Monday Morning Coffee

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August 15, 2022

The NBA schedule for the upcoming season is slowly being leaked. I feel like at this point they are very reluctantly leaking that schedule though, and hoping for a do-over in the event a flurry of trades go down before training camp. The Lakers, Nets, Pacers, Knicks, and Jazz are all rumored to be interested in making some trades. In fact, I don’t even see how it’s possible at this point for the Lakers to come to camp with Russell Westbrook, the Nets with Kyrie and KD, the Knicks with Julius Randle, the Pacers with Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, and the Jazz with Donovan Mitchell. For all those teams it would be like coming home to your wife and trying to make amends after being out all night flirting with attractive women and telling them you want to marry them. Also, for those of you that think if the Lakers trade for Kyrie everything will be ok in Laker land, don’t forget that he brings a whole new set of problems. While negotiating with the Nets, Kyrie reportedly tried to get a guarantee that he didn’t have to play more than 60 games, or play in back-to-back games because he feels they are “inhumane”. This dude is making $34 million and apparently thinks he’s fighting in the Ukraine-Russia war. Unbelievable.

To baseball, where the Dodgers are just pounding teams right now. Despite their loss yesterday, they have been obliterating the league, racking up 12 straight wins, and cruising to the best record in baseball. Right now the best trade deadline move has been the Dodgers acquisition of last year’s version of Max Muncy, in exchange for patience. When Muncy, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Turner are hitting, this line up is nearly impossible to stop, because you know the combination of Betts-Freeman-Trea Turner at the top is going to. No Dodger fan can complain about the regular season domination, but let’s be honest, it’s all about October for this team. They will simply be judged by the results then, whether it’s fair or unfair. I also have some major “who do you trust” questions come October. Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Anderson have been so good, yet do we really think in a big playoff game we can give them the ball and expect elite performances from them? Craig Kimbrel has been garbage all season, yet they keep rolling him out there. Instead, I sure hope the Dodgers make use of guys like Blake Treinen or Evans Philips come prime time.

The Angels had themselves a nice weekend against the Twins, even though they are out of contention. However, something interesting is happening with the Halos. Since July 24, their starting pitchers lead the A.L. with a combined 2.73 ERA, and have allowed two-or-fewer runs in 16 of 20 games in that span. It’s fair to say their schedule may have eased up a bit, but more than anything it tells you where the problem is: the lineup. This team is regularly putting guys out there that can barely hit Major League Pitching. It’s going to take a lot more than a healthy Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon to solve this problem. It’s going to take resourcefulness and front office smarts. Two things that I’m just not so sure the Angels have at this point.

We’re only 19 days away from USC Football opening up against Rice. It’s been so long since USC has actually been good at Football, but now the hype behind them might be real with Lincoln Riley now coaching them. They have what could potentially be an elite Quarterback in Caleb Williams. However, one thing to keep in mind is that Lincoln Riley doesn’t do defense. Expect this team to score a lot, but also expect them to defend about as poorly as a parked car. For years, all I’ve heard from USC fans is that it’s all about just making it to the Rose Bowl, and winning it. However, I don’t buy it. The Trojans actually did that with Clay Helton as their coach at one point, but it still wasn’t enough. They want to be in the College Football Playoff, and compete for National Championships. That’s fine, just don’t pretend like it was all about the Rose Bowl, because it’s not 1984 anymore.

As for the UCLA Football Program, Chip Kelly described his roster construction as “year-to-year”. I think that also describes exactly how UCLA fans feel about him coaching their team. Kelly is mostly relying on transfers this year to get him by, and their are a lot of holes to patch up. There’s no question this year’s team is much worse than last year’s. However, one thing they do have going for them is the fact they will have a schedule that is softer than tissue paper. Not sure what that means for Kelly’s future beyond this year, but expect a mildly respectable, but nothing to brag about year for this program.

Finally, the series finale of Better Call Saul is going down tonight. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to watch it, so read no further if you plan on doing so later. The mystery of what happened to Kim Wexler was finally solved. She moved to Florida, like most Americans seem to be doing these days, and she’s actually alive. However, I would not be surprised if by the time this series is over, she dies. I mean, it would be somewhat on brand to make us think she’s going to live, only to kill her off at the very end. Although I wasn’t a fan of all the flash forwards and flash backs the last few episodes, the series finale should be exciting tonight because it’s at a point in time AFTER the Breaking Bad era. That means we don’t actually know what the fate of ANY of these characters are, even though we thought we knew earlier. I’m on the edge of my seat!

Monday Morning Coffee

August 8, 2022

Well we’ve reached August and the entire NBA is still being held hostage by Kevin Durant. However, now that’s it’s August, Lebron James is eligible to sign an extension of up to 2-years. I know there are some of you out there that think the Lakers should trade him and start over, or just let him walk, but let’s be real: you’re all crazy. Lebron may be 37 years old, but he is still a top 3 NBA player, and on any given night, could be the best baller in the association. You don’t trade him when you’ve still got Anthony Davis paired with him. You’re forgetting that it’s actually a lot easier to find capable role players than it is to find superstars. The Lakers have two stars and just need capable role players. That might seem impossible, because it would take trading away Russell Westbrook, which sounds too hard, but it’s actually not as impossible as you think. The Lakers may not be much of anything right now by Lakers standards, but they also might not be as far away as you think.

