Monday Morning Coffee

March 27, 2023

It happened again. For the 2nd time in 3 seasons, Gonzaga is sending UCLA home from the NCAA Tournament. I know we all want to say that UCLA fought hard with injuries, and was right there with an opportunity to win at the end. That’s all true. However, the reality is that the Bruins went 11 minutes without a field goal in the 2nd half, and got crushed on the boards. If they cold make just a couple of baskets in that stretch, they win this game, and probably should have won in a blow out if we’re being honest. Injuries or not they should have won that game. Plus, when I look at teams remaining in the tournament, boy was this a missed opportunity. Heck, the last three seasons, this has been an immensely talented Bruins team that should have more to show for it than two Sweet 16 appearances, and a Final Four Appearance. I get that this is the nature of the NCAA Tournament, but still. The Bruins were right there. Unfortunately, it appears as though next year, UCLA probably won’t be that good because they could lose just about everybody. Adem Bona, Amari Bailey, Jaime Jacques, Tyger Campbell, Jaylen Clark, David Singleton, and Kenneth Nwuba, are all likely to leave. Yes, they all have remaining eligibility left, but they would all need some serious NIL money to stay in school and come back for another run. In all likelihood, UCLA is at least another season away from truly contending again. My only criticism of Mick Cronin is his inability to develop a deeper rotation. Then again, not many in College Ball have one. It’s just a reminder that even in college sports, as a player or a fan, the experience is 99% kicks to the balls and 1% glory.

Elsewhere around the Final Four, who are the 37 of you lunatics that correctly picked Miami, UCONN, San Diego, and FAU in your Final Four? I don’t know if you were all drinking when you made your picks, but whatever you were drinking, I’d like you to be part of your next round. These 4 teams were obviously much better than most of the “experts” thought, but that’s probably because they didn’t actually watch them throughout the season. Which is their job by the way. However, it does make you ask the question of whether or not you’d rather see all these crazy upsets at the beginning of the tournament if you’re left without the “blue bloods” and true number 1 seeds we’ve seen all year long? For the casual fan I think the answer is yes. For the degenerate gambler and the real college basketball fan, I think the answer is probably no. For the casual fan though, you probably won’t even remember who won the tournament in any given year. But you will remember the upsets and magical moments!

In the NBA, it’s a roller coaster ride for the Lakers every game. The Lakers win and their fans think they are going to win the Championship. The Lakers lose and their fans think this team is garbage and should be blown up. There is apparently no in between. The Lakers got a huge victory on Friday against OKC, and lost to the Bulls yesterday. That’s exactly the rhetoric that ensued over the last few days. With all that being said, I think the Lakers will make the play-in, although it may be the 9th or 10th seed, meaning they’ll have to win two games to get in the postseason. However, we’ve reached the point where if this team is going to go on a run, they need to have Lebron, AD, and DLo in the lineup every game. If not, the run we’ve all talked about won’t happen. Getting Lebron back was nice, but it’s an adjustment for the whole team. They need to go back to leaning on AD and having him be aggressive. 8 shots for AD yesterday is not acceptable. I have to say I’m also a little nervous about Lebron’s foot even though he’s back, after hearing him talk about it yesterday. He said he went to “the Lebron James of feet” to get treated. Does that mean the previous two doctors he went to were “the Smush Parker of feet”? There’s 7 games left, and they need to win just about every one of them. The good news though is that every other team around them seems to be going through their crap as well.

As for the Clippers, they got their own bad news last week. Paul George is going to miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury. That one could have been a lot worse, but fortunately, he’ll be ok in a few weeks. Still, the Clips situation is fragile. They could easily slip back into the play-in tournament, which for them would be dicey because you never know in one game who could be available for them. So the next couple of weeks will be crucial for them as well. There’s also the rumors that Ty Lue may be stepping down at the end of the season, which of course the Clippers and Lue’s camp squashed. However, you can see why this could be true. It’s hard to coach a team where every single night you have no idea who is available to you and who isn’t. Only time will tell if this is true, and the next few weeks will probably have a lot to say about that. The best news for the Clippers though is that Kawhi is playing amazing despite the fact he got his face smashed Saturday. As long as he’s on the floor, the Clippers have a chance.

The baseball season has really snuck up on us and the Dodgers open the season on Thursday against the D’Backs. I’m still really shocked about the rhetoric around the Dodgers going into the season. Everyone seems to think this team is going to suck, and that they can’t hang with the Padres. If those are your expectations, I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. Sorry you’re used to have a $300 million payroll and instead it’s only $232 million now. It’s like you people are disappointed that you’re downgrading from a Ferrari to a BMW. The BMW might actually be more reliable in the long run. The Dodgers won’t win the World Series until they change their over analytical approach, so the postseason will always have it’s troubles until then, but this team is no less formidable than last year.

Then there’s the Angels. Arte Moreno messed up again. This time after Japan won the World Baseball Classic on the back of Ohtani’s brilliant performance, Moreno called him a “top 5-10 player”. He means “Top 5-10 player” all time right? This is downright idiotic. I wonder if Arte told his wife when he was courting her that she’s in the top 5-10 women that she’s dated all-time? That’s exactly what Moreno did in this instance, with Ohtani on the verge of free agency, and nobody of the opinion that he’s going to re-sign with the Angels. Those comments probably didn’t help. Nevertheless, there seems to be some optimism around the Angels with the season starting this week, but I need to see it before I believe it. I’ve been hearing about this for years, and supposedly the team has more depth, but I personally think the division is still too tough.

Monday Morning Coffee

March 20, 2023

It wasn’t always pretty but UCLA survived the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. They are in the Sweet 16 for the 3rd consecutive year. I’m sure some of you may be thinking this team is nice, but they don’t necessarily look like they could be a National Champion. However, historically, the 2nd round has always been a dog fight for many teams that end up going all the way. Plus, had the Bruins not been beat up on the boards, they probably would have won this game much more decisively. That had a lot to do with Adem Bona’s injury and Kenneth Nwuba’s foul trouble. Plus, you need a good test along the way to get you ready for the later rounds. In completely unsurprising developments, here we are again, with Gonzaga standing in the way of UCLA getting past the Sweet 16. It’s going to be tough. The Zags are good and will probably be favored by a little, but you can never count out this Bruin team with their elite defense and mental toughness.

