind of guy presents himself.

“If that nose can rush the passer on 3rd down then they’re fine. If it’s a nose that’s just a run-down player he may be coming down a little bit because this league is throwing more now than it did 10 years ago.”

Two things that will alter the way the Chargers approach this year’s Draft at positions of need are:

1)    The return of Danny Woodhead from a broken leg.
2)    The improvement of Ryan Carrethers at nose tackle.

Woodhead speaks for himself. He’s a guy who can play on any down and is effective in the running and passing games, something that was sorely missed most of the 2014 season.

Carrethers had just started to play well when his rookie year was cut short by an elbow injury. Still, he caught the attention of Telesco and the coaching staff.

“Of our rookie group, as far as from OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) to the middle of the season, he took the biggest jump of all our rookies,” said Telesco. “He has a natural ability to use his hands, get off blocks, and find the football. He has that instinct, and we can’t teach that. You either have it or you don’t. We’re looking for even bigger strides with him this year.”

In the last couple of years, the Chargers knew they HAD to get an offensive lineman or a defensive back. This year, they have a few different options, and that’s good because it means progress is being made.


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<![CDATA[Meet a Special Yearling at Winstar Farms]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:27:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.22.27+PM.png Audrina returns to Winstar Farms to meet the yearling she helped deliver just last year. ]]> <![CDATA[Chargers GM Answers Philip Rivers Questions]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:22:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Tom-Telesco-0422.jpg

The NFL Draft begins in eight days. So of course, when Chargers general manager Tom Telesco addressed the San Diego media on Wednesday morning, he knew exactly what everyone wanted to hear.

Without even being prompted, Teleso’s opening statement pointed a spotlight at the elephant in the room.

"I'll give a Philip Rivers update: there really isn't any," said Telesco. "It’s the same thing I’ve been saying the last four months. Philip is our quarterback and it’s our plan an intent that he’s our quarterback well in to the future. He’s been here working hard every day with his team mates, being the leader that he is. I know he’s really excited about this season, as are we."

With that, the questions about Philip Rivers came anyway. Such as, if Philip is their quarterback, why did they fly all the way to Oregon to work out Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota?

“That’s just kind of what we do,” said Telesco. “In player evaluation you’re never going to be 100-percent right, but we will be 100-percent right in the preparation. When it comes to quarterbacks, we just have to scout them a little bit differently, there’s a lot more that goes in to it. It’s not something new.”

So how about a trade? Are the Chargers actively looking in to dealing their franchise QB? One this point, Telesco was insistent.

"I've been crystal clear about what our intentions are with Philip Rivers."

Well then, have the Tennessee Titans asked about the possibility of a trade involving Rivers and the number two overall pick in the Draft?

“I’m gonna leave that go.”

So that would suggest the possibility of a trade has been discussed, even if was originated in Nashville instead of San Diego. Internally, have the Chargers talked in their building about any scenario that would involve trading the number 17 overall pick in a package to move up to the number two overall pick?

“No.”

Oh course, that does not mean zero trade scenarios have been discussed, only that the Bolts have not probed the possibility of sending their pick to Tennessee for their pick. But, Telesco did not rule out the possibility of a trade in some capacity on Draft day.

“I like picking where we are at 17,” said Telesco. “I think we can get a difference-making player there. I also think we have the flexibility to go up or down if need-be.”

Telesco also briefly addressed another pending Chargers free agent, safety Eric Weddle, who said this week he is not taking part in this week’s voluntary off-season workout program for the first time because he has been asking the team about a contract extension to no avail.

Telesco’s response was, there is a time table for everything in this business, and they haven’t reached that part of the program yet.

“On our calendar, our heavy focus in March is for signing players of our own team with expiring contracts and then looking to sign players from other teams with their expiring contracts. The focus in April is the Draft. Once you get in to May, June, July before training camp, that’s when you start looking at extending some players and we’ve got a number of players here that we’ll be looking to about extensions and he’ll certainly be one of them.”

Telesco then gave Weddle the same compliment he’s been giving to Rivers.

"We're a better team with Eric and I hope he's here for a long time to come."

Now, all of this could be a smoke screen. NFL front offices are notorious for being shady, if not outright misleading, in their dealings with the media, especially when the Draft is involved. However, Telesco, who was for the most part upbeat and even playful during the near half-hour meeting, was more forthright than many of his colleagues. He has a very good reason for not lying in public.

“I’m Catholic, I tell the truth,” said Tom, smiling and then expanding with, "I'm not going to lie straight out to you but there are things I can't be as detailed about as we’d like to be.”

