Monday Morning Coffee

June 14, 2021

I’d like to welcome Paul George to the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Nice of him to grace his team with a decent performance before they got sent packing to Cancun. George showed up in a big way on Saturday night Staples Center, helping the Clippers get back into their 2nd round series against the Jazz. To be fair though, the “Pandemic P” label has been warranted. Prior to game 4, George shot 35% in his previous 4 playoff games, and just 31% from 3. He’s also had 10 career playoff games in which he’s shot 25% or worse on 15 or more attempts. Over the last 60 postseasons, no other player has recorded more than 7 such games. That makes Pandemic P more dangerous than COVID-19. If the Clippers can get the PG they got on Saturday night, they are a legitimate threat to make it to the NBA Finals, not just get out of this round. The Clippers know what they are getting from Kawhi, but other than that, it’s a crap shoot from night-to-night. They don’t have much margin for error left though, against the best team in the regular season, so they better hope PG shows up again tonight.

As for the Lakers, they are still making headlines after getting eliminated in the 1st round by the Suns. I will never understand the obsession with Jason Kidd as a head coach. Kidd is still on the Lakers staff as a top assistant, and mostly because Lebron wants him there. He is also wanted in Portland by Damian Lillard. They Blazers don’t want him though, and prefer Chauncey Billups, which is why Kidd withdrew his name from the process. He’s probably going to withdraw his name from the Nuggets job too after watching them play this weekend. In all seriousness though, there is no other team in the league that will hire him as a head coach, yet somehow his name stays out there because a few players like him. He didn’t have much success as a head coach in either of the two stints he had with the Nets and Bucks. It’s a phenomenon I will never understand. I will also never understand Montrezl Harrell’s instagram. He wrote a classy and lengthy post that thanked the Lakers and their fans, but it’s hard to know if this is goodbye or not.

It was a rough weekend for the Dodgers. Despite taking 2 of 3 from the Rangers and inching closer to 1st place, the injuries are piling up again. Max Muncy has been an MVP candidate, but he is now on the injured list with an oblique strain. Cody Bellinger missed the last two games with an injured hamstring as well. Thank god for the garbage time home runs though from Albert Pujols. There’s nobody I’d rather have at the plate in the 7th inning and beyond with the game completely decided, and nobody on base. The guy turns into Babe Ruth at that point, and seems like all his Dodger home runs have come then. The Giants aren’t going away though and neither are the Padres. On a different note however, Clayton Kershaw was brilliant on Friday. He really doesn’t get enough credit for still being great, because he was so brilliant at his peak. That’s how good he is.

Meanwhile, the Angels are suddenly 19-14 since releasing Albert Pujols, and over .500 for the season. As I said last week, this is the time for them to bank wins because their schedule is softer than tissue paper. This past week has also seen the lowest spin rates of any week this season in the MLB, resulting in strikeouts being down, and batting averages being up. It’s been so wild, even the Angels are hitting with Mike Trout out of the lineup! I don’t know if the Angels can keep this up with Oakland, San Francisco, the Rays, and Yankees coming up next. However, with Mike Trout coming back and the pitching looking a little better for now, there’s always some hope.

Finally, the season Premiere of The Bachelorette went down last night on ABC. I like how all 28 guys thought there was no way a dude in a cat costume, Conner, and a dude hiding in a box, James, were going to impress Katie. By the end of the night, they were ready to go buy their own costumes, and wish they could put James back in the box. Then there was the necklace that was made of pasta. “It’s not real gold, it’s just pasta” has to be the line of the season that can’t be topped. Greg seems to be the fan favorite early on though, at least in the court of public opinion. Of the seven dudes that got eliminated, I’m thankful we don’t get to learn about Jeff’s background as a “Skin Salesman.” Bad move with the RV. You’ve gotta love that moment when Tayshia said she “loves a guy in a truck”. Imagine what Zach was thinking, watching the premiere at home. It was a great first episode, but I’m not going to lie, it’s just not the same without Chris Harrison. The girls did a great job as co-hosts, but Harrison was symbolic of the entire franchise. Looking forward to seeing what this drama beings next week.

Monday Morning Coffee

June 7th, 2021

Don’t over think it people. The Lakers best players weren’t healthy enough for them to defend their title. It’s as simple as that. Anthony Davis had been falling apart all season long, and Lebron James couldn’t dominate like he usually does because of his ankle. It’s not about father time catching up with Lebron. It’s also not even about Anthony Davis being too injury prone. It’s about having the shortest off-season in NBA history, and not enough time to recover. Sure the Lakers could use more shooting. Sure they could use another shot creator. Sure Anthony Davis could work on his body. However, don’t lose sight of what this was about: lack of health and lack of time to recover. In the meantime, between now and the start of the season, Laker fans can fantasize about trading a couple of bags of chips, some expired cans of soda, and hand sanitizer for Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal. I’m sure there will be changes, but don’t expect anything of that magnitude this off-season. That’s perfectly fine because this team should still contend.

The Clippers were not going to let it happen. No way were the Clippers going to let themselves lose game 7, and then be subjected to all-time levels of slander on Monday Morning Coffee. The Mavericks gave the Clippers a hell of a series. However at some point the home team was due to win, and it makes perfect sense that it was going to happen in game 7, when 80% of home teams win. Props to Kawhi and even Paul George for stepping up when they needed to. Also props to Tim Hardaway Jr, who’s beard and jump shot were both immaculate in this series. If Luka Doncic just gets a little bit more help, the Mavs can win an NBA Championship. It would help if Kristaps Porzingas weren’t a more expensive 7’3 Kyle Kuzma. As for the Clippers though, they survived, but they are going to have to come up even bigger against a tough Utah Jazz team if they plan on making it to their first conference final in franchise history.

