Monday Morning Coffee


October 24th, 2016

I’ve been telling you all since last spring that this Dodger team isn’t going to the World Series. The fact they were eliminated by the Cubs in the NLCS on Saturday night doesn’t making it any less disappointing.  It was like Steve Bartman was playing left field for the Dodgers.  Ok fine, for about two seconds I believed that the pressure might be too great for the Cubs after the Dodgers went up 2-1 in the series. Then I realized that once Kenta Maeda was starting game 5, LA had no chance. Just like the Cubs, the Dodgers have some good young players.  However, unlike the Cubs, the Dodgers haven’t adequately supplemented that young talent with the proper veteran support to make themselves a true World Series contender.  We’ve been hearing “the Dodgers are close” since 2013. Under Andrew Friedman, they are no closer.  The Cubs have a Cy Young candidate themselves in Jake Arrieta.  He’s been struggling, but you’d never know it because they have three other capable starting pitchers. The Dodgers don’t, and their bullpen wasn’t as good as we thought.   Clayton Kershaw has to do everything for LA. When he and Kenley Jansen fail, that’s all we hear about.  I’m surprised Kershaw’s arm hasn’t fallen off given how much he’s pitched in the last two weeks. What we should be talking about is how pathetic the Dodger offense is. How Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal, and Josh Reddick can’t hit, and how the team has no speed.   Your window to win isn’t forever, especially when you have a great pitcher like Kershaw. When Andrew Friedman decides not to re-sign Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Rich Hill, the Dodgers will be no closer to the World Series, which is really a shame and very frustrating for Dodgers fans.

As for the Cubs, you have to give them credit. Theo Epstein built this team to win now, after suffering through several losing years.   What’s a few more losing years when you’ve been waiting 108 years to win a title? Somewhere in a Chicago dungeon, Steve Bartman is in chains celebrating the Cubs victory.  I think it’s safe to say that hell has frozen over since both the Indians and Cubs are in the World Series, except one of these long suffering fan bases is going to be extremely disappointed. Here’s a live look at hell.


Remember when Jeff Fisher said the Rams “aren’t going 9-7, 7-9, or 8-8”? Oh yes they are. In completely unsurprising fashion, the Rams went to London, and lost another close game to a non-divisional opponent.  There are guys with erectile dysfunction that finish better than this team has over the first seven games of the season. They just don’t have enough playmakers on the roster.  My goodness Case Keenum!  That was the worst interception of all-time on the final drive of the game. Tavon Austin is supposed to be the teams’ most dangerous weapon, and even he couldn’t be counted upon to hang onto an important pass, which resulted in one of the Giants’ touchdowns.  I think it’s safe to say the Rams have regressed towards the mean after a couple of big divisional wins, and that the team is simply average at best.  If the team is going to lose, and their quarterback is going to throw four interceptions, then it should be their quarterback of the future, Jared Goff, who is throwing them.  Goff is going to go through growing pains, so why not let him do it now? The Rams have a bye week coming up, and the struggling Carolina Panthers after that. Sounds like a pretty good time to get your rookie quarterback in there. Still, I feel like Jeff Fisher is going to hold onto false hope that this team can go 7-2 down the stretch and get in the playoffs. That sounds laughable though, especially given the way Seattle and Arizona are playing now.  We can’t find a quarterback better than this?

Elsewhere in week 7 of the NFL, The Falcons reminded that Chargers that they have been collapsing in games way before San Diego made it cool again.  The Bolts have suddenly won two in a row, and their new game plan should be to trail heading into the 4th so they can’t blow the game.   I like how everyone suddenly believes in Aaron Rodgers again after beating up on the Bears, one of the worst teams in football. Let’s see him do that against some reasonably good competition before we jump back on the bandwagon.  Both the Seahawks and the Cardinals deserved to lose that game last night.  Seattle is scoring less these days than before Russell Wilson married Ciara.  That game ended and Donovan McNabb was still sitting in his living room wondering when the game was going to resume.  LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots defeated Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers in “The Weed Bowl”.  The Raiders not only beat the Jags, but they discovered the best running back on their team is actually their punter.  Sam Bradford did a great job reminding the Eagles why they traded him when Philly beat up on the Vikings.  Drew Brees has way more class than me.  If I were him I’d be saying after every game that “it’s not my fault our defense can’t tackle.” So that’s what happens when you protect Andrew Luck? He goes off and the Colts actually win.  49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch said San Fran is the most talented team in the NFC after his team got pounded by Tampa Bay.  Lynch should be suspended immediately for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.   Jay Ajayi is like the cocaine boost the city of Miami needed, as the Dolphins got by Buffalo.  Ryan Fitzpatrck to Geno Smith, and back to Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Does it matter when your team stinks? The Jets only won because the Ravens offense is horrendous.  The Redskins should blame Skip Bayless for losing to the Lions.  He tweeted that the game was in the bag once the Skins got the lead.  If Skip said the sun was going to rise tomorrow, I’d be worried the world was going to end.  It turns out that God doesn’t actually hate Cleveland.  He just hates the Browns.  AJ Green proved this with his miraculous catch.

The UCLA football team amazes me. They find new ways to disappoint on a weekly basis. With their backup quarterback, Mike Fafaul, they found a way to put 45 points on the scoreboard, yet still lost at home to Utah. Where was the much-improved defense that we’ve seen of late from UCLA? The Bruins also have the worst running game in Division I football.  How can a school like UCLA not have any halfway decent running backs? The Utes piled up 539 yards of offense, and the Bruins let some kid who retired from college football a few weeks over, run over them for 332 yards rushing.  UCLA can kiss it’s hopes for winning the Pac 12 South goodbye, and pretty soon it might be kissing its hopes goodbye just to make a sorry bowl game.  After a few years of “coming close”, it looks like the Bruins aren’t that close at all.  At best, you might get a win or two against your cross-town rival, USC, who has been down in recent years anyway. However, on the national stage the Bruins are nothing more than an average team.  It’s ok Bruin fans, you still have basketball season. Oh wait, nevermind.

Elsewhere around college football, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbick has ended the speculation.  Head Coach, Brian Kelly, will be keeping his job regardless of what happens the remainder of the season. Kelly looks like William Shatner, and there have definitely been moments where I thought Shatner would do a better job coaching this team than Kelly.  Still, unless you can find me a better option than Kelly, and there’s not one available that I can think of, the wise thing to do would be to give him another year.  He has built enough equity to give him that opportunity.  On the scoreboard, huge upset by Penn State over Ohio State. The referees must have been busy watching the Cubs-Dodger game though, because they completely missed a pass interference call on Penn State late in the game that cost the Buckeyes.  It really doesn’t look like anybody is going to be stopping Alabama right now.  The Tide crushed A&M, and are killing it even though their fans probably aren’t smart enough to count the 33 points they scored. Speaking of killing, Leonard Fournette should be arrested for murder after what he did in the LSU game.

I was in Chicago over the weekend and got in an Uber.  It turns out that my driver was a former  lineman at Southern Illinois, and his son graduated last year from Michigan and was a starting defensive back for them.  The driver spent the duration of the ride telling me how much of a jerk Jim Harbaugh is, and how after just 1 year, all his players hate him.  In fact, he went on to say that not only do he and his son despise Harbaugh, but that it would only be a matter of time before he has a mutiny on his hands in the locker room, and he’s out as coach.  That may be a little extreme since Harbaugh probably wasn’t hired to be nice to his players.  However, I think it’s safe to say that despite his success, Jim Harbaugh is becoming more and more unlikeable with both his players and the media.  By the way, the driver also kicked me out of the car when he found out I went to Notre Dame.

To the NBA, where the 2016-2017 season begins this week.  The Lakers will open things up at home on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets.  This may sound sorry to say, but if the Lakers can win 30 games this season, that should be seen as huge progress.  That may be asking a lot though, so if nothing else, I’d like to see some major development from the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr.  If two of those players can become all-stars in the next couple of years, LA will be in a good place.  Russell and Ingram look like they have the best chance to do that, so much of this year should be based on development, more so than wins and losses.  That development and the establishment of a new culture under Luke Walton is what this season is all about.  The early going could be tough since the Lakers have to play the Warriors three times in November.  However, as long as we see that development and culture change to re-establish a new Laker foundation, that’s something we can be satisfied with for now.  Just remember, the core are basically a bunch of teenagers.  You were probably buying booze and sneaking into clubs with a fake ID at that age.  It takes time, however, If things break right the Lakers might be back in playoff contention in 2017-2018, especially with some teams in the West getting older.

As for the Clippers, the storyline is going to be similar to the last five years.  They have a very good team on paper, but one that probably isn’t good enough to contend for an NBA title.  One of these days, Doc Rivers is sure acquire some players that will actually make the bench better.  We thought that was the case going into the last two seasons, but it never worked out.  Mo Speights, Ray Felton, Brandon Bass, and Alan Anderson seem like nice additions, but that’s probably not going to determine the fate of the Clipps.  It’s whether or not the CP3-Blake-DeAndre trio can elevate their game enough to take down the Warriors.  That’s a nice trio, but probably not. No matter how hard Doc Rivers tries to convince us and himself that they have a shot, I don’t really believe he thinks they can do it.  He knows however, that there’s no better situation for him, and the same with Blake and CP3, who will be free agents at the end of the year.  The best case scenario for this team is that they become the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, who caught lightning in a bottle, and managed to snag an NBA title before the Miami Heat got their act together.  That sounds far-fetched to me, but the Clipps should be #2 in the West during the regular season. The question is whether or not they can finally make it out of the second round, let alone beat the Warriors.

Who are we kidding? The NBA Finals are going to be the Warriors vs the Cavs again. This time, the Warriors will have too much firepower, beating the Cavs in 5. They are more than head and shoulders above everybody else.  Lebron and his children could make it out of the East.  There’s a few other teams and stories I’m keeping my eye on though. In the East, the Celtics might be a little improved, but people are acting like Al Horford is the second coming of Bill Russell.  The Raptors are still the 2nd best team in the East, but a distant second.  I can’t wait to see the disasters that are the Knicks and the Bulls.  The Knicks will be Porzingis and a bunch of injured guys. The Bulls can only compete if they find a way to convince the league to get rid of the three-point line.  I expect that neither will make the playoffs.  In the West, the Spurs will be #3, but the question is whether or not LaMarcus Aldridge will be a part of their core moving forward.  I can’t say I see a trade out there that makes the Spurs better without him.  The Thunder, Grizzlies, and Mavs had major roster turnover, and will be hard pressed to make the playoffs, but I expect them to hold off the Rockets, Timberwolves, and Suns.  I’ve been saying that Jazz will make the playoffs the last two years and have been wrong.  Third time is the charm right?  That Jazz should make it in this year.  It’s going to be fun, until you see Steph-KD-Klay-Draymond and the Warriors rule the league.