Elsewhere around March Madness, The Trojans were eliminated in round 1 by Michigan State. USC was talented, but you can’t beat a team as well coached as MSU with undisciplined play. The Trojans had a lot of turnovers and took a lot of bad shots, which is a sure fire recipe for going home. Here’s an update on your March Madness bracket: the girl who picked everyone based on the cutest mascot is in 1st place. 2nd place is a guy who had family at Furman, Princeton, and FDU. Third is the 9th bracket of a girl who made 19. Oh, and you’re in last place. Jay Bilas does this for a living and he had Arizona winning it all. Instead they got punked in the first round by a bunch of nerds from Princeton. That’s how hard this is. Purdue lost to a team that only got in the NCAA Tournament because another team declined the invite. We should have known though this would be the case when Joe Biden picked Arizona to win it all.

To the NBA, where despite last night’s win against the Magic, the Lakers continue to blow opportunity after opportunity to secure a playoff spot. Had they just shown up against the Rockets and made a couple of free throws against the Mavs, they would be sitting in 6th place in the West right now. Instead, they are fighting for their lives just to get in the play-in tournament. I realize Utah is basically trying to lose and the Pelicans are sinking like the Titanic, but the Lakers schedule in the last 10 games isn’t exactly easy. They have to play Phoenix twice, Chicago twice, and the Clippers. Those are all teams that will be coming at the Lakers hard as they fight for playoff positioning, and it seems unlikely the team will get Lebron back until the final couple of games at best. I realize you all want to crucify Anthony Davis for everything he’s done the past week, but the reality of it is, the Lakers aren’t even in this position without him, and everything is magnified because they left themselves no margin for error. Frankly, the best news that I’ve heard on the Lakers is that they are pivoting away from trying to sign Kyrie Irving this offseason, which is a smart move. Relying on Kyrie to show up to work everyday is like relying on Silicon Valley Bank to lend you money right now. D’Angelo Russell may not be as talented, but he sure will be a much more reliable player over the course of the next five years than Kyrie will.

The Clippers seem to be ok in the standings with 10 games left, but is Kawhi really going to sit out every remaining back-to-back? I mean you would think the guy would want to have at least some rhythm and chemistry with his teammates going into the playoffs. Something tells me he doesn’t care and will do things his own way, no matter what the Clippers truly want from him. The problem with that however, is that Russell Westbrook will be relied upon more on those nights, and you saw on Saturday night against the Magic, how that can cost you.. I mean I hate to be honest because Russ is a good guy, but the reality of it is if you lean on him too much at this point in his career, he will actually cost you games.

I have not watched a second of The World Baseball Classic. I get that the players are into it, but it’s hard for me to get around to thinking I’m watching meaningful baseball games in March. I also think this is a perfect example of how baseball just can’t get out of it’s own way to provide more coverage around it. MLB’s website for coverage looks like it was put together by some amateur web developers, who moonlight as Door Dash drivers. You also can’t find the games very easily because they are buried on Fox Sports One. If I knew how to find the games though, I might actually watch some of it. On another note, it does feel cruel to send Mike Trout back to the Angels after experiencing all this with Team USA, who is now headed to the finals

In Spring Training, the Dodgers overall look like you thought they would, but it’s Spring Training so I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it. I also wouldn’t put a lot of stock into the Spring Training performance of Clayton Kershaw. He wasn’t sharp in his first start, only marginally better in his 2nd start and still not great. However, the most important thing is for him to be healthy. With Kershaw, I look forward to seeing him pitching in April, part of May, late July, and then again in early September, and through the postseason. An injury, most likely to his back, is going to be inevitable, but it can be managed and doesn’t have to prevent him from being able to be effective. Just get him healthy and effective in October.

Arte Moreno just needs to stop talking. It’s become aggravating, as his latest interview with the media came with The Athletic. Apparently, he and Shohei Ohtani haven’t even spoken about a contract extension yet. Considering he’s basically the biggest priority moving forward, and also the biggest storyline that is a distraction around the club, don’t you think it would be a good idea to broach the subject with him and his agent? If your wife suggests that she’s going to divorce you to somebody else and you find out, then maybe you should have a conversation about it, no? That’s what this feels like. I know there’s a lot of people still banking on this idea that the Angels might actually be good this year. I don’t see it. Their division is too good, the pitching is just ok, and their hitting is non-existent for long stretches around Trout and Ohtani. Unless those two and Anthony Rendon are in the lineup regularly and crush it on a nightly basis, I don’t see this team getting in the playoffs again, which will raise questions around Ohtani all season.

Isn’t it possible for some of you Kings fans to just be happy for Jonathan Quick when he does well with Vegas, instead of rooting for him to fail? It doesn’t have to come at the expense of the Kings either. Jonathan Quick brought two Stanley Cups to LA, was the Conn Smyth Winner in 2012, and one of the most important players in franchise history. He’s arguably a hall of famer too. Yes he’s now with a division rival, but I see a lot of Kings fan out here openly rooting and taking pleasure in Quick failing with the Golden Knights. He’s actually been pretty good overall since the trade, and frankly, good for him. He’s a competitive guy, and a proud hockey player. Had he not been traded, he would not be this motivated to do what he’s doing so good for him, and as a result, the Kings are also better off as well. If and when these two division rivals meet in the playoffs it will get interesting, but if you’re a Kings fan, you don’t have to act like Jonathan Quick is suddenly Patrick Roy.