The Dodgers had a tough time with the Atlanta Braves over the weekend. The Boys in Blue might be one of the better teams in the NL right now, but they have two big problems that won’t go away: the Giants and the Padres. I realize there is still a lot of baseball left to be played, but given the Dodger injuries and their inconsistencies at the plate, there is a very realistic scenario where the Dodgers are in a one-game playoff on the road against the Giants or Padres. If I earned a dollar for every time Albert Pujols hit a meaningless home run after the 7th inning, I feel like I would be as rich as Pujols right now. This is exactly why the Dodgers offense is so deceiving. They lead the league in runs per game, but their situation hitting is keeping them out of 1st place in the NL. Up next is a 3-game set at the Pirates, where they’ll try to get back in the win column.

The Angels had a so-so series against the Mariners over the weekend, splitting a four-game set. It’s now or never for this team. They began last week with a stretch of 17 games against teams that are a combined 17 games under .500. The Angels began yesterday 7 games back of 1st place in the AL West. There’s some signs of life with their pitching and bullpen. However, now Anthony Rendon looks like the new Albert Pujols. He’s got as bad of a contract as Albert did, and now he’s hitting exactly like Albert. With Rendon slumping and Mike Trout out of the lineup, even against in a stretch of weaker opponents there is no margin for error. If the Angels don’t make up ground before the end of the month, they might as well start booking their ski trips for the winter.

Who really paid $50 for that Floyd Mayweather v Logan Paul fight last night? I streamed it illegally and I still want my money back. Who knew that there was a difference between Logan Paul and Jake Paul? We saw what happened the last time Floyd fought a non-boxer in Conor McGregor, yet many of you took the bait anyway. Paul was ready to go back to making YouTube videos after the 1st round. Of course that fight ended in “a draw”. Floyd could have ended it anytime. I’ve seen him exert more effort walking around his club on a Sunday night. Somebody please bring heavyweight boxing back to life because we desperately need it instead of these gimmicks!

Finally, are you ready to watch a live train wreck on TV? That’s right folks. A new season of The Bachelorette premieres tonight on ABC. The Bachelorette will be Katie Thurston, who was a big fan favorite that got eliminated early in the last season of The Bachelor. That season ended up being a lost cause for The Bachelor himself. I’m sure like every season, we’ll go into it with high hopes, end up criticizing The Bachelorette once we find out she’s far more flawed than we anticipated. Then we’ll be completely unsatisfied with the ending. We’ll then vow that we’ll never watch it again. Of course we’ll be back to watch the next season after that. Rinse and repeat right? Not sure how we just keep getting sucked in.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 31st, 2021

Here we are one week later, and it feels like the Lakers health and their season is going down the drain. For a moment it felt like the Lakers were going to take a commanding lead against the Suns, and finish them off. Then Anthony Davis got hurt again, in typical Anthony Davis fashion. Now the Lakers are now tied with the Suns 2-2, headed back to Phoenix for game 5. The Lakers can’t make a 3-point shot if you locked them in the gym all day. That means their whole offense has been dependent on AD and Lebron getting in the paint and dominating. When that doesn’t happen the Lakers chances of winning are about as good as Donald Trump reversing the results of the Presidential Election. If AD is out for any one of the next three games, the Lakers can start booking their vacations to Cancun, because there will be no repeat and they will not get out of this series. That looks like a very realistic possibility. On a different note, given how annoying Jae Crowder has been in this series, they might need to re-shoot Space Jam 2 making Lebron fight against Crowder.

As for the Clippers, despite all the jokes and slander they’ve been receiving the last few days, they managed to tie their series with the Mavs at 2-2. Tip your cap to Kawhi and PG. They stepped up and made sure I couldn’t say anything bad about them in this edition of Monday Morning Coffee. However, I love the fact that last year everyone said the Clippers would have lost if Kristaps Porzingas had played. Now everyone is saying the Clippers would have lost if Kristaps Porzingas has not played! Porzingas has suddenly looked like Kwame Brown in this series, while Luka Doncic feels like he’s going 1-on-5, and actually doing a decent job of it. Nevertheless, the Clips have some issue here and there, but I like their chances to finish off this series in 6 games now that they have a bit of confidence back.

Elsewhere around the postseason in the Association, the Hawks have way too much fire power and are up 3-1 against the Knicks. Tom Thibodeau was coaching a lot better when he had his mask on. Lou Williams for sure celebrated at the strip club with some Lemon Pepper Wings last night. The Celtic fans packed the building yesterday, just in time to see their team get eliminated from the postseason by the Nets. The Heat won as many playoff games this season as you and I did. The Jazz fans are about to celebrate with some ginger ale after shoving the Grizzlies to the brink of elimination. Joel Embiid looks like he stopped drinking Shirley Temples since he has the 76ers on the verge of the 2nd round. Joker vs Dame is like watching a heavy weight fight that is too good to take your eyes off of!

Just when it seemed like things were looking up for the Dodgers, the Giants come to town and torpedo them in 3 of the 4 games. Friday’s game really hurt with Albert Pujols getting robbed of the game-winning home run in the 9th inning. Saturday and Sunday, neither the pitching nor the offense showed up. The pitching part is a rarity. However, the offense can’t hit water if it fell out of a boat. The Boys in Blue are terrible with runners in scoring position. There’s so much talk about why David Price isn’t their 5th starter, and whether or not they should trade for Max Scherezer, but the reality of it is they need to change their approach at the plate. Their situational hitting is awful, and that’s not going to change if they just keep sitting back and waiting for 3-run homers. It looked like the Dodgers had a new sense of urgency with Albert Pujols on the team. However, that urgency is just their rush to the post-game spread before fat Albert eats all the food.