Let’s go to the ice where the LA Kings can’t go more than five minutes without losing a goaltender to a groin injury.  Jonathan Quick is out for three months, and now backup Jeff Zatkoff is out too with a groin pull.  My groin is starting to hurt just thinking about these injuries.  Even though Peter Budaj has helped the Kings win two straight, LA can’t spend the next three months playing with goalies who might not be able to stop a beach ball from going in the net.  I’d love to see Dean Lombardi pick up the phone and call the Red Wings about Jimmy Howard, who’s salary is high, but could fit with Quick on injured reserve.  The Kings may also be able to flip him later for some assets when Quick comes back from injury.  Then there’s the Ducks, who are also off the a rough start under Randy Carlyle. Jonathan Gibson seemed like he was a lot better goalie when he had Freddy Anderson pushing him for the starting job.  I expect that the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks will turn it around shortly, and will still be the class of the Pacific Division despite their early struggles.

Finally, who isn’t emotionally drained after watching The Walking Dead last night? Spoiler alert for those of you that have yet to watch it, and I’m about to drop some serious spoilers on you if you haven’t so read no further if you don’t want to know.  This show was such a blow to the fans, and just to frustrate us even more, Negan’s victims were drawn out until the middle of the episode.  Although the show did a good job of providing some misdirection for the last few months, if you followed the chatter online, you knew it was both Abraham and Glenn who were killed in gruesome fashion, and that’s exactly what happened.  Damn you Darryl! Had it not been for you punching Negan in the face, we might still have Glenn.  Glenn was my favorite character by far.  He was saving lives, getting tail, and became a man over the last six seasons.  Ultimately though, losing two significant characters was necessary.  As angry as you are, if they had just killed Aaron and Rosita, it would have lost credibility and the cliffhanger would have been stupid.  Ok, so they could have just made this whole thing 1 episode instead of two grueling episodes and a five month intermission between the two.  Ultimately though, the show just couldn’t go where it needed to go without this moment.  Frankly, I’m tired of hearing many of you cry about how you’re over the show because of the teasing and taunting the writers put you through.  Look television series kill off important characters all the time.  It’s all about luring you in and making you believe those characters could never die so that when they do, the dramatic impact is that much more magnified.  Apparently most of you forgot that, and for some reason convinced yourself that couldn’t be the case on this show.  The bottom line is that we’re still left with a a charming yet very evil villain in Negan, and what could potentially become a new leader in Maggie.  Oh, there’s also still plenty of great characters in the show in Darryl, Carol, and Morgan.  In other words, stop complaining and let the season play out people!



Monday Morning Coffee


October 17th, 2016

Clayton Kershaw has shut down the Cubs, and shut down his critics.  Kershaw has been nothing but heroic over the last week.  7 shutout innings yesterday in game 2 of the NLCS, 7 solid innings against the Nationals in game 4 of the NLCS, and closing out the Nationals in game 5.  Kershaw is totally being overworked.  He doesn’t care.  He’s been challenging his playoff demons head on, especially when he had the balls to ask Dave Roberts to close out the Nationals on short rest.  Despite yesterday’s win, the Dodgers probably don’t have enough around him to beat a much deeper Cubs team.  Without Kershaw, this series is a bigger mismatch than Dwight Howard vs condoms.  Saturday was a tough loss.  I had been dreading that moment since the season started.  The moment where Joe Blanton trots out of the bullpen in a big moment of the playoffs, and blows it for the Dodgers.  Sure enough, that’s what happened on Saturday night.  The Dodgers patchwork pitching staff cannot compete against a team that has four quality starters, a deep bullpen, and a lineup capable of exploding at any time.  This is where the flaws of LAs lineup and roster will be exposed.  If you have the highest paid payroll in baseball, you should be able to match the Cubs playoff roster.  Somehow, Andrew Friedman failed to do that.  He spent all his money on a bunch of injured pitchers who aren’t even good enough to make the post season roster.  His best offensive players are being paid to play elsewhere.  That’s the real shame for Clayton Kershaw.  He is doing amazing things, but unless the Dodgers can find a way to put a winner around him, his greatness will be forgotten.    It was a nice run while it lasted, but this is the end of the line for LA.  Cubs in 5.

We always criticize MLB skippers for not managing playoff games with desperation.  I have never seen desperation from any team like I did with Dodgers in game 5 against the Nationals.  Having your closer pitch the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings seems like stupidity, as does having your ace close a game.  However, it worked, so I can’t complain.  It also worked last night when Jansen pitched the last two innings against the Cubs.  Nevertheless, the fact the Dodgers had to do that speaks volumes about just how flawed their roster really is.

To the NFL, where only the Rams could do this.  For one week, Case Keenum looked like the second coming of Dan Marino, and Kenny Britt looked like Jerry Rice.  Except none of that was enough, and the Rams lost to the Lions, falling to 3-3.  Of course once the offense gets clicking, the defense goes straight to hell.  I’m not buying the injury excuse here, LA had their chances to win the last two games, and should be 5-1.  Instead, Jeff Fisher is on pace for another 8-8 season.  At least he’s consistent.  Fisher cost the Rams the last two games, including a foolish decision to go for it on fourth and goal at the end of the first half yesterday.  LA could have used those easy three points when it was all said and done, and the Rams lost 31-28 to the Lions.  All we heard last year what that the Rams were a play or two away from being 10-6.  It’s the same story this year.  It feels like they should be better.  Except like Bill Parcells said, “you are what your record says you are.”  The next 5 games are very winnable games for LA, but given the inconsistencies we’ve seen, I can’t say the Rams are any better than the .500 team that we thought they would be when the season started.

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Chargers save Mike McCoy’s job for the time being by beating the Broncos on Thursday night at the Q.  Colin Kapernick tossed a touchdown pass, so racism is over right?  The 49ers losing ways aren’t though, as they got blown out by the Bills.  Brock Osweiler is like that hot girl that you take home from the bar only to realize that she’s a tranny when it’s too late.  The Texans may have beaten the Colts yesterday, but they definitely have buyers remorse on their new QB.  The Redskins got by the Eagles, who have suddenly remembered that they are the Eagles.  The Browns players are getting salty watching all the other Cleveland teams win while they remain winless after getting beat by the Titans.  Good thing Seattle beat Atlanta.  I thought Steve Hauschka was going to get thrown off the Space Needle after missing an easy field goal earlier in the game.  Remember when everyone thought the Panthers were Super Bowl contenders?  Not anymore after the Saints took them down in the Dome.  The Raiders played like they are ready to move to Vegas in their loss to the Chiefs.  Dak Prescott and the Cowboys continue to roll after beating the Packers.  Dak isn’t so worried about Tony Romo taking his spot because he knows Romo will be injured again in 5 minutes after returning.  Tom Brady continued his revenge on the league as the Patriots beat up on the Bengals.  The Steelers should be demoted to the CFL after losing to the Dolphins.  The Jaguars beat the Bears in a game that should have been aired on Comedy Central.  The Giants beat the Ravens, Odell Beckham had a huge game, and then he proposed to the love of his life.

To College Football, where USC is back in the drivers seat for the Pac 12 South.  The Trojans still have a reasonable shot to win the Pac 12 South after pounding Arizona over the weekend.  Sam Darnold and JuJu Smith-Schuster looked like they were playing PlayStation with the video game like numbers they put up.  Not too many people are complaining about Clay Helton with the Trojans taking advantage of the soft part of their schedule.  Their best chance to win the Pac 12 South is going to be for them to beat Washington, and for Utah to get knocked off a couple of times along the way.  However, a loss to Washington and an 8-4 finish is very reasonable.  The question is whether or not that’s going to satisfy the Trojan faithful.  Probably not, but it may actually keep Clay Helton around for another season.

Then there’s the Bruins, who took another loss at Washington State.  UCLA was playing without starting quarterback Josh Rosen, so they really couldn’t have been expected to win this one with a starting quarterback that had only throw 7 passes in his college career.  Mike Fafaul did an admirable job filling in for Rosen, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdown passes, but the Bruins made some very typical Bruin like mistakes that they always make.  They had two critical turnovers in the final minute, and their running game was still non-existent.  This is an extremely average football team that still lacks the elite playmakers to compete with some of the best teams in the nation.  The luster of the Jim Mora Jr. era has officially worn off.

I think the question has to be asked: is Brian Kelly trying to get fired from his head coaching job at Notre Dame?  Despite their defensive issues, the Irish have a great deal of talent, and a fairly easy schedule, yet they are awful.  He’s also tried to pick a fight with the Stanford strength and conditioning coach after Saturday’s loss.  Everybody knows you never mess with the strength and conditioning coach.  They always get those “made in Bangladesh” shirts three sizes too small, and their muscles are exploding out of their clothes.  Tennessee got crushed by Alabama so badly on Saturday, they wish they were playing XBOX and could just unplug the controller and quit before it was over.  Ohio State and Clemson may have won, but the Tide look head and shoulders better than everyone else in the nation.

Laker point guard D’Angelo Russell is improving, but his critics kill me.  Russell had a tough game against Portland last week, missing every three point shot he took.  His critics we’re all over him for that game.  Then he rebounds against Sacramento with a 33 point and 11 assist game.  Where were all his critics after that showing? I didn’t hear one person talk about how great he looked.  The Lakers took a beating on Saturday against Golden State, and of course D-Lo got lit up by Steph Curry.  Frankly, I find these types of beatings that Russell is going to take from time to time very valuable.  Only by getting his beatings from Damian Lillard and Steph Curry can he actually get better as a point guard and mature.

All of a sudden, the outlook on the Angels 2017 season is much different.  Ace Garrett Richards threw 55 pitches to minor leaguers last week and looked like himself.  Richards has been recovering from a torn ligament in his pitching elbow, and suddenly looks like he’ll be ready to pitch at the start of next season.  There is no pitcher on the free agent market that is anywhere near as good, or affordable as Richards.  This is going to be a great story if Richards stays health and pitch effectively next season.

Finally, what a rough start for the LA Kings.  They lose their first two games, and lose goaltender Jonathan Quick for 3-4 months with a groin injury.  I’ve said all along that the cornerstones for the Kings are Quick, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Jeff Carter.  Losing any of those pieces and the team just isn’t nearly as competitive.  Sure enough, Quick is out, so LA is going to be tested.  I don’t think the Kings should go out and get themselves another goaltender though.  Even though their defense isn’t what it once was, the Kings developed goaltenders like Jonathan Benier and Martin Jones, by letting them play.  The Kings badly need more depth at that position, and they may actually discover some through the Quick injury.  After all, the Kings success this year depends on how much of their young talent they can actually develop.

Monday Morning Coffee


October 10th, 2016

The Dodgers put together a gritty game 1 win, but yesterday’s loss was just a reminder of why I think this team will be watching the rest of the playoffs on TV in just a few days from now.  In the first 6 innings they were 0-5 with the bases loaded, leaving 11 men on base.  It was like the Nationals were begging the Dodgers to end their season, yet LA said, “nah, we’re good.”  Then there’s Rich Hill, who somehow found a way to let the worst hitter in the Nationals lineup get the best of him, ultimately causing him to give up a 3-run bomb that completely altered the momentum.  So this is why Andrew Friedman pulled Hill from that perfect game he was throwing a few weeks ago, in order to “preserve him” for the playoffs?  So he could give us 4.2 innings of that nonsense?  I guess Hill needed to pee on his blister a little more.  I also get that the bullpen has performed well, but if you need your closer to record an 8 out save in big games, and your starters can’t routinely get through five innings, you’re entire pitching staff is fundamentally flawed.  The Nationals are a wounded animal, and while the Dodgers could have basically finished them off yesterday, now they have given them life and every possibility of sending the Boys in Blue home early once again.  Just another October for the Dodgers.