Finally, the NFL off-season has been wild. Aaron Rodgers is having his usual drama and appears to be headed to the Jets. Glad he figured that out after his darkness retreat, where he was probably snorting marijuana off a tree branch. Does anybody want Lamar Jackson? He is an MVP who is in his prime. I’m not sure what exactly the Raiders are doing. Jimmy Garoppolo is definitely a downgrade from Derek Carr. He might be cheaper, but he’s also going to miss games like he’s Kawhi Leonard. I know he’s a running back that’s a position that isn’t valued much, but the Chargers should try and find a way to keep Austin Ekeler. He’s a solid dude, a good football player, and gives excellent Fantasy Football advice!

Monday Morning Coffee

UCLA guard Tyger Campbell, right, drives past Arizona guard Kylan Boswell.

March 13, 2023

March Madness is upon us! UCLA is banged up but managed to make it to the finals of the Pac-12 Tournament, before losing to Arizona in the final moments on Saturday night.  It’s fine that the Bruins are a #2 seed in the West, which is probably less pressure than being a #1.  However, don’t try to tell me they shouldn’t be a #1 seed after barely losing to a Top 10 team down two starters, both big guys fouling out, and getting nothing from Lloyd McClendon, Dylan Andrews, and David Singleton.  This team is tough, and they just keep playing better when more adversity strikes.  Jaylen Clark is done for the season, but Adam Bona sounds like he’ll be ready next week.  The committee is clearly not very creative.  Once again if UCLA is going to the Final Four, looks like they’ll have to beat Gonzaga followed by Kansas in weekend 2.  I’m sure Mick Cronin would probably slap me and tell me “we gotta get there first.”

To the NBA, where the Lakers dropped one to the Knicks last night.  That one just had some terrible shooting, but the Lakers should actually be feeling better about things.  They’ve got a real shot to suddenly make the play-in tournament, and a possibility to even get the 5th or 6th seed and bypass it altogether.  They’ll have to play through Anthony Davis way more than they did yesterday, but if they stay afloat for another week or so, they might even get Lebron back to push even harder.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis tries to control the dribble on a drive against Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein.

Meanwhile the Clippers appear to be back on track, but that’s mostly due to the greatness of Kawhi Leonard.  Kawhi has been playing like the all-nba player we know him to be.  However, one can’t help but wonder if by himself he can help them overcome their chemistry issues.  This team at times looks like they just haven’t spent enough time on the court together, despite their flashes of brilliance.  On the bright side though, the new Intuit Dome will have thousands of toilets, which Steve Ballmer is pretty pumped about.  Cue the jokes about the Clippers being a toilet franchise.

Load management in the NBA makes no sense anymore.  The idea behind it is to give the players more rest to prevent them from getting injured, and prolonging their career.  Instead, players are not only missing high profile regular season games fans spend a lot of money on to attend, but players are still getting injured more.  I believe it’s because their bodies aren’t used to the rigors of playing and practicing regularly like they used to do.  If the players aren’t careful, they are going to screw themselves in the next CBA negotiation.

In the NFL, the Rams made a big move yesterday, trading Jalen Ramsey to the Dolphins, for the equivalent of a dirty sock and a can of coke.  This move goes to show you a few things.   First, the Rams may be giving up on 2023 with a mini rebuild.    Ramsey may be a bit in decline, but he’s still an effective corner and a big part of their defense.  Getting his money off the books allows them to get closer to signing all their upcoming draft picks, while opening up a ton of cap space the year after.  That also tells you that Sean McVay is here to stay for more than just this year.  He’s committed to building this thing back up.  Even Matt Stafford was being shopped at one point, which makes you think the Rams may do an extensive reboot, but if anything, it tells you they are already looking for their next franchise QB.  I would too knowing that Stafford’s health doesn’t seem all that stable.

In baseball, Arte Moreno finally spoke to the media, and gave an interesting puff piece to Sports Illustrated.  He claimed he had a few good offers, but even those prospective owners knew he wasn’t ready to sell the Angels.  Arte tried to make it seem like he was just a die hard fan that wanted to enjoy drinking beer at the ballpark.  However, this whole thing has to be related to any scrutiny on him from the failed sale of the stadium from the city.   There’s also the topic of Shohei Ohtani, which he addressed.  As you would expect, he said they will not trade him as long as they are in contention, and deflected on this question if they aren’t in contention.   I’m curious come July what Arte’e definition of “contention” is.

I finally got to watch the Chris Rock special on Netflix.  As usual, he was hilarious.  If you’re offended by anything he said, you probably shouldn’t be watching in the first place.  As for the Will Smith part though, that was just sad.  I personally, love Will Smith, and apparently so did Rock, until last years slapping incident at the Oscar’s.  That segment was more of a sad reminder of how Rock feels about him now, and how Jada Pinkett has ruined Smith, and changed him from the person many of us love.

I’m sure those of us that tuned into the Oscar’s last night were disappointed that nobody slapped Jimmy Kimmel.  In all seriousness though, it was a good show.  There is always that one movie that sweeps every award.  In this case it was “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.”  It won 7 awards.  Happy that Jamie Lee Curtis won after all these years.  Tom Cruise didn’t actually attend when “Top Gun” was nominated? They Academy was probably thrilled so they didn’t have to see him stand up on couches yelling things.

Monday Morning Coffee

March 6, 2023

Sometimes we need to be reminded that sports is a business, no matter what our emotions tell us. That happened for many of us last week when the Kings traded Jonathan Quick to Columbus, for defenseman Vladislav Gabrykov, and  goalie Joonas Korpisalo.  Quick is the best goalie in franchise history, and arguably a Hall of Famer.  However, you can no longer defend his play.  He hasn’t been good this year, and he makes a lot of money.  On paper, the Kings made a trade that made them much better, but most fans will be wrapped up in the emotion of dealing Quick.  I felt the same way when the Kings traded Wayne Gretzky, my childhood hero.  It always hurts when your favorite players get traded, even if in the long run, you’re better for it.  Props to Rob Blake for having the guts to do this, because nobody thought he did.  I’m not sure if I feel bad for Quick because he got traded, or because he got traded to Ohio.  At least for him it didn’t last long and he got traded to Vegas shortly thereafter.