For many Chargers fans, this season … and the future of this franchise in San Diego … could use a few successful Hail Marys.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Gear Up For the Big Day at the Spiral Stakes]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:33:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.43.01+PM.png Meet the horses, jockeys and owners at the Spiral Stakes as we gear up for the Kentucky Derby. ]]> <![CDATA[Train to Be a Jockey With the Pros]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:22:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.07.16+PM.png We're at the North American Racing Academy to learn how to be a professional jockey. ]]> <![CDATA[Padres Lose to Rockies 5-4 ]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:17:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/470753268.jpg

San Diego Padres' attempts to pull off a third win against the Colorado Rockies were in vain as they fell to their rivals 5-4 at Coors Field Wednesday night. 

The Friars opened the night tied for first place in the National League West and jumped out to an early lead, like they have the entire series thusfar.

Yangervis Solarte hit his second homerun of the season, a solo shot in the first inning.

But the Rockies rebounded by pushing two runs across in the bottom half of the first off the Padres ace on the hill, James Shields.

He faired pretty well going six innings and allowing just three runs in the friendly hitting ballpark.

Shields, however was not around for the decision. Padres were nursing a 4-3 lead going into the 8th inning, but Joaquin Benoit gave up a solo homerun to Corey Dickerson, his second solo homerun of the game. He went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs.

Shawn Kelley got the loss for the Friars; he’s now 0-2 in the 2015 campaign.

San Diego is now 10-6 on the season. They will close out the series on Thursday against Colorado at 12:10 p.m. before heading home to host the Dodgers for a three-game series starting on Friday night at 7:10 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scientists Create Algae-Based Sustainable Surfboard]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:45:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Algae+surfboard.jpg

San Diego scientists say they have created the world’s first algae-based sustainable surfboard.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and Arctic Foam, an Oceanside Company, made the polyurethane foam core and glassed the board before presenting it to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer before Earth Day.

The project began several months ago when undergraduate biology students collaborated with chemistry students to solve a simple question: how do you make the precursor of a surfboard’s foam core from algae oil? Most surfboards today are made exclusively from petroleum.

Steven Mayfield, a professor of biology and algae geneticist at UCSD, lead researchers when making the board. Mayfield and his team worked to chemically change the oil obtained from laboratory algae and morph them into types of “polyols” to produce the core of the new surfboard.

“In the future, we’re thinking about 100 percent of the surfboard being made that way—the fiberglass will come from renewable resources, the resin on the outside will come from a renewable resource,” Mayfield said in a statement.

The board was built at Arctic Foam’s headquarters in Ensenada, Mexico and brought to Oceanside. It looks just like other surfboards, Mayfield said, but because of the material it is built from, is sustainable.

Mayfield, a surfer himself, said he and others have been faced with the sustainability contradiction when on the water. His connection to the ocean requires a surfboard made of petroleum, an unsustainable board.

“This shows that we can still enjoy the ocean, but do so in an environmentally sustainable way,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield said they hoped Faulconer would display the board so others would see how the city could be a hub for innovation and collaboration on many levels. 

“It perfectly fits with the community and our connection with the ocean and surfing," Mayfield said. "And it also shows the biotechnology and innovation that we can bring to bear here in San Diego in a very collaborative way.”



Photo Credit: Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers 2015 Schedule: Game By Game Breakdown]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 07:14:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Weddle+Tunnel.jpg

Since April is usually the best time to predict what’s going to happen during an NFL season, now that the Chargers schedule has been released it makes perfect sense to go game-by-game and find out just how the 2015 season will unfold.

Remember, last year we were all pretty sure the Bolts needed to have at least seven wins in their first 11 games, then go 3-2 through the gauntlet that was their final five games. They did the former, but finished 2-3 when just one more win would have put them in the playoffs.

So, obviously this IS an exact science and you can take the following prognostication to Las Vegas (but I reserve the right to claim 30-percent of all winnings while not being responsible in any capacity for any losses). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a glimpse in to the future:

WEEK 1 vs. Lions

Detroit’s rebuilt defensive line is no match for San Diego’s rebuilt offensive line, mostly because the Chargers unit actually gets better. Haloti Ngata is amazing but he’s no Ndamukong Suh. The Chargers debut new running back Tevin Coleman, who goes for 92 yards and a touchdown, and the Bolts narrowly absorb a giant day from Megatron to win a shootout.