As for the rest of the MLB Playoffs, the Blue Jays-Rangers series should have been played in an Octagon.  It’s Jose Bautista and the Jays who got the last laugh though.  Texas hasn’t seen a beating that hard since Greg Hardy played for the Cowboys.  I still can’t believe that stupid Blue Jays fan threw a beer can at the Orioles outfielder.  That fan still threw more pitches than Orioles closer Zach Britton.  I’m not sure how you can leave your best pitcher on the bench in a do-or-die game.  Madison Bumgarner was amazing in that Wild Card win against the Mets, but enough of this even year non-sense.  The Giants are going to be going home after tonight.  Everyone seemed to have conveniently forgotten they were one of the worst teams in the league during the 2nd half.  The last time the Cubs won the World Series, America had only 13 colonies.  You think Clayton Kershaw has trouble in October? David Price can’t buy a win around this time of year.  When Mike Napoli is stealing bases on delayed steal signs, that’s a pretty good indication that everything is going the Cleveland Indians way.

To the NFL, where the Rams defense can only take them so far.  That was the case yesterday when the Bills came into the Coliseum and took down LA.  Coaching decisions were an issue.  I have no idea why Jeff Fisher decided to go for a fake punt late in the game, because he still had plenty of time for his team to get the ball back.  For the first time since week 1 though, LA’s defense was getting torn up.  A lot of that had to do with some injuries to important defensive lineman.  I also don’t understand why Aaron Donald, one of their best defensive players, was stuck on the sideline on a 3rd and goal? It’s fine to rotate your lineman, especially on a hot Sunday, but not on a critical down like that.   At the same time, It’s almost like the defense needs to ask themselves ever week “if we don’t score, who is going to?”  Case Keenum is literally the worst quarterback in the NFL, and you simply cannot win getting that kind of consistent ineffective play from that position.  It’s so bad that their best offensive player, Todd Gurley, is taking on the world on every offensive play.  He was a little better yesterday, but I can’t even tell anymore if there’s something wrong with him physically, if he’s in a sophomore slump, or if the offensive pieces around him are so inept that he just can’t succeed.  It’s certainly not helping my fantasy team, that’s for sure.  There’s not many immediate solutions to fix the offense, other than for Jared Goff to just hurry up and get better as a player.  I’m not so optimistic that’s gonna happen soon.  That was a big lost opportunity yesterday, because the Arizona Cardinals aren’t going to be down for long.  We know the Rams can win against teams in their division, but they just can’t to take care of business outside of it.  That’s trouble because their upcoming schedule is all opponents they just don’t see very often.

Elsewhere around the NFL, weren’t you just asking yourself all game how the Chargers were going to blow this one? Sure enough they found a way to do it again.  Maybe somebody needs to scream at Philip Rivers after all his turnovers, like he was screaming at DJ Fluker.  Odell Beckham made up with the kicking net, but it didn’t stop the Giants from losing to the Packers.   Apparently Tom Brady was throwing the football around with Giselle to stay sharp, because he looked dominant yesterday against the Browns.  Are the Browns out of quarterbacks yet? The Dolphins laid another egg, this time against the Titans.  Miami hasn’t played this badly since someone stole their mascot, Snowflake, right before the Super Bowl.  That $72 million Brock Osweiler contract is working out great for the Texans isn’t it? Jay Cutler is probably enjoying watching Brian Hoyer take his job.  It still didn’t get the Bears a win against the struggling Colts.  The Redskins beating the Ravens softened the blow for the folks in DC of having to listen to another Presidential debate last night.  The Ravens offense is horrible.  The Steelers cruised to another win.  Isn’t it time for the Jets to give Geno Smith another shot?  Just when you think the Eagles might be some juggernaut, they go and lose to the Lions.  Dak Prescott doesn’t look like he plans on giving up the starting QB job anytime soon after the Cowboys throttled the Bengals.  I’m surprised it’s taken six weeks for Chip Kelly to really consider starting Colin Kaepernick.  I guess all the Cardinals needed to solve their problems was to play the 49ers.  Is it me or do the Falcons make us think they are a good team every year before collapsing? I’m not buying it this year.  This is what it’s like playing against the Vikings defense…..


Let’s go to college football where USC picked up another win, this time against Colorado.  The Trojans used to annually abuse Colorado, but this was no easy win.  The Buffaloes forced Sam Darnold into a couple of fumbles, and another from Justin Davis to hang around late, but the USC defense stepped up and helped get them another win.  Despite all the turnovers from Darnold, I still can’t figure out if this guy is going to be a really good quarterback, or if he’s just benefitting from facing the softest part of the Trojans schedule.  Max Browne was really the one getting screwed from having to face Alabama and Stanford.  Until USC goes to Washington in November, I don’t think we’ll have an answer.  In all likelihood, Darnold is just masking the Trojans lack of quality coaching, game planning, and player development.  One thing Clay Helton does have going for him is the fact the Pac 12 South is still very winnable.

Over in Tempe, UCLA suffered a very disappointing loss to Arizona State.  I don’t care if Josh Rosen got hurt during key stretches of this game.  There’s no reason for this UCLA team to have lost to an ASU team that could only scrape together 275 yards of total offense.  The Bruins turned it over four times, they still have no idea how to generate a running game, and their quarterbacks have been sacked 15 times, which is already more than all of last season.  The only thing I had liked about UCLA was the fact their schedule was soft, but they are still finding a way to screw it up.  It turns out that Stanford loss wasn’t all that impressive anyway, since the Cardinal are falling apart faster than Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign.  Now UCLA will head to Washington State which could be trouble, since they seem to be suddenly blowing teams off the field.  All of this has done nothing other than remind me of why the Bruins football program has become a group of perennial underachievers.


Elsewhere in the college ranks, it took a hurricane, but the Notre Dame defense finally played well.  Unfortunately, Brian Kelly seemed to think passing the ball in the face of gusty winds was a good idea, causing Notre Dame to drop to 2-4.  Oh, that big showdown against Stanford next week in South Bend? Not so big anymore after the Cardinal got blown away by Washington State.  Then there’s Washington, who looks like a true playoff contender are dismantling Oregon.  Police are filing charges of rape, assault, and battery against the entire Michigan football team, after they humiliated Rutgers.  Navy just ran all over Houston, and will probably run them out of the rankings.  A new poll shows 62% of Ohioans think Ohio State would beat the Browns.  These are the people critical in deciding our next President?  This is what it’s like playing football in the midst of a hurricane….

I hate to put a lot of stock in preseason results for anything.  However, I like what I am seeing so far for the Lakers.  Before you roll your eyes while reading this, let me remind you: this is a process.  However, we are seeing that process come in the form of much more accountability and effort on the defensive end of the floor from the team, especial from D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson.  It’s going to take a while for these guys to develop their shooting, but defense is an area that can improve the Lakers results by leaps and bounds.  Once that happens, the Lakers can get themselves some easy baskets in transition, and make the game a lot easier for themselves.  Those were all elements that were absent last season, which can make a noticeable difference in a very short amount of time.

As for the Clippers, it’s come to this.  They’ve become so desperate to find a small forward, Doc has resorted to starting Austin Rivers there.  They’ve tried everybody, so how much worse can it go with Rivers there? Well, DeMar Derozan dropped 20 points on him in the first half of a preseason game last week, so we’ve reached a new low.  I’m not really sure how Doc Rivers convinced himself that having a 6’4 player guard a 6’7 or 6’8 player is a good idea.  Then of course there was the fact the Clippers got blown off the floor by the Warriors in a preseason game at Staples.  I’m thinking once the Warriors were up by 50 points, I was convinced the Kevin Durant addition was going to help them.

As we close the book on the Angels disappointing season, it’s hard not to look at just how good Mike Trout really is, at just 24 years old.  I’m not a baseball stats geek like some of you, but these numbers can’t just be minimized.  He is one of 8 players in the history of the game, prior to the age of 25, to finish a season with at least 25 home runs, 120 runs, and a .440 OBP.  The other 7 are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Jimmie Fox, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Jim Thome.  He’s also one of 7 players prior to the age of 25 to have a season with at least 100 RBI, 110 walks, and 120 runs.  The others are Mel Ott, Jimmie Fox, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Troy Glaus.  Trout’s 48.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is the best ever by a player before the age of 25.  Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle were the next closest.  In other words, Trout is very likely going to be the best player you’ve ever seen in your lifetime.  However, the sad part about that is the Angels are wasting away the best years of his career, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope of turning it around any time soon.

Let’s go the ice, where the Kings are getting ready to open up their 50th NHL season on Wednesday at Staples Center.  The Kings are getting further and further away from their Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, and they’ve lost quite a bit of depth and key role players since that success.  It’s resulted in just 1 playoff win in the last two seasons.  However, the Kings still have several of the best players at their position in the league, and are going to be dangerous.  Drew Doughty is arguably the league’s best defenseman, Anze Kopitar is one of the best two-way centers, Jeff Carter is a very dangerous scorer, and Jonathan Quick is still one of the games best goaltenders.  That gives LA a chance against anybody.  The Kings should be a playoff team again, however, they need to give some of their younger prospects a chance to develop.  They might not have any stars in their pipeline, but they don’t need them.  They need good role players, yet have the chance to develop some, based on what they’ve shown in Ontario.  Those players will need to step up and fill the void left by key departures on defense and on the third and fourth line.  Darryl Sutter isn’t the best at trusting young players, but he’ll need to do it since the team is so salary cap constrained.  I’m picking the Kings to win the Pacific, but until their defensive depth is fixed, I think they are getting bounced again early in the playoffs.

As for the Ducks, it’s hard to know what they are going to get with Randy Carlyle as their coach again.  The are loaded with talent, but they can’t seem to win in the playoffs.  Now that their talent is slowly starting to age, the question is whether or not their window to win has closed.  Carlyle wants to play at a faster pace, which is something that is far different than last years puck possession style stressed by the departed Bruce Boudreau.  Their goaltending and defense should be great, but Carlyle did not mesh well with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf when his last tenure with the Ducks ended.  They are also running out of time to get Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell under contract before their season opens.  They might be able to survive short term without those guys, but not if the Ducks expect to do anything in the playoffs.  Ultimately, I think the Ducks end up finishing 3rd in the Pacific after going through their ups and downs adjusting to Carlyle.  I still don’t see much changing though in the playoffs, and another early exit.  As for my meaningless, way-too early Stanley Cup prediction, I’ll take the Dallas Stars over the Florida Panthers in 6 games.