In baseball, the Padres traded for Juan Soto last week, which got me thinking: the Padres remind me a lot of the Clippers. By adding Juan Soto the Padres can boast a lineup with Soto, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis, and even Josh Bell. That sounds nice on paper, but even before that trade the Padres were talented, and did nothing. They are even more talented now, but so far, doesn’t look like it will get them to compete with the elite of the NL. Same goes for the Clippers, who traded for Kawhi and Paul George three years ago, but it hasn’t worked so far. That’s not to say that eventually those moves can’t still work, but we’ve yet to see it pay-off for either franchise.

I’ll get to everything Vin Scully in just a moment, but first the Dodgers. They made no moves at the trade deadline, which frankly, isn’t the worst thing in the world. The Dodgers have the best record in baseball, and for the past week, made the Giants and Padres look like Little Leaguers. They certainly didn’t need Juan Soto. Could they have used some pitching or another closer? Of course. You can never have enough pitching. However, they have a boat load of players coming back from the IL: Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, Blake Treinen, Edwin Rios, Dustin May, and Walker Buehler. That’s an entire all-star team of players that can help. Considering the Dodgers have some transcendent level prospects in their system, there’s really no need to make a panic move and mortgage the future when they are still elite in the present. Clayton Kershaw’s back is a concern, but at least it’s not his arm, he’s got time before the playoffs start to recover, and the Dodgers don’t live and die anymore with each of his playoff starts.

I was extremely saddened by the passing of Legendary Dodger Broadcaser Vin Scully last week, but also, feel so privileged to have heard him. The man was 94 years old, and you have to feel happy for him that he worked all the way up until 88, and still got to spend time with his wife before he passed. This man could read a phone book, and make it interesting. That’s how good of a story teller he was, and his stories were fascinating during every game. I also love the fact that Scully was not a homer. He called it like it was during the game. An exciting moment was an exciting moment, regardless of whether or not it was the Dodgers or their opponents. The same can be said for fellow legendary LA broadcasters Chick Hearn and Bob Miller. This is not normal. You rarely get a hall of fame broadcaster working for your team. LA had three amazing ones. We are beyond spoiled here, but more than anything blessed to be LA Sports fan, especially thanks for Scully.


Meanwhile, the trade deadline came and went for the Angels, who sold off some spare parts: Noah Syndergaard, Raisel Iglesias, and Brandon Marsh for some prospects they hope will become useful. The real criticism they are receiving is that they should have traded Shohei Ohtani, which could have jump started the franchise with a boat load of high end blue chip prospects. However, their strategy unfortunately looks like it’s going to be nothing more than “rinse and repeat”, by just trying to fill holes this summer by signing free agents. That is unlikely to work for two reasons: there are too many holes, and Arte Moreno can’t outspend enough teams competing for elite players. Then again, the more I watch the Angels, the more I wouldn’t want Moreno to spend more money, because he spends it so poorly. Instead, he should be spending on scouting and player development. Half the Angels lineup on Saturday afternoon was hitting under .200. That just goes to show you what little depth this franchise has, and its lack of resourcefulness. I can’t see much changing without or without an Ohtani trade, as long as this fundamental structure remains in place.

In the NFL the Rams are continuing training camp at UC Irvine, as they get ready to take on the Chargers in their 1st pre-season game on Saturday. However, there is real concern about the elbow of Matthew Stafford. Sean McVay described it as “abnormal” which makes me wonder how this dude is going to last until February. It almost sounds like a baseball injury, that could potentially need Tommy John surgery. At this point every one of those 50 yard no-look passes I see him throw make me wonder if his arm is going to fall off like he were pitching for the Angels.

There’s a massage therapist convention that went on in Cleveland this weekend. DeShaun Watson must think this is some horrible joke the city is playing on him, and he probably desperately wanted to get into that convention. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers mentioned he’s taking psychedelics, but he didn’t really need to tell me that it’s helping him be a better lover.

Finally, there’s only two episodes of Better Call Saul left. I have to say, the last two episodes have been a little disappointing and unnecessary. We had a great build up in the story line with Kim and Jimmy, they break up …..yea spoiler alert…….and then all we see are a series of flash forwards and flashbacks. Other than providing some nostalgia for Breaking Bad, the flashbacks and flash forwards are doing nothing for the story. Hopefully we’ll see a strong finish in the last two episodes for what’s been a great series.

Monday Morning Coffee

August 1st, 2022

Welcome to the MLB trade deadline edition of Monday Morning Coffee. Who needs Juan Soto when you have James Outman? Dude looks more like James “Hitman” in his MLB debut yesterday. If there’s anything the Dodgers need to do before tomorrows deadline it’s get a starting pitcher. They need some insurance if Walker Buehler doesn’t make it back, or Dustin May just can’t take on too much coming off injury. I can appreciate Andrew Friedman saying the Dodgers owe it to their fans to do the due diligence on superstars when they are available, but they don’t need any more stars just to have stars, like Juan Soto. This feels like a total role reversal from where I used to be with Andrew Friedman when he never spent big and I wanted him to, but now here we are. Of course I’d much rather see Shohei Ohtani in a Dodger uniform and it would be fascinating, but Arte Moreno would rather gargle with razor blades than trade his star player to his cross-town rival (at least in his mind). I am happy to see Dave Roberts begin to recognize that Craig Kimbrel actually sucks. The first step to solving a problem is admitting you actually have one. I’ve also decided that Cody Bellinger is basically Joc Pederson now. That’s fine, but just don’t expect him to put up MVP numbers again.