The Angels managed to split a four-game set with the A’s over the weekend. Alex Cobb finally put together a couple of really nice starts that made him look like the ace he was last year. Hard to imagine him keeping the momentum going though. Of bigger concern right now is whether Anthony Rendon is going to live up to his $245 million contract. He’s got another 6 years left on it, and thus far, his slash line is only .228/.315/.342. Justin Upton stinks too, hitting just .201 and owed another $20 million next year. Yes we know the Angels are desperate for pitching. However, if their big money players aren’t living up to their contracts, then all hope is definitely lost for this group. Then again, all hope was probably lost when Arte Moreno started making reckless decisions years ago.

UCLA Basketball fans are bracing themselves for the possibility of losing a handful of players. The latest is that Codey Riley is now going to be joining Johnny Juzang, and Chris Smith, who are all putting their name in the NBA draft. I have no problem with any of these guys putting their names in to get feedback, but not a single one of these dudes should go pro. If they do, they have agents who can probably sell them some ocean front property in Kansas. Juzang is the highest rated of any of these three prospects, and at best, he’s projected as a late 2nd round pick. If he comes back to school, he’s going to get a huge role on one of the best teams in the country, and scouts are actually going to know who he is this year, unlike last year. Same goes for Riley and even Smith, who can’t workout until September because of his knee injury. I would argue that even if these guys are in a financially desperate situation, their earning power will be far greater by waiting one more season. Then they would potentially all become 1st round picks and have guaranteed contracts. Not to mention, UCLA will be pretty damn good with all of these guys coming back.

Finally, in the NFL, Julio Jones is on the trade block. Anytime you hear a name like Julio Jones, you can bet the Rams are in involved. Yes I know, I realize that Mike Florio reported yesterday that the Rams are out of the chase for Jones. I’ll believe that the Rams are out the day I hear that Kim Kardashian is no longer interested in dating African American men. However, we know that Jones wants to go to the Rams, and that Les Snead is a pretty good negotiator. Even for a team with no upcoming 1st round picks or salary cap space, the same can be said for many other teams chasing Jones. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Falcons came back to the table to negotiate a deal with the Rams. Plus, the Rams might have a talented group of wide receivers, but they don’t have a dynamic deep threat like Jones, who can take the top off of defenses. That’s a much needed weapon in Sean McVay’s system. Florio also qualified his report by saying the Rams are only out “for now”.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 24, 2021

The Lakers limped into the 1st round of the playoffs yesterday, and they looked like hell in game 1 against the Suns. Devin Booker dropped 34 points on them, while Lebron and Anthony Davis looked like they haven’t played basketball in months. If you hold your opponent to 99 points, you should win, but the Lakers 3-point shooting is awful, and the offense is non-existent. If you played a drinking game where every time AD fell on the floor you took a shot, you would likely be in the hospital before the game ended. Everyone obviously wants to focus on Andre Drummond and the fact he probably is playing too many minutes, but even if he is, the reality is that AD needs to play better and dominate DeAndre Ayton inside. He really needed Kwame Brown to give him a pep talk in the huddle. More on that in a few moments. I don’t expect the Lakers to have any answers for Devin Booker, but they don’t need to. If Lebron and AD are healthy and playing like they are capable of, this series should be over in no time. That health part is something I question minute-by-minute at this point though.

Meanwhile, the Clippers also lost game 1 of their 1st round series to the Mavericks on Saturday afternoon. Maybe the Clippers should start printing “We Don’t Believe” T-Shirts for their fans. I don’t think the Clippers played that poorly in game 1. Luka was amazing, but the Mavs just made 3-point shot after 3- point shot. I have my doubts that’s going to happen 3 more times in this series. I can’t even make fun of Paul George because he didn’t play badly in game 1 either. The Clips will probably be ok, but their crowd was pathetic for a playoff game. So pathetic that they needed cardboard cutouts to fill the most premium seats. That’s not much of a homecourt advantage for them to feel good about. Then again by losing this series, the Clippers probably figure that’s another way they can dodge the Lakers.

I have to give credit to Kwame Brown for lighting everyone up the way he is on social media. This guy has been criticized like crazy for over a decade, and now he’s been going after EVERYONE. Everyone from Matt Barnes, Stephen A Smith, to Chris Broussard and Rob Parker. And he’s making it personal! I disagree with Kwame on the idea that he’s not a bust, because he was a bust relative to expectations as a number 1 draft pick. However, the amount of ridicule he has gotten for so long is over the top, and he’s right to finally push back. Here’s some good laughs Kwame will give you from his take on Matt Barnes.

To baseball where the Dodgers swept the Giants over the weekend to inch closer to 1st place in the NL West. If there was a mercy rule in baseball, we would have seen it over the weekend. It’s ok Giants fans. At least Scott Kazmir has great hair. After a stretch of struggles, the Boys in Blue have now won 7 straight and 9 of their past 10. Although the offense is still a little sluggish at times, the pitching has been lights out. Now reinforcements are on the way with Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry coming back from injury in the next few days, and Tony Gonsolin not far behind them. Now the Dodgers head to Houston to take on those cheating Houston Astros.