Who had the stomach to watch the debate last night? As far as I’m concerned, the entire debate was “locker room talk”.  That’s really what the subject of last nights entire debate should have been, because the majority of it was spent on both candidates skeletons in their closet.  I think we’ve all taken plenty of shots at both Trump and Hilary, but the moderators and the media are really doing a terrible job covering this, and need to get their share of criticism.  Why? It’s because this election is bringing out the worst in everybody.  Nobody can tell you what really happened last night without putting their own spin on it.  Anderson Cooper does not like Donald Trump.  You could come to that understanding within 1 minute of watching the debate.  Then the headlines from last night are going to read that Hillary won the debate.  If anything, Trump probably got the best of her, but there are just so many people that dislike him at this point, they’ll all tell you the opposite.  It’s a very entertaining reality show, I’ll give you that, but at least let’s talk about the issues at hand.  It felt like we hardly did that last night.  Hopefully we can finally see more of that in the final debate in two weeks.  Otherwise, if I wanted the entertainment, I’d just watch these skits on SNL.

Monday Morning Coffee


October 3rd, 2016

It was a pleasure listening to Vin Scully one final time yesterday against the Giants.  However, Scully probably should have called it quits a week ago, when the Dodgers clinched the division on that Charlie Culberson walk-off homer.  Since then, instead of pushing for home field advantage in the division series, the Dodgers have lost 5 of 6 games heading into the post season.  It’s ok though.  I’m sure Andrew Friedman knows what he’s doing calling all the shots.  The Dodgers are only 15 games below .500 on the road, so it’s not like home field really matters right?  Knowing Friedman he probably used his super computer to torture a bunch of numbers to convince himself of that.  A more sensible nerd would probably just simulate the regular season and playoffs on PlayStation.  Instead of spending the last week tinkering with lineups, we should have seen more fine tuning and building momentum for next week.  We’ve been forced to see stiffs like Scott Kamir, Brandon McCarthy, and Brett Anderson over the last 6 games, just so Friedman can justify his investment in them.  It would be idiotic to put any of them on the playoff roster.  As for their matchup against the Nationals, I don’t care if LA won 5 of 6 against Washington this year.  I think Clayton Kershaw will step up and get a win against Max Scherzer in game 1, but Rich Hill has little to no playoff experience, as does Kenta Maeda who slowly looks like the MLB workload is wearing him down.  I’m still having a hard time envisioning Joe Blanton trotting out of the bullpen in critical late innings and succeeding, and the offense leaves more runners in scoring position than nearly every team in the playoffs.  I see nothing that makes me think the Dodger post season results will be any different than what we’ve seen 6 of the past 8 seasons.  Nationals in 4.

To the NFL, where the Rams went to Arizona and got a huge win over the Cardinals.  The Rams are now 3-1, and in first place in the NFC West.  I’m sure everyone saw this coming right?  It’s been all about the defense for this team, and an offense that is able to just muster enough points the last few weeks to find the win column.  Good thing that Brian Quick learned how to catch the football yesterday.  I thought they were going to find a way to lose the game when they took a couple of penalties in the last minute, but they pulled through.  I’ve gotta hand it to Case Keenum.  He knows that we’re all just waiting for him to give up the job to Jared Goff, but as long as the Rams keep winning, why make a change?  Besides, Goff is still trying to figure out what direction the sun rises in, so it might be a while before he can claim the job anyway.  There’s something about this team that has me skeptical that they can make the playoffs though.  Sometimes it isn’t who you play, but rather when you play them.  The Rams had the benefit of playing a talented team, but one that is in disarray.  Nevertheless, the Rams could easily be favored in the next three games they play against the Bills, Lions, and Giants.

Elsewhere around the NFL, we sent the Jaguars to London for a game against the Colts? We haven’t screwed England so hard since the Revolutionary War.  That was a rough loss, even by San Diego Charger standards.  They have blown massive leads in each of their three losses this season.  The Chiefs are going to use those terrible towels to hang themselves after the Steelers punished them last night.  The Cowboys are 3-1, and nobody is asking when Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are coming back.  The Broncos dominated the Bucs, and look like they found another stud quarterback in Paxton Lynch.  Can’t the Rams just find one?  The Falcons outlasted the Panthers, and the outcome was sealed when Cam Newton came out of the game with a concussion, forcing Derek Anderson to take his place.  That’s like going from a Lamborghini to a Big Wheel.  AJ Green practically beat the Dolphins by himself on Thursday night.  Roger Goodell got himself a good laugh when the Bills finally gave the Patriots a loss without Tom Brady.  The Lions had to be really disappointed that Jay Cutler didn’t play against them, or they might have actually beaten the Bears.  The Browns need to just call it quits for the year after losing to the Redskins.  The Raiders beat the Ravens on the road.  The Silver and Black haven’t been this fun to watch since Barrett Robbins was partying with hookers and blow in TJ during the Super Bowl.  The Seahawks are still excellent, while every time I see Ryan Fitzpatrick play I can’t help but laugh at the Jets for actually signing that scrub when he held out.  Marcus Mariota says the Titans “are close” after their loss to the Texans.  He must mean close to the worst team in the league.

To college football, where the Trojans got their fans to back away from the ledge with a big win over Arizona State on Saturday.  USC completely overwhelmed The Sun Devils with all their talent, and for the first time this season, it actually looked like Clay Helton executed a decent offensive game plan.  It was all about putting the ball in the hands of JuJu Smith-Schuster, who piled up 123 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns.  Sam Darnold also looked pretty damn good in his home debut, while Max Browne had to have been rolling his eyes on the sideline wondering why he didn’t get the chance to beat up on some crummy teams during his time as a starter.  USC’s talent was so far superior to Arizona State’s, you could hardly notice all the flaws in the Trojans offensive and defensive lines.  There’s no need for anybody to get fired right now, but you can be sure the Trojan brass is kicking the tires on what might be out there.  I’ve heard names ranging from David Shaw, Gary Patterson, Chris Peterson, Brian Kelly, and Bob Stoops, however, prying those big names from their current situations seems like a tall order, even if USC can pay more.  The coaching rumors figure to be a much bigger story the rest of the way than what actually happens on the field, since USC has already lost some of the biggest games on their schedule.


Over in Pasadena, it was the Bruins getting back in the win column when they took down Arizona.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say that was an actual running game UCLA showed us in the second half.  That sounds almost impossible given the fact they’ve had one of the worst running games in the nation over the first month of the season.  Josh Rosen also had one of his best games of the season,  playing turnover free football, racking up 350 yards to go along with 3 touchdowns, and 1 rushing touchdown.  This is still a relatively underachieving team, however, at least both of their losses came against very good top 10 teams.  Stanford may have gotten beat by Washington over the weekend, but the Huskies are now looking like a college football playoff contender.  As for Jim Mora, it’s pretty hard to criticize your players for being undisciplined when he himself lost his emotions, and cost his team a 15 yard penalty.  You never know with this UCLA team, but the Bruins should be able to bank a couple of wins in the next two weeks before they get stiff challenges in Utah and Colorado.

Elsewhere around college football, it was nice to see the Notre Dame Fighting Irish show up for their game against Syracuse.  The Irish defense was still pretty atrocious, but Deshone Kizer does look like one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.  After Stanford’s loss to Washington, their students hadn’t been that disappointed since learning that Princess Leia was a fictional character.  Florida State got upset by North Carolina.  FSU played that game like they really want Jimbo Fisher to take that LSU job.  As Jameis Winston would say, there was nothing skrong about Charlie Strong’s defense when Texas got slammed by Oklahoma State.  Cowboys’ wide receiver Terrance Williams probably thought Louisville wide receiver James Quick going out of bounds on the final play vs Clemson, before getting the first down, was a genius play.  I don’t know what was more amazing: Jourdan Lewis’ interception of the century in Michigan’s win over Wisconsin, or Tennessee’s hail mary to beat Georgia.  You decide for yourself.

The Angels quietly finished up their season yesterday with a win against the Astros.  Despite the horrendous year, and the dismal future, there’s a few key takeaways here.  Mike Trout is still the best player in baseball, and even though he won’t be the MVP this year, the Halos are definitely going to continue to reap the benefits of the best years of his career.  The idea of trading him is preposterous, mostly because they will never get equal value for him.  The Halos have also hit 3 million in attendance for 14 years in a row, which is a streak that is only matched by the Yankees.  There’s still a few things that can give fans hope for 2017.  Alex Meyer definitely showed some potential to be an impact big league starter, Jhouly’s Chacin had an ERA of 0.75 in his last four starts, and Garrett Richards is continuing to make strides toward being able to pitch next season.  Ricky Nolasco also had an ERA of 1.85 for the last month of the season.  The last month of baseball may have been meaningless, so you may not put much stock in these stats.  However, this is the cast of characters that the Halos 2017 season depends on to have any hope of being competitive.

To the NBA, where the Lakers wrapped up their Santa Barbara training camp portion of the preseason yesterday.  This is going to be a process.  However, I’m loving what I’m hearing from Luke Walton and the players so far.  There is definitely a new enthusiasm and energy surrounding this team that Walton is bringing, and you can sense the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and others really enjoying that new environment.  More importantly, that environment is all about player development, and getting as many of these young players to fulfill their potential as quickly as possible.  Those elements were not always in place in the last couple of years of Laker basketball.  I also really like how Mitch Kupchak did not come out and place any expectations as far as number of wins for the team, but rather just talked about wanting to see his young players improve with every game they play.  That may feel like an unusual approach for this franchise, but one that is very necessary at this point.

As for the Clippers, they wrapped up training camp on Saturday at UC Irvine, with a very nice open practice for their fans.  How many years have we been saying the Clippers are close? Well it’s been six to be exact, and they still haven’t made it out of the second round.  As usual, Doc Rivers shuffled the deck on his bench by adding players like Alan Anderson, Ray Felton, and Maurice Speights.  However, it feels like every year that bench looks improved and yet they fall flat on their face.  I’m not sure this year will be any different, but then again, it may not matter.  The Clippers still don’t have a good small forward, and they still can’t seem to meet the moment come spring time.  The talent is there, but I’m not sure the intangibles are.  Nevertheless, as long as Doc Rivers is in charge of basketball operations, I’m not even convinced that they will break up the CP3-Blake-DJ trio.  They all seem firmly rooted in LA, and even if they don’t every achieve anything, they could easily re-sign and continue to take their chances catching lightning in a bottle every year.  As for Blake Griffin, he looks healthy, and still has some explosiveness, which you can see from this dunk over Brice Johnson on Saturday.

Nice to see the U.S. finally get a Ryder Cup win over the weekend.  It was their first since 2008.  This is especially sweet for the U.S. considering that English writer Peter Willett, also the brother of Masters Champion, Danny Willett, has annually done some major trash talking in his writings.  Most recently, he wrote that the Americans were “fat, stupid, greedy, classless, bastards.”  I guess the real question for Willet is: You mad bro? Meanwhile, Ricky Fowler looks like that guy at last call who knows he’s going to have to settle for Del Taco instead of taking somebody home.


That first Presidential debate was unreal.  I was waiting for someone to just come out and say “Live from New York it’s Saturday Night Live!”  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and we were once again left with the reality of choosing between two candidates that are the equivalent of choosing what Browns quarterback you want starting on your fantasy team.  Imagine if you played a drinking game where you had to take a shot for every time Donald Trump held up his finger.  You would be dead in about 10 minutes.  In any case, despite what the polls say, I think come election day this is anybody’s race.