As for the Angels, with two months to go, they must be dying for their season to end. They lost 3 of 4 over the weekend to the Rangers, and they finished the month of July hitting under .200. That is shockingly bad baseball. As bad as this team is, they need to make a very important decision in the next 24 hours. They need to decide if they are going to continue to try and build a winner around Trout, Ohtani, and Rendon. I say that because this team and organization has too many holes to fill in one off-season, so they should start now. Otherwise, they should just start trading people now, including Ohtani. On the bright side, Mike Trout’s rumored back injury doesn’t seem as crippling as initially feared , and he might start swinging a bat this week. At this point, that’s the best news the Angels can get.

In the NBA, there’s still a whole lot of nothing to report about with the Lakers. They would love to deal for Kyrie Irving, but he’s not getting moved until Kevin Durant does, and nobody can meet the Nets insane asking price for KD. Yes it’s true that if the Lakers were willing to trade Anthony Davis they might have a shot at acquiring Durant, but there’s too many NBA politics for that deal to happen. Lebron and Klutch’s relationship with AD for one, and the fact Kevin Durant doesn’t really like Lebron or Kyrie anymore. That team would also be awful defensively without AD. The good news for the Lakers is Lebron sounds like he wants to stay in LA and sign an extension, and that Kendrick Nunn is actually healthy. Hopefully Nunn doesn’t bang his knee on a coffee table again.

There’s actually some big names still out there on the free agent market. Carmelo has yet to sign, and we’ve reached the annual point in the summer where everyone starts posting videos of him dominating dudes at 24 Hour Fitness. I actually wouldn’t mind Melo back on the Lakers for the minimum in a limited role. Dwight Howard is also out there, and it blows my mind that DeAndre Jordan was signed before him. Dwight didn’t have a great year last year, but if DJ can find a team, he should be able to. Otherwise, he can go to the WWE. It’s also amazing how obsolete of a player Montrezl Harrell has become. He was the 6th man of the year in 2020, and now he can’t even find a team.

I’d like to express my deepest condolences to the family of Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, who passed away over the weekend. Russell had an amazing basketball legacy, but his legacy and accomplishments during the civil rights movement was far more impactful. Russell is in a category by himself when it comes

to this, along with the likes of Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown.

In the NFL, training camps are open and the Rams are showing out at UC Irvine. The Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson wide receiver duo is already looking really good, and if OBJ somehow gets added to the mix then who needs a running game? Although I expect Cam Akers to look much better after having more time to recover from his Achilles tear.

Meanwhile, I keep asking myself if we’re going to fall for it again this year and pick the Chargers to make a deep run in the AFC. Honestly, the only reason why I like them is because of Justin Herbert. The Bolts have always had talent, but Herbert is a special talent that looks like he may just be able to overcome all the on and off the field ineptitude this organization has endured for many years.

Monday Morning Coffee

July 25, 2022

Russell Westbrook is still a Laker. Kyrie Irving is not. As it stands today, this Laker team probably isn’t going to be all that much better than last year. It’s not about Kyrie though, it’s about not having reliable role players that can shoot and defend. They can only get those by trading Russ. However, you people that want to criticize the Lakers for not wanting to part with multiple first round picks in a Russ trade must be the worst negotiators ever. I’m beginning to think you even go to Whole Foods and ask the cashier if you can pay even more for that rotisserie chicken than it’s listed for. Some of you also seem to think that Buddy Heild and Myles Turner are Larry Bird and Bill Russell. They aren’t, but I get it. You don’t like Russ and he’s not a good fit, but being a good NBA executive requires patience to get the right deal, which most of you don’t seem to understand. Give the Lakers time. If they look this way come October, then we can criticize.

Meanwhile, interesting back and forth between former NBA player JJ Redick and Clippers Executive Jerry West. Redick tried to be funny but was somewhat serious when he said that Bob Cousy played against “plumbers and fireman.” Jerry West fired back by saying that Redick was basically a nobody who averaged 12 points per game. What’s funny about this is that Redick is actually the plumber and fireman of his era. In general though, I hate comparing eras because the game and the resources are just different. Who is to say that if I put Bob Cousy in todays era, he wouldn’t be able to adapt himself to todays rules and be just as great? That’s why these conversations are so pointless.

The Dodgers at rolling. They just swept the Giants, and they’ve won 8 in a row. Mookie Betts is pretty good at this baseball thing. Freddie Freeman has also ended the drama and caught fire at the plate. The fact the Dodgers have opened up an 11.5 game lead in the West, and are just 1/2 behind the Yankees for the best record in baseball tells you how great their depth is, even with all the injuries. Still, you can never have enough pitching come October, which is why Luis Castillo and another reliever make the most sense to trade for by the trade deadline. Also, Trayce Thompson on the Dodgers is apparently like having Ted Williams on the team. He has definitely earned more playing time.

Andrew Friedman watches team drills.

Meanwhile, the Angels disaster is still ongoing after getting beaten up by the Braves for most of the weekend. The Halos win so infrequently, everyone was astonished they found the win column. Mike Trout looks like he’s going to be out longer than he initially thought. Also bizarre is the contract extension they agreed to with David Fletcher. Only the Angels could make a deal like this that was bad for both sides. Why would you want to extend a guy who is hitting .211? And if you’re Fletcher, why would you want to lock yourself into a low salary like that for 5 years? This basically re-affirms my believe that no matter what direction the Angels go in, they are likely to screw it up.

Finally, I’ve mentioned before how I can’t resent all PGA Tour members that are taking all that money with the LIV Tour. However, now it’s getting really serious: they might get Charles Barkley to do their broadcasting. Barkley admitted this is only about the money, which I admire, and can’t hate on him if he takes it. However, I’m going to be devastated if he leaves Inside The NBA on TNT for this. That show has always been phenomenal. Putting Barkley on TV to talk golf is completely nonsensical, but if someone Is dumb enough to triple is salary, he can’t say no.