Final Score: Chargers 34, Lions 31 (San Diego 1-0)

WEEK 2 at Bengals

Cincinnati is always a complete question mark early in the season. They have the ability to beat the 1985 Bears, or lose to the 2008 Lions. Cincy is playing its first game at home (in an interesting scheduling anomaly, this will be the 6th straight season Cincinnati’s first game is a road game). The Bengals have won four of their last five home openers, including the last three. As much as I don’t like Andy Dalton’s ability to win a game against a top-tier quarterback, the Bengals win a scrapper.

Final Score: Bengals 24, Chargers 20 (San Diego 1-1)

WEEK 3 at Vikings

The last time the Chargers played a game in Minnesota, running back Adrian Peterson ran for an NFL-record 296 yards. This time, the Bolts have no idea if they’ll be facing A.D., but they do know they’ll be running up against former their head coach and current Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Need I say more?

Final Score: Chargers 27, Vikings 18 (San Diego 2-1)

WEEK 4 vs. Browns

It doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback for Cleveland (and whoever that is, new QB coach Kevin O’Connell is going to help the Browns passing attack this year), they’re not going to score many points in 2015. However, they’re also not going to allow many points either. It won’t be pretty but the Bolts will secure a winning record in the first quarter of the season.

Final Score: Chargers 23, Browns 13 (San Diego 3-1)

WEEK 5 vs. Steelers (MNF)

Pittsburgh in San Diego is always a fun time. Putting it in prime time just ratchets up the intensity. The last time the Steelers came to town was in 2006 in another game played under the lights. That night Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes, one to Antonio Gates and one to Malcom Floyd. Why not run that one back, especially since future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu won’t be around to wreck the Chargers game plan.

Final Score: Chargers 26, Steelers 24 (San Diego 4-1)

WEEK 6 at Packers

The Bolts head to Lambeau Field on a roll, feeling really good about themselves. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t care. He does not lose at home. Over the last two years, Green Bay has lost two times in Wisconsin. The last time Rodgers threw an interception at home was on December 2nd. Of 2012. Since then he’s thrown 36 touchdowns and zero picks. That’s not going to change this week.

Final Score: Packers 41, Chargers 31 (San Diego 4-2)

WEEK 7 vs. Raiders

Finally, seven weeks in, the Bolts see their first division opponent. Oakland is improving, there is no denying that. But they have such a huge gap to bridge; it’s going to take some time. In the type of game that’s become typical in this rivalry, the Chargers get a couple of scores, kick a couple of field goals, and hold on for dear life against a game Raiders club.

Final Score: Chargers 18, Raiders 16 (San Diego 5-2)

WEEK 8 at Ravens

These two played one of the most entertaining games of the 2014 season in November, with the Chargers winning by a point. Philip Rivers led a second half comeback that was so impressive, former Ravens WR/KR Jacoby Jones talked about it at his introductory press conference in San Diego. This will be an interesting season in Baltimore with several new pieces in place. It’s always come together under John Harbaugh, and there’s no reason to expect that to change in 2015. Going back to 2006, the Chargers have played the Ravens six times with this pattern: L, W, L, W, L, W. It’s Baltimore’s turn.

Final Score: Ravens 30, Chargers 24 (San Diego 5-3)

WEEK 9 vs. Bears (MNF)

Jay Cutler is a disaster. I’m going to go ahead and assume he’ll still be Chicago’s starting QB by Week 9 but who really knows? New head coach John Fox will have the Bears playing much better than they have in recent years, but the discrepancy is too great for them to really contend in this game. The Chargers win another prime time matchup against a team with a rich history thanks to Philip Rivers (yes, I’m assuming he’ll still be in San Diego, too) outguns Cutler, one of his best friends in football (that is sarcasm).

Final Score: Chargers 37, Bears 24 (San Diego 6-3)

WEEK 10 BYE

The Bolts get to take a week off and have all of us media folks ask the same questions we’ve been asking for the last 10 years.

Final Count On Us Asking “Does The Bye Week Come At A Good Time?”: 73 (San Diego Media 0-1)

WEEK 11 vs. Chiefs (NBC’s Sunday Night Football)

Perhaps feeling they’ll never have a chance to do a game in San Diego again, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth make their pilgrimage to Mission Valley to regale us all with tales of just how big a dump Qualcomm Stadium is. In between the stories, they’ll talk about a game between two teams who have played some awfully entertaining games in recent years. Kansas City won both last year. San Diego won both in 2013. This year, with the Bolts’ improved running game, they’ll be able to take a close, hard-hitting affair.

