Sports, Stanford

Stanford Women's Soccer Against Florida State

Friday night, Rae and I attended the Women’s NCAA Quarterfinals Soccer match between the Stanford Cardinal and the Florida State Seminoles. Coming into the game, the Stanford Women’s team was undefeated this year with a record of 21-0-2. They are the prohibitive favorite in this year’s tournament, which concludes in Cary, North Carolina, this week. I remember reading about the loss to undefeated North Carolina last year in the finals, 1-0. I hope this year they can run the table and take home the prize!

Growing up, I played soccer as a kid. I think every boy dreams of being a forward who kicks the game-winning goal. For some reason, my coaches placed me as the goalie for our team. I was not and still am not a very big person, and suffice it to say, I did not do well in my new position. Later, my playing interests switched to baseball, cross-country, tai-chi, ultimate frisbee and cycling. While I didn’t mind watching the World Cup, I never was interested in playing the game soccer.

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Chargers, Sports

5'6" Darren Sproles Leads the Chargers Over the Colts!

Last night was a terrific evening for San Diego Chargers fans. It was even better for me, as I got to see one of my favorite players, Darren Sproles, break out for 328 all-purpose yards. At 5’6″ tall, the same height as me, Sproles made play after play throughout the game. He atoned for his fumble at the goal-line by running 22 yards for the winning score in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts. This was probably the most exciting Charger playoff game since the 1994 AFC Championship Game against the Steelers.

Since their wildcard loss to the Colts back in the 1995-1996 playoffs, the Chargers have always played the Colts tough. So, coming into Felix’s house, I felt confident that we would play well; I was concerned about LT’s groin injury but I knew that if Norv Turner committed to playing Sproles as the featured back (and kick/punt returner!), he would be rewarded.

Thanks to Felix and Johnny for hosting the party; I’m sorry that their hometown team, the Atlanta Falcons, could not come from behind in the fourth quarter like the Chargers to beat the Cardinals. They have a positive future ahead of them, with Matt Ryan and former-Charger Michael Turner leading the team.

Dan G and I both wore our powder blue jerseys. The Chargers have won their last eight games whenever they break out the powder blues. Next week, they’ll be playing an away game at either the Tennessee Titans or the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t mind which team we play; I’m confident that we’ll win to make it to the AFC Championship Game for the second year in a row. Go Chargers!

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Chargers, Rants, Sports

Chargers win 38-24. Refs Rule Otherwise. Broncos Win 39-38

What a horrible officiating today during the Chargers-Broncos game in Denver. A fumble that shouldn’t have been a fumble in the first quarter. A fumble that was inadvertently ruled an incompletion gave Broncos the life they needed to win the game. Ed Hoculi; I used to think you were a good red, but today, you really blew it!

If the rules get in the way of who wins and who loses, then the rules need to be changed. Two minute time limit to get the replay machines working? I had never heard of that rule. Ridiculous. Blowing your whistle when it’s clear the quarterback is doing the empty hand routine with the football? Refs are taught to hold off from blowing the whistle until it’s clear what happened. Horrible!

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Chargers, Sports

Karmic Retribution, 19-uh-oh

19-uh-oh

Ah, the football gods have smiled, and the world is happy once again. 19-0? Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. All season long, Rae has been railing against the Patriots, telling me that karma will come back and bite them. In the game that they absolutely could not lose, they lost; once again, karma was served. Congrats to the Giants for winning the game. Their pass rush was fearsome all day long. Brady may have been more immobile due to a high ankle sprain suffered against my Chargers two weeks ago; mobile or not, he still would have seen a lot of turf yesterday against Tuck, Strahan, Umenyiora, and company.

And what about Eli Manning? I’ve always been hard on Eli for spurning the Chargers during the 2004 NFL Draft. He earned my respect yesterday for his gutsy performance in the Super Bowl. Like everyone else in the world, I thought he was going down with three Patriots swarming him at the end of the game. Somehow, he wriggled away and somehow his hail mary pass to Tyree was caught, complete with ex-Charger Rodney Harrison draped all over him.

If there’s anyone I’m feeling sorry for on Patriots, it’s Junior Seau. The ex-Charger great had a good run this year, but a Super Bowl victory was just not in the cards. Perhaps now he can finally graduate and retire as a Charger.