As for the Angels, they salvaged a victory yesterday to snap a 3-game losing streak. However, there’s not much to feel great about with this club. Mike Trout is now out for two months with a calf strain, and we are reminded on a daily basis of what hot garbage their pitching is. Since 2010, the Angels haven’t drafted a pitcher that has given them more than 100 innings in a season. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that they haven’t won a playoff game in that time either. The sad part is that the Oakland A’s just came to town and reminded them how successful they have been both developing and acquiring pitching. It’s not even June yet and the Angels are already 7.5 games out of 1st, in last place in the AL West, and it’s not an unreasonable question to ask if the team should start tanking. On June 17th, the Angels plan on allowing a full capacity of fans into the stadium. However, they really should change their policy to having all those fans wear paper bags over their head so nobody can see the embarrassment they have been on the field.

Speaking of embarrassing, that’s how Kings GM Rob Blake must feel after his veteran players called him out. Drew Doughty just said “there’s no point in waiting for prospects to develop”, and that the Kings have guys still in their prime that can win now. Doughty has a point since the Kings have $20 million in cap space and boat loads of prospects. The Kings could easily sign a couple of reasonably priced free agents, and still keep all their prospects. I’m not sure if Rob Blake understands what $20 million can buy him, but he should be able to put a playoff team on the ice with that. I’m beginning to think Blake is really a millennial, because he is building a team that will win nothing more than participation trophies every year.

Kings general manager Rob Blake attends the NHL draft.

Finally, the Summer Olympics are coming up in a couple of months in Tokyo, but it’s headed toward disaster. 60-70% of Japanese citizens do not want the games to be held, and only 3% of their population is vaccinated. As usual, the IOC is more useless than Clay Helton, and refuses to be flexible. There are other countries in the world, The United States being one, that could be ready to host the Summer Olympics in a matter of days and weeks. Instead, Japan won’t even allow any tourists into the country for the games. It’s not fair to the athletes to cancel the games either, since they’ve all been training their entire lives for this, and many will not get another opportunity. The right thing to do is to move the games to a reasonable place with existing infrastructure, that has a handle on COVID, and world class security. It’s hard to expect a corrupt organization like the IOC to understand this concept though.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 17, 2021

This Laker postseason is going to be a bumpy ride folks. They will host the Warriors on Wednesday night at Staples Center for the right to claim the 7th seed in the Western Conference, and it feels like they are holding their health together with super glue. Lebron’s ankle nearly gave out last night, and feels like it could give out again any moment. Anthony Davis makes you hold your breath every time he hits the floor. On one hand, the Lakers need the game reps to get their act together. On the other hand, Steph Curry could go off for 50 points, Anthony Davis could slip on some nacho cheese and get hurt, and the Lakers would be on the verge of elimination. I’m not so sure this team is ready for playoff caliber basketball, as talented as they are, but we’ll find out in a few days. At least they don’t have to face the Clippers or Jazz until round 3 at best if they take care of business Wednesday, and the Lakers have more favorable matchups on their side of the bracket. Nevertheless, the Lakers are faced with a must-win on Wednesday, which I never thought I would say before the actual post season begins.

Then there was the gamesmanship of the Clippers, who ended up with the 4th seed in the West, and will face the Mavericks in the opening round. The Clippers have owned the Mavs, so they’ve gotta be pleased with that. Considering how they rested everybody in the last two games, the Clippers really managed to perfect this tanking thing, as did Denver. All joking aside, the bottom line is going to be how healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are going to be, and if they are ready to deliver in the postseason. That’s a bigger deal no matter who the Clips run into in the postseason.

On Saturday, Kobe Bryant was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, among several other all-time greats: Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. I was once again amazed by the poise and grace of Vanessa Bryant to speak about her deceased husband and daughter. It’s been 16 months since Kobe and Gigi tragically passed away, but it’s something that feels like we’ll never get over, and never understand. However, if there’s one thing that has never been more clear, it’s that Kobe’s legacy resonates stronger than ever, and his determination and work ethic inspires people around the world everyday. On a separate note, I uncovered this video of Kobe and Tim Duncan from way back in the day over the weekend, and I never realized that Tim Duncan had this much personality!

To baseball, where Andrew Friedman’s computer must have some kind of a virus. What other explanation could there be for signing Albert Pujols last week? Yes, the Dodgers have injuries, and yes they need some right-handed pop in their lineup. However, for a team that prides itself on analytics, adding one of the worst players in baseball according to analytics blows my mind. Considering that the cost of signing Pujols was roughly the amount of money you could find in your couch, it’s low risk, but I just don’t see the fit. On the field however, the Dodgers are still having problems. Corey Seager is the latest big name to get added to the injured list, and despite taking 2 of 3 from the Marlins, they are still chasing both the Giants and Padres in the NL West. There’s still lots of time, but the Dodgers need to think about how to manufacture runs on a consistent basis, rather than waiting around for home runs.

As for the Angels, they picked up a dramatic win yesterday against the Red Sox, but they are still in bad shape. Remember when we thought the pitching was holding up? Well almost two months into the season the starters have the worst ERA in the big leagues. Their bullpen is equally atrocious, ranked just 27th in the leagues, and blowing half of their save opportunities. Dylan Bundy was supposed to be the ace of the staff, and instead he looks more like a joker, sporting an 0-5 record and an ERA that is inflating faster than an Aerobed. It’s really a shame that Shohei Ohtani can’t start every five days because he’s easily the team’s best pitcher, and they need his arm more than his bat. There’s still plenty of time left in the season, but you would think the Angels are ready to tank with the way things are going. At least you have Shohei to entertain you.

To the NFL, where the Rams schedule was released last week. On paper, this sets up for a nice double digit win season, starting off with a Sunday Night Opener at home against the Bears. I do feel bad for Jared Goff, who is going to have Aaron Donald in his jock strap come Week 7 when the Rams host the Lions. That Green Bay game in October also might not be so intimidating knowing that Aaron Rodgers might be filing for divorce from the Packers before then. The only thing the Rams should be scared off are those terrible looking pajama uniforms they always seem to wear in prime time games.