Final Score: Chargers 23, Chiefs 21 (San Diego 7-3)

WEEK 12 at Jaguars

Blake Bortles made his first career NFL start last year against the Chargers in San Diego. He made enough plays to give Jacksonville fans hope for the future, but that future is not now. The Jags are still a far inferior opponent and while the Bolts have been known to give away winnable games like this, it’s not going to happen this time.

Final Score: Chargers 26, Jaguars 20 (San Diego 8-3)

WEEK 13 vs. Broncos

Here’s where the fun begins. The Chargers play four of their last five games against division opponents, with two of them against the 4-time defending AFC West champions from Denver. New Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak has always been good at working with quarterbacks. He put Matt Schaub in the Pro Bowl and won a playoff game with TJ Yates. Oh, he was also the 49ers quarterbacks coach when Steve Young threw six touchdown passes in the Super Bowl. When he called plays for John Elway, Denver won a pair of Super Bowls. Now he’s going to be calling them for Peyton Manning. The difference is, this time he doesn’t have a running back like Terrell Davis to carry the load. The Bolts have not beaten the Broncos at home since 2010. That skid finally ends.

Final Score: Chargers 27, Broncos 23 (San Diego 9-3)

WEEK 14 at Chiefs

The NFL is really starting to like putting the Bolts at Arrowhead late in the season. This makes three straight years the trip will come after Thanksgiving. On the same field where the 2014 Chargers season ended, the Bolts have trouble stopping Jamaal Charles and getting off the field, suffering another setback. However, this one doesn’t have the same impact as 2014.

Final Score: Chiefs 26, Chargers 17 (San Diego 9-4)

WEEK 15 vs. Dolphins

San Diego’s final home game of the year comes against a team that has had their number recently. A year ago in Miami, the Dolphins embarrassed the Chargers in a 37-nothing whuppin’. This time the Dolphins come to San Diego with Ndamukong Suh in tow. This is usually a bad matchup for the Bolts, but this is also the time of year when Joe Philbin’s teams start to fall apart. Advantage: San Diego. Kicker Nick Novak drills five field goals, including a game-winning 54 yarder on the game’s final play, to push the Bolts to a perfect home record.

Final Score: Chargers 22, Dolphins 20 (San Diego 10-4)

WEEK 16 at Raiders (TNF)

Strange things tend to happen when the Chargers and Raiders play in Oakland at night. Remember a couple of years ago, in 2013, when an afternoon game was pushed to Sunday night because of an A’s playoff series, Terrelle Pryor looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback, and the Bolts inexplicably lost? Or the year before when they opened on a Monday Night and All-Planet punter Shane Lechler had a punt blocked for the first time in six years? Expect something nutty like that again the time around. In fact, expect Corey Liuget to sack Derek Carr in the end zone for the game’s only points.

Final Score: Chargers 2, Raiders 0 (San Diego 11-4)

WEEK 17 at Denver

Both the Chargers and Broncos will have their playoff spots locked up, but the division will be up for grabs in the final game of the year so there will be none of that old resting your entire first unit nonsense. Manning’s offensive line, which is not as good as it’s been in recent years, can’t protect the aging passer as well as he needs and the Bolts win another close one to secure the AFC West Championship for the first time since 2009.

Final Score: Chargers 23, Broncos 20 (San Diego 12-4)

Break out your bolo ties and get ready for another home game at The Q. This is going to be a wild ride.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Poinsettia Bowl Gets Date – and Fireworks]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 13:37:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/AP900173523933.jpg

The 2015 San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) Poinsettia Bowl will go down two days before Christmas – and will be followed by a big, post-game fireworks show, organizers revealed Wednesday.

The Poinsettia Bowl will kick off at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23. The game will feature a bowl-eligible Army taking on a team from the Mountain West Conference. It’ll be televised on ESPN.

After the game, the fireworks will fly with an elaborate pyrotechnics show dubbed “Stadium Spectacular 2015,” produced by Pyro Spectaculars by Souza.

“What SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl fans will see will be bigger, more powerful and more creative than any show they have ever seen,” said Pyro Spectaculars President and Chief Creative Director James Souza in a media release.

The fireworks show will be sponsored by KyXy 96.5/Energy 103.7 and San Diego 6 the CW.

San Diego Bowl Game Association President Kimberley Layton said the fireworks extravaganza will be unlike any other.

“Football fans will be in for a memorable day on December 23rd,” said Layton. “Stadium Spectacular 2015 will set a new standard for fireworks entertainment in the United States. It doesn’t get any better than exciting college football two days before Christmas followed by a post-game show you will have to see to believe.”