Finally, I’m always fired up about Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. The epic coverage kicked off last night, which included an unbelievable shark encounter a diver had while in a plexiglass cage. Frankly, the diver is lucky to be alive after a Great White went full speed breaching through his cage. This may not have been the most responsible set up by the the Shark Week producers, but thankfully, nobody was hurt. Nevertheless, it did make for incredible footage.

Monday Morning Coffee

July 18, 2022

NBA Summer League is over, but over the weekend, Lebron made an appearance in an exhibition game at the Drew League. Look, it was fun and glad Lebron looks healthy, but let’s not get too excited about LBJ and DeMar Derozan flexing on a bunch of Door Dash drivers. Nothing could be more hilarious though than thinking that Kyrie Irving was going to play in that game, then no-showed. Now everyone knows how the Nets have felt for the last three years. Then there’s Russell Westbrook, who split with his agent over the weekend. Never in my life have I seen an agent make a statement like Thad Foucher did over the weekend, just publicly airing the dispute between him and his client. Foucher said he thinks Russ should stay with the Lakers to not diminish his value further, while it sounds like Russ wants to be traded. I’m not so sure either one of them have much say in the matter at this point, and neither do the Lakers. It’s really up to the Nets if they want to part ways with him, and until KD gets traded, that might not happen. The only thing that could really make all this happen is if Russ, Kyrie, and KD make things really awkward for the Lakers and Nets, and force their hand into taking action.

A separate NBA side story taking shape is that Donovan Mitchell is now available in trade talks. The Jazz are clearly selling off parts like a going out of business sale, and the Knicks are at the top of the list of teams chasing him. I love Donovan Mitchell, and he’s certainly a star player, but it would be very on brand for the Knicks to unload every future draft pick they own for a guard they have no idea how to build around.

To baseball, where the Dodgers have hit the All-Star break with the best record in the National League. The Boys in Blue swept the Angels over the weekend, outscoring them 22-3 in four games this season. However, the story around the Dodgers is the Juan Soto trade rumors. Soto turned down $440 million over 15 years. He’s a great player, but there is no MLB player worth that kind dollar figure, especially when you have to gut your farm system for him. Everyone wants to compare this to when Miguel Cabrera was traded from the Tigers in 2007. Cabrera had a nice run with the Tigers, but let’s not pretend it created some incredible power shift in baseball. The Tigers made it to the World Series once with him, and were eliminated four times in the playoffs with him. Soto is nice, but the Dodgers don’t need him. They need bullpen help, especially at the closer spot, and they need their ace back, Walker Buehler. Let’s be practical people, this isn’t fantasy baseball. Plus the reason the Dodgers opened a 9.5 game lead on the Padres is because the middle of their order started hitting. That’s not an unreasonable expectation moving forward.

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Then there’s the Angels, who simply look like they have booked vacations to Cancun for quite some time. They enter the All-Star break with only 7 teams in baseball with worse records than them. They are much closer to tanking for the #1 pick than they are to a playoff spot. We should also stop talking about the idea of trading Shohei Ohtani or Mike Trout. Arte Moreno would never do that, since he cares more about selling tickets for people to see his star players. I’m also amazed that people are now turning on Mike Trout, like it’s his fault the team sucks. He’s still having a solid season, and despite some of the nagging injuries, he’s played in 85% of the teams games. Phil Nevin probably hates his job at this point, but Phil if it makes you feel better, so do most Americans!

With the All-Star game scheduled for Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, everyone is excited, but reminded of a big reality: Dodger Stadium is a terrible venue to get in and out of. The experience of watching a game there is fantastic, but it’s like the Hollywood Bowl, miserable to get there. I feel fortunate to get to go to Tuesday’s game, but if I leave now, I should make it there just in time for fist pitch. The problem is, there isn’t much of a solution for this one other than building a new stadium at a different site. It’s virtually one way in and one way out to get to the Ravine. Parking is awful, and there’s nothing that can be done to change that fundamental aspect of it. All this talk about the concession workers striking. I think they just didn’t want to have to deal with parking there during the All-Star game!

Monday Morning Coffee

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July 11, 2022

This is the part of the NBA off-season where news is slow, so people try to manufacture stories in their minds. My favorite is Jeanie Buss’s tweet, saying she misses Kobe, and what it really means. “She’s taking a shot at Lebron!” Or “She must be frustrated about not making a trade!” Probably none of the above guys. She is fully capable of missing Kobe and it has nothing to do with what’s going on with the team now, or anybody on the team. That’s all this is in my opinion. Then there’s the manufacturing of there being some kind of a rift between Russell Westbrook and Lebron James at Summer League. “Oooooh they sat on the other side of the arena from each other, they must hate each others guts!” I like how nobody assumes that they even said hi to each other or spoke to each other but nobody saw. There is just no real Laker news to report. You people that keep saying “The Kyrie trade is done” are hilarious. Do you really think they would agree to the trade and Woj and Shams don’t know about it? Sounds like it’s going to take a while for the KD trade to get done, and that apparently needs to happen first. The Nets latest demands include Anthony Davis, Lebron James, 25 first round picks, the Laker girls, a Playboy magazine with Jeanie Buss, and Crypto.com arena.