Meanwhile, the Chargers were gifted a fairly below average schedule by the league. This team need about as much charity they can get because they have worse luck than someone who broke a mirror. The Ravens, Chiefs, and Washington are the only playoff teams from last year the Bolts play on the road. If they win the games they are favored in, they should be a wild card team. That statement feels almost laughable though, considering how many winnable games the Chargers have blown the last few years. It’s become so comical though, you’ve gotta think their due to win some of these close games right? Right? I know you’re still laughing.

Monday Morning Coffee

May 10, 2021

I’m not saying this Laker season is turning into a total disaster, but last week Anthony Davis actually got hurt running into courtside signage. The Lakers won yesterday, and Davis is looking better, but the Lakers are running out of time to get healthy, get in playoff form, and get their chemistry right. With only 4 games left in the regular season, that sounds like too tall of a task, even for someone as great as Lebron James. James might be coming back tomorrow or Wednesday, but who knows what kind of form he will be in. I’m sure Laker fans have been trying to figure out how to donate their ankles to Lebron. On the other hand though, the Lakers might really want to be in the play-in tournament. As scary as it sounds, they need more games to get in playoff form, and would probably fare better as the 7th seed against the Suns, as we saw last night. Plus they wouldn’t have to face the Clippers in round 1 either, and I’m pretty sure neither team wants to face each other that early. Frank Vogel and Ty Lue probably had dinner at Nobu over the weekend to scheme on how to avoid each other for the first couple of rounds.

Meanwhile, the Clippers look like they are going to get the third seed. That’s good for them, but I still can’t believe what Ty Lue said about Paul George, after he went 5-21 against Denver. Lue said it’s “a good sign, because if he keeps missing, he’s not afraid to keep shooting. So we’re going to need that from him going down the stretch.” Don’t worry Ty, if history is any indication, you’re going to get plenty more of those 5-21 shooting performances down the stretch from “Playoff P”. Don’t bother putting the ball in the hands of Kawhi or anything. Kawhi might not be completely healthy yet, but the Clippers better hope he will be in the next two weeks.

The Dodgers are doing a really nice job of paying tribute to all the adulterers out there this season. They never make contact, and they never come home. This weekend against the Angels was hardly a series to feel good about. They got blown out in one game, nearly blew a 13-0 lead in another, and hit like little leaguers yesterday. The bullpen looks atrocious, and the offense is feast or famine, and it’s typically been famine. I fail to understand why there is an unwillingness to take more pitches, play small ball, hit and run, and do more of the little things to manufacture runs. If Friedman and Roberts are just going to sit around and wait for this team to start hitting three-run homers again, this team isn’t going to get back to where they were last year. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if Clayton Kershaw is the teams best hitter. It’s early, but things are looking bad.

Then there’s the Angels, who released Albert Pujols last week. The Halos released a guy who was batting .198, who might actually be 50 years old (I still need to see the birth certificate to be convinced), yet some of you think this was disrespectful. Pujols didn’t want to be a bench player, and that’s the best the Angels could offer him. Jared Walsh is a better everyday option. Pujols is a Hall of Famer and one of the best right-handed hitters ever. However, he was never the best player on the Angels at any point in the last decade, and hardly an average Major League Player for about half the contract. A contract that paid him $240 million, and a waste of a decade for the Halos, who never even won a playoff game with him. Just think of the opportunity cost after they paid $365 million for Pujols and Josh Hamilton. This isn’t the NBA. You can’t win with a couple of stars. Hopefully a decade later the Halos have put this in perspective, but based on the lack of pitching and their position near the bottom of the AL, I’m not so sure.

I had the privilege of attending the Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders fight on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Never had I been to a live boxing fight before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was not disappointed at all, especially getting the opportunity to sit ring side for Canelo’s 8 round KO victory. It was a Las Vegas like atmosphere with a crowd of over 70,000 people. Canelo is probably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at this point. I’m sure Si’s Chris Mannix would agree, who provided coverage the entire weekend. Mannix had some microphone trouble though during his post fight interview with Canelo. The mic was so bad, it was actually worse than his NBA takes, which really surprised me. I didn’t think anything could be worse than that.


Monday Morning Coffee

May 3, 2021

The Lakers seem determined to make things very stressful for themselves and their fans. Lebron and AD are back on the court, but they don’t look healthy, neither is Dennis Schroeder, and there’s only 8 games left in the regular season. They don’t seem to care about seeding as much as their fans do. However, they should. The Lakers don’t want to be in the play-in tournament. Anything bad can happen in one game. They also don’t want to play the Clippers in the 1st round. That means their margin of error is slim, which is a problem when they are playing these games like they are 5 pm scrimmages at Equinox. Frank Vogel is also tinkering with lineups in these games like he’s playing NBA 2K on PlayStation. Buckle up Laker fans. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The Clippers have suddenly slipped to the 4th seed after losing three straight games, including Saturday night against the Nuggets. Weren’t the Nuggets supposed to lose games after Jamaal Murray went down? Instead, Nikola Jokic has gone into beat mode and they are up to the third seed. The Clips are also probably trying to avoid the Lakers in the 1st round like we’re all trying to avoid getting COVID. The good news for the Clips is that Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins are suddenly playing like they entered a time machine and got five years younger. The bad news is that the CDC still does not recommend wearing any Clippers gear in public, even once you are fully vaccinated.