View level seats to the game are $20, while other seats range from $35 to $70. Family four-packs are also available for a better deal. Pre-sale tickets are available now by calling the Bowl office at (619) 285-5061. The general public ticket sale begins online on Nov. 1.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Greg Hardy Suspended for 10 Games]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:57:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/greg-hardy-jason-garrett.jpg

Dallas Cowboys fans will have to wait quite awhile to see defensive end Greg Hardy on the field.

The NFL announced Wednesday that Hardy has been suspended 10 games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league.

Hardy was informed of the suspension in a letter from league commissioner Roger Goodell, which detailed the findings of the two-month investigation into Hardy’s case that followed his last court appearance.

"This suspension is something that we anticipated prior to Greg's signing, and we respect the Commissioner's ruling," said Jerry Jones. "Our organization understands the very serious nature of this matter. We will use our resources --work closely with Greg and with the league -- to ensure a positive outcome."

According to a report by The Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys and NFL are now awaiting an appeal by Hardy to see if he can get the 10-game penalty reduced.

Hardy was found guilty of assault on a female and communicating threats in a bench trial last July, but he appealed and was granted a jury trial. When that jury trial was set to begin in February, the prosecution couldn’t locate the accuser and the charges were dismissed.

The next month, Hardy signed an incentive-heavy, one-year deal with the Cowboys, who of course were well aware that the 2013 Pro Bowler was facing league discipline.

Now, Hardy is set to make his Cowboys debut on Thanksgiving Day against his old team, the Carolina Panthers.
 

]]>
<![CDATA[Race to the Triple Crown]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:49:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/orb-wins.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Blackhawks Give Fans Late-to-Work Excuse Note ]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 08:41:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Blackhawks-Predators-21-April-2015.jpg

For many diehard Blackhawks fans, Tuesday night’s game was filled with excitement, suspense, and a lot of yawns.

The game, which ended early Wednesday morning after Brent Seabrook scored the winning goal in triple overtime, lasted nearly five hours and had many fans staying up well beyond their bedtimes to watch.

For the many fans likely wishing they could call in “hockey,” er "late," to work, the Blackhawks have you covered.

The team tweeted out an excuse note signed by “The Chicago Blackhawks” to excuse any lateness or sleepiness for those who were “up too late celebrating the win.”

For that, and for the glorious goal that ended Game 4 with a big win, many Hawks fans say “Thank you.”



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Seven Ways to Fake Being a Racing Expert]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:33:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP233467296026.jpg

You're not a horse racing expert, but you can act like one for the Kentucky Derby.

Amid all the hats, the mint juleps and the gambling, the real focus May 2 will be on the potential for something historic, as a narrowing field of elite young racehorses aims for the first Triple Crown victory in 37 years.

Don't know the first thing about horse racing? It doesn't matter. These seven tricks will help you get in on the spectacle as though you do.

1. Learn the lingo, and use it liberally.

You'll actually get to know something about racing later. For now, just pepper your comments with some jargon.

Before the race, check out race handicappers' predictions, check the tote board for the odds and watch the horses head from the paddock to their posts. Once the race begins, listen to the call, or the horses' running positions — but don't expect to have the foggiest idea what the caller is saying. (Don't worry, the race will only take a few minutes.)

A horse that's a closer runs his best later in a race, a stayer or router is good at running distances and a front-runner runs best at the head of the field. A horse is pinched back if it's held in close quarters, and if it's boxed in it's shut off or pocketed.

Horses' distances from each other in the stretch, or the last straight section of track, are measured by a head, e.g., the length of a horse's head. At the finish line, a photo finish is so close the finish-line camera has to figure out who won, and a dead heat is an exact tie. A horse finishes on the board if he's one of the first four to finish.

2. Know what's at stake, and tell everybody else.

You probably already know that only 11 horses have ever pulled off the feat of winning all three legs of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The last to manage it was Affirmed, back in 1978.

You might also know that since 1978, 11 have won the the first two legs only to flame out at Belmont. That was the case last year, when California Chrome fell short in the 1.5-mile, tough-to-handicap race that's often called the "Test of the Champion," with good reason.

There's plenty that can go wrong for a would-be Triple Crown winner: A great horse can get pocketed or pinched back, especially in the Derby's and the Preakness' crowded fields.

