What a fantastic weekend to be a San Diegam! Not only was the weather beautiful (and Otter Pop appropriate), sports fans across the city had an opportunity to rejoice in some surprisingly happy news for a change. Then again any news deviating from listening to squabbles about stadiums is always welcomed and appreciated.
With the official arrival of summer, in the form of a sweltering heat wave, we wait in blissful anticipation for two distinct events on the horizon .
First up, football is right around the corner. No better way to get ‘Bolted Up’, than to rejoice in the four year $83.25 million extension given to Chargers starting quarterback Philip Rivers over the weekend. By locking up Rivers, General Manager Tom Telesco has afforded Philip the same fate of Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts – who was allowed to play his entire career with the Chargers. Rivers will now receive the largest sum of guaranteed money ($65 million) amongst all NFL signal callers currently under contract (surpassing Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning – all QB’s who have won at least one Super Bowl in their careers).
Some pundits have pointed towards Rivers’ increasing age and lackluster postseason results as harbingers, stating that this deal will be one that the Chargers regret offering. Despite mediocrity in the playoffs (4-5 record with seven of the nine games being played from 2003-2009), Rivers is an elite NFL QB and the undeniable face of this franchise. Statistics speak for themselves. But it is his philanthropy and humility off the field, coupled with his passion, talent, durability, and desire on the field, that makes this signing a no-brainer.
Rather than speculate that Rivers will crumble under the financial weight of the terms of his new deal, allowing his performance to regress, I feel that this deal will invigorate Rivers for many reasons. Mainly, Rivers and his wife Tiffany are expecting their eighth child, and sixth daughter. Knowing that he can potentially spend the rest career with the franchise he began with (except for a few hours as property of the New York Giants before being swapped for Eli Manning in the 2004 draft) is solace that most professional athletes would find invaluable.
In no way does this deal imply that the franchise itself will stay in San Diego. It does give comfort to those fans who bleed blue and gold to know that no matter where the Chargers line up and play in the next years to come, Rivers will be the one under center, doing everything in his power to lead this team to a championship.
The second silver lining among sweaty sunny summer days is the Little League World Series (LLWS). How could you not like watching sixteen of the world’s best youth baseball teams vying for supremacy and a chance at immortality – being crowned world champions? Watching the LLWS is nostalgic for many people. Amateur athletes battling at the highest level, without primadonna pretenses, can be one of the most satisfying competitive endeavors to watch and enjoy. Sweetening the pot even more is the fact that a local team from the Sweetwater Valley LL will be representing the Western region of the United States in the tournament. This marks the third time in the past decade that a team from the southern part of the county will represent the West in Williamsport, PA. What is it in South Bay water that keeps this steady influx of talent wearing out the path from San Bernardino (regionals) to the big stage?
Lastly, we were all witness to Padres history this past Friday when Matt Kemp became the first Padres player in franchise history to hit for the cycle. Sure it may have come in midst of a season filled with disappointment and frustration. But who wasn’t grinning from ear to ear when that ball caromed off of the centerfield fence on the line in his final at-bat? That bounce not only assured extra bases, but that Kemp had history within his grasps as he rounded first with steam, heading toward third base coach Glenn Hoffman. It was fantastic moment we’ve been waiting for our whole lives as Padres fans. Removing that particular monkey from our back’s was worth the 46 years it took to accomplish. Now if only we could get a no-hitter, or maybe even a world championship?
Until then, we have the NFL season and LLWS knocking on the door. Whether it’s a free-agent walk-on that shines in the preseason (recently epitomized by Branden Oliver) or a local team that has a chance to shine on the world’s stage, I am excited to be watching. So break out the air conditioning, sunscreen, popsicles, ice cream, lemonade, and sunglasses because summer is here, it’s a great time to be a San Diego sports fan, and the future is bright.
+ Post written by Dennis Gulyas