“So How Really Good Are They”
That’s the question, and it fits accordingly for the Padres, the Chargers and Team USA-Soccer.
PADRES..Now we find out if they have put things together as the 1st place Tampa Bay Rays, with the best record in baseball, come to town for the weekend series. Tampa is (50-22), with a ton of young guys hitting the ball, and MLB’s top winner Shane McClanahan, bringing a (10-1) record to the mound at Petco Park.
So are the Padres ready? Fernando Tatis has put on superstar games, including the wild Wednesday night performance, home run-2 doubles-2 stolen bases-shoestring catch-and throwing out a runner at first base after he singled.
Big questions, Juan Soto is dialed back in at the plate. Manny Machado is hitting some homers, but not hitting back to where he has been in recent years. Xander Bogaerts is back, though not as hot as before. Catcher Gary Sanchez has 6-home runs in 14-games and has thrown baserunners out better than anyone else.
But this is the same Padres team that is still under water (.500) at (33-35). They are (14-17) at Petco Park in front of 23-sellouts this season. They are just (17-19) against teams .500 or worse this year.
How good are they? Not there yet to call themselves a pennant contender. We get a much better read by Sunday night after this series against the 50-win, 73M-dollar payroll, Tampa Bay Rays.
CHARGERS…They are ready for training camp come the last week of July. The offense looks loaded and Justin Herbert will be healthy. Beyond the hot young 4th year quarterback, Austin Ekeler returns as maybe the most complete back in the league. The pass catchers are deep, big, and everywhere, from route runner Keenan Allen, to big yardage Mike Williams, the fast developing Josh Palmer and the impressive rookie first round pick Quinton Johnston.
The Bolts have 4-young offensive lineman, who have arrived, anchored by the veteran center Cody Linsley. The group could be really good.
Unknown, is the depth on defense, the question if they have enough toughness up-inside on the defensive front, and how quickly the kids on the back end can quickly develop to compliment Derwin James.
TEAM USA…What a night. The Red-White-Blue battered Mexico (3-0) in the opening game of the Nations League Cup. Christian Pulisic had two goals. Ricardo Pepe showed great explosiveness on a breakaway. Gio Reyna was very active playing the ball out on the wing.
Add on the story that Gregg Berhalter will return as head coach, his 6-month stay in limbo over. The move to bring him back came within a day of stories breaking that he was being pursued by Club America-Mexico and Sparta-Rotterdam in Holland.
So here we are on a Friday.
The Padres have to prove how good they are. The Chargers think they are ready to take another step forward. Team USA showed how dynamic they could be.