Finally, if you haven’t been to the Forum to see a concert, you need to do it.  I saw Blink 182 there on Friday night, and it was fantastic.  In fact, it’s probably a much better venue to see a concert than Staples Center or Microsoft Theatre, which is too large and drowns out the acoustics of any band.  Ironically, the Forum used to feel so big, however, now that we’ve all been introduced to these larger and more modern arena’s, it feels that much smaller.  That smaller arena is perfect for concert viewing.


Monday Morning Coffee


September 26th, 2016

I have to start with the Dodgers.  The Boys in Blue clinched the NL West yesterday on a walk-off home run from Charlie Culbertson.  That’s a fantastic way to not only clinch their fourth straight division title, but more importantly, a terrific way to send Vin Scully off into retirement.   Scully  called his final Dodger game at home prior to calling it quits.  I’ve been as critical as anyone of the Dodgers this entire season, but even with the Giants struggles, it’s nice to see them getting big contributions from some of their younger players in order to win games.  That’s been the story all season long for LA, and I decided this was one time I wasn’t going to piss and moan about the Dodgers front office. I only wish Scully had decided to call some of the Dodger playoff games on radio, but it’s understandable why he would want to say goodbye now to bring some official closure to his career.  Sometimes you don’t really know how good things are until they are gone.  We’ve been spoiled with Scully, Chick Hearn, and Bob Miller, as hall of fame voices for our Southern California teams over the years.  The end of the road is here for Scully, as well as Miller,  but it’s been an honor to listen to them and yesterday was another reminder of that.  As for the Dodgers, they might even be able to catch the Nationals for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs before the season is over.  Hopefully LA’s injury prone pitchers who are auditioning for playoff roles will be able to help make that happen in the next week.

Jumping over to the NFL, the Rams actually scored a touchdown!  No really, they did.  The offense was halfway respectable, and they found a way to win a game by scoring 37 points against Tampa Bay.  I still have no idea how a group of receivers and a quarterback that are so pedestrian managed to do it, but it happened.  LA is now 2-1 on the season, which seemed impossible after the first game against San Francisco.  It had to be impossible for the Rams, USC, and UCLA to lose in the final minute in the same weekend.  We got close, but the Rams made sure that did not become a reality with yesterday’s win.  This is a team that is clearly going to rely on their defense to win games, while they just need to scrape together just enough offense.  I don’t expect that it will be easy to score another 37 points again anytime soon, but hopefully the offense can establish some type of consistency after yesterday.  Todd Gurley was great yesterday, but can’t do it all by himself, and he sure can’t do it without any receivers making plays.

Elsewhere around the NFL, the Chargers always find new ways to lose football games, and yesterday was no different against the Colts.   the Patriots might as well have one of their fans play quarterback, and they could still win football games.  Brian Hoyer is like herpes.  Just when you think he’s done and forget about him, he shows up again.  That’s what happened when the Bears got beat by the Cowboys last night.  How many interceptions does Ryan Fitzpatrick need to throw before the Jets play Geno Smith again? Apparently more than six.  The Dolphins-Browns game should have been broadcasted on Comedy Central.  Carson Palmer played that game against the Bills like it was a playoff game.  Of course that meant Arizona lost to Buffalo.  The more players the Vikings lose, the more games they seem to win.  Their defense is that good.  Odell Beckham Jr. looked like he was going to kill Eli Manning after yesterday’s loss to the Redskins.  Who does Trevor Siemian think he is anyway? Joe Montana? The Broncos are dominating on both sides of the ball.  The Packers may have beaten the Lions, but what happened to Aaron Rodgers? He finally looked good yesterday, but wasn’t this guy supposed to be the best player in the NFL not long ago?  So much for all you people that actually believed the 49ers were a decent team.  They got smoked by Seattle.  The Steelers took some beating against the Eagles.  How are the Ravens 3-0? Oh that’s right, it’s because they haven’t played anybody.  The same can be said for the 2-1 Raiders, who took advantage of the Titans yesterday.

On to college football, where apparently changing the starting quarterback at USC was not the problem.  The Trojans got beat by at Utah on Friday, after blowing a 14 point lead, and losing late in the final seconds.  You hear that sound? It’s the sound of USC alums closing their checkbooks.  Replacing Max Browne with Sam Darnold was a total desperation move, and was the equivalent of trying to stop a flood with a couple of paper towels.  The first four games of this season have been the same story every week: poor discipline, outplayed at the line of scrimmage, questionable defensive coverage, and very inconsistent play calling.  There were moments where things looked better on Friday, but ultimately, USC reverted back to who they are: a mediocre team.  SC may have talent, but Utah is a much better and more cohesive team.  The Trojans will be lucky to be a .500 team with their brutal remaining schedule, but replacing Clay Helton at this would probably wouldn’t serve much purpose.  Even though he’s in way over his head, I can’t think of an available head coach that can fix this mess (unless you think Les Miles is that guy after getting fired yesterday).  The Trojans need a big name, but at the moment, that big name doesn’t exist.  You can bet that Lynn Swann is looking at his options though.

Then there’s the Bruins, who had their own sob story at the Rose Bowl this weekend.  This game was going perfectly.  UCLA was beating the Cardinal at their own game, and for 3.5 quarters they weren’t pushed around.  Then during the final few minutes, Stanford wore them down.  The Bruins also committed the dumbest penalty at the worst time, when Marcus Rios brushed Christian McCaffrey on a punt return in which he called for a fair catch.  Isn’t this how most of the UCLA meltdowns start? The rest was all about Stanford making big plays in the final minute.  It’s pretty hard to win when you have absolutely no running game, and your receivers drop every big pass.  Jim Mora also has to deal with his own players bitching at each other on Twitter on top of all that.  This would have been the biggest win in the last 8 years for UCLA, but it ended up being just a reminder of how the Bruins can’t get it done against elite teams.  Also, if you had UCLA +3 or +3.5 you cried after this last play…….

Speaking of the Bruins, I thought that Kevin Love hated his time at UCLA?  Love matched Russell Westbrook’s recent large donation to the school, and the strength and condition center in their new state of the art athletic facility will be named after him.  K-Love was was honored at halftime of the Stanford game.  Maybe it’s really that he just hated Ben Howland, and not UCLA itself?

How about the embarrassment right now that is Notre Dame football? We live in a world where Duke football can actually go on the road and beat the Irish.  That’s as humiliating as it gets.  This looks exactly like two years ago, when the Irish lost a couple of big games early, and then played the rest of the season like they didn’t give a crap.  I realize that Notre Dame’s defensive backfield isn’t that great, but I’m pretty sure Duke’s wide receivers shouldn’t be killing them like they did.  This team struggles to just line up, pay attention to detail, and not make careless mistakes  Even more irritating was Brian Kelly blaming his players rather than holding his coaches accountable.  You can bet that it was AD Jack Swarbick, who made Kelly fire defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder yesterday.  Pretty soon it might be Kelly looking for another job.  Elsewhere around college football, Tennessee beat Florida for the first time since the stone age.  Wisconsin is killing it on a brutal schedule: they beat LSU and Michigan State, and now they have Michigan and Ohio State coming up.  It was a shame that LSU touchdown in the final seconds against Auburn was called back because it would have been a great finish.  It might have actually allowed Les Miles to keep his job too.

The Angels haven’t had a whole lot to get excited about for a while, but they did a nice job of taking a sledgehammer to the Houston Astros playoff hopes.  More importantly though, the Angels got great news last week when Garrett Richards successfully threw 20 pitches off a mound in a bullpen session.  Richards next step will be to face some live hitters in a simulated game, but he says that he has no doubt that he will be able to avoid surgery and pitch for the Halos next season.  His recovery sounds rather miraculous, and makes me wonder if Oral Roberts is on the Angels training staff.

Kevin Garnett is retiring.  His career is quite remarkable, with one MVP, one championship, 9 all-star appearances, and sleeping with Carmelo Anthony’s wife.  But in all seriousness, KG is one of the five best power forwards to ever play in the NBA, and he did an amazing job of transforming the defense and the culture of the Celtics in 2008.  Even though Doc Rivers knows it’s not going to happen, I’m sure he will lob a call to KG and ask him if he’s interested in signing with the Clippers (even if it means parting ways with one of his guaranteed contracts).  Doc is that obsessed with his former players, players who have played really well against him, and anybody related to him.  The NBA is losing an entire era of basketball in Kobe, Duncan, and KG, all in the same offseason.  That’s going to be arguably the greatest hall of fame class ever when they are inducted.

The LA Olympic bid for the 2024 games got a boost last week from the news that Rome might actually drop their bid, citing that it might be fiscally irresponsible to host the games.  Some sources are actually saying that since NBC paid so much to broadcast the Olympics, they are guaranteed one Olympics in the United States during the next 3-4 games.  This might give LA the inside track, especially since Hungary will lose support for refusing refugees.  Paris is still going to contend, despite all the recent terrorist attacks that were there.  I still think that if LA wins the bid, it’s got the infrastructure to host one of the best games in a while.

The finals for The World Cup of Hockey are set.  It’s Canada vs Team Europe.  In other words, Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin will be taking on Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar.  I still find this whole “Team Europe” and “Team North America” concept ridiculous, but at least we get to see some competitive hockey in the preseason.  I’m also offended by the effort put forth by the United States team, which was 0-3, and got sent home faster than the Anaheim Ducks every spring.  At least Jonathan Quick played well for the Americans, however, that team could not score goals, and their idea of putting more grit and toughness on the roster backfired.  The good news is that there are some very good American hockey players that should be on the team in the next 2-3 years, which improve Team USA quite a bit.

Ted Cruz endorsed Donald Trump.  What kind of man joins forces with a rival that completely embarrassed him.  I feel like Kevin Durant might know the answer.

What do you do if you need a new phone these days? The Galaxy Note 7 blows up, and the IPhone 7 has no head phone jack.  That sounds just as bad as choosing between Clinton and Trump.

RIP Arnold Palmer.  You were truly a legend, and one of the greatest golfers we’ve ever seen.  He also helped change sports into a business.  The sports marketing industry began when Mark McMormick signed Arnie to IMG.  I’m going to be drinking Arnold Palmers all week.

Monday Morning Coffee



September 19th, 2016

Well we’ve waited for over 20 years for NFL Football to return to LA, and after a really ugly first game, it was nice to see the Rams find the win column in their home opener.  It was ugly, but it got the job done.  The nostalgia of Pete Caroll coming back to the Coliseum was cool for a moment too.  Then the Rams started playing football, and we came to the realization that watching the offense is like watching a dumpster fire.  The Rams are scoring less than Steve Urkel on Prom night.  But the Rams defense was tough, Russell Wilson was banged up, and for some reason this team seems to own the Seahawks.  Still, it’s not a great feeling right now knowing LA gave away a truck load of draft picks for a guy that’s barely cutting it as their backup quarterback.  Oh, and after all this mess, Jeff Fisher was just rewarded with a 3 year extension.  He hasn’t had a winning season since George W. Bush was in office, yet somehow, he pulled this off.  Further adding to our frustration is the fact that now that the Rams are playing football in LA, we don’t get to see as many great NFL games on TV like we used, since the networks don’t want to take coverage away from our new NFL team.  It’s everything you’ve been dreaming about the last twenty years right?  Enjoy yesterday’s win because it might not get much better for a while.