To baseball where the Dodgers have won 7 straight games after sweeping the Rockies and Cubs. For all that bitching and complaining, the Boys in Blue have the best record in the NL. They probably should have had 7 All-Stars because Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, and Julio Urias were snubbed. However, Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin are very much deserving of All-Star spots. Same goes for Trea Turner and Mookie Betts. I’m also delighted to hear that Kershaw will be starting for the NL against Shohei Ohtani at the Ravine. Kershaw may have been hurt for part of the season, but he’s still been one of the best pitchers in the NL this season. Like I said before, this man doesn’t not get enough credit for still being a great pitcher to this day. The one concern I do have is the closer situation, and unfortunately, Andrew Friedman doesn’t want to address it via trade. Instead it might need to be from an internal replacement for Craig Kimbrel, if he still looks like garbage. My vote would be Dustin May, who I have always believed has the stuff to be an elite closer. Only time will tell if he’s the next guy, or if Kimbrel will get his act together.

The Angels on the other hand do not have their act together, and are skidding again, losing another 4 straight games. It’s really astonishing that this team is now `18.5 games out of 1st place, and 7 games out of the AL Wild Card. If firing Joe Maddon did nothing, and having Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout does nothing, it speaks volumes about how terrible of a team you have assembled. I’d say the Halos should be sellers at the trade deadline, but what’s the point? They are going to pretend like they are in “win now” mode and not sell much, and the parts they are going to get back wouldn’t be developed properly enough to help their organization. Have you ever looked at the Angels staff directory?

Congrats to LA Kings forward, Adrian Kempe on securing a 4 years $22 million extension. Kempe scored 35 goals last season, and $5.5 million is a pretty reasonable cap hit for the Kings. Now it would be a little more reasonable if he scored some goals for them in the playoffs.

Finally, all that talk about Baker Mayfield and the Browns making up, and it turns out they traded him to Carolina. The Panthers really just assembled a QB room for the season with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. Something tells me that by Week 15, neither one of them will be starting.

Monday Morning Coffee

July 4, 2022

Happy 4th of July! I know I know. You’re all feverishly refreshing your Twitter feeds to see if Woj or Shams is going to announce a Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant trade. I’ll get to these two later. But first, let’s talk about the Lakers free agent additions: Lonnie Walker, Troy Brown, Juan Toscano Anderson, and Damian Jones. This isn’t who I would have spent my limited free agent dollars on if I were Rob Pelinka, however, there is some reasonable logic to it after last seasons disaster. The team is definitely much younger and more athletic, instead of the old geezers they signed last season. While all these players have some untapped potential, overall the team is still missing perimeter shooting and defense. They probably weren’t going to get that anyway with their limited resources, although I probably would have rolled the dice with someone like Otto Porter Jr or Bruce Brown, that fulfilled more of these needs. Interestingly enough, all the Laker free agents haven’t been signed by anybody, other than Malik Monk. That shows you just how cooked those old guys were. On the other hand though, there are some interesting players showing out on the Lakers summer league roster so far. Most notably, Cole Swider looks like he can shoot it, and Scottie Pippen Jr looks good as well. Then again, since nobody on the Lakers can shoot, if a guy like Swider makes a couple of threes in Vegas, he’s freaking Ray Allen as far as they are concerned. Hard to imagine those two at least not getting a shot to make the Lakers roster out of training camp.

As for the Clippers, they re-signed Nic Batum, but didn’t really need to do anything else. They just have too many guys under contract already, and are so deep, their challenge is finding minutes for everyone. They actually lost Isaiah Hartenstein in free agency, who turned into a very productive player, but probably would not have gotten the playing time or the money with the Clippers. Lawrence Frank is probably one of the few executives around the league who can spend his 4th of July Weekend on a beach or by the pool, while every other executive around the league is calling Sean Marks more times than Adele.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are dominating the off-season headlines. To be honest, these two deserve to be traded to another country for a player to be named later. For KD, he just signed a four year extension, and now he’s asking to be traded. You created this mess bro and got everything you wanted. Now things get a little rough and you want out? Of course the teams you want to go to are the top teams in the East and West: Miami and Phoenix. This is the definition of a front-runner. I’ve talked ad nauseum about Kyrie, and his foolish behavior for the last three years. However, the fact the Lakers are the only team interested in him tells you how desperate they are. Has anybody checked on Dame? The Blazers cleared $60 million in cap space and burned it all on a roster that would be lucky to make it into the play in tournament. Miles Bridges is going to get a max deal from the state penitentiary. The Wolves acquired Rudy Gobert and the Covid-19 Alpha strain. The Celtics acquired Malcolm Brogdon for a 2022 Finals ticket stub. Then there’s Pat Bev, who told Steph Curry “the next five years are mine” then got traded five times.

To the college ranks, where USC and UCLA made big headlines last week by announcing they are leaving the Pac-12 and going to the Big 10. Well there’s more evidence of people leaving California for Red States. In all seriousness though, this speaks to just how poorly the Pac-12 (now Pac-10) conference has been run the last few years. Larry Scott couldn’t run a hot dog stand at this point, and his TV deal was a complete disaster, with nobody being able to watch the games. They also really needed USC to be good, and ironically, now that they will be, they are leaving the conference. In the short-run, the travel is going to be really hard for USC and UCLA athletics. However, ultimately we are going to get to two really big power conferences, so it will get better. This is all about money. Both these programs have been hurting quite a bit through the pandemic, and their new television deals with the Big 10 will help alleviate that with the $100 million in annual revenue they will be receiving. The structure of collegiate athletics is going to look very different in the next few years though, so get used to it and embrace it.

