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Dollars aside, Wells in lineup makes sense

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Taking a tour of the sports world, here and there ...

•This is going to be a minority opinion, but the Angels' Vernon Wells looks like he still can be an everyday player who will put up strong numbers – for the Angels or some other team. His swing and other mechanics sure appear fine.

•But everybody here detests him because of this: According to baseballprospectus.com, Wells' 2012 salary accounts for 16 percent of the Angels' player payroll. Torii Hunter is next at 12 percent, followed by Jered Weaver (nine percent), and Albert Pujols and Dan Haren (eight percent each).

•The Angels' Mark Trumbo looks like he is trying too hard to get himself and the team going, sort of like how Pujols struggled in April. Being more selective on which pitches to swing at will bring the pain of taking called third strikes for a few games. But that might be the first step toward seeing the ball better, and again the game will slow down for Trumbo to where he becomes so confident it will be like he can count the rotations of the pitched baseball on its way to the plate.

•Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine might be a guy who just is not right for today's baseball players. His fiery, go-all-out-every-day style, which also made him a terrific high school football running back, is a square peg in a round hole as a baseball manager in 2012.

•Anyone who claims, as Valentine does, that he invented the "Wrap" sandwich is kind of out there, anyways. That overrated thing was probably invented by some abuelita 100 years ago.

•How good was Valentine as a football player? He scored six touchdowns in one game, via a punt return, a kickoff return, an interception return, a running play and a pass reception for Rippowam High in Stamford, Conn. USC coach John McKay recruited Valentine to replace graduating O.J. Simpson at tailback, but Valentine, drafted by the Dodgers out of high school in 1968, accepted the Dodgers' $70,000 signing bonus offer, to the disappointment of McKay.

•The Dodgers traded Valentine to the Angels after the 1972 season in a multi-player swap that included Andy Messersmith going to the Dodgers and Frank Robinson and Bill Singer going to the Angels. Before the '73 season, the wooden outfield wall at Anaheim Stadium was replaced by a chain-link fence covered by green tarp. On May 17 in a home game against Oakland, Valentine, an infielder, started in center and was pursuing a long drive by Oakland's Dick Green when Valentine leaped into the fencing and got his spikes tangled in the fencing, breaking his right leg and changing his career.

•Your 2012 baseball postseason schedule: American and National league wild-card games, Oct. 5; American League Division

Series begins Oct. 6; the NLDS begins Oct. 6; the American League Championship Series begins Oct. 13; the NLCS begins Oct. 14; and the World Series begins Oct. 24 at the park of the National League champion.

•Yes, the National League has home field for four of the potential seven games of the World Series, because the N.L. beat the A.L. in the All-Star game. Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants was 2 for 3 in that N.L. 8-0 victory on July 10, was named game MVP and on Aug. 15 was suspended 50 games after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance.

•Pia Sundhage on Saturday announced her resignation as coach of the U.S. women's national soccer team. Her teams won two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup silver. She will soon return to her native Sweden, where the coaching position for the Swedish national team will soon be vacant, a position that is assumed will be hers.

•The friendly Kaspar brothers, Dana Hills High alums Nicholas and Anthony, will go face-to-face when their teams play each other Saturday at San Jose State. Nicholas is the starting right guard at San Jose State, and Anthony is the starting defensive tackle at UC Davis.

•Whoa, 710 ESPN radio guy John Ireland owns six flat-screen TVs? He claims so, in an ad. Well, he did grow up in Corona del Mar.

•There are some good programs on local radio, some not so good. For its balance of calmly delivered opinion, knowledge and entertainment, the Mason & Ireland show on ESPN 710 weekdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. might be the best of the bunch.

•Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has resumed working out, but has not taken part in contact drills since surgery a month ago to repair a broken clavicle. He almost certainly will not play against the Raiders in the season opener Monday.

•A good quote from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, talking to Sports Illustrated's Peter King about the so-called shrinking window of opportunity for Rivers to be part of a Super Bowl championship team in San Diego: "Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl in his ninth year, right? Drew [Brees] in his ninth year, too, right? And for [John] Elway, it was his 15th and 16th years, right? This is my ninth year. It's not like, 'Well, it's all over for you; you can't win one, or more than that.''' Rivers was accurate about all those years of those other quarterbacks.

•OK, Philip, but is your team in excellent position to win an NFL title in your ninth season? For one thing, that offensive line is not looking good, with left tackle Jared Gaither out of commission for the Chargers against Oakland. Gaither has not practiced since late July because of back spasms, so undrafted rookie Mike Harris from UCLA gets the start protecting Rivers' blind side.

•For another, we remain pessimistic that the Chargers defense will place even a semblance of pressure on quarterbacks. That team has not had a consistent pass-rushing defensive end since Leslie O'Neal was in San Diego in the 1990s. Even a team as messed up as the Raiders will beat the Chargers if San Diego can't rush the passer.


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