Or, in the Belmont, it can be overcome by better-rested rivals that ran in Louisville, then skipped the Preakness. Other horses have had their hopes dashed by jockey error at Belmont, where jockeys' tactics play a bigger role and riders may be tempted to accelerate too early in the comparatively long race.

3. Handicap the race yourself. (Remember that term?)

You can't feign some authority on horse racing without concocting a fervently held opinion on which horse will win.

Which horse has home-track advantage? What's its breeding like — geared for speed, or distance, or something else? What sort of races has it been running lately? Has it had any injuries? Who trains it?

The field for the Kentucky Derby is still shaping up. But more than a week out from the race, American Pharoah looks like a probable favorite, and Dortmund remains undefeated.

4. Bet on it.

Nothing screams "I know what I'm doing!" like advising your friends on how to spend their money, right? Right — well, as long as your friends aren't big gamblers. In that case, pay close attention.

Use Colin Bertram's primer to get a handle on what horses' odds mean and what they don't. Remember, a horse's odds reflect not how likely it is to win but how heavily other people are betting or expected to bet on it to win.

Once you've picked your favorites from the field of contenders and decided what kind of bet you want to make, examine the morning-line odds, which predict what people will probably bet on each horse. (The odds will change once betting actually has begun.)

The first number tells you how much profit your bet will get you should you win, and the second tells you how much you must bet to get it. If the horse you pick has 3-5 odds at the time of writing, that means you have to bet $5 in order to win $3 profit, so if you bet $10 and your horse wins, you'll get back $16.

5. Trot down Memory Lane.

Recall those halcyon days of horse racing — you know, when the only other sports worth their salt were baseball and boxing, and when your parents hadn't even met yet.

The mechanics of horse racing have changed plenty over the decades. Wealthy dynastic families ruled breeding, not commercial breeders, and as a result, horses were bred for stamina. Today, they're bred for speed.

But most fundamentally, horse racing doesn't have nearly the fan base it did in its heyday, back before pro football, pro basketball, casinos and, well, the internet horned in on its popularity. At racing's zenith, the track was the automatic mecca for gamblers.

6. Honor the greats.

Now you get to the really fun part of exercising your newfound authority: Breathlessly regaling your friends with tales of great races of yore as though you were there.

Bloviate about Secretariat's astounding 1973 Triple Crown, which he won by an unheard-of margin of 31 lengths. As the victor crossed the finish, the runner-up couldn't even fit on the television screen.

Wonder what would have happened if Man o' War, ranked the 20th century's best by Blood-Horse magazine and The Associated Press, had ever run for the Triple Crown. It wasn't around yet when Man o' War raced in the early 20th century, though he did sire some Triple Crown horses.

Reminisce about Kelso, who ran in the early '60s until he was 9 years old. Now all the Belmont contenders are 3-year-olds, and most horses are retired soon after that age to stud duty, which is far more lucrative than racing. (That was impossible for Kelso, who was a gelding, or castrated horse.)

Wax poetic about legendary filly Ruffian — even Secretariat's trainer said she might be better than his most famous horse — whose career was cut tragically short by a broken leg at Belmont in 1975. (You can still pay your respects at her grave at Belmont.)

7. Get ambitious.

If you really want to boost your expert cred, do your homework, and stake out a controversial stance or two. Read up, and weigh in, on hot-button topics like horse breeding habits, nasal strips and the sport's undeniable decline in recent decades, and what could reverse it.

Steve Coburn, the co-owner of last year's Triple Crown contender California Chrome, has grumbled that the growing numbers of Derby contenders that sit out the Preakness before returning for the Belmont have made Triple Crown wins all but impossible. He wants the rules tweaked so that only colts that run the Preakness can compete at Belmont.

He said last year that if his horse didn't win the Triple Crown — which it didn't — he doubted he'd ever see another winner. "There are people out there trying to upset the apple cart," he said. "They don't want a Triple Crown winner. They want a paycheck."

Indeed, the decades-long Triple Crown drought, and the sport's waning popularity, have encouraged talk of tinkering with the format and timing of the three key races, and not just among figures who have, quite literally, a horse in the race. Weigh in on what you think should be done, too.

But don't limit your expressions of your newfound expertise to such existential hand-wringing.

Try picking an underdog to root for Saturday. When you place your bet, try a superfecta, naming the top four horses in the order you expect them to place.

And whatever other stories you tell your friends, make sure to leave room for one still in the making: the first time you bluffed your way through the Triple Crown.

Just wait until the next big race to tell it. By then, you might actually be an expert.

 

This story has been updated from an earlier version.



Photo Credit: AP]]>