Elsewhere around the NFL, how sorry are the Miami Dolphins? The Patriots have 3 quarterbacks that are better than Ryan Tannehill.  There goes the #1 running back on my fantasy football team after Adrian Peterson went down with a big knee injury last night.  AP was carried off the field, and dragged through a TGI Friday’s on the way to the locker room.  The Chargers may have beaten up on the Jags, but they suffered another big blow with the loss of Danny Woodhead.  That Broncos defense looked even better than last year in their win over the Colts.  Julio Jones shows a little emotion after a big TD in the Falcons win over the Raiders, and he gets a flag.  Let these guys have a little fun! I would have thought that Steelers win over the Bengals was played at a correctional institute given the number of players on both sides with criminal records.  What happened to all the offense we were promised in the Saints-Giants game?  Jameis Winston had more turnovers yesterday than Betty Crocker.  Neither team was all that impressive.  The Browns had a 20 point lead after 11 minutes in their game with the Ravens, so it’s only natural they lost.  Cam Newton is a beast.  Who is calling the Redskins plays? A member of the Obama administration? Not a single run around the goal line in their loss to the Cowboys.  The Texans don’t win pretty, but they’re 2-0.  Not as ugly as that Titans-Lions game.  Andre Johnson is still in the league after last season’s debacle? Bills and Jets on Thursday night football.  It’s like the NFL asks themselves what the worst possible game is that they could give us.

Let’s go to college football, where the Trojans fell flat on their faces again against Stanford.  Everybody’s immediate impulse is going to be to break out the pitchforks and tiki torches and blame Clay Helton.  Although the play calling is a little strange at times, and their three games have been filled with penalties and undisciplined play, there’s something to be said for just how good the USC talent is.  You can talk about how great the talent is until you’re blue in the face, however, if you have all this undeveloped talent, then you really aren’t that talented.  The defensive line looked very overrated and overmatched on Saturday.  Max Browne is nothing special, and I thought the plan was to be a running team, and go back to old school Trojan football? These guys don’t really seem to know their own identity.  Maybe everyone just needs to come to grips with the fact that Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush, Lendale White, and Mike Williams were in a college football class of their own, as was Pete Carroll.  Trying replicate that anytime soon isn’t going to be easy.

Then there’s UCLA, who came away with an ugly and unimpressive win against BYU.  How many times do I have to hear Josh Rosen tell me about how bad he played, and how much better he needs to be? Ok, I get it, you’re trying to be accountable.  However, it doesn’t do anybody any good to tell us where you suck when you don’t fix it.  His play is just too uneven, with a lot of missed throws, the Jim Mora coaching is starting to be suspect, and there isn’t much of a running game.  The only good news for the Bruins is that they only play one more elite team, which will be when they host Stanford next week.  Despite all their flaws, they still stand a great chance to win the Pac 12 South.  They just might take a Buster Douglas like beating next week at the Rose Bowl though.

Just in case you thought the Notre Dame football season wasn’t over with their loss to Texas during week 1, you can be assured that Irish fans hopes and dreams have been shattered after that loss to Michigan State.  Even more infuriating is Brian Kelly’s continued support for defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.  I’ve seen better tackling in Pee Wee football than I have from the Irish defense this season.  I was rather disappointed to learn that Kelly did not actually like a tweet regarding firing VanGorder.  Elsewhere around college football, Lamar Jackson is killing it for Louisville.  However, if he were smart he would retire at the end of this college season so he can avoid being drafted by the Browns.  Ole Miss wishes that all their football games against Alabama could end at halftime.  Iowa is devastated over their loss to North Dakota State.  At least they still have corn.  Oklahoma’s defense should have just taken a knee for the last quarter of that Ohio State game to protest their coaches oppressive treatment of making them cover Noah Brown.  His TD catch was amazing.  This is how you do it Dez Bryant…….

To baseball, where the Dodgers took two of three from Arizona over the weekend, and their magic number is down to just 9 games to clinch a fourth straight NL West title.  Now the sorry San Francisco Giants are coming to town for a three game set.  As dangerous as I think the Giants could be in the playoffs, I think it’s probably better for LA if they get in and play the Cubs.  San Francisco might actually be able to catch lightning in a bottle in a short series and knock off Chicago.  I think the Boys in Blue have no chance against the Cubs ridiculous lineup, but they could take the Giants in a playoff series.  Then again, I’m not so sure they could beat anybody else like the Nationals either.  I was very disappointed to learn that the Dodgers couldn’t make that Yasiel Puig and Brandon McCarthy trade for Ryan Braun happen a few weeks ago.  I would have even offered to pack McCarthy’s bags and drive him to the airport, given how useless he’s been.  Hopefully this trade gets revisited in the offseason.  I wish the Dodgers front office would cut bait faster with guys that just haven’t worked out like McCarthy.  It’s bad enough to make moves like that in the first place, but it’s even worse when you have people in your front office that can’t admit when they made a mistake.  Too bad Vin Scully is going to be calling it quits after October 2nd.  The man has earned the right to say goodbye when he wants to, however, I was under the impression that he came back because he thought the Dodgers had a chance to win the World Series, and wanted to be along for that ride.  The fact that he’s calling it quits prior to the postseason tells you everything you need to know about what he thinks of the Dodgers’ playoff chances.

There goes another Angel pitcher.  Tyler Skaggs is the latest player to go down, this time with a forearm injury.  At least there was no ligament damage.  It was good to see Alex Meyer get through five innings yesterday against the Blue Jays.  This sounds pathetic, but the Halos need to be thinking about all these little victories right now.  If they hope to turn it around in the next two seasons, it’s going to require finding these types of gems, and hoping a couple of them can turn into Major League ball players that can actually make an impact.  Otherwise the fans might as well spend their summers at Disneyland instead of the ballpark.

Finally, I’d like to thank the United Staes of America for “participating” in the World Cup of Hockey.  The U.S. laid an egg against a team that’s not even a real country, in Team Europe.  If I wanted to see Anze Kopitar dominate Ryan Kessler, I could have just waited to see the Kings play the Ducks when the season starts.  I get that the NHL is trying to monetize international play, instead of not being compensated when they send their players to the Olympics.  However, the tournament just isn’t the same, and it’s been so manufactured, that the players aren’t approaching it with any sense of pride for their country.  Team Europe? Team North America? Give me a break.  It’s no wonder that the Americans played that game like it was an all-star game they didn’t give a crap about.  Meanwhile, there’s some jerk sitting somewhere with a spreadsheet trying to come up with a reason why Jonathan Quick shouldn’t be starting for team USA.

Monday Morning Coffee


September 12th, 2016

Well the Trojans got back in the win column on Saturday.  However, USC played a team that looked worse than a Stevie Wonder coloring book.  The defense was much improved and USC has some athletes, but I remain very unimpressed with Max Browne.  His numbers should have been huge against a team like this, his delivery is very slow, and his decision making is questionable.  It’s no wonder that he couldn’t beat out Cody Kessler for the starting QB job.  I’m also amazed at how undisciplined Clay Helton’s team is so far.  The latest incident came early on in Saturday’s game when sophomore offensive tackle, Chuma Edoga, was ejected for making contact with an official.  I’m reserving true judgement until next week, when the Trojans travel up north to take on Stanford.  The truth is somewhere between last week’s loss to ‘Bama and this week’s win against Utah State.  If anything though, it’s much closer to the former.

The Bruins had what was supposed to be a bye week of their own, but instead, they ended up in a big struggle with UNLV.  Even after the win, I’ve seen nothing in the first two games that make me think this team is any better than the team they’ve had the last couple of years.  Josh Rosen tends to miss some important throws, and his receivers are dropping even more important ones.  Meanwhile, the defensive line looks worse than tonight’s special at Olive Garden.  They’ve had one sack in two games, and being healthier than last year doesn’t hide their mediocrity.  The Bruins are once again a decent team, but far from elite.  I think it’s time to stop pretending like this team is ready to take the next step and win the Pac 12 Title, let alone pretend like they can contend for the College Football Playoff.  UCLA should be worried about next week’s final non-conference tune-up at BYU.  The ginger ale is going to be flowing in Provo if the Cougars pull off the upset.  The last time UCLA went up there they also lost 59-0, in a shocking beat down.

Elsewhere around college football, Notre Dame’s defense looked a little better, although their competition was a bit worse in Nevada, but they got back in the win column.  Clemson barely escaped against Troy, while Ohio State, Alabama, and everybody else in the top 25 played absolutely nobody.  Jim Harbaugh was celebrating a Michigan win by eating his own snot on the sideline (you’re just going to have to Google that one).  I hope most of these small schools that we’ve never heard of have cashed their checks already, since they basically agreed to take a beat down from these larger Goliath schools in the Top 25.  Central Michigan did pull of this crazy play against Oklahoma State though to pull off the upset.  If this happened while playing a video game, I still probably wouldn’t believe it……

The NFL is back, and week 1 was in full effect!  It took the Chargers exactly one game to do Charger things.  That might have been one of the biggest choke jobs in San Diego history, after they blew a 24-10 lead.  As if that isn’t bad enough, they lost Keenan Allen to probable torn ACL, and everybody else in their division won.  Might as well throw in the towel on the season.  The Patriots are probably going to be 4-0 while Tom Brady gets a month long vacation.  Even though Drew Brees plays every game like he’s playing Madden on XBOX, the Saints defense let them down again.  The Raiders look like they might contend!  Aaron Rodgers is pretty damn good at football.  The Jaguars are “so much better this year”, it only took them two minutes to have their first turnover.  Carson Wentz looked great for the Eagles.  I’m sure he’s used to playing teams about as good as the Browns when he was in college.  I’m also sure Dallas receiver Terrance Williams feels terrible for his bonehead play at the end of yesterdays game.  It’s ok Terrance, the loss isn’t on you.  You play for the Dallas Cowboys so it was inevitable.  Looks like AJ Green bought a house on Revis Island, because he and the Bengals dominated the Jets yesterday.  What happened to the Colts? Seattle dodged a bullet against Miami, and with the Russell Wilson injury.  I think the last time Cam Newton got hit as hard as he did on Thursday, it was when he rolled his pick up truck.  Still not sure how there was no flag on that play, or how he doesn’t have a concussion.  Here’s a look at everyone’s reaction once they found out the ESPN fantasy app was down……


The Rams have got to come up with a win tonight in San Francisco.  The division is going to be tough enough having to play four games against Seattle and Arizona.  The Rams defense is good, but given their limitations on offense, their defense needs to be as dominant as the Broncos to be successful.  Their starting quarterback is truly nothing more than a game manager, and their wide receivers cannot be relied on.  Nevertheless, NFL football is back in LA, and tonight is the night the Los Angeles Rams return to action, which is exciting enough.