In baseball, there has been a lot of complaining about the Dodgers the last few weeks. For all the complaining though, they have the best record in the National League halfway through the season. Oh and in case you forgot, they lost their ace, their 2nd best pitcher for a long stretch, one of the best players in baseball, one of their best relievers, and 1/3rd of their lineup has been hitting like little leaguers. Imagine how good this team could be if they could just solve a few of those problems. The Dodgers took 3 of 4 over the weekends from the Padres, and when San Diego finally won one game, they literally threw a parade in downtown San Diego. If it weren’t for Craig Kimbrel pitching like completely garbage again, it would have been a sweep. Clayton Kershaw was brilliant yesterday. I would love to see him pitch in LA for the all-star game, but if there’s one guy who actually deserves to start its Tony Gonsolin, who has looked like Nolan Ryan at this point. Hopefully we don’t have to hear any more about Freddie Freeman though and him crying over leaving the Braves. This is the big leagues buddy. At the end of the day, you are accountable for your own decisions, and nobody made a decision for you. Get over it and stop acting like you are playing baseball in Oakland or some crummy market.

On the other hand is the Angels. Boy were we all wrong about this team. At the halfway point of the season, it’s over. They are 15.5 games out of 1st place, and 7 games out of the Wild Card with 5 teams to jump over. Sunday, they struck out more times than I did during junior high dances. At least Shohei Ohtani is a phenomenon and a pleasure to watch. It’s like somebody spiked his sake over the past few weeks. However, this team has major holes in their pitching, at shortstop, and catcher, as well as overall depth issues. Funny, these are the exact same holes the team had when the off-season started last year. This is what happens when you have a poor farm system to begin with, that feeds into a system that has poor player development. Even the two best players in baseball cannot overcome this. It’s a tremendous organizational failure that I don’t see how they solve with Arte Moreno owning the team. Even if they trade Trout and Ohtani, they would never get back the return they are worth, and they would only be feeding those players into a crummy system that sets them up for failure.

Finally, the LA Kings are making a big splash. The acquired scoring left winger Kevin Fiala from the Minnesota Wild last week, and then signed him to a long term contract. The Kings badly needed more offense, and a left winger, and Fiala addresses that. They may also not be done either, as there are rumors of them trading for a defenseman who can help their power play as well. The Kings are very methodically building another Stanley Cup contender, however, the Stanley Cup is probably going to look like a crushed can of Coors Light after an Alabama tailgate, with the way it’s being treated by the Avalanche players.

Monday Morning Coffee

July 27, 2022

Let me make this clear. There is no market for Kyrie Irving. Nobody is going to give this guy a max contract. There are some pretty stupid people running NBA organizations, yet still, nobody is dumb enough to guarantee four or five more years of his bs. He’s going to find that out shortly, as the Nets have told him he can go look for sign-and-trades. Even for a team starved for talent like the Lakers, I wouldn’t even trade Russell Westbrook straight up for him, and I’m certainly not giving up draft picks. If Kyrie wants to leave Brooklyn and join the Lakers, it’s fine if he’s willing to take the $6 million tax payer midlevel exception for one year. I still have a hard time believing he’s willing to leave $30 million on the table by doing this, but this is also the same guy who believes the earth is flat, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Save Russell Westbrook’s contract for a trade to bring in some useful role players, especially now that John Wall is likely an option for them as well. Meanwhile, Lebron is the biggest troll I have ever seen, as he’s now posting Kyrie highlights on his IG story. On the bright side though, the Lakers drafting and scouting has always been on point, and they have some very interesting summer league players to keep an eye on after last week’s draft. Laugh all you want about Shareef O’Neal and Scottie Pippen Jr. on the roster, but the Lakers scouting department has earned the benefit of the doubt, and they know what they are doing.

Elsewhere around the NBA draft, I still think many of the UCLA kids made a big mistake entering the draft, and Thursday night did nothing to change my opinion of that. Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard went undrafted, and now will have to prove themselves in summer league for the Jazz and the Pistons, respectively. Peyton Watson did manage to successfully bet on himself, and was the last pick in the 1st round, before being traded to the Nuggets. I realize that every NBA team is desperate for wings and all, but we’ve reached the point of desperation where a kid who averaged 3 points and shot 32% from the field as a freshman is a 1st round pick. I hope these kids have successful NBA careers, but right now, I think they are getting very bad advice. Also, congrats to Isaiah Mobley for being drafted by the Cavs, and re-uniting him with his brother Evan. That’s good for USC Basketball. I also hope that Christian Braun has a very long and prosperous NBA career for many reasons, especially after his mom attended the draft.

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A couple of thoughts before NBA free agency madness begins later this week. Are we sure Kevin Durant isn’t actually tired of Kyrie’s antics and is ready to see him leave? Dude hitched himself to the wrong wagon after leaving Golden State, and no matter how cool he is playing it, he has a right to be pissed at Kyrie for his antics. I know Suns owner Robert Sarver is cheaper than George Kostanza, but I have a hard time seeing him trade away DeAndre Ayton and make his team better, unless somehow they are getting Kevin Durant back. Can’t wait to see how the Sixers negotiate James Harden’s new contract. There should be a provision in there about how many strip clubs he can go to in a given month.

Congratulations to the Colorado Avalanche on winning the Stanley Cup. You’ve gotta be especially happy for former LA King Jack Johnson, who has had a hell of a rough ride prior to this season. Johnson was basically screwed financially by several of his family members a few years ago, forcing him to file for bankruptcy. There’s also several former Anaheim Ducks that got to hoist the cup last night as well: Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano. Unfortunately for the Lightning, they got hit with the curse of Corey Perry, who has lost in three straight Cup Finals with three different teams. At least somebody got to three-peat.