To the NBA where let’s be honest, the Lakers won yesterday thanks to Anthony Davis, but they may still be screwed without Lebron.  A week ago, when we thought everyone was healthy, it looked like the team could not only make the playoffs, but make a run.  With him gone for at least two more weeks, I doubt they can even make the play in tournament, especially without D’Angelo Russell in the lineup either.  I don’t know what’s up with the Lakers medical staff.  These guys couldn’t heal a paper cut in a week.  Plus, they completely mismanage the information they give out about a players injury, thereby making the fans angry at the player and calling him “soft” for not getting back sooner.  One thing is for sure: the Lakers will have every opportunity to get in the play in tournament, even without Lebron.  They have the third easiest schedule remaining.  That also tells you how little faith I have in them being able to stay healthy.

As for the Clippers, they won last night against the Grizzlies, but still have their own set of issues. I sat here a week ago and told you there could be more chemistry issues to work out once they brought in Russ.  So did everybody else.  Sure enough, there are chemistry issues and they are just 1-4 since Russ started playing for them. I’m not sitting here telling you it’s Russ’s fault, but don’t act like it’s not a big adjustments with him in the lineup.  Does Ty Lue actually enjoy going to work everyday? He has no idea who is going to be available every time he comes to the arena.  I mean even in some of the most important games of the season, PG and Kawhi are like “nah it’s a back-to-back I can’t play”.  Don’t worry boys.  You’ll have plenty of time to rest in the off-season if you don’t make the playoffs because you load managed your way through the last 20 games.

Kawhi Leonard makes a dunk during a game.

UCLA wrapped up their regular season on Saturday against Arizona with another big win.  They are headed into the PAC-12 Tournament as the #1 seed and have a great chance to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  Does it matter though? I mean all we should really care about is if the Bruins are in the West, and that they have a reasonable path to The Final Four.  They should get that no matter what happens in next weeks conference tournament.  We should be more worried though about the injury to Jaylen Clark, which may very well end his season. It isn’t Clark’s scoring that is the issue, it’s the intangibles he brings at the defensive ends like steals, deflections, and other plays that don’t show up in the box score.  I saw Clark in a walking boot after the game Saturday, but was baffled by the fact he was standing on a street corner waiting for someone to pick him up.  Someone get this man off his feet immediately! Only at UCLA I tell you.

UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr., left, shoots over Arizona center Oumar Ballo during the second half.

Speaking of UCLA, Chip Kelly got an extension.  The visor is here to stay for a few more years.  I don’t love this move, but he had a decent (not great) season in 2022, and a couple of nice recruits coming in.  The problem I have with it is that when Chip came in, UCLA didn’t pay him to have one good season in five years.  And by “good” we mean respectable finish in the conference, not even winning it.  This isn’t great, but par for the course for what is really a basketball school.

Finally, the Dodgers are feeling the pain of not bringing in another shortstop this offseason, after Gavin Lux went down with an ACL injury.  Lux is out for the season.  Oh so you think Miguel Rojas can replace him? This dude is a less productive hitter than Cody Bellinger was last year, according to advanced metrics.  And in case you forgot, Bellinger couldn’t hit Little League pitching last year.  The Dodgers will definitely have to get creative because there isn’t a trade out there that can suddenly give them an all-star middle infielder.  Even Andrew Friedman’s computer will tell you that!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday Morning Coffee

February 27, 2023

What a fantastic win by the Lakers yesterday against the Mavs. Assuming that Lebron’s foot will be ok, there’s suddenly a lot of optimism, despite the fact there’s no margin for error or injury with just 20 games left. How on earth did Rob Pelinka manage to get Jarrod Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, and D’Angelo Russell for Russell Westbrook and one protected first round pick? That trade feels like highway robbery every time I see those guys play. Also props to AD and Lebron for playing much better in that 2nd half yesterday. AD looked like nothing more than Chris Mihm with an urban barber in the 1st half, but he looked like an MVP in the 2nd. It’s the games coming up against the Thunder, Timberwolves, Pelicans, and Warriors that are absolutely vital for the Lakers to win if they plan on playing in the postseason.

As for the Clippers, they suffered another tough loss yesterday against the Nuggets. The Clips are so cursed that their plane even got struck by lightning on the way to Denver. This coming on the heels of a tough loss against the Sacramento Kings. The focus though is on Russell Westbrook and how things are looking. So far, he hasn’t completely wrecked the Clippers chemistry, but he’s still missing point blank layups at the rim, making some questionable decisions at times, and ultimately, taking playing time away from more efficient bench players. A reasonable box score number from him is masking these issues for the time being. The good news for the Clippers though is that the the next two games are against the struggling Timberwolves, and the injured Warriors.

Congratulations to the UCLA Bruins on winning the PAC-12 regular season title. What has impressed me a great deal about UCLA is that no matter what kind of offensive struggles they go through, at any given stretch they can shut down a team with their elite defense, and force them into long stretches without a basket. That’s a great enough weapon that can propel them deep into the NCAA Tournament. In addition to that they are now in good position to get a number 1 seed for the tournament. Defeating the Arizona schools this week will go a long way towards that.

Let me get this straight: UCLA basketball players Jalen Hill, Cody Riley and LiAngelo Ball stole sunglasses in China and were suspended for a season while Alabama star Brandon Miller supplied the gun used in a murder and he won’t miss a game. It makes no sense. Would he have been suspended if Alabama was in last place or if Miller was a walk-on? Embarrassing and illogical.