The NFL Draft went down over the weekend and I don’t really understand the Rams draft strategy. Their 2nd round pick was on an undersized receiver they could have had 50 picks later. Another one of their picks was on a player who you can’t even find in a Google Search. I was also a little bit surprised the Rams didn’t draft even a single offensive lineman in 9 picks. I’m not saying that Les Snead doesn’t know what he’s doing, because clearly he does, but it’s almost like he just shrugged his shoulders at the entire draft process and said “whatever”.

Then there’s the Chargers. Watching their draft was like watching the Bizarro World episode of Seinfeld. You would expect the Chargers to find a way to screw up their draft, but on paper, the Bolts look like they had one of the best drafts of anyone. They beefed up their protection for Justin Herbert, and beefed up multiple areas of their defense. Unfortunately, the Chargers don’t play on paper, they play on a football field where they haven’t been able to win close games. Whether or not that changes seems like it has less to do with talent at this point, or more to do with execution.

Elsewhere around the NFL Draft, Aaron Rodgers wants to be traded to the 49ers, and it’s probably because he just likes tormenting Matthew Stafford. Speaking of Rodgers, at the Kentucky Derby he was dressed like a guy who was there to arrest Tom Brady. When you start running down the picks, Justin Fields could single handedly get 8 GM’s fired if he’s really good. The Bucs took Kyle Trask so he could be the heir to Tom Brady. He should be able to learn from Brady for the next 10 years before taking over. Mac Jones walked up to the stage to be drafted by the Patriots like he was the branch manager at a bank coming to deny you a small business loan.

To baseball where things are not great for the Dodgers right now. They have so much talent but they are playing like a men’s softball team after a long weekend in Reno. This team just isn’t hitting. It’s not helping that Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry are out, but not sure what the excuse is for Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, and Corey Seager right now. These guys are allergic to hitting with runners in scoring position. Even worse is the fact that the bullpen is missing David Price and Tony Gonsolin, which isn’t helping their cause hanging on to leads in the past week. This can only be explained by “The Curse of The Dodger Dog”. The Dodgers have gone away from serving Farmer John Hot Dogs for the first time in ages, which must have something to do with this slump!

As for the Angels, they are still hovering around .500, but Mike Trout might be the best version of himself we’ve ever seen. As insane as that sounds, entering Saturday, Trout had a slash line of .425/.523/.781, which has not been achieved over a month stretch since 2008. That’s remarkable, but the Halos pitching has not been for the past two weeks. The starting pitching has felt like it’s been held together with chicken wire and duct tape in the first couple of weeks, and it’s already coming apart. The good news is that the division isn’t that great, so the Angels might be able to hang in there.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 26, 2021

The Lakers are getting healthy. Anthony Davis is back and Lebron James is on the way, but now they have other problems to fix. Anthony Davis is so rusty, he might need a tetanus shot just to remember how to play basketball. Marc Gasol is also now taking a passive aggressive, “high school drama” approach to his lack of playing time. These feel like chemistry issues, but I think Lebron James fixes much of that chemistry when he returns. Despite losing an important 2-game set with the Mavs, the Lakers are unlikely to fall into the play-in game, thanks to the Blazers struggles. They would be much better off in the 5th seed though, which means playing the Nuggets in the first round without Jamaal Murray. Jeanie Buss apparently has her issues too right now. She took heat for her list of Top 5 Lakers she mentioned on the “All The Smoke” podcast. Her list is Kareem, Kobe, Lebron, Magic, and Phil. I don’t get the outrage though. These lists are typically a function of how old you are, and in Jeanie’s case Lebron gave her the Lakers first title with her as owner, so of course he’s going to mean more to her. She probably should have kept it to players only, because it just seems like she’s only putting Phil on the list since they were engaged. In any case, we’re talking about the Lakers people. I guess they have to apologize for having too many of the greatest players, coaches, and executives in NBA history.

Then there’s Lebron James and his Twitter drama this week. In the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin verdict, Lebron mistakenly linked the circumstances of that police related incident with another without the facts. He tweeted something he regretted, and then deleted it, making him a target for criticism. I don’t love mixing politics with basketball, let alone any sport. Police brutality shouldn’t be political though. Criticizing Lebron is just taking away the matter that needs to be addressed. The Chauvin verdict isn’t justice by any means, but it is accountability, which we haven’t had much of before. Everything else that’s being talked about no matter what side you are on is just noise that is politicizing everything else.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have won 4 straight games and 5 of their last 6. They are knocking on the door of the 2-seed, and Paul George is knocking on the door of accountability. PG has put up 30 points or more in 7 of his last 8 games. That’s pretty impressive for a guy with a bad foot. However, everyone knows that it’s all about what the guy does in the playoffs. Speaking of playoffs, Rajon Rondo is already looking like “Playoff Rondo” and it’s not even the postseason yet. The numbers may not be sexy, but Rondo is controlling the tempo, making big shots, and providing floor leadership the Clips didn’t have before.

That was another great series over the weekend between the Dodgers and the Padres. This time the Dodgers dropped 3 out of 4, and yesterday they handed over a 7-1 lead like they were some 501C3 charity. This might just be a really good rivalry after all. The Dodgers have been struggling to hit with runners in scoring position the past week, but they still have the best record in baseball. Fernando Tatis Jr. seemed to have his way with the Dodgers all weekend, including with Trevor Bauer. Tatis not only hit a pair of homers off of Bauer, but mocked him while rounding the bases. I love the response from Bauer though, explaining that celebrating like this should be part of the culture of baseball. Is this really possible? Trevor Bauer is now the voice of reason? Some of you might even start to like him after that comment.