To baseball, where the Dodgers took 2 of 3 from the Braves over the weekend, and are now 2 games up the on Padres in the NL West. Look, I get that Freddie Freeman played a long time in Atlanta and won a World Series so it’s a little emotional, but is he going to cry every single time he plays the Braves? Even Clayton Kershaw is beginning to think it’s a little overdone with his comments over the weekend. All things considered though with all the injuries, the Dodgers are still in decent shape. Losing Daniel Hudson for the season is a big blow to the bullpen, but they will need some trade deadline re-enforcements in the way of a high leverage reliever (if not a closer), a solid starter, and a bat that can just put the ball in play. Getting Dustin May and Walker Buehler back will help all this, but they could need more against the likes of the Mets, Braves, and Padres just to get through the NL. Cody Bellinger is not only destroying the Dodgers offensively by hitting .200, he’s also destroying their team by running into Mookie Betts and injuring him, making matters worse.

As for the Angels, thank goodness for that brawl yesterday against the Mariners, because all everyone seems to wants to talk about is trading Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. That’s the most fight the Angels have put up in weeks. Raisel Iglesias was especially angry after that, making me wonder if he just found out about Roe vs Wade getting overturned. After getting their heads kicked in for weeks, I was expecting the Angels to bank some wins against the Mariners and Royals. Instead, they pulled out a mediocre 5-4 record, and sit 6.5 games back of an AL Wild card spot. Another rough stretch against the White Sox and Astros this week, and we might be talking more about the Angels tanking than pushing for a playoff spot.

Monday Morning Coffee

June 20, 2022

It’s rumor season in the NBA. The business of basketball sometimes seems more interesting than what happens on the court. The latest rumors have the Nets unwilling to give Kyrie Irving an extension, and resulting rumors in the Lakers, Clippers, and Knicks being interested in trading for him if it doesn’t work out for him in Brooklyn. Let me say this, as many problems as the Lakers have with Russell Westbrook, Kyrie would present a whole set of new problems that you don’t want to have. I wouldn’t trust this man to tell me what he wants on his hamburger. It’s no wonder the Nets would rather give themselves an enima than give him an extension. I would rather take my chances with Russ for a year, or better yet, trade Russ and picks for expensive but high level role players. Then there’s the garbage reporting taking place that Lebron won’t sign an extension before free agency. Anybody with half a brain knows that he won’t sign an extension, but he is literally unable to because of CBA rules. He can’t actually be offered and commit to it before August 4th. According to Brian Windhorst, who is basically about as close to Lebron as you can be without being up his butt, he still wants to be in LA, so I have no reason to believe he is trying to force his way out as of now. There’s also wild and crazy rumors of the Lakers being interested in Bradley Beal. Beal would be a dream, but let’s get real, that’s like me saying I’m interested in Jennifer Lopez.

As for the NBA Finals, congratulations to the Golden State Warriors on winning their 4th championship in the last 8 seasons. I’m very happy for Steph Curry, who finally won a Finals MVP award. Is it wrong at this point to have 12 guys in the Top 10 of all-time? Whether or not you agree, I think we can all agree on the fact that Drake’s new album is not Top 10. Jayson Tatum loves Kobe and the Lakers so much that he must have decided to play awful in the finals to prevent the Celtics from getting their 18th title before the Lakers. He’s still a damn good player and the Celtics are gonna be pretty good for a while, but the Warriors are still going to be at the top of the contender list next season too.


I was really excited about the Stanley Cup Final. Then I watched the first two games and had a stark realization. Avalanche vs Lightning would have been an amazing series a year ago. Not this year. Who wins a Cup Final game 7-0? They are crushing teams like grapes. In fact, this series is making teams that thought they were “one or two players away” realize they are not actually “one or two players away”. This is actually a memo to the LA Kings and others after watching this. On the other hand, Tampa Bay fans are one or two losses away from being blackout drunk.

To baseball, where the Dodgers are in the midst of a very rough stretch. They lost two out of three over the weekend to the Guardians, and they are hitting like Little Leaguers, especially with runners in scoring position. Overpaid Little Leaguers too! Cody Bellinger is a $17 million defensive center fielder that can barely hit MLB pitching. Justin Turner suddenly looks like Father Time has snatched him up, Max Muncy hasn’t figured it out after the injury, and Freddie Freeman is a $160 million singles hitter. The Mookie Betts injury is especially bad, he was the only guy hitting an an elite level, and now they have no reliable corner outfielders left. They also have no reliable closer, because Craig Kimbrel is about as trustworthy is Amber Herd is in the bedroom after dinner at Taco Bell. The good news though is after all that, the pitching is still phenomenal, and they are still hanging on to first place in the NL West. Tyler Anderson, Tony Gonsolin, and Andrew Heaney have been far better than anyone could have ever imagined. The Dodgers need some kind of a trade to fix some of these problems, but some of them will also have to be fixed with their top players just remembering that they are their top players.

As for the Angels, they found some wins over the weekend against the Mariners, and they need to petition the league to play them every week to get going again. In one months they went 9-23, had their stadium deal axed because of a corruption scandal, fired their manager, and lost Anthony Rendon for the season. I like how Rendon was on the verge of coming back, they gave him the option of sitting out and he’s like, “yea I’d rather stay home, watch Netflix, and collect a $36 million paycheck”. Sounds like the American way post pandemic. Then there’s the Shohei Ohtani rumors about signing him or trading him. I think the Angels need to do everything to sign him, but I disagree with the idea that if they do, they can’t win. The Angels aren’t going to win until they fix their scouting and player development, which is simply terrible. The Halos still have a farm system in the bottom third of the league. It’s the equivalent of buying Ferrari’s while refusing to fix the pluming in your house. When Moreno fixes this, which doesn’t seem like it’s happening any time soon, this is a different conversation.