Spring Training is under way for the Dodgers and there’s one thing that nobody is really talking about: they don’t have a closer. They actually didn’t have one going into the playoffs last year, but that’s not what actually cost them, so nobody noticed. However, they need to find one, and Dave Roberts says that will sort itself out over time. Alex Reyes seems like a potential choice on a one-year “prove it deal”, Evan Phillips is also a potential candidate, as is Daniel Hudson. However, I still stand by what I said over a year ago: Dustin May would be an outstanding closer. He has the stuff, he throws hard, and would be tremendous in that role. Unfortunately, I don’t think he wants to do that because he knows he can make more money as a starter.

Are the Rams really shopping Jalen Ramsey? Although I do think that he can replenish draft capital for the franchise, by trading him you are changing the style of your defense altogether, especially with the departure of Bobby Wagner. In my mind if the Rams still have Sean McVay, Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, Matt Stafford, and Cooper Kupp, they are going for it. Building through the draft takes some time, which isn’t on the side of this group.

Finally, the LA Kings are well position for another playoff appearance, and potentially even winning the Pacific Division. However, as much as they’ve improved, they are probably still another year or so away from true Stanley Cup contention. The trade deadline is this coming Friday, and if the Kings are planning on making any real noise in the playoffs, they need to make a move, but they will probably overpay than if they make that move in the offseason. They need a left handed shot defenseman, and let’s be honest, they need a goalie too. Phoenix Copley has been a nice stop gap, but even his advanced metrics suggest he’s not that elite, and there’s unfortunately no sticking up for Jonathan Quick anymore. He’s just not making saves when they are needed. I’m not really sure however, that these two holes can be filled in a matter of days. This feels like an offseason problem that needs to be fixed. With that being said, at least the Kings are improving and slowly getting themselves back to contending status.

Monday Morning Coffee

February 20, 2023

I’m usually a fan of the NBA All-Star game, but yesterday was an embarrassment. There was absolutely no effort and no defense played. I can understand that guys don’t want to get hurt, but even James Harden thinks the defense was pretty soft yesterday. In the last handful of years, we’ve at least seen the games get very competitive in the 4th quarter, and wildly entertaining in the first 3 quarters with lots of alley-oops and highlight plays. This was just a layup line and half court shots, that were nearly unwatchable. Maybe it was because Lebron and Giannis sat out the majority of the game, and other big stars like Kevin Durant and others were not participating. I don’t know what the answer is, but the league needs the players to understand that there is a level of pride and professionalism that needs to be on the display here. Otherwise, just kill the event. Although, somebody should have told Lebron that you aren’t supposed to play defense in an All-Star game because he injured his hand blocking a shot. Hopefully it’s not very serious, and it doesn’t appear that way. Props to Mac McClung for winning the dunk contest, which was the best part of the weekend. Of course a white guy won the dunk contest in Utah though!

As for the Lakers, Lebron says he’s going to try to play in every game the rest of the way. Nice to see that he finally realizes there is no margin for error left if they plan on even making the play-in game. Look, I like what this team has done for sure and on paper, I think the pieces fit together much better. However, they are going to need to win 16 or 17 of their final 22 games to assure themselves of being in the postseason, and I can’t say I’m totally confident that Lebron and especially AD will be available every night. The schedule is hell, but then again, there’s a lot of teams like the Warriors, Mavericks, and Clippers in front of them who are going to have to deal with their own set of chemistry building challenges. If Lebron James gets the team to the playoffs after all this, and somehow gets them to make a run, that may be one of the most impressive parts of his amazing legacy.

Then there’s the Clippers, who have agreed to sign Russell Westbrook this morning. I know there are a lot of Russ supporters out there, so let me address you all first. I get it…..Russ is a great guy, great teammate, great father, great husband, great parallel parker, and great tipper. That’s all true and he’s even had a great NBA career. That all has nothing to do with the fact that at this point in his career, he’s a massive liability for any team, including the Clippers. It doesn’t matter if the Clips have better spacing and shooting than Russ had with the Lakers. If you’re playing Russ, he’s taking away minutes from Norman Powell or Terrance Mann, who at this point, are more productive and better fitting players for the Clippers. Some people actually thought he was a 6th man of the year candidate, but 6th man of the year winners don’t shoot 41% from the field, 65% from the line, and under 30% from 3. He’s not only a poor shooter, but he has more turnovers than Betty Crocker, and his decision making at the end of games is often a detriment to his team. I know some of you are thinking it’s low risk and they can cut him if it doesn’t work out, but there’s 22 games left in the season. This is valuable time that could be wasted for a team that is already struggling to build chemistry. But hey, at least Paul George thinks it’s a good move, so what could go wrong?

In baseball, Spring Training is upon us which brings us to the Dodgers. The Boys in Blue come into the season with some doubts publicly about how good they are going to be. They are +750 to win the World Series behind the Astros and Yankees, and in front of the Braves and Padres, who are +1400, and who everyone seems to love. The Dodgers may not win the division (although I think they will), but they are still an excellent team. Just because their lineup doesn’t seem as stacked as last year, it actually is. Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, and Max Muncy are a pretty good lineup, and for some reason many of you forgot that Chris Taylor, Gavin Lux, and Trayce Thompson are pretty good players as well. Their pitching staff is also excellent. This won’t be a regular season issue. As always with the Dodgers, it’s going to be how they approach the postseason. Maybe this year there will be less heat on them since they didn’t spend wildly in the offseason. Meanwhile, I can’t say I’m too upset Clayton Kershaw won’t pitch in the WBC. The guys arm and back could use the extra rest. I also don’t want to hear anything about this alleged cheating the Dodgers did in 2017 or maybe 2018. We all know the lengths their opponents went to in order to cheat were far more offensive than the tactics the Dodgers employed, which are far more common across baseball.

As for the Angels, you can’t help but feel disappointed coming into Spring Training. We would have thought there would be new ownership by now, but we know that’s not happening for a while. The distraction that is going to hang over this teams head all year is going to be Shohei Ohtani. I don’t think there’s a circumstance where the Halos will trade him, because Arte Moreno will convince himself he has a chance to keep him. In reality, Ohtani is already out the door. Unless the Angels make some crazy run to the playoffs, or even the World Series this year, Ohtani will be on another team in 2024. He’s made that as clear as possible, without actually saying it. With that being the case, it’s the same story with the Halos this year. On paper, they look like they could be good. In reality, they aren’t better than the Astros or Mariners, their offense has been wildly inconsistent for what it should be, and their pitching may only be marginally improved.