In the coming weeks, we’ll learn more about the purported cheating done by the Patriots over the past 7+ seasons. The ensuing repercussions could be far worse than the sting of a Super Bowl loss. 19-uh-oh!

It’s now time to think about next year. Norm Chow once said about Philip Rivers that he would be leading his team to a Super Bowl victory in his third year as a starter. Next year will be his fifth year as a Charger, but only third year as a starter. As the Governator said, “Go Chargers Go!”

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Chargers, Sports

Bad Blood Between the Chargers and Patriots

Underdog Chargers

Up until now, I had only heard about what the Patriots did at San Diego in last year’s Divisional Playoff Game. Now, I’ve seen what they’ve done, and I understand why some of the Chargers felt disrespected by the Patriots. If you’re a Chargers fan, this video will get your blood boiling for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

Around the time, LT held his players-only meeting , he had a chat with former Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Marty wouldn’t divulge what the two spoke about, but I bet it involved Marty saying things like, “Let go of the past,” and “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. Support Coach Turner and move on.” Marty knew that as long as LT and the Chargers kept thinking about the past and about Marty, they would never be able to put their 100% behind Norv Turner and his coaching staff.

After his speech, LT and the Chargers have pulled off 8 straight victories. Will number 9 come on Sunday against the 17-0 Patriots? I remember the 1990 NFC Championship Game between the Giants and 49ers. I was heartbroken that my 49ers — I’m both a 49er and Charger fan — were bested by the hated Giants 15-13 that day, breaking up their chance to be the first three-peat Super Bowl Champion. The Giants defense was run by current Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. He devised a plan to slow down the high-powered Niner offense to a single touchdown and a pair of field goals. Some choice quotes from the game:

”Everyone said we couldn’t stop the 49ers,” Giants defensive end Leonard Marshall said. ”They deserved all the respect in the world, but no one is invincible. We played physical, aggressive football and we did it for 60 minutes. We were relentless.”

”That was our goal, coming in, to take away the big play,” linebacker Pepper Johnson said. ”Joe got us one time, but mostly he dumped the ball off. It was short stuff all day.”

”We weren’t worried about the run; we knew we had to stop Montana,” Johnson said. ”We got after him. I don’t care who you are – even the greatest quarterback – you won’t be successful with pressure in your face. That was the key to this game – we got to Joe Montana.”

There’s a way to beat the Patriots, and their head coach wrote the book 17 years ago. The underdog Chargers have to be as relentless as the Giants were to the 49ers in 1990. Take no prisoners, leave nothing on the field, and make it one play at a time for 60 minutes!

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Chargers, Sports

The Rematch Charger Fans Have Been Waiting For

Back in Week 2 of the 2007-2008 NFL Season, the Patriots embarassed the Chargers at Foxborough. With our win over the Colts today in the AFC Divisional Round, the rematch is set. I was very skeptical of the changes made this year to the Chargers, but they have made me a believer with their resilience and heart. Dan G, Daniel, and Dardy came to my house to watch the game, which featured five lead changes, several horrible officiating calls (the holding call on Weddle was pure BS), and tons of pulse-pounding, heart-breaking moments.

Back in 1994, when the Chargers went to the Super Bowl, no one gave them a chance against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Pittsburgh was not the 17-0 behemoth that the Patriots are today, but they were tapped to be the AFC representative in the Super Bowl. The Chargers, on two long 43-yard touchdown throws by Stan “the Man” Humphries and a goal-line stand, shocked the Steelers 17-13. I’m hopeful that my Chargers will be more than a speedbump to the New England Patriots. I’m hopeful that they’ll shock the world two more times on their way to their first NFL championship.

Four teams that faced each other in Week 2 now facing one another with Super Bowl berths on the line. Next Sunday can’t come fast enough!

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Chargers, Journal, Sports

Sorry Display by the Chargers

That was the sorriest display by the Chargers since the 2003 season when they went 4-12. Unlike previous years, the Chargers looked unprepared and out-of-sync throughout the entire game. If this is an indication of how the rest of the season will play out, I’m scared. Let’s hope that the team can get on track for the remaining 14. AJ Smith hired Norv Turner because he thinks he can lead us in the playoffs. Remember, AJ, you have to get to the playoffs first before you can succeed! If we keep playing like we have for the past two games, we’ll be looking at a top-15 draft pick.