As for the Angels, they are collapsing faster than cryptocurrency after a hot start. Despite the win yesterday, they got battered over the last week, and suddenly their pitching looks as bad as we thought it was going to be. Losing key hitters from the lineup, and losing games in the division against the Astros is putting them in an early season hole. After Friday’s loss, the Angels had the fourth worst ERA in the majors, and that was before they got bombed on Saturday. Perry Minasian told the LA Times he doesn’t seem to be worried yet, but he must not have seen the Angels’ pitching for the last few years.

UCLA’s Johnny Juzang has announced that he is going to enter his name into the NBA draft. Without knowing his financial situation, I think he would be far better off returning to UCLA for another season. People know who he is now, he’s going to be on an elite team next year, with a platform to perform in front of scouts. That gives him a great opportunity to become a lottery pick in 2022, and give him better odds of a longer NBA career. On the other hand, he is currently projected as a late 2nd round pick, which isn’t even a guarantee he’ll be drafted. If he does get drafted, he won’t have a guaranteed contract, and he’ll likely be battling for minutes in the G-League. I realize there are only so many minutes available for a lot of good players on the Bruins next year, but Juzang will have plenty available to him if he comes back.

Finally, a scandal at USC? Since when? This never happens! The LA Times just published a story about the toxic culture on the USC Song Girl Squad. 10 former song girls spoke to the Times, and characterized the program as one that “went beyond normal fitness required to be on the spirit squad.” Former coach Lori Nelson was also mentioned for constantly “rebuking women publicly for their eating habits, personal appearance, and sex lives.” I get that many of these scandals took place before Carol Folt took over as President in 2019, but there are still accounts of this same culture going on in the program as of 6 months ago. I guess even Folt can only put out one fire at a time. SC is supposedly trying harder to be more ethical in every aspect of their University, but the perception of their culture is still all about image, and it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to change that.

Monday Morning Coffee

April 19, 2021

The Lakers are surviving without their stars. It’s been weeks without Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Yet the Lakers haven’t had a free fall to the play-in tournament like many predicted. They’ve also been fortunate that teams like the Jazz, Hornets, Nets, and Raptors were missing their own star players. Heck, these Laker games have been missing so many stars that they should just be decided by which team has more style: Kyle Kuzma, or the oppositions most fashion forward player. I’ve also been impressed with Markief Morris, who Dennis Schroeder also says is “tough and needs to get paid.” I know Dennis is worried a lot about money these days, including everyone else’s, but this time he doesn’t have to worry about Markieff. He’s getting paid millions by Steve Ballmer. That’s the benefit of having a joint bank account with your brother.

Speaking of the Lakers, after 13 months they let some fans back in the building last week vs the Boston Celtics. My special thanks to Fox 11’s Liz Habib for interviewing me as part of her coverage on the first game with fans on Thursday night. Her story aired on Thursday’s Night Fox 11 News at 10. However, you can find her story and the interview below.

Meanwhile, the Clippers seem to be content with whatever seed they get, but are doing everything they can to build momentum and chemistry. They beat up on the T-Wolves yesterday, and they had won 7 in a row going in Friday’s game with Philadelphia. Win or lose though, you can always guarantee that Paul George is going to have an excuse prepared. On Friday, he was complaining of a sore throat. A sore throat? Has this guy never heard of a cough drop? I’m sure he has plenty of excuses lined up if thing go south in the postseason. I’m also a little surprised that DeMarcus Cousins can’t get any consistent minutes with this team. The Clippers need size and more offense at the rim. DeMarcus is still trying to find his game with all the injuries he’s suffered, but to me, he’s worth giving minutes to in order to find out if he can re-discover that form. Given that Patrick Patterson is seeing more minutes than Boogie, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get that chance.

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 2 of 3 from the Padres over the weekend. It was a much hyped series that lived up to the excitement. Even though the Padres won yesterday, for all the talk that the Padres are ready to challenge the Dodgers for the division, they are just 5-11 against LA since the start of last season. Zack McKinstry has become Joc Pederson + Kike Hernandez, except with pants that aren’t quite as tight. The starting pitching has been sensational, and for all the talk about Kenley Jansen, he and the bullpen have been good enough. There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, but right now I have no reason to believe the Dodgers are not the team to beat in the MLB, especially with Mookie making plays like this.

Tough weekend for the Angels. The Twins screwed it up for them by not following COVID protocols, so two of their games got cancelled. At least that gives Shohei Ohtani more time to get right before his next start. The 6-man rotation seems to be working out ok so far. What doesn’t seem to be working out though is Albert Pujols. The Halos would be wise to start “social distancing” themselves from Pujols, and start using Jared Walsh as much as possible. Walsh is clearly a more capable all-around player right now, not to mention the first baseman of the future. Knowing Arte Moreno though, he’s probably yelling at Joe Maddon to play Pujols more because he believes he can sell more merchandise with Pujols like it’s 2010.

The LA Kings are returning to becoming a sad and disappointing franchise again. Remember when the Kings won a pair of Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014? Now there’s only four players remaining from that run, after Jeff Carter was traded last week. Rebuilding for any franchise is ok, but there is no end in sight to this rebuild. The Kings have by far the best farm system in hockey, with so much depth, they don’t even have space in the organization for more draft picks. However, they refuse to put those high end young players in their lineup to develop them, and they also refuse to trade any of them to get their remaining veterans help. I don’t know if anybody has told the Kings, but they play in Los Angeles, where this kind of extensive rebuilding crap isn’t tolerated by fans. We’ll miss you Jeff Carter, and I’m sure all the ladies in LA will miss you too.