To the NBA, where Shaquille O’Neal was inducted into the basketball hall of game last week.  Shaq is one of my favorite players of all time, and watching him win three titles with the Lakers was a pleasure.  However, Shaq came out and said that Tim Duncan is not considered “a big man”, since he is really a power forward, and not a center.  He went on to say that Duncan is not in the same class as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Hakeem Olajuwon, and himself.  I do agree in principle with Shaq’s statement that Duncan is a power forward and not a center.  However, if Tim Duncan were considered a center, he’d probably be the 6th best center to ever play the position.  Duncan was arguably the best defensive player of all time, and a top 10 great.  Shaq is too, and while he was the most dominant ever, I think he simply felt the need to separate himself from Duncan because he knew his teams came out on top most of the time when they met in the playoffs.

The Dodgers are unbelievable.  On Saturday night, for the 2nd time this season, they removed a starting pitcher from a game that could potentially have been historic, had they been allowed to complete it.  This time, Rich Hill had a chance to pitch a perfect game.  He only needed 6 more outs. Do you realize there are only 23 perfect games in the history of baseball? Manager Dave Roberts claims he was pulled because he had concerns about his blister reopening.  If 20 more pitches were going to put this guy back on the disabled list, then he’s not nearly as durable as he should be coming down the stretch.  The game wasn’t even in jeopardy.  Of course when Joe Blanton came in, he blew the perfect game.  I also don’t think the call was made my Roberts.  I think as usual, he got the call from the front office, and Andrew Friedman told him that Hill needs to be pulled.  I keep hearing about the need for preserving players for the future, like the Dodgers are doing with Julio Urias now, Ross Stripling earlier in the season, and now Rich Hill with his blister issue.  I wonder how the Washington Nationals feel about this strategy, since four years ago they limited Stephen Strasburg’s innings to prevent injury.  That strategy came in the middle of a season when they were a contender for the World Series, yet they came up short in the playoffs.  Four years later, that future they were saving for has yet to arrive.  You never know when the opportunity will be as good as it is now.  Andrew Friedman has never understood that from the moment he started working here.

The Angels came up with a win yesterday against Texas.  Jered Weaver made one of his final starts for the Halos, and managed to put together a performance that was so good, I’m wondering if he entered a time machine to become the player that he was 5 years ago.  I’m thinking bringing Weaver back to the team next year on a short and cheap deal wouldn’t be terrible.  The Angels need arms, and Weaver might be able to fill in at the back end of the rotation.  He might even be better served re-inventing himself as a bullpen guy too.  Speaking of re-inventing players, the Angels are also doing so with recently acquired Alex Meyer.  Meyer was a reliever for the Twins, despite the fact he wanted to be a starter.  The Halos are now planning on using him as a starter, and hope he can be a gem for them in 2017.  Meyer showed some potential last week, but he’ll need to work on his control to be successful.

Finally, we just went through a weekend where the Dodgers, UCLA, and USC were all in action, yet not a single DirecTV customer could see them.  That means that 70% of cable subscribers in Southern California could not see any of these teams in action.  Have the cable companies given up on reaching a deal? It sure feels like it since DirecTV doesn’t even want to come to the table to negotiate with Time Warner Cable.  The cable model is totally broken, and ultimately, it’s the sports fan that is really paying the price.


Monday Morning Coffee

Trojan catch

September 5th, 2016

Ok Trojan honks.  I don’t think you can use the sanctions as an excuse anymore.  USC got obliterated by Alabama on Saturday in it’s season opener by a score of 52-6.  Did you really think that Lane Kiffin was going to milk the clock when he was up big against the school that fired him? Of course not! He was going to make sure that he rubbed salt in the wound.  The Trojans played so poorly and so undisciplined, I really don’t know exactly how good or bad the team is right now.  Max Browne played more like Charlie Brown, totaling just over 100 passing yards, while his receivers could create no separation whatsoever from the Crimson Tide secondary.  The Trojans need to just throw out the tape and pretend like that game never happened.  Jabari Ruffin should be thrown off the team or at least suspended for the classless stunt he pulled.  At least to the Trojans credit though, Osa Masina and Don Hill were sent home after being under investigation for sexual assault.  Had anything like that happened to Alabama players, like Hootie Jones and Cam Robinson a few months ago, Nick Saban would have found a way to have them on the field.  ‘Bama is also becoming the new football factory for rejected USC coaches, since they might add Steve Sarkisian to their staff.  This could easily be a 1-3 start for SC, so the Trojan faithful better have some patience with Clay Helton, or else they are going to jumping off the roof of fraternity houses on 28th street.  I knew I had seen Max Browne somewhere before…..


Then there’s the Bruins who found a way to disappoint again.  Josh Rosen looked like a guy who fell in love with his own hype, yet got a big slap in the face when he threw three interceptions. The receivers dropped more balls than Times Square, and UCLA’s running game disappeared like David Copperfield.  This is getting to be a very tired story for Jim Mora’s talented recruiting class.  They can’t find a way to win when it really matters.  I realize that A&M is a very good team at home, but they are likely going to be a 5 loss team in the SEC.   The Bruins failed to pay attention to detail, and they found themselves playing catch-up for most of the day.  Of course Mora is going to try and sell us on the idea that the comeback showed a lot of character.  However, this team looks ticketed for another middle of the road finish, that will once again make you think they are capable of achieving so much more.  The Mora era started off so promising, but now it’s just starting to feel like more and more underachievement with every game that goes by.

Elsewhere around college football, nobody breaks their fans hearts like Notre Dame.  The Irish suffered a devastating overtime loss at Texas in their opener, which already kills their chances at the College Football Playoff.  The team has some talent, but their secondary was awful against Texas.  I guess that’s probably because their entire secondary was kicked off the team for being idiots.  I think we’ve seen enough of the two quarterback rotation though.  Deshone Kizer is the guy.  It wasn’t the best weekend for the Pac 12.  UCLA and USC took their lumps against the SEC, while Oregon struggled to win against Davis, as did Stanford against KSU.  Oklahoma and LSU are looking overrated early, while Wisconsin and Houston should surge up the polls.  Speaking of LSU, they came away from this weekend with one loss and one murder…..

To baseball where the Dodgers have opened up a 3 game lead on the Giants in the NL West.  That’s right folks, the Giants have been literally the worst team in baseball in the 2nd half.  Just how bad? The Dodgers have no starting pitching, a 3rd baseman who plays half the time, a 2nd baseman who sits against lefties, a left fielder who is really a 2nd baseman, a center fielder who can’t make contact, no right fielder, and Andrew Friedman as the head of their front office.  I like how the Josh Reddick acquisition was such a failure that the Dodgers were forced to bring up Yasiel Puig just a few weeks after sending him down.  I was really impressed with Jose DeLeon’s MLB debut yesterday.  He might not be Clayton Kershaw, or have the upside of Julio Urias, but he has the potential to be a front line starter for the Boys in Blue at some point.  Speaking of Kershaw, if all goes well he should be back in the rotation on Friday, which will put him in line to get a couple of starts agains the Giants before the season is over.  I also found it hilarious that former Dodger owner Frank McCourt not only bought French soccer club, Marseille, but that the club made a statement that described his ownership with the Dodgers as a tremendous financial success.  How many of you fell out of your chair laughing when you read this? There is a sucker born everyday in this world.

Can the Angels go five minutes without another starting pitcher getting hurt? The latest is Matt Shoemaker, who took a 105 mile an hour line drive off of his head yesterday in Seattle.  Shoemaker is suffering from a small hematoma and skull fracture after the incident.  Who knows what his prognosis will be after his CT scan, but they will obviously have to be very careful with him for a while.  As if the Halos needed more bad news, promising pitching prospect Nate Smith is now suffering from elbow soreness, and is awaiting the results of an examination.  I’m no pitching expert, but the question has to be asked about how the Angels are building their pitching staff, if potentially four of their starters have elbow issues.  The Halos are also finding a way to win meaningless games against teams they should be losing to at this point in the season, which would help improve their draft position.  Considering the Angels have by far the worst farm system in baseball, I’d say tanking should have been something they considered strongly months ago.

To the NFL, where the Rams have trimmed their roster down to 53, and are ready to start the regular season one week from today against the 49ers.  I hate to panic about the Jared Goff situation, but this is the NFL, where from week to week you have no choice but to do so.  Even if he’s improved a little, Goff is barely a third string quarterback in the NFL, and even more devastating is the fact that he looks totally unworthy of the truck load of draft picks the Rams gave up for him in April.  The Rams could have gotten the same type of player by staying at #15 and taking Paxton Lynch, or Dak Prescott, who looks a lot better than Goff right now.  Actually, if the Rams were smart, they could have traded Goff to Minnesota after Teddy Bridgewater went down with a knee injury, and gotten a bunch of those draft picks back.  As for the season, the team is talented, but the schedule and the division is just too tough right now.  The winning streak against Seattle seems like an anomaly that is bound to correct.  I’m thinking this team goes 8-8, and settles for 3rd in the NFC West.

As for the rest of my NFL predictions, my AFC division winners are Kansas City, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and New England.   In the NFC, I’ve got Arizona, Carolina, Green Bay, and Dallas.  The wild cards in the AFC are Pittsburgh and Oakland, while in the NFC, they are Seattle and Minnesota.  I’ll take Cardinals over the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

I still think Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand for the national anthem is a poor one.  Nobody is talking about police brutality, race, and how we can improve upon community relations.  Instead, all we are talking about is how offended we are that he would do such a thing, along with wearing those silly socks he has of police officers looking like pigs.  While I respect the guys right to protest,  Kaepernick isn’t good enough anymore to make such a stand be really meaningful.  On the other hand, you’ve got NBA players like Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, DeMarcus Cousins, and Dwayne Wade who are driving the conversations at the community level, as opposed to taking some silly stand during the national anthem.

With the NFL preseason in the books, the Cleveland Browns have officially been eliminated from the playoffs.  Teddy Bridgewater can really learn a thing or two from newly acquired Sam Bradford, a veteran QB who has plenty of experience on the injured list.  He might even injure himself while packing for Minnesota.  At least Viking fans should be thankful their QB won’t be Mark Sanchez. The Cowboys acquired him. I hear the Broncos were willing to trade Sanchez for an $8.47 store credit at the nearest Denver Game Stop.



Monday Morning Coffee

Jansen win

August 29th, 2016

I have no idea how the Dodgers are winning, but they are lucky the Giants are a pile of hot garbage. San Francisco has been one of the worst teams in baseball, and somehow, the Dodgers are putting together wins.  They’ve won four of their last six games against the Giants and Cubs, and are holding down a 2 game lead in the NL West.  The more disturbing piece of Dodger news that happened last week was the trade of veteran catcher AJ Ellis to Philadelphia for catcher Carlos Ruiz.  This was simply another example of Andrew Friedman valuing statistics over people.  Ruiz may be a slightly better player, but everybody knows how important Ellis is to both Clayton Kershaw, and as a presence in the clubhouse.  If clubhouse chemistry isn’t all that important, than why is Yasiel Puig still in the minor leagues? Puig is still a more talented player than Josh Reddick, who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat at the present time.  I had to laugh when Andrew Friedman said that he made the trade in order give the Dodgers the best chance to win the World Series.  Did you give the same consideration when you let Zack Greinke sign with the Diamondbacks? Or when you traded Dee Gordon to the Marlins?  Despite a good showing against the Cubs, it’s this type of flawed approach that makes me doubt the Dodgers will last very long, even if they make it to October.