Finally, it was so good to see Tiger Woods back on the course at the Genesis Open this past weekend. Tiger is really what keeps the sport alive in a way that no other pro golfer can these days. His presence is huge, and hopefully he can stay healthy enough for four majors and another couple of tournaments this year. The only problem with this approach is we may not see Tiger win another tournament again, as his health will need to be managed for the rest of his career, which he admitted over the weekend. Still, when he’s out there, enjoy him while you can. Legends won’t always be around forever.

Monday Morning Coffee

February 13, 2023

Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on winning Super Bowl LVII yesterday against the Eagles. Let’s start with this: you may not have wanted the game to be decided by a penalty, but that was a holding penalty. Everybody is so focused on James Bradberry putting his hand on JuJu’s back, but the penalty wasn’t that. It was him tugging on the jersey moments before that. It’s a bad way to end the game, but it was the correct call. Bradberry even owned it afterward. The Eagles felt like they were dominating this game for such a long stretch, but they never put the Chiefs away, and you can’t do that when Patrick Mahomes is on the other side. Sure enough, it cost them the Super Bowl. Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense was pretty good too, but it wasn’t enough. I also don’t know what they gave Mahomes at halftime, but whatever it was, I want some. I thought his ankle was going to fall off, but he somehow managed to keep going and play at an elite level. I don’t know if he will get to 7 Super Bowls, but he’s got a chance to be one of the best ever by the time he’s done playing. Nice to see Andy Reid win a Super Bowl that the Eagles were actually playing in. The Super Bowl also re-confirmed something I’ve thought for a long time: cleaning up confetti must be one of the worst jobs in America.

As for the rest of the broadcast, I thought Rhianna had a great halftime show. If you didn’t like it, you either don’t like her music, or you’re just one of those Twitter heads that are looking for something to criticize. She’s a superstar with so many hits, and she played all of them. The fact she did it while pregnant is even more impressive, even if it did take away from her ability to do more choreography like she has in the past. For the commercials, I thought they were just ok overall. Tubi was great, and really made us all think that we accidentally pushed some buttons on our remote. The Budweiser Commercial with the dog and the horse had all the feels to it. Plus anything with “Breaking Bad” in it is always going to be a fan favorite. Other than that though, for $7 million, these brands should do a better job of making me realize what it is they are actually advertising.

To the NBA, where the Lakers are suddenly a completely different roster after the trade deadline. Russell Westbrook, Damon Jones, Juan Tuscano-Anderson, and Thomas Bryant are all gone. D’Angelo Russell is back, and also new to the team are Jarred Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba, and Malik Beasley. That’s actually a pretty nice trade by Rob Pelinka, that should dramatically improve the shooting, defense, rebounding, and balance of the roster. The problem is, the Lakers are running out of time and they don’t have any margin for error left. The Lakers probably need to go 20-7 just to get in the playoffs, and that may only be good enough to get them to the play-in game. 20-7 is a tall task for a team where the durability of Lebron and AD are always in question. The Lakers got a nice win on Saturday, which is a nice start, but the fact Darwin Ham keeps playing these 3-guard lineups with all these new pieces makes me think he might just have the IQ of a Snapping Turtle.

I don’t want to sit here and trash Russell Westbrook. He’s a great teammate, and he did buy into his role. However, he was not a great fit with the Lakers. Now the Clippers are rumored to have interest in Russ if he’s bought out by the Jazz. Paul George claims he’s a better fit than he would be for the Lakers. If I’m being honest here, this probably won’t end well. The Clippers need a true point guard. Russ is a bit more of a scoring point guard. The Clips also don’t have any guards left after the trade deadline, despite the piece they added. That means Russ will have to play bigger minutes than they would want him too. If you have Russ for the minimum in a role off the bench, that’s not bad, but you have to play him with the right group. I think he would play too big of a role with the Clippers for him to be good, and not hurt them. I mean if Kawhi sees Russ pull up for a three pointer with 20 seconds left, he might actually show some emotion for the first time.

UCLA Basketball picked up another pair of wins last week, this time over the Oregon schools on the road. The victory over Oregon on Saturday was especially impressive, with Jaime Jaquez Jr. scoring 25 points and looking more and more like an NBA player with each game that he plays. His play was much needed at a time when the offense was struggling, the big men were in foul trouble, and Amari Bailey was ailing. The #7 Bruins have now opened up a 1.5 game lead in the Pac-12 standings over 2nd place Arizona. UCLA still has a shot at a #1 seed in the tournament, but they will have to not only have a strong finish to the regular season, they will likely have to win the Conference Tournament to make that a reality. I’m not sure that really matters though as long as they are healthy, the offense is clicking, and they peak at the right time.

Congratulations to Dustin Brown, on having his own statue unveiled Saturday Night at Arena. Brown is an American born, two-time Stanley Cup winner on the LA Kings, and the franchise leader in games played. More importantly, thanks to Brown, I am able to make fun of every NHL fanbase that has never won a Stanley Cup, and I will never forget him for that. The Kings just had about 10 days off, but they looked great on Saturday night against the Penguins, winning 6-0. There’s also some big trade rumors around this team, so we might see a splashy trade from them in the coming days.