Finally, I can’t believe some of you actually paid for that UFC Fight over the weekend. After losing to Jake Paul in less than a minute, Ben Askren should announce his retirement, then move somewhere nobody will ever recognize him again. If Nate Robinson saw that, he had to smile and get a good laugh knowing that he lasted longer vs Paul than Askren. I wonder what Uber Driver Paul is going to fight next? Here’s a look at the money all you UFC fans spent on that fight….

Monday Morning Coffee

April 12, 2021

I’m not going to be that guy. I’m not going to be the guy that sits here and tells you that the Lakers are that much better than the Nets because they blew them out without AD and Lebron. I’m not going to tell you that because the Nets were missing their own top 10 player, and had their best player on a minutes restriction. However, it’s encouraging to see the Lakers treading water without their stars. They’ve slipped to 5th in the West, but if they beat the Knicks tonight, they’ll improved to 6-6 without their two stars, which is way more than anybody could have asked for. I’m still super nervous about the two of them getting fully healthy again, but if they do, you have to like their chances in the playoffs against anybody. On a different note though, I have no idea what NBA referees are thinking. They’ve been ejecting players left and right for the past week like it’s Major League Baseball. We’ve reached the point where star players are getting ejected for some minor trash talking, and during nationally televised games? Apparently nobody has told these clowns that the ratings are down.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are winning but they have their own set of injuries they have to deal with. Serge Ibaka is still out of the lineup, and now Patrick Beverley is missing with a broken hand. Beverley and Rajon Rondo need to be in bubble wrap for the rest of the regular season to preserve them for the playoffs. These guys just can’t keep themselves healthy for an extended period of time. However, their effectiveness will solely be judged by how they perform in the playoffs. The same can be said for Paul George, who is tearing it up again for the time being. This team will only go as far as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard take them. Charles Barkley is apparently not a believer in them though. Barkley is wildly entertaining, but he could probably only say this kind of stuff on TNT, or else he would get fired at a place like ESPN.

To baseball, where the Dodgers swept the Nationals over the weekend. They are off to another great start, but their closer role remains a puzzling issue. Yesterday, Jansen looked as dominant as three years, shutting down the Nationals on 8 pitches in the 9th, and throwing up to 95 MPH to get the save. Coming into Sunday though, Kenley Jansen had appeared in only 3 games, and given up one run, with one blown save. After that one blown save, it felt like Dave Roberts was doing everything he could to tactfully divorce himself from having Jansen as his closer. Every word that came out of Roberts mouth sounds like a guy who is trying to break up with his long-time girlfriend. Pretty soon he’s going to be saying “it’s not you…’s me.” Yesterday showed us that the Dodgers shouldn’t write off Kenley yet, but I also think they need other options in their back pocket. I don’t buy that those options are Corey Knebel, Blake Treinen, or Victor Gonzales. Those guys are nice back end bullpen arms, but not closers. If they aren’t going to make one of their young arms a closer, by the trade deadline, the Dodgers might need to go get themselves a proven one.

As for the Angels, it’s only been a week, but I’ve been impressed with their pitching. Although Jose Quintana got bombed on Saturday night, nearly every game they’ve played in this season has featured a quality start. Tough news for Dexter Fowler that he’s out for the season with a torn ACL. He’s older, but glad to hear he sounds determined to come back strong and resume his MLB career. Also, a savvy move by Joe Maddon getting ejected on Saturday. He probably just wanted to see the 3rd round of the Masters in the clubhouse while his team was getting blown out. It’s that kind of work life balance we should all strive to achieve.

It’s been a week since UCLA basketball was eliminated in the Final Four, but the city is still buzzing over the Bruins. Gonzaga ended up losing to Baylor in the Finals, but let’s be real. It was really UCLA that defeated The Zags, because they had nothing left against the Bears. Meanwhile, Mick Cronin is worried the team is going to lose some toughness because some guys are posting photos on IG of their puppies. Don’t worry Mick, I think your guys won’t ever lose that with you coaching the team. Cronin got a well-deserved extension last week. Now his challenge is going to be finding enough minutes next season for a team that could potentially return everybody, plus add two more five-star freshman. That’s an embarrassment of riches, but also makes me think a few of these guys won’t come back because they know there aren’t enough minutes to go around. In any case, the Bruins should be really good next year, and they reminded us that they can still captivate Southern California. Now if only Martin Jarmond can fix the football program.

On the other side of town, the USC Football team had an imposter attending it’s spring football practices up until recently. A homeless man snuck into USC practice, then posed as a football player for several days before being arrested. The imposter even shared a jacuzzi with players, and a team meal, before he was caught trying to field punts. How did this guy make it past security? This was truly a “Catch Me If You Can” moment. As I’ve tried to tell you guys for years, anybody can get into USC! If the homeless guy was really sharp though, he would have tried to impersonate Clay Helton. Nobody can tell the difference between him and a guy who knows nothing about football.

Finally, congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama on winning the Masters yesterday. He’s the first Japanese player to win a major tournament. The man was so dominant, he made the entire weekend boring, with the exception of the last couple of holes. The drama ended though when Xander Schauffle collapsed on the 16th hole. Makes sense…..these kinds of implosions only happen to San Diego, which is where he’s from.
Will Zalatoris looks like the caddy in Happy Gilmore. He even got some well wishes from Adam Sandler on Twitter because of the striking resemblance. No matter how hard you try to sell it, the tournament just isn’t the same without Tiger Woods. Golf can try to sell us Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, or Dustin Johnson all the want, but it’s just not the same. Here’s to hoping we’ll see Tiger back on the course at some point captivating us.