Finally, in the NFL, this Browns-Deshaun Watson situation is incredible. They traded for a guy and gave him a fortune when he’s about to get one of the most harsh suspensions in NFL history. By the time you’re done reading this week’s MMC, you might see 5 more women file a sexual assault lawsuit against him. My favorite part of this though is the fact they might have to kiss and makeup with Baker Mayfield for just this season if Watson gets the suspension we think he will. That’s like breaking up with your girlfriend because you found someone better, but then telling her “it’s gonna be a few weeks before we make it official so let’s hang until then.” I’m sure that will go over really well with Baker.

Monday Morning Coffee

June 13, 2022

Darvin Ham was formally introduced as the Lakers head coach last week. Of course everyone wants to convince themselves that because Russell Westbrook attended the press conference, he is going to be with the Lakers at the start of next season. I don’t buy it. Westbrook attended the press conference because he is being a good leader and a good teammate. By all accounts, he’s always behaved that way. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a terrible fit on this team, and the Lakers will at least try to trade him. Rob Pelinka isn’t stupid, although I’m sure some of you want to believe that after his previous off-season. The more Pelinka makes it look like the team isn’t desperate, the better chance he has of trading him. Also, it would be foolish to think that with Lebron James and Anthony Davis on their team, the Lakers aren’t going to do everything in their power to optimize their window to win now. It would make no sense otherwise. That means doing everything to trade Westbrook. Then there’s the ridiculous criticism of Anthony Davis, who was caught in a video on his driveway saying he had not touched a basketball since the season ended. In typical Twitter fashion, everyone jumped down his throat, accusing him of being lazy. In reality, this is part of AD’s off-season regiment. Rest for four weeks, lift weights for six weeks, and then do basketball activities for the next six weeks. For a guy that gets hurt all the time, that program actually makes too much sense for some of the keyboard nerds to understand.

As for the NBA Finals, this series could easily go 7 games, and I hate to tell this to Laker fans, there’s a decent chance the Celtics win it. To be honest, the only reason I like the Warriors at this point is because they have the home court advantage for at least the time being. Steph looked like he was playing hoops in the park when he took Marcus Smart to school in the last few moments of game 4. I don’t have an issue with Draymond Green podcasting at the end of game 3 in his hotel room. It sure beats those dudes that go out and party after the game. Would you prefer he swipe right on a few girls on Tinder and get them up to his room? I have no issue with this kind of stuff off the court he’s doing, but I do take issue with him playing like garbage or his antics that get him technical fouls that just put his team in difficult situations.

This had to be the worst weekend of the season for the Dodgers. They got swept by those hated San Francisco Giants. Those Giant fans are probably laughing all the way to that snobby organic super market they shop at this morning. Just an extremely frustrating series that saw the Dodgers leave man after man in scoring position. To make matters worse, they lost their ace, Walker Buehler for the next 6-8 weeks due to elbow issues. That always makes you nervous his season could be in jeopardy. Their lead in the NL West is also down to a half game over the Padres as well. I like how it took a Buehler injury for everyone to stop saying the Dodgers need to trade for some overpriced slugger that strikes out a lot, and instead they need pitching. I’ve been saying they need pitching forever. Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin look nice right now, but come October they will look more like Laverge and Shirley rather than Johnson and Schilling. I’m just not sure where it’s going to come from, since at the moment there is no Max Scherzer type starter on the trade block right now.

Then there’s the Angels, who actually found the win column over the weekend. That of course wasn’t before getting Joe Maddon fired, and losing a franchise record, 14 straight games. Let me start by saying this, guys like Joe Maddon are like outdated versions of the IPhone at this point in baseball. Whether you like it or not, managers are now just people managers that execute game plans and instructions from their front office superiors. You have to be completely bought into the idea of analytics to accept being a baseball manager, and not being the decision maker the skipper used to be. That was not Joe Maddon, and he admitted that. I don’t think it’s necessarily Phil Nevin either, but it’s probably somebody that is on nobody’s radar right now. As for the team, the losing streak was the perfect storm of a bad bullpen, troubled starting pitching, and no hitting throughout the lineup. However, given the talent the Halos have, they aren’t as bad as the streak looked. The problem is, making up that deficit in the standings will be tough, given the teams flaws. Nevertheless, at least you can say the Angels are still in the mix to get a playoff spot? For now.

To the NFL, where the Rams found a way to get it done. They signed Aaron Donald to a massive extension, as well as Cooper Kupp. At this point everyone seems to be under the impression that the Rams are basically printing money, especially with the rumors that they might be coming to a deal with OBJ this week, as well as the surprising rumors they have interest in Saquon Barkley. It’s clear that Les Snead knows loop holes in the salary cap like DeShaun Watson knows massage parlors. Repeating as a Super Bowl Champion is pretty difficult to do in this era, but the Rams are at least doing everything they can to try to.

Finally in golf, I can’t believe all of these people that are criticizing Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and others for leaving the PGA Tour for the LIV Tour in Saudi Arabia. Sorry but if any media member got offered a boat load more money to go work elsewhere, even in Saudi Arabia, they would do it. Then the PGA decided to suspend these players. This would be like stopping the broadcasting of NBA games with all the money they get from China, or suspending those players. Besides, this move by Dustin Johnson to the LIV Tour is giving us more Twitter bikini pictures from Paulina Gretzky, so not sure why you guys are complaining!