Monday Morning Coffee

February 6, 2023

Now we can hopefully move on from this Kyrie nonsense. Kyrie Irving was traded to the Mavericks yesterday after demanding a trade last week, and of course Joe Tsai had no intention of doing a deal with the Lakers. Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss have their faults, but you can’t blame them for not getting this done, assuming that’s what you wanted. The Nets were never going to trade Kyrie to the Lakers and give him what he wanted, as Marc Stein reported. So those of you on your soap box on Twitter that wanted Pelinka fired and Jeanie to sell the team for this, you probably owe them an apology. Nevertheless, they do have their faults for having Russell Westbrook on the roster. I sure hope that they aggressively try to trade him and a draft pick or two for the likes of a Bojan Bogdanvich, Buddy Hield, Malik Beasley, or a Gary Trent type of player. Those are the type of players that will move the needle for the Lakers at this point. They never needed a player of Kyrie’s skillset, and certainly not one that is as much of a headcase as he is. However, since the Lakers are so focused on these types of star players, my fear is they will still try to open cap space this summer to try and sign Kyrie instead of trying to improve the team now.

Meanwhile, Lebron is chasing the NBA’s scoring record. I really don’t think Lebron is getting the proper credit he deserves for breaking this record. Longevity is a skill, and it’s a huge part of LBJ’s legacy. Some of you are die hard Kobe fans and just can’t accept Lebron. Some of you are die hard Michael Jordan fans and don’t want give Lebron the credit he’s due. However, he has an incredible story. This man has a case as the greatest player of all-time and scoring isn’t even his greatest skill, yet he’s going to be the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Not to mention he’s won championships with every team he’s ever been on. Give the man his due!

Somebody keep Dave Roberts away from the microphone. Roberts basically did what he did last year over the weekend, which was guarantee a championship. Maybe not as emphatically as last year, but he probably shouldn’t have said anything at all. He also said that he plans to make Julio Urias a workhorse this year in terms of number of innings pitched. I can’t tell if that means they will run him into the ground because they know Scott Boras will get him to the highest bidder next year, or because they just don’t want to pay him. Either way, the Dodgers are capable of paying both Shohei Ohtani and Urias next year.

I don’t know what happened to UCLA for the past week, but it was nice to see them getting a “get-well” game against Washington State. For a few games they looked like a lazy, turnover prone, limited offensive group. That suddenly changed against Washington State on Saturday. The return of Amari Bailey has also allowed UCLA to get themselves another playmaker and somebody who can improve their offense significantly as well. If only he can learn to shoot that would make them even better. Still, the Bruins returned to looking like a team that can make another deep postseason run and at +1200, not a bad value to win the title this year. That’s for all you gambling degenerates out there.

UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. reaches for a rebound in front of Washington State's Mouhamed Gueye.

I still have no idea why they are playing the Pro Bowl. It’s a total disaster and an embarrassment. I was in Vegas over the weekend and I ran into a guy who’s brother was playing in the Pro Bowl. He did not want to tell me who his brother was mind you, which I respected. However, he did indicate that the entire event was ridiculous and that the players want no part of it (other than to just be named a Pro Bowler). Flag football? Why are we even playing football at all at this point. Just take this thing out back and shoot it.

Finally, it’s here for real this time. Tom Brady is retiring. What the hell took you so long? This man loves football so much that he actually sacrificed his family for an 8-9 season. There is absolutely nothing left for this man to prove. He is indisputably the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time, and no matter what else happened, it would changed that. Also, I realize that he is still playing well at at 45, and looks like he has a few years left that he could play. However, what people fail to realize is that it’s ok to retire with something left in the tank. You don’t have to keep playing until you just can’t play anymore. In fact, it’s almost better when don’t.

Monday Morning Coffee


Long ago I came to the realization that NBA refs were the worst in sports. The reason is because they are by far the least consistent. It could be a foul in the 1st quarter but not in the 4th. That was on full display Saturday night in Boston where the Lakers got screwed. It wasn’t just the Lebron call at the end of regulation. There were 4 or 5 calls they got hosed on. To make matters worse, they have really gotten screwed the last few weeks in these critical moments. According to NBA Twitter, Laker fans aren’t allowed to be upset because every team in the league gets screwed on four crucial calls on the last play of the game in a two-week span. There’s bad, and then there’s this. This is the difference between the Lakers being in 13th in the West vs 4th. I normally don’t like to complain about officiating like this. I’d much rather be talking about the Rui Hachimura trade and how it was a solid move by Rob Pelinka. However, this has been insane, and because of it the Lakers will have to play about .700 ball the rest of the way to make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have won 5 of their last 6 games, and jumped back up to 4 in the West. Now comes the annual “will they trade for a point guard” rumors. We’ve been hearing this for a few years, but the team has never really found the one guy that can be a playmaker and take that load off of Kawhi and Paul George. There’s been a lot of talk about Fred VanVleet too, but this isn’t 2019, and it’s not even 2022. VanVleet this year, hasn’t been the same player he was that got him paid. He’s also not a playmaking point guard. He’s a shooter. Unless he’s entering a Time Machine, I don’t see how this is a good trade for most teams, including the Clippers, given the cost to acquire him. It’s probably worth noting too that he switched agents and is moving to Klutch Sports, which isn’t a good thing if you’re a Laker fan who isn’t a fan of this move.

To the NFL, where Championship Sunday went down yesterday. Congrats to the Eagles on advancing to the Super Bowl and destroying their city in the process. Philly was easily the best team all around in the NFC this year, so they deserve to be here. I’m surprised Kyle Shannahan didn’t resort to having Christian McCaffrey or Deebo Samuel run the wild cat when he discovered he was out of QBs that could throw the ball down the field. Let’s not pretend Rams fans aren’t getting a kick out of the San Francisco loss, with everyone reacting like the Niners won the Super Bowl after every regular season win. Then there’s the AFC matchup that was fun to watch. Gotta give it up for Patrick Mahomes and doing what he did on one leg. Joe Burrow probably outplayed him, but the Chiefs hung around long enough to make a few more big plays at the end. It’s also unfortunate that the late hit is what ended the Bengals season and what otherwise was a great game. Those two teams look like real rivals now that will be back at it again the next few years.