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Journal, Sports

Oakland A's from the Box Suite

Oakland A's from the Box Suite

Last week, we had the opportunity to watch an Oakland A’s game in a box suite, thanks to Ellen and Jerome. Watching a live baseball game in a suite is very different from being in the stands. In the latter, I often find myself trapped in my seat. On the other hand, in the suite, I felt free to move around, talk to everyone, and get lots of yummy food. I can definitely see why baseball and football owners want to replace their aging stadiums with new ones featuring tons of luxury box suites.

As for the actual game, I found the suite to be less involving. In the stands, you have the whole game right there in your face. In the suite, the same things that are positives can also be negatives. I found myself busying myself with food and conversation, so much so that I just missed the lone home run by Suzuki. The game was primarily a pitcher’s duel, with the A’s prevailing 3-2 in quick 2 hour game.

Although baseball is fun — especially when your hometown team is winning and in the pennant race (Go Padres!) — it’s not as exciting as football. And, it won’t be too long for that season to begin. Go Chargers!

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Chargers, Journal, Sports

New Chargers Uniforms Announced

Shawne Merriman LB 56 with new Chargers away uniform

Nearly a week after screenshots of the new uniforms were leaked, the Chargers held a fashion show at the U.S. Grant Hotel in Downtown San Diego to showcase the new duds. There are three new uniforms: a navy blue home, a white away, and a home alternate powder-blue uniform. Changes in the new outfits over the previous ones include:

  • Colors: Navy Blue, Yellow, and Powder-Blue
  • Two-point lightning bolts on helmets, shoulders, and pants
  • Shoulder strip goes around the shoulder
  • Numbers on top of shoulders
  • Chargers name on front of jersey
  • White or blue collar
  • White helmet

There are videos from the event on the Chargers website and at the Union-Tribune. Models today included RB21 LaDainian Tomlinson, LB56 Shawne Merriman, WR81 Kassim Osgood, C61 Nick Hardwick, and FB41 Lorenzo Neal.

It’s been 18 years since the Chargers last dramatically changed their uniforms. Though I knew that teams had to submit any changes to the NFL about a year in advance, I wasn’t aware that the league allowed uniform changes once every five years. I remember the Patriots changing out of their previous uniforms quickly, but a quick search revealed that the time difference between those ugly unis (1993-1999) and their current ones was 7 years.

As for the new Chargers’ uniforms, I’m still a bit disappointed. I’m not against updating the uniform, but I am let down with the execution. For instance, there’s simply not enough contrast in the bolt logo when you have navy blue next to powder-blue next to yellow. On the old uniforms, you had yellow over blue over white, three very different colors that made the bolt stand out. Though this is not so bad on the helmets, the lack of contrasting colors really hurts the overall look of the jerseys. On the white away jersey, for example, the two blues next to the yellow make the lightning bolt look really small. The bolt is further diminished by the blue shoulder stripe. If you watch the video, the bolt is barely visible on big players like Hardwick and Osgood. The photo of Philip Rivers wearing the new away jersey also makes this problem very apparent.

Possible solutions to this problem would be to (1) add a white outline for additional contrast, (2) make the lightning bolt bigger, (3) make the shoulder stripe larger and go over the shoulder instead of around it, or (4) do away with the stripe altogether. A number of people on the Chargers forums have also pointed out that the shoulder lightning bolt has a different orientation on the powder-blue jersey than on the blue or white home/away jerseys. Fix the shoulder problem, and you’ll solve a lot of problems with the uniform’s look.

Other random thoughts. I’ve always liked the player numbers to be on the sleeves instead of the tops of the shoulders, so I won’t add anything there. The chest and back numbers look a little heavy-metal-ish to me, but I don’t mind it all that much. The white helmet looks nice with a lighter colored uniform, so it looks a bit out of place with the navy blue jersey.

As I said before in my previous post on the subject, I won’t mind the look of the uniforms so as long as we’re holding the Lombardi Trophy next season. We came this close to going to the big game last year; we’ve got to take the next step in the 2007-2008 season.

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