As for the Angels, i think it’s safe to say that Tyler Skaggs has recovered from his elbow injury.  He’s just as inconsistent now, as he was prior to his surgery.  We’re just a few days away from September, and the Halos have faded into irrelevance in both the Major League Baseball pennant race, and the Southern California sports landscape.  It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Mike Scioscia gets to keep his job, however, the Halos might end up with their worst record in the last twenty years, which would naturally lead to questions about his future.  Even if the results on the field can mostly be attributed to injury, one has to ask themselves if a new voice in the clubhouse is necessary to get the Angels back to respectability,

To college football, where the Bruins are getting ready to open the season next week at Texas A&M. If there’s one thing I’m really looking forward to seeing, it’s whether or not Jim Mora Jr. has finally recruited some much bigger, stronger, and more physical offensive lineman.  If so, this is exactly the type of game that can be won by managing it properly.  Don’t turn the ball over, control the line of scrimmage, and ultimately the Bruins can win comfortably without Josh Rosen trying to be a hero.  There’s been a lot of hype around the work that Mora Jr. has been doing in the recruiting department, and although the transformation of the program takes time, we need to start seeing wins against some of the more physical teams for UCLA to be taken seriously.  I like the Bruins in this one to get their season off to a nice start.

As for the Trojans, I’m curious to see how much slack Clay Helton is going to get once they lose to Alabama next week.  The schedule is completely brutal, and as much talent as USC has, they have a tremendous amount of inexperience at the quarterback position with Max Browne.  Just listening to Helton talk about Browne makes me think he’s just hoping that Browne can be an effective game manager that can avoid the “critical error.”  To make matters worse, USC is nursing an injury to guard Chad Wheeler, who is suffering from plantar fasciitis.  The Trojans are looking at Alabama as the program they aspired to be during the Pete Carroll era, but even by those lofty standards, still fell short of the Crimson Tide’s sustained excellence.  Alabama has four national titles since 2009, compared to two under Caroll, and USC hasn’t finished ahead of Alabama in the polls since 2010.  It could be a brutal start for USC, but if they can salvage a win or two in their first four, they have the talent to do some damage after that.

Watching the Rams 3rd preseason game against the Broncos made me think they were ticketed for another mediocre season.  The team just couldn’t muster much offense against an elite NFL defense.  Case Keenum didn’t do much, Jared Goff did less, and both came away with injury scares, as did Pharaoh Cooper, who might even miss the opener now with a shoulder injury.  There was absolutely nothing positive to take away from this game, other than the fact it’s over now.  It’s games like that that make me ask myself the annual question: why do we need four preseason games? The answer is that it’s nothing more than a money grab by the owners, but as football fans, we are the ones who are going to suffer when we have to hold our breath that our teams best players don’t get hurt in these meaningless contests.

Speaking of getting hurt, there are some things in life that are certain: death, taxes, and Tony Romo injuring his back.  This may actually be a blessing in disguise for the Cowboys.  They’ll be forced to move on from the Tony Romo era with Dak Prescott.  Then there’s Colin Kaepernick, who’s play has actually been far more offensive than his decision to not stand for the national anthem.  There’s a time and place for everything.  If you don’t like the Presidential candidates this fall, that’s fine, but there’s no need to disrespect those who fought for the United States by not honoring the National Anthem.  Then again, maybe Kaepernick may just be pushing for the 49ers to release him, so this could have been some form of desperation in that regard.  As for the Chargers, I can’t really blame them for their position in the Joey Bosa contract dispute, however, their decision to make the negotiations public was not wise.  The Bolts already have a reputation of historically playing hardball in negotiations with some rookies (dating all the way back to Eli Manning) so there  was no need to perpetuate this perception by going public with the details.  Here’s a look at Tony Romo’s text inbox after his most recent injury…..

Romo Inbox

Finally, I think it’s great that the USOC is holding athletes like Ryan Lochte and Hope Solo accountable for their stupidity in Rio.  Don’t get me wrong, Solo and Lochte are both great athletes, who have contributed a great deal to the US Olympic success in their respective sports, especially Lochte.  However, these athletes also have a major responsibility to represent our country in the best way when they go abroad, especially when we are making an effort to try to bring the Olympics back to the US in 2024.  The suspension for Solo was very appropriate, and one for Lochte should be in the works too.



Monday Morning Coffee

on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

August 15th, 2016

Michael Phelps has been a joy to watch over the last 10 days.  He’s an athlete that makes you want to stop everything you are doing, and watch him because he’s that good.  He’s arguably the greatest Olympian of all-time, and maybe even one of the greatest athletes of all-time, but I don’t for one second believe we’ve seen the last of him.  In 2012, he claimed he was walking away, and was adamant about it, yet he came back.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  Even his teammates don’t believe he’s done.  He’s too good and too competitive to not come back for another run four years from now in Tokyo.  See you then Mike.

Elsewhere around the Olympics, I admit that watching the fastest man in the world competition is very entertaining, and I was glued to the TV watching the dominance of Usain Bolt last night.  However, I’m definitely ready for a new era of sprinting for the U.S. and others. We already know that Justin Gatlin was caught for doping years ago, even though he might be clean now.  It’s also hard to believe that Usain Bolt and all the other Jamaicans are clean with their weak drug testing program.  As far as I’m concerned, any 100 meter time under 9.80 seconds is suspicious, a mark that Bolt has gone way under before.  I don’t know why any of those parents of the U.S women’s gymnastics team looked so stressed, since they dominated, especially Simon Biles.  They clearly don’t pay attention to betting odds.  My hat goes off to American swimmer Lilly King, who called out her Russian rival, Yulia Efimova, before and after beating her in the 100 meter breast stroke.  Like King said, U.S. Olympians are tested multiple times a month.  You should know everything that is going in your body, so Efimova has no excuse.  It’s obvious the IOC has no integrity by allowing the Russians to compete, so good for King for calling out the drug cheats, and then backing it up.  Speaking of swimming, I feel bad for Missy Franklin, who suffered an unbelievable fall from grace in these Olympics.  It seems to be more than just an injury issue for her but nevertheless, she deserves credit for being a good teammate and handling everything with class.  The same can’t be said for Hope Solo, who showed no class when the U.S. Women’s soccer team lost in the quarterfinals to Sweden.  Apparently she think she shouldn’t be accountable for her own play, or her teammates.

Then there’s the U.S. men’s basketball team, who has had some major close calls.  If these guys lose, frankly, they should be deported.  This team has some major defensive issues.  Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins, and Carmelo Anthony are known to struggle at the defensive end, and the team often relies heavily on isolation basketball.  I still think at this point, the only way to insure that the U.S. wins the gold medal in basketball is to send their very best players.  In other words, nothing is for sure without Lebron James and Steph Curry.

If Ryan Lochte and his three swimming teammates getting robbed at gun point but walking away unharmed is the worst thing that happens during the Olympics in Rio, then everyone should consider themselves lucky.  This kind of thing happens in Brazil everyday.  This whole thing was a disaster waiting to happen, and those disasters have been rather minor in the big picture.  Then again if Michael Phelps was held at gun point, he would have beaten the criminals with his 23 gold medals.

NFL Football returned to LA over the weekend, but it only took one play to remember how much the Rams stink.  The Rams ended up giving up a 60 yard TD kick return to the Cowboys on the first play of the game.  I thought by halftime the Rams were going to board a plane and head back to St. Louis.  Despite the victory, LA has to have some concerns.  Jared Goff looked pretty bad after only 9 passes, Case Keenum was underwhelming, and the secondary was getting burned like breakfast toast on every play.  The Cowboys didn’t play anybody of significance, and the Rams didn’t play Todd Gurley, so I wouldn’t take too much away from this, other than the fact that Jared Goff, the Rams franchise QB has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to stick in the NFL.  I do really love what I’ve seen on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” so far.  Through 1 episode, the show has helped me get to know some of the players a little better, and didn’t just focus on the obvious story lines of Gurley’s star power, and Goff’s potential as a quarterback.  I also found it entertaining how stupid Deon Long was for getting cut just for having some girls in his room.  That sounds like something Michael Beasley would do.  Oh wait…that’s because it is something Michael Beasley did.

The Olympics nearly made me forget that the Dodgers existed for the last week.  The Boys in Blue missed out on an opportunity to overtake the struggling Giants in the NL West, by losing two of three to the Pirates over the weekend.  Brett Anderson is back, and he reminded us of his mediocrity in an instant, by giving up 5 runs in the first inning.  Since Brandon McCarthy is going back on the DL, it’s only right that LA replaces one mediocre pitcher with another by activating Anderson.  I don’t care how good the bullpen is on paper.  If the Dodgers continue to throw out mediocre starting pitching, they will burn out their bullpen very quickly.  The acquisition of Rich Hill makes more and more sense with every passing day.  He’s an injured starting pitcher that has been mediocre for a long time.  He should fit in quite nicely with the rest of the Dodger pitching staff.

Then there’s the Angels, who not only got swept over the weekend, but have now lost 10 in a row.  They now have the 3rd worst record in the AL.  The Halos just can’t seem to find the pitching.  Yesterday it was Jared Weaver who got bombed early.  In the two days earlier, it was Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs.  The Angels don’t just have bad pitching, they don’t have any pitching because so many are on the DL.  It’s going to take some extreme creativity on the part of GM Billy Eppler to fix this team.  On a better note, the Angels are now looking at re-negotiating their lease in Anaheim, and potentially renovating their current stadium again.  Although renovating the stadium again seems shortsighted compared to building a new stadium, the Angels have their focus in the right place by trying to keep the team in Anaheim.  LA has too many stadiums at this point, and it would take a lot of approvals and a lot of obstacles to overcome to get a brand new stadium.  Plus, the Angels would have lost quite a few fans, had they moved the team to South Orange County.

I just don’t understand Tim Tebow.  Now he wants to play baseball? Isn’t it obvious that the guy just wants to be a football player? He should just suck it up and go play in the CFL or the arena league.  He’s a good enough player to get back to the NFL if he were to switch positions, but unfortunately, most coaches and players don’t want to deal with the media circus that he brings with him.  That problem is still going to exist if he were to get himself on a major league baseball team.  I also find it odd that he decided to try baseball since he’s never actually made it past first base.  Tebow’s phone has been blowing up since he said he’s going to try baseball.  Here’s a look at his text inbox….

Tebow text message

Finally, the NBA didn’t do the Lakers any favors at all when it came out with the 2016-2017 schedule a few days ago.  LA will have to play 20 of their first 33 games on the road, and will play the Warriors three times in the first month of the season.  They have 16 back-to-backs, and 13 of them end with road games.  Their longest road trip of the season is 7 games in December, and they’ll also have a grueling 5 game trip in February for their annual “Grammy Trip”.  Oh, and just in case the last game of the season means anything, they’ll have to finish up against the Warriors on the road.  For a young team that is trying to learn to win in the NBA, that definitely does not bode well for a much improved Laker season.  Nevertheless, if the Lakers can manage to win 30 games, that would be a significant improvement, and something they can continue to build on.