To baseball where the Angels, and the MLB for that matter, got some very bad news last week. Arte Moreno is going to remain the Halos owner for what appears to be at least the next few seasons. This stinks. The Angels were poised to get new ownership with deeper pockets to build out a more modern and competent organizational infrastructure. Instead, they are stuck with a guy who doesn’t get the importance of investing in scouting and development, and who ultimately, can’t outspend the big market teams. This also means that Shohei Ohtani is likely a goner after this season. Mike Trout probably can’t feel great about this either, but he’s probably not looking for a trade at least yet.

Congrats to local NBC 4 legend Fred Roggin on an amazing 40 years as a sports anchor. Roggin had his last day at NBC last Thursday. Since the day I was born, Roggin has been the local guy at NBC, and always a pleasure to listen to. Even when he had the opportunity to jump ship to ESPN, or other opportunities to cater to those who didn’t watch the 11 pm news, he stayed true to his local following. He’ll still be heard on local radio on AM 570 and explore other TV opportunities. Nevertheless, he’s made his mark on the LA sports media market.

Finally, no need to panic about UCLA basketball losing two in a row. They are halfway though the PAC—12 schedule and still in great position for one of the top 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. However, they do need to clean up things, and those can easily be fixed internally. Stop turning the ball over for starters. Get Amari Bailey more involved and comfortable starting, while getting David Singleton back in his 6th man role. They also need to get Jaylen Clark going again, who is shooting like Russell Westbrook these days. It’s about peaking at the right time, and there is still time to do so.

Monday Morning Coffee

January 23, 2023

It’s entirely possible that multiple things can be true at the same time. For instance, the Lakers are a poorly constructed team, that’s old and brittle. However, it’s also true that the West Conference stinks right now, and that some good health and a trade can put the Lakers in the mix to be more than competitive this season. That’s been very evident in the Lakers last two wins against the Grizzlies and Blazers. Regardless of which truth you are more focused on, it’s highly likely that the Laker front office and ownership way of thinking is in the wrong place right now. They’ve been behaving as though they have no intention of doing anything to improve this team by trading future 1st round picks. That may be because they want to get under the repeater tax this summer, or because they foolishly think a star will become available they can trade picks for, or maybe they are just punishing Lebron James for wanting to play with Russell Westbrook. Whatever the case is, it’s simply a foolish way of thinking when you have Lebron James and Anthony Davis on your team. This is not how an organization with a Championship pedigree should be behaving. At this point, Shannon Sharpe has done more for the Lakers this season than Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss. I expect much better from both of them, especially Jeanie.

Meanwhile, despite winning yesterday, the Clippers are hovering around .500 themselves, and are trying to figure out how to establish some consistency. One of the biggest pieces of this inconsistency that hasn’t been talked about much is their defense. The Clippers have collapsed to the 4th worst defense in the NBA in the last two months, largely unable to force turnovers and using lineups with smaller and smaller guards. That’s also made them one of the worst teams at defending the rim, with opponents shooting 70% within 6 feet in the last month. This was supposed to be a team with an enormous amount of depth, plenty of switchable wings, and two of the most elite wing defenders in the game. Instead, their two elite wings aren’t able to even practice, and their roster construction has actually created a hole in their front court. This team is supposedly playing for the playoffs, but at this point they may not even be there, and when they do, it’s hard to imagine them suddenly being prepared to play at a high level for them.

To college hoops where is was bound to happen sometime. UCLA finally lost a game, after winning 14 in a row. The Bruins lost to Arizona on the road, despite putting up a fierce rally in the final minutes. The good news though is that this team is still in 1st place in the Pac-12, and still has a shot at a #1 seed in the tournament if things break right for them. They still have their issues to work through, and most of these are offensive. They could use another shot creator, and once Amari Bailey comes back that will help enormously. It will also allow David Singleton to return to his role of 6th man, and one of the best in the nation at the role, giving the team much more firepower of the bench.

To the NFL playoffs, where we learned this weekend that Patrick Mahomes is better on one leg that 90% of NFL quarterbacks are on two legs. The Jags were no match for the Chiefs, but they do have a good one in Trevor Lawrence that they can feel good about building around. We also learned that Daniel Jones wears contacts, and that somebody in his circle must hate him for not telling him about Lasik. That looked like a hell of a problem when the Giants took a beating from the Eagles on Saturday night. I have no idea how Joe Burrow was able to play as well as he did in the Bengals win over the Bills. It’s amazing he could be that good with Tony Romo swinging from his nuts for four quarters. After losing to the 49ers, Dak Prescott threw his helmet in disgust, but it was intercepted. Tough loss for the Cowboys, and the nice play at the end of the game to get your receiver anihilated  in the middle of the field when you needed a Hail Mary.

We’ve waited an entire week and sure enough, Brandon Staley is still employed by the Chargers. He’s not going anywhere folks. The players have also said that they support him. However, what else would you expect them to say? You think if you ask Justin Herbert what he thinks of Sean Payton, he wouldn’t be thrilled to have him as his next coach? This is typical Dean Spanos. They don’t have the stomach to pay two coaches, and they don’t have the guts to be bold and make such a big move. How many years are we going to say “The Charger have arguably the best roster in the NFL”, only to underachieve for various reasons. Brandon Staley is a huge reason why they can’t fulfill that potential.

Finally, the LA Kings rollercoaster ride of a season continued yesterday in Chicago, picking up a win and jumping back into 3rd place in the Pacific Division. It’s clear that the Kings biggest weakness right now is on defense and in goal. They seem to still be riding Phoenix Copley, although he had a couple of rough outings last week. He’s had a nice start, but it’s very hard for me to believe his elite play is sustainable. Jonathan Quick is currently the Kings backup goalie, he hasn’t played great so far this season, and the team seems to play even worse with him in net. Then there’s Cal Petersen who has been awful, on an awful contract, and currently in the minors. Petersen was supposed to be the goalie of the future. Acquiring a goaltender at the trade deadline will be difficult given the investments the Kings have in the goaltender position, so their best chance to improve is by acquiring a big and physical defenseman, that can play in different situations.