Friday Fodder: Fajardo can break records if he stays healthy
July 11, 2014
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
What does Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo have left to prove as he enters his senior season? The 22-year-old really only needs to do one thing and everything else will fall into place. He must stay healthy and play in every game. Fajardo, who will take part in the Manning Passing Academy this month in Louisiana, has yet to play a full season. Colin Kaepernick started 48 games in a row after being named the starter midway through his freshman year. Fajardo has never started more than eight games (last six of 2012, first two of 2013) in a row. Wolf Pack head coach Brian Polian challenged Fajardo after last season to become a better leader. Well, leaders show up and play every game.
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If Fajardo stays on the field for every game in 2014, he has a chance to become arguably the best passing quarterback in Wolf Pack history. He needs 433 passing attempts, 126 completions, 44 touchdowns and 3,776 yards to own the Wolf Pack records in those categories. Only the touchdown record (held by Kaepernick at 82) seems unrealistic. Touchdowns, though, are the big difference between Fajardo and Kaepernick. Fajardo has thrown for 39 touchdowns and rushed for 31 for a total of 70. Kaepernick passed for 82, rushed for 59 and even caught one for a total of 142. Fajardo, if he stays healthy, could easily throw for 25 touchdowns and rush for 15 more this year, putting his TD total at 110.
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Former Carson High and Wolf Pack pitcher Colby Blueberg has had an outstanding start to his professional career. The 21-year-old Blueberg has appeared in five games for the Class A Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League and has allowed just four hits in 8.1 innings. Opponents are hitting just .133 against him. Blueberg has not allowed an earned run and has struck out 12 and walked just two. Blueberg, who was drafted by the San Diego Padres last month in the 24th round, has had a dream season so far. He was 4-2 with a 1.22 earned run average for the Wolf Pack and set a school record with 35 appearances. In his 40 appearances with the Pack and Eugene this season Blueberg has yet to allow a home run.
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It is looking more and more likely with each passing day that LeBron James is going to take his talents back to Cleveland. If he was headed back to Miami, wouldn't he have announced it by now? The Cavaliers have also cleared cap room this summer. Why would they do that if they didn't think they had a realistic shot at signing James? James going back to Cleveland makes a lot of sense. The Heat isn't going to win a title with an overworked LeBron, a banged up Dwyane Wade and an overrated Chris Bosh. The Cavaliers would immediately become the best young team in the NBA with Kyrie Irving, the last two No. 1 picks (Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett), Dion Waiters and, oh yeah, LeBron. Also, bringing a championship to Cleveland would mean much more to LeBron, an Ohio native, than it would mean to win another title in Miami.
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You can bet that there is one guy in Cleveland right now that is praying for LeBron to come to town. New Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel needs someone to take the spotlight off of him. Manziel can't even go into a Las Vegas bathroom without getting his picture taken and then seeing that photo plastered onto a thousand web sites less than an hour later. You shouldn't, of course, feel sorry for Johnny Football. Manziel, who never met a cell phone camera he didn't like, brings all of the attention onto himself. He could, after all, just stay home every night this summer and study the Browns playbook.
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Josh Harrison should not be a major league all star. The Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder doesn't even start every game. He has just five homers and 25 RBI this season and is hitting just .295. For a Josh Harrison to make the All Star team he should be hitting .350 with at least 15 homers and 40 RBI by now. How do you pick Harrison over, say, Justin Morneau, who has 13 homers, 59 RBI and a .313 average? Harrison has just one homer since June 1 and just one RBI since June 27.
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Baseball also needs to stop putting middle relievers on the All Star team. Pat Neshek, Tony Watson and Dellin Betances are all solid pitchers who have had a good first three months of the season but nobody wants to see them pitch in an All Star game. Nobody buys a ticket to see Pat Neshek throw a ball. We shouldn't have to watch them in the game's biggest showcase of talent. Middle relievers and set-up guys aren't counted on to either win or close games. If they were truly great they would be starting or closing.
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The one event baseball does get right is the Home Run Derby. Baseball, at least, makes its star players participate unlike the NBA, which has given us such forgettable names as Derrick Williams, Terrence Ross, Shannon Brown, Jeremy Evans, Eric Bledsoe and Harrison Barnes in recent years in the Slam Dunk contest. The pick here to win the Home Run Derby is Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins. He might hit one 600 feet.
— Joe Santoro writes a weekly sports column for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.