January 9, 2005

San Diego Suffers Three Sports Losses

While watching a replay late last night of the San Diego State basketball team's Mountain West Conference opener at Brigham Young University, I was thinking I wanted to write an article about three major sports losses in San Diego this past week. During the first half of the SDSU game, the Aztecs were really stinking up the court in Provo, so at that moment I had a feeling I'd likely be mentioning their defeat in my article too.

The loss that probably affected the most San Diegans was the NFL Wild Card game yesterday, which our Chargers dropped 20-17 to the New York Jets in overtime. The Chargers had scored first to lead 7-0 with 9:26 left in the second quarter. The Jets tied the score about 7 minutes later, then scored 10 more points in the third quarter to take a 17-7 lead. Our Bolts didn't give up, though, and scored 10 points of their own in the fourth quarter, tying the score again with only 11 seconds remaining in regulation time. In OT, the Chargers looked like they were about to win the game with 4:19 to play, but rookie kicker Nate Kaeding's 40-yard field goal attempt sailed a few feet wide to the right. The Jets took over and quickly marched down the field. The unexpected dream season of the Chargers ended suddenly and unhappily, when New York's Doug O'Brien booted a 28-yard field goal.

The second major sports loss for San Diegans last week was the official demise of the San Diego Sockers, a team that had won 10 indoor soccer championships, more titles than any other San Diego-based professional sports team. The Sockers had suspended operations on December 30th because of financial difficulties incurred under the command of their incompetent new owner Raj Kalra, who bought the team in October and killed it in only three months. The end was finalized on Wednesday with a dispersal draft that divided the 20 active Sockers players amongst the remaining teams in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

There's still some hope that this week's loss number three might not be permanent. On Wednesday the Brucker family announced that they cannot operate Cajon Speedway this year because of family and financial reasons. Through a lease with San Diego County, the Bruckers have run the speedway -- a NASCAR affiliated, three-eighths-mile paved oval adjacent to Gillespie Field in El Cajon -- since the track opened in 1961. That lease expires August 15, but the Bruckers had hoped to reach an agreement with the county for an extension until the 77-acre plot is actually needed for development of aviation-related businesses. The Bruckers said they would like to see a racer-associated group step forward and run Cajon Speedway through at least the end of the 2005 season, so the race track might not be lost forever yet.

Happily, I don't get to write about that fourth loss I expected, because somehow the Aztecs stopped playing lousy and came from behind to beat the Cougars! I spent the first half planning to talk about how the Aztecs can't seem to make layups or free throws, how there never seems to be an Aztec near the basket to rebound when one of them launches an errant three-point shot, and how the most common sound you hear at the end of an Aztec shot or free throw is not "Swish," but "Clank!" In the second half, however, the Aztecs played agressive pressure defensive against BYU, who suddenly had trouble with both advancing the ball and scoring. By the time the game's last few seconds were ticking away, the Aztecs had tied the score and were in control of the ball. Brandon Heath tried a driving runner that bounced off the rim, but Chris Walton grabbed the rebound about 7 feet out and shot it back toward the basket in the same motion. The ball hit the top of the rim, rolled around a bit, then dropped through the hoop as the buzzer sounded! Final score: Aztecs 59, Cougars 57.

Speaking of the Aztecs, even though I'm sad that the Chargers have been eliminated from the playoffs, I'm happy for the head coach of the Jets -- former Aztecs football star Herman Edwards. Herm was an excellent defensive back for SDSU in 1975-76, who then played in the NFL from 1977-86. His son Marcus is currently a wide receiver for the Aztecs.

Posted at 7:35 PM in San Diego, Sports